December 29 (1977, 1979, 1983)
“If I don't look after Lovers Leap, who will?”

12/29/77 ~ morning, the canyon. home at last after four days in grass valley. it was nice being with the family; my grandmother […] gave me my grandfather's photo album. it's really neat. i've spent hours looking at it. i feel more kinship with my family than i ever have before. his name was leland towle. when he was about twenty—in 1911—he dropped out of college and went west, from his home in nebraska to the black hills of south dakota, then to the san francisco mountains in arizona. he worked for the forest service, and lived in little log cabins and tents for years. he had to ski down to fort valley to get his mail in the winter in arizona. he had a horse named navajo and did a little cowboying. part of his duties in arizona was to patrol the national forest lands and keep the huge flocks of sheep that were moved up into the high mountains in the summer from doing too much damage. i've just been delighted to find all this out.

it has been raining steadily for days and days. it's very foggy in the canyon and neil and i may have to pass on hiking to canyon creek falls if it doesn't clear up a little. we were planning to go this morning.

~ late at night. […] it rained steadily so we never made it to canyon creek falls. maybe tomorrow.


[Russell Towle's journal]

12/29/79 ~ before dawn. a restless night, spent on the couch, gazing at the stars and planets, listening to django and the beatles. i am on the verge of major change for the better, in fact the groundwork is there and the process very much in motion ~ i am excited by life, and the shreds of my discontent with ladies over the past couple of years flap loosely about the edge of my heart chakra […] and are falling away like autumn leaves. […]

but what excites me is changing my vocation to suit me, tailoring my life to my exact specifications, making money through photography, writing, and music all seems very possible if not inevitable. also, it's time to pick up the traces and pull on conservation issues here in the sierra. if i don't look after lovers leap, who will? so get cracking. letters to johnson, burton, cranston & hayakawa are called for.


this afternoon i'll go into nevada city and pick up my temporary x-c skis ~ my new ones will be here in two weeks. how exciting. [...]

[Russell Towle's journal]

29 December 1983
Listen to Russell Towle's audio journal entry made on this date, in his Moody Ridge cabin with a battery powered cassette recorder. Click on one of the links to open a new window for the audio. The recording is low
quality and hard to understand in parts. Refer to the transcript below. Part 2 will appear on the December 30 page.
Part 1 of 2, in mp3 format, 4.5 mgb — (try this first, smallest file)
Part 1 of 2, in aiff format, 24 mgb — (also available)
Part 1 of 2, in m4a format
, 21 mgb —
(also available)
“I guess it's December… December 29th, 1983.

These have been very busy days for me, the recent weeks, working on the Lovers Leap park idea, and trying to make connections, and write letters; letters have gone out now to BLM (Folsom), and to Ken Cory, the state controller; other letters written and sent as well. These have been very exciting times, I've had lots of really interesting conversations with people, and spent very little time at the cabin. Practically zero time reading and practically zero time with the calculator—for the first time in years it seems like.

And, it's been really interesting, and I've been feeling a growing sense over the past year that I'm coming into full possession of my faculties, my powers… and I'm developing a capacity to work and can relate to people; I'm improving that a little bit. Uh, it's interesting to me, uh, in a way, this is the first time I've been so thoroughly involved in something, some project, some specific project. And in the years since I've lived up here, Moody Ridge, in the Dutch Flat area… those years are unfortunately all too mired up with a lot of emotional upheavals, ladies, love affairs… and I sort of reached a place in 1975 I guess, where I just said "Screw the career, whatever it might be; I'm just going to do what I WANT to do, what feels good, and most of all, I'm going to find a woman. Because I really need one." That's the way I felt back then. And I still think I need one. But somehow, the issue's become a lot less charged for me, and I don't feel so threatened by not having a secure love relationship going on right now. I don't; and I haven't… well, I don't know if I could even call my relationship with Cassandra secure, in any sense, in the last year or two. So I've been feeling a little steadier and clearer… since we parted.

But in the last year, this whole period of intellectual discovery and application, and search, and JOY—I mean just tremendous feelings of joy and excitement, as I said to Greg Troll, I mean there are literally times when I've jumped up from my couch, from reading something, or just thinking about something, and started screaming! Because I was so-o excited! Because my… my ‘vision’—what I've always been used to call my vision—which is... could also be called perhaps just my perspective, or my awareness, or… it's  been really developing in some interesting ways; it's uh, very much what I've been up to over the past 10 or 20 years, it's been all coming to fruition and… I'm very, very, pleased with myself, and this is a little bit unfortunate, in some ways, because socially, I'm making very few bones about being very pleased with myself and about being very excited by the intellectual discoveries and the searches and the quests and, the… so there has been this… in the past year… well I've always been characterized by willingness to share my intellectual life with other people. And that's especially the way that they think of it, or that's the way they perceive it, and I think that's very unfortunate, because my intellectual life is really based on a love of the world, and the world is real; that's what I've been studying, is the universe, or reality. Things so impossibly general and simple that, I mean, they're probably general and simple, but most people never even consider—you know, why does one need to study reality? Why does one need to study the universe? I mean it's just there, everyone knows, and uh, life goes on… our own narrow little part of it…

