THE FOURTH NOVEL: Into The Depths Of Hell

The initial edit completed as well as the follow-up rewrite for my new novel; working title –Tears of Stone –and is now being formatted to send to my editor and readers. Having sailed into uncharted waters with my first three books, anoxic zone, Halocline, and Black Tide, and setting new standards for gore and violence, the fourth could to be no less than a horrific ride into the gaping mouth of hell.

Tears of Stone(working title) revolves around a young character we meet in Halocline. Twenty years have passed since the revolution that created a free country. Freed from the yoke of Megacorp and a tyrannical, cruel and insane despot, the country grew and prospered. Slavery and slaughter during the revolution however left the country with nationwide epidemic of PTSD. Most dealt with it. A few unfortunately, did not. This opened the gates of hell once again. A metaphor, for they had actually never really been closed.

Our protagonist, against the odds, survived the barbarically horrendous revolution, at which she had a front row seat. What was witnessed in those early years hardened the tender areas of youth. The seeds of hatred fell upon the fertile soil of her mind, giving her strength to endure the madness.

In a twist of fate the girl is saved from the nightmare her young life had become, but not before her hatred had taken root. Her life on the run from the madness of the revolution was replaced with one of privilege, education and art. Through her art, the girl turned woman, and was able to relieve herself of some of the memories life had bequeathed her. Notoriety and fame would come from her ability to carve stone, touching her life, changing it forever.

As her talent blossomed so did the darkness that so early in life reached out for her. The hatred, anguish, and horror at seeing her family and community brutally tortured, slain, and placed in chains, wanted to live amongst men. This thing, this hatred, this evil would use the girl it bonded with so long ago to bring it to life.

The first few pages set the hook of the story. Then, until the end, we get deep into our characters’ heads to understand the nightmare their lives have become. More than one antagonist exerts pressure on the tale. Hatred, evil, greed, revenge, are my usual nemeses. Once again they rear their ugly heads to wreak havoc on mankind, being truly the sources of all that ails us. Our tale takes us on a ride into the macabre, literally. If you have read my previous works you know how wild things can get. And they do get a tad outré. Not to disappoint my readers, the action and intensity is up to par. My wife, Mara, after doing the initial read, aside from being grossed out, said that ‘this may be the best thing you’ve written.’ I’m good with that, because she is right. Though Tears Of Stone is a stand alone read, the story is related to anoxic zone, Halocline and Black Tide, therefore reading one of the previous will shed some light on a few of the inside jokes and characters. Hold on as I take you where few readers have gone before.

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The Wheel Turns : Decompressed

Before leaving on what turned out to be an epic journey, of both an outer and inner nature, I finished my fourth novel. The working title is ‘Tears of Stone.’ That title however has been overworked to death. I had hoped to complete it so my wife, Mara, could read the manuscript while I was motorcycle riding.

It always comes as a surprise to finish an idea in written form. You can tell when the end is near, 100 pages, 50 pages, but when it comes – WOW!!! Suddenly the writing is over and the rush of a ‘high’ is on; a somewhat sublime rush that is. Sure there are details that need attention, there always are, but they do not spoil the moment. Having the novel completed emptied the mind of worry, allowing the call of the road to come in loud and clear. That and the excitement of what Mara would say about the story when I returned. A month later I got the green light. After a rough edit the manuscript is ready for a rewrite, which I am doing now.

The tale revolves around a character you meet in Halocline, my second novel. Her story takes place twenty years after the revolution. She is now a grown woman with her own savage history and dark destiny to contend with. In dealing with horrific memories of childhood, that assault her constantly, an artist was born. Her art was a cathartic to relieve the conscious mind of the cruel and hideous visions.

As therapy the art worked in a psychiatric kind of way, creating what appeared to be a normal, though somewhat driven, personality. The unconscious mind, however, has a way of undoing the neat little knots we tie things up with. Life began to unravel when she finished the last piece for an exhibition.

Hell was just about to be unborn through her art.

It is a rather twisted little story about hate, revenge, ignorance, greed and the little things you never see that go on right behind the eyes. You just never know what someone is actually thinking. Trust me, most of the time you don’t want to know either.

