“On a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.” - Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
The first bit of information that hit my eyeballs this morning was the fact that my dear friend, Spoono, had died.
He had apparently died in his sleep, of natural causes, out at the once-a-year sparkling city of Black Rock, in northern Nevada.
I worked with Spoono for several years out at Burning Man. He was a cook from Gerlach who came out to work the event, and, as happens with many people, he kind of got sucked in.
He was a good man. He was always laughing, even when he was in the hospital several times over the past couple years. He was always there with a sparkle in his eye and a welcoming hug.
Spoono wrote me several times in the past year, recommending that we make this soap or that soap (Doc Holliday was his idea, as was the upcoming Bass Reeves, and Nellie Cashman – one of his distant relatives). He knew a lot about the history of the American West, which didn’t surprise me at all. He was a curious guy, always learning stuff and happy to just roll up his sleeves and get to work on whatever needed doing.
That goes a long way in my book.
We all die. He knew his time was coming, since he was going in for tests periodically. His health was failing. There were many photos of him smiling weakly in the past year, hooked up to tubes, still laughing.
At the end of the day, I think he died probably the best way any of us could hope for: doing what he loved, among people he loved, in a place he loved. He deserved all of that.
This news came just as the memorial services for my other friend, Tigger, were wrapping up. Tigger died last week after a long and difficult battle with cancer. She also was one of those people who just rolled up her sleeves and got to work.
I had to go back and correct that paragraph, because I realized I wrote everything in the present tense. She was one of those people…
Last month, Tigger cancelled her Clean Getaway Subscription because she was finishing up the stuff of her life. When I got that message, I can’t even describe the pit of sadness that opened up in my heart like a black sinkhole of comprehension of what was to come.
Cancer is shitty and all consuming.
Tigger was very strong, but death was stronger. It’s stronger than all of us. So, there she went.
It seems like so many of my friends have died in the past several years… but then I think of how fortunate I am to have many friends. Statistically speaking, we’re overall doing pretty well.
So, we’re on vacation.
Nothing like hearing about another friend’s death to remind a person how precious life is, right?
Last night, we were supposed to camp just South of Mt. Shasta. The brutal wildfires had draped everything in heavy smoke. The air was thick with it, and our eyes and lungs burned (the photo is the sun at 4pm without a filter). We opted to push on North to the city of Mt. Shasta and get a room.
Today was a long and meandering drive from Mt. Shasta to Union Creek, just North of Crater Lake.
We saw Mt. Shasta from many angles, emerging from the smoke, barely visible until we rounded the Northern edge.
In Dorris, California, we stopped to see the second tallest flagpole in the United States. It was indeed very tall.
I tried to direct us to a mysterious gravitational anomaly out on some non-descript country road on the Oregon border, but it turned out there was nothing of interest.
We made a sudden right turn when I realized that we were almost upon a mini-railroad museum. It was an interesting place… no railcars were running, but there were miniature towns and some real train cars to wander around in. Mostly, the grass was wonderful for the dogs to enjoy, and we enjoyed watching them enjoy it.
And now, here we are in Union Creek, Oregon.
Russ and the dogs are napping, and I’m staying true to my blog-every-day promise.
Tomorrow, we’ll drive around the rim of Crater Lake and head up to Bend, where we’re staying a couple days before we head North to Vancouver, Wa.
Here are some other photos:
Silly dogs on a road trip:
Two very happy dogs:
Sadie, to the future:
I can't believe my finger ruined this shot: