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The Gearboat Chronicles


You want the good news or the bad news? Doesn’t matter, they’re the same.

What might be considered bad news is I lost the weight-lifting contest. No big surprise if you’ve seen my arms.

This test of brawn went down at Black Butte Ranch, a purty place if ever there was, located over in Central Oregon in the charming villa of Sisters, not too far removed from the charming metropolis of Bend.

My college buddies and I convened for three days at this little-bit ritzy joint where Cyrus owns one of the condos.

Last time we’d been in the same room together and played poker far into the night for several days running, it was out in Washington D.C. We were quartered in a hotel room attached to a hospital wing.

In that hospital wing, our bueno amigo Mike Jordan was all tubes and flimsy hospital gowns, jello on a tray, recovering from a surgery nobody would wish on anybody.

I mean, this was intrusive. There was talk of percentages of patients who don’t survive such procedures. The good news in this instance is that Mike underwent this horrid scalpel overhaul and since then his cancer hasn’t shown back up. And it had some rather extensive real estate holdings inside his insides there for a while. It was bad news of the worse sort. My best friend in the wide world. New baby boy. Loving wife. Everything going his way except for stage four stomach cancer.

That was two years ago. As I said, Mike’s checkups have been clean since. So it meant a lot to have him there, healthy, for this case of friends getting together.

We’re walking out of the rec center at Black Butte after swimming, passing the weight room, and go in for an impromptu benchpressing tournament. I wanted to see if I could still bench my weight. I mean, I’ve been rowing boats all summer. That’s got to help.

So we started at 170 and worked up. I made it up to 250 pounds. I have serious doubts about the units of weights and measurement on that piece of fitness equipment, because there’s no way I’ll ever truly lift 250.

Any case, Mike and Cy advance to the final round and Cy gets 270 up with some fighting back from the 270. In his defense, 270 didn’t even have to resist against me. It just lay there while my arms shook and wondered what I thought I was trying to do.

Mike got 270 up just fine. So he won. And he deferred when we changed the pin to 290. Nah, he said. He didn’t think he could manage it.

I know him pretty well. He wasn’t struggling with lifting that 270 as much as he was trying to make it look like. What a liar. And 290 wouldn’t have been a problem. I’m guessing he figured there was no need to go on as his friends were done and him showing how much stronger he was wouldn’t be necessary. Or polite. Nice. Sporting. Whatever.

Well, Mike. You’re wrong there, friend. From reclining on an adjustable hospital bed to reclining on a health spa’s benchpress, where he easily out-lifts me, Cy, Darren, Scott and Jude. That’s, uh . . . losing that contest doesn’t bother me. At all. Not a bit.

Because we did boxing right after that and I got back at him with a powerhouse uppercut that knocked his. . . . No. That last part there I made up.

He came out to visit last July and we floated the Grande Ronde. I’ve got a picture of him on the oars but it’s buried in my old laptop that took a dive. I’ll revive that busted computer if it’s the last thing I do.

So in the meantime, do your pushups so you can beat your friends in a benchpress contest and here’s some fall photos of the Minam River, also cloud beshrouded Elkhorn Mountains on the other side of the Eagle Caps.