You have to dig deep to come up with a tale like this. Although related to the previous novels, it is also a stand alone read. Of course, reading the first three novels is recommended as they are as ‘rip your throat out’ as it gets and… you’ll get a few more of the inside jokes. Like the others – anoxic zone, Halocline and Black Tide, you are grabbed on page one and ripped through a ride of terror and the macabre that will leave you gasping at the end… and wanting more. From the coast of Romania on the Black Sea, to Istanbul and the Transylvanian and Carpathian mountains, a journey into the darker parts of our minds and souls is about to be published.

Actually it will be a few more months until we print. Worth the wait to be sure and a chance to catch up on your reading. It’s back to work for me. When you call yourself a writer you better be doing just that. A little concentration, a little discipline and a lot of being able to sit there for hours at a time, waiting for blood to flood the page as you try to contain it, turning the crimson flow to words. And tuning out the unimportant distractions, aka, the cell is off. That’s what voice mail is for. Running with the ball for as long as you can each time you get it. But mostly it’s just doing your best that makes all the difference. It’s that ‘your best’ part of the equation that makes anything possible.

When you are doing your best there is always time to help others do it, too, but that’s another blog.

Aloha!

The Wheel Turns – 2012 X-Country Ride: The East, Traffic, Sweltering madness and Serenity.

A few days of mindful work brought me fully into the heart. Replacing deck boards and stairs, pouring a little concrete and cleaning the gutters brought a peace of mind and oneness with the tasks. The work came easy as lemonade and light conversation fulfilled the moment. Here I was not a tourist but part of the pulse. We wanted to stretch the time into an eternity and in a way we did. The clock however was ticking, the road began to call. All good things don’t have to come to an end, you just keep scattering the good all along the road.

Morning came and with it a breakfast you only dream about. Kale’s mom made sandwiches for our lunch while his dad helped with loading the bikes. Time idled away as there was no rush. The next couple of days would be cruisers, 250 to 350 miles, tops. The last sight was Kale’s parents waving, captured in the rear view mirror as we idled down the long twin strip gravel drive. We meandered through the farms and countryside before picking up Route 6. From here on out the deer would be everywhere and you had to remain double alert. They just jump out in front of you for no apparent reason. But there are other things that can stop you in your tracks, too and I would be finding out soon enough.

Route 6 rolled and dipped on way across Ohio. Green was all around us but if you looked close everything needed water, reminding me to drink more at every chance. The heat changed too, it was just as hot as Nebraska but now there was abundant humidity. Rolling down the road, it wasn’t an issue. Standing still however was. Kale kept to his word and the day was short. We camped about twenty miles east of Toledo in the lushness of the deep woods near the coast of Lake Erie. It was quiet with a fair number of campers filling the sites. Like most of the campgrounds we stayed at they were surprisingly full. There is a good feeling in seeing so many people taking advantage of the beauty of our country away from the major attractions. Sleep came easy as we were both still a bit tired from working the farm.

The morning came with a jolt of reality. Backing the f 650gs out of the gravel parking, I slipped and the bike leaned passed the point of no return. I stabbed my left leg out to ease her to the ground. Kale was already rolling, ever aware he caught sight of me in his rear view mirror. I was busy stripping the bike when he got back. Shame, stress, adrenalin rush and extreme effort to get the bike upright did something I hoped wouldn’t happen. After a quick talk down the best thing to do was get back on and hit the road. We did for about ten minutes when at a stop sign I pointed to some soft grass and signaled to pull over. I parked the bike just in time. A disc in my lower spine just had a blowout.

The next 24 hours were spent in bed at a hotel in Sandusky, Ohio. The only way out was to pack myself in ice and not move. Was this over? Is this it? Not even half way! No way! The reality was looking more and more like a flight back and have the motorcycle shipped. With only one thing to do I did it well, do nothing.

Kale brought dinner back from a local grubhouse. If he was disappointed he didn’t show it. These things happen. The timing always sucks. We tossed around different scenarios, route changes and destinations. It all came down to, ‘see how I feel in the morning.’

It was quiet in the room that night, too quiet. We were both coming to terms with the near future. We had both taken time off from work, a month, to fulfill the dream. But there was more at stake here than an aborted vacation. To get the whole story of both the inner and outer journey, you will have to be patient. The 2012 X Country Ride is being put to book form as I write this blog. Here we are getting the outline and I am sticking to the motorcycling touring aspects. This will be reference material for the novel.

