Still just a naive kid

At least Rusty’s pajamas are not decorated with cowboys or clowns, but his aversion to relationships with girls indicates he is probably even younger than the vintage Rusty was, though not by much. This explains why he still likes sleepovers, rather than chasing girls.

As for this cryptid tale, it brings up questions:  If it is the case that a normal surfer dude somehow transmogrified into the SurfSquatch, where did the female SurfSquatch come from? Did she also start out as a surfer babe who hit the Big Wave the wrong way and came out as a SurfSquatch? Or is she some other kind of cryptid? Can cryptids of different species have sex? Is Rusty’s book even up-to-date on contemporary gender roles, so that “his beloved mate” has her own entry in the book?

Finally, what does SurfSquatch do in the daytime? Is he a bagboy at Whole Foods? A barista at Café Reina?

Did you know that Jules Rivera is an avid surfer in her own right?

I have to say that the criteria for becoming a bona-fide cryptid look pretty weak:  “One day an otherwise normal shoe salesperson sat down in the store’s breakroom to eat an unripe banana. Walking back through the stockroom, the salesperson suddenly transformed into BananaFoot. Its appearance in the store caused customers to suddenly start slipping on the floor and twisting ankles. After that, customers started slipping on floors in shoe stores across the country and began posting about a secret government BananaFoot conspiracy to coerce people into buying expensive high-top shoes with ankle support.”  

By the way, after composing the paragraph above, I suddenly realized the surfboard in panel 2 apparently turned into what looks like a banana in panel 3. Now, is that a subliminal influence or what!? While I don’t get the connection of a banana to Surfsquatch, I did not consciously notice that change when I wrote the first paragraph. Anyway, I decided to not change it.

So, what will develop out of this Rusty Interlude? Does it mean he’ll finally return to his cryptid hunt? Perhaps Rusty will team up with Professor Bee Sharp, to the further indignation of Mark. Regardless, let’s get this hunt back on the road!

The Longest Day?

So, all of the following happened over the course of a single day!?

  • Cherry and Rusty took the light rail into downtown Portland and spent “the day” sightseeing, including lunch and visiting a bookstore.
  • Meanwhile, “the four men” (including Happy Trail) drove to an animal rescue site funded, in small part, by the two brothers.
  • While there, they received word that the lumber mill was on fire.
  • They made their way to the lumber mill, or at least, to a bluff overlooking the site.
  • Somewhere along the line, Happy got separated from Mark, Bro #1 and Bro #2.
  • Happy apparently texted Cherry about this unfolding crisis (perhaps in the drive over to the fire), which caused her and Rusty to leave Portland and return.
  • Meanwhile, Mark got disgusted with the brothers’ inability to do anything, so he ran down the hill to “save the workers”, only to disdover Dad has somehow beaten him down there and is up in a tower.
  • Powerlines came down and lay across the grounds, blocking some employees from escaping.
  • Mark climbed the tower to get Dad down. But they determine that the power to the lines can be turned off if Mark makes it to the power station through the fire.
  • Of course, Mark found it, turned the power off, and saved the employees (and Dad).
  • Everybody loves Mark. Even Cherry somehow showed up for the post-crisis celebration.
  • Wood mill employees complained to Mark about poor and dangerous working conditions.
  • And now it is dark, with Rusty all alone, reading the magazine he bought in the bookstore.
  • A bear walks by Rusty’s bedroom. Will the bear test Mark’s Sunday thesis that most monster sightings are just normal animals, such as bears, not being seen clearly?

Well, I have to agree. This certainly has been a long day!

Here is the Weekly Recap and Sunday Nature Talk

Hello, sports fans! Wait, if you really are a sports fan, you’re likely watching a game or a multi-hour pre-game program instead of reading this. That’s okay, I can wait a minute.

Right. So what happened this week, you ask? It was a week of basking in the sun of success for Mark, who overcame smoke, fire, and hostile readers to find and disable the power station that was sending dangerous voltage through downed power lines at the mill.  Not sure what happened to the fire, itself, though one panel suggested firefighters showed up to contain the blaze. Ultimately, an informal grievance committee of lumber mill workers complained to Mark that the Bogus Brothers were taking advantage of them by stinting on working conditions, fire procedures, and safety. They brushed off worker complaints, while even Pappy Happy could do nothing to help them. This started another fire, this time inside of Mark who grew even more concerned for his dad’s financial and legal welfare. Perhaps they would all feel better if they took a break and read today’s nature chat!

Yes, Mark. Go ahead and humiliate your son, just as you so often get humiliated these days. I notice that you did not mention your own (albeit reluctant) prior participation in a Yeti Hunt. Or was that one undertaken by your retired dad? It does get confusing.

Still, today’s Sunday strip seems like some kind of passive-aggressive putdown of Rusty’s ambition to hunt for the Seaside Spector. Why can’t poor Rusty get to enjoy his adventure without The Parents feeling the need to tell him there is no Santa Claus or Easter Bunny!? He’ll grow up to be cynical and anti-parent all too soon, Mark.

This is a fine “how do you do”.

So, is Rivera building the case that Mark Trail suspects Pappy Happy of suffering from early-stage Alzheimer’s, making Mark feel it necessary to butt into his dad’s affairs to protect him? Or maybe Mark thinks his dad is just the gullible type that takes people at their word? Then again, Happy did make a business agreement with those two losers, so he might have a point. Dad deserves to get a little bruised.

In other news, looks like the applause has quieted down, this being the Saturday installment. Mark’s rescue has already passed into local history and legend. Is it time to move on?

Where do we go from here? The Trailverse sometimes works in mysterious ways. Maybe Rusty’s Seaside Specter started the fire to chase people away. That’s a classic “monster” kind of thing to do. And that could be a great way to bring the Trail family together again, for a really special vacation.

Two for the price of one?

I seem to be following in some footsteps of founder Dennis when he sometimes posted multiple strips at one time, probably for a similar reason to mine:  I got busy and couldn’t get back in time. Today is therefore a twofer.

It is clear from these two and the prior days that Rivera likes to spread one event across a week’s worth of strips. This week, it is the post-rescue analysis. I’m not sure why these workers stuck around in a work environment they knew to be dangerous, unless their personal situations were bleak. But to develop the plot or at least provide a suitable stage for Mark to exercise one of his virtues, these guys had to be innocent victims of the Burn Brothers’ ineptitude and malfeasance.

But why unload on Mark? Happy Trai had been here before and was happy to leave things as they were, rather than force the issue with the Bunko Brothers. Why? And when did Cherry develop her Brooklyn patois (“…minding these guys’ business…”)? Mark’s closing bromide would have sounded better had he conjugated “run” as a gerund, to match “doing”.

Woodworkers!? No. They are sawyers, not cabinet makers!

Sigh! It seems as if Rivera is going to pad this post-rescue vignette out for the rest of the week. Today, we have the common TV/movie meme of the tough-looking dude with an aggressive approach forcing Mark on the defensive, only to be gob smacked when the Big Lug suddenly professes his undying gratitude for the rescue. And never mind that they didn’t get out earlier, when it was possible.

So, who is next in the appreciation line? Maybe the beavers. But more likely, the Bro Brothers, but they will probably be more upset over the loss of lumber.

Fire inspector Mark Trail is on the job!

Calling Jerry Mathers! So, I avoided the obvious title for today’s post. Mark misspeaks in panel 2, as beavers go after the utility poles, not the power lines. Beavers do move around, so it’s possible the mill was there first. And with a large surrounding forest, it isn’t that likely the beavers would go after treated utility poles instead of normal tree trunks. But it happens. Would be easy enough to wrap fencing around the base of utility poles in places like this to deter beaver logging.

Turns out my fence idea is hardly new and is used to protect regular trees, as well! ( I wonder if Mark will recommend that strategy to the Scam Brothers, or will he instead berate them for their animal insensitivity? Mark certainly can get a bit self-righteous and over-the-top.

Nothing to see here, folks, move along now.


In today’s episode, everything settles back into normal space-time. As a fire militia has finally shown up to put out the fire, Mark and Cherry revert to their standard husband-and-wife/parent roles. This means Mark also regresses to his normal Clueless Mark persona.

Note that this “clueless” aspect of Mark’s personality generally reflects the “clueless dad” character found in family TV shows of the 90’s and beyond, such as “The Simpsons”, “Married with Children”, “Malcolm in the Middle”, and “Everybody loves Raymond”.

As a point of comparison, Vintage Mark Trail found his contemporary parallel in the “Wise Father Figure” of 1950s TV programs, such as “Father Knows Best”, “Leave it to Beaver”, and “Bonanza”. Of course, Vintage Mark Trail has been endlessly ridiculed for his apparent lack of Quality Time with Rusty. I’ll admit to making grand generalizations here, but I’m just looking for possible ambient influences in Rivera’s changes to Mark Trail, such as what she might have seen on TV while growing up.

Here is the Weekly Recap and Sunday Nature Talk

So, we finally had our first actual action and adventure episode in the Oregon Vacation story (Don’t blame me for that prose; it was Rivera and her alliteration a few days ago that tempted me). Sure, Rusty’s Seaside Specter hunt looked like it might have been the real deal, but we can’t deny first honors to Mark, can we? Still, I hold out hope Rusty gets his adventure.

This action-packed week saw Mark racing across the smoky, fire-infested grounds of the burning lumber mill to locate the main power supply. Mark shut down the power going to some dangerous downed electric cables that had trapped mill workers (and his dad) from escaping. With Mark surrounded by cheering employees, Cherry made a surprise appearance to hug her hero, as is expected in the Heroic Tradition.

Thus, we got a brief, but noteworthy, Mark Trail Saves the Day adventure, the kind that might have appeared in a vintage Mark Trail story. I think this is also the first solo Mark Trail adventure since Jules Rivera took over.  I’m glad to see that Rivera gave Mark that opportunity as well as a win that for once was not obscured by satire, goofiness, or chicanery. Hmm, well it was a bit goofy. Anyway, before you click off, let’s jump to today’s nature chat!

Okay, that’s about a minute.
This is one of the best arguments for vegetarianism.
Oh, bugger!
Shouldn’t Rob Bettencourt have been the one to present this topic?
Looks like Mark finally sold out to Cricket Bro, just like Dad!
It’s what’s for dinner.

I’d gladly pay you Tuesday for a cricket burger today.

Crickets don’t look like hot dogs. Hot dogs look like sausage. Make cricket sausage!