Mercy Hot Springs—

The woman seated next to me up to her neck in hot water gathered her thoughts, “My husband passed two months ago—” smiling against the odds she continued. “Together we worked a piece of land— a section— 160 acres, raised our family there, he’d just retired, then like that he’s gone.” Soaking can be revelatory.

Dawn light at Mercy Hot Springs… the old owl roosting tree to left

Prime access to a good long soak at a mineral springs should be located near as is possible smack dab in the midst of— to hell and gone. For first timers you’ll want a place that welcomes the insincere curiosity seekers, dilatants, and accidental geothermal mineral waters uninitiated. A fraction of the newbie’s are convinced right off, now and forever they are in the know about the multifaceted powers of mineral hot spring waters. Welcome, come on in, the water is just fine. 

Veteran hot spring types see naturally occurring mineral springs to be one of earth’s most soothing natural occurring pleasures— and not just people— manatees in winter are attracted to such waters found rising from fissures in Florida’s Crystal River’s silted riverbeds. 

Grab your swimsuit, beach towel, sunscreen, favorite pool toy, love interest, and don’t forget to bring along a page turner. 

To find Mercy Hot Springs you’ll depart from San Francisco heading southeast toward Livermore on I-580 then further over Altamont Pass you’ll jog to the right until you merge with I-5 continuing toward Los Angeles, then take exit 379 and go west 14 miles on Little Panoche Road, the one-way trip if you avoid rush hour should take just over two hours. 

Hot Springs of the Panoche—

Mercy Hot Springs is found next to a paved county two-lane road that extends west of the San Joaquin Valley into the very heart of the Valle de Panoche Grande— or, as it is now known— Little Panoche Valley.

Sticking with this regions favorite name, the South Fork of Little Panoche Creek cuts along the easternmost side of the resort’s property. Infrequent rains fill the creek bed; salt cedar is the tell, this intermittent waterway is almost always dry as a bone. Full timers might see water running in the creek but overnight guests at the resort never will. 

Solar Array on Ridge

Mercy Hot Springs is an improved natural hot spring resort. You’ll find such creature comforts as electricity, and reverse osmosis filtered drinking water. There is a swimming pool, individual sized soaking tubs, showers, and restrooms. Should a day visit not be sufficient there are a wide assortment of options you may choose for your stayover. There are tiny cabins and Airstream trailers where you can arrange for a fee to spend the night. You can pull through with your RV where you will find electric power, water, and a wireless internet system to use. If you prefer a more spartan visit you can stay at the more rustic sites beneath the salt cedar where visitors may pitch a tent, car camp or enjoy the pleasures to be found in staying in a fully self-contained van. 

Wildflowers spring 2023— atmospheric river bounty

The First People— Yokuts and Costanoans were sure to have encamped from here in some past nomadic life to hunt and be hunted— next came the Spaniards who came grazing cattle, expanding empire, and as ever searching for gold. The Panoche and its surrounding hills are a parched hot ranching landscape, a place of rugged plateaus, steep hills, and flash flood cut washes.  

A specific breed of homo-hot-water-sapiens is drawn to thermally charged watering holes. Here at Mercy Hot Springs, the proprietors have solved the mystery of all great conundrums— to wear a bathing suit or not to wear a bathing suit. The solution is both elegant and old school. At one soaking pool location a bathing suit is required and at the other there is none. Strong feelings animate this debate and there are many enthusiasts that must take to the waters— just as the God’s have delivered them into the Universe— naked as the day they were born. Fair is fair, right is right, and hot spring soaking purists soak by a code etched into time memorial.

When you soak, you’ll want to stay hydrated. You’ll find pure filtered R/O water dispensers to fill your own drinking bottles near the pools. For your own sake and that of others smoking is not permitted anywhere on the property. Whispering is encouraged and if you can’t whisper your visit to the pools will be discouraged. It doesn’t take much imagination to see that a few carloads of amped up sugar fed children armed with water floating toys could turn the pool area into a fractious convivial scene that more resembles the concrete esplanade found poolside at their local plunge. Serenity is featured here at Mercy— mindfully the resort attempts to coax a slower rhythm to the metropolitan online bustle that fuels its guests’ contemporary lifestyles.

Encounters with other patrons on this trip included more men than women, more beards than not, more book readers, mostly curmudgeon types, all in all I found my neighbors towing the line and keeping up their part of solitudes bargain. Soaking by daylight or after dark while stargazing was equally pleasing. All this gosh darn peace and quiet is the resorts most environmentally protected resource. If getting away from it all is your thing, this is the place for you. Those hoping to shake their moneymaker might prefer rolling further on down the road to Bakersfield, perhaps a stopover at Buck Owen’s Crystal Palace for a night of honky-tonking might fix whatever it is still eating at you. 

Fill with water then hop on in—

Ritual is everything in the hot spring soaking world. You’ll rinse and clean your tub first off, as is often said cleanliness is next to hot spring godliness. With step one complete it takes twenty-minutes to get the tub full. 

We soaked in the afternoon, came back again after dinner, watched the stars, holding hands, whispering to one another all manner of idle fragments of details to our day, then after a good night’s sleep my wife and I soaked once more in the morning right after we fixed our coffee. 

Around the outdoor pool there are scattered a small fleet of Adirondack chairs where you may while away the lighted hours of your day. For those that still possess some small kernel of initiative you may hike up into the surrounding hills, whatever sloth, and toper you may have allowed to become habit can be remedied on the hot springs nearby footpaths. Wear a hat, put on sunscreen, you will want to anticipate contemplating contour lines, rounded shapes, and the interplay you’ll feel between yourself and the surrounding landscape. This is the world where the cottontail rabbit serves as a food source for coyote, bobcat, and Cooper’s hawk. By night Great horned owl sneak out by stealthy winged flight to feed on the delectable small nocturnal animals. Flitting among the trees are hummingbirds, mourning doves, and crows. 

Energy-efficient solar powered heat pumps have found a near ideal location here at Mercy Hot Springs. Along the ridge are various solar arrays, some stationary others on pedestals that track the sun across the sky. Whether you need to cool down or get warm the heat pumps will solve your problem off-grid with 100% carbon free electricity. If you are unfamiliar with this modern appliance here’s an opportunity to get acquainted with one of our climate emergencies high tech solutions.

Along the south fork of Little Panoche Creek on the easternmost side of the resort there is a grove of tamarisk that tracks along the creek’s watercourse way. The common name for tamarisk is salt cedar, it is an invasive water thirsty species that once established is impossible to remove. I’ve seen stands cut down to stumps with chainsaws, the remains bulldozed, the stumps regenerate, in a few years the salt cedar’s thriving, all the hard labor is for not. 

