All posts by killingernest

Journalist/Digital Strategist - Father of 3, married to their mother. A writer and traveler looking for new ways to tell old stories.

One last Hunt in the North Malheur

Three years ago, my friend David Lane and I decided to do our own elk camp. The idea was to hunt for cow elk to put some meat in our freezers and limit our reliance on store-bought meat.

Evening of the first day. Just about the time the coyote chorus begins.

That first year we borrowed a friend’s wall tent and set up camp in the absolute worst spot a person (me) could possibly pick. The spot was in the bottom of a canyon that saw just a bit of sunlight each day and seemed to concentrate the cold each night. We didn’t see a single elk that year.

We stayed in a hotel in Burns the second year. My two boys joined us for that hunt. We’d get up early, drag our gear to David’s truck and head for the hills with some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in our packs and some beer in the coolers. The weather was far more conducive to camping that second year, with temperatures in 60 and clear, sunny views for days. My son Cole managed to surprise a cow elk, or vice versa, and she ran away unscathed. The rest of us saw no elk that year.

This year we stayed in an Air B&B. Mostly because I wanted to support the local economy in these rough times but also because our hunt was shortened by everyone’s work schedules. This year was an in-between year, with cool, mostly clear weather but a lot of snow left on the ground from a big fall storm a few weeks previous. We saw no elk this year.

Continue reading One last Hunt in the North Malheur

High Attitude

The Wallowa Mountains

After working a 15-hour day on Wednesday, I decided to spend Thursday morning taking a gondola to the top of Mt. Howard to get a better look at the Wallowa Mountains.

I usually see the range from my hotel room in Enterprise, and the jagged peaks known as the Oregon Alps always remind me of growing up in the little East-Austrian town of Richenau an der Rax.

Having been raised in an alpine town, I’m always intrigued by them. People living life at unforgiving altitudes yet surrounded by immense beauty that constantly makes you lift your head up to behold.

Continue reading High Attitude

In the tempest

Lightening over the Siskiyou

I watched a thunderhead build momentum over the Siskiyou mountains all day on Thursday. Up and up it went, 20,000, 30,000 feet into the sky, white, billowy protrusions folding and unfolding from its anvil base along a column that seemed to stretch from the earth to the high heavens.

The gleaming-white column softened and turned pink and then peach and then salmon in the glow of the setting sun. I drove along the upper Rogue River trying to think about fish and fat salmonflies, but my mind was on that cloud and its ominous intentions.

Continue reading In the tempest

The Unfriending

This morning I scrolled through Facebook and unfriended everyone that I saw who had posted something about getting the economy going again. It wasn’t very hard. Their posts usually went something like this.


“I don’t mean to sound insensitive to anyone who is suffering currently, but enough is enough. Let’s get our lives back. Yes, it sucks for people who are dying, but this is just the flu, and people die from the flu all the time. It’s time to get the economy going again, or we’re all going to be sunk.”


Continue reading The Unfriending

Silver

Silver bullets, silverware, silver bells. If I stop to think about my first impressions of silver, it’s the little things like werewolves, fine dining and Christmas music. 

Silver bars from the Dennis s.k collection Wikimedia Commons 3.0

In reality, it’s still werewolves, but also tarnish on my grandmother’s heirlooms  and my childhood best friend’s greyhound that was neutered during the holidays. The dog’s name was Silver, and we sang Silver’s balls, silver’s balls, soon their won’t be any silver’s balls. 

Canyon Country

When you walk through the canyons of Chicago on a blustery day, not that Chicago is any windier than other American cities, you can feel like the walls are closing in on you.

Canyons of Chicago

Maybe it’s the hordes of people scrambling from the trains to their jobs at some perch high up on those canyon walls.

Maybe it’s the ambient noise of elevated trains, taxis and heeled shoes clipping the sidewalks.

Whatever it is, five-years-ago, I was a mess of a human being.

Canyons of Chicago

Daily panic attacks as I rode the trains to and from downtown Chicago. Elevated blood pressure. Irritability. Lack of creativity. Inability to be mindful. The list could go on.

It wasn’t that I didn’t love Chicago. I did. I had an amazing job working with some of the most talented people in public radio. I got to look at that amazing architecture every morning and afternoon. And I was part of this vibrant, thriving city for three years.

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.” 
― Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

We didn’t weed out racism when we should have

Behold the blackberry root

The racism I grew up with was subtle. Not so subtle I didn’t recognize it, but subtle enough that it could live there in the background without offending too many people.

Without offending me enough to do something about it.

And I’m convinced that is why it’s still around in 2018 and factoring into a national election.

Racism is like Himalayan blackberry bushes. A thorny species in the rose family, these plants were brought in for fruit production in the 1800s, but they quickly spread out of control and changed the landscape by out-competing native plants. Each spring they pop up through the bark dust like other weeds, but you can’t just pull them out. They’re stubborn, and they have thorns. So you weed everything else and swear you’re going to come back for it. But you don’t, and they grow bigger. Continue reading We didn’t weed out racism when we should have

Three-Thousand Miles, Thirty Hours and Three Audiobooks

September and October have been two of the heaviest travel months of my career in conservation so far. I have seen the sun rise in Washington D.C. and set in Portland on the same day. I’ve traveled to the political heartland, and I’ve driven thousands of miles around Oregon.

With the demise of creative music and extremely limited options among the mainstays of the music industry, I have been listening to books on tape, or, more correctly, audiobooks.

Continue reading Three-Thousand Miles, Thirty Hours and Three Audiobooks

Grief at Thirty Thousand Feet

Sadness leaks in like the cold. You bundle up, prepared for it. Ready for the onslaught. But it comes in wisps – icy fingers that make you shiver at first. Then you choke as they tighten around your throat.

I stare at the text message, the orange glow of my phone in the dark of a strange hotel room in the middle of the country. I can’t read the letters on the screen, but the message has pierced the sleepy shrouds, the covers over me on the bed, the t-shirt I’m wearing, the skin of my chest and my heart. Continue reading Grief at Thirty Thousand Feet