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Showing posts from April, 2012

Update -- RV Quest for Community Caravan on a Hairpin

San Lorenzo, NM. We found a cool, breezy ridge to boondock on, and it had 3 or 4 bar wireless internet service. (Damn, I'm good.)


We had a 360 degree view.



Our departure was less worrisome than our arrival. Familiarity helps a lot. It will be a long time before I am foolish enough to arrive on a road like this at dusk!

The van served as our minesweeper or cow-catcher. There definitely were sections that would not have allowed oncoming traffic to pass.

Big D in Dog, Little d in Death

I led my little poodle, 17 years old in a couple weeks, back into an animal shelter. As if the reason for going there weren't grim enough, it was wounding to think that he was completely innocent of that reason.  I don't like having such power over another creature.
I didn't bring him in to euthanize him, but just to break the ice with that eventuality. The people who work in the animal shelter must be experienced with knowing when it is time to put an animal down, whereas I had no such experience, the little poodle being my first dog. He made it out of the animal shelter (with a pulse) and back to the rest of his life. Let's step back from the Here and the Now, and ask how our grandparents' generation would have ended their pet's life. Would they have just taken the old pet back behind the barn when the kids were at school, shot it, and then buried it? Or would they have asked a relative or neighbor to do the honors? Drowning the old pet would have been crueler.…

Mountain 2, Kodger 0

San Lorenzo, NM. I'd found a little slice of -- actually a big slice of -- camping paradise, but I didn't expect the Caravan of the Kodgers to come up here, since the state parks really are more comfortable as long as you have an air conditioner.
It might be true that boondockers are real campers because they own dogs who want to be real dogs; and you can't be that in a campground on a leash. Another reason why a camper might like my current setting is the mountain biking. The road splits and follows dry creeks through canyons cooled with ponderosas and decorated with lupines. On top of that, the dirt roads were maintained by the county, and were rather smooth.
Of course those two roads would be fun to drive with a nice "towed" like the Honda CR-V that many motorhomers have. But the motorhome never would have made it to this campsite in the first place.
There are other reasons for being a boondocker, such as noise or an appreciation for nature. But I'm beginning…

Premature Mother's Day Oration

Maurice Chevalier was right, in Gigi: Thank heavens for little girls. 
There is a barrier protecting my boondocking site in a national forest near City of Rocks State Park (Silver City, NM): an inconvenient location and 7 miles of a narrow gravel road. Thus I have seen absolutely nobody out here.
Yesterday I was surprised to encounter a small SUV, carrying Dad and a little darlin', maybe 4 years old. They were looking for wild turkeys. We talked about the road and mining shacks for a couple minutes. The cutie pie said she liked my dog, Coffee Girl.
Perhaps Dad is imprinting a love of the outdoors on this little girl. Twenty years from now she might turn out to be a "camping mom", a horsewoman, or maybe even a mountain biker!  Her husband will be fortunate in this regard, at least.
I have no way of knowing whether they found their wild turkeys, but Coffee Girl and I did, the next day. Those things are huge! It was down in a slightly-wet creek right alongside the dirt road. We…

Camping at Dusk on a Narrow Road

San Lorenzo, New Mexico. And to think that a reader/commenter thought that I was a coward for avoiding hiking, biking, or traveling near sunset! It has always been a good policy. But sometimes a camper has to push the envelope a little. I'm not advertising recklessness. But there's such a thing as going into the Unknown simply because you must. Although risks are unavoidable, they are not being pursued for the sake of themselves. It builds character to get yourself in a bit of trouble, fight to stay calm, and work your way out of the hole by solving one problem at a time. But even more fundamental than that is backing off before it's too late.
In general the Benchmark state atlas shows RV-friendly dirt roads as heavy dashed red lines, and they have names. In general there is a big turnaround once you get into a national forest; big enough for pickup trucks pulling horse trailers, or for firefighting trucks. My Ford Econoline van and 7 foot wide X 21 foot long trailer turn a…

Update on Upcoming Duel with Fellow Blogger

I don't want readers or the other blogger to think that it was an empty challenge when I challenged him to find the best essay in the substantial archives of Fred on Everything. It looks like I'll be done with the 500+ essays by the end of April, as originally estimated.
But limiting myself to one essay will prove more difficult than expected. Normally I find Fred's pearls of wisdom sitting in a single paragraph or sentence, rather than in an entire two-screen essay. For instance one of the essays today says: Much of the unpleasantness of modern life occurs because we will say "no" to almost nothing.

Why does this happen?

It happens because, instead of deriving law from morality, we now derive morality from law. In a healthy society, laws enforce morality; they do not dictate it. In America today, the opposite is true. By untying law from the anchor of morality, we give up control over our lives.That is the kind of thought you don't get from the polit…

Two Travelers, Two Trails

An old RV buddy and I got together for a hike up Red Mountain, which overlooks Patagonia, AZ. He isn't an RVer anymore. Long-time RVers like me are used to seeing people drop out. Normally I can tell before they can. RVing is just a transitional state for most people.

He thought RVers were nice folks who sat around too much, and that the so-called RV Dream consisted mostly of dreaming of the next potluck. I don't know how he got that idea, but he did. Also he wasn't too handy with maintaining his motorhome and never made a serious hobby out of it.

He was diagnosed with the Thin Man syndrome, and it appears terminal. You know the type -- gnarly, wiry old guys who refuse to blimp out in middle age or old age, like a decent person should. If the world were fair there would be a support group for men like this. Women seem to be mercifully free of it.

He had another affliction; he was single. Boys will be boys and he hoped to meet a woman with a vestige of a feminine …

Camping in Wind and Snow

Let's hope this is the last spring storm.

Maybe I've always misunderstood what was meant by a "windy day." Didn't it mean high average speed? But that certainly isn't what happened the other night. 

The average speed wasn't unusual, but the gusts were violent and a little scary actually. Since air is a compressible fluid it shouldn't be able to produce the hydraulic hammering that my RV experienced. Sleep became impossible. And wouldn't you know it: the "ship" was parked abeam the west wind. What happened to sailors pointing the ship directly into the face of the storm?

I was camped alone at the northeastern mouth of the Chiricahua mountains, where these vertiginous mountains debouch onto the lonesome horizontalness of high desert. Hmmm... sudden elevation changes seem like they could make large pressure gradients, i.e., wind.

What does a camper do when wind becomes a hateful nuisance, besides staying indoors that is? I headed up into the Bu…

An Incorrigible Kodger in Bisbee

Maybe Wayne was right the other day about beauty being available even in towns and cities. For instance the Mobile Kodger and I were walking through Bisbee AZ yesterday on our sojourn to New Mexico. Old mining towns -- even if they are tourist traps -- put me in a good mood regarding towns, cities, and -- dare I say -- even people. And I needed the advantage since I was walking through a funky town with the inimitable and incorrigible Kodger.

Those who have never had this experience might have difficulty imagining it. It took a few blocks for the Kodger to reach his stride. We started downtown, in the high-rent district: art galleries, gewgaws, baubles, trinkets, and bourgeois matrons. There really is a sad and noble beauty to the silent suffering of  any husband who is in tow in a place like this. The most humane and sensible matrons leave their suffering saints at home and do Bisbee with "the girls". In fact it might be a good idea for any man who is seriously considering m…

A Sage and the City

It's the music in the grocery store that brings it on. My city nausea, that is. When finishing a long stay on raw land and heading into the city (Sierra Vista, AZ), it makes sense to see it as an opportunity for a mental adventure. Pretend that you are seeing city-ways for the first time. Take nothing for granted. Why not let yourself be astounded and amused by it all?
Anyway, that's what I try to do. Then I walked into a grocery store and had my central nervous system attacked by unusually loud and conventionally ugly music. More than anything else it's the ugliness of popular music that makes me think this society is doomed -- or at least, that I want it to be doomed, so that something better replaces it. 

Does real camping get a person so used to quietness that noise pollution seems worse back in the hive? It's possible. Then again, this is a military town, so maybe noise levels are higher with all the young bucks around.
A Stoic sage would come back to the city and ma…

The Trouble with Solitary Traveling

It might seem like a minor achievement to anybody else, but sleeping to dawn -- and even to sunrise! -- made me think my visitors were miracle workers. It's been a year since I visited these two mobile scoundrels. Glenn of toSimplify.net and the Mobile Kodger are here, sharing a zillion acre campsite with me. We sit out at night under the stars and solve the world's problems, after which we move on to explaining the riddles of the universe, the meaning of life, and the best rig design. A later bedtime makes for delicious sleep to dawn. 

Back when I was a newbie I was actually camped at one of those dreadful Escapees' parks. I went to an evening campfire, which surprisingly wasn't against municipal code or against the RULES or something else, and an older camper came out and joined in. He said that evening campfires used to be a really big thing with RV campers, but then satellite television came along. These evening conversations with Glenn and the Kodger are really br…

Travelers' Schedules

"My wife and I have been planning on becoming full time RVers. What's been your greatest challenge?" That's what the solo bicycle tourer asked. He was resting at the coffee shop in Patagonia AZ, tweaking his fully-loaded touring bicycle. The answer was easy: "demographics." Since he was a married man, the brutally truthful answer to his question would have been, "Your wife." But I wasn't in the mood for being that brutal with a pleasant stranger.

Then I tried to pry him away from his pre-planned route along sometimes-shoulderless highways and tempt him into riding on dirt roads through magnificent high grasslands. Of course there was a disadvantage: it would put him behind schedule. I don't do "schedule." I doubt that he followed this advice. It's a good reason why I could never really relate to the culture of long distance bicycle touring. I have a penchant for latching onto these soloists.
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Idle, Idyllic, and Idols in Patagonia

Every day the same three guys sit in chairs under the canopy of the old-fashioned gas station. And since this is Patagonia, it still is a gas station. I giggle at this sight because they are so reminiscent of the old boys hanging out at the gas station on the Andy Griffith show of olden times. In fact that is one way to think of this town: Mayberry for hippies.
The best way to tour Patagonia is to ignore the art galleries and walk through the alleys to gawk at backyards. The normal bland suburb would have codes and ordinances against half of this town. Patagonia is a lower Leadville.
It is ironic. Most of the towns in America more interesting than Gopher Prairie or Levittown are old mining towns. So is Patagonia; yet, the locals are raising hell about a copper strip mine being developed in the area. Actually there is a second layer of irony: an environmentalist's favorite utopian dream is a nation running on all-electric Obamamobiles. How many pounds of copper windings would there b…

Annual Pilgrimage to Patagonia

In March I usually stay interested in the area south of Tucson, for a month. This year it looks like it will be closer to two months. The main attractions are the high grasslands and the Santa Rita mountains. The grasslands go up to 5000 feet, so you can stay comfortable almost to May.
Several years ago my standard (ammonia/hydrogen) RV frig went kaput when I was here. It turned out to be an interesting experiment to junk it and replace it with a homemade, super-insulated ice chest. It took three dreadful days in Lowe's and Walmart parking lots to finish the job.

I don't recommend the ice chest as a permanent solution, primarily because of the inconvenience and cost of block ice, but it's nice to know that it works well as a stopgap. After putting up with it for a couple years I bought a Whynter 12 volt refrigerator, with the high-efficiency compressor. It has worked well the last six months on a full time basis, and appears to be the permanent solution.
Just a few miles …

Challenging a Blogger to a Duel

Near Patagonia AZ. These days another blogger, Ed Frey, claims that he is reading the entire archive of Fred on Everything, start to finish. So am I. I'm not sure if he influenced me to do this or vice versa. But it honks me off to think that somebody else came up with my brilliant idea before I did.
There is only one way to settle this honorably. I must demand "satisfaction". That's right, I am publicly challenging this idea-robber to a duel: after a couple more weeks of reading he is invited to join me on the field of polemical battle, if he's valiant enough.
The rules of the duel are simple enough: I propose that we each select one of Fred's essays as the "best" or most important, and then explain why it is so. A substantial number of quotes from the essay will be permitted.
How about the end of April, Mr. Frey? My factor will call on your factor: