Update on the Dad Thing

I took the donate button out of my Appeal post after getting enough to make the trip. The generosity of the FTB community has been overwhelming — thank you all for the kind words, well wishes, and donations! Special thanks to Greta Christina and PZ Myers for telling their readership about this post.

I have a flight to Los Angeles at 5:30 a.m. I’ll drive from there to the Eastern Sierra, where my Dad lives. I don’t know how many days I’ll be there. I’ll keep you all informed as much as I can while away, but I’ll be on borrowed (or library) computers, so updates may be erratic.

The last word I had was that he was “stable,” whatever that means, but other things that came into the conversation included “heart,” “internal organs,” “sepsis” and “sedated.”

It’s a 5 hour drive from Los Angeles, but I should arrive at the hospital by late tomorrow.

I feel like I should say more, so I’ll add this:

I know one reader here knows the Old Ranger — whom I named “Charley” in the “Charley & Me” posts (I was worried about privacy at the time), but whose real name is Dan.

I wish you all could have met him. You’ll see me write about my dog Tito here occasionally, whom I describe as “the best dog I ever even met.” Dan is easily one of the best and most interesting MEN I ever even met.

For decades I toyed with the idea of writing a book about him. If I’d done it right, it would have been something like Scottish veterinarian James Herriot’s “All Creatures Great and Small” — a narrative of the feisty, adventurous, funny and warm stories of Dan’s years as a mule packer and wilderness guide, with glowing descriptions of Dan himself and the human and animal characters who intersected his life, and he would have ended up as something of a legend.

This was a man in the midst of the computer age who spent half the year — every year for 50 years —  literally in the saddle and in the wilderness, guiding visitors on memorable mountain sojourns.  He was the human gateway for so many people, me included, into the wilderness, and he never tired of teaching his guests about what wilderness is and what it means.

The pic above is from about 1980 or so, and shows Dan sitting atop his favorite guide horse, a Morgan mare named Belle Starr who had the sweetest, smoothest gait of any horse I ever rode.

Handsome as a coyote, smart as a raven, strong as a black bear, tough as a range stallion, cantankerous (sometimes!) as a tired mule, Dan is a rare character, and someone I was lucky to meet.


  • pahapillon

    Best wishes, Hank, and have a safe trip!

  • fastlane

    Glad you got what you needed to make the trip. I didn’t make a donation, but I think I’ll buy a copy of your book.

    You know, so you can enjoy those millions. ;-)

    Safe journey.

  • docsarvis

    This is a difficult time for your Hank. I wish you the best. Words cannot express the empathy your readers feel for you. I’m glad I could help with a small donation. Keep us updated as you can, but focus on your Dad.

  • Pieter B

    Take it easy on 395; I hear that the CHP is into serious fundraising via enforcement these days.

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/assassin Assassin Actual

    Sorry to hear about your dad. Best wishes bro.

  • http://sciencenotes.wordpress.com/ Monado, FCD

    Take care of yourself.

  • geocatherder

    Be safe; drive carefully, especially in that otherworld of traffic that is L.A.

  • http://lostinthotphotoblog.wordpress.com EvilPoet

    Safe travels!

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/ Stephanie Zvan

    I hope you get some good time with him, Hank. May the trip treat you well.

  • niftyatheist

    Best wishes to you, Hank. Safe travels.

  • http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/ Ophelia Benson

    You seem to be a pretty good fella yourself.

    Safe trip.

  • mazeRunner

    Tough break Hank. Safe journey.

  • Didaktylos

    Not sure when you’ll get a chance to read this, but I hope things go as well they can. Believe me – I know exactly what you’re going through. I lost my own father to cancer two weeks ago (come Thursday), and I was very glad that I managed to get one last chance to see and be with him, even though the way he was then isn’t the way I choose to remember him.

  • carolw

    Your dad sounds like a great character. I’m glad you’re getting to go see him. Good luck. Hugs to you and your family from Texas.

  • http://themidwestatheist.blogspot.com Leo Buzalsky

    Glad you got enough money. Sorry/glad I wasn’t able to donate. (I wanted to, but my wife is now in a position where she either has to quit her job – which is the plan – or stay miserable in her employment. So, we’re going to be strapped for extra money. But, enough about my sob story!) I hope your visit goes well and further enriches both your lives!

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