Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mountain Gazette Editorial, Defending Durango

This is an editorial I wrote and sent off to the Gazette. Hopefully they'll publish it, they get so many submissions it's a really difficult magazine to get published in. I guess that means its a good one!

Wait, don't pee on our fire!

John: After reading the fine article “When in doubt pee on the fire” by Jen Jackson, I had a few thoughts on that flame of eccentricity burning out in Durango that she was referring to. See I just moved to Durango within the year, and felt the call to defend, or at least comment on what I’ve seen there. (I should add Jen’s piece kept me happily occupied as I waited in line at the Durango post office one afternoon.)

I rolled into Durango after living in Gunnison-Crested Butte, Colorado for over a decade. Like many a mountain town residents the surroundings of an area are essential to my enjoyment of the place, as well as the culture of the people. In Crested Butte they have both; great rocks, trails, and mountains as well as frequent townie takeovers (a naked one caused quite a stir this summer I hear), costumed themed sporting events nearly every weekend (chainless bike race down Kebler Pass anyone?), and characters that just wouldn’t quite make it anywhere else besides a funky little mountain town.

With this ingrained in my soul, I wondered if I could love Durango in a similar way? I rolled into town waving my freak flag high, with my 220,000 mile spray painted red, white and blue Freedom Mobile Mazda MX 6. Much to my delight Durango seems to have more graffiti-ed cars per capita than anywhere else I’ve been in Colorado. “Oh, I’ve seen this car around”, is always an ice breaker when I meet new people out and about. One guy I met from Durango out at Indian Creek described my car as immediate probable cause, but well that’s Utah, and fortunately Colorado honors freedom more than Utah. (Really, a state that tries to bust people for bringing beer across a border? It’s 2011 people.)

Where do we look for companionship and camaraderie in a new town? We look for those that share our interests. I look to the climbers. One couple I’ve met is incredibly resourceful, and maybe a bit eccentric. They grow plenty of their own food, and even resole their own climbing shoes. The guy fixes his own vehicles (he’s also the new Freedom Mobile mechanic), and the woman knits all sorts of things, most notably a breast shaped pillow (really impressive you have to see it to believe it) and a penis shaped mini-hat, which sits on top of a mini-Christmas tree (year round).

There are others I haven’t met yet, only heard about, for example, a woman who goes on epic hikes across the Colorado Trail foraging for food along the way. There’s the woman I see all around whom always carries hula hoops (must be for sale?). Then you have the 23 Feet crew who embarked from Durango to make a film about “people living simply in order to pursue their passion for the great outdoors”. Check that one out (there’s a review in the last issue of MG).

There’s funky bikes, funky cars, this town has some funk as far as I can tell. On Halloween the funk was confirmed, though I didn’t necessarily agree with the winners of the costume contest at Carvers. Four men dressed as Mennonites beat out the two sexy robot girls (sexy girls should always win over creepy dudes). The best costume of the night though, one I saw while cruising the streets of downtown was a trio of guys dress as the Jabbawockeez dance crew. Challenged to prove their skills, they did, with some dope break dancing.

Anywho, I gotta go now, with some deadlines to attend to. Just thought I’d represent my new hood.

Sincerely Yours,
Luke Mehall
Durango, CO

Friday, November 18, 2011

Colorado Girls

I think this is hilarious! A play on Katy Perry's California Gurls. Nicely done, note you may want to watch Katy Perry's video first to "get it", or watch the video with someone from the Denver area, as there are a couple of jokes that are pretty specific to that hood, such as the "buckle up cuz this shit ain't steady" and the American Furniture Warehouse part :)

Click here to watch it

Monday, November 14, 2011

Indian Creek November Action

Had a nice little excursion out to Indian Creek last week, and had a good time in the desert with my dogs, a dog, and some new friends. Here's the best photos I got over the course of the four days, with some captions, I don't have my guidebook in front of me at the moment because I left it with some friends out there, so forgive me for a lack of description on climbs. Enjoy!

Dave A. eyeing out the splitter Dentist's Chair, while Amber is on Broken Tooth to the left.

T-Bird on Incisor, a short but tricky 5.11 offwidth.

Asha chilling at the Creek. I'm watching this dog for a few weeks, and she's awesome!

Getting a little artistic, Bridger Jacks and the South Six Shooter in the background.

T-Bird leading Catnap, a stout 5.10 on the Cat Wall.

Yours truly on Wildcat, a 5.11 finger crack on the Cat Wall.

Jonathan S. on an unnamed offwidth on the Power Wall.

Jonathan again on the Power Wall, not sure of the name of this one, a short line that is mostly thin hands and ends up with fingers.

Another unnamed climb on the Power Wall.

