I don’t think I can be funny while talking about Mann Gulch. To those of you who just said “or anything else for that matter” — hahahahahaha no refunds.
Truly, I would feel like a jerk if I even tried. Like getting a case of the giggles during the Changing of the Guard at Arlington Cemetery.
I think few of you know anything about Mann Gulch or why I’ve been going on about it. Not to mention why I bothered to make this pilgrimage. For whatever reason, it’s not stayed in the national consciousness like other tragedies such as Pearl Harbor or Titanic or Amazon’s Prime Day Sale. The least I can do is tell you the story while telling about my own experiences there. Maybe that will help some of you learn why I find Mann Gulch and its history so powerful.
I’ve mentioned Joe and Sarah Stiver a couple of times and how wonderful they were. I met them less than 24 hours after arriving out here. Since then, I’ve started believing they are the norm, not the exception in this region. I wanted to mention a few other natives I’ve encountered randomly who have been instrumental in making me fall in love with this place.
Since I spent Day 1 picking on the Lakota, I thought Day 2 was an appropriate time to connect with someone else who had done much the same. After a leisurely breakfast with Joe and Sarah, I headed out to Little Bighorn.
It’s about four hours drive time from Devil’s Tower to Little Bighorn. The miles sort of roll by because — and I hate to belabor this, but it’s true — it’s incredibly pretty up here. It seemed to get moreso after every mile. Then I crossed into that shithole Montana.
And it’s already started! Sort of! In the sense that I have left Atlanta, but have not yet arrived at my vacation. I’m in the middle of a four-hour layover in Salt Lake City, is what I’m saying here.
But soon, I’ll begin my actual Rockies experience! It starts with a carving of four of our most carved presidents and ends with Marian Call. In between, I will have the Complete Rockies Experience. Whatever that is. I think I have to buy a lot of flannel shirts, grow a vast beard, film a New Yorker getting gored by a bison, and write a manifesto.
Watch this space daily for the week. I hope this will feel like you’re traveling with me in this 100% accurate and not made up at all adventure. Except that you don’t get to choose the music in the rental car. Not that I’d let you if you were here for real. Just bring your headphones.
Several years ago, I saw a documentary about the differences between wolves and modern domesticated dogs.
The part that was most striking to me was when they put some meat in plain sight inside a little chain link fence area. They released a hound, who tried for a couple of minutes to find a way in, over, under, or through. Then he gave up, sat down, and looked up to a human with a “l’il help?” expression.
The wolf just kept at it. Digging and circling and biting. It seemed to never occur to it that this was something one of those noisy, upright meat things could help with. That wolf gave the impression of an animal who would keep working at it until it finally gave up and found some new dinner. Like a cameraman.
I have no idea if this was a useful experiment or not, but the point was that dogs have completely outsourced their own health care to humans. Food, water, shelter, medical treatment, everything except ass-sniffing and -licking. Turns out to have been a pretty good deal for the dogs. And for non-allergic humans too.
I mention all this to distract myself from one thing: today, after 15+ years of dog maintenance, Esme needed me one last time. She could no longer stand on her own, and if I helped her stand, it was a struggle to stay upright or to walk. I had to choose between letting her go sooner with some dignity and little (if any) pain, or maybe getting a few extra weeks of needing me to move anywhere until she just gave up from exhaustion. At the end, it wasn’t a choice at all.
(One year to the day after letting Arrow go. August 22 can bite me — with apologies to my friend Stephen who has a birthday today.)
Esme was a much different dog from Arrow or Vandal. She was shy and suspicious around people she didn’t know, while her adopted siblings were gracious enough to let all humans into their noble presences. Even with people she knew, she was never really cuddly. You couldn’t hold her on your lap (although she was like 65 pounds most of her life) and she seemed weirded out by being on the sofa.
But among the humans she knew, Esme was loyal and friendly. She didn’t want me to give her belly rubs, but she wanted to be in the same room with me all the time. Her typical evening was sitting on her pillow near the window, and occasionally coming over to offer me the chance to scratch behind her ears.
For the first time in a very long time, I live alone. Gonna be kind of quiet. This house is far too big for one person, and it already felt empty without Arrow.
But that’s two dogs in a row that have made it past 15 years. I must be doing something right. At least, I think I did right by Esme — adopted her at four months old, and she never missed a meal, never got more than a little thirsty, and never had to go to sleep in the cold or the rain. Everyone reading this is probably within shouting distance of a human being for whom that’s not true.
I’m going to miss that standoffish mutt. She was sweet and gentle, and her only requirement was to be near the people she loved. There’s probably a lesson in there somewhere.
God tells Maximus to build an ark with his wife, the ass-to-ass girl from Requiem for a Dream, his son Percy Jackson, his daughter-in-law Hermione Granger, and two lesser sons, the Game of Thrones reject (aka Mr. Hermione) and the shrunken head of Emma Stone. And speaking of stone, Maximus gets some contractor help from Treebeard cosplaying as a pile of granite. Also stoned is Maximus’ grandfather and berry junky Hannibal Lector, who basically just whines that the younger generation never brings him cherries — an apt observation, as he also manages to get Hermione out of a production of Harry Potter and the Desolate Womb, if you get my drift. Hermione corrects his pronunciation of “cootchy ferTILus” but at least now she can do something useful. Congrats to Ron Weasley.
