Tag Archives: Ebenezer Scrooge

King Of The Mountain (part 1)

One day my lovely wife suggested we go camping with her aunt and uncle. I was a bit baffled by her increasing fascination with the great outdoors. I’ve only gone camping two or three times, throughout my entire life, if sleeping in a tent in one’s own backyard counts as doing the deed. My criteria for camping is having immediate access to indoor plumbing, air-conditioning, and television. My wife’s aunt and uncle’s newly purchased camper offered all three amenities, so I was willing to sacrifice part of my weekend to make the missus happy. That’s what good husbands do for their spouses. It’s not that my wife has ever been an avid outdoorswoman, at least not in the thirty-two plus years we’ve been together, but suddenly she was adamant about giving it a try.

My wife and I arrived at the campsite, located in Flagstaff, Arizona, and quickly unloaded our car before settling into our “new home” for the next 24 hours. Our “roughing it” experience began with a harmless cookout. The outdoor gas grill churned out some delicious burgers, and the refrigerator inside the camper kept the side dishes from spoiling. Afterwards, the four of us congregated to our comfy lawn chairs, situated on a small cement slab next to the camper, so we could chat and simply enjoy the summer’s eve. We were accompanied by a cooler of ice-cold beer. It rained off and on, but it really didn’t matter since we were nestled underneath the camper’s extended awning.

I could not help but notice the gigantic mountain towering above us in the near distance. I kept glancing at the magnificent mound, in between our enlightening conversations and swigs of craft beer, until I finally decided to inquire about what I’d been spying. I found out I was looking at Mount Elden, and it was within walking distance from the campsite. I continued probing into the matter throughout the evening, and eventually I was reminded of a quote from the classic holiday movie, A Christmas Carol. After coming to his senses, and being overcome with a childlike excitement, Ebenezer Scrooge declares, “I must stand on my head.” I found myself to be outright giddy, like the former curmudgeon, while surveying the mountain, and ultimately I concluded, “I must climb that mountain.”

The humongous heap I had been observing all evening was a far cry from the mountains I had scaled back home at Thunderbird Park. It certainly was nothing like the snowbanks I used to conquer as a rambunctious adolescent growing up in Iowa. I fondly remember when a pile of snow and a couple of friends typically meant only one thing: playing a testosterone-fueled game of King of the Mountain. It was good to be king, but sometimes the consequence of playing the physical game was “his royal majesty” would be left with one or two less friends by game’s end although usually for only a day or two at the most. No, the beast now currently before my eyes was definitely going to be more challenging than anything I’d ever climbed before.

The next morning I got up early, had a cup of coffee, and grabbed two bottles of water, some trail mix, and my cellphone before heading out on my newfound mission. I jogged on a dusty path leading from the campsite to the numerous trails beginning at the bottom of Mount Elden. I found the sign pointing to where I desired to go, looked up to the heavens above, and then began my anticipated 2 hour roundtrip journey. After following the trail a short distance I came across what I could only assume was a family of visiting tourists. They obviously were of a different nationality because I could not understand a word they were saying. They were taking turns snapping pictures of one another while posing atop an assortment of boulders along the trail. I flashed them a smile as I meandered through all of the commotion.

I soon noticed the path I was navigating seemed to be heading downwards. It’s not uncommon to encounter a few patches of declining land when mountain climbing; however, experiencing them so early on, and at such a rapid descent, was undoubtedly confusing and too much for me to simply ignore. Thankfully, at my time of uncertainty I was greeted by someone heading in the opposite direction. I informed him of the situation at hand, and I asked if he knew what might be happening. He did. The local man explained how we were on the Fatman’s Loop trail, which only went around the mountain, and how I must have wandered off the Elden Lookout Trail; therefore, missing the entrance to Mount Elden.

The friendly hiker assured me there were signs, a ways back from where I had just come from, indicating where I should go. I traipsed back a bit, and sure enough there were the signs: labeled with bold letters and in plain sight. I contemplated how I possibly could’ve missed them until I realized I was standing in the exact spot where I had earlier run into the presumed family of tourists. The posing family members surely would’ve blocked anyone’s view, of the informative signage, when standing on top of the boulders. I had lost a little time (and energy) in search of the correct path to take, but I was now officially ready to scale Mount Elden.


Who Would You Wanna Be?

If you could be any character from a Christmas movie…who would you wanna be? That’s the question I asked my wife the other day. I think that may give you a glimpse into what my lovely wife has to put up with on a daily basis. I can’t help it if that’s the way my mind works, and I make no apologies for having a curious nature PBS assuredly would be proud of. My wife has not yet gotten back to me with an answer. Either she’s still contemplating the philosophical question, or she has forgotten all about the proposed nonsense. It has been a few weeks since I asked, so I suspect it’s the latter. When I proposed the question I had no preconceived answer in mind because I had not mulled it over myself. Boy, sometimes I really give myself something important to think about.

