Leave No Trace

By Slade Ham


We piled into two vehicles, loaded down with supplies and towing a trailer full of canoes. Six of us were headed across the state of Texas to spend a week paddling through Boquillas Canyon, hopping across rocks, and sleeping under the stars.

It was an eclectic group. I was traveling with two former Boy Scouts, a pothead, his girlfriend, and a hippie type named Allison. Allison was a friend of a friend. Formerly a waitress, she had just recently returned from a three month stint living in a forest. “Oh cool,” I said. “You stayed with a friend who has a house in the woods?”

“No. I actually lived in a forest,” she replied.

“Like a squirrel?”

“No. Like a person, just without a house.”

“So, like a squirrel.” I was very confused.

I was then given the canned anarchist speech about the shackles of societal life and the evils of government in general. I started to comment on the concept of social contract, but was met with the glazed-over eyes of someone that clearly had no interest in a real conversation. “All I know is that I don’t want to work anymore,” she said. “I just want to go back and live in Florida with the rest of the Rainbow Family.”

To be more specific, she meant The Rainbow Family of Living Light. It’s basically nothing more than a large group of homeless gypsies; think Burning Man without the burning man. In their own egalitarian way, they have removed any sense of lower, upper, and middle class, and instead all just choose to live in poverty. They build tent cities in the middle of our national forests, filled with beggars and runaways and, amazingly enough, families with children.

“Children?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. “And some of the children were so bad. It was unbelievable. One time a six year old called me a ‘fucking idiot’. At six!”

“Well, he was dragged into the woods to live with crazy people. I can see how he might have seen you that way. You’re a grown woman that lives in a forest.”

* * *

After ten hours on the road and a few hours of uncomfortable napping, we finally pushed the canoes into the current of the Rio Grande. Emery was the trip’s leader. He had been a Boy Scout for as long as they will let you be a Boy Scout and had brought another formerly dedicated Scout friend with him. Though I have grown to love the outdoors in my adult life, I never did any of that type of thing in my youth. I was a baseball and soccer player. I couldn’t build a fire with a flamethrower.

In Scouts they teach you a few core ideals. In addition to things like doing your best and being prepared, Scouts are taught to leave no trace when exploring our nation’s wilderness. This was a tradition that was briefly mentioned to me and one I agreed to casually.

“It’s a Leave No Trace trip,” Emery said to me over drinks a few days before we left. “You cool with that?”

“Sure,” I replied, and then took another shot of Jameson. I only admit to agreeing now because he told me that I did. Still, “no trace” sounded somewhat simple to me. We won’t leave any trash. Yay, look. No trace.

What I did not grasp was the fact that they intended to leave nothing whatsoever. Trash could not be burned; it had to be packed out. If you had to pee, you had to walk 200 feet away from the river and find a spot devoid of plant life. Fires had to be contained, and the ashes brought with us when we left. I couldn’t imagine being in possession of a sack of ashes. “What’s in the bag?” someone might ask.

“A phoenix,” I would be forced to reply.

There could be no leftover food either. If it was prepared, it must be eaten. I was having difficulty by the first night. “I’m not eating your stupid fucking pudding, Emery!”

“You have to. We all have to do our part. Those are the rules.”

“Those are your rules. I’m going to dump it in the river, Emery. I am. Watch me.”

“Dude, that’s not cool.”

“No. What’s not cool is making ten cups of vanilla pudding for six people that don’t like fucking pudding. This is gay.”

“Give it to me then,” Allison chimed in. “I’ll eat some of it.”

“Of course you will,” I fired back. “You’ve been homeless for the last three months.” We were not off to a good start, and there were still four days ahead of us.

* * *

Boquillas Canyon cuts its way through Big Bend National Park, winding some twenty miles as it separates Texas from Mexico. As you approach the canyon, its walls tower ahead of you. The rocky ledges are home to mules and semi-wild horses, as well as what the guidebook refers to as “both friendly and not-so-friendly Mexicans”. That is a direct quote.

The friendlier ones made our trip amazing. As our canoes drifted along the lazy river current, all sorts of characters surfaced. It was a very convincing recreation of Disney World’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride, but with less drinking pirates and more drunk Mexicans. Instead of “yo ho ho” a man wrapped in a poncho sang “ay ay ay,” and then peeled off the next few verses of Cielito Lindo. The sun hovered unthreateningly in a brilliant blue sky and for a moment I forgot that I wanted to drown the hippie girl.

The most wonderful part about camping for me has always been the sky at night. My fascination with the massive expanse of outer space is always amplified when I am removed from the constant glow of city lights. In the back country, the sky begins to resemble a ceiling. You don’t feel like you’re outside at all, but instead lying underneath some richly gilded canopy. The longer you stare at the sky, the more stars appear, and before long you almost become hypnotized.

After eating an entire gallon of lasagna against my will, I would pull my bag out of my tent and find a secluded spot away from everyone in which to gaze out into infinity. Sometimes at dusk bats would flit through the dimming sky, capturing the orange of the firelight on their wings and lighting up just briefly before fading away again. The water trickled and rushed off to one side of me and lured me to sleep in the perfect night air.

Each morning found us breaking down our campsite and piling everything back into the canoes. I was sharing paddling duties on mine with another of the former Boy Scouts named Walt. Walt proved to be an exceptional canoe mate and eventually my co-pilot on our trip back home, but he also was in possession of a lot of useless knowledge. He created crossword puzzles in his spare time and had thus come into contact with several facts that he was more than happy to share with anyone that had ears.

When Allison turned down seconds after a meal one night, she said, “I’m not used to eating this much. I usually eat like a bird.”

Walt saw an opening. “You know, technically a bird can eat more than half its body weight in a single day, which is due to its high rate of metabolism and the amount of energy it takes to fly. Perhaps it would be more fitting to say that you ate the weight of a bird instead of like a bird. Some birds –”

“Walt?” I said.


“Shut up, Walt.”

* * *

We carried on like this the entire week. Emery would prepare insane portions of food for the six of us, and then continue to dump it onto our plates until it was gone. Walt could explain the food’s origins. Allison thought it would be better if we grew it organically like they did in the forest. “Well, we grew the mushrooms and the pot,” she said. “We would beg or dumpster dive for the rest.”

The other tagalong on our journey was Von, and Von brought his girlfriend Ashley. Von was, unknown to me at the time, bringing a plastic container full of hash on the trip. His little foil pipe and Tupperware box made their appearance around the fire every night, unnoticed by me because I was busy fighting with his girlfriend, who stood in solidarity with Allison in their hatred for all things civilized. “Stupid fucking drug laws,” she said. “We live in a country that is set up to keep us down. Pot is not dangerous at all but the government hasn’t found a way to make money off of it yet so they keep it illegal. It’s all run by corporations and I don’t want to be part of it anymore.”

“What about things like schools and roads? You drive, right?” I asked.

“Only because I have to. There should be no laws at all, but the government should still have to take care of our basic needs.”

“Are you actually listening to your own words?” I tried.

“Whatever. I would happily live in the forest with you, Allison.”

“You know there are some trees right over there,” I said, pointing a mile off into the distance. “You two could go practice.”

“You’re such an asshole,” Ashley said.

“I know. But you’re a Communist.”

Their desire to take more than they gave weaved its way into our daily regimen. They were both conveniently absent when it came time to break down our camp in the morning, or to set up at night. They both sat in the front of their respective canoes and pretended to paddle, somehow still finding a way to point out that they thought my canoe was lighter than theirs.

“He’s not working as hard as us!” they yelled.

“What? How can I work less than zero?” I yelled back. “It’s impossible. I can’t negative paddle. Even if I were paddling backwards, I would still be doing more work.”

Had Von not been high, he might have felt the need to defend her. As it stood though, I just fell into synch with Walt’s paddling, and we drifted out ahead and away from them. Walt’s voice appeared behind me, “You know that in the Bushi region of the Congo women aren’t even allowed to speak at all in public and for that matter –“

“Hey, Walt?”


“Shut up, Walt.”

Despite my career standing in front of massive groups of people, I am not a social creature. I prefer isolation and time alone. I happily contribute my share to any group effort, but all in all, I am not a fan of communal living. I took every chance I could to scramble off amongst the boulders and cliffs along the way, losing myself in the sand and shadow along the river’s edge. It was cathartic and freeing, regardless of the tension between me and the girls on the trip. Night after night, a glimmering strip of sky hung between the canyon walls, daring me to reach up and run my fingers through the starlight. It was remarkable.

* * *

We packed up the trucks after the last day in the back country. Loaded down with equipment and canoes, we began the long trek home. We had left the river in immaculate condition, in some places even cleaner than when we had arrived. We were good little Scouts, all of us. No trace at all. Emery offered to drive first, and with Allison and Walt in the other vehicle, Tom and Ashley climbed in behind me. “I really have to pee,” I heard Ashley say as I drifted to sleep in the passenger seat.

“Too late now,” Emery told her. “You’ll have to wait until we stop.”

Sometime later, I heard a voice I didn’t quite recognize. How long had I been asleep? I cracked an eye open to see the fuzzy outline of a militant looking Border Patrol agent standing at the driver’s side window. I pulled myself up straight in my chair.

If Christoph Waltz’s character from Inglourious Basterds had a Latin cousin, I’d found him. Nothing was out of place on this man’s uniform. It was spotless and polished, and he carried one leather glove that he rhythmically slapped against his open hand. His accent was thick and cocky, but he still looked like a cartoon Mexican Nazi.

“I need zee four of you to step out of zee vehicle,” he said. We all complied, and then watched as Walt and Allison drove past us and on down the interstate. Certainly Walt was telling her all about the history of the United States border with Mexico, while she inquired about the right to live in the deserts on the other side of the Rio Grande.

“Zee reason I have detained you is because our dog has detected, how you say, zee smell of drugs in your vehicle. Now, vee can do this zee easy vay, or I can have my people take your entire car apart and go through all of zee contents until vee find vat vee are looking for.”

Ashley was doubled over as he spoke. “Sir, I really have to go to the bathroom.”

“I’m so sorry. You vill have to vait until vee have sorted this out.” He smacked his gloved and paced in front of us, trying to determine who was responsible. His apathy to her predicament was obvious.

So Ashley peed on herself.

The puddle widened at her feet while she stood as stoically as she could. “Vat exactly are you doing?” the Agent asked.

“I told you I had to go,” she said.

“But zat is crazy, to just, how you say, go on your pants like zat?” As he spoke, I sat down on the ground. I was laughing uncontrollably. He smacked his glove again as he walked over to me. “Is it you? Are you on zee drugs? Is zat vie you are laughing like zat?”

I was dying. I gasped for air as I tried to find words. “She… I mean, I. No… you. Pee. Everywhere. Stop. I can’t… breathe.” I cackled like a maniac as I rolled over onto my back.

“It’s mine,” Von said suddenly, possibly because his girlfriend was soaking wet. “They didn’t know anything about it.” It was a respectable move, and the truth was that no one did know he had carried his stash with him this whole time. I assumed he had finished it long ago, and even if he hadn’t that he would have ditched it before we got to a border check station.

“Vell,” said the Agent, “Vee vill have to put you in, how you say, zee holding cell until vee get zee sheriff on zee phone. Zee rest of you, come vith me.”

We were escorted into the station and held while they went through the car. Von sat in a cell in another room while Ashley, now in a fresh pair of clothes, continued to complain. “This is the problem, man. Stupid fucking laws like this. That’s why I don’t want to live here anymore. See?”

“I totally agree with you,” I said. “This is a stupid law. You know what else is stupid? Bringing drugs through a Border Patrol station. And guess what? The minute they let us go, I’m leaving him here.”

“It was pretty dumb,” Emery said, cutting his eyes at her. “And you peed on yourself. Don’t forget about that. That was awesome.”

We sat there for five hours until Von was taken to jail by the Sheriff and we were released. With no cell phone service, we pulled into the city of Marathon, Texas, proud population of 600. There was only one business open and it was a bar. Walt and Allison were sitting inside as we walked in. Apparently they had befriended the bar owner who had offered them dinner and arranged for them to stay at the bed and breakfast across the street.

“I think I might just stay here for good,” said Allison. “They have an organic garden in town where I can grow things and there is a hostel where I can live.”

“You’re just going to move here after five hours?” I asked.

“I think so. Where’s Von?”

Emery answered her. “We can’t get him out until morning, so I guess we’re just going to stay here until then.”

I, however, was not. “I’m driving, Walt. Give me the keys.”

“Shouldn’t we –“


“I know. I’ll shut up.”

It was almost midnight when I pulled the trailer full of canoes away from the curb. Walt was asleep in the passenger seat, drunk and snoring, and as the lone light in Marathon faded behind us, I couldn’t help but smile a little bit. It really was like we were never there.

Emery made it back with Ashley and Von a day later, and aside from dropping off a gypsy girl to live in West Texas, we left no trace that we had even passed through the area at all.

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SLADE HAM is a stand up comedian. He has performed in 52 countries on six continents, a journey that can be followed in his book, Until All the Dragons Are Dead. One day he hopes to host a travel show and continue to trick the world into paying him to do the things he loves to do. Slade is also an Editor for The Nervous Breakdown's Arts and Culture section. He keeps a very expensive storage unit in Houston, TX.

381 responses to “Leave No Trace”

  1. Adam Komar says:

    But if you left it cleaner than it was when you got there, isn’t that a trace? 😀

    The negative paddling and you laughing on the ground were great just because I can easily see/hear you doing it.

  2. Joe Daly says:

    “What’s in the bag?” someone might ask.

    “A phoenix,” I would be forced to reply.

    Good Sweet Jesus. This line is so good that I want to just call it a day and hit the sack. It’s 8:33 a.m.

    This was awesome.

    Except that the part about the agent and the urination. Brought up the uncomfortable memory when I myself was getting rousted by a US Ranger and made the besotted retaliatory gesture of pissing myself as he was writing up my citation. See, I was slightly uphill from him, and so technically I pissed on a federal agent while he issued me a non-criminal citation and… you know, I’m just going to stop here and cut my losses.

    • Slade Ham says:

      Sometimes the line just hits you. I’m glad that line was as funny to you as it was to me.

      As for the other, you fall in a very elite group of friends I know that have peed on law enforcement. I should get you guys a patch. Hahaha, nicely done. I have no doubt that the guy deserved it.

      • Joe Daly says:

        It’s great when a line comes out like that. I’m still laughing at it…

        The agent most certainly did deserve my urine. As I was peeing on him, his partner was writing an evidence number on our blow up doll, who was in her final gasps of inflation. Fascists.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Baahahaha! Amazing that within five comments, we’ve already stumbled upon a more interesting story than mine. Blow up dolls are often frowned upon by law enforcement, especially when you use them to get through the High Occupancy lanes. I’m now mad on your behalf. I’m also going to have to insist that you continue with your explanation…

        • Joe Daly says:

          Oh no, your story is way funnier than mine. Some friends and I were just floating down a river on tubes (with a quarter keg in its own tube), and a blow up doll. Two US Rangers on jet skis kept bird-dogging us along the river, insisting that we put on PFDs (protective floatation devices [life jackets]). We kept assuring the officers that someone was on their way with said vests. Which was a lie.

          We reached a bend in the river where, like the fearsome Scylla, my linebacker friend was standing on a rock, hurling his own feces at us as we tried to paddle out of the way. Before we could safely escape and wipe the shit off of us, the officers sped back over and said, “You in the tube- pull over!” (true story). They didn’t notice my friend on the rock with his breakfast in his hand.

          They wrote each of us up for “No PFD,” which was a misdemeanor. The blow up doll was tagged after my friend threw her in the air behind him, not realizing there was a cop on a jet ski behind him, who booked him for assault on a federal agent with a blow up doll, requiring that the doll be tagged and booked as evidence. But we made a pact that as each of us were called to go over and get our ticket, we would piss ourselves in the hopes that we’d get some on the cop’s shoes. Score!

          We had no Mexican cops, no hash, no anarchists, and no bags full of redemptive birds.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Dear God, man, that story is glorious. Wow. That had me laughing out loud as I read it and is easily worthy of it’s own post. You hit a police officer with a sex toy. Hell yes. So no one plead the case that the doll WAS a personal flotation device?

  3. Lorna says:

    Wait… Did someone call you an asshole again? And technically calling her a Communist is using the “C” word. Ha!

    Do these adventures just follow you around so that you can write about them? Oh my God, how could you not roll around hysterically on the ground why Ashley peed herself? Oddly enough I’ve had an experience with the Policia in Tijuana and a peeing incident in which a little payoff helped keep our tequila drunk amigo free of spending time in a Mexican jail. Oh the memories.

    This resembles a Mark Twain adventure for sure. 🙂

    • Slade Ham says:

      I think there is a story to be found in everything. I laughed at the beginning of the trip, because I told Emery I was going to find it. By the end, it found me.

      So you have a peeing story too? I better hurry up with these patches…

  4. Anon says:

    Ah, God. I almost peed myself laughing at this, Slade. I had a long, unpleasant night and was anticipating a longer, crappier morning. But this post…. Sigh. Thanks, man.

    I’m looking out my office window at a Federal agent right now and am trying to figure out how to go about peeing on him with anything like plausible deniability. Perhaps I’ll print out this piece, carry it with me, read it a few consecutive times for inspiration and then use it as my defense. How could anyone argue?

    • Slade Ham says:

      You can blame me if you need too. If movies like Robocop can make kids kill each other in school, then this is certainly a valid defense. Pee with impunity, my friend!

      I’m glad that this was a decent pick-me-up. Mission accomplished.

  5. Lorna says:

    There sure is a lot of peeing going on here in the comment section.

  6. Judy Prince says:

    I love Walt! And your remarks to the 2A females—and the ridiculous food thing, all of it; this riff a nice tail for it: “After eating an entire gallon of lasagna against my will…”

    Nice stuff, Slade; lotsa great characterizations.

    Loved when you all complied with the officer and then saw Walt and Allison driving past you and on down the interstate! Could just hear him and her totally not connecting and not even knowing it.

    My face was in a permanent toothy-wide smile throughout this, all 3 times I read it.

    Oh yeah, and hands-down the hootiest bit: “I can’t negative paddle.”

    • Slade Ham says:

      Walt will be thrilled to know he was a hit. I was worried that it might come across as negative, and I meant anything but disrespect towards him. He is definitely one of my favorite people. I’m happy to have made ya smile, and just as happy that you found it worthy of a third read.

      If you could only have heard the frustration as I said “negative paddle”…

  7. Matt says:

    Great, funny story. Reminds me of the times I canoed the Colorado river.

    Emery was full of shit, and sounds like he got his merit badges out of a cereal box. Unless local regulations specify otherwise, ashes are perfectly fine, as long as you’re not burning hazardous chemicals like Von’s stash or Thomas Woods’ cracked-out wolverine in them. Fire is part of an ecosystem, and even releases otherwise inaccessible nutrients during the burning process.

    I have no idea where this “no leftovers” idea of his came from, either. SOP when I was in Scouts was to bring some containers (even if they were just Ziploc baggies) to store leftovers for consumption as lunch or breakfast the next day. If you failed to do so, you could just burn the leftovers in the fire. There’s no reason to force-feed everybody. Wasting food like that is a good way to put yourself in a position to starve to death in the event of an emergency.

    And don’t get me started on those idiotic neo-hippies like Allison and Ashley. Those types pop up all over in California, especially in the northern part of the state. One can’t help but hope they run into the bear from my camping story.

    • Slade Ham says:

      I took a shot at burning some noodles one night out there. They don’t burn so easily, at least not in the big pile I tried to burn them in. The hippie types are the worst. California is definitely a haven. I clearly live in the opposite of Hippie Land here in Texas. There are little pockets of that kind of thing here, but rarely does it reach the crazy level.

      The Rainbow Family thing… that seemed to be a bit past my sensibilities. A bear would be a fitting end.

      I’ve rafted the Colorado, but never canoed it. Did you get into any significant rapids? I’m assuming so, on that river anyway. That’s not easy in a canoe.

      • Matt says:

        Well, you’ve got to have a decent-sized fire going. And it doesn’t help if the food is still damp.

        The thing that pisses me off about the hippies – these kind, anyway, not the classic type – is they have this vague notion of communal, “natural” living kindasortamaybe based around an idealized version of Native American culture which completely and totally ignores all of the hazards and danger associated with that type of living. The mortality rate for indigenous hunter-gatherer societies isn’t exactly low, and all of them had/have tribal laws, many of which are mercilessly enforced. What communes like the Rainbow Family are doing is just co-opting bits and pieces of culture as an excuse to be lazy, smelly fucks who do a lot of drugs. My last girlfriend’s older brother was the same way, but at least he didn’t make up a bunch of dippy rationalization for it.

        There were some rapids, buy not many. We started south of the Grand Canyon and followed it down towards Mexico, the same route Christopher McCandless takes in Into the Wild. For some stretches the current was so slow we could swim alongside our canoes.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Ah, what a peaceful trip. Speaking of Into the Wild, have you watched the movie? I really liked the book, and can’t imagine it translating well. Just curious.

          As for the hippie midset, you nailed it. It’s pieced together from a variety of sources and takes/accepts none of the bad. It’s completely impractical, yet these people get incredibly up in arms over it. They’re basically homeless beggars. I don’t do well around people that accept such an obviously low standard of living. You can wrap it whatever patchouli scented rag you want to – it’s still just lazy and dirty.

        • Matt says:

          I have seen the movie, and it very much lives up to the book. The performances are almost universally excellent; Hal Holbrook totally deserved his Oscar nomination. A pre-Twilight Kristen Stewart is in it, demonstrating that she is totally wasting her talent in those glittery vampire flicks. Worth a rental, for sure.

          Ever been to New Orleans during Jazzfest? The whole city fills up with hippies following the jam bands. It isn’t long before the whole town smells of patchouli, cheap pot and unwashed ass.

          I feel compelled, in the midst of this hippy-bashing, to state that I have no problem with naturalists and those who make an informed (key word here) decision to go “off the grid.” They want to get closer to nature, and are informed and educated about the risks and the methods for doing so? Hey, more power to ’em.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Hmm. I suppose I will rent it now.

          I’ve done Jazzfest. It’s just like the rest of the festivals… Coachella, etc. I love live music at a festival, but I don’t have the tolerance to hang out in that environment. I did years ago, but no longer.

          You and I are very, very much on the same page I think. Dropping off the grid, intelligently and well-informed, is entirely different from living off scraps and playing the guitar while leeching off of those around you. Funny how some people can’t differentiate between the two, even when they’re involved.

          Go bears.

        • Richard Cox says:

          I second the Into the Wild recommendation. Love Krakauer and loved his book, but the film does it justice for sure.

        • Slade Ham says:

          I just finished downloading it. Might even watch it tonight. After your Made recommendation, you’re gold with me.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Wait, I thought you didn’t like Made all that much because Ricky Slade wouldn’t shut up?

          Imagine if he were on the camping trip.

        • Slade Ham says:

          No, I liked it. I forget how I phrased it at the time, but it was something along the lines of his character almost making it unwatchable. By the end of it though it’s all good. He was just stressful. It made it no less of a really good movie though.

          I would have drowned him on that trip.

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Matt – Baaaaahahahahahahahaha. Just watch this video. It reminded me of this conversation, albeit vaguely.

          Clueless New Age Girl

          Wait until 1:20 or so. Hahahahahaha.

        • Lorna says:

          Gah! Unionized hippies!?!?! Oh shit!!!! Did she say they can make cars? Bahahaha! Trippy.

        • Matt says:


          I can quite honestly say I know people who talk – and for that matter, think – just like that. I went to school with a pretty fair number of them.

        • Slade Ham says:

          It is amazing that we continue to survive as a people. She is a real person… I know a few too, but I always like to think that I’m being Punk’d. No one can really be that way.

          Growing stuff is free. Vegetable trees. East Coast slavery.

          That’s somebody’s child.

    • Emery says:

      Obviously someone hasn’t read their Leave No Trace Guidelines. All floatable ash must be packed out. Non-floatable ash may be dumped in the river a mile down stream. When you’re camping in the backcountry in an enclosed area like a canyon, special precausions have to be taken to ensure the pristine nature of the area. And yes, eating all your food is very important. We had a couple heat stroke scares because people refused to eat their alloted share. If you wanna go into the deep wilderness, you have to be responsible and professional about the way you camp.

  8. Becky says:

    Yeah, all those great parties/camping trips that culminate in drunken notions of communal living (am I the only one who goes to these parties?) generally end in 2-3 days with tired, irritable people, sick to death of their prospective fellow commune members, wearily packing their belongings and returning home to flop down on THEIR sofa in THEIR home and Praise the Guy for the existence of personal property.

    Except maybe for all the filthy clothes to be washed and gear to be put away. Maybe the commune could have that stuff.

    This is capitalism, after all. You can just buy another tent.

    “You left all your shit in our back pasture.”

    “No I didn’t. I donated it to the commune.”

    “Bullshit. I’m not picking it up.”

    “Why not? I put it up! What about equitable division of labor?”

    “Then get over here and clean up your beer bottles.”

    “Fuck no, you fucking Fascist.”

    Sadly, for this reason, I have to admit I have serious doubts about the feasibility or long-term viability of the TNB commune.

    • Slade Ham says:

      I am still down for the TNB commune, but I’m going to need my own room with a private bathroom.

      “I donated it to the commune.” Hahahaha. What a great excuse for not doing shit. I’m afraid I may be a little problematic in our little social structure… unless we have a person or two that just so happens to love cleaning stuff and cooking.

      • Becky says:

        I was talking to Simon about this, and thinks (and I agreed) that he’s going to need his own TV room for watching terrible television.

        This is getting to sound less and less like a commune and more like an exclusive resort community. Which is also fine by me, as long as I can stay for free.

        • Slade Ham says:

          I must admit that I am far more attracted to the idea now that it is shifting to more of a luxury condo situation. Maybe we can just all share one really big courtyard in the middle somewhere, and I can still keep a lock on my door just in case?

          And Simon can have his TV room…

          Any other requests?

        • Phat B says:

          I can work the garden during the day and then watch crappy TV with Olear and Simon at night. I would like to see a large hammock area. And monkey bartenders.

        • Becky says:

          I don’t mind doing laundry, but I draw the line at skid marks and other people’s period panties (OPPP). Folks, you’re on your own with those.

          And no bitching about the way I fold things. That is the price for the washer woman’s services. Smile, take your clean clothes, and GTFO.

          I don’t cook or do dishes, but I’m willing to wear a monkey suit and tend bar. Unless it’s super hot out.

          Also, I get to drive the golf cart.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Hammocks are a must, as is the bar. As long as I have a consistent seat at said bar, I’ll be fine. Cocktails at night, and then I’ll retire to my private villa. My period panties shouldn’t be a problem, Becky. That really does sound like a Naughty By Nature song.

          You down with OPPP? Yeah you know me…

          I’ll be too buzzed to drive the cart. You can have it.

        • Matt says:

          I’m a pretty good cook. But someone else has to do the dishes.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Yeha, this dish thing is going to be a problem. All in favor of paper plates to be burned in the fire after dinner, say aye.

        • Phat B says:

          Aye. The monkeys can eat the scraps and tend the trash fire when they’re not bartending or fanning us in the hammock zone.

        • Lorna says:

          I can bake just about anything. We’ll at least have dessert. I cook a little. Let’s see; fried chicken, mashed potatoes, lasagna, bacon, and french toast are my specialties. But that’s about as fancy as my cooking gets.

        • Slade Ham says:

          That hammock zone is going to stay busy and full I we’re going to need a lot of monkeys. And Lorna, you will have no issue keeping the Southern folk fed with that menu. We’re going to need a few international dishes as well though. Perhaps James Irwin will bring the congealed cow blood? And we’ll need a Fool’s Gold Loaf for Simon.

          So much to do…

        • Joe Daly says:

          Wait- we’re starting a commune? Can I be in charge of morning calisthenics?

          They will be both compulsory and nude.

        • Lorna says:

          Oh, I forgot about the tacos! I can make those too. hmmm, maybe that’s not International enough……. I wonder what Zara can cook up?

        • Lorna says:

          Yeah, we’re gonna need to exercise with all the fried food. Can you cook Joe?

        • Lorna says:

          Wait – nude calisthenics? Geez, I’m gonna need a boob lift now.

        • Slade Ham says:

          I don’t think tacos count as international. Joe, you should know that i hardly ever exercise. I will however, hang out as support…

        • Joe Daly says:

          Lorna- you don’t want me cooking. I’m a vegetarian, but I really don’t like vegetables. Which leaves me with pretty much just bread and cheese recipes, in all their glorious forms.
          Slade- you truly are a team player. Even if you just stand there and point out people’s inadequacies, that’s a perfectly acceptable form of support. Unless of course, it’s my inadequacies that are being showcased…

        • Slade Ham says:

          Ixnay on Joe ookingcay. I don’t do veggies. At all. We’re going to need a carnivorous chef or I’ll be dead by Wednesday.

          Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be by the pool making fun of people.

        • Lorna says:

          Well, who is going to hunt then? Where’s Anon….I need some target practice.

          @Joe – I’d be the same kind of vegetarian you are! Ha! A vegetarian who doesn’t like veggies?

          I can’t do any more commune planning until I figure out what happened to my Gravatar. This is depressing.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          TV room and a Fool’s Gold Loaf?


        • Becky says:

          Slade, my husband is an excellent cook.

          An artist with meat, if you will.

          (Go ahead. Count the entendres!)

          He also makes tons of Asian, Pacific, and Polish recipes.

          Joe, I don’t do exercise. Though I may be convinced to offer moral support to exercisers. The nudeness, I have no issue with.

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Simon – Yeah, though I think you’re out of luck on that. A pound of bacon probably doesn’t fall within Joe’s vegetarian boundaries.

          @ Lorna – Your Gravi’s back.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          @Slade: It’s cool. I’ll visualise it.

        • Slade Ham says:

          That’s not even close to the same thing. I’ll make it myself if I have to. We’re doing this.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Actually, it looks like we ARE covered on the FGL. Becky’s husband has it… when he’s not… ummm… entendre’ing. I totally verbed the noun there.

        • Lorna says:

          I just Googled the Fools Gold Loaf. Ew. You guys can have my share.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          @Lorna: Sold!

          I’m looking forward to getting one in Colorado in just over two months.

        • Richard Cox says:

          I missed this whole conversation today. I will be cooking at least one day a week and my meals will cover all the food groups. Steak, chicken, vegetables, bread, dairy, et al. And no, Slade, you can’t thrown your spinach into the fire.

          Also, I will be in charge of the golf lessons.

        • Slade Ham says:

          But, but… Those are your rules. I’m going to dump it in the fire, Rich. I am. Watch me. I will hide in my room on spinach day.

          And I will watch the golf lesson like I intend to watch calisthenics. I’m assuming the same nudity rules will apply?

        • Richard Cox says:

          Yes, in the video the chick is wearing clothes, but these lessons will be clothing optional.

        • Slade Ham says:

          For YouTube purposes. I understand. Just optional though? Hahaha.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          @Slade: Dude, in my vision of the commune, there’s totally a secret door to be used in case of spinach.

        • Slade Ham says:

          A secret door will come in handy, though I have no issue burning that stuff right out in the open. The secret door can be to dispose of the hippies.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          That’ll work nicely with my planned secret opium den. Half-price admission on Chase the Dragon Fridays!

        • Slade Ham says:

          Phat B will join us. We’ll be in charge of the drugs and Raccoon Prevention. I love it when a plan comes together.

        • Anon says:

          Sorry I’m late – let me catch up a little. First off, Lorna, let me know when you need some range time. We can invite some hippies. You know. To “post targets”.

          Slade, speaking of hippies, don’t use the secret door. Hippies are frequently hyper-vegan, making their innards excellently hay-like, much like cow manure. Combined with their infusion with years’ worth of patchouli oil, they’ll make for excellent fuel and/or mulch for the monkey bartender garden. Which would be poetically fitting, being an eco-friendly source of energy and nutrition for the commune. Their spirits would be at rest, rejoining the Universe while giving back, man.

          I must now read more….

        • Simon Smithson says:

          “Their spirits would be at rest, rejoining the Universe while giving back, man. ”


          Hey Anon! You were in my dream last night. You hid your ammunition in an air vent in the floor. It was a lot of fun.

          Fortunately for both of us, it didn’t get weird at all.

        • Anon says:

          Joe, you, um… don’t use patchouli oil, do you? I’m totally down with the nude morning workouts as long as there is adequate sunscreen provided. And no fire ants [*shudder*].

          I volunteer for hunting duties, marksmanship lessons, running the still, handling perimeter security and acting as backup meat cook. I will neither confirm nor deny whether some of the “wild hog” I grill up may taste faintly of patchouli. Don’t be concerned. It’s just a little rosemary/sage blend I use for… pork. And that perimeter will be secure.

        • Anon says:

          Simon, I…. I, uh….

          Joe, I’ve changed my mind on the nude thing. Totally unrelated to Simon’s dream.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          It’s totally cool. There was no nudity. Just firearms instruction.

        • Slade Ham says:

          I have your back in the still. Taste tester, actually. I hadn’t thought of the hippies as fuel. Where’ve you been all day while we were deciding what to do with them?

          There’s a wild hog/pork/Ham joke in there somewhere…. I’d think of it, but I’m still shaking over the fire ants+nudity predicament.

          Now about you in Simon’s dream…

        • Slade Ham says:

          “There was no nudity. Just firearms instruction.”

          Did he teach you to cock the… nevermind….

        • Anon says:

          It’s okay! He said there was no nudity. Just, um, playing “hide the ammo” with an orifice in the floor. Which I’m sure doesn’t mean anything.

          As for the fuel, as I’ve stated in another thread, I’m a practical man and try to see the good in everyone. Sometimes, the only good happens to be that they are flammable.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Anon, this commune is in Hawaii, and as far as I understand it those fire ant bastards haven’t yet figured how to build a raft that will float halfway across the Pacific.

          I know they’ll figure it out eventually, but we ought to be safe for a couple of years.

          Not sure about the presence of Africanized honeybees…

        • Simon Smithson says:

          “There was no nudity. Just firearms instruction.”

          @Slade: As soon as I’d hit the reply button, I knew I was in for more entendres than Becky and her meat-toting husband.

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Anon – I just snorted, and possibly woke up my roommate’s new puppy. That laugh was worth it.

          @ Richard – Leiningen Versus the Ants, man. Enough of them could cross that ocean. But yeah, bees can fly. They’re going to be trouble. And what about that polar bear from Lost? Or was that a smoke monster? Is my ignorance of that show bleeding through yet? I’m trying….

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Simon – You really did do that yourself…

        • Anon says:

          Dude. I’m having bad thoughts of hearing “Fix bayonet!! FIX BAYONET!!” being screamed inappropriately. Thankfully, it’s Keira Knightley’s voice so it’s still cool.

          “Now hold real still while I slide the barrel in to the hilt….”

        • Anon says:

          My wife asked what I’m chuckling about. “Oh… just laughing with some guys on a web board. We’re talking about how much fun it would be to, um, start a kid’s amusement park on the Lost island. Because they, uh, they’re all married and have kids, too. I love you. Have you lost weight? You look really good tonight.”

        • Anon says:

          Hey, in all seriousness, Simon – what did I look like? I mean, I’m a chin with a hat. Was there more in your dream? Didn’t think about that at first.

        • Slade Ham says:

          …and chamber the cartridge.

        • Slade Ham says:

          I totally thought about it. Did he look like Darkman, Simon? It’s kind of how you visualize someone’s job when you talk to them on the phone while they’re working, but you’ve never actually been there. It’s got to be just like that.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          @Anon: excuse me, I have some retching I need to do before I can answer your question.

          – I have no memory of a visual aspect. Just a dream recognition of ‘Hey! I know that guy! From the internet.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Just a shadow… like a spy… Man, Anon. You’re even cool in other people’s dreams, while you put things in Simon’s holster.

          I may do some throwing up of my own.

        • Anon says:

          @Slade: Remember – squeeze, don’t jerk.


        • Simon Smithson says:

          @Slade: correct on the visualisation front.

          Yeah, the nausea kicks in real quick, huh?

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Simon – And believe it or not, I am trying to eat.

          @ Anon – Baahahahahaha! Make sure you oil the barrel really well…

          @ Simon – Was. I was trying to eat. No longer…

        • Anon says:

          Try thinking about Keira. Seems to be working for me. Better than freaking Dramamine!

        • Slade Ham says:

          Pepto. I need Pepto. Something for the nausea. No amount of Knightley is going to get this out of my head.

          I take that back. There is an amount…

        • Anon says:

          Dude, it’s those pirate boots. Jiminy freakin’ Christmas….

        • Richard Cox says:

          When you leave and come back five minutes later, you have to leverage all of the interconnected neurons in your head to make sense of the non-linear conversation going on in this thread. It’s funny shit, but now my fucking head hurts.

          Someone pass me the Jameson.

        • Anon says:

          Here y’go.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Yet somehow it all makes sense.

          My glass is a little low, btw…

        • Anon says:

          Oi! Refresh comin’ through. Speaking of which, I’d better check on the monkeys – gotta keep that still fire burning.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Man, I’m not sure I trust a bunch of moneys with something so important as Irish whiskey…

        • Richard Cox says:

          Slade, buried deep in your Yahoo email is a real message from me. It’s the one that doesn’t have the subject “[The Nervous Breakdown] Comment: ‘Leave No Trace.'” Read that if you will and let me know your thoughts.

          And yes, I said “buried deep.”

        • Anon says:

          Technically, I think it would be Hawaiian whiskey, right?

        • Slade Ham says:

          I’m off to wade through the emails now. The upside is that Hotmail is screwed up right now, and I am unable to delete anything in my Inbox. While I look, enjoy this video of a girl that reminded me of “Allison”. This is amaaaaaazing.

          Clueless New Age Girl

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Richard – Hmmm. Not seeing it. Sending you an email to reply to. Resend?

        • Richard Cox says:

          I meant Hotmail. Jesus Christ, I’m not even drinking.

          “On the east coast they have slaves and believe in slavery and Made in China.”


          I love how this video is related to Miss Teen South Carolina. At least that chick could blame her ignorance on being hot. What’s this girl’s excuse?

        • Slade Ham says:

          Vegetable trees. It’s golden, really.

        • Slade Ham says:

          And this, by the way, is why I remain scared of California and stay tucked away comfortably yet very unsuccessfully and nowhere near famous in TX.

        • Becky says:


          I see this has gotten totally out of hand.

          Richard (and Anon), I hate to be the one to tell you this, but there ARE fire ants in Hawaii (I cannot say if they paddled, but they are into teamwork, so who knows).

          I discovered this within the first four hours of ever having been there, way back in 2001. They have been there for some time, and they’d prefer you not drop your big ugly duffle bag on their houses.

          I can’t say how they’d feel about your…um…ammo.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Solenopsis invicta

          Its species means fucking invincible. And yes, there are fire ants in Hawaii. We’re going to have to build a moat. I haaaate ants.

        • Becky says:

          Coming from MN, “The State Where Nothing Is Poisonous,” I was sure I was going to die. I screamed and went running into the house, itching, brushing, squealing, running my feet under the water, asking if I was going to die, leaving my husband (then boyfriend) behind to contend with the savages (and my duffle bag).

          I swear, I am not like this anymore.

          Since then, I have even seen a scorpion in a hotel room and maintained my composure.

          OH, by the by–Hawaii also has scorpions.

        • Slade Ham says:

          I’m accustomed to stinging, biting, poisonous things, I’m not overly concerned. More curious to me is the assertion that MN is devoid of these things. Really? That excites me.

          You have to at least have snakes right? It’s not Ireland…

        • Anon says:

          Yeah, but they’re yummy once you get past the spicy bit. And LMAO at “MN, ‘The State Where Nothing Is Poisonous’”.

        • Becky says:

          @Slade, we do have snakes, just not poisonous ones. There are some timber rattlesnakes, allegedly, in some remote parts of the state–down in the extreme SE, in the river bluffs. But the odds of actually encountering one are slim to nil. Same with the Northern Widow (relative of the black widow). Usually, no part of MN is included in maps of its range, but apparently a stray one wanders in every now and again (also in the SE).

          So, by and large, the statement is true.

          Go barefoot anywhere you like, reach your hand into any nook or cranny you want. Nothing dangerous can survive here.

          Except wolves and bears and lynx and bobcats and cougars. And tornadoes. And blizzards.

          But they’re more scared of you than you are of them.

          @Anon, even the food has no spice. Every thing is very beige

        • Anon says:

          You’re there. How beige could it be? (:

        • Becky says:

          Per usual, I am a shining light in the blackest pitch, Anon.

        • Anon says:

          Me, too. That’s why they make me wear a hat in movie theaters. Stupid male pattern baldness….

        • Cheryl says:

          Wow, you guys have busy. Sounds like Simon’s dream of skinny dipping could come true! Sadly for him, it sounds like a sausage-fest.

          Nude golf lessons? Talk about perfecting your swing.

          Just make sure you don’t slice your balls.

          There a stroke joke in there somewhere, but I don’t know enough about golf to make it worth the effort of looking up anything about golf.

          The only communal nude sport I’ll agree to is swimming, and even then at night, after lots of alcohol is consumed. And if everyone promises not to point and laugh (a subtle gesture in my direction along with stifled giggles behind my back is acceptable. I’m a realist, but sensitive!)

          I’ll volunteer for sharing cooking duties, help Becky with the laundry, helping with garden, mixing drinks when the monkeys are too drunk, and dishes few nights a week. I can also knit the guys loincloths and banana-hammocks for when the nude calisthenics get out of hand.

          I volunteer my husband for working with Anon on security detail (he’s good at that) and building useful things, like the punji stick pit for trapping the patchouli-marinated “feral hogs”.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Simon never specified co-ed, did he? Though all male skinny dipping does sound really awful and unentertaining….

          Just make sure you don’t slice your balls.

          I literally cringed when I read that. Rich will have to carry on with the golf analogies. That’s his sport. And the hippie pit is a brilliant idea. We can cover it with shag carpeting.

        • Anon says:

          Good idea on the shag-o-flage. We can also add carefully placed sign that says “Stuff you haven’t earned but somehow ‘deserve’!” as bait. This will ensure we only trap the filthy, lazy-assed variety of hippy while leaving the “just doin’ my thang” free-range hippy unharmed.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Oh, my brilliant friend… You’ve even found a way to keep the traps free of the good ones. It’s like “dolphin-safe hippie”.

        • Anon says:

          I’m seeing some post-Apocalypse marketing going on here. “Canned long pork, straight from TNB Farms. Certified JDMTH-safe! (Note: Product may contain traces of patchouli, LSD, tie-dye and stems.)”

        • Cheryl says:

          I’m so proud that we are bring so ethical in our cannabilism.

          It’s the right thing to do. Besides, given my “good-kind-of-hippie” tendencies, I’d be nervous. I hate both patchouli and shag carpet, so I think I’d be safe. Hopefully, my husband would not let me fall into any punji-stick traps that he built. He’s good like that.

        • Anon says:

          That’s a good man you’ve got there, Cheryl.

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Anon -I’m thinking the LSD will be a selling point.

          @ Cheryl – We’re not without compassion toward the people we eat. There’s love in our hate.

        • Becky says:

          No! No! There is no good hippie! People who are “good hippies” are just really liberal normal people.

          We can’t be throwing this word around. It could let in actual hippies, and they’re like mice. Once you’ve got 2, you’ve got 200. Don’t you people watch South Park???

          JAM BANDS, DUDE.

        • Slade Ham says:

          We can play Phish at the bottom of the punji pit…

          On a separate note, Phish was Walt’s favorite band, something I learned on our trek home. Walt was the guy in the story I wrote a while back. Oh wait, this is THAT same thread?

          I love our tangents. Okay… back to killing killing hippies, shall we?

        • Anon says:

          Meh. Let ’em come and breed. Those-there cans ain’t gonna fill theirselves, y’know.

        • Becky says:

          No, Anon. You don’t understand.


          Make sure to burn some Nag Champa in the bottom of that pit, too. Maybe a sign that says “free batik.” Just to be safe.

        • Becky says:

          Though we have to watch it with the Phish, I think. We may inadvertently kill some surfers, and we need them to show us where to surf.

        • Slade Ham says:

          I’ll lay up on the Phish if you’ll make a concession. This is the part where I admit to being partial to nag champa.

        • Becky says:


          Hmmm. Gosh. This is awkward.

          Never speak of this again.

          Don’t ask, don’t tell man. That’s how it’s going to have to be.

        • Becky says:

          Maybe if you met a really nice sandalwood…

        • Slade Ham says:

          I didn’t really think this through did I? That has to be what coming out of the closet feels like. It’s just nag champa though….

        • Becky says:

          You’re going on the TNB commune hippie watchlist. Do what you must with your incense, but no sudden movements toward the hookah, or the heavies move in.

          Leave it to me to turn this into a fascist regime.

          Fine, fine, fine. Have your nag champa. But I am going to have trouble trusting you as long as you’re using.

      • Don Mitchell says:

        Richard, just google “little fire ants.” They arrived only a couple of years ago.

        They’re now in my neighborhood, but I haven’t seen any. The deal is, you post popsicle sticks or tongue depressors with peanut butter on them out in your yard, wait, and if you see any 1/16″ long red ants eating the PB, you pop the stick in ziploc bag, freeze them, and take the bag to Ag. I-am-not-kidding. Evidently when a bunch of them drop on you from a tree and sting the shit out of you, it’s very very unpleasant.

    • Richard Cox says:

      Thank you, Becky, for recognizing the Guy. For this He will visit upon you many tragic ironies, just as He does everyone. He is after all an equal opportunity Guy. Or a socialist. You pick.

      • Anon says:

        God as Socialist. Interesting. This explains why He taxes me so….

      • Slade Ham says:

        Oh, I don’t know that He’s that equal opportunity… Some get far more than others when it comes to tragic irony.

        • Richard Cox says:

          That was a joke about Will’s Jesus post, for which Becky lambasted him so thoroughly that he removed from the original post any reference to socialism. But the damage was already done.

          Poor Will.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Oooh, I didn’t see the edit. The majority of those comments came after my hiatus., and I just went back and re-read the thread. What an interesting little back and forth that became, no?

          I stayed out for my own safety.

        • Anon says:

          I missed the edit as well! I’m resisting the obvious jokes about socialists and revisionist history lest I accidentally open up a can of worms.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Where’s Becky? Hahahaha…. Open the can, Anon. It’s Wednesday. People are bored 🙂

        • Anon says:

          Well, she made a few comments about her husband’s skill with meat. Maybe she’s got her hands full. You know – with dinner. And stuff.

        • Slade Ham says:

          “An artist with meat,” she said.

          You do the math.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          Whew! My plan worked. I hope the wolves enjoy the taste of my fellow traveller as I sled to freedom!

        • Anon says:

          “Who needs a can of worms when you have a meat artist at home?” I should write for freaking Hallmark.

        • Anon says:

          @Simon: Nice tactic there, friend.

          “Knock, knock!”
          “Who’s there?”
          “You, while I make my getaway. Try not to pass out too quickly – I don’t want them losing interest before I make at least two miles.”

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Anon – He’s not getting away that easy. You handle Becky. I’ll go finish him off.

          I’m starting a greeting card business. You can write them. I’ll find an artist. And I… well, I’ll spend the money.

        • Slade Ham says:

          “I’ll go finish him off.

          Dammit. I knew it when I hit send…

        • Simon Smithson says:



        • Anon says:

          Done. How’s this for a Christmas card:

          [cover] We have your children. Follow our instructions precisely or you’ll never see them again.
          [interior] Just kidding! Hey, the fruitcake doesn’t seem like such a crappy gift now, does it?

        • Anon says:

          And I would never presume to “handle” Becky. She’s mean and feral whereas I am a wine-sipping pretty princess of a man with dainty little girl hands (that last bit is a brief compilation of snarky things Becky has written about me).

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Simon – I feel your pain.

          @ Anon – The front should be done in real cut-out letters, and delivered with a fruit cake in a box like the head in Seven. And sent when the kids aren’t around.

          For maximum effect and all….

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Anon – RE: Becky… I agree, and am kinda hoping she doesn’t read all of this and break out the claws. I, too, am fragile. Not really, but I do tear easily. Plus, she volunteered for laundry duty and I dare not fuck that up.

        • Anon says:

          You know… not starting anything but… I thought this was a nudist thing. What do we need laundry for?

        • Slade Ham says:

          Just certain things are nude. Morning exercise, golf lesson, etc. I have a lot of jeans and black t-shirts that need attention still.

        • Anon says:

          Fair enough. That’ll cut down on the sunscreen expense, too. Especially… ah, never mind. We’ve gone far enough down that road for one night, I think.

          Heh. I said “far enough down”….

        • Phat B says:

          I’m envisioning a lot of robes, possibly silk. You can always be nude in half a second when wearing a silk robe. Flip flops for formal occasions. And Rich Ferguson straw hats, made from Hippie innards.

        • Slade Ham says:

          There can only be one Rich Ferguson hat.

          Though we really could, and should, sell replicas in the gift shop. Can communes have gift shops? This one can, to help buy the whiskey.

        • Becky says:

          Oh my God. It keeps going.

          First of all, you guys can just back off on the greeting card idea as I have already established on facebook and elsewhere that I am going to start a hate note business to fund my writing habit.

          When it comes to hate notes, at the very least, you know you couldn’t even compete.

          A thousand times no on the 100% nudist colony, as well. We are all sexy people as far as we know, and I won’t let you menfolk spoil that by parading your follicles around in the glaring midday sun.

  9. Amanda says:

    I am totally on your side about the squirrel…in fact, squirrels often home-invade me, to squat in my kitchen ceiling…sort of inverting the hippie “like a squirrel” model you lay out in your intro…that girl? Totally living like a squirrel.

    • Slade Ham says:

      I currently have a couple that got into a hole in my roof, and I’m pretty sure they’ve learned to pogo stick. That, or they’re moving furniture. They’re clever – and very loud – squirrels.

      And she reminded me of one.

      • Amanda says:

        Actually, I can solve that mystery for you. It’s neither pogoing nor furniture moving. What’s happening is this:

        The squirrels are assembling a machine, a verrrrrry special machine, which pounds out a very special version of squirrel morse code. And, all night long, it will pound out the message, “wake up wake up wake up wake up”. And, the squirrels will spell that message just for you, all effing night long.

        After my third winter of squirrel home-invasion, I lost it one Sunday afternoon, following about two months of listening to their code (aka “sleep deprivation worthy of that enjoyed by the early surrealists”). I took my French rolling pin and bashed a hole in the kitchen ceiling, inserted a pouch of poison, and papered the hole shut.

        The next morning, I woke up to the sounds of the squirrels arriving to dine upon the pouch of poison, and lay there in bed, horrified that I was starting my day listening to myself murdering animals by proxy. Awful! AWFUL!

        (happy ending: the squirrels were not killed by the lowly rat poison. Instead, like a Japanese movie monster battening on the death-rays shot into its mouth by villagers, the squirrels grew bigger, bolder, and stronger, and remained in my ceiling another month until my landlord and I eventually devised The Ultimate Trap…)

        • Slade Ham says:

          Did you seriously just leave me with a cliffhanger like that? Sweet Jesus.. between you and Joe…

          These squirrels only operate for a few hours a day. They’re manageable, though they do fuck with my mornings a bit. Nothing a really loud stereo doesn’t fix though. At the moment, my roommate’s new puppy is the one keeping me awake at night. It’s always some animal or another…

        • Amanda says:

          It’s true…I’m kind of a jerk. Sorry for the cliffhanger! haha

          Ok, so the landlord removes the industrial-grade kitchen cutting board I have duct-taped like a patch over the massive hole in my ceiling. Sets up a step-ladder underneath the hole. Trims away the dangling shards of plaster and drywall, and builds a chicken-wire trough/ chute of sorts. This leads to a proper squirrel trapping trap thingie, obtained from an exterminator service, and which is precariously balanced on the top step of the ladder.

          And by “top step” I mean the bit at the tippy top which is clearly labeled “this is NOT a step!”

