The path way less traveled!

It was July 3rd, 2007, some friends and my son and I were going to go up Tahoe’s Mt. Tallac, just a nice day hike…

Well, everyone cancelled but I still wanted to go… so I went alone.  Things weren’t going right for me in life so I thought I’d use this time to “talk with God”, sort some things out in my mind… it always seemed that I came back clearer after some quality time in nature.

I got to the trailhead and started my hike.  I’ve been up Tallac a few times on the standard trail that runs along Fallen Leaf Lake then up to the ridge and to the top.  Well… not today!  At a few hundred yards on the trail I strangely just decided to turn right angle into the woods and go up the face through the “cross” (so called because when it fills with snow it resembles a rough cross).

Had I known how rough this was going to be I might not have done it, but I was in sweat pants and long sleeves and this was bushwhacking at it’s best!  I’m telling you it was thick and coming at you from every angle.  I recalled it was like 30minutes to go maybe 1/4mi.  Anyone that knows the area knows there is a way to reach the face without all this trouble, but I was already in and not turning back now!

This became a metaphor for life, as I talked with God, asking questions about my life, my direction, I kept on bushwhacking.  This went on for maybe an hour and a half till finally I reached a more open area where I saw bear tracks in mud and realized I was also quite alone and life wasn’t always safe.

In a short time I got to where I was near the beginning of the face where it climbs at a strong upward angle!  However, arriving at that opening was another very dark muddy area, cool, shaded… and it was filled with little blue butterflies!  I mean like a few hundred, low on the ground, many flying, I walked up to them and they didn’t fly away or seem alarmed at my presence.  I could literally squat down and pick one up and as I did, some would land on me.  These are magical creatures to me, so harmless, beautiful, so arriving at this place was saying something to me.

After all that rough hiking I come this place, like a paradise of life.  I stayed for about 15 minutes and then started up the mountain face.  You could touch the ground in front of you as you climbed, it was steep and got steeper as I climbed.  It was the climb up the face of Mt. Tallac.

Getting way up to the cross there was still snow in places that you have to go around (you lose it on steep snow packs and you’re toast), then I got to the top of the cross and saw an opening to my left up a small stream in between rock walls on both sides.  Not being a super climber, no gear, and alone I knew I had better use good judgment here!  Well the higher I got into this crevasse the harder it got and the waterfall was now soaking me with ice cold water.

I made a choice at this point… to back down, not a quitter this was a decision where safety prevailed, and backing down was equal in difficulty.  More dangerous than scary, sometimes in life we must change and adapt.  Back to where I started that part, I went further left and found an easier way up, difficult at first but it became a much better way overall.  This took me to a ridge line and some rock hopping to the top.  The whole time I was sorting things out… asking, listening for answers.

I had a small daypack I carried water and granola bars plus some extra clothes, a lighter, small flashlight, cell phone.  So I took some pictures, had a couple bars, hung out at the top for about 30 minutes and surveyed an “interesting” way down!

It was a way I’d never gone and probably very few ever have down this way, but looking out towards Lake Tahoe it was behind me and to the left (north) down the ridge with a long cliff drop on the Lake side.  Once down that it was back to the face but into the tree line, I figured I wasn’t going to take an easy route down either!  It was a day of challenges!

It was okay at first but into the tree line a bit and it was bushwhacking again!  However, as we know, going down through bushes is much better than going up!  This didn’t mean it was easy and it seemed to go on forever.  In fact, my running shoes ripped on both sides!  During this time I knew it was going to get dark soon and I actually thought about my Faith, putting one foot in front of the other, knowing it would end sometime.  In what seemed like a couple hours of bushes, freestyle downhill… zero paths… I came to a road.  On this trip, there were no paths.

I mean that was a good hard hike!  I walked the roads to get back to my car which was still quite a way from me, I stopped at a cabins hose and drank up as my water was empty an hour ago!

