The Action Me: The Story of Man of Action Breaks World Speed Record In Half Dome Climb – Part 5

If you think you can stomach it, you can click here to go to the beginning…

The Wrong Direction

We were now serious about this endeavor. 

While I was starting off correctly by putting the right foot (my left foot) first, I cannot vouch for the proper foot conduct of anyone else in the group. I can, however, say with certainty that nobody in the group was going in the right direction to get us on the right trail to the top of Half Dome. 

This was, however, remedied within about five minutes when someone realized that we had walked straight into a cliff. Fortunately, it was the cliff wall that we walked into and not the top edge. 

Naturally, this caused a re-evaluation of our collective sense of direction, and we reversed our course.

NOW we were on the road.

Throughout the night, we made our way along the trail. We saw nary a creature along the way and there were no special incidents . Of course, it was dark so we probably wouldn’t see any, would we?  

One of the highlights of the journey is reaching the top of Nevada Fall. One of the reasons it’s a highlight is that everybody wants to stop and take it in (translation: let’s wait for Bill to catch up). It’s a great resting point after the arduous climb to get there. And it has some pretty spectacular views, even at 2:30 in the morning:

The hours crawled by, and it was getting a little tough on Man of Action. However, I refused to give up and stop. I have developed a sort of mantra and kept repeating over and over in my head. “I will go as far as I can go and this ain’t it.”  

“I should have prepared more for this hike.”

“I will go as far as I can go and this ain’t it.”

“It sure is dark out here.”

“I will go as far as I can go and this ain’t it.”

“I wonder if my sleeping bag back in the tent is comfortable.”

“I will go as far as I can go and this ain’t it.”

“Well, time to stop.”

“I will go as far as I can go and this ain’t it.”

“Are we there, yet?”

“I will go as far as I can go and this ain’t it.”

“Did I leave my guitar turned on back home?”

“I will go as far as I can go and this ain’t it.”

“I wonder what makes my feet hurt.”

“I will go as far as I can go and this ain’t it.”

“Did I remember to turn in my vacation request?”

“I will go as far as I can go and this ain’t it.”

At some point, we came to the “Little Yosemite Valley”. This is always a welcome sight because it means that you are walking on level ground and you will be for a while. Plus, it’s got restrooms, food lockers and tent camping. There is also a river running down the middle of it which eventually becomes Nevada and Vernal Falls.

It really is very beautiful and inspiring.

I took a picture…


 After a brief stop, we continued along our way. 

Donna, knowing that I was a little slower than the rest of the party, stayed with me along the way and kept me company. I hardly had to use my mantra at all – Thank you Donna!

Eventually, the sun began to show itself, and I began to recognize where we were, having been there a couple of times before in the daylight. 

It was time to take another picture…

donna on trail
Donna, just after the sun started to make its appearance.

And another…

me on trail
Me, just after Donna became visible. See how happy I look?

We weren’t there, yet, but we were approaching the switchback steps. These go on for about three seconds short of an eternity.

switchback stares half dome
I didn’t take this photo. Mostly because I couldn’t make my body move in such a way that I could lift my camera. I found it on the interwebs. The steps are a challenge…

Once past the steps, you pass through a couple of large stones and out onto the saddleback. It’s not very wide and it’s about a 5,000 foot drop off either side…


A long way down. But it’s faster than walking…

And then…

If you think you can stomach it, you can click here to go to the beginning…

 Click here to go to the next chapter…






Adjectively Speaking, Things Are No Longer Awesome, Things Are Now Totally…

There are times when I want to express my view that something is extremely positive or that I really like something about someone, somewhere or some object. This is usually not a problem for me because I am a reasonably positive person.

However, at some point in the past decade or so, I seem to have fallen into the habit of using the word “awesome” whenever I want to express my belief that something was, well, awesome. It was like, “Your (insert noun here) is awesome!” is just about the only way I would describe something that I thought was extremely positive. 

“Your hat is awesome!”, “Your house is awesome!”, “Your wall is awesome!”, “That cow in your living room is awesome!”. 

See what I mean?. Everything is awesome. It’s not “great”, “beautiful”, “amazing”, “fantastic”, “spectacular”, “breathtaking”, “formidable”, “overwhelming”, “imposing”, “magnificent”,” grand”, “majestic”, “daunting”, “mind blowing”, “wondrous”, “striking”, “astonishing”, “stunning”, “inspiring”, “nice”, “good”, “lovely”, “swell”, admirable”, attractive”, “becoming”, “charming”, “delightful”, “favorable”, “pleasant”, “nifty”, “peachy”, “cool” or “ducky”. 

It’s “awesome”. 

I suspect that many of us do this out of habit and don’t even realize it.

I have decided that I need to replace the word “awesome” with something a little less used by the general public, but something that I think would be awesome if more people used it. Something that may be used to mean (pretty much) the same thing, but with a little less imposing sound to it. Something a little more laid back to more closely approximate my own easy going personality. Something that was used long ago, and has never come back around for a second spin. 

I would like to invite you, my loyal reader(s), to work with me to bring back the word…


Yes, “Groovy”. 

I know, I know. “Groovy” is a silly word and you may not want to go anywhere near it. I get that. But think about this – you will probably be the only one of your friends or acquaintances to use it for awhile. Pretty soon, somebody in your circle of friends is going to think it’s a pretty cool word and start to use it. Then, one of their friends will think that if that person can use it and make it sound so awesome, then maybe they should start using it, too.

The cycle will repeat itself over and over and over again and pretty soon, a fairly large group of people will start to feelin’ groovy.

And maybe some people who are moving too fast will slow down a bit and make the morning last. Maybe they will stop yelling at each other and pay attention to life around them. You know, go kickin’ down those cobblestones and looking for the positive things instead of focussing on the negative.  

Anyway, I think it’s an awes –  groovy idea.

Or am I being a little too far out? 







Mysteries of Marriage – Guess Which Episode This Is…

I have a wife. Her name is Judy. She is the most awesome human currently residing on the planet. Yes, Earth – THAT planet. 

Judy has a husband (me). His name is Bill. Many people aren’t sure WHICH planet is his current place of residence, but let’s just assume, for the sake of argument, that he lives on Earth, too. 

Bill and Judy have been married for a few years, almost 46 of them, and they are both very much in love with each other. 

Sometimes people ask Bill and Judy the secret to the longevity of their marriage. Judy used to say that it was because she has a really bad memory, but she has changed her mind on that score. Now she says it’s because she has a really good memory. 

Bill, on the other hand, has a bit of a different take. He gives the credit to something he calls mystery…

One day, a few weeks ago, Bill was helping out around the house by doing the dishes.  During this act, it dawned on him that there were a few utensils missing from the inventory of knives, forks, spoons, etc.. Not that there weren’t any, but that there were not the former quantity of eight place settings of matching style. In other words, there were lots of utensils, but no eight of them matched. 

This kinda bothered him, because he knew that they had purchased actual place settings of matching silverware for eight users. But now there was this hodge podge of different styles types and sizes. He was able to find three salad forks, four dinner forks, five teaspoons, two tablespoons and one knife, all of the same make and model. Plus a plethora of mixed makes and models.

All in the same drawer.  

This finally led him to check in with Judy to see if she was hiding the rest of the set somewhere, possibly in her purse where you can find anything from lipstick to a toilet plunger if the need arises (Bill refers to Judy’s purse as her magic bag of tricks), but to no avail. She had no idea where the missing items could be.

This further led him to suggest that they should purchase a complete set of knives, forks and spoons, etc., just so they can have matching place settings in case anyone ever wants to join them at their house for a meal. It just seemed like the right thing to do.

Judy agreed and immediately started searching the internet for something suitable. She found several good deals on nice settings and presented them to Bill for his input. After a brief few days of discussion, they agreed upon a specific 45 (actually 50) piece set. It looked nice and it didn’t cost too much. 

