If something was “cool” back in the 1960s, is it equally “cool” today? I’m no expert in etymology — the study of languages, words and their origins — but I’ve always found it fascinating how our language changes and evolves over time.
On March 26 a friend and I hiked from the Grand Canyon’s South Rim to the river and back up to the rim in about 10-1/2 hours. The Park Service’s warnings not to attempt a descent to the Colorado River and back up on the same day are dire and ubiquitous. They make it sound like one is entering Mt. Everest’s death zone without oxygen. In some ways I can understand their position. People have tried to make the hike during the summer months when the canyon bottom becomes an oven set at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Many rescues have been required, and some people have died.
April 5 was the last in a string of bluebird days that were sure to end soon. A few other folks were enjoying the bright sunshine, appearing in the distance as small black dots as I peered out across the lake’s expanse. Drawing closer, I noticed that some were skate skiing and dashing quickly toward the lake’s far shore.
Conditions were ideal on March 6 as I skied along the frozen Knik River in a set ski track that had apparently been put in earlier that morning. The sky was deep blue, the sun felt warm on my face and there was no wind coming out of the east at the terminus of Knik Glacier.
Some folks might not remember the silly quote by comedian Billy Crystal when he impersonated actor Fernando Lamos, “It’s more important to look good than to feel good,” to which he added: “You look marvelous!”
With nearly one-half million acres, our big back yard called Chugach State Park is more than a recreationist wonderland. It is a spiritual refuge, or what I like to call a “sanctuary for the soul.”
One of the most accurate and enduring analogies I’ve come across to describe our society was gleaned in high school, when I observed that the same few people planned and organized school events like dances, and the same folks did the cleanup afterward. I wasn’t one of those industrious volunteers, because I didn’t attend the dances. But I always felt guilty for not pitching in.
The telephone rings during the family dinner. It’s a telemarketer. The cable TV company called earlier and wanted to offer us a better deal. At work our iPhone serenades us with an incoming call, derailing our train of thought. During a conversation, a person interrupts us in mid-sentence. In many cases the person doesn’t even realize he or she is doing it. Television advertising interrupts our programs. News commentators talk over each other two, three and even four at a time.
I’m not sure how he did his research, but John Metcalfe, a staff writer at The Atlantic Cities, (a website devoted to global cities and trends) has identified eight U.S. cities that he believes have the crummiest winters. They are Chicago, the nastiest; San Francisco, lamest; New York, filthiest; Syracuse, snowiest; Washington D.C., gridlockiest; Seattle, wussiest; Los Angeles, car destoryingist; and Fairbanks, most depressing.
Note: In planning an upcoming trip to the Grand Canyon, I thought of this story from seven years ago, when I joined my daughter for an unforgettable hike down into one the world’s most fascinating natural wonders.