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Adjusting to Snowbird Ghettoes

For many people, the best thing about being a snowbird in the desert is weather. For me, it is the lack of bugs. What about the worst thing? It is probably neighbors. Winter is the only time in the year when I camp with other people in my viewscape and soundscape. There has been progress over the years. Many people have solar panels but there are still Neanderthals that use generators. Even lower are the people who use old-fashioned, open-frame, construction site, non-inverter generators. (Usually they have giant fifth-wheel trailers with license plates from ID or MT.) Then they hook it to a converter/charger that puts out a steady 13.5 Volts DC, which has to run all day to charge a battery. You can thank the geniuses in the RV industry for that. Why is it so hard to explain to newbies that they need a 'three stage' battery charger? A couple posts ago I reminded myself and others how useful noise-canceling headphones are. Perhaps we neglect to use them because of a small amount

When Pedaling Downhill Is Work

A mountain range in the Mesquite NV area offers a mountain biker a welcome relief from the tourism of a few miles upstream, closer to Zion. It's not that people are doing anything wrong up there, it's just that there are so many of them. Since it is so nice around here, what keeps people from realizing it? We are protected from the Zion hordes by a simple hangup that Utah tourists are prone to. Think of the cinematography of the movie, "The Wizard of Oz". The movie starts off in Kansas in black-and-white, not unusual in 1939. But when Dorothy's house is carried off by a twister and gets plopped down in the land of Oz, everything is in color.  It is exactly the reverse of that when a Zion-tourist gets swept down through the Virgin River canyon and is deposited in the grey world of Nevada. They are disappointed. I love the shapes and shadows of Nevada mountains. Let the red, tourist-attracting colors of Utah be damned.  It was a long climb up to a radio tower on th

When Visiting Town Is Actually Fun

Nothing pleases a person quite as much as making lemonade from a bunch of lemons. With that in mind, there is a way to turn the holiday rampage of motor-crazed yahoos in the desert to advantage. Since I was pretty close to town, I rode the mountain bike there. I hardly ever ride in towns anymore, so it was a treat. Mesquite's streets resemble the wide streets of Utah. They have dedicated bicycle trails and nice neighborhoods. It was a chance to test out a bakery along the way, a small pet adoption center, and buy some apples and bread. I have always been surprised how fun it is to knock around town and do the ordinary errands of daily life on a bicycle. Let's hope eBikes really catch on and more people do this. But how with they keep the eBike from being stolen in front of the grocery store?  On the way back to camp, I even got the pleasure of a ten-year-old boy who finds a new route or a shortcut.  For an old "roadie" like me, it was a reminder of how happy my body a

A Holiday "Parade" in the Desert Southwest

(This is a rant against motorsports in the desert. But first, a disclaimer: the vehicles themselves are quite versatile and lend themselves to use by mature and sane recreationalists, as well as farm and ranch work.  On mountain bike rides I frequently stop and have nice chats with such people.) On this Thanksgiving weekend, t he weather is perfect in the desert. The motor-crazed yahoos do not want to waste it. They were screaming by my campsite before the sun was up. It is strange how they travel in large groups or convoys, with American flags sticking up. Maybe they think they are on some sort of para-military "adventure" and they need compatriots for safety. And do they really enjoy eating each other's dust? But let's be fair: they could have been driving faster. I even imagined a slight politeness as they passed by. Some gave us a friendly wave. Did they really imagine that campers admire them or their machines? But most of all I noticed and appreciated that they

When Time Zones Mess With You

What time is it? You don't hear that question as much as you used to. But the time certainly gets confusing in one particular place: the route between St. George UT and Mesquite NV. St. George has become so overcrowded and nerve-wracking that I no longer spend much time there. Then you 'retreat to Mesquite' which is also booming, but it is less crazy than St. George. You travel through three time zones. They mess with your mind all the way. In summer the sequence would be 10 a.m., 9, 9. In the winter it would be 10, 10, 9. The only time zone that makes sense is Arizona time, God's Time. It usually takes me a couple days to get the phone, computer, and dashboard clock in the van to agree with each other, and I am tempted to be non-compliant with the Pacific Time Zone when I'm in Nevada. And what if you are camped near Canadians? Why don't they use a metric calendar and clock? Of course it is silly for a camper to pay any attention to "o'clocks". Why