On an early morning in mid-March 2013, a middle-aged man of character and fair standing in his community, free from warrant or criminal history, walked into his local Walmart store in Western Colorado and attempted to purchase a resident fishing license at the sporting goods counter. His honest and best efforts were categorically denied, with prejudice.
It just so happens that I have direct knowledge of this unfortunate yet otherwise insignificant event, and I can attest to the fact that the man was deeply disturbed by such a troubling outcome.
He was told that said purchase was denied because he failed to present upon demand the necessary documentation needed to prove his state residency beyond any shadow of doubt, and the proceedings stopped right there. This determination came as a great surprise, as the man had purchased a Colorado resident hunting or fishing license of one kind or another each and every year since escaping the all too restrictive confines of the east coast in 1976.
I can assure you that the refusal of service and accommodation by the vendor was taken quite seriously by said confused citizen, and the deal did not go down without discussion and argument. It did not help this agitated individual to know that he would soon miss his carpool connection, and that he would have to drive a second vehicle by himself for two hours as a result. He would undoubtedly miss the early bite too.
For him it was no small matter, and it left him shaken and angry beyond simple proportion. Of that I am quite certain, and as you may have guessed by now, I possess such first hand and intimate knowledge of it all because it happened to me. I can tell you what I know.
My issues really began when I attempted to purchase an annual fishing license at another agent one week earlier, and suddenly realized that I had never purchased a fishing license in 2012.
This is no big deal of course, but I had forgotten that a few years ago the State of Colorado had adopted a “season year” fishing license, which was valid from April 1 to March 31. This is different than the more traditional “calendar year” license of old, which renews on January 1st of every year.
At that point I opted to buy a one day fishing license, because it did not make sense to pay full price for an annual license that would be valid for only three weeks.
I had no problem purchasing my one day fishing license, which is to be expected, because it is not supposed to be difficult to purchase a hunting or fishing license in Colorado.
After all, a complete representation of my personal information and recreational histories are already stored in the “central computer”, as the state developed a Total Licensing System years ago. It already knows my Driver’s License Number, my Social Security Number, my height and weight and eye color, my current and past addresses, and all of my license purchases throughout the years. Who knows what else it knows, and who it shares it with?
I just know that I was always told that the computerized system was designed to make everything more streamlined and carefree for us mere mortals of the public domains.
So why then, the problem, which is exactly what I wanted to know?
I had not planned to fish again until April 1st or after, so when my friends asked me to fish on short notice I decided to purchase an additional fishing day. The Walmart store was on my way.
I presented for inspections a current and valid Commercial Drivers License, which is not easy to acquire by the way, complete with photograph, background check, and current medical clearances. In addition I also provided the one day fishing license that I had purchased the week before, my elk license from last fall, and a Colorado Hunter Safety card issued in 2006. I freely admit that I was not prepared for an interrogation, and that I did not carry a satchel full of identity papers to prove my validity.
I simply wanted to add an additional fishing day to a one day fishing license, and I was willing to pay. My driver’s license and photo ID confirmed my identity. My one week old fishing license provided evidence that I had supplied the necessary residency documentation at the time of that purchase. It should have been enough. In fact, it was more than enough to satisfy all legal requirements.
But it was not so in the vendor’s eyes. As it happens, my driver’s license had been reissued five months before, and listed only the reissue date. This seemed to cause insurmountable roadblocks. Colorado requires that you live in the state for at least six months to qualify for residency, and the sales clerk took one look at that…and stopped all proceedings. He flat-out refused to continue with all the conviction of a loyal and dedicated foot soldier.
I have some knowledge of the inner workings of the licensing system. I explained to him what I knew, and that all of my paperwork when added together was reason for him to attempt to issue a license. After all, the necessary information was readily accessible on the fully integrated licensing terminal hovering just outside his reach.
He simply refused, citing policy and procedure while staring intently at a handout sheet, and literally threw up his hands before heading for the back room to search for reinforcements.
A couple of clueless sales clerks, a department manager and one store manager later, I was resolutely denied service and emphatically asked to leave the premises. For the record, I must acknowledge that over the years I have been thrown out of places with much more inspiring views and tasteful decor. But that is a story for another time.
