Our free time is limited each day and we want to be entertained. And if we can learn something cool in the process, well then, even better.
The world is coming apart at the seams. And we are all so wired up & tuned in that it’s hard to figure out what’s happening most of the time. Perspective is hard to find. More isn’t necessarily better, it just requires more memory. When they power up the super-duper, must have, 9G or 50G smart phone that will do everything but make us happy, we still won’t be any smarter.
I’m pretty much a Luddite. I think the technology tends to cloud the picture. Don’t get me wrong. The IPhone is like magic. But the only things evolving are our fingers which glide across the tiny keyboards like jazz musicians on crank.
Our brains are too big. Imagine that. And yet, we only use about a third of its capacity. There’s tons of memory that goes unused.
How can we tap into that motherboard? What would we do if we did?
Some believe that drugs can set us free. I tried that route. I discovered that hallucinogenics can open windows, but not doors.
Religion is the opiate that fills our Sundays, but leads to wars.
The Ancients amused themselves with stories. Oral history. Imagination ruled. Music and drums did the rest. But they had lots & lots of free time.
We are different. We fill our days beyond our capacity to dream. We watch videos until it starts to really feel like life, but like snack food, it rarely satisfies. And still our cravings for more & more input nearly drives us all insane. It’s hard to tell what’s real.
My blog is your ticket HOME.
Do you like to bike, hike, canoe, kayak, camp and experience nature up close and personal? Then you will find this site of interest and endless amusement.
Do you worry about global warming, climate change, sea level rise, and the weather crisis already threatening the planet? Then we will learn more about the problem and solutions together.
Do you enjoy reading about the American Southwest, the Chesapeake Bay, and other wild lands under seize? Then this is the blog for you.
But most of all, this blog is about story-telling and fun.
The trajectory of my life has been unpredictable and extremely erratic, but I have picked up a lot of wild tales along the way.
Every few days day, we will go exploring and you will get a short story to fuel our imaginations. A story a day will keep the doctor away.
It’s all free for the taking.
Just download your daily story and start dreaming. I will include excerpts from my southwest novels and my newspaper column. There’s no charge. Please feel free to share with your friends. Let’s build a community of storytellers.
And if you want to comment on what you’ve read, that’s great.
Share your own stories.
Let’s use this new technology to start a new tradition.
STEVE CARR’S BIO
People often ask me how I became the environmental guru of Annapolis. It’s a story with many twists & turns ...
I grew up in Annapolis, Maryland and spent most of my childhood playing in and along the Severn River. Water is in my bones.
I attended McDonogh School, boarding on the dreamy farm-like estate in the suburbs of Baltimore. I got an Ivy League education and began my writing career under the guidance of a crazy Scottish English professor.
I went to the United States Naval Academy in 1971 and washed out a little before the end of my first year. The Vietnam War was in full swing.
After obtaining my discharge from the Navy, I went to the University of Richmond and then Randolph-Macon College. College was incredibly boring and I was quickly consumed by the hippie counter culture, spending most of my days and nights in The Fan district of Richmond. I turned on and dropped out with reckless abandon, until I was expelled from college with a 0.25 grade point average.
I returned to Annapolis where I took a job with the local moving company and soon was hauling people’s household goods around the country, often staying out on the road for a month at a time. It was an exciting life, traveling around the United States, meeting new people and discovering how diverse, magnificent, and dangerous America can be.
In the summer of 1976, America celebrated it’s bicentennial and I decided to ride my bicycle across country with two close friends. We flew to Seattle in late spring and then hopped the ferry to Juneau, where my friend John’s sister lived. Her husband had just been killed climbing Mt. McKinley and we stayed for a month, helping to run the Foggy Bottom Shop, kayaking around Douglas Island with killer whales, and watching the locals fall to their death into Mendenhall Glacier. Alaska was definitely a good place to learn about limits.
We returned to Seattle in June and began our grinding bike ride back to Maryland. We did the trip in 35 days and for all intents and purposes, we never spoke to one another again. It wasn’t exactly what you might call fun, riding 100 miles a day, and after getting run off the road by drunken farm hands in western Kansas and battling a fierce headwind the whole trip, I was ready to try my hand at gardening. In a ironic twist of fate, I became the head gardener at the Superintendent’s Quarters at the U.S. Naval Academy. From Midshipman to gardener. I always looked at it as a step up.
