Peter Shelton

Good Grief, Pt. 3: Hoisting Anchor

Posted in Personal History, Watch columns by pshelton on June 30, 2011

Two things stand out in my memory of the rescue of the Good Grief: hoisting the anchor and the ramming.

Somehow in those big seas, with the looming white stern of the Coast Guard cutter rising and falling, and the Grief’s humble bow doing the same – but not at the same time (for crewmen on either boat it was like riding a Surrealist mid-ocean teeter-totter) – somehow a line was thrown across and secured to the Grief’s forward cleat. (more…)

Good Grief, Part 2: Mayday

Posted in Personal History, Watch columns by pshelton on June 27, 2011

We were still a good ways offshore, maybe half a mile – it’s hard to gauge from 50 years in the future – but drifting closer all the time.

The Good Grief’s diesel engine wasn’t working right. Dad would get it started, but it would sputter and lose power, then stop again. He thought it might be water in the fuel. How it got there, he didn’t know. What mattered was that he couldn’t solve the problem, and the big rollercoaster swells were driving us inexorably shoreward. After a while I could hear the breakers on the rocks. (more…)

Hidden High Grade

Posted in How the West was Lost, Road Trips West, Watch columns by pshelton on June 21, 2011

In the compressor house next door to the mine portal they gave us yellow hard hats and waterproof rain jackets. Then we climbed aboard the trammer and straddled its hard metal bench. A tour guide who calls himself Rock Chip swung up on the engine, and the trammer clanked and jerked into the tunnel. The light of the outside world, the warm summer sunlight of Ouray, quickly shrank to a silver dollar behind us, then vanished altogether. (more…)

Good Grief, Fathers Never Fail

Posted in Personal History, Watch columns by pshelton on June 16, 2011

What are fathers if not heroes to their sons?

My dad agreed to take me trolling aboard the Good Grief. I had a new trolling rig, a scaled-down version of one of those stout fiberglass rods with the massive reels you saw being cranked by marlin fisherman off the tip of Baja. If theirs were the size of coffee-tins, mine was more like a can of beans.

But I was stoked. And my friend Strany was stoked. We flung our bright-feathered jigs over the stern as Dad accelerated out of the calm water inside the jetties. I think we caught a couple of bonito right outside the breakwater. That got us jacked, but we were hoping for yellowtail, or something even bigger.

We were rolling downwind, southeast along the coast from Newport Harbor. The Laguna hills poured down into rocky coves. Dana Point was just visible through the sea haze. Dad thought we might get that far before turning around.

We hardly noticed the swell. It was maybe three-to-four feet to start, and growing. But when you’re running before a following sea, and at a leisurely seven knots – top speed for the Grief – you hardly notice the swell. With Dad at the helm, I sat on the transom eagerly eyeing my rod tip. (more…)

Time Travel: Crosscuts of the Day

Posted in Confessions of a Grandpa, Watch columns by pshelton on June 9, 2011

In a bit of serendipity across decades, a high-school friend of my brother’s wrote recently to say she is now singing in the choir at a church in Berkeley, a church my grandfather founded, and did I have any memories, any souvenirs, to share.

My mother’s father died up north in 1966, and, since we grew up in southern California, we hadn’t visited all that often. So, any memories are necessarily distant. Mainly I remember Easter – which seems to be the time we visited most – my sisters in rustling dresses, me in slippery, polished leather shoes and starched collars (stiff anyway) that pressed into my neck as we sat for what seemed an eternity in the wooden pews.

Rev. Laurance L. Cross came from a long line of Alabama preachers, a Presbyterian who found that denomination constricting. (more…)

Mountainfilm: Coming Into Its Own

Posted in At the Movies, Watch columns by pshelton on June 3, 2011

It’d be wrong to say Mountainfilm has finally grown up. It is 33 years old, after all. My 34 year-old daughter has comported herself as a grownup for at least the last 15 years.

Perhaps better to say Mountainfilm has come into its own.

This is not to say the behavior last weekend was always strictly adult. Eating ice cream with your fingers, for example. (more…)