We need your ‘like’ of our ‘Plein Air in Thin Air’ trailer!

Click on this image and watch the two minute trailer. Click the ❤️ . You’ll be asked to log in with your facebook or set up an account.

I’m working on a documentary to be shot in Wyoming during August and we’re trying to win the Wyoming Short Film Contest. The theme is “WY am I Here?”

Please watch the trailer and give us a “like!” You’ll be asked to log in with your facebook account if you’re not already a vimeo user.

The Wyoming Film Office gives away $25,000 to the winner that goes toward a Wyoming production. We’ll be making the movie in Grand Teton National Park this August.

The top-10 are decided by popularity contest with no regard to production value. The winner is picked by a panel of judges based on the dogs selected by the production team friends and family – it’s click bait from the Wyoming Film Office. Everyone is having a problem with this, but it cuts down on those who sit at their computers and hit play, over and over.

The main voting criteria has to do with promotion of Wyoming. What a great way to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the US National Park Service than from the top of the Grand?

Please watch the trailer and give us a “like!” You may have to log in with your facebook if you’re not already a vimeo user.

“WY Am I Here”? What if a 62-year-old grandfather of six decides to climb the spectacular Grand Teton and make never-before drawn pastel views of the expansive landscape?

Laramie artist Joe Arnold has been mountaineering for 50 years. He and his son, Jason, are planning an expedition to Grand Teton National Park for an ascent of the Grand Teton (13,776′) North Ridge route (rated 5.8).

It will be a five-day bonding experience for two generations of climbers with an unusual but creative mission at the summit.

Art 321 in Casper was the location for the CLICK! conference. Watch the Plein Air in Thin Air trailer and ‘like ‘

How did I come across this project?
I went to the Wyoming Arts Council CLICK! conference in Casper a couple weeks ago.

I ran into Joe Arnold. We were each presenting about our art works at the conference.

A couple years ago, Joe won a Wyoming Arts Council fellowship. I did a tribute video about his project which was a trek to Patagonia.

We got to talking. I was looking for a movie to make for the film office contest. I thought about my two works-in-progress, but wasn’t inspired.

Joe has a trailer finished, making it the perfect project.

Take a look and click on the heart in the upper right hand corner of the video player. We want to get into the top-10 of the beauty pageant.

Here’s the rest of the team:

  • Director and Director of Photography: Eric Randall
  • Production Assistants: Jacob Chmielowiec and Tim Hall
  • Music By: Dave Beegle davebeegle.com
  • Produced by: Alan O’Hashi and wyocomedia.com
  • Associate Producer: Jason Arnold
  • Executive Producer: Joe Arnold joearnold.org

What is the chief end of man?

jesus card

Jesus of Nazareth

I’m a baseball card collector. Any kind of trading cards, really. Especially if they’re interesting.

I’ve been at it since I was in Sunday school.

One of the main reasons I went to church was for the the swag – Bible verse rulers, cookies and … trading cards – Jesus cards. My Sunday school teacher had a lesson and then passed the cards around. I’m pretty sure the girls didn’t know what to do with them. Probably wrecked these paper treasures by gluing them in a scrap book.

Me, I had a Jesus collection.

jesus card back

If Jesus autographed this card, it would be worth a lot of money. I doubt anyone could authenticate it.

I’ll trade you two Mantles for this Jesus..

When I was a kid, my family went to the First Presbyterian Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. It was on the “other side” of town and kids from the other junior high school feeder schools went there.

In a sense, it was integration.

We went to church most Sundays. My parents were involved in the activities – women’s circle, Mariners. I’m pretty sure my mom was the main instigator of all that and my dad just tagged along for the food.

My sister and I went to Sunday school, sang in the choir and went to the youth fellowship group in the evenings. It was fun with not much emphasis on Christianity-related stuff. The mission was to make it home before “Batman” came on the TV.

Not like some of my friends who were Mormons, Catholics and Lutherans, there was some high pressure sales when I went to my friends church events. When it came to summer church camp, the Presbyterians and Congregationalists all came together.

I almost became a Mormon at one point. There was a girl involved but I came to my senses.

Presbyterians didn’t emphasize the “Jesus Saves” message or much of that sins = hell and good =  heaven drills.

It was mostly about the liturgy of church life – baby christening (which I don’t remember), free Bible in the 3rd grade (which I still have and rebound it when I wore it out. Well, actually dropped it off the top bunk at camp one too many times), catechism – “What is the chief end of man?” (I still know the answer), another free Bible for high school graduation (which I have but still in the box).

hc alan debbie karen mary coors

My mates and I at Hastings College.

A group of my Presbyterian high school friends all ended up attending Hastings College in Nebraska. The student body was around 650 which was the size of my high school class.

More liturgy.

Chapel on Wednesday morning wasn’t required, but there would be the occasional good program like Barbara Jordan.

Dress up family style dinner on Wednesday night was a hassle. We were enticed to attend with pretty good food.

Then there was the social engineering.

Freshman women weren’t allowed to leave campus for the first semester.

All women had to be back in the dorms by 1:00 am. They looked forward to daylight savings time because of the added hour.

There were very few minorities – a latino who now happens to live in Boulder, a couple black guys on the football and track teams, a Chinese and me.

These days, there aren’t women’s hours, but the school is still very white bread, but it fits in with that middle-of-the-grain-belt-culture, which is okay.

There was a Jewish guy who was big into Jews for Jesus. Apparently the Bible says there will be 144,000 Jewish men selected to be “saved.”

He wanted to be one of them.

He was the most religious zealot on campus. There were some pre-seminary majors, but this guy was over the top – Campus Crusade for Christ, all that.

At the time, the conservative lifestyle suited me – I was Republican then. In fact, my first presidential vote was for Nixon, I’m sorry to admit. The school year was 3-1-3. During the January Interim in 1973, I took a political science class called Legislators and Lobbyists in Washington DC. One of the activities was attending Nixon’s inauguration. I was tear gassed during an anti-war demonstration.

I was going through the motions, but still didn’t get the religious part of campus life at Hastings College.

chariots_of_the_gods-720080While in college I became interested in the “Chariots of the Gods” craze.

Basically, it’s about aliens from other dimensions who Erich Von Däniken believes are the angels who talked to various Biblical characters through burning bushes, pillars of fire, angels. The chariot that Jesus is supposed to ride when he returns at the end of the world is a UFO.

The Bible categorizes angels from archangels at the top to Satan at the bottom and several categories in between. There’s supposedly a constant unseen battle happening between good and evil.

Since I’m more into the tangible, the aliens / UFO model started to make some sense.

I’ll skip through time.

After graduating from Hastings with degrees in biology and political science, finding a job was not on my radar screen. My counselors forgot to tell me there aren’t many jobs counting smooth and wrinkled peas.

I sat out the post-Vietnam War recession in grad school at the University of Wyoming. After two years, I got a job in Gillette in 1977.

ufo mcguire

The water well on the McGuire farm with the Israeli flag flying.

In 1980, there was a story in the Casper Star Tribune about strange lights in the sky bouncing around a remote part of southeast Wyoming. I called the reporter about it and as a journalist he was awe struck.

At that time, there was a TV show called “That’s Incredible” hosted by Sarah Purcell and John Davidson.

The show was sending a crew to  Wyoming for a story about the UFOs visiting the Pat McGuire family at the Morton Pass Farm in the Sybille Canyon between Wheatland and Laramie on Highway 34.

“We have to go there,” I said to a group of my friends. I was obsessed by it.

The story is whacky and more involved than what I’ll write here, but hold on to your hats.

Sprinkle

Leo Sprinkle

A world renowned paranormal psychologist from the University of Wyoming named Leo Sprinkle specialized in alien abduction experiences and through hypnosis, regressed McGuire to the time he was taken aboard the UFO several years earlier.

He claimed to have been in touch with the Archangel Michael and given instructions to drill a big well on his property and begin farming.

The well was a gusher – over 8,000 gallons / minute supposedly delivered by the aliens.

He was approved for a low interest loan from the state of Wyoming for some irrigation equipment, even though hydrology studies that said the sage brush country would remain dry and unproductive dur to lack of water.

In homage to Michael and his other alien abductors, he flew the Israeli flag over the water well pump. He said the aliens wore Star of David belt buckles. He also wore one on the belt that held up his Wranglers.

ufo lights

Nocturnal Lights seen from the Morton Pass Farm in 1980.

My UFO entourage drove down and met the “That’s Incredible” crew. The nocturnal lights weren’t quite as active as they were earlier, but nonetheless, there were some to be seen, which I photographed.

On my way to Laramie from Gillette to visit my parents I generally stopped at the McGuire’s through the early 1980s. One day, the access road was closed.

After that, I lost touch with the McGuires.

Over time, I learned the McGuires had family and financial problems and were unable to make ends meet with their high altitude barley crop, even with the free water.

I heard the University of Wyoming ended up with the farm.

Pat died in 2009.

I read a couple books on the topic of angels as aliens. One was “Angels: God’s Secret Agents” by Billy Graham. It puts into context good angels and bad angels and mentions the UFO phenomenon and I can’t help but make the same comparisons with what I saw on those hills on Highway 34 that summer.

angels gods secret agentsGraham writes, “Some reputable scientists deny and others assert that UFOs do appear to people from time to time. Some scientists have reached the place where they think they can prove that these are possibly visitors from outer space.

