About Ian




Western Geophysical, late afternoon.

Ben, the Center Manager was sitting behind his desk. I was in front.


‘Ian, John G. needs this line processed as soon as possible. 

I promised him we’d have a preliminary final in 48 hours.’


‘OK, will do’. I said with a very business face.                       

But to myself, I was saying, are you outta your mind, thanks-a-lot Boss.’


Now, one has to understand, ‘processing’ a Geophysical “line” varies,

anywhere from a few weeks to 6 months, depending on size and a few other factors. So, two days is really asking ‘the moon’.


I’m walking out the door. Talking to myself again.

‘I HAVE TWO DAYS – 48 hours. WONDERFUL.   #$@%&#  !!! ‘

At that very moment, I decided to shut down for a moment.       

I was “Popeye the Sailor Man" – ‘that’s all I can stan’s. I can’t stan’s no more’ “



The back-side of 14,256-foot Mt. Evans.                                                                             

In the middle of the night. In the middle of the winter. And the summit at sunrise.


It just seemed to be one of the more avant-garde adventures he could think of.               

He loved pushin’ the envelope.


So, two of his buddies, Ned and Kim, and he, decided to go for it.


They loved winter mountaineering. So, to add to the ‘fun’,                                             

they decided to dig a snow cave. And spend the night in it before starting to climb.

Use it as sort of "base camp". Thus breaking up the climb into segments.                    


A mile across the flats from the summit of Guanella Pass lay a big, 100-yard-long snowdrift. It was huge. Must’ve been at least 8 foot high and just as deep.


At the base of the drift, they tunneled “in” three feet. Then,                                             

“up and toward the back” another three feet.


Here they carved out a four-foot diameter dome “central room”.                                   

 Two “sleeping tubes” were dug along the spine of the snowdrift,                                outward from this central dome.


This was at 12,016 feet above sea-level, and took a couple of Saturdays,                            ... but …  they got it done.


‘We ready to go tomorrow?’ Ian asked.

‘Yep’, Ned replied.

Kim echoed that.

’10 o’clock, my place, right!?’ Ian said.

‘Yep’ - Ned.

‘Right’ – Kim.

‘We can do this’.


They drove up midday. Cooked some dinner. And some hot chocolate.

Then relaxed. There were a few hours of daylight left.


Around 7 they crawled into the cave. Lit a couple candles. And one at a time,             settled into their sleeping tubes. Later they told me it was really pretty eerie.

I’ve seen the photographs from inside the cave. They are really cool.


After about 5 hours of "sorta-sleep", they rousted out. And ‘geared’ up.


They started climbing around one in the morning.

Six hours in nothing but the bright light of an absolutely beautiful full moon.                  The snow glistened on the vast, barren hillside. I sure wish I went with them.


Ian described it.

Cold. Nothing else around. A bit windy. Eerily quiet. ‘Cept for the wind.

To say it was a ‘little surreal’ would be an understatement, he said.


At dawn, on the summit, Ian photographed the rising sun.

And to the West. There they were.

Two perfectly-pointed champagne-glass-shaped peaks.

Inverted and covered in snow.         


Framed by a solid, deep, medium-blue sky, and the two white peaks,

the full moon was a sight to behold.

I've seen those photos. They've been in exhibitions.


He wrote an article about the adventure and published it in the TRUE ADVENTURE section of “The Denver Post”. Titled it,


                                   “There’s ‘Snow Place Like Home’ “.



“Do You Love Movies”    “Do You Wanna be a Writer?”

So. You wanna write movie scripts!?


Here’s what you do.

You say to yourself, “self, ya know what, let’s write a screenplay.’


Okay. What’s the story?

Ya need an idea. But, ya don’t have one.


So. You ponder. You study on it. You try hard to come up with a story.                                   To no avail.

“All right." 

"I’ll adapt one from a story already written. This is just gonna be a few pages.”

“Just a starter piece. A practice piece.”, you say to yourself.


You Google up how to format it. Done.

Now let’s get you in the mood.


You always thought of Grand Junction as a huge, huge salad bowl.

The Bookcliffs to the North. The Grand Mesa to the East. 

And the Colorado Monument to the West. And a bit to the South.


In the summer, the sun “drills down” like a drill press into this salad bowl.

In other words, it's hot. And miserable.'

One month it made a new record for “the number of days over 100 degrees”,                  “the number of days over 90”, and “the number of days, no, sorry, that’s nights,              over 90 degrees.”


You jokingly classify people as either Iguanas or Penguins.

And you swear one day you’re gonna move to Alaska. You’re a penguin.


But until then, …

one hot, summer day, at poolside, you start to write a screenplay.


A whole summer at poolside later.                                                                                     

And 106 pages later.                                                                                                      

You’ve written a full-length movie script.


You’ve adapted a couple o' chapters (24 pages to be exact)                                             

from Dostoevsky’s,

"The Brothers Karamazov” -  Rebellion, and The Grand Inquisitor.


“Just a little light entertainment, ya know”.


Now for those of you not familiar with Dostoevsky,                                                         

he’s considered one of the great existential writers in history.                                         

 (ya might have to Google that up)


You say to yourself, “What was I thinking?”                                           

“Must’ve been all that Philosophy in college got to me, huh?                                           

 Or maybe the heat! Hell, probably both.”


(Note: it has not been made into a movie, ... YET!)




Remember I said 'you' were gonna move to Alaska?


Well, there’s a place called Cooper Landing. On the Kenai Peninsula.                           

I didn’t live far from there. A little town called Soldotna.                                           (‘sole-dot-na’, for those who care to pronounce it right.)


Cooper Landing has “world-class” fishing. Salmon. 

On the Russian River. And the Kenai River.


A friend of mine bought a tourist complex there. A motel, bar, café, gas pumps.

And a gift store.                                                                                                             


She asked me to manage it for her. I said, “Okay. Sure.”


As I said, this part of Alaska is “world-renowned”.

So there were people from all over the world. Estonia, Korea, China, Israel, Sweden, Germany, Kazakhstan, Australia, Italy, Portugal, South Africa, and more.


As each customer left I would say, “thanks for coming”.

Some knew very little English. Some knew none at all,

but had a friend or relative alongside that did speak English.


Sometimes we would use Google Translate to try and carry on a small conversation.


I'm still friends with a Belgian fellow on Facebook that came in one day.


At some point, an idea came to me.

It would be nice if I could say something to them in their native language.

Make them feel more comfortable. Even if it was just for a moment.

Like I cared about them as more than just a “passing body”.


'I can do this.'


So … as each “world-traveler” came in and shopped and spoke,

I asked them,

how do you say, ‘thanks for coming’ in Swedish / Estonian / Hebrew”, whatever.


I collected 21 different languages altogether. I had them write it down,                     

and somewhere I still have those notes.


What was really a lot of fun, was to ask (If I couldn’t detect it) where they were from.

Then I would get out my notes, and try to say,                                                                                                  “thanks for coming” in their language.


You shoulda seen them light up when they realized I was speaking their language,     

or at least attempting to.


Sometimes I butchered it badly. And instead of ‘lighting up’, they would look at me like, “what is this guy trying to say to me?


Danke fur das kommen.”  German. I remember that one.


                                                It was a fun summer.





- 15 HRS! Later 


Remember the center manager, Ben, handing me the ‘line’ to process?


Well, there I was.

Waiting in John G.’s outer office. Waiting for him to show up for work.


I was thinking to myself, 'I always liked that Marine motto' –

                                       “Improvise, Adapt, Overcome”.


In my lap, was “the promised final”.


15 hours later!                                                                                                              John G never had anyone else in the Center work on his data again.


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