Shattsworth stole many of my journals and maps the last time I saw hm. I lost more of them in the big flood at the end of '04. I still have most of the website journals saved to my email, a few notebooks from after the flood, and the original two volumes I left with a friend when I went to town when Maya died. My favorites are the those two dollar-store blank books that I started out with chronicling those first few months. All of this I keep in the red casino suitcase I bought when I left Arizona.
The blank books are written in pencil, and have faded quite a bit so they're nearly blank once more. Soon, there will be no reading them. I'd better transpose them while I can. I was afraid to carry pens in the arid outdoors. Although I despise writing with a pencil, I believed I could get more mileage from one. Once the website was up and Sunshine had to transpose my scribblings, she asked that I switch to pens and brought me a few. I experimented with cursive writing, but she found those months even harder to decipher and I switched back to printing. It was just as well. I hadn't written in cursive except to sign my name for ten years or more and found that I had to think hard to remember some of the letters.
I haven't been writing from the journals much, but telling stories as they come to me. Sometimes, I just jot down fond memories and sometimes I'll write in answer to a question somebody asks or conversation I've had. I figured when I was writing them, I'd use the journals to fill in the gaps and refresh my memory to certain details.
The journals are maps in themselves; riddles of sorts. There is much I left out. I was paranoid, so the whole of the story never made the page. In the early days I wrote incompletely, in an effort to save precious paper and graphite. I left myself clues, veiled references to jog my memory. By my fourth year, I had a website up. There were children and cops and churches following my story then, so I left out the fun parts.
I didn't write about running from the law, marijuana, giant balls of hash, or naked mormon girls with bottles of Jagemeister. When I see these incomplete narratives, memories rush to fill in the gaps. I've told many of these tales around the campfire, in bar rooms, and on porches in the summertime enough to solidify them in my memory. The journals can be a little more boring than the stories. The details are in the journals. Weather, food, and location make up most of the material I wrote; day to day activities and fishing reports for pages at a time with the occasional significant event like a flood or a fire or a lion. All of it important to the story, but there is so much more.
My first journal is cloth bound in a beige and white alligator pattern. The inside of the jacket is covered with emails and addresses of people I met, all reminders of stories and adventures unwritten. There are a couple of stickers, like the one I pulled from the second Magic Worm Blower. The pages are all loose now, just stuffed in between the covers. Like I mentioned, the pencil is quite faded.
The inside front cover of the first volume has a Jerry Garcia sticker a couple in a pink 1969 DeVille gave me. Below that is the Worm Blower sticker and the label from a jar of Powerbait. Written around the margins are the addresses and phone numbers of friends in Phoenix. The inside back cover has the contact information for people I met at the lake.
The first page lists three goals. I don't even remember writing them. The first goal was “to increase public awareness of the resources provided by the National Forests”. I'm almost on the fence about that one nowadays. I certainly don't want to increase awareness if it brings a bunch of yahoos out to the woods to shit everywhere and spread their trash. We not only need to protect our forests from yahoos, but from industry and even from the government we trust to take care of them. But we can't do this without public awareness so it's a necessary evil.
The second goal says “to encourage partnership between the Forest Service and the public, for it is through cooperative stewardship that America's most valuable assets may thrive”. The latent cynicism of my forties makes me think that was a pretty naïve goal. Rangers love to see people cleaning up, I've had a few thank me and give me nice heavy bags, but partnership? Sometimes I think it's all we can do to hope for cooperation. This is the government. If they don't have a form for a situation, it doesn't exist. I obtained such a form, that last year, and it was probably the most illegal thing I ever did as a fugitive. We'll get to that later.
The third goal is something I can stand solidly behind, and hasn't wavered. “Record for posterity comprehensive observations of these lands and the life they support as they exist now”. I reckon we'll get down to that soon.
The next page I mad a weather chart listing fourteen different areas and elevations around the state of Arizona. Beside them I listed average high and low temperatures for the months of January, April, July, and October. I also listed total rain and snowfall amounts for the year.
The next five pages are lists of books and authors and call numbers for books I used in my research and trail mapping. The following two pages contain notes and sketches for traps and snares and first aid and water purifying tips. The last several before the journal begins are lists of edible insects, plants, and animals and tips on what to avoid.
I actually began writing the second day out. The first day was a busy one and I lost sunlight before I knew it.