“Some Christian writers have speculated that UFOs could very well be a part of God’s angelic host who preside over the physical affairs of universal creation.

“While we cannot assert such a view with certainty, many people are now seeking some type of supernatural explanation for these phenomena. Nothing can hide the fact, however, that these unexplained events are occurring with greater frequency.”

A few years later, after I moved to Lander, I was in Cheyenne for some reason.  I saw that Billy Graham was speaking at Frontier Park. It was free, so I went over to listen.

Alan and the PopeCopter in 1993

It was the biggest religious event I’d attended, at least until I went to see Pope John Paul II at Cherry Creek Reservoir in 1993. Now that was a crowd. I’d only taken Catholic communion once and it was at that papal mass.

Rev. Graham didn’t talk about angels or UFOs, but he’s one inspiring speaker.

I was compelled to give a few bucks when his minions passed the hat. I was attending the Evangelical Free Church which was a fairly conservative branch of the Presbyterians. The preacher and his wife were young and personable. I had forgotten that I wrote my home church on the offering envelope. Back in those days, to get a tax deduction, the church had to send you a receipt.

My minister was surprised I went to see Billy Graham and I told him my Angels and Aliens story.

He looked at me as if I was the son of the devil and the topic didn’t come up again.

I don’t wear my faith on my sleeve.

I do think there’s something to the historical Jesus as being a guy who walked his talk about the benefits of being nice to each other.

I bought a copy of the Jefferson Bible. Thomas Jefferson separated out all the scripture that was said by Jesus and compiled it, which is pretty much what I follow.

“What would Jesus do?”

The path I happened to take to get me there, was the UFO and alien route. I ended up where most others end who come through more conventional recruitment.

Based on the super natural stuff I’ve seen, the claims that Jesus was taken up to heaven don’t surprise me.

I don’t care if there’s a resurrection or not, nor do I care if I get raised from the dead. As far as I’m concerned, one lifetime here is enough!

jesus alou

Jesus of San Francisco

I’m still an avid card collector and plan to hold on to them, just in case.

I don’t want to be standing at the Pearly Gates and Peter says, “Welcome to heaven, but where’s all your stuff?”

To go along with my Jesus of Nazareth card, I have Jesus of San Francisco – Jesus Alou.

He and his two brothers Matty and Felipe all played for the Giants. The three played in a few games together in 1963.

Most of what I know about life is from trivia on the backs of trading cards.

jesus alou backAnother factoid and why I like this card is, Jesus Alou started his professional baseball career in 1959 playing for the Hastings Giants in the “D” Nebraska League.

Will my Presbyterian coincidences never cease?

By the way, man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.

Last meals – eat drink and be merry!

Featured

erik weight of water

Erik Weihenmayer negotiated the Colorado River while not being able to see where he was going.

After stopping in Fort Collins for the Boulder International Film Festival screening of Michael Brown’s “The Weight of Water” documentary at the Lincoln Center, I ventured up to Laramie for a cooperative community workshop led by Yana Ludwig at an intentional community there – Solidarity House Cooperative.

Do Mother and Father Nature plan for weather to drastically change at the Colorado / Wyoming state line?

I got on the road fairly early, but didn’t know how conditions would be. After driving o30 miles over black ice, blowing and drifting snow from the state line to Laramie, I was reminded about “last meals.”

What’s your “last meal” – you know the one you’d eat if you are on death row and your date finally comes up.

It’s not my driving that worries me as much as the bad drivers who think that a big, heavy, 4×4 makes them invincible. There were a few cars that had spun off. The guy behind me towing a top heavy trailer fish-tailed. The driver pulled out of it, which was a sight to see.

I thought about Erik Weihenmayer kayaking the Colorado River rapids through the Grand Canyon.

When I walked into the Coal Creek coffee shop, I was stopped by a patron asking me if I had a Jeep. She and her husband pulling a white tandem-axle trailer ended up in the ditch. “We were only going 35,” she rationalized. The rig was still stuck when I returned later in the afternoon.

While it wasn’t as harrowing a drive as it could have been, it was a reminder that I should have one of my “last meals.” I stopped at Vern’s Place in LaPorte and had their  prime rib. Since being resurrected from death bed in 2014, I eat my last meals as often as possible. I don’t want my actual last meal to be hospital food or cold Pizza Hut at an Econo-Lodge.

