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Treasure Uncovered

The other day I headed out for a run, unsure of where exactly I was going. I wanted to run to the Powerlines, but it was really hot and there’s no water available there. My measly 2L bladder would be half empty by the time I got there. The flat trail  would be mostly shaded, so I decided that would be a wise choice.

I decided to run past 1604 and explore a bit. I had followed a Hash trail out there on a run long ago, but didn’t get too far. I wanted to see how much further the “trail” would go.

Running under the bridge, I  was amazed at all the little mud bird houses built on the underside. Then I passed the spot where eons ago I drank many beers at a Hash “circle.”

As I rounded the corner, I saw the familiar junk pile. I knew that this spot had been used as a dumping ground before.

Main pile on the left side.
Main pile on the left side.
Pile on the right.
Pile on the right.

I plucked a 5×7 photograph off the ground.

This was the first photo I found.
The first photo I found.

 

As I scrutinized the junk, I could tell this was new stuff that had been dumped recently. My instincts kicked in: I am a scavenger. I have a fascination for looking through trash, junk, rubbish, – whatever you call it – for things that I can use somehow. As an artist,  I see value in things that might seem worthless to others. And as I poked around, almost immediately I struck gold.

More photographs. Old black and white photographs!! And lots of them. Before I knew it, that one photo had mushroomed into a  huge wad. At first I thought I would keep just a few because I could fit only so many in my pack. But the photos were all gold – I’d find a way to carry them all. No way was I leaving any behind. (At least not any black and whites, I did leave some more recent color photos behind.)

By this point, my running brain was totally switched off. All I cared about was finding more photos, I was a junkie searching for my next fix in the pile. But I knew I had to stop at some point, if for no other reason than the sun was getting low and worse- the mosquitoes were starting up. I found three or four small concentrations of photos and then it seemed like that was it.

At this point I figured out this guy died and they just dumped this stuff. Whoever did this just wanted to clean house. They were probably not related, otherwise they’d have kept the photos. Or maybe they were related and just didn’t care. Either way is sad.

I tried to roughly organize my haul in order to compact it. I found a Manilla envelope and stuffed in the photos. Then I stuck the envelope in a large Ziploc bag to protect it from my sweaty self. I could carry the whole pouch in front of me tucked under the bands of my pack. It made my chest retain heat, but it stayed put and more importantly, kept my hands free.

As I ran home,  I got some weird looks. I’m sure people wondered what the heck I was carrying. And yet even if they knew what was in the Manilla envelope, they would probably ask: “What the heck are you doing with photographs you found in a dump of some random dead person?”

And I asked myself the same thing. Why do I do this?

* * *

Grand total: about 150 photographs, (several of which are stuck together and awaiting separation,) one negative,  a few postcards, a letter, a note, a Mason’s card, a certificate of birth, and 3 lottery tickets (whose numbers I intend to play one day.)

There are many more interesting images I’d like to share, and ultimately, I will organize the photos into an album.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

R2R2R

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Going up North Kaibab

This past week, I ran R2R2R.

There’s no way to capture the scale of the Grand Canyon in a photo, so I was looking forward to seeing it with my own eyes and as I  ran through it. The canyon lived up to the hype. It was impressive and a little ginormous. The run, however, wasn’t as hard as I expected it to be. I expected to be on Death’s door, shriveled up and/or burned to a crisp after finishing.

But it wasn’t that bad, which was oddly disappointing.

Don’t get me wrong, it was tough. Especially the last four hours hiking up Bright Angel Trail. But overall, it felt like another 50 mile race, just with more vertical. I feel like I trained pretty well for the run, but what really made it “easier” was the weather.

Perhaps the trail gods pitied us, as there was cloud cover for a good portion of the day. This made a huge difference: It spared us the heat of the inner canyon, which is supposed to be tortuous. It allowed us to run for longer periods without overheating. And it kept us from running out of water. (Sort of.)

Ultimately, I’m thankful we didn’t have to endure the heat.

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We began under a full moon. (Or pretty darn close.)

I ran with four other people from our group of 20. We started about 4:45 am. Once it got light, the first few miles were spent oohing and ahhing and taking pictures. It was awhile before we really got going. We took our time and drank in the Canyon. We made several stops along the way, but the majority of the first 15-20 miles was uneventful and went by relatively quick.

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This is what I came to see!

 

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Chris and Michele on one of the bridges.