I just wanted to go ice fishing. I wanted to escape the data control grid for just a few hours and feel the fresh air on my face in a desire to remember why I moved to the west in the first place. I wanted to hook up with a primal and pulsating creature, drawn from the depths of another world held far beyond the grasp of the social engineers and the prying, electronic eyes and ears of a robotic spy drone. I wanted to pretend for a brief time that I was a free man in a free state doing what I do best and enjoy the most, without some lingering and disturbing aftertaste of heavy-handed experience hanging on my breath. Is that too much to ask?
What does one do when faced with such a circumstance?
Well, I chose to take the matter to a higher authority, and in this case that was the licensing division of Colorado Game, Fish, And Parks. I had no doubt that they would like to comment on the heart of the matter, and indeed they did. They were quite happy to provide some guidance in this regard.
Vendors who wish to sell hunting and fishing licenses in their retail outlet can apply for and become license agents. They then become official representatives of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and they have a duty to provide courteous and efficient service as their agent. It also means that they need to know the licensing laws and regulations far better than you or I, and how to apply them correctly and fairly. Failure to do so can have serious consequences.
Public complaint can trigger a letter of disciplinary action from Colorado Parks, and contribute to a “three strikes” rule. The vendor can be required to attend classes on the proper procedures and protocols of licensing and agency, and to properly retrain all staff. If the abuses continue, the agent’s agreement can be revoked and their ability to sell hunting and fishing licenses discontinued.
I have filed a formal complaint through appropriate channels. It would appear that some of Walmart’s staff at this particular store will be “reeducated” on my behalf before the storyline of our little encounter has ended.
It is comforting to know that a private citizen has some ability to effect change, and possibly prevent someone else from suffering the same humiliations and indignities from fools such as these. Still, I have some concerns.
Once accepted, a first time license application creates a “lifetime” customer identification number, and hence a customer record, or “profile”. I had always been under the impression that this electronic database and total licensing system was supposed to make it easier for me to purchase a license, without having to continuously provide documentation over and over again at every turn. I can only wonder who this system is really designed to help, because apparently it has not been put in place to help me. If it was, it does not seem to be working as promised.
One eventual truth with centralized and technocratic systems is that they are eventually turned and used as a weapon by people who do not have your best interests in mind. They inevitably become jury, judge, and executioner, and they can never seem to forgo the opportunity to play god with the imperious flick of a wrist.
I refuse to be treated like a common criminal and dismissed like useless chattel by sales clerks who have failed to demonstrate the respect required to master some of the basic communication skills of the english language, particularly those who work for the ultimate purveyor of cheap plastic and Chinese slave goods. I will not let them use the color of law to ruin my day without returning the favor in full.
At the very least, I have a small but focused voice, and I will use it. I am also quite capable of managing a hair-raising scream or two when the occasion calls for it.
Impose your will unjustly, and you may gain my full attention. Make it personal, and you will know that I have been there.
For now, I stand horrified in the knowledge that the information miners and the privacy thieves have penetrated so far into the remote and protected corners of my everyday life. I am left to gauge the parameters of the nightmarish, Orwellian uber-reality in which I have been fully imprisoned. You may witness me there, restlessly casting about for some remnants of my peace of mind, hot on the scent of my lost country. I pray that I can occasionally find it in the unspoiled wilds at the edges of our memory.
No doubt it only gets worse from here.
“…with liberty and justice for all”.
Breaking News On Obama Care
THIS LEAKED DOCUMENT WILL STOP OBAMACARE – IF IT GOES VIRAL
See The Link Here
March 8, 2017
Obamacare is dead, dead, dead…almost!
The Altar of The Black Robe…
July 4, 2012
A lawyer I am not, but I do not require the skill of a legal sage to determine that the recent Obamacare decision has rocked the Tree of Liberty in this once great, united, United States of America. The so-called “Supreme Court” has delivered a devious blow, and I can feel the treacherous poison of that dastardly deed drill deep in her anchoring roots.
I have long since lost patience with all aspects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In fact, I’m angry, and I don’t like that. I’m even angrier because I know that I should not have to be angry. The “Act” was unconstitutional when it was rammed down our throats without our approval. It was unconstitutional when it was sent to the Supreme Court for consideration, and it’s still unconstitutional today, no matter what they say. Even I know that.
Obamacare was put into effect with blunt force trauma, like a doctor performing intricate brain surgery with a long-handled shovel. The procedure cracked the skull and killed the patient with the first big swing, as surely as a surgically placed bullet from the gun of a skilled assassin. In this case the assassin wore a black rope, and his gun was a black ink pen held behind a tall bench in the highest court of the land.
