a gathering place for the words, images and momentos of the world of adventures i've adventured, the stories i've wandered through. curriculum bella vita...a resume, of sorts, of the good life.

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

A favorite resume?

Okay, fine, it might be a little over the top, but this puppy's always been a favorite. PS. Yes, that is a giant floating letter "J" in the middle of that resume...

Monday, October 13, 2003

Star-Dispatch: On The Road

Welcome to the fifth edition of the Star-Dispatch, my forum for humor and writing since hijacking it from Camp Chief Ouray this summer! After the Onion-like satire became a critical and box-office smash in Colorado this summer among campers and staff alike, the staff demanded updates from future adventures, and I’m coming through as promised.

After the camp season at CCO ended, I wasn’t ready to come back. So I didn’t. Instead I convinced a naïve young woman (Miss Laura Van Arsdale of Minnesota, hence the commonly referred to nickname LVA) to let me overrun her life for the next couple of weeks. And sure enough, our navigational skills took us on a round-about tour of six states. We drove a gazillion miles and hiked even more.

And the whole time I was thinking either, “Damn, this is funny!” or “Damn, this is NOT funny right now, but it sure as heck will be when we’re all back home safe and sound!”

“Inside this Edition” gives you a glimpse at what could be if I had more time, while “News in Brief” offers a bit more in depth look at our trip. “Police Blotter” is a humorous glance at our adventures from a different perspective. And finally, “The Feature Story” is one of the highlights of my life, while the “Literary Submission” is a step into a new genre for me. Enjoy.


Long’s Peak Renamed “Long-est Hike Ever” Peak (page 14,255)

Yellowstone Wildlife Takes Labor Day Weekend Off (page zero)

Jeremy is SOOO Popular, Talking on Two Different Cell Phones at One Time (page 1)

Alpine Campers Pika-Proof Campsite (page 1.5)

White Folk Caught Dancing in Jackson Hole (section salsa, page 5)

Large Mammal Seen Briefly from Car Window (page 9)

Snow and Rain in Forecast for Colorado, but not New Mexico (page I-25)

Jeremy Conscious of Blond Hair in Sante Fe (page 45)

Grand Canyon One Big Hole (page 16, 17)

Zion Park Ranger Laughed at by Old People (page 55+)

Las Vegas Pimp Misidentifies Jeremy as Someone who Usually has to Pay for Sex (page 6)

Despite Las Vegas Shrine, Roy Still Not Dead (page 7,11)

Plans to See California Cancelled after Schwarzenegger Victory (page 23)

Midwest Airlines Declares All of Jeremy’s Worldy Possessions to Weigh 89.7 Pounds (page 8)

* * * NEWS IN BRIEF * * *


(AP) A volunteer park employee in the Gila Wilderness crossed a significant ethical line, last month, misleading two park guests from the Midwest.

Arthur McDouglas, 67, reportedly told two backpackers that the javelina, a hog-like mammal common to the park, was “more closely related to deer than pigs.” McDouglas proved his argument by claiming that the animal had pointed hooves like a deer.

“Dude, it’s a pig,” rebutted visitor Jeremy Jewett, 23, who did not study pigology, mammology, or zoology in college.

“I don’t care about the damn hooves. Look at the snout, the body, the whiskers, the stubby legs, and the curly tail. Dude, it’s an Easter ham on legs.”

By Laura Van Arsdale

ESTES PARK, Colo. – Laura and J, unofficial experts of all things mountainous, have discovered a strange medical condition now referred to as Altitude-Induced Gas Syndrome (AIGS).

As it turns out, certain elevations, usually high but even at some not-so-high heights, create a rotting, gut-wrenching, lung-searing gaseous stench that leaks out of J’s butt. Changes in altitude have been rooted to the cause of this “problem,” after many studies of the patient’s diet. From chocolate intake to GORP ingredients, nothing seems to have the same affect as…altitude.

Warnings are not always in time. Symptoms can come as audible and other times as silent but deadly (SBD). To survive an attack from someone with AIGS, a person should exhale and continue to exhale while evacuating the immediate area as soon as possible. Do not stand down wind or hike behind someone with this condition. Brain injury may result from inhaling this toxin.


(AP) Several college students in three southwestern states receive mysterious e-mail warnings in mid-September describing an impending attack by viruses. Approximately seven students in Texas, New Mexico and California, all former employees of Colorado’s Camp Chief Ouray alerted authorities about the electronic warnings.

According to one affected student at New Mexico State University, Amber Helmus, the e-mail foreshadowed a migrant virus that lived off others, invading and overrunning the hosts’ lives for a short period of time before moving on to the next victim.