My wife gave me a ride as I didn’t feel like walking another hour to my car!  That day… I got some serious lessons about life, Faith, direction.  I used every aspect of that day as a metaphor for my life.  I won’t do that on purpose again, but I’m so glad I did it!  One of my favorite types of hikes at Tahoe are the ridge hikes, they’re fun and challenging at times!

I just wanted to share this story about spending time on such a rough hike and what it meant to me.  I recommend you take a partner and prepare for the worst just in case, but this was my time… to sort things out… yes I did come back refreshed in my way of thinking and feeling!  Till next time, God Bless,

~Gary

530-544-1330

kirchmeister5@gmail.com

ximorocks.com/kirch

Stories of Personal Triumph 8

Although I’m certainly a Bruce Lee fan, his story has been played out in every way, for me, his respect comes from his extreme dedication to martial arts.  From physiology to endurance training and everything in between, there wasn’t much left out!

Another martial artist, actor, and stuntman that got worldwide attention is the amazing Jackie Chan Taking on screen martial arts to a most times comedic place with the improvised use of any item available for defensive/offensive weapons/techniques and awesome stunts!

Born in Hong Kong in 1954, Jackie began his career by training in drama, martial arts, and acrobatics.  Becoming a famous or sought after actor didn’t come easy for Jackie, in the 60’s and 70’s he was in parts of many largely unsuccessful films, having trouble finding work he even had a couple nude films.  He worked as a stunt person on two Bruce Lee films as well.

Jackie earned his black belt in Hapkido and used his martial arts skills combined with acrobatics to create a new concept to the martial arts film industry; the comedic use of the environment for self defense.  Trying other films it wasn’t till 1978 in Snake in the Eagles Shadow that Jackie was able to use his improvised martial arts comedic style and the audiences found it new and refreshing! 

It was at this time Jackie was given complete control over his stunt action and choreography and the Jackie Chan films we know and love were born.

In the early 80’s Jackie had several parts in US movies but his career just didn’t take off here.  Jackie went back to Hong Kong and enjoyed further success there having surpassed Bruce Lee’s box office records in the early 80’s.

Having done all his own stunts ( a record) Jackie’s audiences enjoyed his movies greatly, including me!  Through the late 80’s into the 90’s Jackie had many movies, over 100 to date, it wasn’t until Rush Hour in 1998 with Chris Tucker that a film in which Jackie was in the starring role made over $100 million in the US alone!

With Shanghai Noon (2000) with Owen Wilson and the sequel Shanghai Knights (2003) grossing $90-100 million, as well as Rush Hour 2 (2001) grossing a huge $347 million all solidifying Jackie as a massive international star!

With several other films and different concepts Jackie is legendary in star status and loved by audiences around the world.  What I really like about Jackie is he seems real, humble, and extremely likeable.  Doing all his own stunts has cost him physically with many broken bones!  I’m guessing he’ll be doing a lot less stunts and he says he’ll be taking more care of himself as he is now approaching 60!

Again, we have another story where someone works hard all his life, doesn’t always succeed but keeps adjusting and trying, with determination, and his team, against so many critics… it’s a trait we see over and over in success!  Keep moving forward, adjust, continue, and keep a positive attitude no matter what!  Till next time, God Bless,

~Gary

530-544-1330

kirchmeister5@gmail.com

ximorocks.com/kirch

Stories of Personal Triumph 7

When I was about 12 my friend’s parents had an album by Bill Cosby that was a comedy audio featuring events in his life growing up.  It was extremely entertaining and I’d never heard anything like it.

Having seen him on tv here and there was about all I saw until he did a comedy routine where he just sat in a chair and told funny stories!  It was the best I’ve seen up to that time and we still have it on vhs, it was Bill Cosby, Himself in 1983, awesome!

I also remember hearing of him playing at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe yearly in the 70’s, 80’s mostly but he continued into the 90’s and early 2000′s.  But his own biography tells a story of working jobs and honing his comedic skills while pursuing a career in the physical therapy field. 

Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA in 1937, Bill was captain of the track and baseball teams as well as class president.  This was a hard working kid, playing football, baseball, basketball, and running track, he also worked jobs before and after school to help out his family by shining shoes, selling produce, and stocking shelves at a grocery store!   Later he joined the Navy for four years and worked in the Bethesda Naval Hospital helping vets who returned from the Korean war.

It was while tending bar at a club in Philadelphia that he became fully aware of comedic skills.  In 1962 he started at comedy clubs in several US cities and in 1963 he made an appearance on The Tonight Show, this exposure led to a contract with Warner Bros and the album I listened to as a kid.

In 1965 he was cast on the tv show I Spy and from there many other things including his own recording co, singing, and as a regular on the Tonight Show.  He had two seasons of The Cosby Show in 1969, 70, in the 70’s and 80’s Cosby performed successfully and had acted in several movies.

In 1984 The Cosby Show aired and became the highest ranking sitcom of all time.  Bill took control of all aspects and kept it clean and family oriented which I appreciate, morals over vulgarity just for ratings.

Having done so many things from Humanitarian to educational Bill started out with the foundation of working hard in sports and holding many jobs to help the family while in his teens and going to school.  It’s a great story of facing the kinds of challenges (including the murder of his son) that stop most people, adjusting, and going for it again!  The legacy of The Cosby Show being the # 1 sitcom of all time holds Bill’s place in history, still performing to this day, Bill is an American treasure.  Till next time, God Bless,

~Gary

530-544-1330

kirchmeister5@gmail.com

ximorocks.com/kirch

Stories of Personal Triumph 6

When I first saw this crazy guy on In Living Color in the early 90’s I didn’t pay him much mind, but as he began his movie career I wanted to see everything he was in! 

After seeing this complete nut Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura and Dumb and Dumber I was hooked, but for Jim, it didn’t just happen overnight!  If you’ve ever seen his bio on Biography tv it was an emotional story of family poverty and rough nights at comedy clubs where a humbled but extremely determined young man started.

Born in 1962 in Canada where he started in comedy, Jim had a difficult upbringing, as he said; “Going from lower class to poverty” once his father lost his job as a musician.  At 15 Jim took a janitor job to help pay the family bills and for a time they were homeless living out of a van.  Working full time to help support his family Jim didn’t finish schooling.

His early career as a comedian and trying impersonations bombed but the family gained enough money to be in a home again, it was from this more stable environment Jim could take another shot at comedy. 

Jim was soon noticed by one of my favorites, Rodney Dangerfield and began to open for him in 1980-2, he then went to Vegas and Hollywood where he worked at The Comedy Store and the TV show An Evening at the Improv. 

With a series of ups and mostly downs, trying a new stand up act, a few low budget movies, bit parts in larger movies, success didn’t just fall in his lap! 

By 1990 Jim helped work on In Living Color and by the 3rd season was one of the last remaining originals on the show.  This opened doors and finally a starring role in Ace Ventura, Pet Detective in 1994.  While the critics dismissed the film it went on to be a box office hit globally and in the same year Jim landed two more leading roles, Mask, and Dumb and DumberAll three of these films rocked the box office!  Dumb and Dumber grossed $270 million!

He went on to play the Riddler on Batman Forever, Ace Ventura 2 (When Nature Calls), and The Cable Guy all grossing over $100 million and Ace Ventura 2 over $200 million, now the once homeless Jim Carrey was making $20 million per movie!  

A movie I enjoyed was also Liar Liar that was a huge success he went on to the Truman Show and Man in the Moon which won him critical acclaim and Golden Globe awards.  The Grinch, Bruce Almighty, Lemony Snickets, Fun with Dick and Jane, plus many others and much more to come, apparently Dumb and Dumber To will get off the ground for release in 2014. 

One look at his zany personal site will tell you he’s crazy, fun, but also a concerned person about causes such as his Better U Foundation, a system for growing rice at a much higher yield in poorer countries.  Also against over vaccinating children which Dr Mercola agrees as these can have toxic side effects.

