Saturday, March 10, 2007

I went into the mountains with my step dad Bob this morning. On the drive up, it started to drizzle....

Then it started to snow....


Bob is a volunteer with the US Forest Service. He goes into the Roosevelt National Forest in northern Colorado and does various things that I normally would think that only a retired guy would have time to do. But Bob has been volunteering his whole life. When he was young, he volunteered to go to Vietnam. Twice. On his second tour he was in a LRRP unit. At some point the unit's mission changed from conventional LRRP stuff (being dropped by helicopter into hostile territory with a small crew, sleeping outdoors, radioing in coordinates for bombing missions, hightailing it into helicopters in fields of elephant grass while being shot at by NVA, and so on) to rapid deployment support for other units in distress. He was wounded in an ambush in one such mission and lost his right calf. When he returned home, he met a man who taught him how to ski on one leg. Since then he's been helping handicapped kids learn out to enjoy the outdoors. A few years ago I remember being blown away when my mom told me on the phone that Bob was out showing a blind kid how to hunt with a bow and arrow. Unbelievable. And that's just one example.


We stopped at some Forest Service facilities and Bob shoveled their walk ways and made sure they weren't out of supplies. We went snowshoeing. At one point he stopped in his tracks. I stopped, too. "What do you hear?" I listened. He listened. We listened. "A bird chirping...." "The wind through the treetops...." "A car's tires on the paved road below...no an airplane above."

After a while we walked back down the trail to the truck. Bob recorded information about the trek — what the trail was like, the number of people he saw on the trail, the number of cars in the parking lot — in a Forest Service log book. We stopped at another USFS facility on the drive down. A little Boy Scout troop was digging a shelter in a snow bank near the parking lot.



Further down the road, Bob told me about the three ways to hunt an antelope. Spot it and loop back through a dry creek bed or other stealthy means. Set up a blind and wait. Wave a flag over a ridge to attract the animal, which is naturally curious. He offered a fourth possibility, which he'd heard of but was skeptical about: make a cardboard cut-out shaped like a cow, paint it black and white, and hide behind it while you walk at an angle towards the antelope. He also told me the reason birds eat pebbles. Being toothless, they need something to grind the food in their bellies. All this stuff I don't know. Thanks, Bob.

2 comments:

wendy said...

this is an awesome awesome post. i love bob. you're lucky to have him close by.

heather mac said...

this made me cry. I'm so glad i saw it. God, he is just a wonderful man, isn't he? I wish i lived closer. I'm so jealous that you get to see him so often. It feels good to know that some of his greatness is in me too. Nick, I'm so glad I know you and your mom! (and dad too, of course!) What a great and funny family we are!