Categories
Funny and/or Strange Photo I Took

What’s Wrong With White Folks?

I know, entire novels have been written on the subject, but yeah–this (see picture) is a “thing” that is is widespread and common enough to merit signage.  N.A. folks must be thinking: what’s the hell is up with white folks? Then again, they’re pretty much used to our shit by now.

Four Corners Tourist Site, Navajo Res, CO-UT-NM-AZ.

DSCN1756

Categories
Photo I Took

Peering Over Canyonlands

1201

Categories
Journal

What Is Up With The French?

rude-frenchI’m a situationally humble person, when it comes to myself and my country (but not my kids, who are awesome, and if you’d like I can spend a few hours telling you why…) and as such one of the stereotypes I’ve fallen for over the years has been the idea of “the Ugly American abroad”–you know, the loud, boorish guy in a Hawaiian shirt, khaki shorts, and Nikes grumping around Paris complaining about not getting ice in his Coke and that all the locals don’t have the courtesy to speak English. I’m not the only one.  There are web sites and entire chapters of travel books dedicated to teaching Americans how to tone it down, lay low, and fit in, enough in fact that an intelligent, sensitive individual can certainly be excused for adopting a preemptive inferiority complex verging dangerously close to shame.

No longer.  Not after this trip.

Now before I go further, a caveat: I have a dear friend who lives in Marseilles and who may just be the sweetest, kindest, and most considerate person I have ever met–and let’s be clear about what I’m saying: I met Mr. Rogers once, and my friend Agnès is right in that ballpark. For many years, I held her up as a representative of her nation, but lately I’ve begun to suspect she is an anomaly.  Why?

Because every French person I encountered on my 24 days at large in the Wild West was an asshole–and when I got together with my friends, one of them relayed to me a traumatizing story–of being bullied by, you guessed it, the French.

20120604_123154In Badlands National Park, descending a precipitous portion of trail called “the 140 Steps” which is pretty much a cable ladder secured into a slope too steep to scramble and too unstable to switchback, we were in line, taking turns–my wife was about halfway down, moving slowly because, while she’s extremely athletic she’s also a little nervous about heights.  Two children were on the rungs between her and the top–the kids being a primary concern, because the steps near the top are spread widest and are  the most difficult.  From behind us, a shrill voice breaks into our quiet patience.

“Excuse, excuse!” A middle aged couple pushes past me and the rest of my party in turn, “Make room, excuse!” and when the person up next doesn’t move, the woman says, “If you step aside we will go down much quickly and be out of your way,” then shoves herself onto the the ladder, edging past a 12 year old girl, and heads down.  The husband follows.  The others on the ladder make room, mostly in fear of getting knocked off, but my wife won’t budge.

“You might as well slow down because I’m a little afraid of heights and you’re not getting past me,” she says, with a hint of fake laughter to keep things light.  But the woman keeps coming.  My wife makes another attempt at friendly, but unyielding banter, but the French chick fires back snark.  At the bottom, she cracks something sharp and in French–I couldn’t hear what from my perch above, which is a damn shame because I can speak a little French, but the tone was clear enough.  We shook it off, though, appreciated having someone external to complain about, and moved on.

Several days later, in Yellowstone, at a Pay Shower concession, there were about a dozen stalls, all occupied, and six guys standing in line.  This guy comes in just as there’s an opening and heads right for it.  “Yo!” Someone says. The potential shower poacher flinches–he heard it–but keeps resolutely going for the shower.  “Yo, man!” The guy at the front of the line is a biker on his way to Sturgis–and he doesn’t look like one of those guys who bikes two weeks a year when he’s not Vice President of Marketing back in Sandusky, Ohio.  The guy looks up, we’re all glaring at him, and he slouches to the end of the line.  Isolated incident?  I’d think so, but TWO MORE GUYS come in the next six or seven minutes, all  of them ignoring the line, and in no time at all they’re shamed to their rightful place, where they all start jabbering in French–some of it fairly unpleasant.

I briefly turned to face them, “Avez-vous des lignes en France? Je pensais que nous étions les “barbarians”?

That showed ’em–but damn, what were the odds I’d remember the word for “lines?”

