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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 fellow RVers at excellent locations. It was encouraging to see RVers team up. Even more, it was nice to see that less-than-perfect matchups can still be fun. (They were all hikers. I was the only mountain biker.)

When I got back into solo mode I felt a certain relief, but not for the sake of camping alone. All that hiking with the groups reminded me of how advantageous mountain biking is: up you go!, right from your dispersed campsite. You "compress" gravity like it was some giant spring. Go ahead and give it everything ya got, because at the top you can release the energy stored up in that spring. You have been looking forward to it all the way up; now you get to coast back down to camp. I can't imagine a rhythm that could be more satisfying than that. (In contrast hikers seldom look forward to the descents.)

This post isn't trying to belittle hiking or the stunning still-photography that it lends itself to. I love them both. But it's good to guard against the 'medium is the message' syndrome. Combine these things with a two-dimensional computer screen (on the blogosphere) and you have a powerful and seductive combination. Almost too seductive. It can distract the reader from the important fact that most of the beauty and pleasure of outdoor experience is kinetic rather than static.

Therefore I'd like to convince hiking RVers to give mountain biking a second look. Imagine yourself at a mountain pass, a saddle. In one direction you see a burro, slowly clippity-clopping down a hot and stony trail, its back bent under a heavily-loaded basket. In the other direction you see something from the beginning of the movie, SeaBiscuit: a herd of horses galloping gloriously through Western ranch country, with the mountains as the visual backdrop.


XXXXX said…
It sounds good when you describe it. Sure fits like a glove for you. As for myself, hiking is the thing.
I loved my bike as a kid though. I remember pumpiing uphill sometimes with great difficulty. The bigger the challenge, the bigger the reward. It signaled a defeat to have to get off the bike and walk it up so I pushed with all my might to stay on it. If I could do so, the descent was so much sweeter. And, of course, no hands was sweet as well, and the ability to control direction with my body.
Mmmm......yes. That is a fond memory.
Anonymous said…
I'd love to be able to mountain bike, but my bad back precludes it. Darn it. Hiking and walking makes my back stronger and pain-free, thankfully, so at least I can enjoy that.

Enjoy what you can, when you can.
Tesaje said…
Both have their advantages and disadvantages. It isn't an either or choice. I loved careening down a mountain after earning the crest having to use every inch of skill I had to ride a bike. But there are places of great beauty that can be seen only on foot.
Tesaje, I agree with the pros and cons. The beauty of these two sports is that they complement each other, regarding terrain, steepness, openness of the land, and temperature. I love switching back and forth depending on what will work best here and now.

But I think RVers appreciate and understand the advantages of hiking better. Half of them have bicycles bungied to the back of the rig, but they seldom use it. Why is that?

Although I love both sports, I have found that mountain biking works better for the full time lifestyle when dispersed camping.

Hiking tends to mean no internet, anti-dog rules, anti-dispersed camping rules, fees, too many trees and bugs.

But hiking's greatest problem is the cost of getting in a motor vehicle and driving to the trailhead.
Anonymous said…

Here is a little fun on word play from one of your posts:

My version:
The Cradle of Western Civilization?
Admit it. As sick as it sounds, you feel a certain admiration for the Gov employees: living for today, with no concern for tomorrow; throwing a big party with borrowed money; lying to the American people (oh boo-hoo); and being guilt-free about it all. Ahh dear, that is the difference between a Gov employee and an up-tight tax payer.

Strictly speaking, the creditor who lends money like his SS to an unfit debtor deserves more condemnation than the debtor, who just wants to have a good time. And the creditors are ordinary american in up-tight economy.

What's the worst that can happen? If they default, their gov will still survive -- ask Argentina.

Boonie said:
The Cradle of Western Civilization?
Admit it. As sick as it sounds, you feel a certain admiration for the Greeks: living for today, with no concern for tomorrow; throwing a big party with borrowed money; lying to the European Union (oh boo-hoo); and being guilt-free about it all. Ahh dear, that is the difference between a Mediterranean and an up-tight Northern European.