Rustic campsite—

Scattered all about the grounds at the resort your visit feel like you are living within an  oasis— you’ll see tall palms swaying in the sky, weeping willows, gnarled century old pepper trees and Monterey pines.  

 The receptionist’s name is Jersey, your guest services coordinator has come from Bonn, Germany to work at the resort. I asked about the short-eared owls that had been for decades migrating here to roost in a favorite tree for the winter. Jersey is something of a birder explained that the Great horned owls had moved into the area and that this largest of all owls dominates the habitat and had chased off the smaller owl birds. Owl change had come like it or not to the Little Panoche Valley. I miss the short-eared owls, this parliament had for as long as anyone could remember had every winter migrated south to roost in one of the oldest pine trees on the property. My last visit I counted more than twenty short-eared owls. At dusk the skilled fliers would alight and scatter off in every direction to hunt for prey to eat. You’ll see bats and nightjars in the night sky too.  

Little Panoche Valley is sited at the southernmost point of the Diablo Range. If you walk up top along the ridge where the solar arrays are mounted, you can see the nearby landmarks. Big Mountain is to the west, Panoche Hills are to the east. Las Agulias Mountain stands out towering over the smaller hills looking north. At an elevation of over 5200 feet the tallest of the 120 mile long Diablo Range peaks— the summit of San Benito Mountain dominates the horizon to the south. It is up there, at the higher altitudes where you will find forests of gray, coulter, knobcone, Jeffrey and ponderosa pines. Down here at these lower elevations you’ll find the occasional sycamore, black oak and bigleaf maple, these species are scattered here and there. 

Visits to Mercy Hot Spring ought to be planned factoring in the time of year and day of the week. That’s how I’d do it anyway. During the peak of summer daytime temperatures here soar, day after day it can sizzle here, thermometers go triple digit day in and day out. Nights of summer will remain warm, if you do stay rent a cabin turn on the air conditioning, you’ll need it to remain cool why you sleep. 

I’ve come out during spring and fall and always on days when it isn’t forecast to rain. A chilly night would make be ideal for a good long soak.  

Far from California’s maddening crowds—

Planning a visit to Mercy Hot Springs while the wildflowers are blooming is a must-see rare show of color. The Little Panoche valley is a remote off the beaten track location, bring everything you need for your meals, food and cooking equipment, everything, you won’t regret coming prepared. Because there is no glass allowed in and around the pools be sure you have plenty of unbreakable containers for your water and beverages. 

Not sure when and why the no pet policy has been put in place, but this is a pet-free resort. Jersey the receptionist at the front desk advised while I was checking in that someone had driven out here and dumped off a young full sized mixed shepherd breed. With nowhere to go the frightened dog has been sticking near to the resort grounds likely to fend off an attack at night by coyotes. This is not a small problem; the resort owners and staff are mindful of the dog’s predicament. One of the handymen had finally coaxed the animal to eat some dog food from a bowl, then he got near enough to scratch the terrified dog between his ears. The resort staff is working on helping find the abandoned dog a new home.

Nothing but Salt Cedar, hot water and good peaceful times—

Stopovers for a good long soak at hot springs has been a habit now in my life for a great many years. I’ve hiked into the Cascade wilderness to soak in naturally formed hot spring pools. In British Columbia I’ve soaked inside caves lighted with candles. Then again I’ve stayed overnight at a swank destination sited on the banks of the Columbia River, this resort is north of Nakusp— Halcyon Hot Springs. I’ve traveled near and far. The dusty semi-improved hot springs in Tonopah just west of Phoenix has been a frequent simple Southwest pleasure, I’ve had the pleasure to soak there countless nights while on my way to a next stop. 

Guest Cabin No. 2—

To my mind Mercy Hot Springs rates as one of the very best hot springs resorts to be found nearest to the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s not too long a drive, the facilities are all in good working order, the resort isn’t too improved, it remains rooted in a more rustic sensibility. The Panoche region hillsides echo the contours of the famous Palouse, a panoramic farming region in Eastern Washington. 

If you have bones that ache, muscles all in a knot, why now you know where to go to put a fix to that load of worries you’ve been carrying on your sore back all these many long days. Why a hot spring visit is just what you need and now you know where to come— I’m planning on heading back soon, I’ll see you out there, bathing suit or none, doesn’t matter to me, either way— folk who come to soak here will be more than happy to give you a how do you do— 

News! · Screenplay

Missing and Unbound by the FODMAP

Morphing into my next best version of myself is underway. How I might ever generate enough escape velocity to be released from the engrained habits of character remains an open unanswerable quest.

You ain’t got nothing to complain about—

Probably the best news is we are heading south from our still soaked abode to spend the night at Mercy Hot Springs. Yesterday trees fell in our neighborhood from powerful winds. Fences were felled too. In our backyard we spend countless moments fretting over a nearby eucalyptus tree that reminds of the dozen or so that have destroyed homes here in the Bay Area this week.

Monday night I spent in Amador City in the Sierra foothills. The bone dry creek of last summer is this winters raging waters feature out the backside of my friends place. This was a three man meetup of food, wine, and conversation. This ongoing conversation is more than 50 years long now.

Silicon Valley Bank’s implosion continues rattling the circulatory system of global finance. We are here visiting this error in banking once again because lobbyists infiltrated Washington day in and day out since Dodd-Frank was passed. In an effort to restore danger to our system all the Republicans and some of the Democrats under Republican control reversed key safety measures from Dodd-Frank in 2018. I am not addicted to lobby shop money but that’s more than I can say for too many weak willed politicians in our nations capital.

What to eat? Vegetarians eat vegetables. Vegans avoid eating or using anything that is from animals. I have a number of friends that have to avoid nightshades— potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant etc— . Others I know can’t eat peanut butter— I’m one of those. I have friends that are sensitive to shellfish. I have lactose intolerant friends that can’t tolerate dairy, while others are tipped over by wheat. Then, recently I have discovered the weird world of the FODMAP diet. The idea here is to avoid excessive exposure to fructose, lactose, mannitol, sorbitol, GOS and fructans. The FODMAP diet is a guide to avoiding gastrointestinal distress. Turns out in particular I am having trouble tolerating onions and garlic in particular and a whole host of other foods as well.