 

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I could still manage to get lost…

 

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You can see the cloud cover starting to roll in.

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Lower mid right, that white streak is a baby waterfall.

 

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Tanya and Jason sporting matching hats.

As the day went on, it warmed up. Going up North Kaibab was probably the worst of the heat. It was hot, but not unbearably so. We stopped in an awesome shady spot and lounged for a bit. The rock was cool and felt great on our tired legs. Once we started back up, we were greeted with a never-ending series of switchbacks to the top.

We eventually made it to the top of North Kaibab and had lunch. One of the other sub groups was already there, so we got to to eat and chat with them. But the best treat? The water. Oh-my-goodness!! So cold and refreshing. (I felt guilty about dumping out  my bladder just so I could refill it with cold water.) Oh, and mental note for next time: Extended breaks make it extremely hard to get moving again. 

After the agonizing uphill, running –actual running– the downhill was really fun. I felt we had been trudging along all day (which was probably actually a good thing), but now was a chance to to open it up. I love the feeling of bounding through rocky trails as fast as I can. So I started running up ahead at my own pace and then stopping and waiting for the others. They were never that far behind, so that worked out great. But I had to remind myself to keep it in check because there’d be hill to pay later.

At Cottonwood, we stopped and soaked our feet and legs. The ice cold water felt great, though I could handle it for only like 10 seconds at a time. The others had no problems sitting in the water up to their waist, so eventually I had to do the same. It felt great for like a second. It’s crazy how fast the water evaporates though.

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Ribbon Falls. Don’t you just want to touch the fuzzy greenery?

We took a detour to check out Ribbon Falls.  It was a great little water fall. You can climb up to the top and stick your head under the water. As you might imagine, it felt great.

And then came the slog. Running back through the inner canyon was the running version of Groundhog Day. It was the L-o-n-g-e-s-t S-e-v-e-n  M-i-l-e-s  E-v-e-r. We would have really suffered here if it weren’t for the cloud cover because the rock absorbs the sun’s heat all day and then radiates it right back out into your face.

By this time, the moon was nowhere to be seen and it was pitch black. Michele had a problem with her headlamp/batteries, so I let her use my headlamp. I ran between her and Tanya and was able to see well enough. The trekking poles were a lifesaver here. They allowed me to cross over the logs more easily, helped provide depth perception, and overall stability.

This was by far the toughest section to get through. It was certainly  challenging physically, but even more so mentally. We could hike only so fast. Partly because we were tired and partly because of the fear of walking off the cliff. Chris had said if we could do a 30 minute mile, we were doing well. That sounded ridiculous, but I think it was true.

There were some lights at the top of the canyon that we seemed to be moving toward but not getting any closer. We seemed to be hiking forever but not making any progress. All we could see was five feet in front of us. And those damn lights up top. I started thinking about food. I would have killed for a burger and a Coke. Seriously.

Strangely, it wasn’t even midnight yet and we started getting bombarded by other runner’s (presumably)starting their R2R2R journey. It was disappointing because many of the runners didn’t yield the trail to us or even slow down. (Trail etiquette dictates that those moving downhill should yield to those moving uphill.) A few bellowed the “Looking good!/ Good job!” line which was a little too chipper for my taste.

Some time after midnight, we finally made it to the top of Bright Angel. I thought for sure I would cry, but I didn’t. I was too tired.

 

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Mega thorny cactus flower.

Other Notes/ Advice type Stuff

Water: Jason and Michele both ran out of water twice.  We gave them some water the first time, and the second time was right before a stop. They got lucky. It’s better to carry too much water than to run out. Simple as that. And really, how do you run out of water twice?!

I had a 2L bladder for water which I filled completely at each stop and a 21 oz bottle for Perpetuem/ Heed.

Calories: I brought around 6,000 calories, almost twice what I actually consumed. (Although about 2000 of that was Perpetuem and Heed.) Often what seems edible in the grocery store is anything but on the trail. And again this was the case. A dozen+ gels, 3 bars, cola flavored gel chews (next best thing to a Coke), pretzels, beef jerky, cookies, almonds, single serve tuna fish with crackers, olives, a real sandwich, and powdered Perpetuem and Heed. And I forgot to bring Payday candy bars. I think those would have done me well.

I love my Salomon pack. I bought it specifically for this trip and it has been great to me. Maybe I should finish the review I started.

