Boy Scout died in fall from Utah’s Gemini Bridges

July 19, 2010

Tragic accident at a spectacular site in Utah’s desert.

A Scout from Wisconsin attempted a leap from one part of a natural bridge to another, lost his balance and fell to his death.  According to the Salt Lake Tribune in Salt Lake City:

A Wisconsin Boy Scout died Saturday after falling 100 feet from Grand County’s Gemini Bridges.

Anthony Alvin, 18, of Green Lake, Wis., was with a Scout group at the Gemini Bridges rock formation, which is on federal land northwest of Moab, deputies wrote in a press statement. At about 9:30 a.m., Alvin tried to jump from one span of the double bridge to the other span, six feet away, when he fell backwards, dropping 100 feet to the bottom of the bridges.

Rescuers rappelled off the bridges and found Alvin had died. His body was lowered down two separate cliffs to the bottom of Bull Canyon, deputies wrote.

Erin Alberty

Anthony Alvin was a member of Troop 630 from Green Lake, Wisconsin, in the Bay Lakes Council, BSA.  The Troop has years of experience in high adventure trips.  This was a transition trip for Alvin, moving from Scout to leader.

High adventure Scouting takes teens to outstanding places with some risks.  Strict safety rules protect Scouts and leaders from most accidents.  Jumping the gap between the two natural bridge sections is a leap that experienced rock climbers and Scouters should advise against — and probably did — precisely because of the dangers of minor mishaps, 100 feet or more in the air.  A six-foot gap would look eminently leapable to a capable young man.

This is a picture of Gemini Bridges from below:

Gemini Bridges, near Moab, Utah - image

Gemini Bridges, near Moab, Utah, from below. Image from image, photo by Galen Berry. includes details about many of these natural spans in the desert Southwest, in Utah and Arizona.  For Gemini Bridges we get this warning note:

These magnificent twin bridges are a popular 4-wheel drive destination on BLM land northwest of Moab, Utah. A few foolhardy individuals have lost their lives here. One person fell to his death while attempting to jump the 10 feet between the two spans, and in October 1999 a jeep and driver fell 160 feet off the outer span.

From atop the bridges, the gap between the two can appear deceptively small — see one view here.

Gemini Bridges from the trail, on top -

For safety’s sake, no one should attempt to leap the gap without proper rock-climbing safety equipment in place and in use — and frankly, I’m not sure how it could be secured even then, in the sandstone.

Redrock country brings out the worst in otherwise adventurous-but-mostly-sane people.  Even rock climbers will act irresponsibly.

Four-wheelers and off-road vehicles frequently climb these trails — despite the dangers, the area offers a huge playground for people out of the jurisdiction of the National Park Service or National Forest Service, each of which discourage excessive vehicular risk taking.   Several sites extoll the glories of conquering these deserts with gasoline-power.

Irresponsible jump at Gemini Bridges, from

Irresponsible jump at Gemini Bridges captured on film, from

The photo at the bottom shows a memorial plaque to the four-wheeler who lost his life off of Gemini Bridges in 1999.  So long as people make monuments to people who pull daredevil stunts, others who have less experience, or even more sense, will be tempted to try the same daredevil stuff.

Go to these wild and beautiful places.  Please remember they are treacherous, however, and stay safe.

Tribute to Beau James Daley, who died when his jeep plunged off of Gemini Bridges, Utah

Tribute to Beau James Daley, who died when his jeep plunged off of Gemini Bridges, Utah

Also at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:


Vegetarian fireworks: Fruit and vegetable MRIs

July 19, 2010


Broccoli, in an MRI

Broccoli, as seen by MRI

Looks like fireworks to me.

From Inside Insides, a site dedicated to MRIs of food.

Oddly beautiful.  Interesting.  Nerdy.

Tip of the old scrub brush to P. Z. Myers at Pharyngula.

Dan Valentine – Pink cigarette lighter, part 3

July 19, 2010

By Dan Valentine


From the Urban Dictionary: ‘Midnight Cowboy. A 1969 movie starring Jon Voight [Jolie’s daddy] as Joe Buck, from Texas, who comes to The Big Apple, thinking he can make a living selling his body to women. When that fails, he resorts to seeking gay male customers. Hence, the slang term “midnight cowboy”–a male (straight or gay) who seeks gay men who will pay him for sex.’

In the fall of 2009, while I was at The Music City Hostel in Nashville, a kid from the backwoods of some southern state, I forget which one, checked in. Both his parents had recently died and his elderly grandmother had given him what little cash she had so he could come to Nashville. Why Nashville, of all places, I can’t remember. He had no dream of being a singer or a songwriter or anything else connected with the music business.

