Tag: Over The Line

O Trilogy

PASAYTEN WILDERNESS

My first llama hiking trip into the Pasayten Wilderness in north central Washington State was on a sunny September day. Not an unusual day for one of the largest wild areas in the lower US, which is shielded by mountain ranges to the west, effectively blocking the low lying Pacific rain clouds making their way eastward. The flowers were gone but the grasses and sedges were still green against blue sky. The llamas rarely lifted their heads as they gorged. It was peaceful and idyllic. Especially since there were no bugs. Why not? Well it seems the disappear when the flowers do. Not when it gets colder in this wilderness. Astonishing really – being out away from any human sounds, in nature, with no mosquitos and only the occasional fly.

Most of my life I had been too busy to go llama packing or into the wilderness but life had changed. Lanette who lived on Wolf Canyon Ranch convinced me that there was more to llamas then just breeding them for profit. Prices reached a lofty high in the eighties and then cascaded down the right side of a bell shaped curve nearly as fast as they had risen. The business of breeding and selling had slowed allowing time to find out what else llamas were capable of. It turns out that they are wonderful animals, as I had always known they were, but living closely with them on the trail and in the mountain meadows – they became truly special.

The characters in Off The Edge, Over The Line and Out of Time are for the most part fictional or bits and pieces of lots of people all mixed into someone new. The llamas, however,  such as Pipestone , Shasta, Meteor are just as they were. the same colors, the same personalities, at least as I remember them.  It was the Pasayten Wilderness and the llamas, along with special people that inspired the book trilogy. And made them such a joy to write. Writing about them takes my mind back to the wonderful times spent in the ranch canyon, nestled partway between Twisp and Winthrop in the Methow Valley. Times that can’t be repeated but can be well remembered.

RS Perry

 

RS Perry Adventure Novel in the Sonoran Deserrt Weekly Posts

OVER THE LINE FROM FORT HUACHUCA TO NOGALES WITH…

Spring is just around the corner but the long evenings are still with us. Time to snuggle up with your favorite RS Perry novel and dream of a trip to some of the locations featured in them. It may be a little cold for a hike in the Pasayten, but how about a trip to Arizona, making a short hop Over The Line into Mexico.

If it’s a touch of the old Wild West you’re after, you can’t go wrong in Tombstone. You can shoot it out in a gunfight at the OK Corral like Heather’s friends Kristina and Nicola or visit any number of saloons and Music Halls. And for those of you like Ralphy who are more keen to fill your stomachs than empty your guns, there are plenty of restaurants, cafes and ice cream parlors to choose from.

If you are interested in mining and want to see what a mine was like in its heyday, then head to Bisbee. You can have a tour of a real mine and learn of some the hard and sometimes tragic life of the miners. You can even go prospecting for gold.  But don’t feel you need to avoid the abandoned mine near El Sauz. The terrible things that happened to the University group there were only fiction, thank goodness.

The Arizona-Sonora desert museum is not to be missed. There are examples of many of the plants, minerals and wild life of the area, all in surroundings as close to their natural habitat as you can get. See if you can spot olneya tesota or ironwood and peniocereus striata, the plants that the two sergeants were supposed to be collecting when they went on their recon mission to the hacienda.

Just Over the Line from the U.S, border town of Douglas, Arizona is Nogales. As in most cities, it is best to be careful but if you want to pick up a bargain at up to half what you pay stateside, there are plenty of shops and stalls aimed at tourists doing just that though you will need to haggle. You can also sample authentic Mexican food and wine.  After that, you will probably want to drive straight through Tubutama with your windows closed!

Arizona is surely a must for those who, like Jim Johnson, are interested in anything to do with astronomy.  It has some of the most prestigious observatories in the world including Kitt Peak Observatory, the University of Arizona Biosphere, Spencer’s Observatory  and the Planetary Science Institute. University of Arizona astronomers were just involved in finding the largest black hole yet discovered.

Unfortunately, the Fort Huachuca Museums are closed for renovation at the moment but we only have room to mention some of the places to visit on your Over The Line tour. There are plenty more, such as the Nature Conservancy birding center in the Huachuca Mountains. And hikes and trails enough to keep you occupied for a week or maybe more. Why not re-read the book and plan your own itinerary in the footsteps of Jim, Brush, Heather and their companions. Remember, stay watchful, stay safe and enjoy. It could turn out to be a great adventure.

Weekly Posts

HAPPY NEW YEAR

A Very Happy New Year to all our readers! May you enjoy long hours of pleasure with RS Perrys Jim Johnson novels and may Najma never get you. Thank you for all your comments and photos. Keep them coming.

Outside your windows some of you will be seeing a warm, sunny day, others will see the snow sparkling or blowing in a cold East wind. Some won’t be able to see anything at all for fog or mist or darkness. Whatever you see , you can be sure that there will be people out there like Jim and Brush, General Crystal and Nielly, fighting against crime and injustice, using their skill and their brains and the latest technology. So while we have been having a good festive season with friends and family, let’s spare a thought for all those who sacrifice their comfort for our safety, whether in the military or any of its unknown branches.

Meanwhile, back at the Ranch, Heather and Duane and their helpers still have the llamas and the rest of the animals to tend to. They can’t take a day off for Christmas or New Year. They have to make sure there is water, not ice for all  to drink, the llamas have to have their salt to lick and they have to be checked to make sure any babies born are warm and cared for as llamas can give birth at any time of year. And very importantly, fences must be checked and made strong and safe as llamas, given the opportunity, like to have a romp  over the country side.

