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Life Finds a Way

Was I just imagining the New Mexican landscape as more barren than usual in spring? At any rate it certainly affected me. If a thesaurus were handy, what would the perfect adjective be? 'Disconsolate' might do, although it sounds a bit odd when applied to a landscape. But why fight it? It was impossible to look at this landscape and not sink into hopelessness. We turned a corner and lost some altitude as we approached the mighty river of this area. I couldn't believe what I was seeing: an effusion of light-greenness from the leaves of cottonwood trees that lined the river. Is the green of young leaves special to their newness, or is it just that the brain hasn't seen anything but grey and brown for the last six months? I wanted to scream with relief. Soon we crossed the mighty river, all of four inches deep and four feet wide, and yet it must be responsible for that marvelous verdancy.  It would be interesting to use an auger to drill down 10 feet or so, and then point

Finding a Non-insulating Bed for Summer Camping

Gringos, that is, people from a northern European culture, have no appreciation for architecture in warm climates. I learned that when I went to Mexico a couple times in my RV, where I just loved the interior courtyards, high ceilings, bougainvilleas growing over a cheap wooden lattice overhead, etc.  Or think of a languidly rotating ceiling fan in a dark room with high ceilings and protected with bug or solar screens, while a dusky maiden in a loose and gauzy dress, with a tropical flower in her hair, pours a chilled drink for you. (Eyelash-fluttering emojis are needed!) More generally, the Gringo is totally mal-adapted to hot, sunny climates. Their clothing, their sleeping in the cool mornings, and their high activity levels in mid-day... They are even so stupid as to deliberately expose that delicate white skin of theirs to the Western sun.  The garment industry has outdoorsmen -- bicyclists especially -- brainwashed into buying tight-fitting, plasticey garments that are torture cha

Pop Quiz on Summer Camping

  It has been a long time since I popped a quiz on the readers. I suspect they've been getting soft. One hint: this photo pertains to "thermal management" for summer camping, that is, how to stay cool when camping in summer. Gladiator cargo net for holding loose loads down in a pickup truck. All kidding aside, I am really excited about the possibilities of this. It is not cheating to go to the link for a better photo. Perhaps my questions are too obscure. Very well then, here is another hint: Polyester mesh installment by gulfcoastalaluminum,com

The Ultimate Solar Air Conditioner for Summer Camping

When camping in the summer, Mother Nature can be coaxed into giving us shade, breezes, low humidity, and cool evenings. We can adjust our active hours to mornings and take siestas after lunch. We can dress in a manner that fits the weather, rather than society. We can switch from hot sports like hiking to biking, surfing, or kayaking. Beyond these practicalities we can feel a nostalgia for the summers of childhood. School break; the summer reading program at the public library; playing kick-the-can at dusk; waiting for different fruits to ripen and climbing trees to get it; spending half the day on a bicycle with air blowing through your flip-flogs; trips to "the Lake"; eating ice cream and lemonade and watermelon; and visiting the grandparents on the farm. At least some baby boomers can do that. If you can't generate these pleasant notions from personal experience, try it vicariously by reading Henry Adams's "The Education of Henry Adams," particularly the

Watery Dreams of Summer

I have frequently called summer a long disease that has to be suffered through -- and I meant it. But I do like the challenge of escaping scorching sunlight and summer heat.  It is perverse how a person can be pulled in the direction of solving their problems by spending money on gadgets. It's true -- you could get lucky and the gadget might function a year or more, before it heads to the landfill. But what are the alternatives to such uninspiring problem-solving? Most people suffer most from heat at night. Remember what it is like in bed in summer: your skin tries to avoid contact with other skin and with the bedsheets. I resent skin-to-pillow contact, and will sometimes sleep pillowless on my back. Would it help to use a "water pillow?" I don't know if anybody makes something actually called that, but there are plenty of flexible water bladders sold in the sporting goods industry, made by Camelbak and others. If ambient temperature water was put into these bladders