Many of the regular guests there took an instance dislike to him. The kid’s backwoods accent offended their ears. A lawyer, who had given up his practice in Wisconsin to follow his dream of becoming a music producer, said one night, “I can’t understand a word he says.” “That’s what he says about you,” I said. One and all laughed.

Ron, the owner of the place, had taken me in when he learned I was homeless–bed and breakfast in exchange for chores. But he told me not to mention the word “homeless” to anyone. He didn’t want to upset his guests. Heaven forbid! “And don’t bum any cigarettes from the guests!” Who me?

Funny, many or most of the visiting guests are European, and those in the European Union are a strange breed, indeed! Whenever they take out a pack of cigarettes, they always–and, I mean, always–offer those present a cigarette first before lighting one up for themselves.

One of the first things the young man from the backwoods told me was: Clerks would not accept his I.D. when he tried to buy a bottle at the liquor store down the block. And he had just turned 21! And he couldn’t understand why. In truth, he couldn’t have been more than 19.

What do to? he asked.

“Enjoy a Coke!”

But the young, they rarely listen to their elders. Instead, he soon discovered that he could quench his thirst by simply opening the fridge outside on the porch, when no one was watching. Guests would buy twelve-pack upon twelve-pack, put ‘em in the fridge to chill, drink most of what they had purchased but not all, and go on their way.

As a result, the kid was drunk most of the time. Did I say, most? He was drunk the entire time he was there. Guests were complaining. His backwoods accent was hard enough to take when he was sober.

One night I’m sitting with him outside. I was the only one who would. I felt sorry for him. He had just lost both his folks. Time after time, he would offer me cigarette after cigarette (European-style), as he lit one for himself and popped open the flip-top of another can of beer. Evenings past, I had always declined. This particular night, after hearing pretty much everything the lad had to say, I asked, “Can I bum a cigarette?” just as Ron came over and said he wanted to talk to him. Timing is everything.

The two went inside. The kid came out a short time later and told me that Ron wanted him to leave the premises immediately, if not sooner.

What to do? He had no money. He asked me to talk to Ron on his behalf. So, together we went inside. It was late. Past midnight. I said something like “you just can’t toss the kid out on the street at this hour. I’ve been homeless, and–”

“Follow me,” he said. And I did. Outside. “I told you never to use the word homeless while you’re here.”

“Hey,” I said, “he’s a kid. Both his folks just died. It’s my duty as a fellow human being. Tomorrow he can go to social services.”

Ron said he’d play the kid’s car fare to The Mission.

I don’t think so. The Mission! Stabbings. You name it. Worst-case scenario. “I was told by one-in-the-know NOT to go to The Mission,” I said. “I wasn’t ready, and HE (the kid) really ain’t!”

Ron said he’d drive the boy to the all-night cafe up the block. Give him money for coffee.

I can live with that, not that it was my call, and not that it had anything to do with me at all.

“But I don’t want to hear you say the word ‘homeless’ ever again.”

“No problem. Got a cigarette I can bum? Just joking.”

Funny, he had told all those who worked there that I had been homeless for a short time (very short, three days) and they, in turn, had informed all the regular seasonal guests. At a hostel, you soon learn most every little thing that’s interesting about a person. Unless, of course, your middle name is Clueless.

A few nights later I’m in the hostel lobby–computers, big-screen TV, washer-dryer, dining table and chairs, etc.–when a guest comes in and informs each and all present that he had seen the kid from the southern backwoods standing on the corner by the gay bars, presumably selling his wares.

I like to think he was lost. But probably not.


Patio at the Music City Hostel, Nashville

Patio at the Music City Hostel, Nashville

First cicada killer sighting of 2010

July 19, 2010

Cicada killer wasps appeared as early as July 7, in our yard.  This year we had a cold winter, with snows that appear to have stymied even the nasty, invasive Argentine fire ant.  But June was dry and hot.  July came with rains, and cicada killers don’t like wet soil to dig in.

For that matter, we don’t have many cicadas, either.

Plus, we had to tear down a planter box attached to the dining room window, since it hid termites too well.  No doubt that planter had young from the cicada killers in it.

Early yesterday evening, as we finished dinner, we watched the house finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) escorting their young to the bird feeders, the cardinal “babies” (Cardinalis cardinalis) breaking out of their baby feathering, we looked for the family of red-bellied woodpeckers (Melanerpes carolinus) — and there it was:  One lone cicada hawk zooming across the patio, yellow-and-black striped abdomen standing out among the other paper wasps (almost certainly Sphecius speciosa).

They’re back!

Earlier at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:


%d bloggers like this: