Thursday, October 20, 2005

My Favorite Newspaper Writer

Besides Mukilteo's own newspaper columnist and author Chuck Sigars, my second favorite is the Seattle Times' Ron Judd. I look forward to Thursday because his outdoor column is in the "Northwest Weekend" section of the Times. Frequently, including today, I laugh out loud reading him---even when I am alone. Well, I guess not totally alone because Apolo is always with me.

"Are you laughing at me? What did I do? Aren't I cute?"

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"No, Apolo, I'm laughing at the newspaper!"

Today Judd wrote about being in Colorado to interview Winter Olympic athletes at the training center in Colorado Springs. Humor exists when the reader can completely identify with what is said. I get it when he talks about the dryness and the altitude. When we travel to Montana, I can't get enough moisturizer on my face and my hands. I always feel like a potato chip. And then, I must suffer the laughs of my son when I pant a little hiking up Mount Helena and it is only 4000 feet! It is kind of a claustrophobic feeling when you cannot take a really deep breath. Needless to say, nobody can describe the travails of Puget Sounders trying to enjoy themselves in the Rocky Mountains quite like Ron Judd.


And some quotes:

Shortly after landing in Denver, I was explaining this to my friend, Prickly Phlox, by talking on my cellphone, which, like anything else we People of the Sea Level do within an hour of arriving in a high place, was making me pant heavily and want to go lie down for a week....

"And did I mention the dry air? Walking out of Denver International is like walking into a pottery kiln: It sucks every last bit of moisture out of your being — as thoroughly as listening to a Dick Cheney speech vaporizes any trace of hope in your soul."....

While it's clearly easier to adjust to altitudes and dry air if you're in better shape, everyone going from sea level to high level feels the big lead balloon tied to their head for a few days; it's simply a question of the size of the balloon.
Genetics clearly are a factor: Some people adjust to altitude changes fairly easily. Others feel their body wanting to crawl up inside itself and die, at least for a few days....

Sample question to speedskaters: Are you nuts?
Answer: Well, yes.
Anyone who intentionally attempts to get what passes for sleep in dry, thin air is clearly at least a half bubble off plumb — or wants to win awfully badly....

Note to Bonnie Blair: Our own personal altitude rooms at the Hilton did not have DVD players. But they did offer all the other high-altitude advantages, such as waking yourself in the middle of the night by suddenly feeling the urge to inhale with the force required to suck a kosher dill pickle through a straw.....

And perhaps it was. The beautiful thing about spending time in the high/dry lands is the way all that moisture deprivation gives way to replenishing ecstasy the instant you return to the wetlands.
Half an hour after stepping off the plane last week, I was driving through a tasty Seattle mist when the cellphone rang again. It was Phlox.
"I can't talk right now," I snapped.
"Because you're driving?" she asked.
"No," I said, my eyes rolled back in my head with pleasure.
"I'm reconstituting."

Yes! I completely understand the "replenishing ecstasy" with lungs full of oxygen and dewy skin once more. It happens when you get off the plane or if driving---the moment you start to descend down into Seattle from the summit of Snoqulamie Pass.

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How does one photograph moisture at 7:30 AM??