A Varmint Marmot

It was a frantic emergency stop at the auto parts store that Saturday mid-morning. I was at decent elevation in Montrose, Colorado, so  my options were limited. I found a well-stocked NAPA and the mission included only one thing. I had to get some wire! And NOW!

Hmm… just today I was digging around in the toolbox that lives in the back of my trusty Toyota 4Runner, and I saw those two spools of black and white wire. They are still marked with their almost insanely high ‘mountain-region’ pricing tags.  Ironically, I’ve never used an inch of that wire.

What was my calamity? Why was I so worked up and hell-bent on getting that wire bought, while on my roadtrip last summer?

Earlier that morning, I awoke next to sky high pines, perched above a mountain lake, on the west side of the Continental Divide. My screen-ceilinged tent was pitched just behind my parked car. I had set it up in the dark, slept a little, froze a lot, but enjoyed the proximity to the stars that night before.

The area was Telluride, but I wasn’t heading there. Nope, I was returning to the Land of Oz, and heading east. Ophir Pass sounded like a fine way to get there from here.

It was very early when I quietly crunched the gravel on the road through Ophir. This tiny town sits the in the crook of a mountain valley. There are no businesses or services and the residents don’t like visitors. In fact, there isn’t a sign at the highway that even indicates their presence. I missed the turnoff previously and had to ask a local for directions.

Once I passed through town, the trail was only headed one way. UP that mountain.  It is a single lane road that begins in the trees, but goes well above their line. I hadn’t been driving for maybe 5 minutes up the pass, when I came to a small clearing. Off to my left was a newer, modified and slick-looking 4-Runner, with the drivers legs sticking out from behind the rear tires.

I stopped and yelled over to him, ‘Everything Ok?’

He indicated that he was stuck. His car wouldn’t start. Basically he was stranded.

I pulled my truck up near his and out of the way of the trail. I told him that I had a bunch of tools and was willing to try to help, but I’m no mechanic.

His problem was caused by a varmint he said. Overnight, he had camped at this spot. After dark he heard some rustling around. He said that while he was sleeping on the folded-down rear seats, when heard something climbing around the undercarriage.

It was a marmot, he was sure. He showed me an electric solenoid type unit on his rear axle. The wires had been chewed through. That little bugger had nibbled the pretty green wire in two and didn’t leave enough to reconnect them with.

Hmmm… Now’s the time you’re probably thinking that I ran to the store to get this guy some wire, right? Well, remember that I haven’t ever used any of it. So that’s not exactly the case.

I searched my toolkit. I grabbed wire strippers, electrical tape and side cutting pliers. I had small pinch-together connectors too.  Wire though, was one thing I was missing.  I needed just a couple inches of some type of automotive wire and I had none. He didn’t have any either.

After searching around some more, I came across my camping headlamp. It had a lens on the front and battery pack on the back, connected by a small wiggly wire. I told him I was willing to cut it up, if it might help him get his car started. It was really the only option we had.

A tiny almost threadlike wisp of copper did exist inside the black plastic insulation on this cheap imported headlamp unit.  I cut a length and carefully stripped both ends. The gauge of the ‘wire’ was comedically small, but he went to work on wrapping it around as best he could. We then taped it all up tight and held our breath at the moment of truth.  He headed to the cab and turned his key in the ignition.

It cranked just once and fired to life! It was great to see our MacGuyver fix actually do the job!  He used some more tape to secure everything together and then we parted ways. He headed down the mountain and I headed up it.

On roadtrips I enjoy carrying along the tools I could need to handle things just like this. I topped over the mountain that morning and was enjoying the views, but kicking myself for not being more prepared. I thought I had everything. Of course, it was the one little piece of the puzzle that I lacked.

I was determined to stock up and be ready for the next instance with plenty of heavy duty wire in my toolbox! That’s why I was on a mission later that morning, when I arrived in the town of Montrose.

Funny though, I spent that morning worrying that I should’ve been better prepared. I was kicking myself. I could have had this guy’s car fixed in 10 minutes instead of 30. I was self-conscious even. Silly, huh?

In truth, I did have the means to fix things. I did offer my help. I had to make a small sacrifice, but it all worked out okay. Sometimes I forget to enjoy the outcome, when the process has had its challenges along the way.

In the end, I was helpful, and that feels good.  It was really nothing more than a memorable moment caused by a Marmot on the side of a mountain…

So I guess the point of this blog today, is that if you need some wire, call me. I’ve got it now.  It’s imported from Colorado, high quality stuff.  I’d be glad to lend you a hand.


Aaron Nichols

A Fix for Impossible

There was a normal-day moment back in the early 80’s. It was just like lots of other days, I assume.  As it is for me now, there was household of two little kiddos, there was a beautiful young wife. There was this seemingly ordinary-day, in May, when my Dad didn’t know it was the last time he’d see his family.

Today is that anniversary, and yet it’s just another day for us, here, now. It’s a reminder on the calendar, but the headlines aren’t new news. 1983 was a long time ago. The shock has faded, life has been lived on, joys and sorrows of many kinds have passed since then.