          Since the precariousness (precarity?) of this apparatus is apparent, even without a wild animal stowed inside the cage, we wedge some bits of wood and stuff we find lying around the shed out back, sticking things here and there and ensuring the cage won’t wobble once an angry squirrel is penned in. This doesn’t quite do the trick, so we add a rampy kind of bit…a long strip of leftover baseboard from a recent home renovation, that reaches to the top kitchen cupboard and acts as a lever or brace of sorts.

          We bait the trap (the landlord’s wife makes a peanut butter sandwich on mulit-grain bread, studded with whole peanuts) and wait…days go by…the sandwich is no longer looking delicious, but we can’t remove it without springing the trap. So, I shove some fresh chopped bananas in there alongside the icky sandwich. Now, my apartment stinks like a fourth-grader’s lunchpail.

          More days go by. I take matters a step further…and use a bulldog clip to post a threatening/ taunting note inside the cage. It reads “I double dog dare you to eat this sandwich! Chicken!”

          I arrive home from work that evening, et voila…squirrel inside cage. Sandwich devoured. Case closed.

        • Slade Ham says:

          You wrote a note? To a squirrel? And it worked?!?! I am so impressed by the quality of story that has surfaced here today. I suppose I need to go pick up some peanut butter and a ladder now, and dare some squirrels.


        • Amanda says:

          I emailed you photos that you may feel free to use as a “starter manual” when setting your first squirrel trap…

        • Slade Ham says:

          Oh wow. You weren’t kidding. I bet I can download the specs off the internet and build one of my own. That thing looks absolutely dangerous. I love it… note and all.

          It really never fell apart in the capture?

        • Amanda says:

          Did it fall apart? Not that time, but subsequent trappings came off less smoothly.

          We took the trap down, and my landlord fed and watered the squirrel and bunked it overnight in the carriage house, then drove it across the city to a nice park the next morning. No joke.

          Pretty quickly, with winter coming, another one moved in. I saw it slip out a hole in the roof and knew where it was entering, so we installed the trap on the roof outside. It was November and there was a snowstorm the day we caught the last squirrel. I felt awful that it might freeze to death in the trap so called my landlord as soon as I found it.

          He arrived wearing fancy trousers, leather jacket, blazer and Italian loafers. The ladder was icy, and the squirrel jumped at the grill of the trap…startling my landlord, who lost his balance and fell off…at which point the hinges on the trap gave out, the hatch flipped open, the squirrel shot through the air and over the railing, dropping into the bushes and taking off across the yard.

          I think it marked the roof, like the Depression-era symbols on fenceposts to let beggars know whether a particular house would offer food, shelter, or drive you off with a shotgun. At any rate, there have been zero squirrel incursions for two years now…fingers crossed!

        • Slade Ham says:

          That entire episode would make a really good Pixar film. We need a contact at Disney.

  10. Phat B says:

    Man that story gave me a Hippie shudder so bad I could almost smell the B.O. If you stare at the night sky long enough (it helps to be drunk and high) the stars will start blinking along to music. And hash does have a practical use in nature: Raccoons fucking hate the smoke. We had a raccoon that wouldn’t leave us alone, always hanging around for scraps. Trying to chase him off only made him climb the nearest tree and mock us. One morning the raccoon got up onto the picnic table to steal some breakfast, and we were in mid session. My buddy blew a lungful of smoke at the beast. It stood on its hind legs, opened its nostrils, and then ran off like we’d set it on fire and never returned. Hash: Nature’s Raccoon Repellent.

    • Cheryl says:

      Good to know! Does it work on javelinas too? Bears? Pumas? I mean, this could be an important camping safety tip.

      • Phat B says:

        Not sure, but with a little government funding I’d be willing to find out. You know, for the safety of future campers and whatnot… yeah, that’s the ticket.

    • Slade Ham says:

      I have such a wonderful vision now of this raccoon thumbing his nose at you from the tree. Very Dr. Doolittle. But now he’s really fucked up and chasing illusions through the woods. I would feel bad for him except for the fact that he’s scoring free drugs.

  11. Cheryl says:

    Hilarious! The pheonix, the negative paddling line, the pee – lots of great lines and accompanying mental images.

    All my camping stories are pretty boring, compared to this.

    Both the too-earnest boy scout approach to camping and the “let’s live in the forest” approach to camping are very annoying. I tend to be pretty pragmatic, about camping anyway. I love being out in nature, but I also know it can kill me if I am a complete moron. Common sense is a nice thing to have. For that reason, I tend to avoid the big group camping trip thing. I have no desire to be barked at by some drill sargent, or to be lectured by a wanna-be earth mother. Just give me a big starry sky and silence. Oh, and alcohol. Duh.

    I’m with Matt on the ashes thing (and the leftovers). Wood ash is great compost, especially in campfire quanities. You didn’t mention the poop though. Everyone pack out their own poop?

    • Slade Ham says:

      There is a happy medium that I am comfortable with. I don’t leave a mess, but I’m also not fanatical. I live in a world that accepts the fact that I, too, am part of nature. We were out there for St. Patricks day, and two bottles of Bushmills fell before us that night. Irish whiskey and fire are perfect together, regardless of how much you’ve eaten.

      As for the other, suffice it to say that there was a big ammunition box that traveled in one of the canoes. I wouldn’t keep it in mine…

      • Cheryl says:

        See? Common sense.

        Ammunition box. Pretty clever. I have to admit I thought that was where you were going in your post when you talked about not really knowing what “leave no trace” really meant. That’s what most people I know who are new to primitive camping obsess about. That and I have the mentality of an 10 year old boy.

        Anyone fart into the campfire?

        • Slade Ham says:

          That mentality keeps ya young, Cheryl. When you stop, you get old really fast. I’ve decided that you should be in charge of the fire at the commune. The fire, and the ammo box 😉

  12. Irene Zion says:

    I loved that they made more food than you could conceivably eat & then forced you to eat it.
    I loved that the crazy girl lived in the forest and couldn’t understand your joke about the squirrel.
    But I agree with Joe, the very most fabulous line ever was the Phoenix line.
    It will keep me snorting at random intervals all day.

  13. Wow. I always wonder that about travelers on the Kern River who pass through the canyon near here, or about all the people who travel east to west on the 58, who pass into Bakersfield like the Joads did in “Grapes of Wrath.”

    Yet, now you’ve left a footprint of a literary kind. People can google the area and find your post. You will be remembered now as one of the area’s many forgotten travelers…

    • Slade Ham says:

      They all have their stories I’m sure… and they all probably fall somewhere between myself and the Joads.

      I hadn’t thought about this being Googleable. Perhaps someone taking a similar trip will read this account… and rethink their decision, hahaha. If nothing else maybe I’ve saved them a stop at the border patrol station.

  14. Brandy says:

    –Ooohh. Now I understand your “I finally made it home comment”. I was reading this in the university computer lab and trying valiantly to stifle my giggles. I’m sure I looked like a tomato with teary eyes. I’m really surprised you behaved yourself so well with squirrel girl, and that she didn’t wake up floating down the river on an air mattress/canoe/something. Ammunition box=gross.

    One spring I decided to go white water rafting with a program through my college called ‘Outdoor Adventure’. I had done previous trips, paddling down Blackwater, etc. I knew the people involved–not at all. They were all hardcore yuppies who had the latest camping gear, neoprene (?) water bottle, etc. The trip was rather expensive for an struggling undergraduate, but it included food, fees, etc.

    Well, apparently, they couldn’t convince any real students to join up (except me, hah!), so I ended up traveling to North Carolina with 3 couples. Shades of awkward. I mean, I paid to be a 3rd wheel for 5 days? On the way up there we listened to Jack Johnson. For like 8 hours. The Curious George soundtrack. I took Dramamine like candy. After that many hours of Jack Johnson, I might have snorted it.

    Anyways. The whole trip was uncomfortable. The guides slept in, never prepared breakfast, and ‘forgot’ the coffee. (What does that tell you?). The highlight of the trip was the rafting–it was down the river Deliverance was filmed on. That night a thunderstorm rushed over the bluffs and laying there in the tent listening to it break above me was incredible. We ate at a place called ‘the Cookie Jar’ the next morning…and lo and behold the albino from Deliverance was the cook!

    There was 8 or so hours of Jack Johnson on the way back, too. And I never spoke to any of them again. the end. Sorry that was so long…

    • Slade Ham says:

      Is there really eight hours worth of Jack Johnson music? God that’s evil. I wouldn’t speak to them either. And it wasn’t the real Deliverance kid, right? Just another Southern albino?

      • Brandy says:

        No–there’s not. You just get to hear Curious George over and over.

        It was the real guy. They had movie posters & newspaper clips all over the place. I drank my coffee quickly. How many albino people do you know?

        • Slade Ham says:

          That’s torturous…

          I know at least two albinos, and am probably a degree separated from at least one more. That’s sad though… the most famous albino ever, a cook at the Cookie Jar? Certainly there are more albino roles waiting for him if he’s just put himself out there.

        • Brandy says:

          The Dramamine helped a lot. I slept through most of it. And I take great satisfaction in the fact that I drooled all over their back-packs. (I was hiding with the luggage).

          Three? It sounds like Beaumont had a serious case of Founder’s effect. 🙂

  15. Charita says:

    Hahahah! and that is it

  16. Zara Potts says:

    “I’m going to dump it in the river, Emery. I am. Watch me.”
    That’s EXACTLY what I would have said.
    I don’t know how you survived this trip, Slade. I’d have wanted to drown them all too.

    • Slade Ham says:

      It was actually quite enjoyable, once my own ground rules were established. So, you and Simon want to take a Leave No Trace trip while you’re here? I bet Emery’s available, hahaha.

      Why would you not dump pudding in the river? I mean, honestly…

  17. Natalia says:

    You would think I-C-U-P is only for the kiddos, but now you and the border patrol know better:) Bwahahaha… Let it be known if you have to Pee do it before you leave or demand they wait while you take care of some business, I mean being the asshole that made everyone wait for you to pee is way better than standing in puddle later on…And this has been words to live by….

    • Slade Ham says:

      However, nothing is better than watching someone stand in a puddle. They didn’t even know what to do with her. Tears. Literally, tears ran down my face. Had she told the officer to spell Icup… hahahaha.

      “And vie vould I vant to do zat?”

  18. D.R. Haney says:

    Well, I see that your babysitting chores are done, and now, here we are. This is like No Exit in the great outdoors. Also, it could easily be a band on tour, except without the shows.

    I wonder if I’d come across like Walt on such a trip? I’m always being told that I have all kinds of arcane knowledge, and yet I never catch myself in the act of volunteering it. And yet I must, since, otherwise, why would people say that about me?

    Well, one thing’s for sure: never have anything to do with hippies ever. The punks were right about them.

    • Slade Ham says:

      It is very much indeed like a band on tour, or a group of comics. That similarity wasn’t lost on me, and my past experiences might have been the only thing that kept some people from washing up on the river’s shore a few days later.

      I have a tendency to be that guy too, with the useless knowledge. I’m a shoe in to be called when someone’s trivia team is shy a person. I’m also a motherfucker at Jeopardy. Like you, I don’t know when I would have displayed that knowledge in any way that would make people think I possess it. It’s weird.

      There have been many nights though that I have not recalled doing lots of things, despite people’s insistence the next day. It is equally likely I suppose, that I rattle off random facts as much as it any of the other things I’ve been accused of. Whiskey is a pushy little mistress.

      I’m with you on the hippies. It’s a no brainer. In a Mad Max world, there’s no doubt which side we would fall on.

  19. angela says:

    haha, awesome story, slade!

    i can’t stand those dumpster diving hippies. someone i knew explained how her friend was a vegan unless the food was found in a dumpster or was someone else’s leftovers. like if she brought home half a burger, he was okay with eating it because it wasn’t originally his food. i can’t even begin to understand that kind of logic.

    • Slade Ham says:

      There really are people like that – vegetarians that won’t eat meat unless it’s accidentally served to them, in which case they think it’s better to eat it rather than throw it away. I guess if it gets you through your day, good for you.

      Me? I like what I like. I could never see myself feasting on scraps for any reason, no matter how much I felt like i was doing some sort of service. It’s symbolism over substance though. There are so many more ways to impact the planet positively without sitting in a forest and eating garbage.

      Vegans scare me a little anyway. Faux-vegans even more.

  20. Simon Smithson says:

    “What? How can I work less than zero?” I yelled back. “It’s impossible. I can’t negative paddle. Even if I were paddling backwards, I would still be doing more work.”

    Oh, man, I so know those people. And I so fucking hate those people.

    ‘I have beliefs – also known as my license to do and be anything I want.’

    Originally, to ‘be hip’ referred to lying on one’s hip after smoking opium, in an opium de-

    Shut up, Walt.

    • Slade Ham says:

      They want everything to be a contest. Everything must be fair. We all work the same, and “the same” is determined by them. I’m all for openness and understanding and attempting to be tolerant, but sometimes… FUCK your beliefs.

      Now opium, that would have been worth getting stopped for. Poor, Walt… I was really glad he and I split a canoe. Not only is he a good dude, but I learned stuff. Btw, you’re getting a TV room in the commune? I’m in the process of trying to get a cook that can prepare your Fool’s Gold Loaf. I forget where else you popped up in the conversation above.

      • Simon Smithson says:

        Yep. The TV room is essential so Becky doesn’t have to hear Seinfeld’s annoying voice. And so no one else can hear my sobs during the emotional moments of Supernatural.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Seinfeld’s voice is certainly annoying, but the show itself was funny. Maybe we can compromise and just watch Curb?

        • Simon Smithson says:



          Please don’t think less of me.

          I’m not a Curb fan.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Huh? What? Hang on… There was clearly a typo in that, yes?

          Say it ain’t so….

        • Simon Smithson says:

          I know, I know.

          I want to like it.

          I just have some issues with the rules of the universe they set up as set against the characters. It’s one of those things that when other people describe the situations to me, it sounds really funny. Then when I see it in action…

        • Phat B says:

          I call 4-5pm for COPS viewing. Double stamp no erasies.

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Phat – Goddammit, that’s when Scooby Doo comes on.

          @ Simon – Manomanomanoman… I am admittedly one of the latecomers to the show, but I have since fallen in love. Larry David is such a fucking horrible character that you can’t help but love it. It is highly unrealistic and painful, but it and my sense of humor fit together like Legos. He acts the way I wish I could sometimes, if I were a broken person 🙂

  21. Richard Cox says:

    Now, that’s some funny shit, Slade. I liked “I couldn’t build fire with a flamethrower.” And how you kept telling Walt to shut up.

    Also, I wonder how many people realize you can drive ten hours and still be in Texas? And really you could go a lot further than that. Big Bend is one of the few areas of the state I’ve never been, but I’d like to someday.

    However, if I go, I am not packing up my ashes and I’m not eating pudding I don’t want. I’d burn it just to see what the chemicals in it would do.

    I love stargazing. Have you ever been to White Sands? I haven’t yet, but I hear it’s the place to go if you want to see a lot of stars. It’s too bad the sky looks so 2D from our vantage point, though. It does look like a ceiling, like all the stars on the same plane and nearby each other, which is why people think astrology is a viable idea (Just kidding, Greg! Hahaha).

    • Slade Ham says:

      It’s something like 880 miles across Texas on I-10. I’ve driven every foot of it. That was my first time in Big Bend, and it won’t be my last.

      I’ve never been to White Sands either, though I’ve heard the same thing. I fell in love with the stars on a few overnight trips to the coast down here. The beaches aren’t great in this little stretch… the water is brown and the sand is hardly white… but at night, under the stars when there’s no moon, you can hardly tell the difference. I’ve walked miles of that beach at night.

      I’ve never been able to put it into writing the way I want to, but it really does seem like you’re inside some vast building. Everything seems closer and very alive.

      It’s also very, very difficult to believe that we are alone in the universe when you can see all that. I really don’t do it enough.

      And don’t get me started on astrology, hahaha.

      • Matt says:

        When I moved from San Diego to New Orleans, I took the I-10 most of the way. It was a 4-day trip, two of which were spent entirely in Texas.

        • Slade Ham says:

          It is such a daunting drive, compounded by the fact that it is so fucking boring. Literally, nothing for almost 900 miles except for Houston and San Antonio. It probably got worse for you because once you clear TX you have Louisiana roads to look forward to, in all their pot-holed glory.

          Were you moving everything at the time, or just yourself? I did the U-Haul hing from Beaumont (25 miles from the Louisiana border) to Los Angeles. It sucked balls.

        • Matt says:

          That is quite possibly the dullest drive I have ever been through – especially that long strect between El Paso and San Antonio. Miles and miles of flat, brown nothing. And there isn’t shit on the radio, either. Just really bad country or creepy religious programming…when you can actually get a signal.

          I will say I did get a bit of amusement when I stopped at a truckstop restaurant and every single thing on the menu was chicken-fried. Including chicken-fried pickle spears.

          Yup, made that whole drive with everything in tow: U-Haul truck with all my furniture and my car hitched up to the back, and my quickly-quickly-becoming-psychotic, soon-to-be-ex girlfriend along for the ride. It was raining by the time I crossed over into Louisiana, and at that point I was ready to boot her ass off the I-10 right into the fucking bayou.

        • Anon says:

          My kids – okay, my wife and daughter – want to go to Sea World (sorry, Matt) this June. I was outvoted both in the overall destination and in the suggestion that we “go to the one where they eat people”. And so, in June, I will be driving between seventeen and twenty hours each way to get to San Antonio with a five-year-old and eighteen-month-old in the car.

          I don’t think I need to say much else. I love my family.

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Matt – There is a lot of religious talk radio in the South. I was driving back from Mississippi this past Sunday. Tupelo to Houston. I was scanning through the AM band in the hopes that I could catch the Masters final round on the way home.

          Nope. Lots of church services though.

          I am a fan of fried food, and the ability to buy it anywhere at any time is one of my favorite things about living down here. It’s a habit I’ll surely have to adjust at some point.

          And I made that drive with two hissing, screaming cats. You clearly had it worse. You can hide a body pretty much anywhere in Louisiana. Just toss her in the sticker bushes…

          @ Anon – You, my friend, are a very loving father. I’m sensing shades of Chevy Chase and Wally World in your future though…

        • Anon says:

          Hey, they have bars in Sea World, right? RIGHT?!?

        • Slade Ham says:

          I believe they do in fact serve alcohol… I’m pretty sure. I think. Maybe.

        • Matt says:

          @Anon – Not sure about the alcohol. Anheiser-Busch just sold the parks to an equities firm, so they might not be keeping beer on tap anymore. Or, conversely, they might now have a much bigger and better selection than just shitty Budweiser in those aluminum bottles that somehow manage to make it taste worse than when it’s in a can.

          Oh, and bring plenty of cash. Remember when I said the average day there will cost a family of four three to four hundred dollars?

          I wasn’t kidding.

          @Slade – After Hurricane Katrina I made the drive back in the other direction, with the U-Haul, and everything, but this time sharing space in the truck’s cab with a dog, two cats (one of whom would NOT stop meowing pitfully in his carrier) and my mopey girlfriend.

          Next road trip I take, I’m going by myself.

        • Anon says:

          If I’m spending $800, somebody’s getting eaten!

          Oh. That just doesn’t sound right.

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Matt – Doing what I do, I have grown to love road trips. There is something very soothing about the open road and your music. Other people in the car totally fucks it up for me, regardless of who it is. My usual opening act on the road is the one exception, as he shares my spirit of adventure and taste in music… plus he’s willing to go down any side road that may come along.

          @ Anon – “If I’m spending $800, somebody’s getting eaten!”

          Was this another Keira Knightley reference?

        • Anon says:

          Not intentionally but that would depend entirely on whether 1. she works that cheap and 2. my wife is on-board with the “no-fault fantasy list”.

        • Zara Potts says:

          I can’t tell you how much Simon and I are looking forward to our upcoming US roadtrip.. I just hope he’s over his Bon Jovi obsession by then.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Well, assuming that 1 is true and 2 is false, I will happily take on the role of stand-in. For the community and all. I’m unselfish like that.

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Zara – If is over his Bon Jovi obsession then I plan to rekindle it. On a side note, I almost abbreviated that “BJ obsession”, then realized my obvious error.

        • Cheryl says:

          Anon, this is Texas. Yes, they serve beer at Sea World. And margaritas! No full bar, and the ‘ritas are too sweet for my taste, but they have some tequila in them and that’s better than none. It’s how my husband survived a couple of years ago when our then-four-year-old daughter also made the Sea World request. And like everything else there, the beer and ‘ritas are terribly overpriced.

          17-18 hours – that’s dedication! We live an 1-1/2 hours from San Antonio, so that made it easier. You do indeed love your family.

        • Anon says:

          @Zara: I believe I am more disturbed by this obsession than by anything posted in this thread.

          @Slade: Thanks, man. Seriously. You’re a great guy. *Cough-cough-fuckface-cough* Excuse me. Allergies.

        • Zara Potts says:

          I’m glad you revised the abbreviation.. that could have led to some awkwardness.
          But no! Slade! You MUST NOT rekindle the Bon Jovi obsession. Imagine what will happen if you puts ‘Dead or Alive’ on repeat? I may have to jump out of the moving car. and YOU would be responsible.

        • Anon says:

          Cheryl, indeed I do. And, overpriced or not, thank you for giving me hope.

          Heh. Whales have “blow holes”. Heh.


        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Anon – I get those same allergies. Must be pollen season.

          @ Z – You’re not gonna be able to stop me… SHOT THROUGH THE HEART, AND YOU’RE TO BLAME……….

        • Zara Potts says:

          You are in so much trouble, Mister.

        • Slade Ham says:


          I cannot wait until June:)

        • Zara Potts says:

          I’m going to blast some Queensryche at you. See how you like that…

        • Slade Ham says:

          You can’t scare me with Queensryche. I’m a fan. I do have a weakness but I’ll never tell… It’s my krytponite. In the meantime…


        • Richard Cox says:

          Bon Jovi played here on Tuesday night, as it happens.

          Lay your hands on me, lay your hands on me, LAY YOUR HANDS ON ME!!!!!1

        • Zara Potts says:

          I will find out your weakness and you will be sorry.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Richrob. You are in BIG trouble too.

        • Anon says:

          [Shakes head sadly, furrows brow and turns up “Brandenburg concerto No.6″….]

        • Richard Cox says:

          May Slade and I play “Dead or Alive” and “Too Late for Love” at the same time? They’re virtually the same song.

        • Zara Potts says:


        • Slade Ham says:

          Unfortunately, Z, you’re going to possibly have to deal with the two of us at once very soon.

          Rich, I think they may reroute their drive now, to avoid our iPods. Those two songs are eerily similar. I’m assuming Def did theirs first, yes?

        • Zara Potts says:

          Not just the TWO of you. Simon as well!!
          I don’t know whether I’m going to survive the trip.
          I will now have to go and load up my iPod with the worst songs I can find.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Poor, poor ZaraPotts. She may elect to take a plane across Texas and Oklahoma just to avoid the misery.

          Yes, DL recorded theirs first. I’m obviously biased, and though I’m a fan of Bon Jovi, it seems to me like their 80s albums follow DL’s lead. Slippery When Wet sounds a bit like Pyromania, and New Jersey sounds even more like Hysteria. But like I said, I could be just a biased fan.

          Either way, Bon Jovi sure as hell marketed themselves better. DL sold more albums and more concert tickets and I bet hardly anyone on this board could name their lead singer without looking it up first.

          Def Leppard’s primary claim to fame is the one-armed drummer. Which gave rise to the joke, What has nine arms and sucks?

        • Slade Ham says:

          There’s going to be a lot 80’s thrown your way when you dip into the South I’m afraid. And do your worst. There is only one band that makes my skin crawl. Have at it, I say 🙂

        • Richard Cox says:

          No, no, ZaraPotts. Load up your iPod with the BEST songs you can find. That’s what we’re doing.

          Love is like a bomb, baby, come and get it on!!

        • Zara Potts says:

          I have visions in my head of Simon, you and Slade all in a car, chasing me down the freeway, blasting Bon Jovi and Guns n Roses at full volume.
          I know I am going to have nightmares about this tonight.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Slade – hit me with your 80’s. I ain’t scared.
          I see your 80’s and raise you my 80’s. If it’s an 80’s battle you want – BRING IT.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Rich, not only can I name the singer (Joe Elliot), I can name the bassist (Rick Savage). They were in a joke I told yeeeears ago about wanting to be a rock star. Rick’s name pops up in it. I’ll have to go see if it’s on YouTube, or maybe there’s an audio clip of it somewhere from my last CD.

          And the 9 arms joke is one of my faves.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Are we bringing GNR into the fray? That opens up sooo many new doors. Just remember to run down the right side of the road when you’re here. I’d hate to chase you into oncoming traffic.

        • Zara Potts says:

          If you bring GnR into this, then I’m going to bring in The Commodores.
          And thanks for the tip about oncoming traffic… I’ll make sure to keep my eyes open as I run screaming from you.

        • Richard Cox says:

          I’m sure if Slade is anything like me he also has plenty of 80s alternative music. The Smiths, New Order, Depeche Mode, The Cure, Cabaret Voltaire, etc.

          You’re coming into our house, ZP. Be warned.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Lionel Richie Commodores or that guy from Heatwave?

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Rich – Oh yes. Yaz, Bolshoi, Peter Murphy. We’ll be just fine.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Oh well, now you’ve explained that – our iPods will get along just fine. I’ll bring my Siouxsie and the Banshees, Black and entire Cure collection. I can relive my Goth years.

        • Slade Ham says:

          We’ll be fine then 🙂 But you can’t stop the Jon Bon train……….


        • Zara Potts says:

          That train is going NOWHERE. it’s going to be DERAILED.
          Jon Bon can suck on it.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Awww, Zara. Say not such things…


        • Zara Potts says:

          Stop! Stop!
          Next it’ll be … POUR SOME SUGAR ON ME.
          And then I’ll have to cry.

        • Slade Ham says:


        • Zara Potts says:


        • Brandy says:

          @ Zara- Just load a lot of Nickelback onto your Ipod.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Oh, good call Brandy!!! Thanks for the tip. iTunes here I come…

        • Slade Ham says:


        • Brandy says:

          You’re welcome! I HAD to even out the playing field. 🙂

        • Becky says:

          Anon listens to Brandenburg Concerto #5 while he sips his wine and moisturizes his cuticles.

