Roadies Last Story (Here)


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Trad climber
moab UT
Topic Author's Original Post - May 20, 2019 - 04:05pm PT
The Spot

The cool air of morning lingers here between long shadows fanning lazily across the dunes and rocks that surround my spot. There is an elusive quality to the light in the hours of early morning, a softness plays over the landscape like an overture to the day. The dog lounges, sprawled over the sand, beneath the skeletal frame of a dyeing juniper. Cliffs rise to the east and west, bordering the ancient geological fault that hems the horizon.

There is nothing special about this spot- its just another of the countless nooks and crannies that speckle the desert, or rather, this spot is special only to me. For the past six years this has been the place where I park my van, the place where I live.

Sometimes on rest days, like today, I'll spend hours just watching the shadows move over the dunes.

A few hundred yards from here stands a tower, a nondescript clump of eroding rock and mud. Like the space around it, its special only to me. I climbed it alone on my fortieth birthday. I can't tell you its name because it doesn't have one. You won't find it in any guidebook because I've never reported it to anyone. And, to be honest, I don't want you here. Go find your own spot.

Some mornings, when the weather is nice, my friend June will walk by. She's a river guide-retired but still walks eight miles a day, when the weather is nice that is. I'll see her coming, set out some lawn chairs and put on a pot of coffee. Together we'll sit, take in the light and talk. She's not my girlfriend or anything. She's about seventy-years-old. Her face has as many lines as the topo maps that describe the landscape. Still, I think she's pretty.

"The world's filling up," June said the other day. A parade of Jeepers had just gone by to practice driving up this hill that's a mile down the road. One tossed an empty beer can out the window as he passed. "I'm glad I won't be around much longer." She said this with conviction. After the dust cleared I picked up the can. Sometimes I envy her.

On rest days, like this one, I'll sometimes gather some juniper twigs and make a fire, after the shadows have completed their circuit and stretch to the east.

When the coals are right, I'll wrap a potato in foil and throw a steak on the grill. This makes the dog happy because she knows that soon she'll be getting a bone. I do a pretty bad job of cutting the meat from the bone and that makes her happy too.

Keeping the dog happy is a priority, she has important work to do. Part of her job is to warn away strangers, like the Jeepers, and to welcome friends, like June. Another part of her job, when the nights are cold, like they have been, is to keep me warm. A kind of biological heating unit. The most important job the dog has is to keep me honest. To keep me from taking myself and the world too seriously. She's good at this. She does it by reminding me that throwing the stick is just as important as the hunt for Osama bin Laden, that walking to the creek isn't that different than going to that peace rally this afternoon. In all honesty, I'd rather go swimming too.

It takes twenty minutes to drive from downtown to my spot. From here its three and a half hours to Standing Rock, if the road's not washed out, an hour-twenty to Indian Creek, if the wind is right. But a lot of days, like today for instance, I'd rather just stay here and throw the stick or talk to June.

I got home late last night. I'd spent the day out on the White Rim, climbing some tower or other. I was tired from the endless jostling dished out by that relentless and lousy road. My kidneys hurt and I just wanted to go to bed.

I noticed something different when I turned onto the road that leads to my spot. Somebody from the county had been here to put up a sign. The sign said- NO CAMPING. I got out of the van and threw the sign into the wash, a small but futile act of resistance.

Like June said, the world is filling up. And with it, I guess, so are the rulebooks.

I used to have a spot in Nevada. That was a long time ago. Then someone decided to move Las Vegas there, so I came here. Now I find myself thinking about windy Wyoming, After that I guess Alaska, or maybe The Yukon. A long series of tactical retreats, like Chief Joseph and the Nes Perce, hopeless in the end. Doomed.

Still, it'll be a long time before that empty corner of the world fills up. Like June, I'm glad I won't be around that long.

Thank You, Steve Seats
Moab, Utah, 2003


Trad climber
Punter, Little Rock
May 20, 2019 - 04:18pm PT
Whaa? Don't quite get the drift. I'm sutpid. How does one dye a juniper?

Seriously Steve, although we have never met, your posts are gold. Thanks for taking the time to share.

Trad climber
May 20, 2019 - 04:20pm PT
Thank you

Gym climber
sawatch choss
May 20, 2019 - 04:21pm PT
I used to have a spot, on the interwebs.

Thanks Roadie

May 20, 2019 - 04:22pm PT
Rings true


Social climber
May 20, 2019 - 04:28pm PT
hey there, say, roadie...

wow, this was a sweet story...

i have some nice spots around here...
you 'painted all this so well'...

i just got done walking through my 'two little yards' here...
mostly stuff that i planted and the natural wild stuff...

nice shade, as the day is done... (missed the sun, though) ...
the dog was out there, -- we usually do her 'get stick' stuff, too...

feels like being in the 'heart of the great earth' and the birth of life, around it...

say-- thanks for sharing about june...
i love 'relationship ambiance' and relating-back-and-forth...
we learn so much...
say, as things change in the world and there is 'less nice spots' , my mom says, too:

she will be glad, that she is not around to see it diminish more...
in her eyes, and, as we see-- sadly, must is getting ruined... :(
she really does not want to see that... :(
and, i sure understand...

as to this quote:

There is nothing special about this spot- its just another of the countless nooks and crannies that speckle the desert, or rather, this spot is special only to me.

i know what you mean...

now, as to this quote-- are you well?

I was tired from the endless jostling dished out by that relentless and lousy road. My kidneys hurt and I just wanted to go to bed.

(this was from back in 2003??

hope you will be enjoying more little trips, like this one
that was so VERY SPECIAL...
EVEN if-- it is just a small spot in your yard, as i have...

Trad climber
moab UT
Topic Author's Reply - May 20, 2019 - 04:35pm PT
Thanks Neebee, yeah, wrote that back in 03 or so. It ran in Mt Gazette and paid for some steaks for the dog and I. I buried her there a year and a half ago, looking forward to seeing her there again, some day...

May 20, 2019 - 04:43pm PT
Nice writing.
Lynne Leichtfuss

Sport climber
moving thru
May 20, 2019 - 04:46pm PT
Roadie, don't tell anyone but I too throw away signs. They're like mushrooms, sometimes you pluck the poison ones and throw them away. :)

Social climber
May 20, 2019 - 04:54pm PT
hey there, say, roadie...

oh my... as to the dear dog... my condolences and hugs...

say-- wow, what a wonderful 'extra' nicety to get have a printed work, to share and to get paid for it...

say, thanks for sharing, that, too...
hope to see more of your writing, somehow...
(have seen some post, already) ...


Just livin' the dream
May 20, 2019 - 05:02pm PT
Really enjoyed this.

Boulder climber
Andy Cairns
May 20, 2019 - 05:06pm PT
Fabulous and real.

I was just loaned Steve Roper's Camp 4. There's the early part where he mentions John Muir's speculations about whether more people would spoil Yosemite and his note about a day when the valley had fifty! visitors.

I take a little comfort in the thought that your last story (here) won't be the end of the story.

culver city, ca
May 20, 2019 - 05:25pm PT
Thanks Roadie, always appreciate what you’ve shared here.

Trad climber
May 20, 2019 - 05:42pm PT
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
May 21, 2019 - 03:16am PT
Your stories have always been a highlight of this forum for me.
I will truly miss reading them.
Hopefully I will find you on another forum in the future.

With sincere gratitude,
Ezra Ellis

May 21, 2019 - 04:55am PT
Thanks for the story.
Mark Rodell

Trad climber
May 21, 2019 - 05:25am PT
I enjoyed this. The peaceful tempo of wording. Clear images mate with keen insights. Well done.

Mountain climber
golden, rollin hills of California
May 21, 2019 - 05:48am PT
Excellent. Reminds me of Chief Seattle -

Your destiny is a mystery to us. What will happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered? The wild horses tamed? What will happen when the secret corners of the forest are heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills is blotted with talking wires? Where will the thicket be? Gone! Where will the eagle be? Gone! And what is to say goodbye to the swift pony and the hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival.

Trad climber
May 21, 2019 - 06:36am PT
Great as always, Roadie.

Here’s hoping you put together a collection at some point. I know I’d buy 2.

right here, right now
May 21, 2019 - 08:22am PT
Yes, that's a fitting last Supertopo offering from you, Steve!

And I like this from Chief Seattle:

And what is it to say goodbye to the swift pony and the hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival.
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