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Neal Speak: Understanding the Neal Johns Dialect

By Jay Lawrence

Everybody meets Neal Johns sooner than later in this organization, and things usually start out innocently enough.

First, Neal proposes something mildly outrageous and expands on it enough to draw you in. He then follows it up with the quip “trust me…” This can be a trail run or a bank robbery.

Next, he looks up at you with a cute little catfish smile and big puppy dog eyes, all calculated to let you know that he knows that you are now ‘on your guard’. You have put your radar up, surveyed the situation and are about commit that fatal error; now your are going to let your guard down and decide you really can trust Neal…

What’s really just happened here is that you’ve take your fist step on a slippery slope, and you are about to be roped into much bigger and more precarious endeavors.

Here are a few special ‘Neal’ phrases, along with their hidden meanings that will help you with your short-term planning and long-term survival:


Neal Johns Trip Descriptions


An exploratory trip: I have only a faint idea of where we’re going.

Explore some places we haven’t been before: NOBODY has been there before – not Neal, not John Muir, not even Neill Armstrong.

Your truck has a winch on it, doesn’t it?: Alert your next of kin.


Neal Johns Units of Measure

Just up the trail a few clicks: A fluctuating cosmic measurement based on planetary alignment, the sunspot cycle and wind direction.

Neal Johns Trail Phrases

The bailout is just up ahead: Brace yourself, your wheels may leave the ground and all hell could break loose.

A bailout or get out: An invisible, often mythical alternate route to the ‘trail’ you’re on

A workaround: The trail is non-existent, I’m gonna fake it here, as if I really do have a plan. Trust me.

Some minor roadbuilding: You did bring food for a couple of extra days, didn’t you? The rocks will be larger than your tires, and pointy. We may need to sacrifice a vehicle or two.

A few whoops: Almost always involves high speeds. Kidney belts will be required, lash down the cooler and hang onto the ‘oh shit’ handles.


Camping with Neal

Dry camping: Not just ‘no water available’. Actually means we won’t ever get near water. No ocean, beach, lake, creek or stream. Only dry washes, burro wallows, sand and rock.

We don’t need a fire: I’m going to bed when the sun sets,; we only eat unheated food out of cans.

You rarely see snakes around here: The next camp area will have more rattlesnakes than the viper house at the San Diego Zoo, and I’m going to see if I can get them riled up, just for fun, then you can have your campfire.


Hiking with Neal

The trail has about 600 feet of elevation gain: But we will cover those same 600 feet eighteen times on our three hour ‘day hike’ that will last from 10 a.m. until an hour after sunset.

A six mile hike (bring a lunch): A hunch measurement, measured as the crow files. Often followed up at the end of the day with “I didn’t really put a string on the topo track, but it looked like about six miles’. Figure on a multiple of at least 1.5 – 3 when planning food and gear. Wear good boots.


Armed with this information, you have a good chance of making it back home in one piece. Bear in mind that this is never a sure thing when you travel with Neal, but it will always be memorable and it will always be an adventure. After years of this king of foolishness, all of us who have been on trips with Neal wouldn’t have it any other way

In Memory of

  • Tom White 
  • Gene Olsen
  • Walt Wheelock
  • Tom Church
  • Bob Martin
  • Bill Ott - passed July 10, 2004
  • Bill "Shortfuse" Mann -Passed August 2006
  • Dwight Stroud - passed January 19, 2007
  • Lorene Crawford - Passed August 2009
  • Alan Romspert - Passed August 19, 2009
  • Don Putnam - November 5, 1916 to August 14, 2012
  • Jim Proffitt - March 21, 1941 to September 1, 2012
  • Reda Anderson - passed October 25, 2012
  • Rick Cords - May 1944 to February 1, 2014
  • "Sir" Bob Rodemeyer - December 1950 to November 11, 2014
  • John Fulton - July 5, 1937 to February 15, 2015
  • Marilyn Martin - November 19, 1929 -  June 20, 2015
  • John Page - passed September 8, 2015
  • Gary Preston - passed February 24, 2016
  • Ted Kalil - passed in 2016
  • Jerry Etchison - passed in December 2016
  • Jerry Harada - passed on August 6, 2017
  • Gene Stoops - passed on Sept 2, 2017
  • Graham "Coop" Cooper - March 31,1944 to November 22, 2017
  • Charles Hughes - passed on May 19,2018
  • Nan Healy Savage - passed on July 9, 2018
  • Maybelle Lipking - August 2,1925 to August 9, 2018
  • Dick Taylor 
  • Bob Bolin - passed in November 2019
  • Neal Johns - January 19, 1931 to December 27, 2019

" Happy Trails To You, Until We Meet Again..." 

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February 2020

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October 2020

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