So, we go on to meet up with my friends in Jackson Hole, and Karen has a story to tell that beats ours all to hell–though when she starts, we’ve no idea it fits in with our theme of the boorish French.

Karen towed a camper trailer behind her husbands truck up from Colorado to meet up with a bunch of us.  It’s a big-ass truck and she hadn’t much experience with the trailer.  When she gets to the first campground it is full, and they send her on to the next one that is further out and a bit more rugged.  She parks to register and discovers she’s scored the last site–hooray, right!  While she fills out the paper work, the campground host suggests she send one of her children to go sit in the site so if anyone else comes they won’t get all excited about finding an open site.  Her 12-year old girl is dispatched to sit on the picnic table, while Karen accidentally backs her camper into a ditch–not a bad ditch, but enough to require some extrication using a jack, with the assistance of the campground host.

About this time, the daughter comes back, a little shaken, reporting that a couple pulled into the campsite, ignored her when she said her family already registered, and proceeded to unpack everything in their car and pile in on the picnic table and around the site–presumably to claim ownership, but who knows.  When my friend finally frees her rig and goes to the site for some serious WTFing, the stubborn squatters want nothing to do with her or her receipt–they ignore her, they pooh pooh her and argue in–you guessed in–heavy French accents.  Ultimately, the campground host must be summoned to intervene and evict the bastards, and even then they leave reluctantly. Later in the evening, they repeatedly drive and walk by Karen’s campsite, glaring and staring.

A pattern emerges.

c25-ext-1-300Utah was lousy with French–in the campground in Arches we were surrounded by French families in rented RVs.  Companies like CruiseAmerica must advertise like crazy in France, because everywhere we went the ubiquitous 30″ behemoths were spitting our hordes of loud, angry-looking French families who, while slamming doors and stomping around a lot, otherwise remained happily inside their hermetically sealed vehicles except for a lot of trips to the restrooms–where they could be found washing dishes in the sinks, even though NPS French traffic circlehas added some very convenient dishwashing stations to many campground facilities.  And lest I be too subtle with my warnings, consider who is driving when you’re navigating all those western switchbacks, and that they’ve spent all of their lives steering Peugeots and Citroens into virtual anarchy.

I tried being nice, even threw in  some “mercis” and “saluts” when I was navigating the more crowded trails in Arches, but mostly I got grunts in response.  When we were shadowed one day by a tour bus–“Le Bus” painted on the side–I reached my fill.  At three different 2014_LeBus_793.x446trailheads we ran into “Le Bus,” as it disgorged its herd of unruly French, elbowing each other as badly as they pushed their way through and past everyone else.  They must really not have lines in France, I realized–it has to be a cultural thing–this almost Darwinist “me first” behavior.  At one point, I stood with a group of Japanese–no strangers to emerging from tour buses like a rising tide–and noted their wide-eyed horror at the toddler-like ego-driven comportment of the French. “It’s entitlement,” my wife growled.  “That has to be it.  Cultural narcissism.”

I’m not ready to adopt that extreme position, but I was almost pushed to my limit at our last destination, in Mesa Verde park, where our neighbors were a French family with 5 seemingly feral kids who, when the father wasn’t berating them aggressively, ran roughshod through everyone else’s sites–the oldest two, boys of about 7 and 8–were running about, dualing with tree branch swords, and at one point ran out into the lane yelling “Dragon! Dragon! Tuez le dragon!” and proceeded to thwap the passing vehicle multiple times with their tree screaming-baby1limbs, while Mama and Papa stared blandly–all the while ignoring the shrieking, screaming 2 year old, who they were still bottle feeding formula (I watched Papa mix and shake), and who would continue to wail like a banshee for the three days straight.  I recalled a really patronizing article I once read in the New York Times, about how French children are taught their place–to be seen and not heard–while Americans let their kids run roughshod until they become demanding self-absorbed assholes who think they are the center of the universe. Well, this kid was certainly heard by everyone within a 4 mile radius–she sounded so dire that vultures were circling–and I instructed my kids, “when a baby cries for hours, it’s my experience that they’re usually sitting in a pile of shit or under some other sort of discomfort. You ignore a 4 year old who has tantrums–when it’s a baby, you pay attention.”

bt500bFinally, and perhaps most horribly, were the signs in the showers at Mesa Verde, which read “Please do not use shower drains for solid waste. They cannot handle it. Please use toilets in the restrooms next door.”  I mean: what the fuck is that?  I don’t really want to know, I think, but all I can come up with is it’s some kind of sick-ass French bidet thing….*

Because, really. Who’s ugly now?

