JUST HERE FOR THE DOGS
(A writer’s life update)
by M.D. Parker

Where the magic happens… now off to find a magician.

While there is plenty of travel-related stories and pictures coming soon, I thought I’d take the time to update people on the world of being a writer on the road, during a pandemic, who got in a fight with his muse, and who has been reevaluating the entire craft and his place in it.

First, let’s tackle the “big” project, THE GENESIS ECHO novel (cue ominous music):
I’ve been working on this saga for 4 years off and on. I’ve completed the book two times, and am currently trying to rewrite and massively overhaul the entire thing. I’m halfway through that. I’ve also managed a full novella, a short story, and now I’ve tried making my #BrickBuiltStories revolving around the same saga, which is of course part of my larger RorriM universe.

My other writings, political essays, and random flash fiction all have suffered and stumbled as badly as the main work in progress.

…and a spring just broke on the trampoline.

Sales of my anthologies and my novella are at or near zero for months.

I’m discouraged.
I’m burned out.
I’m exhausted from the dread of the real world, and desperately finding a way(s) I can make an actual difference for the better.

So, that’s where I’ve been at… it’s like a party… in a dumpster… that’s on fire. Yay! 

All good here. Nothing to see…

So, what does this mean going forward? Well, I’m about to disappoint 4 of you. THE GENESIS ECHO and the larger RorriM universe are going into hibernation. I’m going to lock them away in a mental closet. For how long? I have no idea. Maybe a month or two, maybe a year, maybe a decade. I need to recharge, wrap myself in the joyous parts of the craft and create. I just need to create. I wish to bring imaginary people into existence and share them with you. I know, it sounds like I have a god complex, but my name does mean “next to god” or “godlike” after all. 

I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.

I have projects in my mind, notes and ideas jotted down. I have a bookmarked list of more than 50 websites or articles to start research on various horror inducing topics or science fiction explorations. Sometimes those things intermingle. I know I just started my new Brick Built Stories series, but I am going to change it into something more akin to travel and fun. Maybe some shots of Lego Me exploring the place where the real world and the plastic brick world meet.

A lot is happening. I hope you’ll stick around as we continue to write on the road, with our furry companions.

What? What’s that you say?

Oh – you were just here for the dogs – Yeah, us too. 

Rusty enjoying a wee bit of snow before going back inside to lay in front of the heater.
“Found a stick on the ground and now I’m gonna use it. All this power that I found, gonna totally abuse it! Gonna hit so much stuff–do not get into my way cuz I found a stick and I’m using it today!” – Frankie

And don’t forget the food!

This is what my wife sticks around for too.

 

The Existential Dread of a Broken Heart

by M.D. Parker 

 

I call myself an author

Are we really the things we call ourselves, especially when the actions that make us those things are not being done? Am I becoming less than I was, or just more of something else? Am I worthy of any of the titles I have ever carried? Yes, this is the sound of dread setting in. These are among the numerous questions I’ve spent months toiling over. 

2020 was quite the —  well let’s use ‘interesting’ as a descriptor — year. Wildfires, murder hornets, UFOs, civil unrest around the world, the loss of a higher than average number of cultural icons, and of course a global pandemic. 

At first when the pandemic took off in the U.S.A., we lost focus on other items as we tried to figure out how full-time RVers navigated this confusing and ever-changing time. My writing suffered as I found myself stress-eating, driving to a new location, or just sitting and screaming at an orange tinted, bloviating narcissist, lying to everyone about the dangers as tens (and eventually hundreds) of thousands died. My writing suffered. 

We really don’t miss hearing from him.

As the fall came I began picking my writing up again and finished the 27th draft of The Genesis Echo – part 1. My muse was hanging out with me and my imaginary friends were coming over for coffee in the morning. Then horror struck. The existential dread I’d been battling all year fully shut me down. My writing assistant, my dude, my four-legged best friend, died suddenly. 

Milo looking like an angsty music video, gazing out the window longingly.
Milo always willing to lend a lazy smile and tail wag.

