Archive for the ‘Ranger Doug Roadtrips’ Category

Ranger Doug’s Intergalactic Headquarters

Sunday, June 10th, 2018

After my NPS Centennial Roadtrip, I had to move my poster business out of a private home and into a real warehouse.  I bought this sight-unseen.  It was originally a machine shop in the 1970s with 400 amps of power at 480 VAC!  Perfect, except for the ugly mural on the door.  It turns out to be a Henry mural who is getting quite a reputation with about 150 murals around Seattle–and I’m in the art preservation business so I move this around to the back door–you can still see it there (24 Dravus St.).

The first thing I do after closing is to fill it with cars, forklifts and trailers–this place is 40′ X 50′ so you can get a lot of stuff in here.

So I move in more stuff in–whew!  These are engine parts for my tugboat which is still in Alaska.  Note the tire guards–the previous owner of the tug bought all new tires, then drilled holes in them to hang them around the tug.  But, I digress.

And more stuff–in this case it’s our card-stock shipped up from Salt Lake City….the real purpose of this warehouse.  RDE sells about half million cards a year.

To enclose an office/poster storage facility, the city, in all their infinite wisdom makes me cut the foundation in half!  Yes, it’s a footing required by law and is no deeper than the slab itself.   This is a stupid law but I do it.  The floor tips about 1 1/2″ out of plumb–not a problem for a boat builder.

But a problem for my builders, so we do this twice.  You cannot have three walls that run wild and try to level the fourth.

BCI’s are up and we pack another 2″ on top for code (stupid code).  This is a “temporary” five year structure.

I decide I want a modern bathroom with shower, washer/dryer and vanity–here’s what goes under the cement.  The cement cutter brought a gas powered cutter instead of a hydraulic one and got CO poisoning.  I hope he recovered; when he left he didn’t look well.  Even the CO alarm in the Airstream went off and it was parked across the warehouse.  Not good–this stuff can kill you.

I put on a new facade, moved a few doors and installed a spiffy awning, did some back yard landscaping and added planters.  It’s done and it’s nice!

Todd, my new warehouseman likes to organize things–this is my tugboat inventory now with the marine stove at the forefront which came out of Rupert Broom’s 100 year old schooner.  I’ve restored it and it’s beautiful.  The big steel ball is now painted and marks my house on the Wrangell Narrows in Alaska.  I’ll hang my new boat on this during the summers.

Angie’s new office–everything now has it’s place.

We call up the local papers and hold a hot-cider open house and invite our neighboring businesses, friendly bankers at Heritage Bank, and the locals.  We have a great time and I keep plugging our WPA products.  I set up camp in the trailer complete with green AstroTurf!

This our “Wall of Color” with all our 45 designs and a photo history of my Centennial Roadtrip.  A light-storage area is above…..I’m still looking for a ladder.  The forklifts are gone.  Some California sold me one that was spray painted into Old Cat Yellow (Caterpillar) when it was a Mitsubishi–and disconnected all the warning lights.  Upon inspection, I sent it back to California and demanded a refund and got it.  In the business, it’s called a Swedish overhaul…..   And I’m Norwegian!

Below, Sally Jewell, former Secretary of the Interior sends her regrets to our open warehouse invitation but SOI #2 shows up and has a great time (last photo below).   We are located at 25 Nickerson Street now (and also 24 Dravus) and will give tours only by appointment.  Locally, our products are sold at Annie’s Art & Frame in Ballard, Frame Up in Fremont and downtown REI.

Grand Canyon History Symposium

Monday, November 7th, 2016


From Santa Fe, it’s back on the road to Moab, Grand Canyon and Zion national parks.  At Montecello I find another roadside attraction with a fantastic boutique ice cream parlor.  Screech!  On Doctor’s orders (mine), I sooth my sore throat with big dollop of Chocolate/Peanutbutter ice cream…….


Just south of Moab is Church Rock where Mormon pioneers stopped to worship.  Not sure what they were worshiping about but at least it was out of the sun.  This should be included in the nearby national parks.  Southern Utah and northern Arizona are the best kept secrets–although they’re not secret any more.  Let’s go hiking!


I’d always read and heard (and driven by) Fisher Towers but never hiked in to view them.  Titan is the biggest monolith in this group.  It’s about 2 miles in to the base of some of the most fantastic spires ever.


These four smaller towers are named “Ancient Art with the right-hand one called The Corckscrew and for obvious reasons


What’s this on top?


I hike around the base to the other side–it looks more like a crankshaft to me, but somehow Crankshaft Tower doesn’t ring true.


Zooming in I spot a climber–this tower is the most popular climb in Moab–rated at 5.9 which back in the 1960s was the hardest rating.  Today, that has fudged, inflated, and earned harder grades…. to 5.15a,b,c, etc…..  Where will this grade inflation end?  True, the climbers today are way, way better, with better equipment, too.  And here I am a 27 year old trapped in a 70 year old body–someone get me out!


What exhilaration!–this climb can be viewed on Youtube here.


After my hike I drive around to Castleton Tower, the Priest and the Nuns and discover another old Airstream.


Serial #57!  Identical to mine but manufactured a year later in 1949. And still going strong!