 

*okay, I’ll admit it–bidets are awesome, but they freak out most of my fellow Americans, and no way to I pass up a chance at a cheap laugh.

Categories
Commentary meme science

Monday/Memeday: Mormon Crickets

crickets

A week from now, we’ll be hitting Utah.  If you’ve never seen Mormon Crickets, this is going to blow your mind. They’re big, they swarm, and when the get smashed on the road it gets worse because they’re cannibals, and the more that die and get mushed on the highway,

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the more of these bad boys that gather to feast on the smashed corpses of their comrades. When we were last in Utah, we crossed patches so slippery with dead bugs that the car skated on the highway, like one expects to experience in snow.  If you’re traveling, make sure to work a car washing into your schedule.
dt.common.streams.StreamServer.cls

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Uncategorized

VACATION!

nb75at70aBy the time you wake up and read this–by the time the WordPress robot publishes this–I’ll be two large travel mugs and a couple hundred miles into our big vacation, having slipped off in the foggy pre-dawn morning on our way west, and we hope to stay on vacation for several weeks.

I’ve lived in Wyoming and Oregon, and have had the opportunity to travel back and forth across this country, with a lot of meandering along the way, many times–but my kids, who were born in Oregon, have not been on the left side of the Mississippi since we moved to Pennsylvania when they were 4 months old.  It was well badlandspast time we got them out there.

I don’t know if I’ll have many–or even any–chances to check in on Old Road Apples, or to see what is going on over at your blog, and the many others I generally enjoy on a daily basis.  It is strange, but I feel like I’m leaving a lot of friends behind, and in a way I guess that I am.

Not to fear, I’ve been planning for several months to make this trip go smoothly, and part of that has included maintaining Old Road Apples in my absence.  I’ve prepared the usual daily tetons1features, a heavy dose of Summer Wonders, and–as a special treat–repeat posts of vintage Junk from the very early days of the blog, before anyone was reading.  That’s right, I have several dozen posts–much of it poetry–that received few hits, likes, or comments–or none and at all.  I’ll be throwing those out at you to see what you think this time–maybe they’re really terrible, and that’s why they went ignored.  We’ll see.

03341_archesparkavenue_672x420Finally, it’s common wisdom not to reveal travel plans on social media, so just to let you know: if you’re one of the rare few who have penetrated my slender wall of anonymity, don’t get any bright ideas about robbing me, or whatever: we’ve got desperate, slightly dangerous and unpredictable neighbors who will be working with a dedicated circle of house-sitters, lawn-mowers, plant-waterers, dog-walkers, and other heroic souls who will providing a constant and vigilant guard on the homestead.  And did I mention the dog?

See you back here in about a month–I hope to return with a mountain of tales both tall and short, and maybe a photo or two.

 

Categories
Funny and/or Strange sheer awesomeness

Real Headline: Polygamist Ninjas Attack!

I just found this link in my Inbox–thanks Teresa!–that headline is too awesome not to post immediately.  All the good stuff happens in Utah.  Our Pennsylvania Amish never do anything this interesting–when they get in trouble its for refusing to build their outhouses up to construction codes, or refusing to put orange reflective safety triangles on the back of their buggies.

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/58433361-78/police-suspects-women-child.html.csp

Click here to see the purported ninjas.

Ninjas!

Categories
Photo I Like sheer awesomeness summer photos Uncategorized

Found Summer Photo: Tolerable Vacation Crowds

Tolerable levels of crowding at this vacation hotspot.  I’m in.

http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=196447&d=1384468250
http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=196447&d=1384468250
Categories
Commentary

D.A.H.O.F. Clarke Woodger, Nomen Global Language Institute

Tim Torkildson, a social media specialist and English as a Second Language teacher at Utah’s Nomen Global Language Center wrote what he thought was a typicially innocuous blog entry a few weeks back on the subjects of homophones–which we called homonyms when I was in school.  If you remember elementary school, homophones are those pesky and confusing words that sound the same but mean very different things, like “do” and “due” or “mary,” “merry,” and “marry” just to name a few.  For students learning English, particularly ESL students, homophones pose a significant obstacle to comprehension.

