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Showing posts from September, 2012

Scenery as an Excuse to Go There

As long as I'm coming clean on past transgressions, I might as well extend the streak. Today I'll admit that pretty scenery does actually serve a constructive purpose, although it's not the one that people usually advertise. Scenery serves as an excuse to go somewhere, and it's the going that actually matters, not the silly scenery itself . For instance you are probably aware that there is some postcard scenery near Abiquiu, NM. The movie, City Slickers , was shot near here; and before that, what's-her-name did a lot of painting here, with the topography sometimes serving as inspiration.  So I took off on a mountain bike ride along the cliff edge. How nice that the road followed the edge for a couple miles! When the main road finally left the cliff, I tried to return to it by opting for smaller and smaller roads. Eventually there was no road at all, except for the faintest linear vacuity perhaps left from some firewood cutting long ago. There was also more sky

Livestock Security Services in New Mexico's "Basque" Country

Abiquiu, NM. On a day of ooze and muck, it is time that I came clean. Much as I love to debunk four-wheel-drive vehicles and brag about how well my rear-wheel-drive van pulls the trailer through the mountains, I sing a different tune when the dirt roads become wet. When I learn there is clay in the road, the tune stops altogether. Fortunately a Forest Service guy gave me fair warning. He also explained why these high ridges north of Abiquiu are so attractive: they burned 100 years ago and the trees haven't been able to get reestablished, resulting in a balanced combination of pastures and forests. It never gets better than this. I was experiencing a great success primarily due to telling the internet where to go. This allowed me to expand, almost euphorically, into new ground. Nothing makes western North America get BIGGER than kissing off the internet. So I'm exploring the northern counties of New Mexico contained in the highway loops formed by US-285 on the east, US

Eric Margolis Rocks!

Every now and then I read an editorial that makes me want to jump up and cheer. I saw one such piece by Eric Margolis today , "Fury at the American Raj." Recently Mish Shedlock made an astute comment on why Romney will lose the election: the GOP doesn't have enough appeal to independents, who hate Perma-War and the huge waste of national resources on "defense", which really means global empire of course. In fact the Republican party today stands for little else other than war against every country in the Mideast that hates Israel and has oil or other resources. It wasn't so long ago that foreign policy was seen as a strength of the Republican party. That was obliterated by George W. Bush and his neocon advisers. Rather than repudiate this recent perversion, Romney has embraced it.  What geniuses the Republicans are! Many Americans of all political stripes would love to see Wall Street bankers go to jail or at least get a firm smack-down. And who do the

My Favorite Mountains on the Way South

Southwest of Monte Vista CO, national forest, over 9000 feet. The aspen were at their peak blaze. I enjoyed it for -- forgive me -- a few seconds, and then looked for more interesting things to think about. After slamming one of the holiest cliches of the tourism industry, I should propose an alternative. I'll do so shortly. Seriously, why do people waste time and money to go to look at yellow aspens? Sure, bright yellow is a fun color, but you could stay at home, close your eyes, and imagine the color yellow. It would be just as vivid. If your imagination needs help you could buy a blue-ray DVD travelogue put out by National Geographic, say, "America's Top Ten Fall Color Road Tours." Don't underestimate how good the modern big screen televisions have become. If you are still not satisfied because your retinas haven't yet registered all that they are physiologically capable of, then go to menu-setup and blast the contrast or saturation on the television scr

A Professional Attitude Toward Autumn Migration looks like thermal collapse in a couple days in southern Colorado. Here I go again. After 15 years of full time RVing there is still a nervous drama to. I still feel anxiety about the fall migration, so much so in fact that it's a bit embarrassing. Or is it? Although I can't really explain it, it seems that I must be doing something right if I still have strong feelings about the migration, after all these years.  But why do I only get emotional about the autumn migration, and not the spring migration? You'd think that it would be symmetric. But there is something that I can explain: it is important to resist hitch-itch in migrating too far south too fast. It's not that the warmer desert locations aren't appealing. I like them well enough. But in migrating south, imagine pouring yourself and your rig into a conical funnel whose downstream tip is at Yuma, AZ. As you proceed "downstream", North America keeps shrinking. Your options become fe