__________________________

This story was originally written December 19, 2015.

eggs verns

It’s a toss up for my “last breakfast”. I had eggs over easy, bacon and tomatoes at Vern’s Place. I got on the tomatoes at breakfast thing while in South Africa.

I spend quite a lot of time on the road traveling around mostly to other towns in Wyoming.

I haven’t had any death-defying driving experiences nor any close calls other than a couple 360 degree black ice spins.

I was driving back from Riverton and made a stop in Rawlins for snacks and gas.

The clerk informed me that I-80 east and west were both closed due to snow and blowing snow.

It was calm, sunny and warm in Rawlins, but I was stuck at the Econo-Lodge there for the night. Even as Econo-Lodges go, this one was desolate.

Might as well make the best of it.

IMG_2881

My “last lunch” pork noodles at the 20th Street Cafe in Denver.

I cruised around downtown which has improved over the years. I had a chili relleno at a small Mexican place and went back to the room, if that’s what you want to call it. The Econo-Lodge was more of an Econo-Fridge. The heater hadn’t been on for quite some time.

Closed roads are a growth industry in Wyoming.

The interstate was closed down because there was no more room along the route to accommodate any more trucks, let alone passenger cars.

Pizza Hut advertises on the room keys, bored, I decided to order my “go to” Canadian bacon and mushroom thin crust with extra cheese. I was able to eat half of it. The cable was pretty good in Rawlins – there’s not much to do there in the middle of the week in the dead of an early snow storm.

I stopped at this Tex Mex place in downtown Rawlins. I was impressed with the offering of TopoChico agua mineral.

I stopped at this Tex Mex place in downtown Rawlins. I was impressed with the offering of TopoChico agua mineral.

At 2am, the REEEEE REEEEE REEEEE! screeched out on the cable TV. The roads were open. I would still wait to get out around 10am when the sun is higher.

I gobbled the rest of the cold pizza and downed a warmed over cup of yesterday’s coffee before getting on the road.

It was a bumper to bumper parking lot from Wolcott Junction to Laramie. Traffic was stopped by an accident on the westbound lane. It took three hours to go 90 miles.

I-80 was officially closed when I was driving back from Riverton recently. White knuckle driving is an art form in Wyoming.

I-80 was officially closed when I was driving back from Riverton recently. White knuckle driving is an art form in Wyoming.

Wyoming winter driving takes some getting used to. If you can successfully drive in Wyoming during even a small snowstorm, you can drive anywhere.

Riverton, like most other Wyoming communities, is centrally isolated from just about every place else when the weather gets nasty.

I grew up in Cheyenne and let me tell you, if you’ve never experienced a blizzard in southeast Wyoming, it’s quite the experience. During certain times of year, it’s so windy, there’s no Final Net on any story shelf.

I always felt lucky about living in Lander and now Boulder along the front range foothills.

It’s so nice to wake up, look out the window and notice that the snow has fallen into neat little piles on tops of fence posts and not rudely strewn about in seven-foot- high drifts.

I’ve met several people in my travels who have been to Wyoming. Besides having visited Yellowstone Park, the second most frequent comment is, “Oh, yeah, one winter during the War, my train was stranded in Cheyenne at the depot while going to California.”

Midway was probably a fonder memory than Wyoming.

Icky John C'Hair explains the traditional Northern Arapaho bison uses to Wind River Reservation students.

Iggy John C’Hair explains the traditional Northern Arapaho bison uses to Wind River Reservation students.

I was in Riverton to document a traditional Northern Arapaho bison ceremony. This was my third trip to the Wind River Indian Reservation in three weeks.

It was a successful hunt and ceremony, which is the subject of another post. I was anxious to get back on the road but didn’t check the road reports.

Hmmm.

Under most circumstances, I’m a calm and collected driver, but when the interstate suddenly disappears in a puff of white, it’s quite a different story.

Luckily, I didn’t get stuck on the interstate and it closed behind me. I’ve been stuck back in the days before cell phones and GPS.

Back in those days, it was cassette tapes and Glenn Miller and Frank Sinatra tunes soothing me while my car pounded through invisible snow drifts and crept around several 18-wheeler convoys near Elk Mountain.

White knuckles.

Disgruntled travelers examining their jack-knifed u-Haul trailer and contorted semi-truck silhouettes in the media strip made me realize how out of control these drives can be.

I can’t imagine being killed by a wild and crazy trucker or freezing to death knowing my last meal was cold pizza and day-old coffee.

My romanticism has me eating bacon, eggs over easy with a pancake for my last breakfast at the Red Willow in the Wind River Casino; pork noodles from the 20th Street Cafe as my last lunch; and steak and lobster from Svilar’s in Hudson, Wyoming.

I better get with eating, drinking and being merry.