Klusmeyer Memories

Favorite places, lighthouses of America.

Some of my most vivid childhood memories are of my dad, mom, two sisters, and a ten year old me walking the wind tormented beaches of Point No Point beach near my portside hometown of Poulsbo, WA. In contrast to the peaceful tourist laden streets of Poulsbo, Point No Point is filled with buildings that are held up more by salt blown in from the Puget Sound than by their original cement and nails. I can still feel my eyes watering in the wind and smell the subtly putrid stench of low tide. In my memory, everything is just slightly in disrepair and coated in steely grime that the Sound so graciously provided. I can hear the seagulls calling back and forth with high pitched bugles.

Where Poulsbo is always filled by warmly dressed tourists snapping pictures of neatly kept and brightly colored store fronts, the beach is always full of tourists of a different sort. Men with coolers sunken into the sand behind them would engage in a particular kind of irrationality and wade knee deep into the surf clad only in flannel and waist high waders. Further out into the water, the occasional oil slick seal head would slide from beneath the waves to look inquisitively at the fishermen who were so far away from land. After all, the fishermen knew full well the most they would catch might be a piece of driftwood or a dogfish covered by sandpaper skin.

My family and I always began our visits by moving past the loose sand, down the beach, and past the rocks brought in by the high tide onto the darker, stronger sand left by the encroaching tides. With the parking lot on one side and a white spraying expanse of the Sound to the other, we would venture as a group down the beach to search determinedly for a place of refuge from the constant gusts of wind. My dad wading ankle deep in the surf with a backpack strapped to his back and a spotted green Coleman thermos in his right hand. The rest of us trudged resolutely along closer to the rock line that marked high tide, alert for the slightest glimpse of a water spout coming from around the tidal pools scattered intermittently across the darkened stretch of sand before us. The first wet squelch and miniature geyser erupting would have the same affect as the crack of a staring pistol on my sisters, one older ̶ one younger, and we would shoot forward like Olympic athletes. Stomping the sand around us vainly; hoping to trigger a second miniature eruption.

Next to the parking lot at Point No Point a preserved and decommissioned lighthouse squats in a way that is decidedly less majestic than the spiraling, towering structures that christen common conception. Instead the lighthouse exists in a manner that is decidedly more colonial. A square white house bisected by a tower with a focal height of only twenty seven feet. The lighthouse, while now mostly gutted and no longer functioning, still gives a taste of its past to visitors as a well-cared for nautical museum. Walking through the expertly preserved doorway the house opens up into tables covered in artifacts and pictures of the lighthouse in its hay day. In fact, the lighthouse is so well preserved that its countless layers of varnish have laminated the originally concrete structure within a hard plastic shell.

Venture further into the Lighthouse’s bowels and you’ll come upon a ladder leading up into the light tower. The lighthouse lamp was first lit with kerosene in 1880 and was

eventually automated in 1977. By the time that it was automated, the house was equipped with a fourth order Fresnel lens and lit by a massive electric bulb that illuminated out to fourteen nautical miles.

Despite its diminutive size, the upper level of the lighthouse commands a surprising view of the coast line and out into the water. Along the horizon kites bob and weave through the breeze in what my dad would describe as “a kite flying paradise.” Simply walk around the human sized clear glass bulb and through the door into the wind. From up on the lighthouse balcony the coastline opens up to you like a kingdom opens up to a king glancing over his domain.

From the time I was a toddler up until now at twenty three, I have loved going to the top of the lighthouse. I would walk out from the musty tower interior into the salty tang of a sea breeze and let the wind fill my consciousness. It fills my mouth and nose and before stealing the sound from my ears, leaving them empty of everything but natures’ labored breath.

Just down the beach, a massive rock alternates between an island and a monolith as the tides ebb and flow. Point no Point’s rock, though it could have been a boulder if it was on a mountainside, used to be one of my favorite places to play. My family and I would gather around the rock to listen to the barnacles covering it burble.

If you’ve never heard a barnacle covered rock make noise before it’s like nothing else. Thousands of small shell trapdoors moving open and shut, releasing water trapped during high tide. Altogether, the barnacles sound like a combination of soft rain falling onto the ground and fallen leaves crunching beneath booted feet. The bottom of Point No Points’ resident boulder creates a safe haven for sea life during low tide within small tide pool left behind by receding waves. Starfish drag themselves slowly beneath the water or cling like stickers onto the sides of their rocky home.

My siblings and I, and sometimes my parents, would splash quickly through the pools. We would reach down to touch the starfish, though not too much because a starfishes’ skin is bumpy and awkward. Afterwards I would lean in close to the barnacles to hear their music better.

After getting bored of rocks, barnacles, and starfish we’d skip old white sand dollars and flat rocks until our arms felt like they were about to fall off.