Still reeling from Milo’s passing, we got a call. My father was in the hospital requiring emergency surgery after falling and breaking his hip and laying helpless for hours (his med-alert button failed). He was going to need us. We returned to Oregon and began caretaking the man who would suffer complications that would run him in and out of the hospital a few times over the next few months. 

My writing came to a complete and total halt.

As the first 3 months of 2021 would pass, we’d see difficult, but positive progress on my father and we were beginning to adjust to life without Milo. Our other amazing fur companion, Rusty, was there with us every step of the way.

The best heart healer ever.

At the end of March we hit the road again, but I had yet to really hit the keyboard. Just before we pulled away from our home town, we took a peak at the dogs that needed rescued from the shelter. 

Our eyes were drawn to a 12-year old boxer mix named Frankie. We told each other we had to go meet her. I wasn’t sure I was ready for another dog just yet, but the thought of this doggo sitting there without a home, knowing that adoption at her age was near impossible, didn’t sit well with our tiny sappy hearts. We scheduled a visit for the same day (COVID restrictions still in place for health and safety, the shelter was forced to work by appointment only, which also lowers the adoption rate).

Meet Frankie and her new tree-bone!

After meeting us and walking and playing with Rusty, Frankie took it upon herself to jump in our car. She wouldn’t leave. She stared at the both of us, and had responded to every other thing we did or say, except the order to exit the car. She had made her choice — who were we to argue? She remained in the car while I went inside and completed adoption paperwork. 

 

Frankie says, “I picked ya’ll. Deal with it.”

Now, less than a month later, and after a scary illness that hit both her and Rusty hard, and the fear of losing her already, I’ve come to realize how much she has already done for us. She has not replaced the hole in my heart from the loss of the best fur-companion I’ve ever known. Instead she has helped remind me of the lessons Milo tried to teach me. Her presence has allowed the love he put in my heart to expand; shrinking that hole down to a manageable size. Rusty was there to comfort us, to grieve with us, for he had lost his brother as well. Frankie has come to show us, Rusty included, that the best way to heal is to love even more. 

So, from the bottom of our damaged little hearts —  for myself, my wife, Rusty… and for Milo, I say thank you and welcome to the family Frankie. 

Thank you for choosing us. 

Pals.
Rusty and Frankie are ready to get down to the business of exploring the world.

Please visit PetFinder, or visit your local shelter to adopt a new loved one today. 

 

 

Wreck of the Peter Iredale
and the
Graveyard of the Pacific

The skeleton of the Peter Iredale

The Columbia River Bar is where the Pacific Ocean and Columbia River meet. Rough waters, thick fog, strong winds, and deadly rocks have sunk approximately 2,000 ships since 1792. Over 700 people have lost their lives in the shipwrecks, which is why it’s become known as the “Graveyard of the Pacific.”

A lot of work was done to make the Columbia River Bar safer for mariners. The United States added the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse in 1856, and later added more lights to Cape Flattery and Shoalwater Bay on the Washington side of the Bar. While this gave seamen points of reference, ships were still running afoul.

In the early 1880’s businessmen from Portland petitioned Congress to do more to help the situation. Congress approved funds for a jetty to be built out from the Clatsop Spit on the south side of the mouth of the Columbia, near Fort Stevens. By 1894 the jetty was five miles long, helping keep the sand from building up in the channel. A north jetty, on the Washington side of the mouth, was completed in 1925 and helped even more to stabilize the bar. However, even to this day the channel has to be dredged to accommodate larger ships.

The most famous victim of the Graveyard of the Pacific was the Peter Iredale.

Photo: Columbia River Maritime Museum

The Peter Iredale was a four-masted steel sailing ship that was built in England in 1890. In September of 1906, the Iredale left Salina Cruz, Mexico for Portland, Oregon. They reached the mouth of the Columbia River safely, despite heavy fog. But early in the morning of October 25, 1906, heavy winds hit, followed by strong currents causing the ship to be caught in the large breaking waves. The Iredale ran aground on Clatsop Beach, hitting the shore so hard that three of her four masts snapped.

She was abandoned on Clatsop Spit near Fort Stevens, about four miles south of the Columbia River channel.