We were both up early. A couple of hours wouldn’t make any difference at this point. I had been hobbling back and forth along the outside corridor with a cane to get a feel for life as it would be for next few weeks. ‘It could be worse,’ I thought. Since we were following a pioneer trail my thoughts drifted to them. What happened to those poor souls who’s back went out along the trail? They went on is what they did. For them there was no turning back. My spine and I have been friends and antagonists for a long time. It would hold, just hurt like hell. My coffee needed a refill and Kale was up. “Let’s do it!”

We softened the suspension to the limit so I wouldn’t get hammered. You lose a little of that tight feeling but then we weren’t pushing the envelope either.  We rode along the Erie lakefront following the train tracks to Lorain, Ohio, then skirting Cleveland, jumped on Interstate 90 and made some time. The traffic was furious, as were the drivers. The heat, construction and probably an accident or two had everyone going like mad. Cell phone in hand and 80 plus miles an hour are a bad combination. It made for real passive/ aggressive riding, your head forever on a swivel eyeing everything around and ahead of you. From Ohio to Maine the large and small highways were like racetracks. If you were going too slow, or in someone’s way no doubt you would hear about it from the driver yelling at you through open windows. It sure kept things interesting.

The back was tolerable, just merely unbearable. Still the best was made of the situation and my riding partner, Kale, considerate in keeping the number of hours in the saddle down. We still rode into the night to make up for a slower pace. There was strip mining and fracking along with unparalleled beauty. In a couple of hops, we were heading up the famous Maine coastline. Maine is a National Geographic moment in progress. We stopped often to enjoy the vistas and soak up the cool of the far northeast. Perfect riding temperature and some sweet roads to go with it. Enjoying life from a two-wheeled point of view. There is nothing quite like it. We rode into the night again to reach our destination, Southwest Harbor, Maine.

Next: Days of peace. The calm before the storm.

The Wheel Turns – 2012 X-Country Ride : Into the Heat

No more mister nice guy. Bishop was behind us. If that is what the road had in store for us then the lane ahead was just a little sweeter. Man, cause it was getting hot. We checked to make sure our vents were open for cooling. It was then I noticed Kale always had his main zipper up while I had unzipped mine hours ago to catch the wind.

These stretches of southern Nevada and Utah can get rather desolate and fuel is ever a primary concern. Needless to say we filled up at every chance. The longest distance between service stations was 172 miles. Kale knew his bike had the range. The F 650 gs had yet to be tested. The numbers crunched but would they reflect reality? We rode conservatively as the idea of being stranded for some hours on a shadeless strip of asphalt sucks. Tonopah to Ely Nevada, is one of the few remaining stretches of exquisite nothing. The bikes made it without dipping into reserve eventually arriving at Baker, Nevada, gateway to Great Basin National Park and the Lehman caves.

Being one of the least visited national parks has its upside, less people, less impact. This camp stands out amongst the others for its solitude. There were other campers but no one, it seemed, wanted to intrude upon the rushing mountain stream’s babble in the silence over the great basin. It was awesome and one of the darkest places on the planet making star viewing some of the best.

Then of course, the Lehman Caves. We signed for the first tour of the morning. No one else did and therefore received a private tour. Once again was darkness and deep silence with only an occasional drip of water to disturb it. Stalactites and stalagmites created a maze of translucent spires in total darkness. It is a living cave. Oddly, now that I think,about it, our flashlights were illuminating the natural rock/crystal art that would have otherwise never been seen. Nothing was to be touched. Nothing was. Wow, and yeah man, the whole place was pretty far out.

The cool mountain air was far behind. We dropped into the basin, diverting from Route 6, to lean into the twists and turns of Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Monument. Both have truly amazing rock formations that have to be visited physically to appreciate. Once we were through viewing the rpm’s came on again and the fun began. Tight hairpins to sweepers the roads had it all making the experience complete in a biker kind of way. But man it was getting hot.

Three days into the dry hot weather dehydration and overheating hit like a brick. I was drinking like normal and that was the problem. Normal was simply not enough for the riding conditions. I bonked. Inside the convenience store was the cool and ice cold sports drinks to slam. Without which, the whole damn thing would probably have ended right there. It didn’t and there was something to learn. Drink lots of water. Yellow is not mellow!

This seems like a good point to drop in a safety issue, especially with the contiguous 48 having the hottest weather on record. Dehydration is a sneaky bastard. You reach for a coke when what you need is water. The caffeine keeps you from hydrating. Every chance you get, you have to be drinking fluids. The hot dry weather sucks the moisture right out of you as fast as you can take it in. Even faster.

Most of the riders we saw this tour chose jeans, sneakers, and a tank top for their riding gear. It’s a personal choice. However with all that skin exposed you’re drying out like a drop of water on hot asphalt. Hmmmm, good metaphor.  You don’t notice because you are not sweating, the sweat vapors off too fast at 70 mph. A full riding suit like the Aerostitch Roadcrafter, aside from the protection, acts as another layer of insulation against the heat and dry conditions, helping you retain your liquid while the venting keeps you comfortable. Anything to keep from bonking.

For the heat I used a bandana with a couple handfuls of ice rolled inside and tied around my neck. Every stop you renew the ice. It was a simple solution to keep your brain from sizzling and keep you alert and sane. Riding temp at 70 mph, fresh black asphalt, sun overhead, 107 degrees. That’s hot!

We headed northeast. If not directly on Route 6 it was close by. That road had an uncanny knack for following us, or us it. Boulder Co. was the destination. Family, hot shower, home cooked meal, good conversation, and a firm bed never felt so good. Stuart, a rabid bicycle racer, was kind enough to explain to me what proper hydration is all about. Got it! Yellow is not mellow. Pee clear! Okay, okay, enough already with the pee!

Taking an extra day I rode down to Manitou Springs Co. to see Jon Renaud of Back To The Books, bookstore. He carries my novels at the store along with a fine selection of independent authors. Back To the Books’ inventory is as varied as it is eclectic with an excellent children’s section. Manitou Springs, the mountain village, is a shock of vibrant colors in a verdant mountain setting. It works. From here you can make the assault on Pike’s Peak, a 14ner. The village was also nearly victim to the forest fires that raged through the Colorado Springs area a couple of months ago. You could see large swaths of blackened trees and that was just from the road. No doubt the interior was scorched. The town was spared. Manitou Springs is a sweet stop after hanging tight through the twists and turns of mountain road it took to get there. Hydrating and psyching for the return ride.

Back to the road. The bed, family, and friends were now behind us. From Boulder we zigzagged two laners to hook up with Route 6. Out of the pan and into the fire!

 

 

Next down the road: The heart of the heartland

The Wheel Turns – 2012 X-Country Ride : Wheels on Fire

THE MACHINES, THE GEAR, THE PLAN, THE RIDERS

Suddenly all three things started to fall into place. Time, money and desire. You make these things happen and when the moment comes you are ready and jump! The motorcycles were BMW: a ‘95 gs 1200r with close to 100,000 miles, just broken in. We would roll that odometer in a few days. The second machine was a ‘10 F 650 gs chain drive with less than a thousand miles. Not broken in, yet! Both had hard side bags, top boxes manufactured by BMW and Touratech, a welcome addition for anyone going long distances.

 The gear was simple enough. Safety comes first, period. The Aerostitch One-Piece Roadcrafter had everything we look for as riders when it comes to protection and kick ass looks. Plus you can put it on in few seconds and get it off just as fast when the sun is hammering you with 111 degrees, as it was in Kansas (and almost the whole ride). With the leg and main zippers fully zipped, the vents wide open we rode comfortably. Zipping down the main zipper to provide ‘more’ airflow, for me, was counterproductive. The extra hot wind stole your body water at a wicked rate. Zipped and vented provided the proper balance for safety and comfort.

Helmets, boots, and gloves are always de rigueur. Each rider chooses what is right for themselves. Mine was an AFX with visor and smoked windscreen. Both aided well in keeping the relentless sun at bay and giving superior airflow and view. Kale’s was a traditional SHOEI, his touring boots and gloves, custom. Mine varied in that they were steel toed Wellingtons and roper’s gloves.

 

 THE PLAN

 The route was clear enough. Take one of the original trans-cons (also the longest) from one terminus to the other.
U. S. Route 6 – highway of the Grand Army of the Republic – fit all the necessary requirements. A plus was that Route 6 runs as a two lane highway for much of its length. There are sections where she runs concurrent with larger freeways yet always seemed to return to the double band of black.

 The western terminus of Route 6 is cause for some minor dispute between Bishop Ca. and Long Beach, Ca. Each claims to be the official end, or beginning, depending on how you view such things. Bishop was chosen. To make up the difference our first day of the tour took us through Yosemite; The Tioga Pass, Lee Vining, down the eastern range and across the first of many great basins to the town of Bishop. From then on it was little more than following the map. NOT!