My initial thought was Clark Griswold from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. He certainly is fond of Christmas, and all of the traditions associated with the glorious holiday, just as I am. Some people may be a bit skeptical when Clark brings home a Christmas tree that’s way too big for his house, but let me assure you it’s not so far-fetched because I’ve done exactly the same thing a time or two. He builds up the special time of year so much in his head that he’s bound to be at least a little disappointed after its all been said and done. I have been guilty of that as well. Clark also has an idiotic cousin-in-law to contend with, so I decided I should explore some other possibilities.

Ralphie Parker from A Christmas Story quickly came to mind as one of my favorite Christmas movie characters, but the more I thought about his life the less I wished to be like him. The youngster is constantly being chased by bullies, before and after school, and he is forced to suck on a bar of soap as punishment for swearing (Lifebuoy is the worst). Ralphie’s also made to wear pink bunny pajamas and anything else Aunt Clara sends his way, and let’s not forget he nearly shoots his eye out with his official Red Ryder carbine action 200-shot range model air rifle. Next!

How about Ebenezer Scrooge, from A Christmas Carol, I wondered. Now there’s a magnificent ending to a classic Christmas tale, and the thought of living in simpler times is very appealing to me. A world without cell phones and reality television would be an absolute dream come true. Of course, Mr. Scrooge spends the better part of his life alone and wallowing in bitterness, so maybe he is not someone I would want to be. However, he is tremendously wealthy, and who wouldn’t want that, but Ebenezer doesn’t do anything with his acquired fortune, so what’s the point. Besides, the question I specifically had asked was, “If you could be any character from a Christmas movie…who would you wanna be?” I made no mention of being afforded the opportunity to change any of the chosen character’s traits, or the way in which they had lived their lives, so the search continued.

I thought about Davey Stone from the not as well-known seasonal movie, Eight Crazy Nights, but only for a second. Adam Sandler’s character is Jewish and celebrates Hanukkah instead of Christmas. I’m not even sure what Hanukkah is. In addition, Davey Stone is a cartoon character who I would assume lives in an entirely different world than what I am used to. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, or if I’d ever cross paths with other cartoon characters (like Scooby-Doo and the gang), but regardless I decided to omit all animated characters from consideration at that point. Unfortunately, that decision left The Grinch out of the running, and that’s really too bad because I’ve been told I look good in green. However, spread out over the entire length of my body might be a bit too much. I then considered Santa Claus, from either Miracle On 34th Street or The Santa Clause, but being the jolly old elf simply seems like an awful lot of work and very time consuming as well.

My mind wandered off to Peter Bailey from It’s A Wonderful Life. It’s kind of funny how a movie character can appear to be so perfect at first, but after further examination we discover they are just as flawed as the rest of us, and their life is not so wonderful after all. We all probably tend to focus on Peter Bailey’s epiphany and his change of heart, in regards to taking his own life, instead of realizing he will still be working at the Building and Loan (a job he loathes), and residing in the town he has grown tired of, at the end of the day. Bedford Falls is simply too small for a man who would lasso the moon if he could. The disgruntled man yearns to travel abroad, but there is always something keeping him from leaving and pursuing his dreams. Peter Bailey still lives in a drafty old house and has too many children (if you ask me) by movie’s end. Finding a seemingly easy answer to my question had become quite the dilemma and much harder to answer than I had anticipated.

Kevin McCallister! Of course. I can’t believe it took me this long to recall the adorable little boy who gets “lost” during his Christmas vacations in the Home Alone movies. Kevin is thoughtful, intelligent, very independent (for a child), and he possesses the ingenuity similar to that of MacGyver. He sometimes gets into mischief (we all do), but overall he’s a pretty decent kid. The youngster loves all of the traditions associated with Christmas, especially decorated Christmas trees, and he thinks cold weather should be a requirement at Christmastime. The rest of his family would rather be in a tropical setting somewhere during the holidays. Whenever Kevin gets “lost” he doesn’t shirk from household responsibilities like grocery shopping or doing the laundry. He has an uncanny ability to overcome any obstacle that may get in his way. That’s precisely why the “Wet Bandits” (aka “Sticky Bandits”) are no match for the cute blond-haired, blue-eyed Kevin McCallister.

When the child is left to fend for himself he chooses to live a luxurious lifestyle. He indulges on his very own cheese pizza and a 3-scoop sundae because as he shamelessly puts it, “I’m not driving,” and Kevin has no qualms about charging everything to his father’s credit card. Priceless! He has a tendency of getting “lost” at Christmastime, but inevitably he is always found no worse for the wear. Even though sometimes the youngster is disappointed, with his large extended family, in the end he realizes he would not want to be without them. One of my mottos is, “without God and family…a person really has nothing,” so I whole-heartedly can relate to Kevin’s sentiment. If I could be any character from a Christmas movie…I would be Kevin McCallister from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Who would you wanna be?