Dear Indian Creek, we love you and we'll be back!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Old Man Winter and Writing

“You could have been anywhere on the internet right now, but you’re here, and I appreciate that.”

I have several writing projects in the works, and I've got a great space to write here in Durango, out in the hills, with little distraction. The ground is covered in snow, and old man winter is in the house. This is typically the most productive time of year for me, writing wise, as long as I don't get the blues; which really doesn't happen to me here in Durango, it's just too mild of a winter for the dark side winter to really get to me.

When I really get into the writing zone I typically start as many writing projects as possible, I think it is the so called ADD of my mind (ADD is a term I've never liked, but I won't rant here) to start multiple projects at the same time, and then focus on whatever one I like when the time is right; or when I have a deadline.

Those are just some random thoughts, what I'm really thinking about this morning is making it, as in making it as a writer; supporting myself with the pen. I've done it before, professionally, when I worked in public relations in higher education, but that was writing for someone else, creating stories for an institution, telling their story. Now I'm trying to make it with pure honesty, my own words, my own stories.

Trying to make it, on my own, has been directly tied to the economy, and I imagine there are thousands and thousands of other artists out there who lost their 9-5 jobs with the downturn, and are now focused more on their art. That’s exactly what happened to me, my job was cut as the government gave less to the college I was working for, and I was one of the victims.

Economically that may have been one of the worst things that could of happened to me as my thirties started, but artistically and spiritually it was the best thing that could have happened. Now, a year later after being laid off I have my first book, “Climbing Out of Bed” nearly done, and it’s so, very close to publication. I don’t think I would be so close if I was still slaving away in the 9-5 world.

For this blog, as I really delve into my writing this winter, I’m going to use it as a forum for more than just climbing, as I don’t only write about climbing, and also because The Climbing Zine is finally going to have its own website, and thus I won’t have to use lukemehall.blogspot.com for the zine’s main page. (Look for The Climbing Zine website to drop within the next month or two.) I’ll probably change the name of this blog, as I have many times before, but the address will remain the same.

So, welcome old man winter, and to all of the artists out there, putting your 10,000 hours in, for the love, keep your head up, stay positive, and create. After all, what else is there to do with your life?

Here's a couple photos I took yesterday during a snowy bouldering session in Durango at Turtle Lake. We had seven people out yesterday, and I'm relieved that so many folks here are willing to climb in the snow, because I plan on doing that all winter long baby!

Heather and Tim, psyched on winter bouldering!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Appreciation for Townies

As the snow falls here in Durango, Colorado I'm thinking about townie bikes; my friend and photographer Braden Gunem asked me to write a short piece about townies in Crested Butte, Colorado for a project he's working on. This is what I came up with, and some townie photos.

There could be more comfortable places for a townie to end up than this town way up in the Rocky Mountains, but none of those destinations probably value or appreciate the townie as much as Crested Butte, Colorado. Like their owners they migrated from all across the United States, maybe not for an easier life, but a more interesting one; a life in the mountains.

Maybe they did not even know they were called “townies” before they arrived, strapped to the top of a Subaru, with a destination for a new existence. And they probably didn’t know they would spend winters covered in snow, winters that seemed to last forever, like they would never get their chance to shine again.

Then the day comes, the snow melts away, it is the townies time. Someday around April 20th, the townie takeover is organized. Only the locals are here now, and all the townies awaken from their slumber. No longer a forgotten piece from a past life, they are the stars of the spring, summer and fall; everyone must have a townie in this town.

Some of the lucky ones will be decorated, and improved; some refuse to sit out the winter and beg to be maintained and adapted with snow tires, and fenders. Others, even luckier, will be obsessed over, preparing them for a 24 hour townie race; fully adorned with lights, even a stereo, as if they were about to take off from the coolest place for a townie in America, into the stars.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Climbing Out of Bed, Update on the Book

I'm closer than ever to completing one of my life's goals, publishing a book. Most of the material is done, and now I'm figuring out the best way to publish the book to get it in as many hands as possible. (please comment below if you have some thoughts). It's looking like I will publish it as an e-book, as well as a regular old book. I've been getting advice from editors, friends and complete strangers, and as I reach out to the world, the world is embracing and helping me achieve my dream.

The dream, living the dream, these are words we climbers throw out, and the incredible thing about it, is that we often get to achieve our dreams. We get to climb into the clouds, and touch that divine source of inspiration and spirituality, whatever you may want to call it. This source of energy is the source that has compelled me to write.

My book "Climbing Out of Bed" should be available before the holiday season. Though I've been constantly rewriting, reworking and editing, several themes have emerged, reflective of the life I've been living the last twelve years out here in the Rockies: rock climbing, mountain town culture, couch surfing, hitchhiking, buildering, road tripping, friendship, humor and love.

Keep it touch, and again please let me know if you have any suggestions for publishing.




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