We may never know the true motivations of the man who ultimately decided the fate of Obamacare. That may be between him and whatever god and judgements he may suffer. We do know that it is a complete and utter sham, and not even a good one at that. It is a gift from the dark side, delivered in full sunlight by a new world order as old as time itself, with a mission to create chaos out of the natural order of all good things.
Countries, like men, are the products of countless decisions which impact the makeup of the collective body, and soul. The soul can grow angry, which can make the body very sick. It does not wish to muck about the putrid innards of an angry and rageful man. Nor does it wish to live within the confines of a country so tragically damaged, and fatally diseased.
My level of anger is indescribable. A bucket of cold water in the face of it would not blunt it. It burns as hot as the primordial ember of the first man, who left the trees in search of god and human destiny. That first spark has not gone out. Forever on It waits, to burn out the eternal sickness for once, and for all. It was created just for that. It is part of my soul, and of your’s, and it will burn even brighter long after the body is gone.
I never met the man called Edward Abbey, but I once knew people who knew him, and I always felt that I had reached into at least some part of his realm through reading many of his books and published works. In the end, his words have always left me with a grin, and I would guess that is exactly what Ed would have wanted. I can see that sly, rascally smile of his even now, in my mind’s eye.
Those are the kind of friends that I like to have in my life, and I call Edward Abbey “friend”, as much as anyone else I know. A friend can lift a heavy burden in the darkest times, sometimes with words alone.
The unrelenting assaults on environment and human nature are legion, but there is hope. There is always hope. Edward Abbey tried to tell us that.
He always had a way of keeping it real, while reminding us not to sacrifice our human soul before the madness of it all. Be quick, he might say, to immerse yourself in the enveloping salvation of the natural world.
And so I say, take heart. When the problems of the modern world lay heavy on your brow, and the latest insults upon the natural world threatens what’s left of your faltering sanity – think of Ed. With all of our problems and faults, he never gave up on the inexhaustible courage of the human condition, nor the limitless capacity of mother earth to right the ship, and heal.
Perhaps above all though, Abbey would have been the first to defend your right to wander freely upon the wild lands, or to do whatever you wished in your own backyard. He had a thing or two to say about guns, government, and monkey wrenches too, if I’m not mistaken.
Edward Abbey, we miss you so!
“One final paragraph of advice. Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am — a reluctant enthusiast…a part time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half for yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the griz, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards”.
“When guns are outlawed, only the Government will have guns. The Government – and a few outlaws. If that happens, you can count me among the outlaws.”
- Jonathan Troy (1954) (ISBN 1-131-40684-2)
- The Brave Cowboy (1956) (ISBN 0-8263-0448-6)
- Fire on the Mountain (1962) (ISBN 0-8263-0457-5)
- Black Sun (1971) (ISBN 0-88496-167-2)
- The Monkey Wrench Gang (1975) (ISBN 0-397-01084-2)
- Good News (1980) (ISBN 0-525-11583-8)
- The Fool’s Progress (1988) (ISBN 0-8050-0921-3)
- Hayduke Lives (1989) (ISBN 0-316-00411-1)
- Earth Apples: The Poetry of Edward Abbey (1994) (ISBN 0-312-11265-3)
- Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness (1968) (ISBN 0-8165-1057-1)
- Appalachian Wilderness (1970)
- Slickrock (1971) (ISBN 0-87156-051-8)
- Cactus Country (1973)
- The Journey Home (1977) (ISBN 0-525-13753-X)
- The Hidden Canyon (1977)
- Abbey’s Road (1979) (ISBN 0-525-05006-X)
- Desert Images (1979)
- Down the River (with Henry Thoreau & Other Friends) (1982) (ISBN 0-525-09524-1)
- In Praise of Mountain Lions (1984)
- Beyond the Wall (1984) (ISBN 0-03-069299-7)
- One Life at a Time, Please (1988) (ISBN 0-8050-0602-8)
- A Voice Crying in the Wilderness: Notes from a Secret Journal (1989)
- Confessions of a Barbarian: Selections from the Journals of Edward Abbey, 1951–1989 (1994) (ISBN 0-316-00415-4)
- Cactus Chronicles published by Orion Magazine, Jul–Aug 2006 (no longer active,)
- Postcards from Ed (book)|Postcards from Ed: Dispatches and Salvos from an American Iconoclast (2006) (ISBN 1-57131-284-6)
- Slumgullion Stew: An Edward Abbey Reader (1984)
- The Best of Edward Abbey (1984)
- The Serpents of Paradise: A Reader (1995)
We generally have several used and collectable Edward Abbey Books in stock.
You can find a current list Michael Patrick McCarty, Bookseller, HERE.
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I am often struck by the power of photographs, and the way they can transport us in time and space, sometimes backwards to a place of fond memories, sometimes forward in anticipation of future adventures. I found such a picture tacked to the bulletin board of our local feed store, and I thought I would share it with you.
Exactly why it caught my attention so dramatically I do not know, but it stopped me in my tracks as I reached for the exit door. I stepped closer, and as I did it drew me deeper and deeper into that perfect recorded moment of experience. Perhaps it reminded me of a past hunt, with the excited chatter of friends or family nearby.
Maybe you, like me, can imagine elk in the background and just out of view, hanging on the edge of the timber on their way to cover or feed. I can feel the crispness of the air there, and smell the smoke in the swirling winds. I can smell and taste the coffee too!
This wonderful image was captured by Mr. Frank M. Donofrio of Glenwood Springs, Colorado. He calls it “Cowboy Medicine”, and he has been kind enough to let us reproduce it here. It is an unexpected comfort, and a gift for the eye of the restless soul.
Frank tells me that he snapped it a few years back, on a mid November elk hunt in the spectacular high country near Aspen. He says it was a cold, blustery day, and that in his hunter’s wanderings he happened to meet up with a woman in her later years and her middle-aged son. They told him that they had grown up nearby and were quite intimate with the country, having hunted it all of their lives. They were happy to share some of their hard won backcountry knowledge, and more.
The son offered to build a pot of coffee to help stave off the numbing chill, right there and right then. Frank gladly accepted. After all, the company was fine, and the view was pretty good too.
Apparently, the man liked coffee of the cowboy kind, brewed simple, black, and strong. The recipe is not complicated, but ask anyone in the know and they will tell you that it’s proper preparation is still a fine art, freely given, yet earned on a life of many trails.
Start with a healthy slug of water, freshly drawn from a sparkling mountain stream. Bring to a roaring boil over a fire of spruce and pine, and throw in a handful or three of coffee grounds as you back the hissing pot from the hottest part of the flames. Let it simmer down a bit, and then throw in a splash of water or two or maybe a fist-full of snow to cool it down. Take it from the fire and set it on the ground awhile to let the grounds settle, but not for too long.
It’s always best served piping hot, and there is something to be said for a dose of grounds in the mix. The old cowboys used to say that you could tell when it was right when you could stand up a spoon in it. It’s about texture too, and if you look real hard you can see them there, squinting past weathered brows while chewing on their coffee behind big handlebar mustaches. Or at least I would like to think so.
Now kick back and wrap your hands around a steaming mug of mountain medicine for warmth and moral support. Enjoy the ride. Savor the moment. It’s the doing of it that counts and where you are that matters.
That place be elk country, and there is no finer location on terra firma to drink a’ cup a’ Joe.
I wish to be somewhere just like this next fall, god willing, squatting behind a cowboy fire on a rugged ridge of the Rocky Mountains. There may even be some horses close by, nickering and pawing in the soft white powder.
We’ll keep an extra tin cup in the outfit, just for you. Hope to see you there!
*I have always heard references to the fact that the old-time ranch cooks would not think of forgetting to add a raw egg or some egg shells to a pot of their boiling brew. It turns out that this is true, as the egg or eggshell attracts sediment like a magnet and makes for a cleaner presentation.
Well, I have tried adding the eggshell, and it does work. For now I’ll withhold judgement as to whether this makes a difference in the taste, but it might. I haven’t tried the raw egg yet, but in the camps I generally inhabit a raw egg is a much too precious commodity to mix in my morning caffeine. But I don’t mind being wrong, and I shall try it sometime soon.
Of course if I do that will mean that I have shared another elk camp, and that would be more than fine.
I’ll be sure to let you know how it all works out.
I am blessed to live in Northwestern Colorado, a place where elk can sometimes become a part of your own backyard.
In my case, it’s just another excuse to gather ’round the fire just out the backdoor, and scan the surrounding hills for elk, or mule deer, or whatever else may be on the move.
God Bless elk, family, and friends, and coffee too!
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