In 1978, I drove a cherry red 1972 Malibu to San Diego for an old girlfriend, and then started riding my bicycle solo across the country. But this time, I was in it strictly for fun, starting with the first day of my cross-country jaunt, when I had my friend drive me to the top of the Sand Diego Mountains where I could begin my journey with a 35-mile downhill. The rest of the trip followed this lazy pattern. I stopped where I liked and stayed until I had tasted the wine. I caught rides with people whenever the wind wasn’t at my back or the terrain became tedious.
It took me almost three months to get back to Maryland.
Along the way, I stopped at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. I had never seen anything even remotely like what greeted me there in Northern Arizona, an exotic world of red rocks and fiery canyons. I hiked the Bright Angel Trail down to Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the earth and spent five glorious days exploring along the Colorado River and through wondrous side canyons.
When I returned to the rim, I told myself, "This is where I belong."
During my stay at Grand Canyon, I asked many locals where a guy like me could find a job. The answer was always the same. "You either work for the Park Service, the Forest Service, or the hotel industry."
The Park Service wore bus driver uniforms with big goofy green hats. I’d served in the Navy and the idea of donning another uniform was not appealing. The hospitality industry was equally unattractive because you had to interact with the public and be nice all the time. That left the Forest Service.
I had never heard of the Forest Service. But when I found out they were not required to wear a uniform and you could have a beard and long hair, I was intrigued.
I continued my bicycle odyssey and returned home in the fall. All through the winter, I learned everything I could about the Forest Service and put in an application for seasonal work on the Kaibab National Forest which borders the north and south rim of the Grand Canyon and is headquartered out of the sleepy little railroad town of Williams, Arizona, the "Gateway to the Grand Canyon".
I checked all the job description boxes: firefighter, surveyor, timber marker, recreation specialist, and wildlife management. I was ready to do anything as long as it was outside.
In March of 1979, I received a call from a nice fellow named Ron Tissaw, asking me if I wanted to work on the Kaibab, starting in May, as an engineering surveyor. Without the slightest idea what the hell that meant, I said yes.
I spent the next fifteen years working and playing in the Grand Canyon and throughout every nook and cranny of the Colorado Plateau. I became an infamous Canyon Master.
These were the Reagan Years, when we essentially annihilated our national forests, and I soon found myself openly and surreptitiously challenging the lords of the Kaibab for many years. In 1993, the Forest Service and the logging company lost a lawsuit over cutting too much wood and when I uncovered the fact that timber fraud had also been committed and subsequently notified the Attorney General’s Office, the logging operation shut down and has never resumed operation.
At that point, the death threats started rolling in and it was time for me to make my escape. I packed up my gear and the two Jenny Hatch mystery series novels I had written during my tenure on the Kaibab, and I headed east to Maryland.
I returned home to Annapolis where I was a fish out of water. I had been working in the woods for 15 years and Maryland seemed like an alien world. I had no college degree. None of the skills I had mastered on the Kaibab were of value in the “Baltimore/Washington business corridor”. And I had a very hard time adjusting to the east coast and all the people. Where was the wildlife and red rocks?
I was 40 years old. What the hell was I going to do with my life?
I was a good golfer, so I took a job at a brand new golf course on the Eastern Shore, working as an assistant pro. I spent each day taking tee time reservations, kissing strangers’ asses, and learning the trees and birds of the Mid-Atlantic – one tree and bird a day.
About the time I was getting ready to kill someone – anyone – wearing pink slacks and white pimp shoes, I received an odd offer. A childhood friend had become a rather celebrated architect in Annapolis and had befriended the City Administrator, a fellow named Mike who had gotten an old Annapolis sports writer elected Mayor four years before and who had taken over the daily operation of the colonial city by the Bay. There was an election looming and Mike couldn’t lead the re-election campaign and run the city. So, I was asked to run the campaign. I had never been actively involved in politics, but my parents had been and Mike seemed to think I had the right instincts to get the Mayor re-elected. He was right.
After the Mayor won his second term I decided on a new life strategy. I started what would become a very successful political and environmental consulting business: Carr Consulting.
It worked like this, I would get a Democrat elected, and then they would steer environmental consulting contracts in my direction. I had been the President of the nation’s oldest river group, the Severn River Association, and was considered to be an environmental expert by friend and foe alike. So no one questioned my ability to handle environmental contracts around Annapolis.
I worked for the next two mayors, developing parks and implementing environmental projects around the city.
In 2000, I helped run the campaign for an old friend, Ellen Moyer, who had served on the City Council. We won easily and Ellen became the first woman to lead Annapolis since 1649. I soon became Ellen’s Environmental Chief-of-Staff and spent the next eight years making Annapolis the green model city in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
When Ellen stepped down, it was time to try something new.