History remains

The Peter Iredale has rested on Clatsop Beach for 114 years.

A haunting beach

For More Information 

Columbia River Maritime Museum

HistoryLink.org

Hammond, Oregon Tide Tables

 

 

Fort Stevens – Hammond, Oregon

The fog was light. Summer had arrived on the calendar, but the spring-time temperatures held firm. Most of the soldiers of the 249th Coast Artillery Corp were bedded down for the night. Guard duty shifts were manned, and talk was light.  

To the southwest of the fort, just beyond the break point of the waves, a dark figure rose up from the depths. Unseen as it took aim, the Japanese I-25 submarine prepared its attack. The flash of a muzzle and the explosion of the enormous shells striped away the quiet of the night leaving craters in the beachhead. Soldiers scrambled and stumbled from their bunks as they raced to their stations. 

Plotters prepared firing orders as spotters watched the muzzle flashes from the submarine, but the order came to hold. Nine shots were fired towards them, all falling short and harmlessly away into the surrounding vegetation. With bated breath everyone waited, and although the submarine retreated and submerged once again, there would be no sleep for the remainder of the night.

M.D. Parker

Fort Stevens Battery Pratt

Fort Stevens in Hammond, near Astoria, Oregon original construction began in 1863, near the end of the Civil War. By 1904 the fort had expanded. Multiple cannon batteries were constructed with the intention of defending the mouth of the Columbia River. 

On June 21, 1942 Fort Stevens was attacked by an Imperial Japanese Navy submarine. The submarine seemed to be shooting blind. They were still looking for a target, not firing at one yet. There was no return fire from Fort Stevens that night. Since the fort remained silent, the Japanese didn’t know where exactly to attack, so they ceased fire and submerged their submarine in retreat. 

And the award for hide-n-seek 1942 Summer Championship goes to Fort Stevens! 

Machine Gun Emplacement. Rumor has it that this machine gun was loosely based on some tech from a galaxy far, far away.

The majority of the buildings and structures in Fort Stevens are still intact. You are able to enter a lot of the structures, though some only on scheduled tours. There are plenty of volunteers for the guided tours, history lessons, and information. There is an onsite Military Museum with a small rose garden.

Central Power Plant
Zoom zoom
Boom boom
“Plot and plan like all good generals.”  – E.A. Bucchianeri,
Most of the corridors in the batteries are very dark with far away echoes…of something. Maybe you, maybe not.
Pitch black in this underground corridor. Maybe it is only because I have been here in person, but I can almost feel this picture. Too quiet, but for echoes of the unknown. Too dark, too cool, too dreadful. 
Inside the Battery Clark

The fort is now part of a 4,200 acre Oregon State Park that includes camping, wildlife viewing, more than five miles of hiking and biking trails, Frisbee golf and the ability to explore Fort Stevens remains and buildings. There is also access to the final battery built at Fort Stevens, Battery Russell. Within walking distance is a fresh water lake for swimming and fishing and kayaking. There is easy beach access nearby for walks, beach combing, stunning sunset views, and even a ship wreck. 

The Peter Iredale

The campground has around 500 campsites available with various amenities, including yurts, cabins, tents, and various RV hookup sites available. The sites are level with an abundance of trees for shade and wind block.  Each loop has it’s own bathroom and shower facilities. 

The Frisbee Golf course goes all the way around and through Fort Stevens.
There is a large herd of elk that roam the grounds at Fort Stevens

If you manage to see and do everything on your Fort Stevens bucket list, you can also go visit the Lewis and Clark National Park nearby. Nearby towns include Hammond, Warrenton, Seaside, and Astoria. 

There are wonderful local restaurants, including plenty of nearby breweries and wineries for the adults, and Seaside has a boardwalk with a few fun rides and games for the kids.  We recommend Ship Out Fish and Chips in Astoria for delicious local seafood. The fish is thick, flaky, and crispy and the clam chowder…*chef’s kiss*


Links

Fort Stevens

Astoria

Seaside

Ship Out Fish & Chips

Lewis and Clark National Park