But for me—and this is part of the reason why I can call whatever I have a ‘vision’ rather than just a perspective or an awareness, meaning has always been a kind of a native excitement about the world. Like it's really mysterious and wonderful, multi-faceted, multi-layered, beautiful, terrible, horrible, heroic… because it is a REAL world. an interesting world, a fascinating world. And I have all too little time in my life, to appreciate it. I mean, all too little; and this is part of what has happened for me in the last year is that… well—"memento mori"—remember that you have to die—] I mean, I've followed a wayward streak, and I think I was into memento mori when I was thirteen years old, and every year since then. But in the last year, what has been happening is perhaps a more basic revolution or evolution of my character that has, uh, much less to do with me kind of theorizing, or abstractions, and much more to do with simply living and doing, and actively doing, and pursuing and actively pursuing, and involving myself.

And also, I've been of a mind to, you know, really pull out the stops. All the stops. Pull out ALL the stops. And take focus on just exactly what will bring me the greatest pleasure and reward in my life. And if there are certain avenues that lead me into difficult emotional cycles, uh, and confusion, and periods of confusion that largely incapacitate me for… or seem to, and in net effect largely incapacitate me to really finding true self expression and creativity in my life… those avenues… perhaps I should not be so eager to explore them anymore. Rather than holding up this picture to myself… well, a few years ago, before I even got together with Cassandra, I was very even willing to let go of the picture that—THE lady comes along, and we put something together that's just so true, and so wonderful, and so nourishing, that… there's really no question but that we, you know, share life's adventures… together.

So. That hasn't happened. I mean, it's happened to matters of degree with various ladies. There's been some wonderful experiences. It's been a very growing time, and I really wish that somehow, I'd been just a shade less shy. Or perhaps had some friends that were just a shade less shy themselves. to help draw me out back when I was a teenager because I so regret that I didn't have more experience with women, with love, earlier in my life. I mean, that regret was so sharp that it was like, uh, a knife driven into my bowels, or something… you know, ten years ago. Trying to come to grips with that… [really regressed that love in me?] That was really what I was up to. What can I say… in some measure, I failed; in other I succeeded. But my sense is right now it's no longer appropriate for me to devote a really large part of my life energy to pursuing love relationships. If they happen, and I really hope they do… certainly I'll pursue them, and I want to bring everything I can to the relationship… all the love of [?] and adventure… simple conversation… and complex conversation… and have really good relationships. I mean, why not? I mean, go for the best in everything.

And that's really got to be part of it for me; I don't want to be… I mean, there's been a little bit too much [?] and it can get pretty lonely… Moody Ridge, here at this cabin… like I was a couple of months ago. I was so-o desperate to really just… out and out make a connection with somebody. Some lady. I was so peeved at these months-long and sometimes years-long periods in my life where I really had nobody to turn to, to touch and love or be touched and loved by. That's really tragic for me. And I've shed a lot of tears over that one. But how many other people have as well, it's no big… I mean it's nothing new. It's part of life. So. If my choice has been, and it has been, to live in remote rural areas for most of my adult life, then, I've paid the consequences. Perhaps it hasn't been worth it. Perhaps it has. I'm not really sure.

But, at any rate, I'm not feeling terribly stressed or distressed by lack of a love life right now. A couple of months ago I sure was, and I was trying to go out to Nevada City and find every possible opportunity to meet a woman… and what's been kind of interesting is that in the course of being involved with turning away from my preoccupation with myself, and my lack of a love life, and so on, and my pre-occupation with ancient history, and with mathematics and so on… I [?]  and I turned away, you know, for the last two or three weeks now I guess, to this Lovers Leap project, which has been in my mind since I first came here to Moody Ridge, in '75, and visited Lovers Leap. And… I mean—what an incredible place. And I've written plenty in my journals, I don't need to go on in my own taped journal now, to elaborate; the more interesting thing, that maybe should go here in the tape is that, just in the course of really trying to bring my energies to bear… and I haven't been… I've been FULLY dedicated for the last two or three weeks. There's been a lot of wheel spinning, unfortunately, that sort of gives the semblance of… active, positive work and productivity, in this direction. On the other hand there has been actual work and productivity and movement in this direction… and I don't know what's going to result. I talked to Larry Sevison, the supervisor… but I've, I've talked to LOTS of people.”

[End of Part 1;
Part 2 will appear on the December 30 page.]

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