Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. 9/3/17


I’ve driven some 3200 miles since leaving Virginia. On my way to exhilarate in the Alaska experience. Alaska. The final of fifty states for me to have explored. The gateway opens here in Canada; the incredibly beautiful seaside metropolis of Vancouver. Hugging the coast, surrounded by water, ringed by mountains. To the south, mighty Tahoma, rising over 14,000 feet and mantled in snow and ice, dominates and demands the attention of all who would come to the extreme northwest.

It was some 25 years ago I trekked up its slope. Seeing it from a distance, a vista impossible to ignore, I recall the unending switchbacks that caused me to labor at a necessarily monotonous pace as I carried my pack. It was that trip when I coined a phrase I’ve since oft repeated regarding any task requiring effort; the price of admission.

Even in crossing the mythical river Styx, there is a toll to be paid the ferryman to land on the other side. So too, if there is a goal to be reached, a relationship to be had, a dream hoping for fulfillment, an effort need be applied. It can be no other way. Simply taking; feeling entitled, or demanding others shoulder the burden, in perpetuity, is little more than an excuse to avoid tackling the task at hand. I care not how eloquently one delivers their martyrdom. It is one thing to help someone; a righteous and soulful gift we should each afford one another as need be, but it is quite another to elevate it to a lifestyle, whining that somehow you are ‘owed’ a different life. In one word; Nonsense.

Effort. As the years pass I have chosen to use the word in situations where once I would interchange it indiscriminately with the word ‘work’. Only through trial and tribulation, within and without, did I learn the two are distinct. Effort, for me, does not carry the seemingly negative connotation when applying energy to something of worth, something desired. A simple choice of words, added to my ‘equipment’ as I journeyed, It has made a significant difference in attitude. How I lament not learning it sooner for it has lightened the load carried for far too many years.

I recall packing equipment and clothing those decades ago, doing all I could to limit the pounds, measuring even the ounces, so as to ease the burden. The smallest of camp stoves, removing dried foods from cardboard containment, even cutting the handle of my toothbrush; such was my resolve to keep unnecessary baggage from my knapsack. It was all about losing weight.

As I happily set about the business of reducing my load, it struck me; the task served also to lighten the stressors, the tensions, the baggage incurred as I lived my life. Mental weight. Things not needed and deserving no place as I prepared for the adventures lying just ahead down Frost’s road less travelled, my own “crooked road”. With such distractions cast aside, more room was made available for what mattered; the peace and serenity of the forest, the magnificence of the mountain, the lessons to be learned from each as to how better live this life. Gifts of humility and grace, we are fortunate if they can be applied in our daily living at least so much as can be done.

For myself, it remains as much a struggle as climbing Tahoma. Something I must remain aware of at all times so as not to indiscriminately, unknowingly, toss such things as undue melancholy, self pity and the like, back into the ‘bag’ I carry. Time grows short in the winter of ones life. Care must be given as to what should stay with us. There will always be items requiring contemplation as to what remains; what is discarded. The few that really know me, understand I stumble often when trying to discern when a memory is a treasured gift, or a cause of thickened scar upon my heart.

But today, I shoulder my pack in Vancouver and set my compass to the north and west targeting the Arctic Circle in Alaska. I will remind myself the effort both for the adventure about to unfold, as well as the effort to be aware of the present moment, are not in themselves the destination. It truly is about the journey and the willingness to pay the price of admission.



Waldo in Wyoming

If I were a dog, upon seeing it loaded for a trip, and after the door was opened, I’d be the one bounding into the truck. With paws parked on the armrest, head thrust completely out the window, my exhilaration would be complete as gums would flap in the breeze, eyes as wide open as they could be.

I suppose we all have wondered, ‘what is that dog thinking?’, as we smile and cruise past. Better still, we are as that canine; thoroughly awestruck by the wonders, and totality, of the experience. For myself, if not my head, surely my being, is craned as far as it can get out that window and into the Great Everything as the miles fly by.

I recently told a close friend that when I travel, I do so almost in total silence. More precisely, I don’t listen to the radio except perhaps when I first get behind the wheel. At most, I’ll catch a snippet of news before I grow weary of the Chicken Little mentality that has infected our journalists and turned countless numbers of people into mindless self-indulgent lemmings. Generally I’ll follow that with a briefing on expected weather. Rarely, if ever, do I listen to music, it gets in the way of the other senses and becomes little more than noise; out of place and unnecessary. I want to immerse myself in my surroundings and revel in how it makes me feel; alive and full of wonder and grace.


Take today for an example. Though not part of the original itinerary, as I cruised towards Wyoming, it struck me I’d not been to the Devil’s Tower. It is the very first national monument; I had to go. A cup of coffee, a full tank of gas…and off I went.