While still quite poor and performing sometimes for free he wrote himself a check for $10 million, 15 years later he was making enough to cash it!  It’s a great story, as he was working in a plant, living in their on site farmhouse and then in a VW van, from homeless to be one of the biggest stars in the world.  Till next time, God Bless,

~Gary

530-544-1330

kirchmeister5@gmail.com

ximorocks.com/kirch

God, family, patriotism, health, and Jack Lalanne!

It was way back as far as I can about remember seeing Jack Lalanne on tv telling us to get off the couch, put down the doughnuts, and start using our chair as a piece of gym equipment!

I can still hear his forceful, morally filled, drill sergeant commands and his white shepard named… ?  Yes, it was Happy!  Although it didn’t get me working out in my pre teens it was good knowing there was this get in shape, moral, patriotic person out there!

He died at 96 yrs old of pneumonia but I felt he would go to about 110, I really did, and if he hadn’t caught that he may have!  Up until his last days he still worked out daily and obviously by his info commercials, was big into juicing – a super healthy way to get enormous amounts of antioxidants and naturally occurring nutrition!

But back in his childhood he claimed to have been a disaster in health and in behavior!  Being a self professed “sugarholic” and junk food junkie, his many problems with health and attitude ended abruptly after attending a health lecture by Paul Bragg.  He swore off sugar and went “healthy” on the spot.  It has been found recently how excess sugars cause major health issues and many degenerative diseases and much faster aging.

He opened his first gym, considered the nations first fitness club in Oakland, Ca in 1936, I’ve actually been to one in Sacramento, Ca in the 70’s with the Jack Lalanne name.  His father had died at 58 of a heart attack due to poor diet/nutrition only 3 years after opening the Oakland gym.

Imagine this… doctors felt this exercise and fitness stuff was actually dangerous!  Of course they were all dead by the time Jack was probably 60!  Jack said, “People thought I was a charlatan and a nut. The doctors were against me—they said that working out with weights would give people heart attacks and they would lose their sex drive.

The same doctors who probably smoked, and ate a standard diet, in fact smoking was promoted by many doctors in the 50’ and 60’s, there actual tv commercials and magazine ads of doctors sponsoring cigarettes! 

But of course, Jack was right and he invented equipment who’s concepts are still used today.  His workouts even in his 40’s-60’s were legendary doing long term endurance feats and he had an amazing physique, not like a body builder so much as just plain ripped!  Put his name in Google images and you’ll see something closer to Bruce Lee than Arnold Schwarznegger, he even had a workout challenge against Arnold when he was 54 and “Arnie” was 21 and beat him quite easily.

I’m into pre/post stretching and he wasn’t but I believe firmly this prevents possible injuries and keeps me loose.  Also he stated that exercise was the king and diet was the queen of good health.  Since, Dr Mercola has said diet, nutrition is 80% of our health and exercise is 20% (I believe he’s got it right!) insofar as value to the human overall health and longevity.  I believe Jack, who was into juicing, no sugar, and exercise big time, was right on the money by his actions!  I’m one of his biggest fans!

His fitness centers became known as European Health Spas and numbered about 200!  He then sold the gyms to Bally, now called Bally Total Fitness.  Some of his feats included:

  • 1954 (age 40): swam the entire 8,981 feet (2,737 m) length of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, under water, with 140 pounds (64 kg; 10 st) of air tanks and other equipment strapped to his body; a world record.
  • 1955 (age 41): swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco while handcuffed. When interviewed afterwards he was quoted as saying that the worst thing about the ordeal was being handcuffed, which significantly reduced his chance to do a jumping jack.
  • 1956 (age 42): set what was claimed as a world reord of 1,033 push-ups in 23 minutes on You Asked For It, a television program hosted by Art Baker.
  • 1957 (age 43): swam the Golden Gate channel while towing a 2,500-pound (1,100 kg; 180 st) cabin cruiser. The swift ocean currents turned this one-mile (1.6 km) swim into a swimming distance of 6.5 miles (10.5 km).
  • 1958 (age 44): maneuvered a paddleboard nonstop from Farallon Islands to the San Francisco shore. The 30-mile (48 km) trip took 9.5 hours.
  • 1959 (age 45): did 1,000 jumping jacks and 1,000 chin-ups in 1 hour, 22 minutes, to promote The Jack LaLanne Show going nationwide. LaLanne said this was the most difficult of his stunts, but only because the skin on his hands started ripping off during the chin-ups. He felt he couldn’t stop because it would be seen as a public failure.
  • 1974 (age 60): For the second time, he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf. Again, he was handcuffed, but this time he was also shackled and towed a 1,000-pound (450 kg; 71 st) boat.
  • 1975 (age 61): Repeating his performance of 21 years earlier, he again swam the entire length of the Golden Gate Bridge, underwater and handcuffed, but this time he was shackled and towed a 1,000-pound (450 kg; 71 st) boat.
  • 1976 (age 62): To commemorate the “Spirit of ’76″, United States Bicentennial, he swam one mile (1.6 km) in Long Beach Harbor. He was handcuffed and shackled, and he towed 13 boats (representing the 13 original colonies) containing 76 people.
  • 1979 (age 65): towed 65 boats in Lake Ashinoko, near Tokyo, Japan. He was handcuffed and shackled, and the boats were filled with 6,500 pounds (2,900 kg; 460 st) of Louisiana Pacific wood pulp.
  • 1980 (age 66): towed 10 boats in North Miami, Florida. The boats carried 77 people, and he towed them for over one mile (1.6 km) in less than one hour.
  • 1984 (age 70): handcuffed, shackled, and fighting strong winds and currents, he towed 70 rowboats, one with several guests, from the Queen’s Way Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary, 1 mile.

These feats also gained him promotion for his health and fitness show, gyms, and branded his name.  That he succumbed to pneumonia is sad but this is truly a great man, a Godly man, patriot, leader, family man, and moral/ethical man.  Till next time, God Bless,

~Gary

530-544-1330

kirchmeister5@gmail.com

ximorocks.com/kirch

Spending time at an ocean cabin while growing up.

It was a bit later in life we began going to Bob’s ocean cabin, I was about 10.  The parents came to relax and enjoy, we were there to play and explore! 

The cabin, again, seemed large but was actually not very big.  It had a couple bedrooms and bathroom, kitchen, dining room, fish cleaning room, a breezeway, and a supply room.  We spent about 2 weeks/yr there on average every year till I graduated; it was usually during my asthma season as at the ocean it did not affect me.

There were cots and people slept everywhere!  Since the cabin sits about 250ft up on a sloped cliff above Wrights Beach, Ca, about 4 miles north up Hwy 1 from Bodega Bay where Alfred Hitchcock filmed The Birds (and the town of Bodega) and you hear the waves all night long!  We were all over the beaches, rocks, trails.  The rocky area that separates Wrights Beach and Duncan’s Landing is known as Death Rock since it is claimed that many people died there by being swept off or slammed against it by rouge waves, we’ve seen some major waves there!

Note: Death Rock has fences and signs to keep off/out now, at the time we played there, it was just a couple of signs and an old broken fence, I always felt safe and aware.

This part of the ocean is treacherous for undercurrents (undertow) that would take you out and a rocky area just beyond the waves that could smash or hold you under.  Many have died at these beaches and rocks, yet we played carefully all over these places.  I knew how to be cautious and always remember the main rule… never turn your back on the ocean!  So I actually always looked back and a few times it really saved me/us! 

As kids we would climb all over Death Rock and follow it into Duncan’s Landing where we could spend hours playing on our own beach as very few went there!  In fact, as our boys grew, Tammy and I went back and made Duncan’s a picnic date a few times in the 90’s, still usually the only people there!

There was this strange thing called surf-fishing… there was a dipping net in the supply room and Bob would occasionally grab his net and head for the cliffs to… watch.  Although it was rare that I could ever see the “clouds” or shiny scales of the surf fish to know they were “running”, the commercial fishermen would see them and head down in a hurry.  They would dip their nets as the waves came in and usually had a load of fish!  These little 6-8” “surf fish” would fill a bucket and if Bob was dipping, it meant up to 100 fish to clean!

The cliff leading from the cabin down to Wrights Beach was over 200ft and fully covered in ice plant a couple feet thick.  We would jump down the plants which are soft and springy all the way down, so we were at the beach in seconds from walking out the door!

The times at this cabin were also super fun and a great experience for me and my friends!  I learned a lot and both of these cabins (previous post) and gave me a kind of green perspective on everything.  To this day I despise litter, waste, clearing of land, etc.  Getting up in the morning, drawing back the curtains in the front room, the floor to ceiling windows revealed amazing views of the endless ocean, Death Rock, and Hogs Back with waves sometimes pounding so hard you could almost feel it!  The whole stay was a huge amount of exercise and always something to do! 

Well that cabin was sold and the memories there are also thick!  We will go back probably this year and have a look around, for me it was life changing and I’m so Thankful for the experiences!  Till next time, God Bless,

~Gary

530-544-1330

kirchmeister5@gmail.com

ximorocks.com/kirch

Spending time at a mountain cabin while growing up.

Since I was born, yearly, we spent time at a mountain cabin in Strawberry, Ca around the 5,700ft elevation, right under Lover’s Leap, a towering cliff over 600 ft high frequently climbed now.

My parents used their vacation time each year to go to these cabins and my dad’s lifelong best friend Bob owned the two cabins his father built, one also at the ocean.  So we spent about 2-4 weeks/yr at either of these cabins while the parents got together usually with other friends and just had fun, cooked, fished, hunted, played horseshoes, partied, worked on the cabins, went “over the hill” to the casinos, etc.

The place seemed plenty large and fun to me then, looking at it now, it’s quite small!  There was the upstairs, a narrow creaky passage to a few beds where we stayed mostly, a room downstairs, couches, two bed set ups outside, and the back of a station wagon or two!  No one complained, everyone had a great time.  The wood stove in the morning, a manual gas water heater, and a fireplace kept things warm or cooked our food, sometimes amazing bbq’s were enjoyed out back!  The bathroom was out back and pretty much like a small shack with a large underground tank.

I either brought friends or parents had other kids who came up and we always found tons to do!  I also went out on several early fishing trips as the river was only feet away and would lull everyone to sleep at night!  The river was our biggest source of fun.  Sometimes we floated on inner tubes, or just played in the cold river on hot days!

The other fun thing we did was “exploring”.  Sometimes we would just go hiking behind the cabin up to the much lower rock cliffs that we could climb to get to the ridge that went across to the main part of Lover’s Leap.  The rule was, be back by dinner… and getting lost, which never happened, the rule there was just keep going downhill, you’ll eventually run into something!

We had so many landmarks (Roundtop Mtn was a key) you could always find your way around, even if what was right in front of you didn’t look familiar, it always played out.  And there were usually no trails; it was all freestyle just walking to places, only ran into a couple rattlers the whole time growing up there.   About the time I was able to drive we ventured up Horsetail Falls where my dad and Bob used to go over when they were in high school!  We wouldn’t see another person all day!  My friends and I were astounded at the beauty of Desolation Wilderness, streams and mini lakes seemed to go on in every direction!  After many a long day I can remember several times sleeping 12-15 hours!

Being there on Labor Day week meant cleaning and closing up the cabin for the winter, boarding windows, and sometimes they got a lot of snow.  But it was still mostly just playing for us kids!  I did chop and split my share of wood and helped with some chores.

Things have changed now, but the mountains stayed in me, and when we moved to Tahoe, it was just great!  I’ve been back to that cabin, walked around, sat out back… I can still hear the voices, laughter, smells; it’s so thick you can cut it with a knife!  The “grownups” are almost all gone now, my mom still is in touch with the few that are left and last time we were all there is just a great memory.  It had such a huge impact on my life and I’m Thankful beyond words for the times we had there!  Till next time, God Bless,

~Gary

530-544-1330

kirchmeister5@gmail.com

ximorocks.com/kirch