Maximus’ opposition comes from the “This is totally not happening but if it does can we ride on your boat” party, led by Beowulf. When the rain starts (and I kept waiting for Maximus to say “when I give the signal, unleash Heaven” but he never did), the TITNHBIIDCWROYB Party charges in to get slaughtered by all the Treebeards, though Beowulf manages to cut a Beowulf-sized hole in the side of this totally seaworthy boat and stows away among the CGI animals — this immediately becomes less Bible and more Lost In Space.
Hannibal Lector, by the way, digs into the dirt and finally finds cherries and happily bites into them. He realizes that cherries don’t grow there and that he’s probably just eaten coyote poop, so he welcomes the flood waters with open arms. Also, Percy Jackson’s probably fertile 14-year-old girlfriend is left to get trampled by the angry mob because Maximus (paragon of men and only human worth saving) refuses to help her.
Maximus learns that Hermione is pregnant and makes the odd choice to sacrifice the baby when it’s born, although it seems more efficient to just throw her overboard immediately. The idea is that God really wanted to eradicate ALL humans, and this group is only alive to make sure the animals live and then they die off, so Maximus is mad that God’s plans are getting thwarted by his sleazy old grandfather’s weird crotch magic. So he grumps around for the whole trip and tells everyone over and over that he’s going to straight up stab the crap out of that baby. Then a lot of things happen at once.
Hermione goes into labor during her second trimester, if the timing in the Bible is to be believed. She gives birth to twin girls, both of whom seem very large for babies that are four months premature. But still, two more girls around in case Percy Jackson and Emma Stone’s Head want to do it with their nieces in 12 years, tops.
The ark runs aground. The most lasting image of the Bible story is Noah releasing the doves and them returning with an olive branch. In this movie, when he releases the doves, they just walk to the side and hop off.
Beowulf decides to attack and murder Maximus. I don’t know why. Seems easier to just step off the ship and wander away to die alone. It doesn’t go all that well for Beowulf.
Maximus wimps out of sacrificing the babies even though Hermione does nothing to stop him — she finally realized she was a female in a Bible story and closes her damn mouth.
Everyone lives happily ever after, except for the uncounted multitudes of dead people. Maximus relates the story of creation from like five chapters earlier in Genesis, while a fast-forwarded montage of evolution shows on-screen but no one is really buying it. Percy Jackson, still surly about the death of his beloved girlfriend No Name Given, fails to imprint on one of the newborn girls even though they’re obviously old enough. (Thanks, Twilight.) He wanders off to be alone, since the bathroom doors don’t have locks on them. Maximus makes up with Ass2Ass even though she’s like 43 at this point and is useless for anything. He vows to try to try to sacrifice fewer of their grandchildren.
And of course all the animals are DTF.
There! I hope you were inspired. Maybe not inspired enough to change your ways, but inspired enough to think kindly on Waterworld in the future should the opportunity present itself.
Wow, that’s some good title-writing on my part. Sounds like a line to piss off your middle school nemesis.
By now, enough time has passed so I’m not worried about spoiling the hell out of the end of How I Met Your Mother. The ending pissed me off and I want to vent. I know it’s just a TV show, but it’s still long-form writing, and it still seemed like the writers think we’re dumb. Besides, most of the fun of pop culture is overanalyzing it later. You can expect no less from someone who does a Survivor podcast.
Came across a thought experiment that might be fun. Not yet sure how I’d answer.
If you could change any one thing in history, what would it be? A specific, single event. So no “I would make World War II not happen” but you could say “Have Hitler’s mom decide on a timely abortion.”
The tricky part becomes “what are the repercussions of that?” If there is no Hitler, what is Germany like in the 1930s? Was the problem Hitler himself or did he fill a Fuhrer-shaped hole that would have been plugged by someone else had he not been there? And what happens to the rest of the world without WWII? The German scientists who fled Germany because of the Third Reich might not do so. No Wehner Von Braun might mean no U.S. flag on the moon (at least not first).
Also, without the Nazis, Einstein probably doesn’t warn FDR about the German attempts to build the first atomic bomb, so the Manhattan Project doesn’t start when it did. If Germany, still smarting from WWI, gets the bomb first, then someone like Goebbels or Goehring or some other ethically questionable person manages to get in charge, would we now be wondering what it was like to have a London?
I don’t mean to fixate on WWII (and FWIW, I think a world sans Hitler is likely a net gain even if it is much different), but that’s an example of what I’m talking about. You are free to bump off Stalin too.
Do you try to prevent 9/11 and the two wars and all the nonsense that’s happened since? There are lots of ways to do it, but that keeps the U.S. off-guard and maybe the next attack is worse.
Do you keep JFK from being shot? Or MLK? Or RFK? Or Gandhi?
This occurred to me while watching the new Cosmos. Do you keep Carl Sagan from getting cancer? Or do you drag Jim Henson to the hospital a month sooner with a note penned to him that says WARNING: STREPTOCOCCUS PNEUMONIAE? Both are tempting. Twenty more years with either of them would have been nice. I think Carl would have enjoyed seeing the pics from Cassini.
Maybe something more personal? If you have a parent/spouse/friend/sibling/child who died tragically, do you undo that instead of risking the big move that might make things worse? If you yourself are in the grips of something awful, I don’t think anyone would judge you harshly for fixing that. The ghost of Gandhi would forgive you.
And how many Bama fans do I have to show this to before this gets undone? Three?
Like I said, I’m still thinking through it. Having a difficult time finding the right balance between being purely selfish and risking a major butterfly effect that ends all of humanity in a blaze of fire and pain and terrible music.
But I’m still curious if anyone else has ideas. Also, I’m going to go last to re-fix history undone by the Bama fans.