Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 The Year In Pictures

I am but an old child wandering along unsupervised...John Morelock

2014 was a pretty amazing year.  From running the Grand Canyon rim to rim to rim, to climbing Angels Landing, running the Superior 100,  countless trips up north, Mexico City & everything that happened on a day to day basis, couldn't ask for a better one. 
Here it is, 2014 in pictures-

The annual All-Star Break trip to Gunflint

Starting the Rim to Rim to Rim with Greg & Mitch
Where we would eventually finish though it was much darker

Top  of Angels Landing Zion National Park

Finishing up a rim to river hike at Bright Angel Trail Head

Plenty of time out on the lakes of Mpls.

Getting to visit the White House with the World Champion MN Lynx

City Trail Loppet
The Eugene Curnow Marathon

Ali's first Half Marathon
Mexico City with the Wolves
Another trip to Hungry Jack Lake
Another Twin Cities Marathon in the books

Backpacking the Superior Hiking Trail

Getting to see Paul, Adriana & B in Seattle
Finished the Superior 100

Back up the Gunflint Trail
Back to the Grand Canyon

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tribute To Big Mike

"Your work is to discover your world & then with all your heart give yourself to it."- Buddah

Another grey day, the clouds pressing low to the earth, but at least on this morning there was a fresh layer of snow and flakes floating lazily to the ground.
I headed out with no real plan.  Letting the music in my headphones and the direction of the wind guide me.  Turned on to lake of the Isles as the song Bertha by the Grateful Dead played, my mind wandering...
Nearly 9 years ago while living in Marquette, MI I worked with a guy we called Big Mike.  Mike was, obviously, a big dude, tall, with a mustache, glasses and always with a big smile on his face.
Big Mike loved the Dead, in fact Big Mike loved all music and I owe a substantial portion of my music collection to him.  About once a week Mike would swing into my studio, we'd talk sports, and  music  and he would always drop off a stack of cd's.  Take this home he'd say, listen to them and load the ones you like on your computer.  Bring them back whenever you can.
The album that played through my headphones as the wind picked up around Isles was one that Mike had given me.   I put my head down and made my way along the lake, bent into the wind and remembered doing this same thing along Lake Superior and coming up on Big Mike out for a walk. 
He was always walking on the path by the lake, his Michigan State hat on, headphones and carrying his Discman.  He would walk, listen to tunes and stop to pull a small notebook out of his breast pocket.  I asked him once what he wrote in it and he said 'When I hear a song it makes me think of other songs that I want to hear so I always write it down and search for them when I get home.'
It's amazing how music can do that, just take you down a path of memories.  I crossed the road into a park at the north end of Isles and started doing hill repeats.
As I approached the bottom of one hill, the song Acadia Driftwood by the Band came on.  I was obsessed with that song while training for my first marathon in the UP.  That was also my first experience with hill repeats.  I would go two streets over, start at the bottom by Superior and run up High St listening to the Best of the Band.  Sometimes I would see Big Mike up there, he lived in that area.  Walking, sometimes smoking a cigar, either music or the Michigan State game playing through his headphones.
One day Mike walked in and started to juggle stuff in my studio, he was good, really good.  I was shocked and the next day he brought in three bags, almost like hacky-sacks, taught me the basics and left them for me to practice.  I never quite got the hang of it, but Mike used to go to a local nursing home at lunch and juggle and do magic tricks for the folks there.  He would just chat, tell stories, listen and spend time with them; the guy had a huge heart.
Van Morrison singing Caravan with The Band during the Last Waltz interrupted my thoughts and labored breathing as I topped a hill.  That was another album Big Mike had given me, one of my top 5 favorite albums of all time. 
I remembered Mike's Blues show he had on one of our stations.  He called himself Zenith and the show as called 'Zenith rides the bus'.  After I had moved to Mpls to work for the Wolves he would send me copies of the show asking me what I thought and telling me if I liked any of the songs he could send me the albums.
A few years ago Big Mike passed away, quite suddenly due to cancer.  I was shocked.  I heard from a friend of mine in Mqt that he was in the hospital and it wasn't good and then he was gone.
But whenever I hear certain songs, or see the Michigan State logo he's right there, that big smile on his face excited to introduce me to a new album.