As the incredible scenery availed itself, I let my mind wander as I am want to do. I can’t say exactly how a certain thought ‘arrives’? It always amused me that my brain was some kind of roulette wheel, especially when I traveled, spinning until landing on the moment of consequence that then demanded and consumed my attention. For all the hundreds of thousands of miles I have covered, I assure you, they are far, far less than those I have allowed my thoughts to cover. Always will it be that way for any of us I am sure.


The ball stopped on ‘boredom’ today. More specifically, the impossibility of ever being left without something to interest me. It wasn’t always the case. I cringe thinking of bad habits, foolish behaviors I once elevated to an art form trying to occupy myself. I think now they were intended perhaps to distract me from searching, or discovering, what mattered. I chose then to live  at a speed of life meant to blur my surroundings. If things were kept out of focus, I wouldn’t have to worry about being seen; mostly by myself.

Nature, changed all of that. At first, a visitor in its domain, as the excursions became more regular, the pace slowed. I became so much more aware and appreciative of the lessons that surrounded me. We each look at the mountains, the Sea, even the wide prairies and plains and surely the heavens, and are so moved. It would be a fools errand to argue otherwise. And its power, its reach, touches all. It matters not the gender, age, culture, or even the particular time in history. I am certain that many of the problems and challenges faced individually and collectively are a direct result of losing the ability to wonder. It’s funny, the more we try to control only serves to show how little control we have. It strikes me that the ‘secrets’ in this life are found in the opposites; but more on that at a later time.

Back to being bored…it became apparent to me, that to be in such a state, can only mean I was boring myself. We get what we give; either to others, our behaviors, how we treat the other creatures of the earth, and unquestioningly, to ourselves. It can be no other way. The biggest lesson in Nature, in this life, is we evolve. To remain inquisitive is the lifeblood of our existence. Understanding that an answer begets ten more questions, requiring more effort, more propulsion. It is impossible then for me to ever be bored and since Father Time remains undefeated, it is incumbent to keep moving, keep traveling, keep discovering. And bounding into the car whenever the opportunity presents itself.

I go by the name of Waldo Fernweh. I have been called many things; some, not flattering, quite a few, earned. I am a self made man, and that, too, is earned. However, the reality is, the term is all encompassing, and as a profoundly titled spaghetti western stated, that must include the good, the bad, and indeed, the ugly.

I am convinced the use of words and phrases is somewhat out of fashion these days as regards describing things. Instead language, and to my way of thinking, the necessary thought and effort to accurately express ones self, has been replaced by the much improved, ever popular and universal use of the emoji. Apparently they are perfect? Press a button, get an absurd looking caricature and presto, you safely transmit what you think you want to say, what you feel, without coming close of course, and do so in such a fashion you can decry its meaning as need be. Ah, technology. And many wonder why we communicate so poorly with all our ‘advances’. Even after all these centuries, Machiavelli was right I suppose.

I was born in the Bronx. Often I have been asked, “How could you stand it?” For the longest time, I was perplexed not knowing how to answer, no one told me I had a choice in the matter. I used to joke that I’d asked for Honolulu, but I showed up in one of the five boroughs. Go Figure. Besides, I didn’t think of it all that much. Hell, until I was thirteen I thought trees were pictures in books and that everyone had roaches and rats. My friends and their families all did. We didn’t think much of it. Stomped the crawly wiggling antennaed creatures when we saw them, shot the fierce looking red-eyed rodents with self-made zip guns when we could steal them. They usually belonged to older brothers; the wannabe ‘hoods’ supposedly protecting their turf. They were the only ones that knew how to fashion the piping of a car antennae, ripped from some unfortunate schmucks double parked car by the fire hydrant, and connect a potent rubber band to force the projectile. They weren’t very accurate, but elevated your street credentials if you got your hands on one.

Looking back, I think we had a version of political correctness even back then, but no one was really offended by certain terms. We were simply living life, trying to better ourselves and realizing we were all in the same boat; competition was fierce, I call it social Darwinism. To my way of thinking, the concept relates to any and all things. Anyway, thousands of us, the progeny of immigrant sons and daughters, were crammed into the slums. Thats what they were called until someone got the idea the word was too offensive, suddenly we lived in the tenements. The funny thing; it was still East 181st Street and we all called it home though I doubt Dorothy would’ve clicked her ruby reds to join us there. Mentioning colors, the only color that ever mattered to any of us was green. To this day, I remain strong of opinion that is indeed the root of all evil. Yeah…I am a man who pays attention to the great quotes. They have a wisdom that lasts through the ages. A stitch in time will ALWAYS save nine. And with all the supreme insanity that is infecting us, if we did live by the Golden Rule, things would probably be better and we’d treat each other with respect, even in disagreement. But hey, at least we are selling a lot more play-dough these days. Too bad its for ridiculous reasons.