With the decision made, Judy ordered them and a few days later they showed up at the post office, where Bill, with hope in his heart, picked them up. He was not immediately disappointed when he opened the package: 


It all looked good to him, so he left it as it was and didn’t open the rest of the sub-packages because he wanted Judy to have the pleasure of seeing her brand new silverware, fresh out of the box, when she got home.

This worked out great, until she got home. 

When she, with great anticipation, opened the rest of the boxes, they discovered that there were a few surprises:

  1. There were no knives and only a few forks

  2. There were LOTS  and LOTS of spoons

This was the perfect set of flatware if you want to have a large ice cream and soup banquet, but it wasn’t much good for meat, spaghetti, potatoes or anything else requiring reduction in size or stabbing in order to get it from the plate to your mouth.

In order to save you the trouble of reading about this episode forever, I’m just going to move on the rest of the actual mystery involved. But be assured that the situation was (mostly) rectified by contacting the manufacturer. I say “mostly” because they are out of stock on the knives (possibly because they sent ours to somebody who can now have a “let’s cut stuff up but not actually eat it” banquet). 

Subsequent to this challenge, Bill has discovered that the rest of their “eating”ware suffers from the same malady that he discovered with the knives, forks, etc.. Partial place settings. They have always bought these items in settings of eight. Eight of each bowl, plate, saucer, cup, etc.. But now there are twos, threes and fives of these items present. 

How does this happen? Bill doesn’t know and he really doesn’t care. All Bill wants to know is where this stuff goes. Do the kids have them? Are there boxes they have not yet unpacked in the last move? Have they broken over the years and Bill just didn’t notice? Have they been burglarized and all that was taken was a plate, a cup, a fork or a spoon and Bill just didn’t realize that they were gone?

Bill approached Judy with his conundrum and she didn’t help solve the mystery (in his mind, anyway). The best that Judy could come up with was “They have probably been broken over the years. You DO realize that we have had these same dishes for the last thirty-plus years, right?

And therein lies the real mystery…

There’s no way that’s true. That hypothesis goes against nature.

Look, Bill and Judy are a man and a woman. They are married. They love each other. Very much. They spend a lot of time together. It’s only natural that, with all of those truths in place, over the years the forces of nature would win out and they would eventually succumb to their feelings and go out and buy a new set of matching dishes at some point.

They would have to.

Wouldn’t they…?

Sightseeing With Bill – Trip One: Seattle, Washington

Hello Gentle Reader(s),

Welcome to the inaugural posting in my brand new blog category, Sightseeing With Bill

Now, before you roll your eyes, sigh real big and mutter something like, “Not another travel log blog,” let me say that Sightseeing With Bill will not consist of the usual “everybody shoots pictures of that thing in that city” content. 

You know how, when people go on vacation, they always take photos of all of the famous attractions for which a given location is famous? For example, when someone goes to Paris, France, you can count on seeing a deluge of shots of the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, or Inspector Clouseau’s apartment building. 

Or when they go to China, you will be forced to sit through a terabyte’s worth of the Great Wall, the Yanxi River or even an adorable Panda or two. Or three. Or four. 

And what about the London Bridge in Lake Havasu City in Arizona? 

All wonderful things to see, to be sure. But aren’t you just a little bit bored with being inundated with same photos of the same places and the same things that you have been inundated with in the past? And if you believe in reincarnation, in past lives?

Of course you are! 

And that, Gentle Reader(s) is why I have taken it upon myself to find a way to alleviate the “ho hum” factor so prevalent in the “Hey! You got a minute (translation: Hey! What are you doing for the next three or four hours?)? Let me show you my vacation pictures!” events in your life and replace them with something like “Hey! I hear you have some GREAT and UNUSUAL vacation pictures! I have three or four hours to be amazed at what you have brought back with you! Please tell me that now is a good time!”. 

