Showing posts with label travelStyle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travelStyle. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Quality Travel Experiences

Strangely, a certain coffee shop near St. George, UT, has been the location of a couple different experiences for me, memorable because there was something to them, other than scenery.




The coffee shop was located in an affluent housing development, at the foot of red cliffs. Until recently the coffee shop had a gift shop built into it -- the gift shop was trying to look like an Indian 'kiva.'  (Presumably the gift shop was "inspired" by the small Indian reservation, nearby.) 

It always seemed ironic and thought-provoking that Native American culture appeared so upscale and glamorous in the gift shop, with the expensive coffee table books, hand-carved wooden flutes, music, books, etc.; and yet, the genuine Indian reservation a mile down the road was a slum. (I rode my bicycle through this irony when I rode with a local club.)

But this year the kiva-gift-shop had been converted to an expensive restaurant. Presumably the menu featured items 'sacred to the Native Americans,' while in actuality they probably came from the Sysco truck, as with most restaurant food in the USA.

So that was a disappointment. But on the positive side I was reading a book on Russian culture and literature. During the 1800s, intellectuals went through a period of romanticizing the peasants of "Holy Russia."

It was delicious to think about that delusion in Russia while standing in a place in Utah that featured an analogous delusion.  There is no idea too ridiculous to be universally popular with intellectuals at some time or some place.

This is one more opportunity to give an advertisement for the strangely satisfying experience of reading the right book in the right place, when traveling. But why is the satisfaction so profound? Perhaps it is because different planes of existence are temporarily and serendipitously overlapping.



Monday, October 16, 2017

Returning to the Womb in Winter

Last post, I was having fun re-inventing the water bottle. But today I'd like to be completely non-facetious, because it really was profoundly satisfying to take that hot water bottle to bed with me. Isn't profound satisfaction worthy of a post?

The old saying about 'hunger is the best sauce,' is certainly true, and that no doubt gets a lot of the credit. 

But there is something else. Insulating a camper, wearing the right clothes, and toughening-up are all valuable activities. But they smell too much like 'living without.' That is, they are negative approaches. ('Negative' should not be thought of as a synonym for 'bad.')

There is something in human nature that is frustrated by emptiness, that is, 'living without.'  Using fewer gigabytes of data on your internet plan, eating less, spending less, being celibate, showering less, stifling yourself in conversations, sleeping less, etc. At some point you rebel against these constant, nagging constraints.

You simply must add a positive -- that is, additive -- approach to your life. Carrying that hot water bottle into bed was an example.

Of course, running a conventional heater would be another example of a positive approach. But it is so sterile and meaningless to just buy some bar-coded product. In contrast, it means something to an individual to invent, improvise, learn, and struggle.

The water bottle was warmer than snuggling with a little dog.


Archive: snuggling back in the old days.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The RV Boondocking Blabbermouth Syndrome

No doubt, over the years, many ex-readers noticed that this blog just wasn't what they hoped for. It wasn't helpful to beginners. It wouldn't wallow in practical details. It didn't even give google map screenshots or GPS coordinates of boondocking sites.

The disappointed reader probably thought, "What a selfish fellow! He wants to suppress information that would benefit his fellow RVers. To hell with him then, I'll just read a nicer person's blog.  They have more pretty pictures anyway, and I won't have to keep looking up words..."

The disappointed reader is certainly right about one thing: there are other blogs to go to that will give them want they are asking for. But what if they eventually decide that the easy and popular approach is destructive in a subtle way?

Wouldn't it be more constructive to look at the philosophical significance of the Boondocking Blabbermouth Syndrome? Romanticism and escapism motivate most people to travel. There is nothing wrong that, as a beginning. But it should move on to something more solid.

For instance, RVing is besotted with hackneyed phrases, 'living the Dream', 'starting our new adventure', etc. And yet, virtually everything on the RV blogosphere is aimed at taking adventure away from it! How can anybody see this as the "positive" approach of a "nice", helpful blogger? Hell, it's the approach of a blogger serving Mammon, not their fellow RVers.

