In August of 2015, my son Diego and I went on an adventure. We backpacked through the high sierra of Yosemite. It was incredibly hard to do, however the views were amazing. I took these photos with an inexpensive Fuji FinePix S8650 16MP Digital Camera with 36X Optical Zoom and with my iPhone.
“His name is Butters. He is a mud dog, that is why they call him Old Mud Dog Butters. He sometimes thinks he is a snow dog, but he is not a snow dog, he is just a mud dog.” It seems like a long time ago, but less than three years ago, Katryn brought home a yellow looking puppy in a cage.
It was her first real dog. She and the two boys had begged me for a dog, and I had refused them for as long as I could remember, but eventually they decided to get one regardless of my objections. On a Saturday morning in the Spring, Katryn had her puppy. It was a yellow lab retriever, which could barely run, and who like most puppies still made a mess all the time. In the yard, the boys wondered what to name him. Apparently the puppy was a gift from a girlfriend to her boyfriend, and the situation ended up that the man no longer wanted either of them, so the girl ended up giving the puppy away to anyone who could take him. So this free dog of sorts looked kind of dumb to me, and names like Max and Rover are just too common and did not feel right. I ended up suggesting the name “Butters”, after my favorite South Park character. The boys did not object and so here was our new puppy, Butters.
Today, Butters weighs around 90 pounds and is a full size dog. He has taken over the house and is mostly an inside dog. Labs are working dogs, but Butters does not work. He mostly sleeps all day and begs for food the rest of the time. He is not much of a barking dog either, he mostly barks to complain but never barks or growls at people. He hates to be alone and rather wants the company of people. He is the perfect family dog and gets along great with our youngest boy, who is currently less than two years old.
Although it is Katryn’s dog, Butters spends most of his time with me. He eagerly awaits my return from work every day and meets me at the stairs. He is always happy to see me. I take him on walks around the neighborhood and wrestle with him. In the evenings he sleeps in my room and jumps on top of the bed to claim his spot. Butters is a good companion. He complains very little, likes my company, and always forgives my personal failings.
After much travel this year, and some would say little thought, I have decided to embark on a quest for enlightenment and spiritual renewal. I have set sights on Yosemite park in California. My adventure begins Friday as I head west. My companion will be my 14 year old son Diego. How I came to this and why, was not a clear to me at first. A few years ago, I watched a PBS documentary on The National Parks and became intrigued with the idea of taking a solitary trip into the wild. Over the course of 2015, I have traveled for business to New York City, Massachusetts, Washington DC, Maryland, New Jersey, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Mississippi. After my last trip to New York City, it became apparent to me that I have been hibernating in Iowa for too long. It is time to move West, to see a different perspective. For a time I had thought of myself as the description of William S. Burroughs in the novel, On The Road, living out my days in the middle of Iowa. But that isn’t me. Instead I have been intellectually dormant and isolated, more like the novel, Steppenwolf by Hesse than anything else. The passing of my parents in 2008 took a toll on me that has taken me much time to figure out. There is not much of a point to life when one is surrounded by illness and death, when the seriousness of the moment weighs on you and drags upon your spirit. This lead to the question of happiness and what that means. Have I forbidden myself to be happy? Probably yes. Somewhere rooted in my Catholic upbringing and in my intellectual western ideas I have collapsed and fallen into the hole that is the mid-life crisis. How I can get out isn’t clear to me, and so my natural instinct is to run, to push myself to the physical limit, and establish my connection to the physical world again. This is where I am at, no longer content with looking at the Mac OS Yosemite Desktop every day, I actually want to go there and see it for myself.