Strictly speaking, the creditor who lends money to an unfit debtor deserves more condemnation than the debtor, who just wants to have a good time. And the creditors are big banks in up-tight Germany.

What's the worst that can happen? If Greece defaults, it will still survive -- ask Argentina.

Seeing your words in a slightly different context does give me a certain amount of enjoyment.
Anonymous, I've noticed a lot of your comments arriving in my in-box for older posts. That's good.

But I hate to see your comments not being noticed by other readers. If you wish, keep leaving the comments in the most recent post, as you did today, so they DO get noticed.

Just so you know: I never ding a comment just because somebody disagrees with me. I do sometimes ding ad-hominem comments, since I think blogs should be ideas and information, not personalities.
Anonymous said…

I'll try to add them to the most recent column, I was just thinking it would add more context when someone reads the older posts, from the begining to the current date. After all it does take some time to get the hang of your blogger style, if I may say so.

Once I catch up with the current year, then i'll be more in the swing of things.
Jim and Gayle said…
Our last 3 boondocking spots have been places where we could just walk from our site, either on trails or forest service roads, for as many miles as we cared to.
Although we did it for many years, as we've gotten older we just aren't comfortable mountain biking anymore. To each his own.
Like Ted said in his comment:
"Enjoy what you can, when you can."
John V said…
We do prefer hiking to mountain biking. It seems like we miss too much scenery when biking. Plus, the trails that are best for hiking and impossible for biking always seem like the most fun. But I have to agree, coming down a hill on a bike is much more fun than walking down! If we can ever fit our 30' 5th wheel into one of your boondocking spots, we'll compare notes. :-)
Anonymous said…

In Ref: to your blog Feb 25 2012 Speeding tickets

Its actually much much worse. Let me illustrate ....lets say you got a simple $2 parking ticket in 1954 in Bum Chuck Mississippi and now in 2012 some clerk enters that crusty faded ticket into the national computer system. "may not even be yours" If you don't pay the ticket you become a fugitive from the law. To be honest Mississippi will not pay for you to get extradited from Arizona over $2 "BUT" as you are now a fugitive from the law, Social Security is required to suspend your monthly payment as of 2000 the gov can no longer pay assistance to fugitives from justice. You are now forced to clear the matter with Mississippi over your $2 ticket , must show up in their court and after approx. 2-3 months SS will restart you payments. AND NO THEY WILL NOT pay you the 3 months you lost.

Currently there are 120,000+ Seniors who are having their SS cut or reduced to $750 per month because they defaulted or most likely co signed for college loans on which their children defaulted.

Calif just passed a new law last 2 months that allows the DMV to suspend your drivers license if you own more than a certain amount in unpaid state taxes. Currently that figure is $50k but Im sure it will get down to $1,000 sooner rater than latter. The federal Gov already has it on the books they can suspend or cancel your passport if you own over a certain amount in taxes.

Now the guy who screws then for $10 million will I'm sure have no problem buying an Irish passport for $ Government works best for the little people.

God Bless Technology & George Orwell 1987
Anonymous said…

About 1 year you stated that if Apple were to go "POOF!" "Verses EXON" in your opinion it would not effect very many people, to which I had replied that about 100 million buy their junk, 800,000 Chinese & 48,000 US work for Apple......

You may also want to read this story in the news today that states that Apple may be responsible for .5% of GDP so in fairness I want to withdraw my suggestion to allow you the power to go "POOF!"

Its funny how a little time can change the prospective by about 3,600 degrees
Good afternoon Professor Boonie

While scanning your interesting & colorful bolg posts I noticed that in a past life you completed a tour of duty in shit hole suburbia somewhere between ant hill # 1 and ant hill # 2. Since you have railed about everything from a-z including Ho's to masturbation etc ..., etc..., I may have missed your verbal ejaculations about the evils of SLUMLORDS and their detriment to the real estate market or the american economy ? If you could share your deep thinking on that subject I would be sincerely grateful.