The eastern end of Route 6 is Provincetown, Mass. It’s a fair distance, no matter how you look at it, and just the first half of the journey.

 THE RIDERS

 Kale Williams, old enough to know better, young enough to still give it a go. A life-long rider, Kale still renews his skill level by taking courses and of course, applying what he learns to the road. He has been criss-crossing the roadways on two wheels since the original Kawasaki Kz 650 hit the market. Kale knows the road and the road knows him. It’s always a pleasure to tour with that kind of experience; you learn something new every day.

  John G. Rees, that’s me – author, daily rider (Suzuki dl650) and one of a few who can sit in the saddle for 12 hours and go for more if that’s what it takes to keep up with Kale. Then there are the tools. I know how to use them. They always come in handy to either keep us on the road or, as was most often the case, aid another biker or motorist on their way. There is always time to stop and lend a hand especially on some of the stretches in the middle of nowhere that have suddenly become somewhere for somebody.

 As with most journeys of this nature, there is more than one tour happening; an inner and outer trip. We were prepared for the outer adventure. The inner would require all our strength, endurance, compassion and kindness if we were to make it the entire way as we had begun. A couple of bikers and miles to go.

 ON THE ROAD

 The first day was a warm up. San Francisco Bay to Bishop, Ca. via Yosemite, the Tioga Pass and Lee Vining. The Pass and Lee Vining was a downhill run with s-curves, hairpins, shear drops, and captivating views. Into the first of many natural basins we met the future – long stretches of arrow straight road and the sun overhead in a cloudless sky. There was a warning with the bright sun and warm air that rushed passed, stealing minute quantities of your body water, continuously, unnoticeable. Soon there would be no warning. When you are standing in the fire, you know it!

 The roads were clean, devoid of tourists and perfect for breaking in a new bike. The F 650 gs shifts effortlessly, allowing the rider to give the road ahead all of their attention. No box of rocks here! We were cruising the day away, with the exception of the caveat, the ride was uneventful. A couple hundred miles and change later we pulled into our first campground in Bishop, Ca.

 This campground would prove to be a prime example of what we would be encountering in the way of rustic accommodations. The parks were clean, staff, friendly and helpful, grounds and campsites level and amenities in good repair. Then, of course, the folk who camped in every conceivable level of comfort; from semi-sized RV’s to one the size of an old VW bug, harem tents and one-man’s – we all had a common desire; to be at this place, at this time, and to share its beauty around. Whether a smile, getting or giving directions (I was forever asking where the *&%# am I?), talk of the road, bikes or lending a hand, the goodness of the people shined through. And we saw this everywhere! In times such as these with less and less of the time we so desire, that there is always time to help someone else.

I will admit to a bias here. Bikers, underneath all that gear, leather, gloves and helmet are some of the nicest peeps you will ever meet. It all starts with a smile.

 Image

NEXT UP: INTO THE HEAT

Back to the Islands (RoadTrip 2012)

Aloha! 7843 miles later from Oakland, CA to Southwest Harbor, Maine and back again it’s good to be home. I wish to thank you all for thinking of me, sending your good wishes and great good love to keep me going and get back on the horse when the times got tough. The route was planned and then navigated by my riding partner Kale, whose forethought, wisdom and vision made the ride a truly remarkable tour across this great country of ours. From July 7 till August 3rd, full moon till full moon, clad in Aerostitch one-piece Roadcrafters, we traveled without regard for the time, yet with great regard for each other and the land that passed beneath our wheels. Long hours in the saddle gives one time to think, not think, ponder, dream and open one’s heart to the road.

Kale understood the route far better than I, for he spent countless hours doing research in preparation. The fearless leader, with a GPS mounted to the left side of his handle bars, iPhone at the ready, he led the way on a BMW gs 1200r with a twisted throttle and eyes on the far horizon. I followed, not for lack of experience. This is the third tour and I ride daily on the Big Island, but for lack of any sense of direction, I could get lost in an empty parking lot. Living on an island, you can always find your way home if you keep going. The hours were long and we generally didn’t reach camp until after the sun went down. Asses sore, arms and hands in need of stretch and rest; tired, hot and reeking odor – our smiles stretched as wide as the miles that had rolled under the rubber that day. When I say hot, I mean really f*#@!ing hot. From Cali to Maine the sun glared with anger upon the land. We were only passing through. My heart went out to the good folk that lived their lives beneath the overheated summer sun.

