Redefining his summit

From July 16-27, 2017, my son and I, along with three other boy scouts and two other dads in Crew 716-J-02, backpacked 84 miles through Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimmarron, New Mexico. This story takes place on Thursday, July 27, Trail Day 11.


We came to a sudden halt just a few miles from the end of our trek. Why were we stopping?

I was sixth in line, a couple of hundred feet from my son who was in the lead. We’d assumed lightning spacing a mile or so before, remembering the ranger’s advice if we got caught in the middle of one of Philmont’s daily thunderstorms.

“Keep at least 50 feet apart on the trail, so that if one of you gets hit by lightning, it doesn’t jump from one person to the other.”

The sky rumbled and my annoyance grew in concert with the intensity of the rain. We didn’t have time for a break if we were going to beat the storm back to base camp. My son turned to look up the line as I walked toward him, and my frustration became concern as I got close enough to see the fear in his face.

Redefining his summit

Particle man

As I’m sitting here tonight in the kid’s room, he’s listening to his favorite They Might Be Giants songs as he settles down for sleep. Lately, he’s been a little TMBG-obsessed, but I can think of worse things to be. Earlier this afternoon, I told him to listen to the songs closely because TMBG tends to be “educational” in their songs.

So from the dark side of the room (I’m illuminated by the glow of my laptop LCD) comes “Daddy, what’s Particle Man about?” After a moment’s hesitation over whether I should open up that can of worms, I told him that I’ve always thought it’s about science, religion and the universe and how humans are really just small specks that get tossed around by the greater forces. He was OK with that. 🙂

Evidently others have had a different take on the song, but that’s the great thing about music — its openness to interpretation.

Austin in review

Finally an hour or so to recount the weekend happenings.

3am Friday morning
I wake up before my alarm, a normal pattern for me on “big” days. I never get good sleep when something exciting is on the horizon. Hop out of bed energized despite the short (3-4 hours) sleep. I’m out the door to the airport by 4:30am.

5:00-9:30am
After slogging through the ice and snow to the airport, I’m pleased to find my flight still on schedule. Despite the general unease that comes when a plane needs to be deiced before takeoff, the flight is uneventful. Having a whole row to myself, I was able to write a few stanzas of a new song tentatively titled “Controls”….

Austin in review