On the way back to our car we’d help my dad fill up the plastic bag that he always brought for trash. We would balance on drift wood and challenge each other to reach the end of the beach without falling off of the logs that had become piled up next to the grass by high tide and by industrious, fort building, families. After we reached the parking lot we would hobble barefoot over the rough combination of asphalt and gravel between us and the car. If our feet had dried off, we would brush the sand off before stepping into the car. If our feet were still wet my sisters and I would wait for the towels our parents carried to scrub the course, sticky sand off before piling unceremoniously into the car. Our pockets filled to bursting with bits of glass ground smooth by the waves and interesting rocks that never managed to stay as mesmerizing after they had dried.

For the rest of the day, my body stayed sticky with salt and I continued to find sand in my clothes and hair for days afterwards. Point No Point was remembered from then on in the vases throughout our house filled by us with our collections of rocks, shells, and sea glass—our pirates’ treasure. We would store the kites we had flown without bothering to scrub them clean of dirt, only stopping to shake them. After all, what was the point if they would just become equally as dirty the next time we flew them? I didn’t understand then, but the beach was bound to become part of my identity for forever.

As my sister puts it, “whenever I leave, I feel like my soul has been scrubbed clean.”

To this day when I head back to my hometown, and if I have the chance, I still drive the thirty minutes out to Point No Point’s gusting beaches. I bring a Thermos of hot chocolate, like my dad, and a plastic bag to hold any trash that I find during my walk. I balance on logs cast up high next to tough sticky blades of grass. I walk barefoot through sand so full of salt that it squeaks, looking for an abandoned driftwood palace.

It’s comforting to watch the passing transport ships stocked full of shipping containers stacked like children’s Legos. It makes me smile watching dogs throw themselves face first into the waves: creating foaming V’s of ocean spray on either side of their bodies. I watch as they swim otter like out to a thrown stick or out to a particularly interesting floating piece of debris. Parents lounge alongside me as their children play Frisbee or dig pointless holes. In front of me, teenagers throw wakeboards into the shallows, skimming across the waves or falling flat onto their faces with a meaty splat. Above the water and above me, seagulls wheel through the air training their hungry eyes onto anything that looks even suspiciously like food.

The same seagulls shriek split the air as I lean back into a rudimentary driftwood fortress, sip my chocolate, and let the sharp tang of the air carry me back. Or I bring nothing, and I let the wind whip and tear at my clothing. I bask in the eye of the storm.

Samuel Klusmeyer is a Montana based freelance writer currently writing for WRIT 373. The ocean will always be with him.

Montana State News

Welcome to the news site of Montana State University’s class, News and P.R. Writing (WRIT 373), Spring 2018. Students in this class will publish their semester’s work on Montana State News.

New Editor Announced for MontanaStateNews.org

MontanaStateNews.org announced in June 2017 that long-time editor, William Wilke has retired, citing plans to “travel to Santiago, Chile and other foreign lands.” He has turned over the the reins for the news site to fellow Montana State faculty member, Jean Arthur.

Burger maker settles for nothing but the best

By TYLER BARTON/Montana State News

It’s the end of a busy day. Jonathan Heap is wearing a black chef’s coat, still greasy from the day’s service. A bandana is tied around his forehead to keep the sweat out of his eyes. Athlene Heap is wearing a white coat, along with a tidy chef’s cap. Both are cleaning up after a hard day’s work, scrubbing grills and scouring dishes. The kitchen still sizzles with the residual heat of cooking, signaling only hotter days to come as the summer approaches.

There is not much room to maneuver inside the kitchen. It is, after all, only a school bus that has been refit with cabinets, drawers, grills, and more. Jonathan’s head nearly touches the ceiling as he stands over the stove, cleaning away.

They are tired but satisfied.

Jonathan and Athlene, a married couple and owners of the Heap Burger, have one mission: to make the finest burgers in Bozeman.

The Heap Burger bus is hard to miss. If you’re driving down Oak Street, you can spot it with even the most casual northward glance, resting in the Kenyon Noble parking lot where it permanently resides. It’s big, bold, and unmistakably bright red—a school bus repainted and repurposed into a restaurant. Continue reading “Burger maker settles for nothing but the best”

Lawmakers nix human trafficking legislation

By JORDAN SPARR/Montana State News

The 2017 Montana legislative session rejected two bills directed toward fighting human trafficking when worries arose over complicating issues for which laws are already in place.

House Bill 378 was written to revise criminal laws which regard minors and human trafficking, while House Bill 379 set to revise laws requiring escort services and similar industries to verify identities and store records of employees at the risk of a penalty for non-compliance.

House Bill 379 specifically addressed people who advertise on websites such as Backpage and Craigslist with photos for the purpose of marketing. House Bill 278 would have made a change in specifying that exposing a minor to prostitution in any form is illegal.

While trying to crack down on human trafficking in Montana as much as possible, opposition to the bills were centralized around the idea that these revisions needed further revision, and that they didn’t add anything of real value to the existing legislation on the issue. Continue reading “Lawmakers nix human trafficking legislation”

Human trafficking is a Big Sky country problem

By JORDAN SPARR/Montana State news

Montana has seen 315 phone calls to the Human Trafficking Hotline since 2007 from witnesses reporting alleged cases of the crime. The most prevalent form of trafficking taking place through prostitution. The Human Trafficking Hotline has been taking in phone calls and generating statistics on the subject since its inception on Dec. 7, 2007. In 2016, the hotline received 52 separate calls, 15 of which were reports on human trafficking cases.

Looking through the available hotline statistics from 2012 to the present reveals an interesting trend. In 2012 there were 30 calls, 2013 saw 41 calls, 74 calls in 2014, 66 calls in 2015, and the aforementioned 52 calls in 2016. While a steady rise in calls is obvious through the progression of calls over time, the transition from 2015 to 2016 shows a drop in the amount of calls as well as reported cases of human trafficking. Continue reading “Human trafficking is a Big Sky country problem”

We are shaped by the places we inhabit

By BAY STEPHENS/Montana State News

The way humans change the places they inhabit has been a constant topic since the West began to be settled by Europeans. Towns were built, rivers were dammed, native tribes were pushed out. What tends to be thought of less is the inverse: how the environments we inhabit shape and mold us.

Each individual is shaped and molded by family, community, physical buildings and the wider landscape as a whole. All of these influences contribute to what Mark Hufstetler calls “a sense of place.”

Hufstetler is a historian and Montana adventurer who carries a sense of indomitable optimism. Despite being fresh off a four-hour drive from the Flathead region, he was chipper and conversational as the din and bustle of Bridger Brewing carried on around. The Acony Belles string trio playing bluegrass ballads behind him.

“It’s not necessarily always fashionable to say that you are a product of your environment,” he said between sips of his McTavish Scotch Ale, “but in a lot of ways, you really are.”

It can be seen in his own life. Born in Ogden, Utah, Hufstetler’s father worked for the Forest Service living mainly in Idaho and Wyoming. “I grew up in a series of small towns in the West, basically,” he said. Continue reading “We are shaped by the places we inhabit”

City’s history mostly boom with little bust

By TIM STOVER/Montana State News

Bozeman, Montana, is one of the fastest growing cities in the nation.

However, looking at its rich history and vibrant figures, it’s clear that Bozeman has experienced rapid growth since its beginning.

Starting even before Bozeman became incorporated, the city underwent its architectural and urban development phase, the Township Phase from 1864-1872.

According to the city of Bozeman website, organized planning of the town came about “… by a need for a supply center for the booming new mining camps in the Montana territory.”  Simplicity was the goal of the town at that time.

According to the city of Bozeman website, “… most buildings were constructed of simple materials and simple methods. …” Functionality was the only objective. Montana miners were had flooded the area and needed dwellings and establishments to provide for them as easily as possible.

Leading up to its incorporation in 1883, the city of Bozeman underwent a village phase from 1873-1883. This phase was based entirely around transcontinental railroad coming to Bozeman.  Continue reading “City’s history mostly boom with little bust”

In mountains, on roads, biking takes center stage

By CULLAN STAACK/Montana State News

No matter what kind of bicycle you ride, southwest Montana will keep you happy with in-town trails, long smooth roads and beautiful vistas to choose from. Endless possibilities exist when it comes to mountain biking; the only limitations are the type of trail and level of challenge you’re looking for. Whether it’s a smooth, fast downhill rush or a thigh-burning, lung-searing ascent (or both), it’s all just a short distance from Bozeman.

In communities across Montana, bicycling and walking are safe, everyday, mainstream activities. Bicycling and walking are recognized, accommodated and funded as legitimate and essential modes of transportation.

Montanans enjoy an enhanced quality of life, a cleaner environment, and better health as a result of the commitment to bicycling. After all, who wouldn’t want to enjoy the fresh air and big skies of the Treasure State by choosing to ride instead of drive? Montana is also a model for innovative bicycling and walking facilities and programs.

The history of biking in Montana traces back to the Bike Walk Montana organization. Although it has a short history, Bike Walk Montana has a long-term vision of making Montana a safer and more accessible state for bicycling and walking. Continue reading “In mountains, on roads, biking takes center stage”

Cycling more than a pastime for enthusiast

By CHELSEA ANDERSON/Montana State News

From my seat in the coffee shop, I see him approach on his commuter bike. Despite the rainy weather, I’m not surprised to see Kyle Rohan show up to our interview on a bike. He sets a bright helmet on the table, asking, “What would you like to know about biking?”

Rohan is a graduate student at MSU who got into road racing when he was earning his undergraduate degree in Florida. Rohan was first interested in biking for the commuting aspect. “One day when I was riding the bus, I saw a guy on a bike pass the bus, and I was like, ‘That. That is who I want to be.’”

After initially getting interested in biking, Rohan found himself interested in competitive racing. “Road racing is a lot different in a concentrated place like Florida than it is here in Montana. For one thing, more people are involved in it,” he says.

Rohan joined the cycling team at his university and began seriously training for races: “When you’re taking racing seriously, you have to spend around 25 hours a week on your bike training.” In addition to the large number of hours of training required to be successful in the sport, collegiate racing involves a large number of hours traveling to races. Continue reading “Cycling more than a pastime for enthusiast”

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