“So,” you may be asking, “how is he going to accomplish this seemingly impossible task?”

Well, I could go into a deeply detailed and descriptive explanation of my method of going off the beaten path (or, in some cases, into the actual middle of the beaten path) and run the risk of boring you. However, I believe that the better course will be, simply, to demonstrate my method and let you marvel along the way.

For this first foray into unusual and exciting sightseeing photographic journalism, I have chosen as my subject location the beautiful and exciting city of Seattle, Washington…

And, with that, I launch…

No visit to Seattle is complete without stopping by the world famous Space Needle:


“Wait a minute,” you say, “that’s just like every other person’s vacation picture of the Space Needle!” 

Well, actually, it’s not. You see, the real subject here is not the Space Needle, but the airspace above and around the Space needle. I discovered that this specific airspace is actually part of the route followed by several migratory birds, including but not limited to 

Olive-sided Flycatcher

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Western Wood Pewee

Townsend’s Warbler

Hammond’s Flycatcher

American Redstart

Cassin’s Vireo

MacGillvray’s Warbler

as well as the occasional common Seagull. 

What makes this photo so interesting is the complete non-presence of any of these creatures, thereby enabling the discerning eye to witness the actual route without the clutter of photo-hogging birds impeding the view. 

Next on our journey, located in close proximity to the migratory route above and around the Space Needle, only several hundred feet below, are these interesting orbs located around the place. It’s hard to tell from the photo on the left just how large or small they are, so I have included the photo on the right to give some perspective. 

At first glance, one wonders what these objects are. At least, this one did, so I did some investigation and found that these objects are actually petrified, prehistoric exercise balls utilized by the original inhabitants of the region, several trillion years ago. 

If one closes his or her eyes, clears his or her mind of all cognitive activity for a period not to exceed three days or one week (whichever comes first), one can imagine the original inhabitants of the region in their semi-weekly exercise ball class at the local fitness center (in this case, the Seattle Center).

Next on our tour of Seattle, we see one of the original Seattle Fitness Center franchises, amazingly, still fairly intact though, apparently, with some deformation located toward the bottom of the entrance door. 


Note: It is not known with certainty that this was the Entrance portal because it lacks the usual door buzzer commonly found at such entrances. However, it can be argued that the facility is several trillion years old (as stated in the previous set of photos) and the actual buzzer may not have yet been invented. It is quite possible that there was an employe who stood at the door, greeted the prospective (or returning) excercise ball buff and yelled out an announcement that someone other than a current employe of the franchise had just entered the premises. 

Until confirmation one way or the other, this is the accepted explanation. 

Next up, I cam across this set of leftover food storage units. 


Remarkably, there is a lot of food within the Seattle city limits, and not all of it gets eaten at one sitting. This creates what are commonly referred to as “Leftovers” – food that is, well, left over when the people who are eating a meal couldn’t possibly take another bite.

I discovered that these food storage lockers contain some fine delicacies just waiting to be eaten by someone who happens to be passing by at, say, lunch time. Or in-between meal snack time. 

In this locker, I found a mostly uneaten cheeseburger that was quite delicious. 

Dogs have always had an affinity for the common fire hydrant, even, it seems, back in the days prior to the invention of the actual fire hydrant. 


This above photo is strong evidence that the fire hydrant was anticipated long before it became a reality, as was the interest by our canine companions long before the invention.

One early manuscript states very clearly:

“We really have to find a way to keep this mutt from peeing all over the patio furniture. It’s getting really bad, and I’m afraid that the neighbors are going to notice.”

“I know, I know! But what are we going to do about it?”

“Why don’t we direct him to a fire hydrant and be done with it?”

“What’s a fire hydrant?”

“It hasn’t been invented, yet, but they think that dogs are going to love them and use them in the same manner in which Fido is currently using our patio furniture.”

“But what’s a fire hydrant?”

“Fire: Flames and heat, etc..”

“HYD: Slang for “How Ya Doin'”

“Rant: To speak or shout in a wild or impassioned way.” 

“I’m guessing that it will be something to do with asking a house fire how it’s doing in a wild or impassioned manner.”

“Where can we find one?”

“We can’t. There aren’t any. What we have to do is trick the dog into thinking they have been invented and point him in the direction of one. I think we should put a sign on a tree and tell Fido where it is.”

Unfortunately, the manuscript stops there, so we can only guess what happened next. But it does appear that the attempt was made, as shown in the photo. And it is certain that dogs do, in fact, love fire hydrants. 

Almost as much as they love patio furniture…

Next on my walk, I discovered this fascinating Irrigation Control Valve, an unsung and ignored hero. 


This is an object quite ignored by tourists everywhere, including in Seattle. While many people will spend hours gawking at and photographing beautiful lawns and plant life, they fail to notice the thing that keeps them that way – water. And how is water applied to flora in the city? Through sprinkler systems. And who tells the sprinkler systems when and how much to water? 

Why, it’s the poor, unappreciated Irrigation Control Valve. 

Nobody takes the time to acknowledge the ICV. 

Why? Because nobody knows it even exists, outside a few engineers and gardeners.

Why? Because people are so dazzled by the results of the work that the ICV performs and they never stop to think about who waters the garden. 

Well let me tell you right here and now that I intend to put an end to the ignorance. At least in Seattle. Look at this picture. Look closely. Stare at it for a couple of hours. Take the time to read all of the writing on the cover. 

You will never look at ICVs the same again…

Let’s move on to our next attraction, the local Psychic.


Something, I’m not sure what, told me not to go here. So I didn’t.

Next, I came upon Nature…

Most people make the mistake of seeking out Nature in the middle of lush forests, majestic mountains, spectacular sea vistas. Oh sure, you can find it in any natural setting, but you can also find it in places where bears don’t defecate. 

I actually happened upon these magnificent specimens right in the middle of the city. To be sure, I was surprised to the point that I nearly tripped over each of these beautiful forms of plant life, but the experience taught me that you can find Nature even in the most developed of downtown areas. You just have to keep your eyes open and look for it. 

Don’t miss out on the wonders of Nature just because you are surrounded by steel, concrete, glass and Starbucks.

Always expect the unexpected, even when you don’t expect it.

Remember the empty skies over and around the Space Needle?


While you may love the fact that you have a clear sightline to the route taken by migrating fowl, you may actually want to see some evidence that they actually exist, when they are not in evidence in the spaces above.

Because I was not looking for the most obvious evidence of the path taken by these migratory birds (and the occasional common Seagull), I was able to discern their exact lane of travel by looking in the opposite direction from the most common sightings. 

Instead of looking up, I looked down. (To be completely honest, I thought I had, somehow, lost a sock while crossing the street and, while staring at my shoe, which was still situated solidly on my foot, and wondering how my sock had could possibly have fallen off without the shoe also leaving, I realized that I had just about used up all of my allotted commas in one sentence and quickly looked away from my ped in hopes of saving a comma or two, when, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but splatters of bird dung right there on the street in front of, and below me. 

And then it hit me. 

On the top of my head.

I looked up. I saw it, soaring majestically overhead, riding the breezy currents above the surrounding buildings and coming from the direction of the aforementioned Space Needle. 

I couldn’t be sure if it was the Olive-sided Flycatcher, the Yellow-rumped Warbler, the common Seagull or Rodan, but I saw it. 

And I could tell that it saw me, too, but that doesn’t matter because that’s when I knew I had made, quite possibly, my most exciting discovery of the day…

I could track the migratory movement of the birds without ever once looking to the sky above. All I had to do was follow the white stains left on the ground. And on the top of my head. But mostly the ground.

And I thought, “What further need have I for pictures?” 

What further need, indeed…

Well, as it turned out, I needed at least one more because, later that night, as we were visiting with friends in their beautiful home overlooking Puget Sound, Judy decided I needed to take at least one more photo. 

So here it is…