You want to follow a path, here’s one

Until two weeks ago I had never heard of this FODMAP diet. To help sort out the do’s and don’ts I downloaded Monash University’s FODMAP Diet app. I’ve had good luck using the guide and avoiding the tummy upsetting foods described in this app has made all the difference in my life. We have been following a vegan diet for almost a decade now. It has been a source of adventure and opening to unexplored food opportunities. Adding the complexity of a FODMAP guided diet on top of the vegan thing has been a very complicated challenge. I’ll have more to say about this.

Circumspection we come back to the same old road block— ME!

Morphing into the next best version of myself includes not just sleeping right, not just exercising every day, but also being careful about what I eat. This of course requires the much derided quality of character we all need more of— will power. I have plenty but I also have my foibles, my weaknesses, my unrelenting impulses and deeply engrained desires. In a nutshell I am human and there is so much I want and so little strength in my character to fully control these profound things called cravings— You want a real wakeup call in life, it’s called the FODMAP diet— according to science almost 10% of the population of the world can benefit from eating this way. Another way to think about this is there is a one in ten chance you will encounter someone that has been thrust into this completely complicated form of eating. Show them some mercy, be kind, offer patience and understanding. No diet is a cakewalk, this one is as close to hell as you can get while still here on earth— but there’s an answer to that— you think you are going through hell on this diet try ignoring it— as my doctor explains— for those who benefit from this approach to eating it really isn’t optional— you can go to hell now or you can wait until your done needing to eat altogether and go there then. I think my doctor made herself crystal clear. God I tell you I hate this until death do us part business.

News! · Screenplay

Plans for Hope Eternal

Considering the life of an expatriate, wondering where you might go, how you can insulate yourself from the winged blunders of the political right, a sizable number of citizens are weighing the options— do I stay or do I go.

Dawn over Searchlight, Nevada— Harry Reid’s hometown

If you are planning to abandon Utah, the legislative session that ended Friday might provide the motivation. By far the single biggest environmental crisis facing Salt Lake City are the toxins and heavy metals contaminating the shore of the now dying Great Salt Lake. Once airborne the pollution threatens to sicken and shorten the lives of most of the state’s population— you got that right my Mormon faithful Joseph Smith fans. In January the Salt Lake Tribune editorial page urged the politicians to finally find the courage to pass new laws to help stave off disaster and warned that it was now or never— eternity as environmental calamity is one hell of a one-way street to oblivion.

Instead, the legislature focused on stripping away protections for LBGTQ community and ending a woman’s access to abortion. Utah’s lawmakers instead of protecting its population spent its legislative time and energy harassing various constituents they deem as unworthy of protection. If everyone is killed by the impending air quality crisis caused by the Great Salt Lake that’s someone else’s problem— wear a mask, get a better whole house air filter, stop blaming me kid, I got a bloodthirsty mob of lobbyists ready to vaporize my career, compared to your shortened life and premature death I’m facing a form of end-times you can’t even imagine. If you haven’t started packing your bags you might want to at least get to Ross for Less and purchase some discount luggage in preparation.

83 miles to Delta, Utah— Hydrogen Heaven Just Ahead

Salt cavern hydrogen storage in Delta, Utah has taken a turn from the remarkable to outright astounding. The salt caverns will have a storage capacity 150 times greater than all the lithium batteries presently deployed in the United States. You got that right, your smartphone will never run low of battery power ever again. Excess wind and solar capacity will generate energy that will crack water molecules into one part hydrogen and two parts oxygen. The oxygen goes up into the atmosphere the hydrogen goes into the salt cavern. Powerful turbines will burn the hydrogen when the sun no longer is shining, and the wind has ceased to blow. That is power not just where you need it, but power when you need it, it is a kind of stored power, it is a kind of battery. I wouldn’t stop packing my bags just yet, there remain a number of threats in this jungle called life ready to chase your inner Jack rabbit down and toss your sorry soul in a simmering cauldron of despair. 

I saw my first electric BMW i4 in the wild this week. A gentleman arriving for Friday prayers at a nearby mosque pulled up to the curb while I was out and about on a walk. Apprehensive at first, he thought I might be an oddball (how did he know), then my smile and battery electric vehicle banter disarmed him. The driving dynamics, fit and finish that is lacking in a Tesla can be found in this new BMW. Automakers chasing Tesla’s lead remain far behind in charging network deployment, but that is changing fast, and look if you are considering leaving why not drive your electric BMW across the border into your new expatriate life. 

Scientists in California just released a new study that has found for every 10 new battery electric vehicles in each square mile there is a 3-5% decrease in asthma attacks. You must stop for a moment take a deep breath and imagine what your life would be like if you could not take that breath. Did you do that, are you holding your breath, feeling a little uncomfortable, ok now you can breathe, now you can appreciate how profound this new piece of data is, how lives are changed and suffering is decreased. Having seen a child during an asthma attack I find the promise of clean air an act of mercy on the asthma afflicted. Every square mile anywhere across the state that was measured found the same decrease. What we can’t know yet is what if that magic number was 20 battery electric vehicles, what if the number was 100, or 1000? Of all the things in this world worthy of zeroing out ending the suffering of childhood asthma attacks is close to the top of the list. My hypothesis of the case is that putting an end to asthma would supercharge support for fixing the climate emergency.  That is what real winning looks like.

Whiskey, Women and Card Playing— Great Basin Fun

There are several major proposals to do with moving water in and around the American West. The tunnel proposal that will not die continues to be resurrected, the Krugman Zombie-ideas concept is relevant here. Special agricultural interests and not Southern California residential water users are making this mischief. The short but correct answer to this idea is that it is bad for fish, lousy for taxpayers and would only entrench out of control agricultural special interests hellbent on fomenting motivation for your ex-patriotization. Not to be outdone planners on Glen Canyon Dam at Lake Powell in Arizona are studying the feasibility of drilling water release tunnels below the dam that can both spin hydroelectric turbines and release water further downriver. The hole in the dam piece of this proposal makes sense, the hydroelectric generation piece is a sloppy wet kiss to an entrenched hydroelectric industry. Renewables can do the same job and would be many times less expensive. I say if we are going to dig tunnels first we build one that sneaks us under the wall on our southern border. This is the I hate walls and proper use of tunneling proposal I plan to put before a joint session of dope growers.

California’s Sierra Nevada snowpack is record-breaking. Nervous hydrologists continue to warn that Californians not to set their expectations too high— the water crisis is far from over. The twenty-three-year long drought has drained groundwater aquifers and spring runoff totals remain a concern because of the excessively parched landscape that could soak up runoff before ending up in our reservoirs. Then there is this— meteorologists are anxiously tracking surface water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, there is a very real concern that the forces that created the epic storms of this winter will be met with record breaking heatwaves and ensuing wildfires this summer. This matters to your abandoning America plan, it isn’t just whether you stay or you go, it matters whether you flee to the north or you head to the bikini clad south.

