Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · Appalachian Trail
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Appalachian Trail

Anne Stanton - November 30th, 2009
Loving and Loathing the Appalachian Trail
Two from TC go the distance
By Anne Stanton
On a 2,178-mile hike you think. Think, think, think.
For the first rainy and frigid month on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, Tim Keenan thought incessantly about quitting. His trip kicked off on March 28, with an 8.8 mile walk just to get to the start of the real trail at Springer Mountain (and once there, he heard about a nearby parking lot). He thought about quitting the next morning at 5:30 when he dragged on his clothes, stiff, cold and damp from the day before.
The whole week was frigid and rainy. The next week was no better. As he climbed upward, he got caught in a blizzard and trudged through snow up to his knees. The veil of snow hid the white “blaze” signs marking out the trail. He stumbled upon a shelter, relieved that he was still on the trail and quit early for the day. That night, he huddled with five other men on a wood platform underneath a lean-to just to keep warm. One young man, Bobby, had only brought a blanket, wanting to keep his backpack light. He never saw him again.
Keenan said his thoughts of quitting were hard to shake. In Hiawassee, Georgia, he made a phone call to his son, and told him he’d had enough. But his son reminded him that he promised to walk 30 days, no matter what. So the next day, Keenan just kept putting one foot in front of another.
By late April, those cold and wet days became a distant and not-so-fond memory.
Keenan of Traverse City hiked the Appalachian Trail, much of it together with his friend, Gabrielle Spencer, also of Traverse City. Like others, they hiked with a trail name—Keenan dubbed himself Naneek (Keenan spelled backwards), and he tagged Spencer with the name of Solar System for no particular reason.

They are back from the trip, already missing the simplicity of trail life, the massive amounts of food they wolfed down each day, the intimate “trail talk” with strangers, and their daily surge of endorphins. They often hiked apart and reunited for dinner in the evening. They averaged 13.5 miles each day, which included zero days—days of luxury that involved hitch-hiking into town, doing laundry and eating at a restaurant (the hikers, due to their smell, are often given a special section all their own).
Keenan, 63, a Vietnam war veteran, began planning the trip three years ago, in part, to make peace with the woods again. “I had never hiked and camped other than Vietnam. That’s what we did. We went up hills and got shot at. Every time (after the war), when I went in the woods, I never felt relaxed. You’re looking for snipers, you’re waiting for an ambush, you’re always on edge.”
Early on in the hike, Keenan, a retired community corrections manager, emailed all his friends and asked them to contribute money to either Veterans for Peace or the Women’s Resource Center. So far, he’s raised more than $8,000. “One friend said, I’ll give you one dollar for every mile you do,” never guessing he’d have to ante up $2,178.30.
Spencer, who creates “wearable art” (one-of-a-kind artistic clothing) for her mother’s business, had the flexibility to take off six months. She had no motivation to hike the trail, other than she loved to hike and camp as a child.
“I was really ready for a challenge, and it was something I’d always been interested in. I didn’t know if I’d make it all the way through, but I had real hopes I’d make it to Maine,” she said.

Keenan started his trip in Georgia, while Spencer joined him in Erwin, Tennessee. When they first met up, she was only able to hike about eight miles a day, while Keenan had already worked up to about 23 miles a day. But as the trip went on, Keenan had trouble keeping Spencer’s pace.
After the two reached the trail’s end in Maine, Spencer flew down to their meeting point in Erwin and on September 24, began down to the starting point in Springer Mountain, Georgia.
For her, the southern arm of the trip was the most challenging, although the terrain was much easier. That’s because she rarely saw anyone. Spencer said she was most afraid of an attack by a random creep, although she admits that statistically the Appalachian Trail is one of the safest places in the country.
“I was freaking out, and at first, I thought, ‘I’m not going to call home, tell people I’m scared. But then, I thought, wait a minute, ‘I am scared, and that’s just it.’”
But her mind also became her strength. “I knew I had to finish. There was no option. I knew I had to go for it. I knew from the first months on the trail that things could be miserable one minute, and then the next minute, they can be awesome. I tried to learn from it. There were long periods that I never thought it would be over, and then it’s just old news. Just like in life. When you’re in the middle of it, you think you’re going to die. Some days just weren’t awesome. You put your head down and powered through it, and that was, in its own way, part of the experience too.”

As it turns out, her scariest moment involved an encounter with a bear in the Smokey Mountains, where bears have become overly aggressive because so many people hike and camp in the area.
“They have closed down shelters due to aggressive bear activity. I had planned out the extra miles to go to a shelter where there hadn’t been an aggressive bear and met another person hiking. We were sitting eating dinner, and it was getting dark out. Behind me, there was this bear. We turned around, ‘Wow.’ There was another one; they were kind of circling us. We were clanging pots and pans, but they didn’t want to go away. Pretty soon, I said, ‘Let’s get out of here; let’s not spend the night here.’ We broke down our tents. We went way on top of this hill, and left all of our food hanging there at the shelter.
“So I finally made it to sleep, and all of a sudden I heard a bear sniffing, his big nose sniffing. I bolted awake. He was under the rain fly, and he was peeking his head under there. I was paralyzed. And then I made some noise, rustling around, and he scurried away.”

Keenan said that only about 310 people make it to the trail end each year; the vast majority are men. (There is a tiny group in Traverse City who have “thru-hiked” the trail; Keenan knows or has heard of most by their first names or trail names: Peach, Thud, Bud, Vern, Jan, Mountain Sailor and Ben. (Apologies to those we have missed.) When hikers give up, it’s usually more for mental reasons than physical, he said.
That said, everyone has an ailment—Keenan lost feeling in his toes, while Spencer suffered with shoulder pain. “It was very frustrating. I was fine one day, and it was taking my breath away the next day. It became part of the way I felt. I got kind of used to it,” she said.
And that’s the key, Keenan said. You just get used to it, and know you can endure.
Spencer wore her hair short on the trip, and even shaved her head once, marine style. She, like other women, seemed to bulk up, while the men became more streamlined. “You didn’t see many small women. I felt awesome and fit and strong. By the end of the trail, you feel you can do anything with your body. It’s an amazing feeling.”

One of the best parts of the trip was the trail magic—people who lived in towns near the trail and lots of ex-hikers leaving coolers of food and pop. On one sunny day in North Carolina, a group of kind souls came to the trail to play music, flip burgers and offer a cold beer for all who wandered by. (Keenan said there were a lot of vegetarians on the trail and they got along just fine).
One guy, Miles, a frail looking fellow with glasses, came upon a cooler near a construction site near the trail and thought it was just another act of “trail magic.” He had just sat down to eat a bowl of fruit salad, when a construction guy came charging at him, yelling, “What the #%$%! You’re eating my lunch!” Miles tried to explain “trail magic” to the big guy, who took awhile to cool down.
Keenan and Spencer each went through four pairs of boots and both walked with poles. Equipment becomes a major focus, and they both benefited from the advice of Zach, aka “Thud,” who works at Back Country Outfitters and hiked the trail himself.
Keenan, who finished his 172-day hike on September 16, said he finally did learn to relax on the trail, with his Vietnam anxiety put to rest.
“When it rained, the foliage reminded me of Vietnam—warm and rainy. I was in Vietnam during the monsoons. I learned to relax, to take a deep breath, and not worry. No one was going to shoot you here. It was a wonderful healing experience for me. You really start sucking in the beauty of the trail and all the animals you see.”

If you would like to help Keenan’s cause, send a check made out to either the Women’s Resource Center or Veterans for Peace, mail to Tim Keenan, PO Box 4223, Traverse City, MI 49685.

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