I check in on Trapper Gale’s paintings from time to time. I saw this one, and it connected. I truly hope it connects with you as well. Go by his blog and take a look at his paintings. Peace, T


noun \nä-ˈstal-jə, nə- also nō-; nə-ˈstäl-\
: a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one’s life, to one’s home or homeland, or to one’s family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the past.

I think we’ve all experienced nostalgia at one point or another – we hear a song and remember our youth, see a picture and are instantly transported back to a different time, usually (although not always) remembering those times as better, gentler, kinder.

Although often bittersweet, nostalgia counteracts loneliness, boredom and even anxiety. It is a reminder that life has roots and continuity, providing strength to keep moving forward.

This painting, A Girl and Her Dog, is a commissioned piece, based on one woman’s memories of her childhood home. Growing up in a log cabin in Canada, she remembered vividly an old wagon, a ‘29 Chevy, her…

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A Wild Place I Want to Go

Jersey Jim, 2002

It is good to get a view, if it is a good view.  A view … for example … of the San Juan National Forest (Colorado) from the top of the 54′ “Jersey Jim Lookout” fire lookout tower , which was built in 1964, at 9,830 feet elevation.  I am referring to the current tower.  The original tower was built in 1942, but was eventually brought down, and replaced by the current tower. / Mark Roper

Original Structure, 1943

Incidentally, here is a picture of the original Jersey Jim (fire lookout tower) … fascinating.  You can see a man with his binoculars up on the catwalk.  Check out the old car in the bottom corner.

One question: how long would a fire look be up in the tower?  Three months?  And what about hauling water up 54′ of stairs?  The solitude?  Along with the view, that is what calls me to this adventure.  I could probably get some good reading in.  And the stars … WOW !   Oh, I almost forgot to tell you, you could bring someone if you want.  The bed sleeps two.  I would have to try putting my mummy bag out on the catwalk, although I would hate to roll off the side … unless I attached a parachute.  You know, I wonder if you can get an echo up there.


As for the newer tower, I’ve got good news for you.   You can actually spend the night up there … $40 a night.  I would very much like to spend a couple of nights up at the Jersey Jim cabin.  Yeahhhh.  That is what I would like to do someday.  This is what you would find up there:

  1. A 15 X 15 cabin;
  2. Original furniture, from the first tower built in 1942, replaced by the current tower in 1964;
  3. Propane heating and lighting;
  4. No electricity or water;
  5. A sink;
  6. Propane refrigerator / oven / stove;
  7. Dining table seats four;
  8. Double bed and dresser;
  9. Windows all round … a 360 view … which is why it is a fire lookout tower.

Yeahhhh.  That is what I would like to do.

What About Bob? (Sled)

“Excuse me, sir … Does your sled have a name?”  

“Yessir, it does have a name: Bob.”
“Yessir.  Bob Sled.”
(Image to the left fromWikipedia …
The Swiss bobsleigh team from Davos, c. 1910)

“The name of the sport appeared when competitors adopted the technique of bobbing back and forth inside the sled to increase its speed (“bobsledding (sport) – Britannica Online Encyclopedia”. Retrieved 2014-02-21).

Those guys, in the image (above right), look pretty wild … but that sled, going 140 km/h?

Pilot Steven Holcomb, Curtis Tomasevicz, Steven Langton and Christopher Fogt of the United States team 1 finish the final run during the Men´s Four Man Bobsleigh on day 16 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Sliding Center Sanki on February 23, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
Pilot Steven Holcomb, Curtis Tomasevicz, Steven Langton and Christopher Fogt of the United States team 1 finish the final run during the Men’s Four Man Bobsleigh on day 16 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Sliding Center Sanki on February 23, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

As I watched these Olympic Bobsledders in Sochi … yelling out yawps, sprinting beside the sleds, and jumping in, one after another …  I was reminded of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (James Thurber).  The Walter Mitty character was ” … a vague and mild-mannered man … has five heroic daydream episodes.”  (

  1. A pilot of a U.S. Navy flying boat in a storm;
  2. A magnificent surgeon performing a one-of-a-kind surgery;
  3. A deadly assassin testifying in a courtroom;
  4. A Royal Air Force Pilot volunteering for a daring, secret suicide mission to bomb an ammunition dump; 
  5. And as the story ends, Mitty imagines himself facing a firing squad.

Yes, I can hear the announcer now.

“Next up, representing the Americans, the Wilder Man on Rolling Creek team.  The Wilder Man’s team’s first run has put them in first place, and they are in good position to be on the podium for the Gold.”

The Duke: Up Ahead On the Trail

“Talk low, talk slow and don’t say much.” 

John Wayne
John Wayne as Rooster Cogburn, “True Grit

An image emerges: John Wayne and a young buck ride on their horses into “an unknown”.  John Wayne, also known as “The Duke”, keeps his eyes on the trail looking for what is ahead, while speaking to the younger one, who … in The Duke’s thinking, he is responsible for.  John Wayne, the mentor, wants to prepare the mentee for what is ahead … both in the immediate scenario and the long term journey.

Now, another image comes to mind of a dad, or a mentor, or both, walking with a younger one … a son, a mentee, a student … both attentive to each other: one teaching / modeling, and the other paying attention to what the younger knows is important, what will be remembered for the trails ahead.

I am immeasurably thankful for good men (the kind that are rare, who will always be remembered) who passed on some wisdom … not because they had to, but because they believed that this what needed to happen, and because I clearly needed to receive what they had to offer, for my own benefit.  And, in the name of tension, I remember … as well … the times where I struggled along the way, encountering the unknown, seemingly alone with no one there at the time to teach me, to guide me.

“Tomorrow hopes we have learned

something from yesterday.”

John Wayne 

My “young buck” status no longer applies, and I continue to grapple with what I call “ambivalence”.  My own definition of ambivalence goes something like this:

“Ambivalence: the existence of two mutually exclusive emotions, thoughts, or concepts.”

I’ve made mistakes.  And “the right thing to do” means: learning from those mistakes; choosing to live not in the past, but in the present with one eye on the future; and releasing any self contempt or bitterness about what has happened behind me.  I want to take care of my horse.  I want to listen well.  I want to “Talk low, talk slow and don’t say much …”, in the words of The Duke.