Old Fashioned Charging Station

Lithium mining up on Thacker Pass in Northern Nevada after years of litigation broke ground this last week. There is enough lithium on this one chunk of Nevada desert to produce all the batteries US auto manufacturers will use for most of this century— estimates are there is enough lithium to manufacture batteries for 1 billion vehicles. I know you think I’m overstating the potential find up in Humboldt County, Nevada. Better still follow along here while we delve into footprints and spoilage. The Thacker Pass lithium mine will ultimately impact 5 square miles of terrain. By comparison in the USA as of today the oil and gas industry has a footprint of 11,500 square miles— that’s equal to three Yellowstone National Parks, or an astounding let’s say it all together two-thousand-three-hundred-times more besotted precious earth than is contained in the plans for this one Northern Nevada open pit mine. Thacker Pass is near Fort McDermitt where part of the Shoshone-Paiute people has lived for thousands of years. Failure is not an option. The project is complicated, not without environmental risk and if all goes well could prove beneficial to global fight against climate change and importantly the economic fortunes of the lives of the regions first people. If we might summon the talent and determination as a nation to contain the impacts of mining on Thacker Pass, to mitigate the pollution, dust and contamination from runoff, all of these impacts are achievable then we will have taken a huge positive step in our efforts to turn back the threat we all face from carbon pollution.  

The Palaver-teer—a known blogger

Thacker Pass is a mere four-hour drive from the Great Salt Lake, another two hours to the salt caverns in Delta, Utah. There’s a lot going on out here besides whiskey drinking, pickup driving, and hot spring skinny dipping. Saddle up partners let’s fix the broken bits and enhance what’s right and good, there’s a fuse burning and a whole world to save—

Not buying it, feeling bummed out, got this sinking feeling in the pit of your tummy that it’s time to just get the hell out of here— could be one way to go, or perhaps you rally your inner Ukrainian, you summon the courage to stand up to the bully on the block, you plan to not surrender one inch to the barbarians at the gates, you intend to help fend off disaster and help to heal the self-inflicted environmental wounds that are overheating our one precious world— 

I’m thinking my people, your people, all of us people can do this— fitful and as painful as the one-step forward two-steps back nature of our world is— we can do this—


On Choosing Mudflap’s—

The Kid’s Super Special Guy flew south, he had come this way to get a 1995 Toyota pickup truck and deliver it to Seattle. Never mind the arctic blast, the closed highways, the barely open chains only interstate, he’d hole up in a motel and wait for the all clear signal, his goal was simple his adventure purpose clear. 

Broken Windows and Empty Hallways

I grabbed him out of Oakland Airport put him up out back in our study, heater on, shades drawn, for California it has been a bitter piece of winter. This morning we took off headed across the San Rafael-Richmond Bridge into the strangest of places— Marin County. 

The truck we would pick up has a cool 200K on the odometer, doesn’t leak oil, and tires look to have plenty of tread left. Last year the vehicle had gotten a fresh set of brake pads, all in all mechanically the rig was good as new— ready to go. I can be prone to overstatement. 

This is the 2.5 liter inline 4-cylinder motor hooked up to a 5-speed manual row your own gearbox. Seats have seen better days but hell they were still there and that’s saying a lot— by some lucky error I am still here too. Rear compartment we found a pair of chains for the tires. There is no A/C or radio but those are minor inconveniences, a pair of good Airpods hooked into the Super Special Guy’s iPhone and hey you’re in business. 

The rear quarter panel window had been repaired with duct tape after a smash and grab event some months back. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area if you want to get into a booming new business, I’d recommend the auto glass business. Fentanyl, broken windows and finding a public bench where you might remain in near total unconsciousness has become too common a sight. 

North on Highway 101 appears to be the better option, Interstate 5 that transit the Siskiyou’s near the Oregon border are open, under chain control restrictions, but considerably more blustery a highway under the current wintery conditions. 

I’d recommended the Arcata Hotel as a stopover for the night. The town square in this community is surrounded by small businesses— there is coffee, books, groceries, and saloons you may visit to remedy whatever want that is itching you this lost moment of your need. Humboldt State University is here too. Instead of hobnobbing with logging truckers and dope smokers you may while away your time with various countercultural warriors that are the backbone and unapologetic progressive social glue to this community.

North of Arcata no more than a few miles past Trinidad at least for today the road to Crescent City is closed due to snow and ice. No worries forecasters have this clearing by late morning Friday. This is good news because if you do make it to the Arcata Hotel you may want to linger longer here and make this oasis of bohemian life the soul healing high water mark of your road trip. 

Aiming Mirrors

The Super Special Guy can use this time to replace burned out lightbulbs, check tire pressure, and refasten the missing bolts to the front grill. I’d mention the mudflaps are gone at all four corners, but that job is for another day, something to do in the mechanical splendor of your own garage with your favorite hand-tools. Just choosing the right mudflaps requires an appropriate lapse of time, you’ll choose best after some mindful and mud-fool deliberations.

I’d say my favorite leg of the journey is somewhere after you get to Willits and before you get to Eureka, Rockefeller Grove is located along this stretch of road. The Eel River is here, most of the time it is tame and obedient, then again back in 1956 it spilled its banks and climbed the sides of the canyon walls in an epic flood. Somehow the 2000 year old giant redwoods withstood the onslaught. 

I’ve been up this piece of highway over the last decades plenty. I’ve seen it in every kind of light and mood. Like the Super Special Guy the real feast of this adventure is the road itself, being left alone to your own thoughts while behind the wheel, a proper encounter with a chunk of something you’ve never seen before is both tonic and palliative, you can get home to Capitol Hill in Seattle and sink into your own too familiar bed and no longer feel as if you are missing the reason for your existence— to live a life made of long highways and clean rest stops.

It isn’t like you want to get somewhere so much as you want to enjoy going somewhere— all those gear choices, all the braking and accelerating, all those moments when the oncoming traffics lights are in your eyes, for many these discomforts keep them from going in the first place, but for the road hungry these minor inconveniences are well worth the investment— for God’s sake man I’ve got to roam before my life flashes past my eyes and the years start piling one upon the other. 

A beaten pickup truck with high miles could do just what you need the thing to do. First, it can look unreliable to the eye but remain a trustworthy companion despite the weather worn paint and assorted knicks, dents and scratches. From some distance you can see the thing is straight and sits on each corner at equal height to the asphalt, it is almost certain to have another 900 miles of reliable service to give.  Once you and the machine reach your destination you can part company, your friend will garage the old truck, care for its motor, repair its every problem, use the truck for its intended purpose, and because he is your friend will let you borrow it for hauling things to and away from your own domicile. 

This is the beauty of an old truck singularly dedicated to helping with household chores. Furniture is easily hauled, landscape debris disposed, neighbors moving to the other side of town can borrow the truck and return it when done. If you have a truck like this, you can say that it is more than fair that you loan the truck but not loan your own labor too. Find someone else for that part of the job— the truck is yours this sore back is mine.

New home is north— you better go now

I get ahead of myself. The Super Special Guy simply must first delve into the pureness of driving Highway 101. Right now, he plans to turn east at Waldport to overnight at the family farm in Corvallis. Before he’ll need to reckon with what it means when he sees Brookings, Gold Beach, the Rogue River, and the odd tune that plays in the mind when you first see Coos Bay. To my mind the Alsea Highway into the coastal range plucks some rarest, noted string in my heart. A meadow cleared of trees, outbuildings with a good tractor parked safe inside, the wafting swirl of smoke from a wood burning stove, and the thorough drenching of this region by wave upon wave of fog, rain, snow and a charcoaled toned darkness— a shadow set upon by shadow— a kind of Rembrandt’s gloom, Spanish moss draped upon trees in a pileup nowhere else so complete.  Now you’ve done it, you’ve found the thing, as fine and uninhabited a place as a stranger passing through could want for, a place to see but not remain, a chunk of countryside that will cut like a cold cruel knife into your double edged dream, of a place so beautiful as not to be real, a forested range of mountains too drenched, dark and thick of mud to end any lingering thoughts of hitting your brakes as if to suggest you might choose to remain of all places right here. Only a few have such damp chilly appetites. This is the moonshot where you land in a river.

A good road will cut through your wilderness, this one will undo the gated cage to the coyote you are, run with the wind and then twist the ignition key off, go home, sometimes belonging has the final word, the very last mile to where you belong.


Spirit’s New Home

Here is the vessel Spirit the very Gulfstar 50 I sailed from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. We enjoyed about 3 weeks while sailing south then departed leaving Tom and Shauna to voyage throughout Mexico in the privacy and style they were accustomed to.


Sailing Vessel Spirit’s New Berth

Our passage began in late November 2019, in the before time’s, prior to the global chaos caused by Covid19. By many measures this is one of the last of my unburdened adventures. Vaccinations were still 16 months away from being available, wearing masks and such didn’t get underway until late March 2020.

The completely unencumbered fearless world was still available to any normally wired curious souls. You didn’t fear congregate settings, traveling by sailboat would be risky but not because of a virus, risks were offshore aboard a sailboat should a patch of nasty weather might kick up a messy sea.

I had by now logged about 3000 coastal ocean sailing miles aboard my boat primarily. There were a few other offshore jaunts with a host of other fine sailors, but the sail to Cabo with the skipper of Spirit was a next level experience.

Gulf Star 50—

First, the skipper knew every inch of the Gulfstar, he knew every system, had either replaced or repaired most of the systems aboard. A sailboat with a diesel powered generator, watermaker, vacuum powered toilets, air conditioning, heater, and refrigeration requires some dandy tool skills to keep all in good working order.

The vessel is powered by a 150 horsepower turbocharged Cummins diesel engine. Spirit was re-powered after the previous owners agonizing northbound trip up the coast from Mexico in the 1990’s.

My smaller sloop is 36’ and a much simpler boat. I have no watermaker, no generator, no vacuum flushing heads to keep running. The larger a boat the more systems are usually installed, and the consequences there are more things to go wrong.

As fine an experience as Spirit is she is also a lot of responsibility and keeping her in tip top condition will tap your wallet and time. For some years any talented sailor might muster the energy to keep up with a machine of this size and complexity, but a day will come when the sailing vessels keeper will have had enough.

I would have not an inkling of a clue to Spirit’s fate. I wasn’t sure they would drop us in Cabo and then continue on to circumnavigate the world, I’m not sure the skipper and his first mate had any fixed plans. By March 2020 with the global pandemic taking grip of the world most borders were closing down. In a sense the decision was made for the pair of voyagers.

By summertime I received word of Spirit returning to Southern California, they were able to find a suitable berth in the same Channel Island Harbor from where they had departed.

Circumstances changed. Opportunity pulled the voyagers in different directions. One went back to London while the other remained aboard. Some soul searching took place and the decision was made to put Spirit up for sale.


Spirit has fatefully been sold and has ended up here in San Francisco’s South Beach Harbor. We are berthed out at the end of C-Dock, Spirit is out on an end tie on A-Dock, as the bird flys perhaps no more than 200 feet north of where I keep Sweet Seas.

I can’t help but think of Spirit and her skipper as one inseparable thing. I see a few boats as well cared for, now and again, you have to know boats well enough to know when you are in the presence of such a finely maintained sailing craft. The pleasure of sailing with the vessel Spirit had to do with the personality, passion and skills of her skipper. My personal reward was how his caring for his boat influenced our taking care of our sailboat.

Hanging out with the skipper raised your game, you played a better version, you stepped up, you did better, you worked that much harder, you discovered the value of cleanliness and good order. We weren’t exactly slackers to begin with, we were pretty good in fact, but not this good, not this attentive to every detail, until now, and I can’t help thinking of the skipper of Spirit when I’m hard at a task varnishing the teak, cleaning the toilets, or troubleshooting the windlass.

Hat’s off to a good one, thank you Spirit and the best to the skipper wherever your muse and wonder might take you next—

Biography · Performances

Burt Bacharach Schools the Kid

I’m working a gig at Hokum Hall in West Seattle, staying with another player in the show on the other side of town. The Kid came along for the weekend. All of 5 years old she liked dressing up for the shows. Mom had put together a little makeup kit for her. While getting ready she was singing, “The moment I wake up, before I put on my makeup… I say a little prayer for you…” That little high pitched voice transformed me into the luckiest father in the world.

Props ready the show’s about to go on— places everybody

I was one of the two jugglers in the show, there was a husband-wife team that sang together, always the duo, always songs from Broadway shows, including a tune from Wouldn’t it be Loverly— from My Fair Lady and the Kid blessed with the memory of a circus elephant working in a sideshow is for the rest of the weekend and most of the next year singing this tune.

While touring in those years the Kid would tag along for a few months out on the county fair circuit. We had a few rules that made our life together all that much sweeter. First thing was spotting a good campsite where we could tuck ourselves in for the night. Second thing was managing our soundtrack, what we played, what we sang together, and always always it was our back and forth over the lyrics. 

On our list it was Burt Bacharach that rate number one. My mom never met the Kid, but she’d have been proud of her. Favorites of Burt’s included: Do You Know the Way to San Jose, Walk on By, I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself, and The Balance of Nature.

Our most important possession wasn’t our sleeping bags it was our Burt Bacharach Rhino Records three CD anthology of Burt and Hal David’s greatest hits. I dubbed all my music onto cassette tape. Besides Bacharach we traveled with Sondheim, Sinatra, and Bennett. A few more throwback acts including Louis Prima, Barbra Streisand, and Nancy Wilson made it into our mix. A good chunk of my collection included country singers— Patsy Cline, Buck Owens, Charlie Rich, Tammy Wynette, and Jim Reeves. Words lived as King in the cab of my pickup truck. 

Burt Bacharach’s Biggest Fan—the Kid

The Kid from right out the gate understood that Burt made music his partner Hal wrote the lyrics and then with a roster of talented singers they’d get into the studio and make a record. This was the water my daughter swam in. She understood Lennon/McCarthy not only wrote their own songs but also recorded them. All this coming of age listening to music on the road with her showman father. 

As soon as the news broke of Burt Bacharach’s passing the Kid shot me a message— RIP Burt. As an only child she spent way too much time around adults and not nearly as much time with kids her own age. Between my touring and her living outside of town on a farm she was set, all she had to do is put a favorite tune on and the music fixed everything. 

People grow up, there is this adulthood waiting to overwhelm us, we soon forget how a child’s imagination is the key to successful playing. The Kid didn’t just listen with a certain discerning adultness, this very precocious young girl would sing the lyrics and become completely absorbed in the melody and lyrics… “What’s it all about Alfie, is it just for the moment we live—” Somehow, I’m going town to town across Wyoming from fairground to fairground and I’ve got the Kid explaining to me how she thinks this whole living in the moment versus living to love someone is important and why she likes the song, because the lyrics tell an important story. 

I knew Burt’s hits from listening to the radio, all of us did, but it was my mom and then my father that filled in the gaps. My mom wore the grooves off Living Together. My father in his kind of odd longish hair went through a Karen Carpenter phase, much of it was in collaboration with Burt. 

I was working at Universal Studios and living in a trailer park in North Hollywood. Every night on my way home I’d pass the Palomino, many greats had played this joint, one of the most famous Ricky Nelson played here and one of his biggest hits was in collaboration with Burt Bacharach— Take a Broken Heart. I went inside for a beer after work. This was the early 1990’s, the booze was still here but the bands were long gone. The joint whispered long lost musical memories that were made here.

Comedy Tonight by Zero Mostel had made a big impression. The Kid began to understand how great movies were always that much greater with a sensational tune included. 

All those good little soles

The really great singers inhabit a song, make it their own. The Kid understood the songs were like movies, they painted pictures in your mind, and they were put across by a singer with a talent similar to the Kid’s juggling for his supper pop. 

Music, juggling, movies, traveling from town to town, setting up and tearing down, pulling in alongside a riverbank, building a fire, cooking supper, and curling up on the bunk with a lamp to read before falling to sleep, it was all part and parcel of her own songbook, the songs she picked, the music she played, these are indelibly inked into her memory now. None was a bigger influencer and favorite of the Kid’s than Burt Bacharach. I Say a Little Prayer indeed. Thank you, Mr. Bacharach— 

Biography · News!

Taking Your Identity With You

Disruption is the name of the digital game. But what if you don’t want to be disrupted, what if you want to leave and take you with you when you go? 

I have a website, a decade ago I grabbed my name when it became available. Still, most of us have learned that driving traffic to your website entails posting material on social media sites. 

I’ve used Twitter to enhance traffic. I’m not too happy with the new owner, so I surfed over to Mastodon, added an account at Post. But what if I my identity and the people that follow me were all able to easily be forwarded to me by my identifier. Instead, all of us have to start all over again and rebuild our followers. 

My background is street theater. Street acts don’t dig gatekeepers. We prefer to throw it down on the sidewalk and make it all happen there, right in the moment, we build an audience starting there.

I’m not so sure that social media broadcasting, lucking into a viral moment, something that goes big, blows your thing, whatever your thing is, blows that up, that’s what many hope will happen. Maybe you are one of those lucky ducky’s, more likely your postings fall short of that viral moment, you do get some engagement but you wouldn’t want to quit your day job.

Lot of platforms are eager to get us to enter their domain, to come play in their arena, and you know if you do get some attention you’ll try building on it, maybe even get compulsively addicted to trying. That’s the cheese, you’re the mouse and the trap is the host who is there until they aren’t. Sometimes they become unpredictable, change their algorithms, terms of service are altered, maybe they find you vulgar, you harass someone, there are so many out there playing those games.

It turns out that managing our social media content takes valuable time and since it does maybe we should be getting a better more predictable deal for our efforts. 

Guy Kawasaki is a social media professional. He figures you’ll get about 1% of the people that follow you to buy your offering. I have maybe depending how you count about 1500 followers, maybe more, likely less. Even if you have 100,000 followers you are still not going to move many books. Even a million followers are too small a group and come on now how many of you reading this blog have a million followers. 

Having the formerly richest man in the world buy then blow up a social media platform like Twitter proves my point. Even if it is all on him the harm is falling on all of us. Taking our identity and moving somewhere else would go a long way toward balancing out their power over our identity. I’d think anyone managing a platform would soon be trying to keep as many users as is possible. 

We haven’t managed to pass any meaningful regulations for decades and not because there aren’t good ideas out there, but because a good many people like things just the way they are. Having control over our identity, our privacy, having the power of portability, to move freely across the internet’s social media platforms is the kind of disruption you can believe in.


Capitol Hill Dreamer

Back from Seattle after a romp across Capitol Hill for food, fun, and friends. If you had to ask you should know it was cold and at moments teasingly sunny. 

Cute Dog on Sofa— this is The Mezzo

Friday, we celebrated the Kid’s birthday. A whole mob of us showed up at Blotto’s to celebrate. This is Jordan and Christy’s pizza joint, bottle shop and bar on 12th Ave and E Denny Way. Wine selection is all-natural style, then there is the sourdough pizza crust, the only kind available. The dough is prepped prior to the open at 5 PM, if there’s a problem with the dough they won’t open, you’ll take your chances because it is just that good. 

From within this hole in the wall there are maybe a dozen seats in the main room, another dozen in the backroom, and another dozen out front. If it sounds like a lot, you’d be surprised at how much they’ve done with so little space. Residents on Capitol Hill cram into Blotto’s. Once they’ve sold out, and that’s almost every time they open their doors, they clean the ovens, wipe off the tables and then like that lights are off, and joint is closed.

To be clear this only looks inside— it was a wee bit nippy

Friday, we kept them late. No worries, Jordan and Christy are friends of the Kid. The enterprising couple are skilled natural wine purveyors. You’ll find this kind of wine here and there throughout Seattle, but it is still not to be expected. I’d wondered how they deal with new customers that have not run into this style of wine before. At the counter where you order Christy keeps a few bottles open. You want a red, white, rose or orange wine? No problem she’ll pour you a glass and like that you are on your way to becoming a fan of natural wine.

Another member of our group is about to open his own natural wine shop. You’ll find Other Worlds at the northeast corner of Pike and 14th .  The thing to know about this scene is that you don’t get into the natural wine business to make a great big fat killing at the cash register, you sell natural wines because it is the right thing to do, at least for you, for your values, because of what you know about how transformational a simple unmanipulated glass of wine can be in this overcomplicated too often too complex world we live in. 

There are way too many awkward definitions for what makes a glass of wine natural. I’ll give it my best shot, a winemaker takes grapes grown from their own vineyard and does their level best to not interfere. To ferment the grapes native yeast from the vineyard is used. Natural wine is first and foremost not created with supply chain yeasts that are marketed by various suppliers around the world. The flavors unlocked by wild yeast is specific to the place where the grapes are grown, skilled tasters can tell you where a wine is from simply by identifying the character of the wild yeast. 

Eyes to the Rear of the Pair— Natural Wine

L’Oursin is located down on E Jefferson St at 14th Ave. Like Blotto this French restaurant only has natural wines on its list. As far as the Kid knows these are the only two eating establishments that offer only natural wine. Saturday night we were a smaller foursome out to eat at this off the beaten path restaurant. 

The Kid’s circle of friends is all bound up in life on Capitol Hill. Especially fun is how this group of late 20-somethings to early 30-types thrive as the full power of their adulthoods blossom. There was a special event that pulled a big crowd, not their crowd, a big crowd of early 20-somethings, and it was in that instant that my Kid realized she was no longer a kid at all, not even a post adolescent teen type kid, she was for better or worse a wise world tested credit card carrying fully realized former kid. 

All my Kid’s circle are aiming higher, most want to go further, some have already left Capitol Hill, some have had to move back, a few vow to never leave— we know that’s more whimsical hope than a fait accompli. Setting your marker on the table of your life is fair game, you want to claim you’ll live and die on Capitol Hill then so be it, odds are long you won’t but no harm in saying you’re going to try. This is what is called an unknowable boast—

Ricocheting Sunlight on Capitol Hill— Rare Indeed

The Kid is in the prime of her life and this is where she’s been fated to play her cards. Capitol Hill has its own buzz, its vital, congested— if you lived her you wouldn’t have to leave here, it has everything you would want or need. That’s how it stands. One day parking starts to become a hassle, you want your own garden, instead of squeezing into a studio you start imagining you’d like to spread out two miles south in Columbia City with some of the refugees you came up with back in the day on Capitol Hill. 

You won’t admit to wanting this less pressurized life until you simply must. Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky few that never is overcome by this pressurized urbanity. Maybe you’ll be the one that becomes a curator at the Seattle Film Festival, maybe you get lucky, and your food blog takes off, there is a photo essay about where you live on Capitol Hill and how the thought of ever leaving the Hill is simply inconceivable. Your name and the Hill are synonymous, maybe the mayor or Seahawks quarterback are better known, but then those are personalities built by politics and sport, you have gained fame not just for a good eye for a good film but for a neighborhood you love too, and then there all those up and comers that want to grow up to be just like you, to live forever in one of Seattle’s finest corners, you become the Elaine Stritch of the Paris on the Puget Sound, you don’t spend five decades at New York’s Carlyle Hotel, instead you’re living life large on the top floor of a century old multi-unit building with floor to ceiling windows and the best damn view anyone could ever imagine having of the Space Needle. 

You haven’t just made it, you are it, you are that rare odd dweller of never to leave Capitol Hill dwellers. You didn’t die and go to heaven, you lived life large and ended up on Capitol Hill— 


Tantrums of the Water Czar’s

Yesterday’s front-page headlines reported that six of seven states have agreed to a new framework to cut back on the amount of water they use from the Colorado River. Six is pretty good—

There’s this Kighlinger negotiator, he is a former Los Angeles Metropolitan Water District manager, he knows the score, he sees the writing on the wall, and is trying with all his might to get the Imperial Valley Irrigation District to face reality. That is no small feat when trying to negotiate with the grand pooh-bah of water rights holders. 

Kighlinger is among the many that believe the priority system foisted upon the region more than a century ago can no longer be used as a model for how water is allocated. The heart of the matter— if you use 80% of the water, then you should be contributing close to the same 80% back in economic benefits, not at best a measly 5% return on the people’s water.

Cotton and Irrigation Ditch—Totally Insane

Alex Cardenas, the president of the board of directors of the Imperial Irrigation District, what he wants you to know is that he represents a group of farmers that hold water rights that go back so far in history that they predate the formation of the universe, they existed before the Big Bang, this isn’t just the before times, this is before the before times, this is all eternity— and they are not going to be pushed around by some uppity federal agency. Farmers in the Imperial Valley are hot under the collar, ready to brawl, won’t be surrendering their senior most status to some junior subordinated water rights holders that they believe are out to do the same thing they have been doing for the last 100 plus years. Water grabbers of the world unite!

Here, let’s listen to Mr. Cardenas explain, “We’re not going to wreck our local economy so that they can continue to grow their urban economy.”

This is how senior water rights holders speak, this is our nation’s Water Nobility, another way of saying this is that some farmers have come to believe that the water they use comes with zero strings attached, and not you and not nobody may ever question how they use the nation’s resources.

From my fictional perspective I feel my script towing reality’s line. I have been drawing up a screenplay and Mr. Cardenas not only plays the part I’ve imagined but he makes my work easy, I don’t even have to write the dialogue, his quotes write the script for me.

I’m still predicting the Bureau of Reclamation will keep its head low until after the President gives the State of the Union speech. In the next few weeks, I forecast the conflict to escalate, and by grow more tense I mean the stuff is going to hit the fan.

I’ll leave you with the wit and wisdom of this water professional and come on now let’s hear it for this brave soul who has had the brass to tell the truth and call out the madness about how they want to use all the water and return almost nothing to the economy in return. As this cool cat Kighlinger said— that’s a fucking disaster— that just can’t be our reality—

Water like whiskey even after a century is still worth fighting over—


Beyond Imagination/All Too Real

In 1922 expert hydrologists estimated the Colorado River to produce 16.5 million acre feet of water per year, and it was then that when the Compact of the River was created it assigned half of the water to the upper basin and the other half to the lower basin.

In 2022 hydrologists armed with real world data peg the river’s output to be half that much. The upper and lower basins are now trying to figure out how in the hell they’re going to manage with so little water and so much demand.

To give you some idea of how colossal this task is there are a small number of farms in the very southeastern tip of California. Together these few farms by law have legal access to 4 million of the total 8 million acre acre feet of the Colorado’s water. That legally binding allotment is pretty much a great big fat emergency right there.

The agricultural water grabbing has meant Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Tucson have been left to hold the short end of the water scarcity stick— subordinated water rights is the term of art.

What negotiators have been unable to do is convince any stakeholder with these oldest senior most water rights to voluntarily give their allocations back. The legal framework, the so called Law of the River required decades to sort out and it appears this hot mess is headed back into an legal quagmire that remains anyone’s guess how things might be sorted out.

What makes this such a disaster is that there is not enough time to go to court and then plod clumsily over years to decades of time to come to new potentially irrelevant terms. One tipping point should the water flow continue to decline is a river that never makes it beyond Hoover Dam.

A century ago Hoover Dam engineers never contemplated needing to build tunnels beneath the dam. Water in both Lake Powell and Lake Mead suffer from the same design flaw, without sufficient supply there is no feasible way to move water further down river. Engineers never planned for too little or too much, the dams were scaled to account for what was then estimated as modest variations.

Climate change has all to do with the reduction in the Colorado River’s output, and there is no choice, we have to live with the finite precipitation we get. Experts think the Federal government must declare a state of emergency and mandate steep reductions up and down the river basin. That is a theory of course, stakeholders don’t know if the courts would go along and if they don’t there’s going to be a horrible collision of law, water and special interests. Then there still is the problem that the water could end up stuck behind Hoover Dam where it would be impossible to release regardless of what the court’s decide.

That’s why they always talk about nature having the last word, or that Mother Nature bats last, it simply doesn’t matter what some water rights holder wants or by what authority a court has to enforce their decisions.

If and when the Colorado River does end up stuck behind Lake Mead, if litigation spirals out of control, the whole hot stinking mess turns the Southwest into an environmental crisis of a kind never seen by a modern advanced world’s largest economy.

Some predict engineers should immediately start digging tunnels that send water around Hoover and Glen Canyon to forestall such a disaster. Do that starting now. Emergency pipelines would be constructed at the same time. Water would be sent on an emergency basis to quench the thirst of urban population centers while leaving rural agricultural water users high and dry. The first people to inhabit this region faced a similar fate 1000 years ago. Our first people simply had to pickup and leave, the omnipotent modern capitalists suffer from a misguided hubris, they have suspended disbelief, it simply defies imagination, our titans of commerce believe we cannot and will not run out of water.

The opposite scenario is equally as terrifying, equally as dangerous— the potential irony of the thing would simply go lost in the tragic consequences of such an event. Here we go— Alarmed researchers have found that in 1884 the Colorado River Basin received 2 years of rainfall in just 4 months. Instead of an average of 16.5 million acre feet of water measured on a per year basis, in 1884 it is estimated that a total of 32 million acre feet of water swept down the river in a period of just four months. This is decades before the dams were constructed.

Drenching rainfall totals of this magnitude could bring such monumental amounts of runoff that water could overtop and then completely demolish the dams at Glen Canyon and Hoover Dams.

This kind of epic precipitation is calculated to be a one in every 500 year event, with the last super soaker occurring about 140 years ago.

The potential destruction of the two big dams has spurred scientists to propose removing Glen Canyon Dam now and then enlarging the spillways at Hoover Dam, and many experts believe we must do this now before it is too late.

As of the end of January California has been drying after a month of pummeling by powerful atmospheric river fed storms. If by the once in five-hundred year odds California were hit with four months of atmospheric river fed storms the calamity would clobber the American West— this is the epic atmospheric knock-out blow of all natural disasters.

In the 1800’s a storm fed Los Angeles River swollen by relentless rains jumped its banks and sent its water south on a path 20 miles off its normal course— the devastation was immeasurable. North of LA so much rain and snow fell that the Central Valley from Bakersfield north to Redding inundated the region making this whole region one big temporary lake that was for some months navigated by large paddle boats.

Were the Los Angeles River to jump its banks and once again head 20 miles off course it would wipe out the the most productive economic zone in the United States, instantly zeroing out at least $3 trillion in economic activity. That’s an enormous loss, nearly one fifth of the nations entire economic output. Lives and livelihoods would be lost, homes would be destroyed, commercial enterprise zones would be devastated and Southern California’s ports in Long Beach and Los Angeles would require decades to repair and reopen.

That is what worries California’s Department of Water Resources, not just the drier and then wetter storms that are hitting our state but the all too real risk that we could be pummeled by equally powerful droughts and floods of a magnitude that makes the region unmanageable. A natural disaster of either kind could itself be the natural disaster’s knockout blow to maintaining our grip on being a civilized country.

The Bureau of Reclamation in Washington is about to mandate new cuts in water up and down the entire length of the Colorado River. Legal scholars are unsure if these cuts would hold up if challenged in court. The Bureau’s decision could drop at any moment now.

Either way, engineers are urgently advocating for reinforcing spillways on the dams and that this work needs to get underway immediately. An uncontrolled topping of the dams by flood risks everything.

If the drought persists they are also urging  that new underground tunnels be built. Deep underground tunnels like this have never been attempted.

This is the pickle we find ourselves in. It is a damned if we do, damned if we don’t corner we find ourselves backed into. If you have ever stood at the rim of the Grand Canyon then you have experienced the aching beauty and the unfathomable immensity, you have stood there in awe feeling the sweep of time, you can see a river that has carved a 50 million year deep canyon one mile deep into the rock of a continent.

The Colorado River and her water is as big a problem as problems get. The scale of our troubles dwarfs our imagination, we are not designed to comprehend such stupendous events, the common man is not built to react to catastrophic occurrences of such size, scale that may or by chance may not occur over such a lengthy event horizon. So far we’ve stalled, we’ve waited, we’ve hoped and we’ve delayed. That is a fool’s game, a gamblers losing bet, the smart money urges us to face up to the facts.