I’m invited to give the keynote talk at the fourth Grand Canyon History Symposium.  I greet about 300 Grand Canyon enthusiasts and learn a lot!  Many of these folks have spent time in Antarctica.  I’m hooked on old river boats now and am planning a trip down the Canyon.  Why have I waited so long?


Here’s the group of presenters.  I forgot to take off my hat…..  (photo by Tom Martin, GCHS)

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One big surprise was to find another original copy of the Grand Canyon WPA poster.   This makes five known surviving copies now out of 100 printed.  This was donated to the park by a woman in Sedona who worked for the park beginning in 1951 which is when the US Mint building in San Francisco shipped the remnants back to parks.  This is likely one of these?  It was quite faded which surprised me as other duplicate copies–some hidden away and some in frames exhibited pretty stable colors–a question I get asked at all my talks (since I describe my re-coloration efforts beginning with black and white photographs).


Here is a light relief (tilting 89 degrees to sunlight) which shows the ink layers much better.  The mint green was likely the first color with the pink second.  The light purple was a very thick layer; the dark purple very thin.  These were wonderfully made all by hand–this is a great find and I’m lobbying for moving this print within the system to the NPS Archives in Harpers Ferry where I’m trying to build a set.  Forty-two prints have now turned up; 12 of the 14 designs of which 11 have been returned to the public domain.

I’m still searching for Wind Cave and Great Smoky Mountain–one known Yosemite slipped through my fingers at auction 10 years ago.  I’m offering a $5000 reward for each of these three and will donate these to the NPS.

Stand by!

Malala, Mountains and More Parks….

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016


An early fall morning in Jackson Hole gives me pause…it’s time to head south in the Ranger-Doug-Mobile, my 1948 (serial #3) Airstream.  The annual American Dental Association is in Denver this year and even though I’m retired, off I go to hear the guest speaker……


….who is Malala Yousafzai, the 14 (now 19) year old Pakistani girl who was shot in the face by the Taliban for encouraging girls to attend school in the Swat Valley.  She is also the youngest person to receive the Nobel Prize.  This is one remarkable young woman, who will become President of Pakistan some day perhaps.  Of the 3000 in the audience, about 1/3 filmed her talk on their cell phones–a great distraction of bobbing lights and occasional flashes, especially after being asked to stow these devices beforehand.  I snapped this during a minutes-long standing ovation after her talk.  A truly remarkable young woman….


My turn to speak is next, at the Denver Service Center, National Park Service. The Denver Service Center is the central planning, design, and construction management project office for the National Park Service.  I didn’t get 3000 in my audience, only 40, however these were a most enthusiastic bunch.  I spent a total of almost three hours there complete with a tour of the facility.


After Denver, it’s backtracking to Estes Park, the gateway community to Rocky Mountain National Park where I gave a talk last month. This is one beautiful place.  This photo is from a very windy and steep access road to Pleasant Peak where I took a short hike.


My “rope-mates” are Tom and Kathy Hornbein and Steve Komito, bootmaker extraordinaire–saving soles one boot at a time.  I last saw Steve 48 years ago when I climbed Longs Peak.  In those days we were required to have a back-up rescue team as no one in the NPS could climb the “Diamond” or vertical east face.  So my climbing partner, John Brottem, and I scouted all the available area climbers and brashly presented their names to the NPS so we could get through the gate and on the East Face….  Steve got a chuckle over this.   We climbed about 2/3 “Diamond” before falling ice suggested to us that we retreat.


It was Tom and Kathy who, during a climbing stay at our NPS cabin in the Tetons 45 years ago,  convinced me and my (then) wife, Liz, to attend Medical and Dental school.  Thanks to you both–you changed our lives!  They endured 24 hours of my story telling and I got an earful (and eyeful) about Mt. Everest from the last surviving West Ridge team member.


The “Diamond” is partially eclipsed by the shoulder of Longs Peak.  I made a WPA style poster print for Rocky Mountain National Park which  shows this perspective which you can see here.


Heading south again, I drive along the Colorado Mountain Front to Boulder and am not surprised to be greeted by the suburban sprawl.  Fifty years ago, it was actually a nice little mountain town…..   I’m getting old.


I had never visited Great Sand Dune National Park and Preserve and it’s right on my way–that is to say–in the middle of nowhere.  It is my 176th park unit visited.  This is one beautiful place and preserves a whole ecosystem on the eastern edge of the San Luis Valley.  The wind carries sand up against the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, creating the tallest sand dunes in the country.  Go there!


Someone’s lonely abode in the middle of the San Luis Valley.


The Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, billed the “Best Train Ride in America,” is located in the small southern Colorado town of Antonito.  This amazing museum runs a steam passenger train all the way to Chama, New Mexico.  They were rolling (literally) up the carpet when I arrived, pushing cars by hand and forklift out of the winter weather.  But, I’ll return.


It’s Santa Fe for a week’s R&R–I’m frazzled with all this park travel.  I give a talk Saturday morning 9 am at the Santa Fe Hotel, downtown to the Association of National Park Rangers; attend if you can.  This is my 66th formal NPS talk in 14 months.  I’ve driven over 40,000 miles, on my second set of tires on my second car.  Three weeks to go!  Stand by!