Growing up, I had friends whose last names resembled a spoon full of alphabet soup and required practice if you wanted to pronounce them correctly. Most of us didn’t bother; nicknames sufficed nicely. So too, our ethnicity made our street resemble a mosaic as well and no one seemed to care about that either. I was a Whop..the sound shit supposedly made when it was flung against a wall. My Mom told me not to be concerned about it, that what I thought of myself, and how I behaved, was the only thing that mattered. I think its called taking responsibility for ones actions and not placing a chip on your shoulder because of some other chip laden individuals comments and behaviors. To this day, I am certain she, and all mothers of that era, were right about that, regardless of skin color, country of origin, or soup-related last name. Now I suppose, there is an emoji for that instead.

Accused of being a heretic as regards an opinion that runs counter to general acceptance, I’ve been asked what astrological sign I was born under. An intriguing and far reaching question as far as I am concerned. For the record, I was born as a Libra, but I think it might be of more interest what ‘sign’ was prominent when X met Y. The signs of the Zodiac; the stars in the sky. Mythical. Magical. It was we humans who needed to name them and it served good purpose early on. It would’ve been hard to cross those expansive seas without help from above. Now, it is more an entertainment industry than an explanation of why things occur to many.

Yet, oft I’ve wondered how it does cause eyebrows to furrow and quizzical looks to scrunch up ones face. I am especially entertained by fervent ‘non-believers’ who, when thought not being observed, display those facial expressions when their horoscope reflects just enough truth that their eyes dart from side to side, a hand in the cookie jar look frozen on their face, hoping they weren’t discovered before making a quick recovery. It simply CAN’T be anything intended from the heavens…or can it be?

It strikes me that there are similarities, even if basic, in people born under the same sign. I defer, and agree, with Heraclitus concerning the impossibility of standing in the same river twice. The present moment is an essence at best. It flows in the current of what was, and what lies around the next bend. Expanding on that, is the River Universe. It, too, flows in perpetual motion pressed on by Time. Whimsically, maybe its a giant circular river, the ultimate lazy river? Except in this one, there are particular points, with particular nuances, that everyone who starts where you started, gets a similar experience. Those who start elsewhere; their collective initiation is distinct from yours, and alike with those who join in at that starting point. Doesn’t matter what day, year, lifetime…the start is the same. And if you jump in a few inches, feet, yards on either side of the designated jump zone, the initiation is slightly different, but similarities abound. You are similar, and yet different. Nature is perfect, it never makes a mistake.

Maybe you like billiards better? Get a cue stick and try this out and see what you think.

Somewhere out in the infinite, I’ll call it the Great Everything, God to some, Fate to others, a life force its been called as well; its a personal ‘call’, perhaps their is a force emanating in all directions. It bounces off one celestial body and is deflected or even blunted for a time by yet another. Careening off that rock, it continues on, sometimes unimpeded for great distances, other times, smacking head long into others; but always moving on. I wonder…when it eventually strikes this planet we call home, that at the moment of conception, its power, its Will, is instilled within that miraculous occurrence? As the eons fly by, and they do, all born at that moment will have similar traits, varying of course ever slightly, because, the Universe River concept decrees it as such.

The rocks in space, we call them Venus, Mars, etcetera, provide the obstacles and provoke the angles and deflections that the Force must navigate to arrive at our unique moment in time, our conceptual birth. Imagine this billiard game replicating itself over and over, ad infinitum, and it might make a brow furrow, or a face scrunch up. Food for thought or welcomed lively debate.

This in no way is meant to be heresy. I am a spiritual being. I just offer it as a point of thought and stimulation. One of many as I travel on Frost’s Road Less Traveled, A ‘poet with a troubled soul’, I was endearingly called during a time of great consequence, another of those earned names. For now, I shall hope at least to have inspired an opinion, even a disagreeable one, and maybe you will travel awhile with me as I set out on my next great adventure.
Care to come along? Follow my photo included narrative at as I travel from the Adirondacks of New York, to the Arctic Circle in Alaska…
Sorry, no emojis….

Waldo Fernweh.

Guest writer…Waldo Fernweh. ‘Thoughts along the way’.

As I gear up for an extended solo adventure to the wilds of Alaska, my final state to visit, please consider following along via the pictures and commentary provided by Waldo Fernweh. Veteran naturalist and  philosopher, his unique perspective is not to be missed. Look for his entries, coming soon, at