The one year anniversary of the death of my best bud Rick Baker has at last arrived. It was going to arrive no matter what, so I’ll deal with it. His passing was the impetus to begin the ramblings on this blog as we have so many adventures in life worth remembering, at least to me, and I believe many of his close friends as well. We all have our “Rick Stories” to tell, I hope you tell some of your own.
As I reflect on the stories I have posted so far, it started me thinking about the many I have yet to put words to. I jot disjointed thoughts and notes down as they come, prompted by anything and everything. At some point of critical mass, I gather the thoughts together and try to assemble them into something resembling the spirit they were lived at the time.
I have at least a half dozen efforts mostly written, gathering dust in various forms of meditation, percolation and rumination.I have another half dozen or more that are more of a trip report I used to do after each outing recording tidbits for future use as well as a brief summary of the trip. These need to be fleshed out into full stories, but the structure is there.
Most of them sit in story purgatory for a while because they are waiting to have photos added. I am an extremely visual person and believe they all must be gloriously embellished to bring the reader into the story. This means digging through folders and files of digital images, organizing and scanning and cleaning piles of many more slides and photos that haven’t yet been digitized.
Some stories rattle around in my head for weeks or months, trying to coax the memory to think back 40 some years to remember the details, funny bits or items that was particularly meaningful.
The writing then flows comparatively easily as my mind then meanders back and forth like an old river, reliving well remembered memories that help pull the less remembered ones to rise to the top to see daylight once again. I do like to let the stories simmer a while, as I have a dread that more memories will pop up later that absolutely have to be included for a complete story.
The photos allow me to stand once more behind the lens as I thought about taking the photo, composing and adjusting the camera to make the photo come out like I wanted to see it. I can feel the swamp heat in the air, smell the earthy scent of an old growth forest or the sterileness of a sharp crisp breeze on a glacier. I can hear Rick crack an old joke or something else not explicit in the photo.
As a story teller it does cause me some pain deciding the right image to help the story. Often it is a compromise as we didn’t all have a camera in our pocket constantly 30 years ago. It also causes much delight when the image fits my words or the image in my mind.
Of course, the stories would be fine with no pictures, maybe better, allowing the reader to fill their mind with their own images of what it might have been like. But they are not just stories for me. My tag line “Stories I Don’t Want to Forget” carries much weight with me. They are memories that for some reason have stuck in my craw and want to do them right. I know I have forgotten many more than I remember, and fear losing them altogether as I grow older.
Being my adventure partner for 45 years, Rick and I had our own style of re-telling a well-worn tale, especially when well lubricated with bourbon. Anyone who was around us for more than a minute was typically subjected to one or a dozen stories between shots of whiskey.
In my stories with him involved, I do try to include bits and pieces of his perspective, at least my interpretation of it, as he had his own way of doing and saying things that was uniquely “Rick”. A lot of this is from listening to him tell his version of our stories for so many years…we could tell a story together without missing a beat, often filling in for each other as a swig of whiskey was taken by the other to keep the cadence up.
We could keep up a repartee that probably drove many a prospective climbing partner on to other, less loquacious and dark humored prospects. We did this rather constantly when it was just the two of us, but introducing an audience, particularly someone that hadn’t heard our tales a thousand times, tended to turn the amp up to 11 (for you Spinal Tap fans).
While the pile of memories is rich with material including Rick, I have also tried to not make this blog about him alone. Including memories from family and other past adventures varies it up a bit and offers welcome breaks, it turns out to be emotionally exhausting reliving our past life, but rest assured, there will be many more tales of the shenanigans of our years together.