The Boy Who Cried "Sheep"

Del Norte, CO. Considering what public land management has become these days, you have to envy the crony capitalist who gets the government contract for signage. This was the first time I ever saw a sign like this. A list of Do-s and Don'ts is on the bottom, too small to read in the photo. So we were cautious on our first mountain bike ride on the open range out here. But there was no sign of sheep or "livestock protection" dogs. Perhaps it's the wrong time of year. How grand it would be to run across a Basque shepherd and learn a little about the grazing racket. (So far, I'm only familiar with grazing at Costco on "open range Saturdays.") Better yet, I'd like to ride over a ridge, look across a sagebrush flat to a ridge on the other side, and see a white Great Pyrenees dog protecting his charge against the depredations of coyote, wolf, and cougar.

The "Hustler" in Sidewinder Canyon

"Tawniness" is the perfect camouflage on BLM land, and yet the beast's tawny color was so bright in the morning light that I could see him more than a half mile away. The bright tawniness doesn't come through in the photograph, but let's hope the reader won't claim that he can't see the mountain lion in the photograph: its ears erect and alert, waiting and warming in the morning sun, perching on a ridge, ready to leap down on its unsuspecting prey and grab its neck. Soon this mountain biker would be on the trail right in front of nature's most magnificent predator, and below him.    But as it turned out, the morning was a little less disastrous than all of that. Nature's most magnificent predator turned out to be a broken tree, with prongs that made it look like ears. I claimed to be disappointed. How silly! This is what happens when you read Jack London's White Fang the night before an outing. Early in White Fang's puppyhood h

Must a Dispersed Camper be a Hermit?

Saguache/Del Norte, CO. In the upper left quadrant of this photo you can see a white speck. It is my van and travel trailer, camping alone with excellent Verizon service. The photo was taken from one of the dirt roads/two tracks that make for excellent mountain biking in the public lands near Saguache. Why should I camp alone, instead of sharing it with other campers that I have something in common with? I don't expect them to be mountain bikers, of course. Most people can be interesting about some topic or activity.  In fact I rolled into a parking area in a special recreation site near Del Norte CO, and quickly told the camper who was already there not to worry about having his little sanctuary invaded, because I just wanted his opinion on any special dispersed camping restrictions there. I did end up camping next to them and it was great. They had a pickup camper that pulled a small utility trailer. When he told me that he even helped a buddy turn a utility cargo trailer

Avoiding 'the Medium is the Message' Outdoors

What's this? So early in September and only at 10,000 feet? Oh dear. Soon the travel blogs will be falling all over themselves trying to bury the readers/viewers with fall colors. Their Photoshop software will be burning holes in the computer's LED screen. Consider getting a pair of safety goggles. But that's not really a complaint. I was delighted to run into these aspens so early. Of course most of the fun wasn't coming from the 'blazing golds', but from the under-rated sport of mountain-bike-based saddlebagging -- that is, bagging saddles, mountain passes. It takes a close look to spot daylight through the trees on the road ahead, and sense that you're nearing the top. That happened when the yellow aspens surprised me. What a treat! The world suddenly doubles at a saddle. There you get the Big Picture, as you stare Janus-faced at the Atlantic and Pacific watersheds of North America. This summer I had two opportunities to camp and hike with

Frustrations in Buying a New Rig

Just think, my current rig (Ford Econoline van pulling a 21 nominal foot travel trailer) has given me shelter (and massive amounts of storage) 365 days per year for 15 years and for 200,000 miles. The combined cost was $26,000. I would say that I got my money's worth. Call it beginner's luck: I bought these units despite never having slept in an RV before, and despite doing very little homework. But their respective careers are winding down. Now that I'm only a year-and-a-half away from robbing the piggy bank (IRA withdrawals), it's time to knock the ball out of the park when buying new rigs. And this gives me a chance to play RV Wannabee, instead of RV know-it-all. This time around, homework will be done; I demand significant improvement from myself. Once again I will be looking for a low cost rig intended for dispersed camping near the desert-grassland/forest interface . This is usually where you can still get an internet signal, have the most variety in the scen