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Showing posts from June, 2012

Gasoholics Should Stay on the Wagon

Springerville AZ, the White Mountains. James Howard Kunstler must be furious. American gasoholics (virtually all of us) feel that 'happy days are here again,' now that regular gasoline has plummeted to $3.50 per gallon. Let's hope they are still making money on snacks, cigs, or the 40 ounce buckets of fructose fizz they are known for. Gee maybe it's time to bring back the Hummer? Has Kunstler ever written an essay about the RV industry? It would be amusing to read it, if you could handle his goose quill, dipped in venom. For my part I think that RVers have their work cut out for them if they want their lifestyle to continue long into the future in a way that is recognizable. Sure, they could camp in one place forever and drive around town in a tiny "towed", but too much of that would represent a completely different lifestyle.  Despite the recent -- and no doubt temporary -- relief at the fuel pump I continue to press against promiscuous driving, that

The First RV Boondocking Team Member

And so my career in the RV Quest for Community Caravan is over. I left for another campsite in the same area this morning. It was a noble experiment and, I think, a successful one. By "success" I mean that it involved non-trivial interaction between members, resulting in certain changes in their behavior or daily lifestyle. Two raptors chase a raven around a thermal uplift. Whatever else, we avoided the standard malaise of intentional/planned Utopias: repression and stasis. Recall your Toynbee (*): For these works [planned Utopias] are always programmes of action masquerading in the disguise of imaginary descriptive sociology. Hence in almost all invincibly stable equilibrium is the aim to which all other social ends are subordinated and, if need be, sacrificed. The experience also required me to scrutinize my behavior around other campers, and then try to file off some of my sharp edges. Or one could look at it as a good little Hegel

Teaming up with a Bear in the Laundromat

It has been a long time since I've come out of a store with a big smile on my face. The Western Drug and General store in Springerville AZ was really too big to call a general store. It was really a home-grown department store of a type you probably thought extinct. Now I know what you're thinkin': that I'm about to use the cliche, eclectic, to describe it. But 'eclectic' usually implies gifts, souvenirs, or cyootsie-wootsie junk that appeals to women. Instead, the store had an excellent selection of practical goods. The store reflected the local character of Springerville, the capital of Arizona's White Mountains, by having an excellent collection of camping supplies, hunting and fishing equipment, etc. I've had a running argument (a joke actually) with a fellow camper about how easy it is to buy 3/4" wide Arno straps and Benchmark or DeLorme atlases. She contends that these items are so exotic that they can't be gotten in a small western

The Exercise Partner Syndrome

I make no secret of having little faith in building a loose RV camping caravan/community on the basis of idealism, platitudes, hippie-dippie cultural values, or group therapy while sitting in chairs. Talk is cheap. For me what matters is common activities in the outdoors -- activities that really matter to people -- and then acknowledging that these outdoor interests are more fun when sharing them with other people. It is a great challenge to do this within an RV milieu because of mainstream RV culture's fanatical negativity towards using the human body for anything other than operating a motor vehicle or waddling down to the next potluck. And most of them are too old, too fat, completely out-of-shape, and have health problems.  I have an ex-RVer friend who now lives in Tucson, which has a huge hiking club. He has had many hours of enjoyment with them. He had little opportunity for the same success with RVers, and that's one reason why he abandoned RVing. Apparently h

Is Agony on the Trail so Bad?

Maybe he was right after all; the commenter that is. Recently a commenter chided me on my inconsistency in denigrating single-track riding when mountain biking, since I usually praise the Agony-and-Ecstasy dualities of heat/cold, downhill/uphill, Dry Heat/monsoons, city/outback, etc.  I just got back from a "nice" ride today. You know what? I feel disappointed compared to the ride a couple days ago, when several things went wrong. "Nice" sort of means "boring." I was following an ATV trail. Who says that motorized and non-motorized sports can't be compatible? The trail was smooth and troughed. It was delightful to mountain bike on, and it was a perfect running track for my kelpie, Coffee Girl. Then it started dying step-by-step. First it devolved from a two track to a single track; then it became a gnarly hiking trail; finally it turned into a game trail with fallen logs every few feet. My gosh, does it ever get tiresome to lift a heavy

Rapture on a Ridgeline, II

Arizona's White Mountains, Springerville. Actually it seems less like mountains around here than high lava-based plateaus with occasional volcanic knolls. Some of these were connected by a grassy ridgeline, and you know how I get with ridgelines and saddles. But first... Since there are new readers on this blog lately, some explanation should be offered to them as to why I don't show them scenic postcard after postcard of all the photo cliches of the West: Monument Valley, red arches in Utah, snow-capped peaks in the Rockies, etc.  The short answer is that I see full time RVing as a profession or occupation, not as a short term vacation. If you are looking for scenery-based escapism, you have arrived at the wrong blog. Let's make the case for appreciating these high grassy plateaus, knolls, and ridgelines by looking back to something I wrote earlier when visiting the San Luis Valley in Colorado. Then, after the second horizontal line, I'll return

Boonie Meets Bambi

Springerville, AZ. On a sunset walk one night, Coffee Girl and I crossed a large pasture at 9200 feet. Dark forests lined the edge of it. At that edge she went looking for trouble, and you know what dogs usually find when they go looking for trouble... Something was behind the downed dead log. It made a horrendous sound and started moving. Try as I might, no words adequately describe that sound. The creature stood up, as Coffee Girl ran circles around it, and barked her head off. After panicking for a couple seconds I finally got a view of the monster: But where was Momma? Was she just off looking for food while "Bambi" stayed behind and hid next to a log? Or was Bambi a young orphan and about to starve to death or, if she was lucky, get eaten by a predator? OK I might as well admit that I felt an urge to bring Bambi food and water, except that I had no idea of what kind of food would be accepted. But more importantly Bambi is wildlife, not a pet. The predator or sca

The End of a Political Era

Since being listed on recently (due to no effort of mine) this blog has many new readers. I probably owe it to them to tell them about this blog so they don't waste their time. This is not one more RV blog that discusses where the blogger is today, whether he got the oil changed at Walmart, or whether RV toilet paper should be one ply or two. Nor am I interested in selling you solar panels, LED lights, etc. Presumably you don't need me to tell you that there is 'breathtakingly beautiful' scenery in XYZ national park. I don't want more readers -- I want better readers and commenters. So then, let's put our newbie readers through a sink-or-swim test by depriving them of the travel escapism and eye candy that they expect. _______________________________________ Anyone who reads a lot of editorials and opinion on the internet must feel frustrated much of the time. So it is a pleasure to announce a rare victory: an editorial that is worth rehash

Update: How to Enjoy a Windy Day

Consider for a moment how much boondocking can enhance the RV camping experience, compared to the sterile non-adventure of suburb-imitating RV parks. Likewise, any kind of non-motorized activity can enhance your enjoyment of the outdoors. It makes sense to combine these two things -- boondocking and exercise  -- and hope that 'the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.' Yet look at how rare this combination is in mainstream RV culture, with its attitude of "windshield tourism" and "channel surfing with gasoline." Do they really think the RV Lifestyle is 365 days a year of scenery vacationing? When I got back on the road last August I claimed to be looking for ways to be a better camper. This wasn't just an empty platitude. Perhaps I have now found my main project/mission/cause: to build a loose caravan of RV boondockers-who-exercise. If not me, well, then somebody needs to do it. The goal is a three-way combination of group camping + boo

Smoky Sunrise on a Mountaintop

  Springerville, AZ. Ahh, there's nothing like your RV camper facing the sunrise, especially when you're looking into the smoke of the Whitewater-Baldy fire. (This photo has been moved to my "sky,weather" photo album.)

Using a Fellow Camper as a Minesweeper

Springerville AZ. My fellow camper and I were finding so many RV boondocking sites that it was almost embarrassing. We were having so much fun with the drive that we climbed above the ponderosa pine and hit cheerful aspen and (ugly) spruce/fir.  Large yellow/black butterflies made use of clumps of pale blue/purple flowers. (Moved to my animals Picasa photo album.) Perhaps my fellow camper was surprised that cynical ol' Boonie would stop for 20 minutes just to photograph butterflies and flowers.   Is it a Western Tiger swallowtail alighting on a columbine? I wish somebody would correct me. I do have a desire to know the names of things that I encounter at the moment of observation and inspiration, but you can act on this impulse only if you have a field guide, or these days, some kind of gadget and app. By the time you get home the impulse disappears. We chose a patch of ponderosa forest (8500 feet) that belied my previous assertion that timber harvesting was a thin