The Last Great Parking Lot in North America

 

Hello Arthur!

It's been too long since we've written or spoken with each other. Since I'm the one who keeps moving I figure it's my responsibility to let you know where I'm at.

I am in Homer, Alaska. I think last time we spoke I told you we were going to go find a place to stay and call home. We went and found our own version of Westcliffe here in Homer, Alaska.

Its small, people are welcoming as opposed to the protective weirdness that Estes Park, Colorado exhibited for a while.

Homer is a lot different place when you actually live here and be part of the Community as opposed to on a boat as a commercial fisherman and a short timer. We've been here since the third week in September and have now just made it past Winter Solstice and really.... its not that horribly dark.

Last Summer I passed through Westcliffe, Colorado and finally saw what it was like. I worked a 23 day Colorado Outward Bound School course in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness. It's a great mountain range, especially around the Crestone Needle... it's an impressive looking mountain.

I decided to take a break from any type of guiding, whether its COBS, Harry Kent or even some of the Alaskan opportunities that were possible. I decided to just think about climbing for myself for a while. There's little rock in the Homer area, but there's quite a bit of ice and mountaineering around here. Like the Sangre de Cristo range, the potential for climbing routes is virtually untapped in the Kenai mountains of Homer.

I also think I might be able to find a climbing mentor up here to take me to the next level. One guy here in town who I just called did the 2nd ascent of Mount Deborah in 1975... he still climbs and said he'd like to go climbing with me.

What caused me to finally write is we ate a great big wonderful meal the other night. It reminded me of all those times you and Marty had me over for dinner and how nice it was compared to instant potatoes living in your van.

The other thing it made me think of is how frustrating it must have been to watch me running all over the place in circles, with little continuity and not using my abilities to the fullest or in the most directed manner.

Slowly I'm growing and learning how to not be so scattered. Erica has been a huge stabilizing force for that ... My project manager of sorts.

Looking back to who Erica was when you first met her versus now. I'm sure you were scratching your head wondering why I didn't go to the Monastery in Aspen you always joked about. But in all seriousness, she is just like you and I in that she is scratching her way to the summit of Mount Analogue too. I scratch my head sometimes and wonder why she is thrashing her way up some burly offwidth instead of an elegant hand crack. The offwidth is slower, it doesn't look Fun, seems stupid in a way... but it builds character. And when she masters it she will flow too. That is what I see in Erica. Then in makes me appreciate and See the patience you have had for me. Thanks!

Slowly I'm refining my short term focus. Its been easy for me to look out in the distance with Visionary attitudes, approaches and ideas. I think deep down I believed that a fantastic Vision would be enough and that all the support and success would just show up because it was so clear to me how it could look. I think I thought that someone looking for the answers would hear me say "All you have to do is..." stated with confidence and somehow my return would be granted due to my Wisdom. Not that I ran around with that at the forefront of my Mind, but that inner falsehood that I did not see clearly probably governed my actions.

Now I recognize the validity of picking a place like Homer (or Westcliffe), finding work that will sustain you financially, not destroy you emotionally and to build that personal Vision brick by brick. Or as the Dali Lama of Tibet says "You don't jump and land on the top floor, you have to go up all the stairs."

So its with a conscious effort that I cast out all the Demons that hold me back. Learn to lay the next brick and know what I want to build.

I know I need to climb, and I have lots of Fun with photography, especially the kind that lends itself to Michael and Arthur's version of Mt. Analogue. So brick by brick I build and have been cautious as not to star in "Ground Hog Day - The Sequel".

I think I need a third element that makes what I do unique if I am to profit and sustain my venture. I have too many ideas some days and not enough others.

So, that is where I'm at... happily married, grounded, working towards climbing and photography more, simplifying our lives. Also waiting for the third element to become clear.

I sneak on the Internet on occasion and see what you have been doing. The Homer, Alaska City Council needs to see Project Sangreal. I think they could benefit.

I'm sure all is well for you and Marty and Shogun.... Thanks for Listening!

Up, Up, Always Up!

 

Michael S. Johnson - January 7th, 1999 in Homer, Alaska