Adventure? Do they mean being spoon-fed the answer, as an overly indulgent teacher does with lazy and timid students? Does a parent who loves their child want to keep that child weak and dependent on the parent?

When a newbie or wannabee thinks they need to be told where to camp, it is probably because their rig is too big and awkward. In other words they want their cake and to eat it too. Is it really such a nice thing for a blogger to pander to phony readers of that type?

But there is another reason for the Blabbermouth Syndrome -- a sociological reason. RVers are bourgeois couples, for the most part. That is good and bad, of course. It affects everything they do when they travel. They don't really want adventure; they want comfort, security, and bourgeois respectability. That comes from consuming travel, rather than experiencing it. 

Therefore they want to remove risk, effort, or spontaneity from RV boondocking. They want a campsite to be domesticated into a bar-coded product that they can consume. Despite their hypocritical posturing as adventurers, they don't want any adventure in going out there and finding it.

A blogger should try to be a good mentor: helping others get started in approximately the right place; teaching them to fish instead of just giving them fish; and giving them encouragement to become stronger and more knowledgeable. And when they do, finding that campsite will be half the fun. 

In summary then, I hope this has been constructive because I have convinced some people to allow their RV adventure to actually be an adventure.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Pleasure of Meeting Intelligent People

What do people think of when they first think about intelligent people? Is it somebody with little personality who grinds away at their career all the time? Or is it somebody who appears superficially polite, but actually is snide and supercilious?

I'll bet they don't think of the pleasure an intelligent person can give to other people. Let me give you a little anecdote about being on the receiving end of this. But first you must bear the set up.

I was in Cortez Colorado, looking to buy a new Utah atlas, either the DeLorme or Benchmark version. This area caters to tourists, and it is the closest small city to the Four Corners. So you would expect it to be easy to buy an atlas for any of the four states.

Wrong. I failed to find these atlases in a half dozen places. The frustration was worsened by driving from place to place while pulling my trailer. Towing a trailer is a terrible way to knock off errands in a city.

If a sensible person were replacing a hardware or mechanical part, they would bring the old worn-out part to the store, and spare everybody the frustration of spewing out verbiage to the store's employee. But I was too foolish to do that, because I had already decided that this errand should be easy.  

What blank, uncomprehending stares I got from the employees! One woman reminded me of the look that cows give when you encounter them on dirt roads in the forest.

At first I thought that Benchmark and DeLorme were terms only known to the cognoscenti of the outdoors. So I softened my approach by only using the term 'atlas.' But even that term confused these blockheads. And here I thought the average second grader knew what an atlas was!

With a certain amount of hope I went into a visitor's center that was connected to nearby Mesa Verde national park. It disappeared when I saw the first customer: he looked like a New York tourist visiting Florida in 1960. The store was filled with Native American kitsch souvenirs and coffee table books. Jean Jacques Rousseau would have loved this place. But no atlases.

Sometimes they could read my frustration, and then returned it. But I just couldn't believe that I was unable to make myself understood when talking to people who spoke English as a first language.

Finally, as a broken man, I went into Walmart and threw myself on the mercy of an employee. She wasn't just sentient -- which is all one could reasonably expect in a Walmart -- she had a mind like a steel trap. She sent me right to the place, although Walmart just sells the old Rand-McNally highway atlases that get the mass tourist to Disney World, Las Vegas, or the national parks in the West.

That wasn't her fault. When I left the store I still felt dazzled by the eager pounci-ness of her mind.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Island Hopping Across a Sagebrush Sea

Yes, 'sagebrush sea' is a bit of a cliché. But it's a good one. Strunk & White do not approve of burying readers under too many metaphors. Indeed, we have all been readers on the receiving end of a writer who was a metaphor drunk. And yet, how can writers suppress themselves when something wonderful has put them into an expansive mood? At such times, the mind naturally seeks out analogies with other good things.

Every year I spend my canonical fourteen-days visiting my favorite mountain biking area, near Gunnison, CO. The topography, geology, altitude, town, and BLM management philosophy are responsible for making it a success. And every year I praise decomposed granite as geology's greatest hit.

To make it even better, I ride downhill on singletracks, and then 'recharge the gravitational battery' by riding uphill on the roads, to complete the loop.

Falling into one of those generous and expansive moods, I can't avoid comparing this experience to sailing certain places in the ocean.  But before I bury the reader under whimsical analogies, let's pause to let the reader play with the idea on their own, if it captures their fancy...

My "sailboat" docked in a protective cove, next to a tree island. The forest mainland is about a mile away.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A New Team Sport: Talk-Walking

During the recent 14 days with the Band of Boondockers, we had enjoyable, non-athletic walks up the road, twice a day. It was more like conversational sauntering than hiking.

Some people would consider it pretentious to compare our conversational sauntering to the walks in the garden that the philosophers of ancient Greece took with each other, but an indulgence of this type is useful if it helps bring back a long-neglected, yet wonderful custom. To appreciate conversational sauntering to the fullest, compare it to the new cultural atrocity of people sitting down to a meal at the same table, with one eye on the people they are there to talk to, and the other eye on their damn smartphone.

Consider how the mere act of walking naturally overcomes some of the defects of conversations. Those prone to over-intellectualizing (aka, building sand castles in the sky) might be affected by the physicality of walking: they are reminded that human beings have bodies, and that moods sometime depend more on physiology than psychology. Another benefit is that somebody in a too serious or sour mood might become more cheerful when walking.

Like Swift, I believe that conversations (while sitting in chairs) are ruined by everybody trying too hard to be an entertainer -- they are afraid of being ignored, I suppose. But don't we already get enough entertainment crap elsewhere? Falling into the trap of being a frustrated comedian starts a vicious circle of excessive self-consciousness: you become more interested in applause than in important truths. It helps to forget about ourselves and redirect our attention to ideas, softened by a kindly regard for the frail feelings of other people in the circle. I sense the frustrated-entertainer-syndrome falling off somewhat, when sauntering.

Everybody hogs the microphone at times. Talking-while-walking has a way of breaking that momentum, when, for instance, an interesting sight suddenly appears to the walkers, or when they need to gulp some air. Actually, the group's motor-mouth might be the first to stop and gulp for air, at least at 10,000 feet of altitude.

A talker in a chair is prone to falling in love with their own mighty thoughts. But when they walk, their attention is naturally taken to the external. Their thinking is objectified. They begin to escape the echo chamber of their own skull. Almost without effort they begin to talk to -- not at -- other people.

Conversely, talking improves walking. How pleasant it is to escape solitary, puritanical hiking, and turn it into goal-and-conquest-free relaxation, whose tempo is varied and playful, almost like a type of dance. And with talk as the musical accompaniment.


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You might enjoy the essay by Jonathan Swift on Conversation, at Quotidiana.org.

Also consider Thoreau's essay on "Walking", at Gutenberg.org. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Traveling Down the Path of Righteousness

As I approach my canonical 14 day limit at a location that has internet, a sense of setback is understandable. I had been on a roll of internet-free living, before I backslid into sin, here. Let's back up a step and look at the Big Picture.

This all starts from the premise that there are few better ways to spend the end of your life than in pursuing Moral Perfection, a la Ben Franklin. I'm afraid the results of this project have been disappointing, so far.

Rather than merely dwelling on "Thou shalt not...", the positive agenda is to be more light-hearted when reading real books off-line, and to break my concentration whenever possible. In doing so I can co-opt the cheap trick that the internet uses to sink its hooks into its victims.

Another positive approach is to dwell on the geographical freedom I gain when camping in places where the internet is not available. Tomorrow I have a chance to put this into practice. Ah dear me, let's hope this doesn't lapse into sterile rhetoric.
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The last 14 days of moral setback came with an upside gain: I attended the Band of Boondockers in Buena Vista, CO. RV camping desperately needs alternatives to the uninspiring stereotypes and limitations of the past.  It is worthwhile to give the benefit of the doubt to anyone attempting to improve a culture. I leave, feeling that a little progress has been made.

Metaphorically, this quest is in greater need of a "Brigham Young" than a "Joseph Smith." (Apply now!)  Culture, like politics, is the art of the possible.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Renewing a Travel Lifestyle

Normally, when a person embarks on a big project, they shouldn't expect an instant pay-off. Surprisingly I am getting one on this "camping without the internet" project I am embarked on.

For years I have driven by some land on the west side of Colorado's San Luis valley that I fluttered my eyelashes at. But I never camped there because there was no internet signal. This year I stopped.

Since my camera broke recently, I can't show a photograph of the land. Perhaps it wouldn't be that impressive in a postcard. But who cares? It starts off as high rolling (BLM) pastures. Wave after wave of ascending green curves. Mountain biking up through it reminded me of some of Wagner's orchestral overtures, back in the day when I was first exposed to them.

It was a big deal when I reached the first tree. The boundary between forest and sagebrush/grasslands was irregular and indented, like an interesting shoreline with many bays and islands.

The topology changed. My heart sank, thinking that from now on I would have to settle for ugly ol' trees. But then a new and higher meadow would appear. It felt like a child who is exploring a large, old Victorian mansion, and is amazed to find yet another room that is different than the last room.

Push, push, push...it is easy to block everything else out of your mind when ascending. In this case, I wasn't paying any attention to junctions with other dirt roads. Therefore I got off-course on the descent. Finally I popped out of the trees and saw the van down by the highway, only about a mile off course. I walked the bike so it wouldn't make a rut. It is strange how you lose visibility in small waves of green. The rest of the world pulls away from you; you are swallowed up by the land, the way a sea kayaker is, by small waves in the ocean.

As enjoyable as this experience was, its real significance is the helpful analogy it offered. I am in the habit of reading a book with the mindset of a mountain biker on a tough climb: it is all teeth-gritting determination. And I won't relax until I summit.

That is how the internet sinks its hooks into me: it offers bite-sized snacks to read. From now on, when reading books, I will be light-hearted about it, looking for every possible excuse to interrupt the concentration. It is time to stop reading a book like a student doing homework. Fight fire with fire. Getting an internet signal will not be so important anymore, and my camping lifestyle will get a new lease on life.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Withdrawing From "Fellow" RV Travelers

An old man in a van is camped a few hundred yards from me. He hasn't come over to visit. I haven't tried to visit him. That seems a little defeatist, considering that I might have visited with him when we overlapped on a road a couple days ago, and he appeared lucid and non-senile. (Which is better than average, let me tell you...)

This is just one example of a more general trend I seem to be settling into: a withdrawal from "fellow" RVers. I'm not really sure I am doing the right thing. It's not a hard-core, cynical attitude. It's more a matter of being tired of disappointment and frustration. The path of least resistance seems to be minding my own business.

Thinking back over the years of ineffectiveness at this issue, it seems that most encounters had something in common: we only had something in common, superficially. In fact they were pursuing a completely different paradigm than me. There is nothing wrong with their paradigms, if it works for them. I just have no interest in them.

1. The old man in a van. Mildred died of cancer a couple years ago. He is lonely, and spends most of his time watching satellite television and drinking. Or he hasn't been the same fellow since he got back from Viet Nam. Or he is living on nothing but social security and camps in the forest because that is all he can afford. Or he and Mildred got divorced 20 years ago, and he is virtually estranged from his own children. He is angry and flares up, almost scaring other people, when certain topics are brought up.

2. The eager newbie, driving 300 miles per day, hitting his RV Dream like it's a July scenery vacation. Then Fred and Mildred blog about the pretty lake, pretty mountain, pretty seashore... Pioneer museum, tour of a candy or cheese factory, or wildlife museum, that they are gawking at TODAY.

3. Singles clubs. In principle these could be quite helpful if people were there because being single does involve some unique challenges and opportunities. But if it is just a thinly-disguised Lonely Hearts club...

4. RV brand affinity clubs. Well, there is a certain practical value to these. But really (!), to define yourself by brand fanboy-ism shows you are the ultimate jackass of a consumer society.

5. "Frugal" RVers, who can't write more than a sentence or two without invoking the codeword, 'stealth.'

6. The perpetual wannabee. Fantasizing about becoming an RVer "someday" has become a pleasant, long-term hobby for them. They'll never do anything of course.

7. Hikers, Greens, Subaru-drivers, national park-loving, dog-hating, postcard-worshippers.

8. Channel surfing with gasoline. Getting bored with a place before the engine has even had time to cool off.

9. "How to" travel bloggers, blabber-mouthing boondocking locations, or obsessing over "practical" problems, with each one leading to today's click-bait. 

10. People who visualize Nature as it appears from their cubicle in the metropolitan rat-race, or from a coffee table book, rather than as it actually is.

Must I repeat that there is nothing wrong with these approaches?! It only makes sense to wish them luck with their chosen paradigms. But I'm just not interested.

Of course we shouldn't just have an interest in people who are clones of ourselves. But a certain amount of overlap is necessary. I think it is the basic paradigm of travel that needs to be the same. Not the details. 

No doubt there are readers who are going to say that I'm being cranky again. Actually I am just thinking out loud, and am trying to convince myself that it is "OK" to let a troublesome issue go.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Metaphors with a Life of Their Own

Hopefully I will continue to do certain things right on this blog: not over-selling travel, and not over-emphasizing books. Carried to extreme, both of these things are more than merely ridiculous. They are vices.

But combine two things that don't appear to be all that related, and some magic happens. Maybe that is what thinking is all about. When travel and books are combined, some memorable pleasure can happen. It won't happen often.
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'Be careful what you wish for...' is an old adage that must be in many people's Top Ten list. During the fire season in late May and June in the Southwest, I yearn almost obsessively for higher humidity, clouds, and rain. Well, we got some all right. Over the holiday weekend I spent a day or two holed up in my little camper-trailer, unable to do much of anything outdoors. Actually, what is there to do indoors, other than read books? (I had no internet connection.)

The good news is that I had an awfully good book to read; it was turning out to be fascinating, and on an important topic, too. Still, hour after hour in a chair, and with so little sunlight that I doubted whether the solar panels would charge the batteries. (I only have two small windows and a roof vent.)

Who was the writer who said, "...sicklied over, by the pale cast of thought"? Something seems wrong with the universe when sun doesn't shine -- at this time of the year, in this part of world. At moments the rectangle of soggy, half-hearted light hitting my kitchen counter would brighten. Usually, the edge of this anti-shadow would crispen. It seemed to almost crackle with fire. I would jump away from the book, and run to my solar controller to see what amperage appeared.

Why was it so important to see a number? But it was! And then the crisp rectangle would melt into near nothingness, and Hope sank back into the cold mud. On and on this went. Would I see a high amperage only when the edge of the rectangle was crisp, or would the overall brightness of the rectangle of light matter more? I got sucked into being obsessively observant of the number of amps versus the visual and emotional impression of it.

Then it hit me: that I was acting out in my camping-life, exactly what the book was about. The book was "Rousseau and Romanticism," by Irving Babbitt. (free ebook at Gutenberg.org) The author spent quite a bit of time explaining the conflict between the Romanticist and the humanistic Classicist. Since it was a busy holiday weekend, there were opportunities to observe real people and wonder how they and their style fit into this book. More of that later, perhaps.

For the time being, I can only gush how charming it is to have a metaphor creep up on you like this. Normally you think of a metaphor as being deliberately created by the writer. But when the self-consciousness disappears, and the metaphor comes in from the outside and imposes itself on you, it seems so much more alive and exciting.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Extremism as the Route to Celebrity-hood

I waylaid an RV buddy this morning at a cafe. His and my dog both went berserk. By the time breakfast was over, we had the world pretty straightened out. We also talked about couch surfing, a topic that was new to me.

In fact a European friend and I had just finished a week of informal couchsurfing, with them in my van, and me in the trailer that is pulled by the van. It worked. I am curious about doing more of it. At the very least it is one more reason to own a van as the tow vehicle, instead of a pickup truck.

Restaurant noise bothers me more than it used to. To escape, we went outside to finish our coffee. Up walks a woman backpacker, who my friend had seen hitchhiking a few miles back. Oh sure, we all know about the cultural fad of backpacking across the country in 1969, by young hippies. But people still do this? Women?

And she had done some couchsurfing, too. As my friend left, he suggested that I have a conversation with this woman, who was eating alone. But I didn't. 

Why not? Was it just because she was a lot younger than me? That her travel style seemed reckless and unappealing? No it was something more. It was her impertinence.

It's not that she was doing something wrong. She was polite, pleasant, and well spoken. (And had gorgeous eyes.) But I felt vibrations that she thought she was some kind of celebrity, who outranked us because her travel style was more extreme.

I was simply unwilling to play that game. Extremism in travel is no more grounds for admiring somebody than extremism in anything else. Are they doing it for some kind of boost to their self-esteem?

Well, this young woman is doing something that works for her. I am not trying to correct her. Rather, I can see that a blogger like myself is also capable of coming off with an air of impertinence.  My style is more energetic than many more bourgeois travelers. From there it is easy to puff up, as if arduousness in travel is automatically a claim to some higher form of wisdom.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Economics 101 When a Town Barely Has a Pulse

It's been a long time since I took an economics course. All I remember about it is that they don't call it the "dismal science" for nuttin'. Let me suggest another approach to the subject. Forget about the hectic noise of the big city, the stop-and-go traffic, and the endless running around to buy crap, most of which is superfluous.

Imagine taking it all away. Simplicity, bliss? Not so fast. Your first couple hours in a really small town pound it into you how difficult it is to get anything done. What if you have something as trivial as a flat tire? Will you have to call your towing service and get towed 200 miles to Phoenix or Albuquerque?

Are any of their stores serious about doing business? Maybe they are just tax write-offs. Except that the place doesn't look high-income-enough to need tax write-offs.

Can you find a business that is open the same hours two days in a row? I actually bring a pen and clipboard to write down the complex schedule of hours when the silly place is actually open.

My cellphone doesn't work, but the internet does. It seems to be impossible to throw away a simple grocery sack of kitchen trash, because there are no trashcans in town! At least it is easy to find water in mountain towns.  

There are times when I feel like giving up. Let them board the place up.  Maybe local yokels wouldn't even care, until they closed their post office.

Clearly the place is impoverished, and yet you see more smokers around than anywhere else. Are 'smokes' covered by EBT cards? Their mental life is pretty much limited to the Bahbll and satellite television.

But it only gets so bad before you hit bottom. Then you start adapting. That is what makes this an 'authentic' experience. You start to appreciate how flexible a human being can be if they have to be. You really can buy a little food at the grocery store if you stop trying to impose city-ish notions on them.

The town even had a hardware/lumber store. Home Depot it isn't. I stopped at the section for tapes and adhesives, and started to imagine what kind of things I could fix with this tape and that adhesive.

Today I was in the grocery store and grinned from ear to ear when I saw a key-making machine at work. 

The closer you look, the less hopeless it seems. You start to see 'necessities' as falling into sub-categories: mere conventionalities; conveniences; occasional versus immediate; toys, status symbols, and entertainments.  

Better yet, life seems less regulated and bureaucratic. Interactions between individuals seem more relaxed. Of course you don't want to ruin that by fostering exaggerated, nostalgic sentimentalisms about small town people.  

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Rite of Spring in the Travel Blogosphere

It is my favorite time of year as a reader of travel blogs. Bicycle touring blogs, that is. In the winter "Crazy Guy on a Bike" goes into semi-dormancy because even the "Southern Tier" route across the USA is not that popular. That leaves the southern hemisphere, which is a rather small place and expensive to get to

In particular it's worth keeping an eye out for the blogs about the GDMBR, the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, which goes from the Mexican border to the Canadian, while staying pretty close to the physical continental divide. Since it consists of dirt roads on public lands for the most part, a dog lover could at least fantasize biking it with their best friend. Not so, with the road cycling routes of course.

But I still give the roadie blogs a glance. Once in a great while, one of these is quite enjoyable. So why not celebrate the occasion? Recently that happened with "Looking for America", by Dan Schmiedt.  I have only read half of his blog up to the current date. It is fun to try to explain why a blog like his is so much more enjoyable than the average blog.

Perhaps what I am searching for, when scanning a list of mostly dreadful blogs, is the right travel-paradigm for me. Forget 'how to' blogs. Forget the 'scenery' blogs, who stubbornly disbelieve in the existence of anything between a person's ears other than a pair of eyeballs. 

Schmiedt's blog is more concerned with interesting observations, the sensual impact of cycle touring, and conversations with real people.  His title made me a bit wary: it sounded like a Charles Kurault-wannabee blog. But Schmiedt takes people as they are; he isn't looking for ostentatiously eccentric, colorful, licensed-lunatic types who fit a preconceived template for a 'feel good' story at the end of Walter Cronkite's evening news.

In contrast Schmiedt has a way of making more-or-less normal people seem interesting.

He also avoids the great besotting vice of bicycle bloggers: biting off too many miles per day, and ending the day with nothing to talk about other than ride statistics and weather reports.

Consider taking a look at his blog, especially while it is still ongoing. 


Monday, November 2, 2015

My Next Life as a World Traveler

Is it just procrastination, or is it a dislike that I'm not willing to face up to, that causes me to postpone bicycle touring to my next life? Perhaps the romance of this kind of travel wouldn't hold up to three days of reality.

Cycling on highways is no pleasure. But that might be gotten around by using dirt roads and mountain bikes, or by going to civilized countries outside North America that actually have bicycle paths. Of course, the dog would have to stay home (sniffle!).

But the biggest turn-off is looking for accommodations each night. In first-world countries, motels are outrageously expensive and sterile. In third world countries, you would be lucky to get a toilet that flushes or a shower that puts out any hot water. In any country, there is only a couple sheets of plywood or drywall between your space and the noisy clowns next door. Of course you could always tent-camp 50 feet from a highway.

The question of 'where to sleep' is handled best by sleeping in my own bed in an RV every night. 

Very well then, the next life it will be. Still, I do enjoy the vicarious experience of reading bicycle travel blogs on CrazyGuyWithAbike.com. There is little to interest a general reader in the vast majority of these blogs, of course. It is the nearly universal syndrome of travel blogs, regardless of the means of conveyance.

But if you have the patience, you can get lucky. And it is nice to spread the word. The travel blogs by Leo Woodland have consistently been a cut above the rest. In the past I only wished that he didn't try so hard to be humorous. (Recall Mark Twain's advice in his essay, "How to Tell a Story.")

Leo's last blog does just that. I consider it his best. His wit still comes through. Good observations and thoughts. He integrates a little history into the story in a brief manner, without politics, and in his own words; they are not cut-and-paste jobs from Wikipedia or a travel brochure. Even the photographs are interesting, because he avoids photo clichés and standard postcards.

Keep up the good work, Leo. In my next life, I will catch up with you.