“And that’s crap,” Helmus said. Luckily, the virus apparently veered west to Arizona before entering Helmus’s Las Cruses home.

(Reuters International News Service)

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – During a midweek visit to his Fort Collins home, 23-year-old temptress Laura Van Arsdale mistakenly called Chris Miller by the name Tim.

Swearing off the incident as a mindless slip of the tongue, observers have found particular drama in the incident involving a girl, a boy, and another boy.

Jeremy Jewett, who reported the event to gossip news show Entertainment Tonight, found many similarities with epic love stories.

“This episode was really a lot like (Victor Hugo’s character in Les Miserables) Marius calling Eponine by the name of his fiancée Cosette,” Jewett said.

“It’s even vaguely like the Bobbitt love triangle, just missing that dramatic slashing incident.”

By Laura Van Arsdale

SILVER CITY, NM. – After a grueling 60 mile trip through the Gila Wilderness with well over 100 river crossings, backpacker J became a little bitter with two left to go.

As J crossed number 12 out of 14 crossings on Monday, his foot slipped off the large stepping stones which are not very stable and his foot submerged twice. After javelin throwing his trekking poles across to Laura, who balanced very carefully and made it across the river without incident, J glances at Laura’s feet. Noticing that her boots were wet from previous crossings, J said, “Good, just wanted to make sure you got wet, too.”

To understand why this is not necessary, Laura had been slipping, tripping, lunging and falling all week through the river crossings. She had experienced sloshy, soggy feet almost every day, had fallen into the river twice and yet was still not bitter towards J as he delicately maneuvered across most of the crossings dry.


TAOS, New Mexico - Two good Samaritans helped the Bureau of Land Management defeat decades of drought and human neglect Sept. 20 when they planted 23 trees and seeded .2 acres of barren dirt.

“We long planned on helping out with National Public Lands Day, but I didn’t know we’d be able to single-handedly beat back the New Mexico desert like we did,” said 23-year-old volunteer Laura Van Arsdale.

Van Arsdale, alongside fellow busybody from the Midwest Jeremy Jewett and three other volunteers from the Taos area, worked for approximately 143 minutes to restore non-native vegetation to a desert-like campground. The volunteers also helped BLM personnel plant willow trees in the middle of a dirt road along the Rio Grande River that area teens had long used to discreetly drink beer and countless other unmentionable acts. Punks.

A spokesman for El Nino, the notorious weather pattern haunting the southwest with years of chronic drought, had little to say about the positive achievements toward a greener desert.

“Silly goodie-two-shoes. Those trees won’t last a month under (El Nino’s) withering heat,” the spokesman said.


LAS VEGAS, Nev. – While waiting for his flight at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, homeward-bound traveler Jeremy Jewett was unable to find a travel guide for his former companion’s next stop while browsing through a bookstore.

“Yeah, I looked all over but couldn’t find anything on Tim, Utah,” Jewett said.

“I’d never heard of any place called Tim before, I don’t know if it’s a city or town or national park. All I know is that Laura was all excited to see California and then Tim out in Utah,” he said.

“Maybe it’s just a small national monument no one knows about. Oh well, I hope she has a good time.

* * * POLICE BLOTTER * * *


Grand Teton National Park rangers are searching for two suspicious young people accused of scamming park employees and a guest at the Jenny Lake ferry landing. According to witnesses, the couple talked a fellow backpacker into paying for their ferry fee before fleeing the scene.


Two out-of-town youngsters were seen pouring white powder and other suspicious substances into baggies and film canisters at the Belen, NM-area Hub Hotel. Police lost the suspect’s tracks into the Gila Wilderness.


Western New Mexico State University campus officers nearly apprehended two young people seen using campus computers illegally, but the whippersnapers managed to elude the officers. Doggonnit! According to an incident report, the two hell-raisers managed to sneak onto campus, send over 300 e-mails and use precious campus resources before fleeing the campus. Investigation is ongoing.


Security officers approached two obvious teenagers in a Las Vegas casino, in pursuit of children violating the 21-year-old minimum age established at Nevada gambling establishments. The sketchy couple provided likely fraudulent Wisconsin identification and were released.

* * * FEATURE STORY * * *

(Associated Press)

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – One of mankind’s greatest tragedies was remedied Sept. 17 when 23-year-old traveler Jeremy Jewett bought a plastic deer from Jade Creek Book Store in downtown Fort Collins. For the purchase price of three dollars, plus twenty cents tax, Jewett redeemed himself for losing a significant portion of Chuck the Plastic Deer, named one of the Seven Wonders of the World last spring, just before he graduated last May.

“Woooooooooooooo!” Jewett said as he found the mal-appreciated deer while wandering the streets west of Fort Collins aimlessly.” This is the greatest moment of my life!”

Jewett, the long-time owner of the deer and front-runner to win the Nobel Prize because of his efforts with the deer, accidentally lost the detachable head at the Mifflin Street Block Party last spring. Devastated at losing such a precious piece of memorabilia that was engrained into his collegiate experience, Jewett cried until he passed out.

According to witnesses, Jewett was encouraging global peace, harmony and cooperation by pushing “deer bongs,” or the rapid consumption of an entire beer through the deer’s hollow body, to random strangers on the day the head was stolen. No one saw the vandal or vandals run off with the cranium, but Jewett could only blame himself.

Discovering and securing a new deer head for the inscribed body was a difficult three-month process. A summer in the mountains and a random roadtrip were a less-than detailed map that took Jewett to the streets of Fort Collins, but destiny and ordain guidance are the only logical explanations.

“Once we saw how much the deer meant to Jewett, and really the rest of society, we were happy to sell him the deer,” said the owner of Jaded Creek Book Store, Susan Hardgrove.

UW-Madison chancellor John Wiley was particularly excited to welcome the noted deer back to Wisconsin and his campus.

“Chuck the (plastic) Deer is such a welcome addition to our campus. It helps promote goodwill and fellowship, especially between peoples of differing populations,” Wiley said.

And the global community welcomed back an animal that has become much more than a mascot, but a bong, a trophy, a notebook, a costume, a traveling companion, an experiential education prop, a puppet, a cup, and most significantly, a friend to all.

“This cultural collegiate relic is a rare treasure, and it makes the academic community happy that Jewett reunited the body with a head,” said anthropologist and noted social commentator Felix Johnson. “The deer replaced the crumbling Pyramids at Giza on the Wonders list last spring because of how it can make people smile, and we can celebrate now that Chuck is complete again.”

Comedian Will Ferrell visited the “Chuck is Back” celebration in Madison, Wis., last week to help commemorate the deer and its legacy. Ferrell took the first “deer bong” of the plastic lawn ornament’s reunion party.

“It’s so good! When it touches your lips, it’s so good!” Ferrell shouted.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

A Piece of Pecos

April, as always, turned to May with a flourish of flower, as Wisconsin awoke from a long winter. But I wasn’t ready to graduate from college, no matter the month. I wasn’t ready to answer that troubling question, “Who am I?,” that had been haunting me for six months.

So I ran away to the mountains, safe again during the long days and starry nights in the warmth of a summer camp. Just an hour past Denver, high in the Rockies, I was living another Denver’s lyrics, I’d come home to place I’d never been before.

But one of the funny things about life is that you’ve always got to deal with it, no matter what “it” is. There’ll be times, my years of teenage angst stand testimony, where it seems like a conspiracy, a fallacy, but you can’t simply climb a tree and escape.

With that question of identity pulsating my every move, I tried to run off again, but on a more grandiose scale. I went on a road trip. I persuaded a bystander to join me, she had the car after all. Our only guides were our desires each morning and Backpacker’s October 2001 guide to the best backpacking in America.

Strangely enough, you can only traverse the grand spine of the Tetons so much before it becomes more quest of identity than a quick escape. On a hot day, it generally happens in the second or third mile. Exploring the trails of Yellowstone that have never seen a motor-home is less a sulking retreat than a introspective journey. Summiting Long’s Peak,

Standing just beyond the yawning doors of St. Anthony’s Catholic church, I felt a need to justify my dissidence. It’s a strange, but not uncommon, call to conversation in my long inner dialogue of questioning and answering. Laura the good Catholic girl went to mass that Saturday afternoon, but I didn’t. I needed to explain and defend that decision, at least in my own mind. That’s what took me to the streets of Pecos, New Mexico.

A small town high in the bush country of New Mexico’s Rocky Mountains, Pecos the village is much like Pecos the world-renown wilderness area – unharnessed by modern convention and conveniences. No sidewalks in the town to take me in the direction of my fancy. What a quaint and unpromising way of life, it seemed to the visiting Midwestern boy.

The sharp squeal of abused brakes broke my detached critique. “Get off my fucking lawn,” a young man snarled out of the passenger window of his friend’s pick-up truck as it sped past. I snapped into fear. I’m unaccustomed to bravado, spite, swearing, and skin darker than my own. He continued to spout venom as his friend drove on. The car never stopped.

I laughed. I didn’t know what else to do. I was scared and saddened, confused and concerned. His bitterness was so unintelligible to me, but it made me feel frightfully alone and different. I was mad that he had so much malignant power over me, so I began to wonder how I could beat him. I decided, not far from that church, to pick up the trash lining the far side of the main road in Pecos.

Broken beer bottles glazed the uneven steps leading up a small hill to the Pecos schools – elementary, middle and senior high all in one fenced compound. Even the railing accompanying the concrete terraces was trashed, half fallen into the overgrown patches of grass next to the stairs. The venomous young man began to make more sense now; it was as if the town was not a community at all. No sense of pride, civility, or communalism. Everyone’s yard was their own, buried behind crooked fences. And who needed school, if education will only make you want to explore beyond your own shackled home. I began to pick up the biggest shards of white, green and brown glass one at a time, shaking my head.

I must have made no sense to him: a blonde-haired young man, curly hair pulled back half-heartedly into a ponytail, creeping up the schoolyard steps with a garbage bag. I don’t know how long he watched me from behind his wrought iron fence. Now contemplating both my disassociation with all things religious and the uneasy convergence of my background and the culture of the rural Southwest, I didn’t notice him until the first grunt.

It was guttural, nearly primordial. It scared me. It had the depth of death; it sang a song of nothingness. It was a drunk one step from unconsciousness, except perfectly sober.

I looked at him and he grunted. He grunted with the tenor of moaning. He was just a boy, but unshaved like an old man. He grunted and flung his hand past me, as if to tell me something. The look on his twisted face almost made it seem like an urgent warning.

“Hello,” I said, hardly expecting an intelligible response from the other side of the black fence on the far side of the road. He grunted. I stopped walking. They were longer than grunts. A low moaning cry, an infantile attempt at communication. Fifty years ago they would have called him deaf and dumb. I’m not sure what they call him today.

I felt sad when I told him that I didn’t understand him. I didn’t; I couldn’t. So I lowered my head, putting another sliver of green glass – until recently part of a bottle of Rolling Rock – into my bag and kept walking.

He disappeared, but only for a moment. He came out from behind the fence that formed his worldview, through the leaning gate linking the patchwork fence and the small bungalow next to it. He followed me with plodding footsteps, still grunting.

I turned around and stopped. I introduced myself, less than sure of my wisdom behind my decision. “Hi, I’m Jeremy,” I said quietly. He was too far away to offer my hand in friendship. He didn’t smile, he grunted.

I took one step down the stairs and one step forward, timidly. I held out an extra garbage bag. “Want to help?” I asked, except in a slow, loud tone, hoping it might help. “WAAN-T TOOO HELLL-P?;” obnoxiously slow and troublingly broken, as if it would help translate my words across an impervious barrier.

I don’t remember if he grunted or not, but he slowly took the bag, then lurched forward, almost falling, and crumpled to his knees. Instead of broken glass, the straw wrapper next to him, or a rusty AA battery close by, he scooped up a dozen pebbles, sweeping them into a pile on the step. As he looked up at me and grunted, I noticed that the stones formed – intentionally or not, I’m not sure – the letter “Y.”

The smart bastard, I thought, he wants to know why. Why wasn’t I sitting in on the Sunday evening mass at the church? Why was I, a skinny little kid from Wisconsin, in New Mexico? Why was my new friend’s life so different than that of everyone else? Why should anyone spend their time cleaning a meaningless street in a tiny town so far from their reality? Why?

I decided not to give him the long answer, I didn’t think he would understand. He grunted again, so I spoke. “It’s a good thing to do,” I said, offering just a part of what brought me to that particular street. “It makes me smile.” In his moanful sort of way, he grunted.

I’m not sure if he was acting in approval, defiance, or ignorance, but he swept the pile of stones into the bag I had given him. He ripped a clump of weedy grass out of the sandy soil and shoved it into his bag. He grunted once before proudly holding the bag out to me and putting it into mine. I stood and watched as he staggered off, half-galloping, with his oversized blue stocking cap flopping with each step, threatening to fall over his eyes each time he jerked his body into motion.

As he disappeared behind his fenced refuge, I couldn’t help but stare. I don’t know if he understood a single word I said that day, even my simplistically abbreviated short answer. And I doubt anyone would find my long answer intelligible. Luckily for me, I think I understood everything he wanted to say to me on that narrow street in Pecos, New Mexico. It doesn’t matter much if that young man – or anyone else – understands me or finds much validity in my long answer, just as long as I do.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

The Art of the Cover Page

Is there an art to the cover page? i'd guess yes. a random sampling: