A Short Winter’s Cruise

by SteveHulse on January 24, 2020 · 0 comments

Today, the news of the day and the quiet time following New Year’s Day
have driven me back out on the sound on my trusty craft, The Aimless.
A quiet, peaceful holiday with good friends is as good as it gets for me.
January can be a let-down after the 3-month build-up of the Christmas
season, so I circumvent it with a one or two-day cruise out on the North
Sound. It never fails to clear my head and redirect me.

Is it cold? Hell yes. Is it uncomfortable out here? Sometimes. Is it worth
it? Always. On days like these, I try to get the tent really warm with the
stove, get some hot coffee and a sandwich going, light a candle or two
and see how close I can come to perfection on the Sound. It’s never up
to me to achieve that perfection… the weather always decides.

Today, for instance, I’m thinking about how calm my life is now, how easy
it has finally become. Oh, I appreciate it, believe me… like most of you,
it hasn’t always been easy. A few quick memories is all it takes to remind
me how great my life is today.


Ever think about where you’ve been, what you’ve done, that surprises
even you when you think about it? Being retired, I’ve had plenty of time
to think, to remember the special times in my life, some of the truly
adventurous experiences that I’d never have imagined would happen
to me. I’ll bet a lot of you have those, too. How unusual, how unique
those experiences were depends, to a large degree, on your frame
of reference.

What constitutes a unique and exciting experience can be wildly different
from person to person. What’s different and exciting for us might not be
unique, if a million people or so have done the same thing. The element
of danger is usually a consideration, as is location. Who you’re with or
not with can play a part, as can the circumstances of the moment.

What I think is equally important is this… where does our ego live in
all these memories, in all this speculation as to what is exciting, unique?
Is it enough to sit by the fire in a winter’s evening, remembering unusual
times with your brandy close at hand? Or do we want others to know
what we’ve done, where we’ve been, what strange and crazy things
have happened to us in the course of our amazing lifetimes?

My particular ego swings from remembering and feeling good about
myself and my life, to wanting others to know some of what I’ve
experienced… perhaps in the slightly sick hope that they’ll see me
in a different, better light. Now, however, my desire to share a few of
my special times has a better purpose… that of triggering your memory
of your life’s experiences, to remember them, relive them and smile.
For my part, I want my son Dillon to know some of my stories, just as
my dad made sure I knew some of his stories.

We’ve done some crazy shit, haven’t we? For me, There’s a lot that I’m
proud of and satisfied with, and a few that I’m ashamed of, and refuse to
share… with anyone. I guess that nearly anyone who has lived a long and
full life has at least a few of these dark memories. A good friend of mine
put it clearly… “Sure, I’ve done some things I’m not proud of.”

I have a few friends whose lives were more colorful than mine. I can
name them here, because some of you know them, and will smile.
Ron Abbe. Ray Taylor. Rick Gohn. John Crouch, Roger Williams. Ron lived
in Mexico. Ray and John in Colorado, Rick in Texas. Roger might be the
strangest of the five… he has lived most of his life in a 50-mile radius of
Virginia City, Montana. How exciting can that be? Well, for starters, he’s a
heavy equipment operator and owns most of his own equipment. He’s been
the engineer on a steam locomotive on a short line railroad for several years.
He’s been a miner, a water commissioner, a mechanic who works on his own
heavy equipment, even the locomotive he engineered. I’ve found him digging
in the old sewer lines, deep beneath the Virginia City streets. He’s been an
active member in the city’s politics forever, and has been it’s mayor…
probably several times.I’ve found him hiking up in the high country, and I’ve
found him in that locomotive, rolling down the track in the cab in the middle
of summer, with the cab temp right at 124 degrees. How many of us have
done that?!

I could tell you what I know about each of these guys, where they’ve been,
what they’ve accomplished, and each one would fill an entire blog. Each of
their resumes are unbelievable, and i love knowing men like this, men
who have done so much, who have lived so fully. Their ladies are
remarkable as well, and have contributed much in their own right. And that
should be no surprise.

I am proud to know these guys, proud of them and their amazing
accomplishments. I wish, from time to time, that they would have a blog,
that they would write their stories… I know how colorful they are. But none
of them, to my knowledge, have even tried to write about their lives, or
anything else, for that matter. They are probably still too busy living it. Roger
once told Jack Waller and me, “I don’t think I’ve ever had a thought worth
writing down.” Ha. And I remember Jack saying, in his inimitable style,
“Oh Roger, I don’t think that’s true…” And he was right, of course. Roger
could fill two books in a heartbeat if he ever decided to.

Another small log in the stove, another hot cup of coffee. It really is chilly
out here today, yet I am warmed by these memories of my friends and my
life, and am constantly amazed that it has gone so well for us all, difficulties
aside. Can’t help but wish any who read this could be sitting out here on the
Aimless with me… what a wonderful time and place to take stock of things.
I open the flap to take a look outside. It’s spitting snow now, and there’s a
seagull sitting at the far edge of the raft. Cool. I’m going to take that gull as a
sign that all is well, and is going to stay well, for at least the immediate future.

Steve Hulse


A Name Game

by SteveHulse on January 12, 2020 · 0 comments

Thought we’d start out the new year with something light and easy. God knows
it’ll get crazy soon enough. In our travels up and down this island i’ve noticed
the names of the roads, lanes and paths that connect to the main island highway.
Many of them are typically nautical, with some almost painting a picture of where
the road leads, why it goes there, even what one might find at the end of that
road. Some of them are fairly straightforward but there are a few that were
named with tongue in cheek. Those, naturally, are some of my favorites. A few
of them suggest a history that I have yet to look into. Learning of this island’s
history is far better served by finding some old salt in a bar, rather than digging
through books at the library. If i ever pursue the history of some of these places,
I assure you it will be with the former method.

There are, of course, some of the generic aquatic names that are self-
explanatory. Admiral Cove. Aqua View Way. Bay View Road. Deer Lake. Four
Eagles Lane. Standard fare here, no surprises. But then they begin to get
interesting. Puget Circle. Named for Peter Puget, the same person Puget
Sound is named for.Not sure I’d want to be named Peter Puget, but Captain
George Vancouver named the Sound for him, so he must have been at least a
good officer. He was a Master’s Mate, then a 3rd Lieutenant on the HMS
Discovery, captained by George Vancouver. Old George named all kinds of
places while here in 1792… Mount Baker, for Joseph Baker, another 3rd
Lieutenant of his on the Discovery. Vancouver also named Whidbey Island for
Joseph Whidbey, and he named some areas around the island, like Discovery
Pass, Mount Rainier, Port Gardner and Port Susan.

Useless Bay is true to its name… a normal-looking bay when the tide’s in, a
fairly ugly mud flat when the tide’s out. No shell fish, no redeeming qualities to
see… truly useless.

Smuggler’s Cove. There is no history of smugglers on Whidbey Island, and much
of the early history of the island has to do with settlers and fights with the existing
Native Americans. One has to wonder, however, if there might have been some
smuggling activity of one sort or another… hard to imagine. What would one
smuggle in or out of a brand new, as yet unsettled, part of the country? Timber? Mussels? Beautiful Indian Maidens?? Hmmm…

Double Bluff Road. Log Cabin Road. Possession Point. Frog Water Lane. Tree
Frog Lane. Island-type names, sure enough, but self explanatory. I like the more mysterious names, the names that ignite the imagination, of what it might have
been, what might have happened there. One of my favorites in that regard is,
Honeymoon Bay Road. Okay. So there must be a Honeymoon Bay over there
through the trees somewhere. And it stands that the road to that Bay might be
of the same name. But why call that particular bay Honeymoon Bay? Umm,
oh, wait…never mind.

Mutiny Bay. Another name that kicks up visions of potential activities, especially
in the early days, when the island had all sorts of ships coming and going by it.
One might imagine a ship anchored in that bay, a mutiny occurring, the captain
and his first officer tied up and dropped off in the trees next to the bay, and the mutinous crew then sailing away to plunder and pillage some unsuspecting village.
But I can find no historical evidence of any mutinous activities around the island. Phooey. I’m sure something like that must have happened…

Oh well. My favorite of all these names is CrissyBob Lane. How can you not
love it? Perhaps Crissy and Bob don’t even live down that lane any more.
It doesn’t matter. That little lane, off a small road in a somewhat remote area of
our island, is for me, evidence of an America of another time… of a time when
two people could find their own private paradise on an island out at the edge of
the country, and name their lane any damn thing they wanted to.

I miss how America was once. It was never perfect, god knows… but it was so
much better so much simpler, so much warmer and safer. I miss it. I miss the hell
out of it, nearly every day. I know it’s gone, and can’t return. But at least
CrissyBob Lane reminds me, every time we drive by it, that it once existed, that it
was real, and that we were able to enjoy it, for a little while.

Steve Hulse


Of A Winter’s Eve – A Musician’s Tale.

by SteveHulse December 23, 2019

Once upon a winter’s eve, an old gentleman was sitting in front of his wood stove, deep into a cold night in Montana. His cabin was warm, the fire crackled. He had pulled up his chair to the stove, as he often did, on the colder nights. His legs stretched out toward the little stove’s […]

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‘Tis The Season

by SteveHulse December 13, 2019

Am re-posting a memory I shared several years ago… it still holds my thoughts of the season, and of the times in which we now live. This is an experiment on my part, not sure it will work. Simply click on the address below and my Christmas post should appear. If it does, hope you […]

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by SteveHulse November 26, 2019

Is it just a word? Is it just an idea? Or is it a perceivable force? Whatever, it’s one of those invisible powers/concepts that one must pretty much believe in, or not. For some of us, it’s almost like a religion… no, a spirituality, that “what goes around, comes around” really works, and that by […]

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What Is Normal?

by SteveHulse November 1, 2019

This is an essay about us, mostly as professional folk… not a character analysis of any kind. All you who have held steady jobs most of your lives, all you who had families and raised children who became productive out in the world, I hold you to be far above “normal.” Life is challenging for […]

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Last Cruise Of The Summer

by SteveHulse October 3, 2019

This short piece is for Joani Gohn, who is recovering from a surgery. Get well soon, Joani – we love you! B & Joani, with Willie and Waylon and the boys… I was inspired, after hearing about the big snow storm in Montana over the weekend, to take one last cruise on The Aimless, out […]

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The Record Deal

by SteveHulse September 30, 2019

The Record Deal The first time I heard about a “record deal” was in Boston in 1965. A guy named Gene, from Philly, was putting together a latin band with Berklee students, of which I was one. Gene was a big guy with a nasally voice, and a Philadelphia accent. Don’t ask me what that […]

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A Brief History of the Man Cave

by SteveHulse September 23, 2019

Is there a history of “the man cave?” Probably not, so let’s try to write one. We’ll make one up, okay? Because everyone knows about man caves, what they are… but dare we ask why they are? Sure! The man cave can be a most necessary item, depending, of course, upon the man, and his […]

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The Doobie Brothers

by SteveHulse September 8, 2019

Oh, Oooh, Listen To The Music Once again, sitting up the other night watching AXS TV, a special about the Doobie Brothers. And once again, memories of my musical past shot to the surface, making me smile, blurring my eyes. I knew only one small slice of the Doobies, but man, what a slice it […]

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