Imagine Torkildson’s surprise, then, to find himself fired by Dumb Ass Hall of Fame Nominee and Nomen owner Clarke Woodger, who asserted, “now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality.”

What?

Cursory research suggests this story is not a hoax, though it sure sounds like one. Although Nomen has removed the “controversial” (giggle, giggle) post, it is still available on Google Cache. See what all the fuss is about

https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:kvBQPW_wGYEJ:nomenglobaltoday.blogspot.com/2014/07/help-with-homophones-1.html

That’s right, Woodger was worried that people would think that his school supported homosexuality.  “I had to look up the word” Woodger said, according to Torkildson’s account on his personal blog, “because I didn’t know what the hell you were talking about. We don’t teach this kind of advanced stuff to our students, and it’s extremely inappropriate. Can you have your desk cleaned out by eleven this morning? I’ll have your check ready.”

As with the best of this kind of stuff, it’s too funny–in a really sad, embarrassing-for-all-us way–to be made up. Sort of just makes me want to say “look at us, world, this is America, aren’t we great?”  Sigh.

http://gawker.com/language-school-blogger-fired-for-writing-about-homopho-1613916147
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/31/blogger-fired-homophones_n_5637873.html
http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/politics/58236366-90/says-english-homophones-language.html.csp

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Uncategorized

Subject of Last “Random” Photo: Georgie White

Anybody miss me while I was out of town and away from the Interwebs?  Well, I missed you–or “yinz guys” as we like to way in western PA.

37894Georgie1
NAU Cline Library, Special Collections and Archives, Colorado River Plateau Digital Archives. Photo by Josef Muench. Call # NAU.PH.2003.11.4.3.H3828A

I had several ideas I thought I could write about today, but a second look at this morning’s “random” photo inspired me to do a little digging to see who this woman is and what she’s about.  Fortunately, this was an easy one to run down.

As I’ve said before, most of the photos represented in this series have come by way of  Tumblr and Pinterest, and are either unattributed, or have been reposted so many times that it’s difficult to figure out the original source.

This Sunday’s photo has a lot of clues, and while it shows up all over the net, I had no problem figuring out that the woman in the photo is Georgie White Clark, a fairly famous georgiebookand historically significant river guide who made her mark floating the Colorado River through Arizona’s Grand Canyon (among other places) –which she first descended in the mid 1940’s.  It deserves notices that while most people run the Colorado is rubber rafts, Ms White and a friend did a 60-mile stretch by…swimming it, wearing lifejackets.

Just so we’re clear on what we’re talking about, here’s a glimpse of one of the rapids:

GeorgieRiverTrip
NAU Cline Library, Special Collections and Archives, Colorado River Plateau Digital Archives. 1955. Call # NAU.PH.92.17.1

Not only was she the first woman to swim the canyon, she was the first to row a boat through the canyon, and the first woman to run an outfitter service to guide others through the canyon as well.  Her story is easily found spread across the web, and deserves a look.

GeorgieRiverRats
NAU Cline Library, Special Collections and Archives, Colorado River Plateau Digital Archives NAU.PH.96.4.190.218
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Glen and Bessie Hyde

And what a good story it is–“controversial” in life–though, for the record, after an admittedly cursory bit of research I’ve found little explanation for her “controversial” resputation beyond the observation that she wasn’t a modern-style feminist and that she liked to pack tin cans for her float expeditions and I suspect, had she been a man that word would not been been applied to her, her legend grew in death. Numerous, but nebulous, clues suggested that her auto-biography was filled with manufactured information, and that she may have been someone entirely different, possibly even a murderer, in the part of her life before she began running the river: Bessie Hyde, who infamously disappeared, along with her husband, on a honeymoon float down the river in 1928 that would have made Bessie the first woman to run the canyon.  Was Georgie actually Bessie, returned 20 years  later to finish what she’d started?  It’s an exciting story that reads like a movie, and can be read in detail here:

http://www.grandcanyontreks.org/georgie.htm