The Whereabouts of Ranger Tim

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.
-Edward Abbey

Some regular readers have asked how Ranger Tim has weathered the transition from naturalist in the Canadian woods to Silicon Valley executive. I had worried a little myself. I’ve been to Silicon Valley a few times, and couldn’t imagine that its narrow culture had room for his pioneer soul. He doubted it too. “Brooklyn,” he wrote from some public library on the long drive from Lake Superior to San Jose, “will always be a lost paradise.”

But he’s a good naturalist. He finds life in unlikely places. Craigslist helps. Here’s a letter he wrote to Chris Corrigan, an Irish/Ojibway kindred spirit he met through this site:

“Well I’ve been through something of a whirlwind of change since I was at Bowen Lousy excuse for not staying in proper touch, but there you have it.

While I was in Vancouver, a recruiter for a tech company in San Jose contacted me, and I was going down to the Bay Area anyway to visit friends, so we ended up setting up some meetings with the firm. Everybody hit it off, so I drove back east and picked up my stuff from Superior and Kedey Island, hung out with my family over Christmas, and drove back west with a trailerload, following the old Emigrant Trail, more or less. My welcome to California was four feet of snow in the Donner Pass. Fortunately I did not have to eat any of my fellow travellers there as is the ancient custom.

I lucked into the Ranch through online want-ads. I had a pretty firm sense that I didn’t want to live in the wastes of Silicon Valley, and knew that there were some shockingly wild places in the mountains nearby. But I didn’t expect to waltz right into such an agreeable situation so painlessly – it was the first place I looked at. Then again nobody who knows me well is the tiniest bit surprised. It’s my kabin karma, they say.

My abode lies on a spread of 100 acres (note Dervala’s issue with orders of magnitude!) of wooded canyon in the Santa Cruz Mountains, remarkable for being a mere 20 minutes from downtown San Jose, ground zero of the Technology Boom. California is amazing for the way the terrain compacts bio- and socioeconomic diversity across small linear distances.

There’s a quirky little community of 10 tenants homesteading there with me, close enough to help one another out, far enough that seclusion is easy to find when you need it. Very northcountry pioneery in feel. Even a little tribal. There was a barnraising of sorts this weekend to help me install hardwood floors in my shack, and next weekend I’ll be helping somebody strip and old trailer for salvage, and so on.

You probably get to enjoy this sort of thing on Bowen Island all the time, but it’s ages since I felt so connected with my neighbours.

On the off chance you’re in the Bay Area for a conference or for pleasure, please look me up and plan to come frolic in my montane idyll. The facilities ain’t luxurious but standards will come up a notch when I’m done converting my galvanized stock tank into a hot tub, and we can all soak our bones under a canopy of Bay Laurel, Madrone and stars.”

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