Garmin Forerunner 310XT did work in the canyon (even though it was constantly losing satellite reception), lasted over 17 hours. I never stopped it, if I had, it might have made the whole trip. What I should have done was to stop it at each water stop and treat that as a run. The drawback is you have to remember to restart the watch…

Trekking poles were a HUGE help going uphill. I’ve never used them before (hills in Texas?) but they were easy to get the hang of. Most of us rented them from the General Store. Best $12 I ever spent.

A wide brim hat or a legionnaire’s cap is a must. And sunscreen.

Make sure your headlamp works! Put in new batteries and/or carry spares. You might even take two headlamps. If your sole source of light breaks somehow, you’re in a tough spot.

Proper foot care  the week prior to the run: Clip and file your toenails, pumice any tough spots, and moisturize with lotion.  Wear double socks – toe socks under Drymax- and gaiters. And carry a spare pair of socks. Dust and sand still managed to infiltrate the mesh in my shoes, but I had ZERO blisters.

Take lots of pictures. Duh!

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Powerlines with Unexpected Company

Ran the powerlines today. It’s a 3 mile unofficial trail that crosses a golf course and some neighborhoods. It’s pretty hilly. As I finished the first half of the first lap, I saw something move at the top of the hill. Got up the hill and saw that it was a dog in the street.

Black and white, medium sized, he was wandering around, looking lost, peeing on everything in sight. I whistled at him. He came over and let me pet him briefly. He had a collar, but no tag. I walked around the street looking for an open gate or a hole in a fence, but found nothing. And no one was outside. So I just let the dog be, and continued on the trail.

After a minute, I heard something behind me. I turned around – the dog was following me.

My unexpected pacer.
My unexpected pacer.

I was like, “Hey boy, want to go on a trail run?” And amazingly, that’s exactly what he did. He led the way and paced me for the next three miles. I was really impressed. He handled the rocks pretty well for going barefoot.  Sometimes, he’d stop and turn around to make sure I was still following him. When he saw that I was, he’d start off trotting again. He seemed pretty happy.

It was really cool running with this dog. It was nice having company that I didn’t have to try and make conversation with. He just led the way and I followed. And weirdly, although I’ve never been scared running this trail, I felt safer.

I’ve never had a dog before. Lately, I’ve been thinking about getting one, but my current situation doesn’t allow for a dog. But if I got a dog, it would force me to change my situation…  Hmmm… I started thinking what I would name him.

At the top of one hill, he was panting pretty heavy. I made a small ziploc “bowl” and filled it with some water. He drank just about everything in the bowl. As I was attempting to refill the bowl, the  water squirted out of the hydration tube like a little garden hose and the dog started licking the stream of water. I thought that was cute. I felt bad when I had to cut him off. Fortunately, it had rained the night before and we came across a few big puddles for him to drink from.

Puddle fountain
Puddle fountain

When he was drinking up the puddle, I noticed that his ribs were really showing. If he did belong to someone, they sure weren’t feeding him near enough.

We hit Babcock Road which completed a lap. The dog crossed the street and waited for me to follow. I contemplated what to do. Take him to a vet to see if he’s microchipped? Would he be returned to irresponsible owners?  Would he be put up for adoption? Would I be ready to adopt him? Do I take him home and put up flyers  in that neighborhood?

Handsome devil.
Handsome devil.

I hate to be the guy who “doesn’t want to get involved,” but that’s basically the route I took. I decided that I would run him back to where I found him. I figured at the very least he would be free to roam as he pleased, peeing everywhere.

We had to cross a road that had two lanes in both directions. It’s not terribly busy, but there’s limited sight and cars tend to drive fast. Instead of crossing the street, he was walking in the middle of the road, oblivious to an approaching semi truck. (And here I thought he was a smart dog.) Thankfully the truck driver was alert and was able to slow to a complete stop. I tried to call the dog to me so that I could grab his collar and hold him, but instead he took off. The driver waited patiently as I unsuccessfully tried to corral the dog. I wished that I could inform the driver this wasn’t my dog – no way I’d be dumb enough to let my dog run into traffic. The dog wandered onto the sidewalk,  and the truck slowly passed. When the coast was clear, I sprinted to the other side and the dog followed.

Right after, a lady in an SUV stopped and rolled down her window. As she did, I got really excited thinking she was the owner, but no such luck. She thought the dog was a Malamute.

Two miles later, we were back at the street where I found him.  I followed him around, hoping that he’d wander back to his house. Then I could just ring the doorbell and the dumb owner would come out and be overjoyed at the sight of the beloved dog. We walked down a few streets and by now there were people out and about. I asked everyone if they’d seen this dog before. One guy said he’d seen the dog wandering around all day, but that was it.

I got nervous when the dog started heading toward a mother and her three small children. As I’m running toward them, I asked the mother if she’d lost a dog. She said no, and her daughter said, “We already have a dog.” I jokingly asked if they wanted another. The girl says that she does want another dog. As I got further down the street, I heard the little boy say, “That’s a werewolf dog!”

Handsome devil.
Handsome devil.

The dog was going door to door at this point, every once in a while, he’d turn around to look at me. He seemed to be in his element. I figured it was only a matter of time before he got back to his house. That’s when I decided to leave him. I felt really guilty knowing that he was going to turn around and not see me. I felt like I was letting the dog down, and I didn’t want to be like his shitty owners. A dog this nice really deserves to be treated better.

I tried to help the dog, but I should have done more. I’m thinking that I should print up flyers and head back up there tomorrow to see if he’s still there. Who knows, maybe I’ll come home with a new dog.

*    *    *    *    *

Has this ever happened to you? What did you do?

What’s the best thing to do in this sort of situation?

 

 

 

 

 

Things Change…

Depending on where you live, you might notice the trees turning colors. The trees around here are definitely changing. Not anything super spectacular, but low key Texas style. Maybe that’s what is inspiring me to make a change. Or maybe it’s just because I’m tired of hearing that question, “Do you have a website?”

You may or may not know that I am an artist- I make paintings. I’ve been half-assing it for a long time. I’ve also been unemployed for a while now and it’s really getting me down. But I don’t want to work a stupid job – I want to do something I actually enjoy doing. However, finding a job where I just paint and build stuff all day is probably not going to happen. At least not easily, and not without some blood, sweat, and many many beers.

So where am I going with this? Well, I am going to try and full-ass it as an artist. I want to put my work out there, and that requires a website. And while it would be great if I could make money talking about my running, I know that if I focus on presenting my art, I can sell it. So I am going to be shifting the focus of this blog. It’s not going to be just about running, rather it’s going to be about…. uh… stuff? Yeah, that’s pretty vague, I haven’t quite figured it all out yet, but I will.

However, I have decided to ditch the Shortcuthills moniker and promote myself as Shutupbecky. I love the name- it’s loads snappier and makes people get weird, or laugh or both. I have had the name as an email since 2000, so I feel like the name is a part of me. It’s my alter ego, pen name, stage name, code name, however you want to call it. So yeah, Shutupbecky!

*   *   *   *   *

I’ll leave you with a few pieces I did last week.

A quickish "sketch: painting
A quickish “sketch: painting. (The stuff on the sides isn’t part of it.)
Kids in my Mom's hometown village in Thailand.
Kids in my Mom’s hometown village in Thailand.
Juk. Same kid, same image as the first painting.
Juk. Same kid, same image as the first painting.

I need to start taking better photos-  which is to say NOT USE A PHONE…

Heinz Laundry Detergent

Heinz makes laundry detergent? What?

When I run, I’m not a big sweater, compared to some people I know. But afterwards, my clothes still stink. What’s worse, I am loathe to admit this, but I usually wear a pair of shorts twice before washing them. Yeah, most people probably think that’s gross, fair enough. It’s on those second wearings when, say I kneel down to tie my shoe, I catch a whiff and think twice about this habit. “Geez, I stink!”

Even after washing my shorts, I noticed that I could still detect a faint odor. There are sports detergents that are supposed to completely take care of stank, but they are kind of expensive. I’ve gotten over paying $15 – 20 for socks, but $15 – 20 for detergent? Where does it end? So I turned to the internet and Googled “eliminate odors in running clothes” and a couple sites recommended…. vinegar.

Yep. One cup of good old fashioned white vinegar and warm water – nothing else. Supposedly, the vinegar kills the bacteria that create the odor. This shouldn’t be surprising since vinegar is great for cleaning a million other things. I happened to have a big gallon jug and immediately tested out this claim. Results: My clothes were odor-free!!

I’ve been using the vinegar for a couple weeks now, my clothes are consistently stink-free. So if you’re a big stinker, ditch the detergents and give vinegar a try!

Heinz "Laundry Detergent"
Heinz “Laundry Detergent”