Posts Tagged ‘Hal Walter’

Dude, where’s my column?

August 24, 2017

The homebound leg.

Whew. Finally, chucked another Bicycle Retailer column and cartoon over the transom, just in the nick of time, too.

This fake-news bidness isn’t as easy as some folks would have you believe.

Yesterday the brain-lock was so severe that I had to resort to vigorous outdoor exercise to shake the nickel loose and set the music to playing.

Apparently I wasn’t the only sufferer. The trails were alive with folks running, riding, or simply enjoying a beautiful day in the Duke City.

Today — not so much. Gray, cool and damp, which is to say fine weather for making up stuff indoors and enjoying a rare cup of afternoon coffee.

A fella who’s not making it up is my old comrade Hal Walter. Check out MotivRunning for one of Hal’s stories about his neurodiverse son, Harrison.

Bear with me here

May 17, 2017

Peak load: Restoring the Internets the Western way. Photo: Hal Walter.

Ever have the Innertubes go out on you? Irksome, innit?

You ring up your service provider, if you remember its contact info (the Innertubes are down, remember?). If you don’t, then you get to pursue a long and painful search for same via tiny smartphone screen before enjoying an extended stint on hold, being reminded over and over again how important is your call.

After a few days of this someone who gives the name Nathan or Monica but sports an accent reminiscent of the Subcontinent pops up to lend you what you suspect is a very long-distance hand indeed, oh my goodness yes.

And you begin turning on and off or unplugging/replugging bits of this and that; rooting around in dark corners of your computer that, like a rough neighborhood, family gathering or all-hands meeting in an economic downturn, you’d prefer to avoid; and chanting magical yet remarkably futile incantations like “Fifteen-inch MacBook Pro, mid-2014, 2.5 GHz Intel Core i7, 16 GB DDR3, OS X Yosemite, yes, I’ll hold.”

Anything to eat in here? Nope. Photo: Hal Walter.

In the end, of course, you find yourself curled, unshaven and filthy, on the floor, in a puddle of your own tears, cradling your phone and its fading battery as though it were a dying baby bird, wailing, “I have to have my Innertubes! Do you have any idea what’s going on in Washington? Neither do it!”

Well. Suck it up, snowflake. That’s a day at the beach compared to what my man Hal Walter endured the other day to get his Innertubes barfing out the 1s and 0s again.

Hal texted me to announce that his Innertubes were blown, something that occurs even more regularly in rural Crusty County than it does in more civilized environs. Being a wag of no small renown, I quipped, “Dude. It won’t do. Did a b’ar eat your dish?”

Well. Yeah, as it turns out.

It’s not a dish on the house, which is how we used to get our Innertubes when we lived just west of Hal’s place outside Weirdcliffe. There is a tower, which sits atop Bradbury Ridge on Bear Basin Ranch, and it is powered by a solar-battery setup (the tower, not the peak).

Some of the guts of this line-of-sight wireless setup reside in what looks like an Igloo cooler, which to a bear looks like a pizza-delivery guy’s shitbox Toyota Tercel does to thee and me. The bear tried to find the delicious pizza inside the shitbox, but the innards proved undercooked, and off he trundled, leaving behind a cooler whose security had been dramatically compromised by bite marks in opposite corners, and whose contents soon would be done to a turn by the notoriously vile Crusty County weather.

Thus, instead of unplugging bits of this and that in the comfort of his own home, Hal found himself hauling 100 pounds of new batteries up to the tower via pack burro while a tech-support dude who was decidedly not from Delhi refreshed the coolers’ innards.

“They like to use coolers because they protect the batteries from extreme temperatures,” says Hal. “However, there is some discussion of a metal box. Our wildlife officer agrees with me that the bear likely had previous experience with ice chests.”

• Late update: The man himself chimes in with an on-the-scene report.

Looks like snow

April 30, 2017

Hal Walter demonstrates the capabilities of the Suzuki SX4 Snowplow Car.

And now, here’s Hal Walter with the weather! (Not brought to you by the Greater Crusty County-Weirdcliffe Association of Realtors®).

Curtis Imrie goes west

January 23, 2017
Curtis Imrie (left) and Hal Walter in a photo lifted from one of Hal's columns at Colorado Central magazine.

Curtis Imrie (left) and Hal Walter in a photo lifted from one of Hal’s columns at Colorado Central magazine.

Just when the Republic needs every man jack it can muster, one of the true wild ones, Curtis Imrie, has left us.

Longtime readers of the DogS(h)ite are familiar with my old friend Hal Walter; we’ve known each other for the better part of quite some time. But Curtis is the guy who introduced Hal to the manly Western art of pack-burro racing, and they were friends, rivals and friendly rivals for more than three decades.

As soon as Hal posts a proper obit, I’ll provide a link. Meantime, the long and the short of it is that Curtis Imrie was (among many other things) an actor, and while he played other roles — including that of the murdered Mountain Bike Hall of Famer Mike Rust — the part he was born to play was that of Curtis Imrie.

A scion of privilege (among his forebears was Robert S. Brookings, founder of the Institute for Government Research, which would become the Brookings Institution), Curtis drove a Triumph motorcycle across Europe and the USS Enterprise across the galaxy, and nearly got killed by a wandering 18-wheeler near the National Western Stock Show complex (where he finally did die almost exactly a dozen years later, reportedly of a heart attack, at age 70).

He worked in front of the mic at Salida’s KHEN-FM on Tuesday evenings; worked both in front of the camera and behind it on a movie that seemed to have no ending (and now never will); won the World Championship Pack-Burro Race at Fairplay three times; and ran quixotic campaigns for Congress from his ranch in the Upper Arkansas watershed nearly as often as he ran for the top of Mosquito Pass. That race, he never won.

Curtis was an honest-to-God, sure-enough character in a world of ciphers, devoted to democracy, donkeys and drama, a spiritual cousin to Ed Abbey, Doug Peacock, Ken Kesey, Thomas McGuane and the Pilgrim from Kris Kristofferson’s “The Pilgrim, Chapter 33”:

He’s a walkin’ contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction

Taking ev’ry wrong direction on his lonely way back home.

He’s gone back home now. Peace and comfort to the friends and family he left behind.

• Update: KHEN will host a live memorial tribute to Curtis beginning at 5 p.m. Salida time on Tuesday, Jan. 24. You can stream it at their website if you’re so inclined.

The ‘Scoop’ on burros and autism

January 14, 2017
The latest book from Hal Walter on fatherhood, autism and the outdoors.

The latest book from Hal Walter on fatherhood, autism and the outdoors.

My man Hal Walter is on something of a virtual whirlwind tour of the digital media landscape.

Hal recently discussed burros, autism and “Nature Deficiency Syndrome” with the folks at the “Stable Scoop” podcast. He comes in around 21 minutes into the show to talk about how he has tried to share his love of burro racing specifically and the outdoors in general with his son, Harrison.

You can also catch Hal on “The Outspoken Cyclist,” from longtime friend of the DogS(h)ite Diane Jenks. Hal’s segment begins at 26:44.

Give him a listen in both places.

Racing burros and raising a son

December 7, 2016
Hal Walter and his son Harrison working a burro near their home outside Weirdcliffe, Colorado.

Hal Walter and his son Harrison working a burro near their home outside Weirdcliffe, Colorado. (Photo poached from the video by Juliana Broste)

My man Hal Walter chats on camera with The New York Times about the great outdoors, racing burros, and raising an autistic child.

Hal is also working on an expanded edition of his book “Endurance,” and I’ll post a link to that when it goes live.

And now, it’s time for ‘Kiddie Korner’

December 4, 2016
When I was a kid it was all stuffed animals and special chairs. But the neighbor kid likes to play with Apple TV remotes, Magic Keyboards and mice.

When I was a kid it was all stuffed animals and special chairs. But the neighbor kid likes to play with Apple TV remotes, Magic Keyboards and mice.

The ‘hood is about to get a new resident. One of the neighbors is majorly preggers, as in due any second now, and since she and her husband already have one on the deck, Herself and I have become part of a small army of folks drafted into service as amateur anklebiter monitors in case the deal goes down in the wee small hours.

In loco parentis, as it were, with an emphasis on the “loco” part.

The one underfoot is a cute lil’ munchkin, freshly hatched when we first viewed the property that would become El Rancho Pendejo, and we’ve watched her go from wide-eyed newborn to astoundingly sentient being in two short years. She and mom pop round for regular visits, mostly so the kid can see Mister Boo and lay curious hands upon bits of technology that some careless person leaves lying around where pretty much anyone, no matter how short, can glom onto it.

In a couple months I expect she’ll be editing my columns, unless she gets distracted by her new little sister.

Elsewhere, my man Hal Walter is soliciting recommendations for a budget Windows laptop. His son, Harrison, is addicted to the game Minecraft, and I guess the PC world beats Apple at this sort of thing.

I know even less about Minecraft and Windows than I do about everything else, especially children and the care and feeding thereof, so if anyone out there has some suggestions for Hal, feel free to leave ’em in comments.

 

A donkey in rough shape

November 18, 2016
Hal Walter and Spike in 2000, after winning what I believe was their second world pack-burro championship in Fairplay, Colo.

Hal Walter and Spike in 2000, after winning what I believe was their second world pack-burro championship in Fairplay, Colo.

No, I’m not talking about the Democratic Party, though you could say the same about that lot.

I’m talking about Sherman, a neglected donkey adopted by Christopher McDougall, author of “Born to Run.”

McDougall collected Sherman after a Mennonite neighbor discovered the poor critter penned up in a cramped shed. He was, in a word, a mess:

Its fur was crusted with dung, turning its white belly black. In places the fur had torn away, revealing raw skin almost certainly infested with parasites. He was barrel-shaped and bloated from poor feed and his mouth was a mess, with one tooth so rotten it fell right out when touched. Worst of all were his hooves, so monstrously overgrown they looked like swim fins.

McDougall was something of a mess himself not that long ago, a self-described “broken-down ex-athlete battling constant injuries and 50 excess pounds.” Running saved him, and he wondered whether it might do the same for Sherman.

I’d stumbled across a ragtag crew in the Rocky Mountains who kept alive an old miners’ tradition of running alongside donkeys in races as long as 30 miles. Was it possible? Could I bring Sherman back from this calamity so that he and I, side by side, could run an ultramarathon?

I immediately pinged my pal Hal Walter, who has been doing this sort of thing for as long as I’ve known him, and even longer, which is to say for the better part of quite some time.

He replied that yep, he knew about the column, and might even be a part of it down the road, since McDougall interviewed him for the series.

“Might be the only time I’m in the NYT this lifetime, though I did tour the building during a high school journalism field trip,” he added.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the articles in this series. Maybe we’ll learn some way of rescuing that other crippled donk and teaching it how to run.

 

Endurance

June 17, 2016
Hal Walter and Spike in 2000, after winning what I believe was their second world pack-burro championship in Fairplay, Colo.

Hal Walter and Spike in 2000, after winning what I believe was their second world pack-burro championship in Fairplay, Colo.

My man Hal “Mr. Awesome” Walter, who races burros and raises an autistic son, is the subject of a profile over to Narrative.ly, just in time for Father’s Day.

You might think that managing what Hal prefers to call a “neurodiverse” child would be heavy lifting. But like burro racing, it has more to do with endurance, which just happens to be the title of a newish short book the man is hawking between his other chores.

Like father, like son: Young Harrison has his very own burro circa 2005.

Like father, like son: Young Harrison has his very own burro circa 2005.

Hal and I first met back in the Eighties on the copy desk of The Pueblo Chieftain, where we also dealt with varying degrees of neurodiversity and as a consequence enhanced our capacities to endure just about anything.

I went on to become an extraordinarily prosaic amateur cyclist while professionally lampooning leg-shavers, dope fiends, and leg-shaving dope fiends, while Hal became a world-champion pack-burro racer and author.

But we’ve remained friends despite our class differences, and thus I recommend that you read the profile and buy the book.

The Pod People

April 8, 2016

OK, I’ve been threatening to resurrect the Radio Free Dogpatch podcast for a while now, and the stars finally came into proper alignment this week, so here we go.

For the first time Radio Free Dogpatch is not a solo effort — my friend and colleague Hal Walter joined me for a chat of about 75 minutes that I boiled down in editing to just over an hour.

RFD-BugCall it “Two Dudes Mystery Theatre.” We talked about the passing of poets Jim Harrison and Merle Haggard; Hal’s autistic son, and what it’s like trying to do creative work while raising a child who is not “neuro-typical”; and cooking.

For anyone who’s interested in the nuts and bolts of this Frankensteinian project, we chatted via Skype (Hal lives in Custer County, Colorado, while I’m in Albuquerque). On my end I was using a Samson C01U USB condenser microphone and an old pair of Bose earbuds plugged into an equally old iMac; Hal went even lower-tech, using a $50 Kindle Fire and some Apple earbuds, the kind that include an inline mic’.

I recorded our conversation using Ecamm’s Call Recorder, then split the convo into two tracks and dragged both into Apple’s GarageBand for editing. Once the thing was more or less the way I wanted it, I uploaded it to Libsyn, which hosts RFD and sends an RSS feed to iTunes.

During our ‘cast I promised to provide links with more information about some of the topics we discussed, and here those are:

Jim Harrison

• Tom McGuane’s “Postscript” in The New Yorker.

• Mario Batali recalls mealtimes with Harrison in Time.

• Jimmy Buffett bids a fond adios to his hermano on Facebook.

• Doug Peacock on Harrison and the art of friendship at The Daily Beast.

Merle Haggard

A recollection from Patrick Doyle in Rolling Stone.

• NPR’s “Fresh Air” reprises a 1995 interview with the outlaw country legend.

Cookery

• The food of Apulia, from Florence Fabricant in The New York Times.

• Her recipe for orecchiette with cherry tomatoes and arugula (being a barbarian, I add hot Italian sausage).

Final notes

If you find yourself interested in Hal’s writing, you can visit him at Hardscrabble Times (yeah, it’s been a while since he updated the ol’ blog) or order up one or more of his books (check the link in the sidebar).

Meanwhile, let us know in comments what you think. It’s a little rough around the edges, but so are we. Happily, the podcast can be improved.