For the most part, the route followed the old highway system, Route 6, envisioned by Eisenhower in his youth as a young army officer. Years later, after becoming president, he implemented this vision into reality by uniting our country with a highway system. The road, like the chosen destinations were, as Kale’s father put it, ‘austere and remote’. This is one of the reasons there was no blogging during the ride. There simply was no internet service available. That in itself was a unique experience that more of us should try. Cell phone service was as sketchy as a service station.

Fuel was by far the more important of the two.

For those of you whom I had hoped to visit, while spinning the wheels of a new BMW f650 gs, you have my apologies. Blame the road. She was making all the calls. To everyone I did meet – Mahalo – your presence and kindness were comfort to this skinny ass across the endless miles.

There will be more written in the coming weeks concerning the motorcycle tour. Thank you all. Man, it’s good to be home.

ImageMahalo and aloha, john g

p.s. Versatile riding apparel, like a friend is never truly appreciated until it is needed. Ride safely; protect your self.

ADVENTURE, DEAD? THE HEMINGWAY SYNDROME

Well maybe not dead, but nowdays it’s more limited to victims of war and disaster. This in no way lessens their despair and struggle for survival, but epitomizes the rare qualities exhibited by true adventure. It happens during the course of our nominally uneventful lives when suddenly our reality is upended and we are forced to make decisions we are unaccustomed to making; like surviving the next few minutes, hours, or days that have nothing to do with business, status, or your portfolio.

Whether it is water rising too fast to escape or the world falling down around you, this is some thing you did not pay to experience. True adventure will leave you spent, in pain, broken and bleeding, if not dying. There are few enough who are willing to pay the full cost of the ticket. But to those that do, goes the real prize. You see the price is your life.

Several years ago my friend Kale and I rode cross-country on motorcycles. A priceless experience not without its moments when shivers went up your spine as adventure licked your tires. My excuse for this was to crash my nephew’s wedding and see some family faces. I must say, at this point, that rolling into a wedding reception on a touring motorcycle and one piece riding suit is about as cool as it gets.