So stay warm and safe and dry by the fire while you can. And look forward to the next Jim Johnson novel, out this year.

Watch this space.

Weekly Posts

PHILOSOPHY OF JIM JOHNSON, LIFE AND SPECIAL FORCES

Our hero Jim Johnson is definitely a complex character. Who would have expected that a rancher and Biological Warfare Agent would have an interest in Philosophy? But Jim Johnson does and there are several clues that make this not as unexpected as it first appears. Jim is, after all, a scientist, interested in how and why things are as they are and what proof or evidence there is that we actually have the facts of the matter. Several of the other characters share this trait e.g. Sheilla and Bertrand. Jim is also extremely intelligent, a thinker and someone who reflects on his experiences to learn from it. Both he and Heather struggle with the morality of some of the actions Jim has to take in his job and the relationship between good and evil in the world. Jim and Brush share a ‘live in the moment’ philosophy knowing that this entails a mixture of skill, experience, observation and luck. They, and Glenda and others, act not selfishly but out of a concern for others, particularly the weak and oppressed.

It isn’t surprising, then, that the philosopher mentioned most frequently by RS Perry is Bertrand Russell 1872-1970. Russell had very definite views on a number of topics. He was an outspoken and active pacifist all his life and a voluble supporter of changing the laws on homosexuality. He believed in an equal and co-operative world that would allow the individual to flourish. He thought that religion was little more than superstition and while recognizing the positive effects it could have, he felt it was responsible for many of the wars and misery in the world. As a philosopher, he was very interested in mathematics as getting as close as possible to expressing facts, and in language and definitions. He wanted to explore whether humans could say that they ‘knew’ anything.

Bertrand Russell didn’t want to just find out about these things for himself. Like Jim, he wanted to pass them on to other people. He wrote many books on both the humanities and sciences for audiences ranging from academics in theoretical mathematics and other disciplines, to ordinary thoughtful people. In fact he listed his profession as ‘writer’ in his passport and won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1950. He wrote with style and wit and many people still enjoy his writings. ‘A History of Western Philosophy’ is a hugely ambitious book and had rather conflicting reviews but it still remains one of the mostly widely read books on either history or philosophy.

Towards the end of his life, Russell stated, ‘Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.’ This is probably true for Jim, too.

Another philosopher mentioned is Will Durant 1885-1981. Like Russell, he wanted to bring the ideas of philosophy into everyday life and his ‘Story of Philosophy’ 1926 tried to do just that and was very popular. There are many different schools and types of philosophy and Durant attempted to unify them all and make them understandable. He also wanted to share his knowledge and believed in a unified society where each was working for the good of the other and where the principles of democracy and equality eradicated the lust for power. He believed in Christian principles but I think Jim would agree with him that to be yourself means to ‘rise above’ the impulse to ‘become the slaves of our passions’ and instead to act with ‘courageous devotion’ to a moral cause.

Ayn Rand 1905-1982 is different. Although she is sometimes spoken of as a philosopher, she is best known as an author, particularly of the novels “Atlas Shrugged’ and ‘The Fountainehead’ which illustrate her ideas on Objectivism. Like Russell, she is interested in what knowledge is and how we acquire it but she differs from him in her conclusions. The emphasis of all three on the importance of acquiring knowledge is something that Jim and Heather and RS Perry would certainly agree with.

The main difference between Rand, and Durant and Russell is over the relationship between the individual and the majority of society. Having experienced the worst excesses of collectivism in Russia, Rand thought that this kind of socialism led to a society in which the merits and aspirations of the most creative and intelligent few were stifled and sacrificed to the mediocrity of the many. While I don’t think Jim or any of his friends or colleagues would necessarily agree completely, most of them believe more in their own ideas and assessments than they do in commonly held beliefs and are prepared to flout rules and laws if the situation demands it. However Rand also believed that the proper moral purpose of life was the pursuit of one’s own happiness and the only society consistent with this was one that fully recognizes the right of the individual to gain wealth without restrictions. A bit like the ideas put forward in Dawkins ‘The Selfish Gene’. We have examples in the Jim Johnson novels of the how this can go wrong without the checks of morality. Nusmen is highly intelligent but is led astray by selfish personal emotions; Najma’s completely selfish pursuit of a twisted happiness pays no regard to the wishes or lives of others, nor does Farasie and Guillermo’s greed for amassing wealth by any means possible.

These writers all have an influence on the philosophy of these books but in the end, the dominant philosophy can be summed up in Heather’s words. You do something ‘because it is just the right thing to do.’

More information can be found on Wikipedia and in

Irvine, Andrew David, “Bertrand Russell”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), forthcoming URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2014/entries/russell/>.

www.spartacus-educational.com – Bertrand Russell

A History of Western Philosophy – Bertrand Russell, 1945 Simon and Schuster

The Cambridge Companion to Bertrand Russell – Nicholas Griffin, ed (2003) CUP

Bertrand Russell Memorial Volume – George W Roberts, 2013 Routledge

The Story of Philosophy – Will Durant, 1991 Pocket Books

www.aynrand.org

‘Ayn Rand’ by Jeff Britting – Duckworth 2005

As Astonishing as Elvis by Jenny Turner – London Review of Books Vol.27 No.23

Wealthcare by Jonathan Chait – New Republic Sep 14 2009