Dec 31 2008

First Blond

Category: The Transcendental CowboyRandall Kelley @ 16:22

I lean in close to the mirror, examining my chin. Then I press my finger against my chin firmly and then I look in my eyes.

Right now I’m on my way to the town we lived in before we moved to Muskogee. This will make me about 3 years old. I don’t remember much about being 3 years old, and I don’t know the name of the Girl I’m still staring at, but here she is.

She is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. And I am way too young to worry that I might be objectifying her just by the very thought. She IS the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

She is taller than me, as I am quite literally looking up to her. It’s sunny out, and the sun doesn’t just light up her hair, it shines back from her hair into my eyes and makes me feel warm in a way I’ve never felt before.

She is talking and I can’t hear the words, just the tone. I may just be too young, or she may be talking too fast for me to understand, but her voice is having the same effect as the light from her hair. Everything about her is making me feel like I have never felt, but want to keep feeling.

Oh, I am SO in love.

She slowly swings back the golf club, brings it down to the ball, swings it back again, brings it carefully down to the ball again. She points at the ball, then she shows me how she is gripping the club. When I look at her hands I can’t look at the club. Her hands are close and I am determined to touch them.

But she moves back to her position, and begins to swing the club slowly yet again.

Then, without warning, she swings the club back in a violent motion…

Now I’m looking up at her face, in silhouette, close to mine and blocking the sun. I’m feeling no pain, and I don’t know (or care) why I’m on my back in the gravel. I just know that if I reach up right now, I can touch her face.

But, too quickly her voice changes, and she jumps back away from me. Still lying on my back with my hand reaching up to the space where she was just a moment ago, I see her running away down the street.

I don’t ever remember seeing her again.

As I look closely in the mirror for the scar on my chin, I can’t quite see it through my beard. As I’ve gotten older, my beard has finally become thick enough to hide the scar from the stitches. But, when I press my finger against the spot, I can still feel the ridge where a piece of the bone was chipped away all those years ago.

I’m thinking to myself, “You’d think I’d have learned something from that first encounter with a blond, wouldn’t you?”

Arkay Kaye

Dec 29 2008

Death Toll at the Coffee Shop

Category: The Transcendental CowboyRandall Kelley @ 15:30

Another quick stab in the brain. The recognition.

“There are people who have it worse off than you do.” The Cowboy mutters to himself.

But as his own trivial problems gnaw at him relentlessly, he decides most of them are simply his own creations, planted like seeds to be sown and then harvested when times are lean in the troubles department. Just little niggling distractions to avert attentions from the very real problems in the world that overwhelm and even kill the hapless bystanders and the guilty alike.

“What’s the death toll now?” He asks out loud.

No one responds, as it seemed an inappropriate question to ask when standing on line waiting to order a hot chocolate in the coffee shop. The Transcendental Cowboy thinks to himself, “Oops. Guess I best get back to how bad my boss sucks, before thoughts of catastrophic world events catch me paying attention.”

The Cowboy knows that no one wants that. A populace even just aware, let alone concerned, frightens the be-jebus out of the powers than be. Still he can’t resist…

He nudges the guy in line in front of him and asks, “Seriously, dude… what IS the death toll now?”


Dec 27 2008

Wheeler Texas

Category: The Transcendental CowboyRandall Kelley @ 22:54

Wheeler Texas Circa Nineteen Sixty Nine

Setting on the train listening to the iPod play… and Pearl Jam comes on singing about, “Policeman stopped my brother again.”

And I am taken back to Wheeler, Texas, circa 1969.

It was a short-lived home for us, near the end of my freshman year of high school. I am sitting in the pale blue VW Beetle my step dad purchased the year before in Norway. But we are far from Norway, on the side of the road in Wheeler, Texas.

Wheeler is a small town in the panhandle of Texas. The part of Texas that Texans don’t claim. Where the boys ALL wore cowboy boots and hats, along with a big chip on their shoulder. That chip was the only thing “Texas big” in Wheeler. And kicking their Mustang car for not starting was as close to Cowboy as they got.

They HATED us. We were new. We were “hippies”. And most of all, we didn’t get how they really were Cowboys, even if they never saw a cow outside a bun.

I am in the passenger seat, waiting for the policeman to make his way up to talk to my brother. As I wait, I start to get anxious about which Terry Bruce will show his face.

Will it be the “Get your fucking hands off me!” Terry Bruce… Or “Yes Sir, Officer, what can I do for you?” Terry Bruce? I’ve seen both, and lately the former was present way too often.

Our few months living in Wheeler was really the only time I spent with my brother after he reached an age where his behavior started to be less precocious, and began to attract REAL attention from the police. Now he was graduating from “juvenile delinquent” status, to PUNK. It was the only time I spent around him after he began a streak of serious encounters with the law that began prior to Wheeler, and ended much later.

He had had quite a run since our childhood, but the events seemed to be escalating over the years, so I wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of being there for the one that went bad.

I had already witnessed a couple of those encounters from a distance in Wheeler, and he already had begun building his reputation with the various deputies around town. It was not a good one. I hoped for better today, as I did not want to be tagged with his growing infamy.

The officer approaches my brother and knocks on the window. Terry slowly rolls it down.

Officer: “License and registration, please.”

Terry slowly pulled it out and handed it over.

The officer takes a long look at my brother, then just barely 16, and then a long slow look at me, just 14. Then he looked carefully at his watch. Then again back at us.

Officer: “And why aren’t you two boys in school?”

Terry responded as calmly as I had ever seen him stay with any type of authority figure. “Kicked out, sir.”

Officer: “Kicked out?”

Terry: “Yes Sir.”

Officer: “Kicked out for what?”

Terry: “Skipping school, sir.”

Officer: “Kicked out for skipping school?”

Terry: “Yes sir.”

“And you?” Now the officer’s asking me, “Were YOU kicked out for skipping school?”

“No Sir.” I answered, trying to stay calm.

Officer: “What were you kicked out for?”

Me: “For being his brother sir.”

Officer: “For being his BROTHER?”

I mustered up all my guts and nervously rattled out my answer.
“Swear to god sir, they called us both to the office, and kicked us both out, because he skipped school. And when I protested that I HADN’T skipped school they said, AND I QUOTE, ‘Well, your his brother, so you’re both suspended for two days.’ Swear to God, sir.”

The officer stood up, looked around, shook his head and rolled his eyes. Then he stooped down again and asked, “You boys wouldn’t know anything about a blue Volkswagen doing kitties in front of the school a few minutes ago, would you?”

Terry answered, “Yes sir. That was us… I was just a little bit mad. It won’t happen again, sir”

After a pause, and another long look around in disbelief, the officer handed Terry’s license back. “Well, you go on home and I’ll pretend I never stopped you. Who’s going to believe this shit anyway?”

And then Pearl Jam stops singing and I’m back on a train to Portland, circa 2006. Funny how time jumps in your head in response to the simplest little triggers.

Arkay Kaye

Dec 25 2008

Strange Days

Category: The Transcendental CowboyRandall Kelley @ 10:22

Having just woke up from a bad dream, the Cowboy took a few minutes to regain his grip on where and when he was. Certainly more at home than he had been for the last hour or so, he thought. Then as this world came back into clearer focus, he started to think back on the anxiety of the dream world he had just left. While it was now more humorous than scary, he couldn’t help but still feel a bit boggled by how lost he had felt.

And as he stepped into the shower he muttered, “I don’t know what the hell those aborigines were thinking, that world SUUUCKS!”

Nov 19 2008

Last Day. Rainbows and Waterfalls and Cliffs, Oh My!

Category: TravelRandall Kelley @ 19:18

The view from our hotel was quite spectacular this AM. I’m guessing rainbows are a dime a dozen here, but they still seem pretty to us.


We ran around Hilo a bit, but there just isn’t much there. So we headed off for the day. We did see a sign for a waterfall park that was right in Hilo so we went there first. Aptly named Rainbow Falls.


The next stop was Akaka Falls. Actually, a deli first and then the falls. There were actually two waterfalls in this park. Akaka and Kahuna. Kahuna seemed bigger to me, and I wondered if this was where “the Big Kahuna” came from.


Then we headed for the Waipio Valley. The waitress last night said not to miss it. You need a four wheel drive (which we happened to have). They don’t even let all wheel drives go. You have to have real four wheel drive with Low range. We did not get all the way to the beach, as one of the puddles was big enough to be questionable, and we didn’t want to walk in as we would have muddied and wet our feet before having to fly out tonight. But the drive down was spectacular, and the valley was really what you think of when you imagine the real jungles of the tropics. Here is some of the easiest and least steep stretch of the road.


Then, back at the top we got a view of the cliffs from the lookout point.


There was a nice couple there making hand crafts, baskets and flutes. The woman made the baskets and the man made (and played beautifully) the flutes. The woman was nice enough to get a picture of us with the flute maker. His flutes are all over the world. The guestbook had people from where we lived in Albany, Oregon and from Woodinville, Washington on the page before us.



Then we drove on up to Waimea for a break. Again a recommendation of the waitress. Looks like a good place to have dinner before we head down to the Airport. It is also the town where the scientist from the Keck Observatory do their work. (no altitude to deal with, and the computers don’t have to be on the mountain to see what the telescope sees).

We spotted the Warbucks here and decided to get off today’s post while we could, as we fly out tonight and will be bleary eyed tomorrow. We are looking forward to being home, but we could not have had a better time over here. See some of you soon. And keep watching, we haven’t even looked at all of our pictures yet, so we will have some more to post. R&R

Nov 18 2008

Hilo, Pahoa, and Melting Rocks

Category: TravelRandall Kelley @ 23:58

We checked out this morning, loaded the Jeep, and drove to Hilo. It started pouring rain right after we passed the Volcano Park entrance, and by the time we hit Hilo I was both discouraged and tickled. Tickled this was not the day we rented the motorcycle for the ride over here. And discouraged, as I felt the lava flows were likely out.

We were too early to check in (not until 3 PM!) so we stopped at the same Warbucks we had found on the bike trip two days ago. Just getting from the car to the store we got soaked. When we came back to find the Jeep top was about 10 inches lower as it was filled up like a child’s pool. I pushed it up and dumped about 20 gallons of water off the top. The good news was the staff at Warbucks encouraged us to go to the lava flows anyway, as it is usually dryer down there, and not so far I would have trouble walking in.

We drove down there to kill time until we could check in, and to scope it out. It was indeed nicer down there.



So we came back to Hilo and checked into our hotel. It is near the docks where the cruise ships tie up, and we spotted one as we drove in. And then we got to the room. Check out the view from our balcony.



I placed a phone call to my uncle Miah Kelley, as I found out he lived near here. However, though we had a nice conversation, he wasn’t up to meeting anyone. So we headed back down to the lava flows with our luggage stashed in the room, and carrying just what we needed (and a wet bag in case of more rains).

Turned out to be great weather. The view was not from close enough to see much lava. Lots of steam, a lot or red glow from the lava, but only brief glimpses of splashing lava. Still pretty awesome to see.





Just after dark we walked back to the Jeep and left, and it started to rain again. We were getting to the starved point so we pulled into the village of Pahoa and found a restaurant. We got lucky as it was not too crowded, and a really excellent dining experience. Sheer luck, I guess. Or good “Food Karma”.

Then back here to the hotel. We are all packed for the airport tomorrow night. We will stay here until they kick us out at noon (shouldn’t we only have to pay 21/24th of the bill if we can’t check in until 3 PM and have to leave by Noon?).

Then we will go back up the coast like we did on the bike, but we will have more time and will try to check out some of the waterfalls along the way. We leave late and get back to Seattle early Thursday morning. Fortunately we still have through the weekend off work and will try to recover from the pace b y then.

Peace and Love, R&R

Nov 17 2008

Mauna Kea

Category: TravelRandall Kelley @ 23:30

Hawaiian for “big friggin’ mountain” I suppose. Today’s destination de jour. We paid extra to rent a Jeep for this, and it cost us less than half (for the week) of what a tour group wanted to take you up there. I must admit when I saw the conditions of “Saddle Road”, a main highway between the Kona coast and Hilo, I was a bit worried.

Some of the nice part.


But it turns out the “rugged unpaved section” on the way up was a pussy cat of a slightly washboarded gravel road.



That settled, we were again traveling with the weather godz protection. As we had a brilliant warm (high 40s at over 13000 feet) day.

Here are some shots from above the clouds in and amongst the many observatories up there. Rita with the twin domes of the Keck Observatory behind her.


And with the Jeep in front of the cutest of the lot. I call it the 50’s Sci-Fi dome.


Me hardly breathing (because there was very little oxygen).


Looking back at the road we came up (and the clouds we came through).


Some of the rare clouds rising above the level of the observatories. Again the Keck O. there. Look it up on line. It is fascinating. We got to go inside and the engineer who runs it talked a bit about it, then we watched a tape that showed even more. Did you know the Universe is over 6000 years old?


Here is a shot of the bottom of the telescope from inside the observation area. Rita noted that it seemed colder than outside, and the gentleman explained they keep it as cold inside as they expect it to be when they open it up in the evening to prevent any heat transfer interfering with the observations.


We quickly noticed the highest point was not at an observatory. They left that peak alone (sacred to those silly natives, or some such thing.)


So here we go…


Rita makes the summit.


Me with my head above the clouds for once.


The marker. My GPS showed about 50 feet higher, but I don’t know if that’s error or growth since placement of the marker (note the date).


On the way down Rita got a shot of one of the signs. That is she took this picture. Note the holes are not the usual midwest bullet holes, but man made. I guess winds hit 100 MPH up there on a fairly regular basis.


Nearly back to Kona, and things looked more like what one expects of Hawaii.


Tomorrow we move to Hilo for one night. Hoping to see some lava flows in the process. We’ll keep you posted. R&R

Nov 17 2008

Zen Moment

Category: TravelRandall Kelley @ 15:30

I can’t post this until I’m down off the mountain. But I am taking a moment to thank the weather gods, as it is perfect up here today. (written around 1:30PM)

Pretty high, and “high on life” as Rita would say. Definately glad we popped for the Jeep. Way cheaper than a tour up here, and Rita and I are all alone over here (staff at the observatories, but NO ONE at the summit!).

Peace & Love to the World.

Thank you Jesus for the moment of Zen (If Krishna and Mohamed and Buda will cut a poor a Red Letter Christian the slack). Oh. And thanks to the God of Slack for being SO kind on this trip (urchin not withstandind)!


Nov 16 2008

MC Ride Around the Big Island

Category: TravelRandall Kelley @ 23:08

First, ignore the post times. They are Seattle time, and if I don’t finish quick this will say Monday, but it’s for Sunday. We’ll see.

We left at 7 Am to try and get around and see as much as we could in the daylight. It was just dawning here when we left. I’m sure it was light on the East side already, but that didn’t help us. Our first stop was breakfast a bit before we turned onto the South Point Road to get to the Southernmost location in the U S of A. Here I pulled into the “parking lot” after Rita hopped off. The area was gravel, just past the end of pavement, and the entrance was dipped and rutted. However, I managed not to dump this heavy beast. That alone made me happy. Next came the views, and that was really great.


Me at the edge of Hawaii, farthest South available by road. You might have hiked a hundred yards further were you adventurous and had you more time available.


Here is Henry, a very nice cancer survivor who regaled us with a brief history of this spot.


And Rita shot this as I pulled out of the parking area onto the road back out.


Did I mention the road to South Point sucked just a wee bit?


Next stop, the Randy versus the Volcano.


This was a quick stop today. We will try to make it to the lava flows on our trip over to Hilo in a couple of days. Next we had a Warbucks break in Hilo and then headed up the East coast. It is the wet side of the island, as we witnesses in the lush valleys and waterfalls. But by some miracle we made it all the way around today with only three rain drops hitting us.


Next we stopped at a seaside memorial park for victims of a past “tidal wave” or tsunami as they are known today. Twenty school kids and four teachers were killed here in 1946. Today we watched kids catch fish.


And enjoyed a few minute out of the saddle.


We saw lots of livestock today. Lots of agriculture in general. But Rita was most impressed with the cows and their big horns. She said Delmer would love seeing all these guys.


Then we got back across to the West side on the North end of the island. Very dry up there, as witnessed by these large cacti.


We could see down to the coast just North of Kona from about 4000 feet up on this section.


I have to say it was pretty windy up on the North end. Glad it wasn’t that way all day as my neck can sure feel it. Here is how it feels.


And apparently, the younger folks feel the same.


On our way to a viewpoint on the East side of the very North end we got to say hi to King Kamehameha (Be-otch!) Couldn’t help thinking of Cartman singing about Kyle’s mom.


Coming up to the viewpoint.


Are we there yet?


And very lush looking up valley from the viewpoint.


Then at about 5:43 PM, around 30 miles out from home, this happened (Joey, note the time!).


We did get in just after dark, and stopped at the same place that we liked so much last night. And we got the added bonus of Hula lessons for live entertainment!





That’s it for now. I’ll get to sleep as soon as I stop vibrating. Teasing, Harly fans, it wasn’t too bad. 320 something miles and 12 hours later, fed and happy and unharmed. We return the bike bright and early tomorrow, and hope to make it up the mountain in the Jeep if the weather holds up.

Hope you enjoyed, R&R

I’m loading these on Flickr as well so they can be mapped at

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