Where are they now — Keith Knol

Keith Knol and I were best friends through elementary school — we shared a fascination with tearing stuff apart, and sometimes even building stuff from what remained. I think (though memory is mischevious in such matters) that it was Keith who showed me how to cook a hot dog by sticking a nail through each end, and hooking the nails up to a lamp cord.

Keith responds: I recall thinking that the hot dog cooker was a technological break thru at the time. When we weren’t using it for hot dogs we would turn it upside down, stick it in the ground, and use it to bring earth worms to the surface for bait. It’s amazing we survived childhood…

I just love the smell of ozone in the morning!

Keith was also the first person I ever knew — way back in 7th grade — who was interested in environmental issues, and who seemed concerned about this crazy notion known as “global warming” we had been hearing about.

arrrr!, matey!

Keith and I continued to be good friends in high school, occassionally making expeditions to Seattle for concerts and oddball movies (I think it was Keith who I saw Luis Bunel’s film, “That Obscure Object of Desire” with, and definitely know it was Keith that I went to see the Eagles — pre-Joe Walsh — with; indeed, I still have a photo or two of that concert!).

Keith was even in my wedding party as an usher, as a matter of fact — but school and families took over our lives, as they are wont to do, and these days we’re down to the annual exchange of Christmas letters (usually sent by our wives) and the occasional phone call (including one just moments ago).
So, in any event, Knol is one of those guys who will, apparently, never age. He hikes too fast for time to catch up with him, is my theory. He lives north of Spokane with his wife and two kids, who as you can see have inherited his love of outdoors.

According to Keith:

Well for those few Mariner High folks who remember me and might have questioned whether I could have survived into adulthood I’ll give you a brief recap.

I’m still alive!

I graduated from Washington State University with an electrical engineering degree in 1982 and went to work for Bonneville Power and have been there ever since.  We control the federal dams on the the Columbia River from Grand Coulee down to Bonneville, along with those on the Snake River. In fact I am frequently referred to (affectionately, I believe) as “that dam engineer”.

Frequently as I’m walking down the hall or people stroll past my office I’ll hear them say things like “there’s that dam engineer” or “what’s that dam engineer up to now?”.

So it’s been a great place to work and I hope to finish my career here working with this great group of folks. In fact I was encouraged when I overheard several of my coworkers saying again just this week that they also were looking forward to my career coming to an end here.

Outside of work I’m married and have two kids. My wife, Pam, has been putting up with me [editor's note: just barely!] for over 20 years now. She’s a speech therapist for the Mead school district. We both are WSU grads so, living in Spokane, we go to a lot of WSU football games and even went to the Rose Bowl a few years ago.

My son will be in 8th grade next year. His life revolves around music, running and bicycling. He loves music. He plays piano, guitar and drums (oops I mean “Percussion”). Lately he’s been pestering us for a Saxaphone. When he’s not making some sort of noise he’s running or riding his bike (he’s a big Tour de France fan). He does cross-country and track at school. His fascination with bicycling reminds me a lot of myself when I was that age. I remember you, Ozie, Brad Meacham and myself went through a period of several years when we were really into bikes. We rode around Whidbey Island, out to Snohomish and into Edmonds and Lynnwood. I remember that long grind of a ride up the winding hill from the Snohomish Flats. Oh man that was a killer. I think I’m still sore from that one.

I also have a daughter who will be a junior in high school next year. She’s also into track and cross-country. She’s also very involved with the Debate team. The skills from which she has been applying at every possible opportunity at home. Actually I’ve pretty much been living advanced debate with her for the past 15 years so I’m getting accustomed to it.

I still spend a lot of time honing my skills at putting one foot in front of the other. I learned early on that it was one physical activity that I could be relatively consistent at and have actually been able to improve at over the years. In fact I’m proud to say I’ve attained a level of proficiency at walking where I can now go for extended periods with few major mishaps.

I drag my family along and we’ve been hiking in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Central America. Of course my favorite place to backpack is the Olympic National Park and we try and do at least one extended trip there each year (in college, as you might remember, I worked a couple summers as a backcountry ranger in ONP so it has a nostalgic appeal to me). We’ve had a lot of exciting experiences backpacking (my kids prefer to say we’ve “dodged a lot of bullets”). I recall doing quite a few hikes with you, Ozie and Brad. Especially in the Verlot area. I remember skipping school to go hiking to lakes in the Verlot area like Pinnacle, Boardman, Bear and Evan’s Lakes [editor's note: kids, do as we say, not as we do...er, did]. Lake Valhalla was another good hike I remember us taking.

I read your description of the hike we took with Keith Lawler. It’s been a long time since I thought about that one. I believe it was called Lake Helena and it was near Darrington. My recollection was that it was probably not a well conceived trip. There was no trail and we hiked cross-country with an old Forest Service map I had dug up and wound up essentially walking off the edge of a cliff. I remember the big fall you described. We landed in a pile at the base of the cliff. I landed on top of my pack which cushioned my fall and probably kept me from breaking my neck. Like you said, it was amazing we didn’t wind up on the injured reserves list, or worse. I don’t think our folks would have had a clue where to start looking for us. I suppose my family would say that my route selection abilities haven’t improved all that dramatically over the years.

I took up snow skiing about 25 years ago and I do a fair amount of that during the winter months. We live at the base of Mt. Spokane which has a nice little ski resort so it’s easy for us to access. My son pretty much lives at the Mt. Spokane terrain park during winter weekends. We take a few ski trips to Canada each winter also, with Big White Ski Resort being our favorite. The kids usually bring along a group of friends and we spend 4-5 days skiing and hot-tubbing.

So, sorry I won’t be able to make the big party. Tell Ozie and Brad I said “hi”. Also if Tim Thorp shows up and has any particularly good one-liners or unusually over-the-top offensive jokes (I guess I’m assuming he hasn’t changed much) please take notes and forward them to me (and tell him I said “hi” also). Actually, feel free to say “hi’ to anyone who says they knew me. Thanks Keith

I have since learned to read his Christmas letters carefully – when he recommends a place to visit, such as the Badlands National Monument (pictured below from my trip there last year), it’s worth visiting.

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