Between the Lines

Aug 1, 1997
Outside Magazine

From Bar Harbor to Baja, from Puget Sound to the Florida keys, surviving — and perhaps even enjoying — the dog days of August has always come down to a very simple formula: H20. And yet there are so many permutations of the grand liquid theme. Which is precisely what we're getting at in our Destinations package, "The Wetter You Get, the Summer You'll Feel", a warm-weather rhapsody to the wet stuff by some of our more knowledgeable webbed-footers. Among them: Frequent Outside contributor Bucky McMahon, a Tallahassean with a yen for tractor-trailer rubber, tubes down Florida's Ichetucknee River, Torontonian Ann Vanderhoof celebrates the water-lapped glories of Ontario's "cottage country," and native Minnesotan Stephanie Gregory bounces down West Virginia's Gauley River, "the hillbilly autobahn." Just hold your breath and take the plunge — because in deepest, muggiest August, dry land is no place to be.

Author of such books as Beyond Geography: The Western Spirit Against the Wilderness and editor of the Viking Portable North American Indian Reader, Frederick Turner is one of the most eloquent essayists on the landscape and history of the West. Few swaths of western ground are more suffused with controversy than Montana's Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. At a time when the American Indian perspective on the conflict is gaining ascendancy — much to the chagrin of certain mossbacked Custer buffs — we asked Turner to revisit the site of the 1876 hostilities and explore the perceptual battles still raging there. "The real drama of America civilization is that of a people trying to see the past clearly, to keep it open to reinterpretation," says Turner, whose "No Surrender" appears this month. "At Little Bighorn, that drama is still very much alive."

Whether communing with grizzlies or investigating logging practices in British Columbia, Doug Peacock ("Chasing Abbey") has long been a champion of what he calls "wild things and lost causes." Peacock is now putting the finishing touches on Walking It Off, a memoir of his turbulent friendship with the late Edward Abbey. "It's about coming to terms with death," says Peacock. "And on that subject, Ed is my model — the man died well." Peacock's story is illustrated by noted New York artist Thomas Woodruff, whose work has graced the covers of Anne Tyler and Gabriel Garcìa Mžrquez novels; his show, Nosegays and Knuckle Sandwiches, is now touring America.

When we sent David Sheff ("The Chilling Effect") to the U.S.-Mexico border to investigate the growing phenomenon of Freon smuggling, he was returning to a familiar clime. Sheff grew up in the kilnlike heat of Scottsdale, Arizona, a place that he says "would scarcely be on the map were it not for chlorofluorocarbons." The author of Game Over (Random House), Sheff now lives near breezy Point Reyes, California, where "mercifully, we don't have much use for Freon — air conditioning is what happens when you roll down the window."

As you read this, four intrepid high school students from Astoria, Oregon, are ascending British Columbia's 11,591-foot Mount Sir Sanford in hopes of tracking the rare woodland caribou. Morgan Beasley, Michelle Olson, William Gunderson, and Dan Solmon are recipients of this year's Outside Adventure Grants, a joint educational project of Hi-Tec and Outside. We asked students from around the country to compose a prospectus of their own dream adventure, with an eye toward originality and environmental awareness. The Astoria Four won.

A tragic postscript: On June 3 Outside lost one of its dear friends, photographer Dugald Bremner, who drowned while kayaking a tributary of California's American River. The 41-year-old Edinburgh native had been a Grand Canyon guide for 22 years. Friends are encouraged to contribute to the Dugald Bremner Memorial Fund, which has tentative plans to establish an outdoor photography scholarship in his name. The address is c/o Grand Canyon River Guides, Box 1934, Flagstaff, AZ 86002.

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