Cellphones as menace on the trail

An unwelcome guest on any trail I hike.

An unwelcome guest on any trail I hike.

Imagine.  There you are hiking out in the middle of nowhere.  You’ve found a quiet trail with nothing but the sounds of Gambel’s quail chattering in the bush.  Ah, Nature.  Ah, solitude.

Then, boom, you hear a human voice chattering on a cellphone.  She’s coming down the trail as if her mundane conversation is the most important thing in the world.  In the space of a few seconds, this self-centered, insecure person has not only violated my solitude but to my mind she has violated her own.

She is too caught up in the unreal outside world as to begin an understanding of Nature.  She does not hear the quail.  She does not see the field of subtle wildflowers at her side.  The tiny fiddlenecks, phacelia and lupine.  Nor does she smell the aroma of the creosote.

I use a woman here only because that is what I see on the trail.  My hiking experience tells me that person will be talking about her children, her boyfriend, politics at work, the trivial stuff that accounts for most of the day.

The New York Times had a related article this morning, “Cellphone Talkers Proved To Be Irritants, Study Says.”  The article fails to mention “cellphone talkers” on the trail but it is even worse there than being captive to these incessant talkers on a bus, standing in a line at Starbucks or anywhere else.

I’m for promoting a law.  Leave your cellphones at the Trailhead.


The road to a good woman

There is only one way to know whether you have a good woman.  Travel with her.  That is the acid test for compatibility.

I have some experience in the matter.

Many years ago I became infatuated with a tall woman but never traveled with her.  Finally we made a trip to Dallas from Oklahoma City, and, lo and behold, her essence emerged.  All she wanted to do was play word games.  That and swill wine from a Gallo bottle.  It was fun for a while, I admit.

But really.   How can you get involved with someone like that, someone who never gazed out the window once in 200 miles, who never saw in the passing landscape beauty, ugliness . . . something?   Like at least when crossing the Red River to remark its color did not match the name?

Then there was the woman who showed curiosity but curiosity for the wrong things.  Not far into almost every trip she would bury her head in a guide book, seeking out the next eating place, the perfect motel for that night, the nearest roadside attraction.  Long silences occurred.  We were not a good match.

Probably the very worst thing I ever ran into was a woman who did not like to travel at all.   She was a thickly-haired blonde who had lived in Arizona for all of her 30 years.  But she had not visited the Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.  It layed only a half-day’s drive from her doorstep in Phoenix.  What’s more, she did not want to peer down into that awesome abyss.  Ever.

I dated this woman off and on for several years but it was obvious we had no future together.  If only I had road-tested her.  Then maybe, just maybe. . . .  No, what am I thinking about?  No curiosity, no wanting to adventure?  I was blind to the cards spread out before me.

For the longest time I thought it impossible to travel happily with a woman, cooped up together for hours on end.  But Nebra changed my mind.  She was curious, she was adventuresome and like me had her kooky moments, moments like the time we got into a long lament about the sorry state of the collective noun.

Early on we set off on a trip to hike in the Grand Canyon.  We arrived at the half-way point, at Flagstaff, and began looking for a motel.  It was late at night, and “No Vacancy” popped up at every turn.  Finally we found a place with one room available.  It was called the Flamingo Motel, but the “o” was burned out on the large neon sign that now read “Flaming.”   We ignored the omen and should not have been overly surprised to hear a distinct squish-squish when we entered our room.  The carpet was sopping wet.   Someone putting out a fire?

But instead of storming back to the office and demanding our money back, we did the absurd thing of laughing. And we stayed the entire night amid a swamp of red shag.   Neither of us will ever forget that night at the Flaming, and remembering it always evokes a hearty har-har.

In January Nebra and I hit our 26th year together.

There have been some downs but many ups for us.    When our relationship hits a rough spot, we know how to pave it over.  Just jump in the car and motor, baby, motor.

Compatibility sits with us in the front seat.  I lucked out that way.  I hope Nebra feels that way too.