Columnist Responds to Vicious Attacks from So-Called Friends CategoriesThe Pleasure of Life

Columnist Responds to Vicious Attacks from So-Called Friends

You may recall in the last column I talked about training for a big hike in the fall. So far, the training has involved mowing the lawn while wearing a 40-pound backpack and getting lost in moderately sized Pocahontas State Park during a lightning storm.

Since then, friends have given me feedback about my training approach, in the same way that West Virginia Mountaineer football fans give feedback to visiting teams, to visiting fans and, win or lose, to their own couches after the game.

 A Cow Eating Grass

I’ve heard from friends, for example: That there is no grass in the Grand Canyon, so the lawn mowing drill is pretty pointless, and stupid-looking to boot; that if I got lost in an 8,100-acre state park, I’ll never make it out of the Grand Canyon alive; that it’s hardly real training if I stop and lay down on our cool sidewalk eight times during a 90-minute mowing.

First of all, why do you think there is no grass in the Grand Canyon anyway? Maybe because all of the hikers are pushing mowers, maybe? Have you never heard of the famous paradoxical blank canvas depicting the cow eating grass?? LOOK IT UP. I’ll wait.


Not to mention, my yard ain’t exactly a lush meadow of fescue either. But I’m still out there, mowing the dirt patches and weed thickets and cigarette butts someone keeps throwing in our yard because it’s not about the grass, it’s about the pack miles, as you would know if you’d ever completed Navy SEAL training.

Second of all, in Pocahontas State Park there are dozens of trails that twist and wind in 360 different directions. No wonder I got lost! But I have it on reliable authority that in the Grand Canyon there are only three directions: down (day one), across (days two and three) and up (day four). Easy peasey, Sacaja-weezie! What could go wrong?

I would add that since I came out of the woods with my story of life and near death in southern Chesterfield County, many, many people – cyclists, runners and hikers – have shared with me similar stories of getting lost in what The Donald calls Elizabeth Warren State Park (keep in mind The Donald also calls his own daughter a hot chick he wishes he could date…).

Are there ghosts and spirits of long-dead settlers in the park who are manipulating park visitors’ sense of direction? Is there a bunker buried deep under the park’s gently sloping hills that holds the cryogenically preserved remains of alien invaders and is twisting the magnetic fields above? Is there no one on The Donald’s team who will tell him to stop hitting on his own daughter? Is there no one on The Hillary’s team who will tell her to stop talking about Area 51 and extraterrestrial aliens? (Questions 1 & 2 are unanswerable. Questions 3 & 4 should not need to be askable.)

How is it that everyone is ready to believe Nickelback is a terrible band but no one is ready to believe there’s something supernatural going on in that park? And while we’re on the topic, don’t you think Nickelback wakes up most days, takes a look at the Interweb and says, “What the hell did WE do to get this kind of crap while Loverboy is cleaning up on nostalgia tours??”

As to my laying down every few minutes during my lawn mowing/training: our sidewalk is composite, not concrete, so it is very similar to the rocky floor of the canyon. So save it.

Regardless, it turns out I did jinx the trip by writing about it in my last column, because our permit application was not pulled in the lottery process and we can’t go this fall. We are working out our next move, but the soonest we’ll be able to hike the canyon is next spring.

And you know what that means: shoveling the driveway wearing a backpack, whether we have snow or not.


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Chuck Hansen is an award-winning author and humorist. In addition to his books, Chuck’s writing has appeared in publications in Virginia and across the country. Chuck also speaks frequently, bringing his unique, thoughtful humor to business and community group meetings and conferences. Chuck and his wife Stacy have two adult children (Daniel and Madison) and live in beautiful Midlothian, Virginia. For more information, or to contact Chuck, visit his website


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