        • Anon says:

          What can I say? Gun cleaning solvents are hell on the skin and classical music calms me after a long day of waterboarding filthy, lazy-assed hippies.

        • Lorna says:

          And Creed. Lots and lots of Creed!!!!

        • Lorna says:

          Speaking of music, our commune needs a theme song.

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Becky – Hey now… I listen to classical as well, though my cuticles are godawful.

          @ Lorna – Creed too? I may not move in now. Zara has all the ammo she needs…

        • Zara Potts says:

          and I’m not afraid to use it.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Go right ahead…


        • Zara Potts says:


        • Simon Smithson says:

          ‘Cause I’m a cowboy! I GOT THE NIGHT ON MY SIII-IIIIIHDE!’

          And I’m wanted (WANTED)!

          Dead or alive….

        • Zara Potts says:

          Oh god.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          ‘-And I walk these streets!

        • Zara Potts says:

          Oh Jesus.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          No, no, Z. The next line is ‘A loaded six string on my back’.

        • Anon says:

          @Slade: As long as you’re not biting your cervicals….

        • Zara Potts says:

          @Simon Don’t make me go all Johnny Sac on your ass!!

        • Simon Smithson says:

          @Z: I’ll bring the fury… o.

        • Anon says:

          Listen, I love the idea of hosting you guys but I’ve got kids – you’re going to have to leave the furries somewhere else during the cook- Oh. OH! “Fury”! Never mind. My mistake.

        • Zara Potts says:

          Sopranos, Anon. Sopranos.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          @Z: ‘I ‘ate Columbus!’

        • Anon says:

          @Zara: Mea culpa on the missed reference. Truth be told, I have never watched the show.

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Anon – No, no, no… “furries” was hilarious.

          @ Z – CREEEEEEEEED is not a lyric. Just sayin’. You have stumbled upon my true weaknesses though, and I must admit to being a bit scared now… Still…


          I will not go easily…

        • Zara Potts says:

          You’re going down, sucka!!!

      • Joe Daly says:

        OK, how I missed a discussion about 80s rock is beyond me.

        Jon Bon Jovi- I am now comfortable in my own skin enough to admit that I like about three of his songs. But when Richie “Never Met an Eight Ball I Didn’t Love” Sambora started talking about the band in terms of the mafia (“what happens in the band, stays in the band”), without a trace of irony, I realized that their poufy little boy’s club had run its course.

        Def Leppard- Tragically underrated because of two things. 1) The era during which they became famous; and 2) Overproduction of Hysteria stole their golden opportunity to abandon their hair band labels and make a legit album. They got (fairly, I’ll admit), lumped in with lots of other hair bands in the 80’s and early 90’s, and the Darwinian saber of Kurt Cobain’s de-tuned guitar was their death knell. But beyond all the production and crappy ballads, they’re a savage (pun intended) band. Joe Elliott can write the shit out of a rock song, and they’ve had enough good guitarists coming through the band to prove that they’re more Zep than Poison.

        Creed- someone mentioned Creed in here, and now I have to go take a shower. But as a conciliatory gesture to Scott Stapp, while in the shower, I will make a Jesus Christ pose until the shampoo’s all rinsed out.

        The Axl Rose Project (GnR)- I’m just going to have to do a story on them. Few bands have broken my heart has brutally as they did. Still love everything through UYI I and II.

        Phew. Geez Slade, you’ve really got the party started with this piece! And correct me if I’m wrong, but haven’t seen much more urinary dialogue lately either!

        • Slade Ham says:

          Yes, bring back the pee talk!

          Richard will certainly side with you on Def Leppard. I have always remained somewhat impartial towards them. I will absolutely admit to jamming out to Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet though. My musical tastes have long since matured, and I recognize that everything I liked about some late 80’s music when i was younger is exactly the same stuff I hate about music today… overproduction and formulaic writing.

          Creed nauseates me. I have a good Scott Stapp story from my last string of shows in Iraq. Well, Kuwait anyway. Scott didn’t get to finish the tour like the rest of us. He’s a fucking douche.

          I remain a huge GnR fan. Both Illusions were wonderful. Appetite remains one of the most solid, perfect, open to close records I’ve ever heard. I won’t even bother to comment on Spaghetti. I gave Chinese Democracy a fair chance, as it was Axl and Buckethead, and I love Axl and Buckethead. A few tracks were okay listens but it was in no shape, form, or fashion a GnR record.

          It’s kind of hard to believe that there really are only four GnR albums responsible for making me love them so much.

        • Joe Daly says:

          We’ve got a good pee discussion going on over in Irene’s shoe thread, as relates to drug tests. Come on over- the water’s warm!

          I still put on some Leppard every now and then when I’m running. Mutt Lange did a bang up job on High ‘n Dry and Pyromania. Especially the latter, which was pretty aggressive for the early 80s.

          I can fairly say that the presence of Creed has diminished my enjoyment of life on this planet. I mean, it’s not like a paralyzing emotional crash or anything. It’s just that knowing that there are bands out the like Creed makes me pretty sad. I did crack up at Stapp’s sex tape, tho.

          OK, I’m with you on GnR. Even the Patience album is legit. They were doing unplugged before it was fashionable, and they truly re-imagined classics. Especially when you listen to the early “You’re Crazy” demos by Hollywood Rose, you see how far they came. Appetite is sublime in its greatness. Not a throwaway song on the album. UYI has lots of filler, but tons of solid, bluesy rock as well. Spaghetti- eh? Couple good covers, but it screams “CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATION.”

          I really wanted Chinese Democracy to rock, and while I wasn’t totally disappointed, neither was I pleasantly surprised. I really like about three songs on there and there are a couple others I dig. Here’s the problem- it took him 15 years to record that. Most musicians go through one or more fundamental shifts in their style every five years or so. But most musicians record one or two albums during each phase, so the albums end up defining that “era” of the band. But because Axl didn’t release anything, his 15 years of diverse influences all ended up on Chinese Democracy, so you’ve got rock, industrial, flamenco, punk, jazz, etc. all crammed into one album. I also love Buckethead, and think he’s wasted on a guy who can’t pick a direction and fully go there.

          I call Chinese Democracy “The State Fair Album,” by The Axl Rose Project. The album name, because like the state fair, there’s a little bit of everything available, but nothing terribly good or memorable. The band name, because those musicians have nothing to do with the essence or legacy of Guns n Roses.

          OK, I’m off the podium now. Sorry…

          Oh and uh, I’ll be needing to hear that Scott Stapp story!

        • Irene Zion says:

          We’re talking about Bull Pizzles now.
          Do YOU have a Costco near you?

        • Lorna says:

          How did I ever live without all of you and TNB? You all keep me smiling!

        • Slade Ham says:

          @ Joe – You just nailed what I’ve been trying to put into words about Chinese Democracy I really did like a handful of the songs, but it was all so very disjointed. Way too many styles.

          The Scott Stapp story is a short one. He was touring with his solo project at the same time that I was. We were in Kuwait, and slated to go from there to Iraq. Scott was throwing fits because he hadn’t had a shower in two days, etc. It’s the Middle fucking East, ya know? Man up.

          Basically the military laughed at him. They figured that if he couldn’t cut it in Kuwait, there was no way he’d make it through two weeks in Iraq. They put him on a plane back home. He’s done stuff for the troops before, so it’s kind of hard to knock him too much… but he was a little bitch on that trip.

          @ Irene – I have apparently missed some riveting conversation over on your post. I’ll remedy that. And yes, we have Costco. Not near my house, but we have it. We also have Sam’s Warehouse, the Wal-Mart version. Pallets of anything you could ever want. Now, bull pizzle?

          @ Lorna – It was a different world, no?

      • Don Mitchell says:

        Here’s a driving-across-TX story, even though I’m late to the comments here.

        1968. I had long hair and facial hair, too. I was married to a woman with long straight hair. I had the red BMW sedan I wrote about in Isabella in the New World. We told some people with Texas experience that we had to drive across Texas to get to California. One guy said, “Your most important accessory is going to be a pair of scissors.”


        “Long hair on both of you, facial hair, foreign car. If you break down in Texas you’re dead. If the car stops, have your wife get the scissors out of the glovebox and cut your hair. Then you’ll have a chance of getting intact to California.”

        We got the scissors. We didn’t break down. My wife read Trollope out loud as we rolled through Texas.

  22. Good lord, I laugh so hard I almost puked. Great story.

    “Like a squirrel” has to be one of the best putdowns I’ve heard in a while.

    • Slade Ham says:

      And “I laugh so hard I almost puked” has to be one of the best compliments… you’re too nice.

      I meant it exactly like I said it though. Like a fucking squirrel. It’s really not fair to the squirrels.

      • I’ll put my dignity on the line here and say that I’m fond of hippies. I really am. I lived on an organic farm for a long time, surrounded by worn-out acid heads, living the hippy life. It was great.

        Of course, once I stumbled into some money I found that was nice, too. But I view money as a drug – addictive, but not healthy.

        I think I’m still a hippy at heart. I’ll probably end up living like a squirrel one day.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Eh, you’re all good. You’ve seen some of the world, played a bit, tried both sides. Even if you did rejoin the hippie collective, it won’t be blindly and without thought. The punks will still win in the end, but they’ll have a friend on the inside.

        • Cheryl says:

          No fear, David. I am pretty much a hippie in a lot of ways, but I draw a thick line of demarcation between, say, hippies who are running an organic farm and believe in peace love and understanding, and see themselves as part of a whole; and the kind of “neo-hippie” (as described by another commenter) represented by Allison in the story above. For me, the difference is the willingness to take responsibility for your actions and who you are.

          Running an organic farm is making a positive difference in the world and living by values you are committed to. Living off the land is so admirable, and something I think more of us should understand, if for no other reason I think it’s important to know where our food really comes from, and what good healthy food looks like.

          Squatting on public land and insulting people for working for a living and being “part of the system” (even as you are benefiting from those people being “in the system” by eating their food and riding in their cars and crashing on their sofas) is shirking responsibility and making other people responsible for you. The moniker of “hippie” really has nothing to do with it, in my book.

        • Slade Ham says:

          I agree that the word “hippie” has taken on a negative tone in this whole discussion. I’ve never been much for labels anyway, though when you write you have to call things something.

          There is an absolute distinction between the two groups – those that have a well thought out lifestyle choice, and those that use it as an excuse. It very much so comes down to taking responsibility.

          Ten year old sense of humor or not, you bring a beautiful sense of clarity to the conversation 🙂

          Our commune is safe again. And David, I do sincerely hope that no offense was taken my my hippie-hatred. I only meant hippie in the sense that Cheryl just explained.

        • I’m not really an easy person to offend, so there’s no worry there.

          And my “hippie” days are behind me, I think. I still find the idea of going back to the mountains and trying my hand at organic farming again to be appealing… But only if I get a strong wireless signal.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Yes… any laid back lifestyle must have internet. If you ever get that place ion the mountains, I’ll come visit. I’ll bring squirrel treats 🙂

  23. Ofelia says:

    Great read Slade. I love how throughout the trip you never lost sight of why you were out there in the first place, even with all the annoying distractions. You didn’t let that ruin your trip and you always got away to take pleasure in it. Not to mention get a great story out of it. The sky gazing was my favorite part to relate to, whether it’s a gorgeous bright blue sky or infinite night sky, there’s something about it that calls out to the curiosity in us all. The vastness of it has a magnetic pull that is too often ignored.

    • Slade Ham says:

      I have gone enough places to know that what you expected rarely happens. I’ve since adopted a willingness to roll with it, and soak up the experience for what it is. Ten years ago, I probably would have beached my canoe, drowned someone, and walked back to civilization. I’m glad I did not, as I would have missed a wonderful adventure.

      And I’m happy the magic of the night sky is not lost on you. Have I mentioned my gratitude for following me over here yet? I hope I have. I miss my MySpace readership terribly.

      • Ofelia says:

        Hehe, yes you have. And there really is no need. I’m nothing if not loyal to the things that I enjoy. And I enjoy your writing. It would be a shame and a loss to stop reading your work just because you changed venues. I mean, I would hope it’s not so difficult for people to change a url address, then again I have been proven wrong before. Your readership here may not be what it was on MySpace, yet, but I have a feeling that it will continue to grow. Your work is too good to do otherwise. You’ll see.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Some have. I get quite a few emails about postings here, from some of those same people. It’s really far easier to just post a comment, though any new arena is probably threatening. The one plus at MS was that I could see my views as well as my comments. Here, I just close my eyes and hope 🙂

          Also, here, there are lots of talented writers. MySpace had a lot of emotional teenagers, so rising above that was easy.

        • Ofelia says:

          Yeah, change is scary sometimes, and not every one can go with the flow as easily as others. And I agree about the talented writers here, you fit right in. As for the emotional teenagers, I’ll just say that they’re not missed. Don’t tell them though, they’ll write more blogs about their depression….oh never mind, too late.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Blogs, or perhaps they’ll just go back to writing their pain on their arms in Sharpie…

  24. Great post, Slade.


    That’s all I have to say for now. I think pretty much everything else has already been said.

    Cheers, R.

    • Slade Ham says:

      The simplicity is welcome. Just a head nod that you stopped by at all would have been plenty. Thanks, Rich.

      Btw, your hat was mentioned earlier I believe, but so much earlier that I’ve now forgotten where.

  25. Joe Daly says:

    @Anon- No, I tend to avoid patchouli. I’m a pretty non-standard veghead. I prefer death metal to jam bands and cheese pizza to vegetables. I border on hating vegetables.

    @Simon- Fool’s Gold loaf? That sounds like something you find on one of those lists of oft-referenced/seldom-attempted list of sexual practices that make their way around the internet, making popular phrases like “The Dirty Sanchez.” “As soon as she passed out, I gave her a Fool’s Gold loaf!”

    @Slade- I’m sort of a “marker.” Would the “No Trace” rule be violated if I went around peeing on bushes and whatnot, just to sort of let the rest of the wilderness know what I considered to be mine?

    • Anon says:

      A veggie-hating vegan. My heart goes out to you, my friend.

    • Slade Ham says:

      I’m a marker too. It seems to be a very instinctual thing, marking one’s territory. Any ex-girlfriends ever take issue with that habit? Hahahaha. I was going to say get “pissed off at”, but the pun felt forced.

  26. Lorna says:

    Can I have a butterfly habit? Oh and I am sort of like a hippie without the smell and the laziness. I’d be delighted to help in the garden, you just need to point out the weeds that I shouldn’t pull (my brother’s will never forgive me for that one), and I will recycle all the empty beer cans, but I promise to bath daily not throw around too many peace signs.

    • Slade Ham says:

      I’m certain all of the weeds that should not be pulled will be contained in their own special garden. Did you weed-eat your brother’s stash?

      Beer cans are optional. I’m pushing for a Guinness keg. It’s just not the same in a can.

      • Lorna says:

        No, I pulled them! I was weeding the garden and pulled all these really tall weeds growing in the corn stalks! Ha! I had no clue I was pulling up their future stash. I’m actually kind of proud of that. 😀

        Yeah, you’re right about canned beer. All alcoholic beverages should be out of glass containers or keg.

        • Slade Ham says:

          So you were weeding the corn field? I just got a really strange visual of your childhood, hahaha. I suppose it’s better than envisioning them planting pot obviously in a backyard garden though.

        • Lorna says:

          Like a Children of the Corn visual? I did have a rather colorful childhood but not to that extent.

          Yes, I was weeding the corn field….if that’s what you want to call it. It was just a couple of rows of corn in the garden where my brothers apparently planted their pot to conceal it from view of…. hmmm, not the parents, the authorities, I guess.

        • Slade Ham says:

          That’s why you build a special room in the back of your closet…

        • Anon says:

          In for Guinness!!

          Sorry, that reply leapt out as soon as I read the keg wish. Funnier since I just came from an Irish pub.

        • Slade Ham says:

          I am so happy that my taste in alcohol are shared by the TNB crew. You, and James, Irwin, and I shall tap the Guinness keg, assuming there is any will left in me after Duke and I kill our two bottles of James.

          This could be a very unproductive stretch, communally.

        • Anon says:

          Or perhaps just “non-linearly productive”. In fairness, I don’t know that I’ve ever had Jameson. I’m a Scotch drinker more than a scotch drinker – Oban, Dalwhinnie, Balvenie Double Wood (heh – I sai… oh, never mind), The Macallan, Dalmore’s Cigar Malt when I’m on a budget. But I shall buy a bottle of Jameson this weekend!

        • Slade Ham says:

          I admittedly am not a huge fan of Scotch. I will drink it, especially the good stuff, but I prefer a good Irish whiskey first.

          Double Wood, hehehehe. Yeah, you said it.

          I’m currious to know what you thing. Your spot by the fire is riding on it 🙂

        • Anon says:

          “I’m currious to know what you thing”. Have you been hitting the Jameson already or are you channeling Tony Montana? 😀

        • Slade Ham says:

          Wow. Just wow. I read your comment and thought, “There’s no way i actually typed that.” But I did. My only defense is that I have my feet up on my desk and am carelessly typing on the keyboard with it in my lap. You’d think I was drunk and typing with my feet.

          But choo wanna go to war, we take choo to war, hokay?

        • Anon says:

          Interestingly, I also have my feet up on my desk and am carelessly typing on my keyboard. Of course, I’m at work so I’m also drunk and typing with my feet.

        • Slade Ham says:

          I’m envisioning your job again now. A faceless spy in an imagined workplace…

        • Anon says:

          I’m actually a fifteen-year-old high school virgin, hanging out in the basement and stealing my neighbor’s wi-fi. But, as I already told Becky, my mommy says I’m handsome and smart so there’s hope.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Stranger things have happened. Normally though, it’s the old guy pretending to be a teen and not the teen pretending to be a grown up… You’re awfully clever for a fifteen year old, and you know way too good with the double entendre to have never, well… I won’t leave myself open here.

        • Anon says:

          Yeah, we had enough of that last night with Simon (who I did not dream about, thankfully – nothing personal, Simon). And, the whole “pretending to be a teen thing” is just…. Yeesh. Ick.

  27. Lorna says:

    Stupid typo. Habit = habitat!

  28. Lorna says:

    Anon – I kind of like you too!

  29. Alison Aucoin says:

    Everyone knows, when it comes to effective distraction – crying for cops and pee for boarder patrol. Sheesh, where ya’ll been, under a rock??

    • Slade Ham says:

      They should really send out a memo. I didn’t know. I do now though. The next time I head to South Texas, I’m chugging a quart of Gatorade first.

  30. After reading this piece, I was left no choice but to pull an “Ashley”.

    • Slade Ham says:

      As happy as I am that you enjoyed it, my apologies to your wardrobe and your carpet. Thanks for reading, Robin 🙂

  31. jmblaine says:

    I like wilderness but not with other people.
    Because in the midst you hate those people
    you despise those people
    you draw upon every spiritual strength
    you ever knew
    to keep from bashing their heads with a rock
    and then a month or two later –
    depending upon how long you spent
    and the intensity of loathing
    you laugh like it was the most wonderful bonding time
    This story like
    scared me
    really bad.

    I have a tv in the closet
    I’m going to watch it
    and eat Cocoa Pebbles.

    • Slade Ham says:

      I’m sorry for inner torture… It is so very true. With many things, we laugh at the uncomfortableness and negativity only after we’ve left it behind. So much easier to just not endure it in the first place.

      I’m always thrilled when my email alert shows a comment from you.

      Cocoa Pebbles are delicious, especially the milk afterward.

  32. Slade Ham says:

    Ruh roh… I can’t find my post on the main page… Someone needs to post something new, me’thinks.

  33. Erika Rae says:

    I have a really good friend who went to school to become a geologist. The problem was that – being geologists in training – they were constantly going on camping excursions to remote places to study the land. These trips, of course, were “leave-no-trace” trips, which translated to carrying around an orange bucket on which everyone had to squat, cover, and haul with them to the next site. My friend is not a geologist today for the sole reason that a “poop bucket” shared with a bunch of hippie geologists was too much to bear.

    Your post had me laughing out loud. Oh, but you’re funny.

    …And speaking of funny, I heard a rumor that you’re coming to Colorado to do a show soon. Details?

    • Slade Ham says:

      Aww, thank Erika. I am actually. I’m playing in CO Springs Apr 29-May 1. It’s a small club, and probably won’t be super busy. I’m flying into Denver actually, and renting a car. If some of you Denver folks would like to get together for lunch on Friday or Saturday, I’d be more than game. Excited, even.

      Like “let’s do this” excited.

      And yeah, of all the reasons not to be a geologist, that’s the best one yet. Some traces should be acceptable.

      • Erika Rae says:

        I suppose it all worked out for the best. She ended up getting a masters from Stanford in product design. She’s doing awesome. More people should be challenged by poop buckets in their lives.

        Actually, I have a really good friend who was voluntarily homeless for several years. During a portion of that time, he lived out of a white van. He claims that he had a “poop tube” made out of some sort of piping. I, uh, never verified this, but he claimed it was something that climbers often use.

        My friend and Chris Farley as the Motivational Speaker are all mixed up in my mind.

        I have really latched on to this topic, haven’t I? I’ll stop now.

        • Slade Ham says:

          He went to the bathroom… in a van… down by the river!

          I’m going to have to go start a very uncomfortable Google search now.

          Your assertion that “more people should be challenged by poop buckets in their lives” has all the makings of catch phrase for a Life Coach. This is an infomercial waiting to happen. Tony Robbins would have nothing on you.

          “For just three easy payments, not only do you get this bright orange bucket but I’ll even throw in a van-friendly poop tube and a copy of my new book, How Not to Get It All Over Yourself In the Process.”

          You’re gonna be rich 🙂 Maybe your friend’s product design degree could help.

        • Erika Rae says:

          HAHAHA – I am going to put everything else in my life on hold and go write that book *this instant*.

  34. Lorna says:

    347 comments! So Slade, am I losing my support system due to my hint to Zara that perhaps she should play a little….or a lot of Creed when she visits Texas? I mean it’s communal living in Hawaii…

    I’m not sure which has kept me more entertained this week. The actual post or commentary…. Most likely both. I’ve been giggling all week and sort of feel like a child.

    • Slade Ham says:

      This has most certainly turned into an interesting discussion… from hair metal, to peeing on law enforcement, to communal planning… we’ve traded hippie recipes and fed Simon and discovered a vegetarian that hates his veggies… we’ve caught squirrels, learned about fire ants, and gotten naked…

      I do believe it’s been an entertaining week for all of us. I’m glad it’s kept you giggly as well.

      Just no more Creed, ok? Hahaha.

  35. Anon says:

    Slade, I have come to like you quite a bit but I’m afraid I have some uncomfortable news. I, uh, bought a bottle of Jameson earlier today and have just tried some. There’s no easy way to say this so perhaps I will be diplomatic and merely let you know that, should we ever cross paths, there will be a nearly full 750ml bottle of it just waiting for you.

    Now, this Macallan 12 I’m enjoying with lunch is an entirely different story. And only $38 at Costco!! If that place sold ammunition and reloading supplies, I wouldn’t need to shop anywhere else.

    • Slade Ham says:

      Actually, you are by no means in the minority. It is tragically disappointing to hear though. Perhaps you could join Duke and I when we meet and donate the bottle to the cause? I’m really, really sad to hear that…

      On the same note, I would be apt to pass on the Macallan. As scotch’s go it is the lesser of the evils for sure, but I can’t help but gravitate back to my Irish whiskey. We can still be friends though – we just won’t be able to share a bottle, which is good news for a liquor store owner somewhere.

      • Anon says:

        I have already offered Duke a complimentary bottle but have never gotten an address to which to ship it. Give me one and I’ll FedEx on Monday.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Well, I would hardly expect you to send it to me. I’ve definitely done nothing to deserve it. I’ll give Duke first crack at it, since you already have it, and then if it just ends up sitting there I’ll happily take it off your hands 🙂 I cannot let it go to waste.

          Going once, Duke…

    • Irene Zion says:


      I agree with Anon, but only partially.
      I won’t drink hard liquor with a color, except for rum.
      Scotch, Bourbon, Whiskey, all of that stuff makes me want to vomit.
      Even the rum I prefer clear.
      I’m a hard liquor racist.

      • Anon says:

        So White Russians are okay, then? Or is there too much potential Cossack action there?

      • Slade Ham says:

        I can’t do rum, or rather choose not to. I also don’t like anything sugary. A good margarita is nice, but other than that, I just like my whiskey on the rocks.

        Hard liquor racist, hahahaha. That’s hilarious.

  36. Irene Zion says:


    I don’t know what’s in a White Russian, but if it’s brown liquor, it doesn’t go in my mouth!

    • Slade Ham says:

      Kaluha, vodka, and milk. It’s a brown liquor, but only because it’s coffee flavored. They’re actually quite delicious.

      • Irene Zion says:

        I could probably drink that, then.
        I only mean the scotches and whiskeys and bourbons and those after-dinner drinks in the enormous glasses.

        • Anon says:

          Frankly, I think they should all be served in enormous glasses.

          Speaking of which, I will apologize for any typos or, you know, cross-threaded responses (as it is, I munched my own email addy on my last reply). It’s afternoon and gorgeous out here in my backyard so I am terribly sun blind and slightly Dalwhinnie impaired.

  37. Slade Ham says:

    Yeah, it’s all pretty stuff. You’ll be easing into liking brown liquor.

    Look at it as sensitivity training for drinkers.

  38. Don Mitchell says:

    Great piece, Slade.

    I hadn’t read it before getting on the airplane and before grabbing airplane reading material in LAX — Nevada Barr’s “Borderline.”

    If I had, I’d be laughing as I read Barr’s thing and saw your thing in it, but as it’s happened, it was the other way around.

    Check it out. Big Bend, rafts, river, murderous mayhem, etc. etc. Ammo boxes, same purpose.

  39. Greg Olear says:

    Great piece, as usual.

    Walt reminds me of Donnie from Lebowski. “Shut the fuck up, Donnie!”

    What we have learned about you, Slade, is that you have quite a rap sheet…

  40. […] Hippie antagonist. […]

  41. Read all about tracing a telephone number online…

    […]Slade Ham | Leave No Trace | The Nervous Breakdown[…]…

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