Channeling flannel

Pole climbing, Lumberjack World Championships
A shanty man’s life is a wearisome one,
Although some say it’s free from care.
It’s the swinging of an axe from morning ‘til night
In the forest wild and drear.

George W. Stace

In June the city is flush with anglers, kayakers, and canoeists, celebrating the Musky Festival.

Later in the year, over two thousand off-road cyclists jam-pack Hayward for the Chequamegon Mountain Bike Festival. The race traverses ski trails and forest roads.

But the one event most true to the city’s roots is held in July. That’s when lumberjacks and lumberjills from around the world flock to Hayward for the Lumberjack World Championships.

The plaid is wall-to-wall.

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Olympic proportions

Quileute River
Quillayute River

Near the west coast of the Olympic Peninsula, four rivers converge to form one.

They are the Bogachiel, Calawah, Sol Duc, and Dickey, and, when flowing together, they compose the Quillayute. At the village of La Push, Washington, the Quillayute River empties into the Pacific Ocean.

La Push, with a population of two thousand, is home to the Quileute tribe, the river’s namesake.

The tribe’s original territory stretched across the western half of the peninsula, from Mount Olympus to the seacoast. Traditionally, the Quileute were skilled whalers and seal hunters. After signing a treaty in 1889, the tribe was forced onto a one-square-mile reservation.

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Rocks of ages

White House, Canyon de Chelly

The history of the American Southwest is written in stone.

It is written in silver ore and petrified wood. In lava flows and cinder fields. On the walls of canyons and caves. In the ruins of pueblos.

It is written on tombstones. And on Spider Rock and Petroglyph Rock and Newspaper Rock. And most intentionally on Inscription Rock.

The Navajo say, “We will be like a rock a river has to go around.”

Instead, the river cut through the rock at Canyon de Chelly (duh SHAY) National Monument, gouging deep channels over millions of years.

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Bright lights, dark sky

The lights dart across the Texas desert, pulsing, merging, and then disappearing.

Some people believe they are UFOs; others, the ghosts of Spanish conquistadors.

A cowboy first reported seeing them in 1883. He thought they were campfires of the Apache. Other theories as to the origin of the mysterious lights include swamp gas, St. Elmo’s fire, and the glint of minerals in the moonlight.

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Prost, y’all

Enchanted Rock TX
On Enchanted Rock

Beef. It’s what’s for dinner in Texas.

Unless you’re in Hill Country, where it might be bratwurst.

In the mid-1800s, tens of thousands of German immigrants settled in central and southwest Texas, which, at the time, was its own country. Some of the settlers were sponsored by a group of German nobles who aimed to colonize the Republic of Texas and develop trade.

Their scheme was disrupted by a lack of funds, the war with Mexico, and the statehood of Texas. The German homesteaders stayed anyway.

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Back on the road

This week, I’m starting a four-week road trip from Austin, Texas, to Antelope Canyon Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona. It will be my longest trip in nearly a year.

After three years of nearly nonstop travel, I felt a need to catch my breath. I was road-weary.

I rented an apartment in Columbus, my first “permanent” residence since 2014. I emptied my storage locker and found things I forgot I owned. I even bought a car.

Most importantly, I reconnected with family and friends. And thought about what is next.

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Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Santa Fe NM
Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

Three historic trails lead to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

One arrives from Mexico City—El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (the Royal Road of the Interior Land). For centuries, Native North Americans used the sixteen-hundred-mile trade route.

In 1598 Spanish settlers first followed El Camino Real north. It was traveled continuously until 1882.

Another trail enters Santa Fe from the west. Approximately seven hundred miles long, the Old Spanish Trail connected Santa Fe with settlements in California. Blazed as early as the 1500s, the Old Spanish Trail was used by Native Americans, explorers, trappers, and traders until 1848.

A third route, the namesake Santa Fe Trail, connected Santa Fe with the eastern United States, specifically Franklin, Missouri. The nine-hundred-mile trail was established in 1821 to take advantage of new trade opportunities with Mexico, which had just broken away from Spain. It saw use until around 1880.

Three American cultures intersected at the crossroads of Santa Fe—Native, Hispanic, and Anglo. It seemed an appropriate trail’s end for my tour as well.

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