On some of these yearly anniversaries, I’ve wondered what I’m supposed to be doing… At different points in my life, I handled it different ways. I might have visited the cemetery. I probably had a drink in his honor. I certainly spent some upset about everything… This one though feels different.

I once heard a quote about how problems are really never solved. The original one escapes me, but it sounded similar to this sample:

“Problems aren’t solved; The dissolve as you evolve.” – Derek Rydall

The idea that somebody could solve the ‘problems’ of losing their father at a young age, is a little preposterous. Nonetheless, I know I spent many years in that pursuit; trying in vain to somehow restore a percieved inner broken universe to imaginary perfection. This endeavor exasperated and exhausted the tender emotional filaments coursing through every dimension of my being…

And again, today is May 21st, the chronological recurrence cycling through, whether it’s welcomed or not.

What if though, that quote had merit. What if these so-called problems couldn’t truly be solved. How does one evolve, in order to make them dissolve?

I don’t know about the exact how. There isn’t any step by step template. I do find it true, just the same.

An anniversary can be a reminder, but it doesn’t have to be negative. I don’t have to just wallow in the pit. I could enjoy the day with a simple choice, to relax into the good things around me. Blessings have always been there, and they continue to arrive. I admit that the three ladies of my life, make it easier than ever to notice. However, if we look for them, gifts are all around at all times.

Could a ‘bad-day’ anniversary from the past, be just a normal-day now? Could it even be a ‘good-day’ or dare I say great? Part of me still holds on to a belief that re-creating some misery, is paying homage to this person I lost… I wonder though, if Dad’s bright spirit, would rather I enjoy it somehow, some way, even on the annivesary of his bad day?

Safe to say, that yes, the evolution of life, through its problems in-spite of them and with microscopic but constant growth toward the light, beats the impossible games of fixing the past.  I write this note to myself, as a reminder, to reflect on. Believe me, there are still plenty of anniversaries where I forget to smile.

Until next week my friends, remember that: “It’s okay to really enjoy life, right now, under these exact circumstances” (a quote by a 31 year old) – Aaron Nichols


(38 year old) Aaron Nichols

Thinking too Freely

I’ve been accused, plenty of times and well deserved too. There is proof right here. This blog itself is an expression of it. Recently while telling the tales naming our new baby it was brought up again.

I over-analyze. I think too much.

It’s not quite an insult, right?

Let’s look at the spectrum: I don’t see how never thinking at all could be a good thing. I don’t believe that I’m the most accomplished expert over-thinker on the planet. However, it’s probably true that I land somewhere beyond a healthy and balanced brain-operator. Over-revving the overdrive is my usual mental transmission gear of choice.

To stand back and ponder on the results of this character flaw, I can see why it causes issues. Laid-back and go-with-the-flow I ain’t .

When someone wants to hold onto their unhealthy habits and rationalize away any thoughts of painful changes, the mind offers excuses easily!

I analyze in order to improve! I dissect to avoid future issues. I chew and grind on a thought for hours or days so that I find it’s innermost kernel of conceptual value. With my unending pursuit of scrutiny and evaluation, I really know where the issues lie. I can’t be hoodwinked with delusions and false impressions!

Ha! What a delusion it is to believe my own excuses!

My mind doesn’t just come up with justifications for my excessive over-thinking, no it doesn’t stop there. I can pile up page after page of reasons that I am just the exact way that I am about everything in my life. The good, the bad and yes the very truly ugly!

In a nutshell, it’s as ifmy ego has trained my brain to constantly curate an exact personality that allows my flaws to continue unobstructed! With this perfect system, the uncomfortable pressure of expansion and growth is traded for the tension and aggravation of stagnation!

But don’t worry about me. I eventually have come to terms with the name of our new baby. It didn’t kill me to get there, but it was a little difficult. If you have an extra 20 minutes to listen to my story sometime, ask me about it. Then you can be the judge and decide if my over analyzations are fatal or not.

As a sober person, I miss that sweet mental release that occurs with the crack of a cold beer can. Now it’s just me and ma’ brain, without substances to scrub it free of extraneous thoughts. Oh well, when I look at those two sweet daughters of mine, and my amazing wife, that have all come since sobriety, I know without any doubts what is working better for me.

Until next week my friends, ponder and think deeply, but not too deeply. These mental rabbit holes don’t have room for us all 🙂

God Bless,


Aaron Nichols


Ha! In Awe!

What’s the point again? Of putting these words on this page?

Oh Yeah! I like to make things, I’m crafty.  Designing, writing and cooking are ways that I can express my creativity.

Ha! Creativity! Ha! Creation! Ha! Me, making something!?!?!?

Folks, get real.  I just witnessed again the amazing delivery of my second child! That is creation!

I am still in awe. The radiance of the miracle is nuclear!

I really don’t have words. They won’t arrive through my fingers.

It’s my wife! Her moment of absolute creativity is now. Her artistry and divinity are on display in our home. Two shining little countenances, so sweet, our love produced. I’m too in love with her, and our daughters, to be much good in this space, right now.

Later, when the invigoration has settled and the miraculous almost seems like normal life again, I’ll try for you and for me, to make a blog post worthy to read.

Take care my friends. Notice the miraculous, there’s nowhere it’s not. Thank God for it All!


Aaron Nichols