So, I just started a new business called Annapolis By Bike. Check out our website at www.annapolisbybike.com
But writing is my passion.
I have written a novel called “Damned If You Do and Dammed If You Don’t” about a VIP river trip down the Colorado by federal dignitaries and Senator Barry Goldwater, scouting a future dam site that would fill the Grand Canyon like Glen Canyon. A lady boatman freaks out when she hears what their plan is and begins murdering them one at a time, always making it look like an accident.
I have also written a novel called “Anasazi Strip”. It’s a Tony Hillerman-like tale of Hopi magic, drugs, and murdering pothunters. It’s part of the Jenny Hatch mystery series and features a lady archaeologist who encounters the supernatural as she unravels murder and mayhem in the canyons of the Southwest.
The second novel in the series is called “The Lord of Death” about the revenge of the Hopi god Masau upon murdering uranium miners near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The story features Hopis, drug-crazed Earth Firsters, militant members of the American Indian Movement, and John Wesley Powell’s lost map.
I just finished writing a memoir entitled “The Canyon Chronicles”.
Ed Abbey is dead. I know this because he was a dear friend and I gave a ranting eulogy at one of his many funeral celebrations around the canyonlands. I miss Ed.
Hunter Thompson is also dead. We used to party together at the Telluride Bluegrass and Jazz festivals, until he ate his magnum in a fit of depression.
Tony Hillerman is dead and his Navajo mysteries will no longer light up our lives.
We have lost so many of our Southwest voices.
I offer a new and much needed voice – a combination of Abbey, Thompson, and Hillerman. It is a unique voice; the voice of a storyteller who intimately knows the Southwest, both its terrain and its deepest mysteries, and whose many adventures were fueled by sex, drugs, and rock and roll.
After working seasonally for fifteen years, from 1978 - 1993,on the Kaibab National Forest as an engineering, timber, and archaeological surveyor I have a unique perspective. There isn’t a person alive who knows the Colorado Plateau better than I.
The stories in the book are all fantasy-true, but most of the names were changed to protect the innocent, and especially the guilty. The book was written in a little less than two months and I had help from many of the characters who appear in the stories. They kept me honest, or filled in the gaps where my memory was a bit sketchy. After reading the book, the canyon folk all said pretty much the same thing, “I’ve been waiting for this voice for the past 25 years; to hear someone capture what it was really like to work and play in the crazy canyons during the 80's.”
The book encompasses a wide range of topics and places. It is essentially a magical mystery tour of stand alone snapshots featuring the wondrous lands of the Southwest – life & death hikes into the Grand Canyon; a Colorado River trip; cultural and religious dances at Shipaulovi village out at Hopi; a monstrous wildfire in Idaho; the strange Mormon polyg towns of Southern Utah; and psychedelic and sexual romps through Brcye, Zion, the Paria, Capital Reef, Navajo National Monument, Black Mesa, Grand Staircase Escalante, the Waterpocket Fold, Lake Powell, the Black Hole of White Canyon, Lee’s Ferry, Marble Canyon, and Navajo Land.
When you consider how many people have visited these spectacular national parks and monuments, people from all over the globe, it seems obvious there is a wide market for such a book. Most people love the mysterious Southwest, mystical Indians, lost history, and tales of reckless abandon in magical places. “The Canyon Chronicles” has it all.
The Reagan land use strategy, specifically the horrific logging practices on the North Kaibab Forest, is the picture frame for the book. The story of what happened to the forests and parks of the Southwest between 1980 - 1988 is a tale that needs to be told. People really need to know how much we lost, and how it happened. I was right in the middle of it and played an intriguing role in ultimately shutting down the logging on the Kaibab.
The Grand Canyon, where I worked and lived is, of course, the main character.
This is the kind of book you can open up to a chapter and just start reading. Each story is a great read and would undoubtedly also make a wild movie.
I have many more canyon stories.
Closer to my current home, I write a bi-weekly column called “We Live Here” for a newspaper called “Bay Weekly”.
I also had a booked published a few years back called “Water Views” featuring my essays on the Chesapeake Bay and the photos of world renown photographer Marion Warren and award-winning cartoonist Eric Smith.
I regularly give lectures and tell stories to schools and interested groups.
And in my spare time, I competitively sail and like to hash with the Baltimore/Annapolis Hash House Harriers.