The Tardy Times

She walked the walk (2,650 miles)
  but not the talk; she wrote a book

    Other tales: Carol (Prawicki) Stoll, John Moses, Barry
       Locke, Simar Khanna, Peter Mellini, Courtenay Peddle

Zero Days
NOBODY TOLD Barbara Egbert to take a hike, at least not at the time, but the Phoenix alumna must have surprised her sedentary colleagues at the Mercury News in 2004.
   She backpacked 137 days and 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada. Then she wrote a book published last year by Wilderness Press, “Zero Days: The Real Life Adventure of Captain Bligh, Nellie Bly and 10-Year-Old Scrambler on the Pacific Crest Trail.”
   Captain Bligh and the Scrambler are the thru-hiker trail names for Barbara’s husband, Gary Chambers, and their  daughter, Mary Chambers.  Barbara, of course, took the name of the legendary 19th century reporter. "Zero Day" is a term for a hike halt (for rest, injury or foul weather). 
    The SF State grad walked the walk, literally speaking, and, like Nellie herself, wrote about it. In a format unusual for such a tale, she discarded the linear mile-by-mile chronology. She chose instead to focus each chapter on different aspects of serious thru-hiking (food, bears, blisters, resupply, etc.) with humor, insight and the Scrambler's journal entries. 
   The Mercury News then rewarded the zeal and grit of the veteran copy editor and editorial writer. The NewsMedia bean counters this summer told Barbara and dozens of her colleagues to take a hike – out the door. She promptly landed a job with the Hoover Institution at Stanford.
   No more treks, she told us. Her knees will never be the same.


Shoe business
BARRY LOCKE takes seriously the title of the book by Maya Angelou:  “All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes.”  After leaving the Phoenix sports page in the 1980s, he traveled from hotel to hotel as the Giants beat reporter for the Hayward Review and other ANG papers. Now a writer/editor who puts out a weekly internal online newsletter for Nike, he writes about shoes for a living.
  His traveling shoes took Barry to India this year, to Berlin/Amsterdam last year and to China for a series of award-winning videos the year before. In the meantime, to escape the rains in Portland, he wore his Nikes to Puerto Vallarta, Los Vegas and Scottsdale (for spring practice).
    He even managed to stop last July in San Francisco, where he lamented that business trips left him little time to enjoy the pleasures of traveling. There's no business like shoe business. E-mail:

Bearly visible
ANOTHER BEAR STORY: Carol Stoll and her family were having a wonderful time, wish you were here, etc.  It was an Amtrak vacation to Glacier National Park for Carol Stoll, who was Carol Prawicki when the Phoenix arts editor at SF State in the mid-80s. Then she worked as an editor for newspapers in Vacaville, Hayward and San Mateo, and now she's at a software company.
   She was hiking happily down a mountain trail next to her schoolteacher husband, Brad. With them were third-grader Brandon and kindergartner Emma-Leigh. And then: “We saw a grizzly and her cub less than 50 yards from us,” she said, “and the sight of them gave this mom quite a fright.”  The other mom and her cub must have reckoned that blond kids aren't too tasty and, according to Carol, “didn't take an interest in us.”

SIMAR KHANNA with all 19 members of her family boarded a cruise ship in Vancouver last summer and watched the glories of Southeast Alaska from the comfort of the ship.... From Pauline Scholten, the same views: “We are watching a beautiful blue glacier drop ice into the ocean. Rita is in heaven. Paul is running around the ship with a pack of teens.” ...Courtenay Peddle and Pam Magnuson inspired  envy with a card from Bologna. It added Urbino and Lucca to their triplex of “cities with great chuches and religious art and really good restaurants.” Not a word about birding, their mutual passion. Pam had always wanted to visit Italy, but it was Courtenay who wrote, “I couldn’t have guessed what a magical country this is.” And that’s no bologna.

Globe Trotters
"WE ARE healthy,” says Peter Mellini, “we are going to ramble.” How true. The retired history professor (and partner with Lynn on oral history interviews with veterans of the police beat), accompanied by his wife Gisela, visited Chile and Argentina in January. In 2007 they flew to Cologne for Karneval, then by train and ferry to Vienna, Budapest, Prague and London. In the summer, four weeks in Turkey. In the fall, a drive to Sedona via Death Valley, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, followed by a visit to relatives and friends in Washington, D.C. Last ramble? Japan in May. Sayonara.

 Letter from Gale Moses: "Most small-town editors carry a camera (see photo). John said, 'These days I carry a shotgun.' ”

For John Moses, the promised land is north, to Alaska

THE ADVENTUROUS resolve of  John and Gale Moses must have been tested last spring, or what passes for spring, in colorful Talkeetna (pop. 840). It’s been their home since they moved two years ago from a comfortable life in comfortable Benicia to the backwoods of Alaska. And it’s anything but comfortable.
   “Well, friends,” wrote Gale, “it's April 24th and it's snowing like the blazes out there today.”
    John is working full-time on his Alaska Pioneer Press (“Proudly Serving the Matanuska-Susitna and Denali Boroughs”), a free monthly that he and Gale founded in February after trying without success to buy the local paper.
  Visit the online edition:   He's the reporter, copy desk, page designer, production foreman, delivery driver, webmaster and editor-in-chief.  Yes, he's also the janitor – but the paper is theirs, not the afterthought of a stingy, uninterested publisher or a link in a far-off chain.
   Gale sells the ads, substitutes in the schools and runs the bed-and-breakfast they bought from her mother, Jean Armstrong. John was working part-time then at the general store and helping at the B&B. As soon as she was freed from high school classes, Genna was planning to spend the summer as a hostess at the West Rib Pub and as a scooper at the ice cream counter.  
     “It's been a long winter,” Gale said, “and all of us people affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) have upped our anti-depressants.”
    John cites just one of the many ways in which Talkeetna is different from, say, Benicia, where John was editor of the daily Herald for nearly 10 years, or his prior jobs at the Marin I-J and the Independent in San Francisco.
   “I thought working at a newspaper (the Independent) in  Bayview/Hunter's Point was hazardous,” he writes. “Check out what I saw when I was delivering the Pioneer Press last Friday.  At Byers Creek Lodge, they were smoking fish and remarked that a brown bear had been around lately, a 3-year-old. No sooner did they say that than he appeared. He  loped slowly straight toward all four of us.  I jumped in my truck.” The truck's horn scared him off – but not before John shot the little bear (with his camera).
    By mid-summer, of course,  S.A.D. faces were the exception in a town that’s a busy waystation for tourists, mountaineers and hikers attracted by the spectacular Alaska Range, Mt. McKinley, the  Denali National Park, aerial sightseeing, river rafting and lots of fishing.
  And don’t forget the Talkeetna Moose Dropping Festival (if you haven’t heard of moose nuggets,
take a guess – a wild guess).

The Tardy Times
October 2008

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