After making the rounds I settled in next to my mom for the duration. It was her I really came for after all. It was nice. I love my mom. The seats around the center table filled and emptied like cards shuffling. At one point a gentleman across the table began a conversation. He was the father of the bride, I think, but a close relation at any rate. I introduced myself as the brother of the mother of the groom. For convenience I will call him Chuck.
“Ahh, I’ve heard a lot about you,” Chuck said as if he heard not quite a lot, but more than a little.
“I hope it wasn’t all bad,” was my glib response. You see I am the black sheep.
“Not at all, you’re the adventurous one,” Chuck smiled.
Okay he had me and we had a pleasant talk about a few my ‘adventures’, the bulk of which revolved around the books I am writing. I gave him a signed copy of my first book, asking that he get in touch after reading it. He never did. This came as no surprise. Although my books have a solid foundation of honor, a man’s word and the golden rule, I have a rather peculiar way of getting there. Not everyone is ready for what I have to say or how I say it. To each his/her own in their own time. I would have liked to hear his views though. C’est la vie. Now where was I? Oh yeah, ‘the adventurous one’.
When I think of my travels and the work I’ve done, the word adventurous does not come to mind. Hard, unforgiving, perilous, dangerous, and stupid do however, and I have the scars to prove it. But adventurous? In retrospect I suppose, maybe, but I never really considered it. At the time you were too busy busting your ass, saving it, or saving somebody else’s. Afterwards you were too tired, in too much pain to appreciate it and onto another job. You never gave it a second thought. You lived it, you didn’t think it.
When you’re in an adventurous situation you do not think to yourself, ‘Wow, this is soooo exciting, what a rush!’ It’s more like ‘Holy shit! Look out! Run! Help!’ Maybe later you laugh about it. That is if no one was hurt too bad. But when no one is looking you’re busy checking your shorts.
Most of the ‘adventurous’ things I’ve done were not done for the excitement involved. They were done to cover the cost of living, a job. The work just looks and sounds thrilling. The reality was it was simply hard work with one drawback; fuck up and you’re dead. There aren’t too many jobs out there with that kind of kicker. Plus, at the time, I was young, still invincible, only dimly aware of the dangers involved and kept it that way. Oh you knew about them, but you didn’t spend much time thinking about them. Because once you did it was the beginning of the end of adventure for you, my friend. We didn’t take risks without knowing the danger, for that is being a fool. We just disregarded them. There were bills to pay, a job to finish and another soon to begin.
I think all people, somewhere inside them yearn for adventure. The common dream being cataclysmic destruction wherein our lives are irrevocably changed and not necessarily for the better. But we become better or worse for it. Yeah we’d all like that one, but it will never happen, at least not the way we dream it to be. The earthquakes, tornadoes, and tsunamis in recent years are but isolated occurrences, a sampler of what it would be like and most certainly less desirable than the dream. Reality generally is. But your average life is far more mundane than that. It grinds away at you every day until you die unless you are thrust into circumstances beyond your control. In which case you will probably still become extinct, but for a short while will have truly lived.
There aren’t that many ways of life left in the first world that have a first-rate access to risky, life-threatening work. A few, fewer yet are those willing to actually do the work.
When a person’s thirst for adventure is not allowed to be slaked, we will search for ways to compensate the loss. The most common is vicarious, a.k.a. movies, documentaries, reading or the virtual world as methods of escape into the rush of living. Doing nothing to feel like you’ve done something. Ironic, huh?
For others the compensation comes in the form of physical activities. Sports like tennis, skiing, diving, that require good physical conditioning to do well. Then there are the races. Ironman, marathons, bicycles, where top physical condition is the rule, not the exception. These exhibitions of strength and stamina are incredible and satisfy the inner need through endurance. Endurance equals adventure in that respect, for that is what adventure is, enduring.
Then there are those who, after riding a desk for the last thirty or forty years still have the romantic desire and reasonable health to have a little adventure. (We all know that if you put yourself in a position where your life may at some point be at risk, it just might be. In other words, if you want an irritating itch it’s best to find some poison ivy.) The youth is past its prime but the desire not so, and they stayed reasonably fit. So they decide to travel to places with names that evoke danger, grandeur, and mystery. Everyone wants to be the Rolex person on the inside cover of the Smithsonian.
What they get is a slightly watered down version of what its like and way more comfortable. The entire tour is prearranged with a top quality outfitter that has an excellent reputation of bringing them back alive. Everything has been well planned and nothing is left to chance. Of course the tourists know this, but that is not the point. The illusion has been satisfied. All life is illusion so no doubt special health insurance was bought in case the illusion gets a little too real, as well as supplementary insurance in case you had bad weather. Dressed to the tens in the latest gear, you exit your first class seating and are hit by the smells of life. Before you get too enthralled you are whisked away to a 5 star and a coldie.
Now you’re in the third word – well the part that the white man is allowed to see anyway.

This isn’t going to turn into an essay on tourist bashing. Far from it. Regardless of how much insurance you have to protect you and your travels, once you cross the border you’re in another world. All the protection money can buy will not put a first class hospital in the middle of the Sudan for you if your appendix bursts. When your transportation breaks down in the rainforest highlands there is no auto club to come and get you. Your feet have just become more important than ever before. You gear up and start to follow the other stranded travelers taking your first steps along the road to getting the hell out of there.
Not that anything like that would happen, but it could and does. In the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia some twenty-five years ago, we were on a twenty passenger second-class bus going from one mold encrusted Raj era tea plantation to another. We were traveling with the local people like we always did. It saved money over the first class ride on a real road with a bus full of tourists and was always much more interesting. About the time we reached the vicinity of the middle of nowhere the old Mercedes chugs, craps out and dies.
A heavy damp rain had begun an hour before as we drove higher into the mountains. The once dry road was now mud with trails of brown water racing through in rivulets. The landscape looked as if it had never seen the sun shine, a sodden rot of grayish deep green. After a few minutes of conversation that we didn’t understand fully, the van began to empty and belongings removed from the lashings atop it. Our bags were thrown with the rest into the brush along the roadside. As near as we were able to glom, the passengers were heading on. Another bus would be sent once it was sure that this one did not arrive. How long? A shrug of the shoulders was the only reply.
We talked about the options for this is a potentially fucked up situation. You’re in a third world country, white, all your money is around your waist, what insurance, the sun is setting, and you really have no idea where you are. Strange things can happen when the sun goes down and your imagination takes over. Should we stay or should we go? Sit in a damp bus waiting or follow the herd and hope we find someplace to stay and something to eat. Having turned a wrench a few times I figured well, it’s either major mechanical, in which case we’re fucked and in for a long walk in the rain, or maybe it’s something simple. It wouldn’t take long to figure out. If the bus was doomed we could always catch up.
The driver, who of course was staying with his rig, went through the motions of poor communication as we went down a basic check out. We soon discovered the accelerator linkage was broken. Pair of vice-grips, adjustable wrench, multipurpose screwdriver, and some wire was all it took to MacGyver the works, and of course someone who was willing to get all greasy and muddy, busting a few knuckles while crawling around underneath the bus to do it.
We picked up the stragglers first followed shortly thereafter by a bunch of smiling faces who were as happy as us to get out of the rain and where we all were going. The perk was the look on their faces when they saw a filthy white couple smiling at them from the back of the bus. Talk about making some points! It was a mild adventure but nonetheless had all the requirements for a true experience. A situation presents itself inspiring the question, what do we do? From that moment on our actions were dictated by the predicament and to make the best of it.

All adventures pretty much go that way. When everything goes just the way it’s planned there is no adventure. A good time perhaps with nice people just like yourself getting a taste of the wild. But it’s not the tourists that get the true adventure. It is the guides and laborers who live the safari, or roundup that truly live the life. The rest have merely paid to experience it.
It is when all hell breaks loose that the adventure starts. The working staff kicks into overdrive to save the tourists who are too busy worrying about their stuff and complaining that this is not what they paid for. Adventure is not something that is paid for. You may hire someone to take you to breathtaking vistas, but have something happen out of your control that rips your breath from you and the next person you are hiring is a lawyer.
Adventure is for those who choose to live it. Life choices and circumstance can put you in the game or out of it. Age, unfortunately, is a major factor. Those of us who left the tour behind long ago and forged our own way have paid the price of our yearnings with bodies worn out from a lifetime of hard living. Eventually we become sidelined while the adventure goes on, leaving us behind with our memories and sore backs that can no longer bear the load. We have become out of the loop, an observer.

This realization comes with a brutal blow to who we are, what we were and what we have become. I call this the Hemingway syndrome. That period from when you stop being a player until you come to terms with your new reality. It is a time change from relevancy to obscurity. Some of us will accept it, eventually. Others will struggle with the dilemma, while others refuse to let go. This in itself is an adventure of sorts. Except this time the battle is an inner one. We will come to terms with it gracefully… or not as is usually the case.
My personal learning curve was hard and ugly. I didn’t let go. Life was torn from my grasp and left me crippled. It took a long time to learn to be thankful for every ache, pain, and disability and see each one as a memory.

So the next time your car dies on a lonely stretch of dark road, or a storm, or other kind of adverse conditions present themselves realize it is an opportunity to take life into your own hands and do something with it. This does not mean picking up your cell phone either and letting drama overwhelm the moment. Take charge, take control of what you can and make the best of it. Take a lousy unplanned event and put a positive spin on it. It’s all any adventurist does anyway.

Aloha my friends. Good luck, do your best, it will be enough.

DIVE BACK INTO THE NIGHTMARE!!!

Black Tide

Black Tide is the third bloody note in john g rees 'anoxic zone' & 'Halocline' symphony of horror!

This time you dive back to the beginning. The beginning for Jake Strom that is. More than a prequel, BLACK TIDE is a freaquel of things to come.

Black Water Books has just published the third book, BLACK TIDE, of my ‘anoxic zone’ series. It is available in print and eBooks at this time through my site, Blackwaterbooks.com, Amazon, B&N, and others, in its initial edition, not available in Europe. That will happen when we get our final permission from Roger Waters to use a quote from one of his songs. Poor Europe will have to wait!

Okay, I’m stoked, who wouldn’t be? BLACK TIDE is a worthy addition to ‘anoxic zone’ and ‘Halocline’. With enough mayhem and gore to satisfy even the bloodthirstiest of readers, BLACK TIDE rips corporate reality a new one. Jake is up against the darkest horrors of our imagination… ourselves and what we have become.

No punches have been held in the writing of Black Tide. The language is as visceral as the characters’ circumstance. Be ready for a dive into hell from which there is no return.

Yet, you do, again and again.

Black Tide Finally in Print

Well, my third book, Black Tide is finally available in its initial print version. It is NOW available at our website at:
http://www.blackwaterbooks.com/Black_Tide.html
(along with my first two novels, anoxic zone and Halocline)
and at Amazon: tinyurl.com/6rcyw9y.

Black Tide is available worldwide except Europe, still awaiting that elusive
License Permission from Roger!!

Amazing what it takes just to get it out there!