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Showing posts from March, 2013

Part 2: Truly Appreciating Wildflowers

I n fact I l aughed when she rolled into camp . All that "mighty" thinking and w orrying, and yet I had overlooked the obvious. One way or another a woman should help to in tensify the experience of the best wildflower season in years. And that was the mission.   At first 'woman and flower' sounds like an o ld-fashio ned cliche for poets and songwriters . And it is , but only for society in general. It's a good gue ss that men, who retired early and became full-time travelers, did so because they walked away from women rel atively early in life. T herefore for us, the 'woman and flower' connection is not a cliche, but in fact , is radical and naughty.  The diabolical scheme was simple enough: I would take her along on the walk into the Florida mountains to enjoy the best wildflower season in years, and some how something might happen to take things way beyond the tourist level.  It's one thing to say that you really want something to s

Turning Desert Wildflower Ennui to Advantage

For many people in many places, Spring means rain and flowers. But in the American Southwest a wet winter -- normally the secondary rainy season -- produces wildflowers only at the lower altitudes, that is, the desert floor. Really great shows don't occur every year. Fortunately there was enough rain this winter to produce a good show.  If you are seeing the wildflower display for the first time, you have no choice but to be wowed. I agree with all the ecstatic praise about spring wildflowers in the desert. But please remember that this blog targets experienced travelers, a group that the touris m industry (and virtually all RV blogs) could not care less about. It is natural for the magic to wear off once you've seen a couple good springs. Then what? Do you resign yourself to a lukewarm experience? Some people would prefer to deny that this happens, o ffer you a pe p talk full of half-truths, and then attribute their attitude to "positive thinking." But it is mo

Part 6: Building Your Own "Wildlife Museum"

First day's "growth." Whether or not April really is the cruelest month, Spring ( primavera ) is the most difficult season to appreciate on a non-trite level. The timeless cycle of the seasons and the old principle of new growth are hard to find new expressions for, or at least, fresh embodiments of. But if we play defeatist and accept hack neyed celebrations of spring -- such as postcards of desert wildflowers or Hallmark card platitudes about Renewal -- we'll end up with a vague, but troubling, sense of opportunity lost.  The Tucson area, my usual haunt in March, is a fortunate place to be in Spring if you are looking to really work on this project of appreciating Spring. Normally I like to start writing from concrete experiences and then migrate to the Big Picture. Today is an exception. What a heartbreaker of a result! A reminder to leave your camera default in spot focus instead of center-weighted. Vermilion flycatcher south of Tucson. Is it possible th

Confusing Geographical Freedom with Lifestyle Flexibility

Wh en a meme on the internet coasts along, year a fter ye ar, without ever being challenged or tested, it is only natural for it to get flabby and to load up with blarney. So take the following post in the spirit of sportive iconoclasm. It's not aimed to hurt t he feelings of any individual. There is a persistent meme out there in the travel blogosphere that needs to be debunked and de-gla morized for no other reason than it could misl ead RV wannabees and newbies. I'm referring to the "go anywhere, camp anywhere for free" meme. It is over-rated.  It is usually an advertisement for van-camping on a street or in a parking lot, casi no, or Walmart . (I s hould probably add that I like vans, have owned one for the last 16 years, and might be buying another one next year, for pulling a small travel trailer.) A small rig might allow you to park overnight on more streets and parking lots -- without being booted out -- than larger rigs. But so what?! It won't mea

Survey Markers of the Seasons

Expect to see some visually unspectacular photographs the next few days. I'm back at a seasonal haunt, dispersed camping in the Green Valley, AZ area. There are several landmarks around here, such as Elephant Head... ...that I look forward to seeing. They are certainly helpful for navigational purposes. But they are better yet as fiducial points of time. There is always some cognitive dissonance in making this switch from space to time. Tomorrow morning, 'time' will get turned back into 'space.' It's really nice coming back to some of the same places at the same time of year. These landmarks become old friends who are eager to greet you. For the first time in a long time I actually wish one of my gadgets would wear out prematurely, so I can replace it with a new one. This place would be a good fit with the sweep panorama cameras made by Sony. On the ride today, Coffee Girl and I revisited a potential campsite alongside a large arroyo, washing

Shopping for a Transportation Machine

Oh sure, when you go shopping for a truck or van and a trailer, there are plenty of things that could discourage you. But w ith some effort you can see them as grimly humorous. Or you could put on your optimist-hat and say, with some irony, that the shopping experience confirms that Dr. Pangloss (aka, Leibniz) was right: we really do live in the best of all possible worlds. I said 'ironic' because the average product made by the vehicle industry is probably better than what the average customer deserves. Most customers only care about the vehicle or RV as a fashion statement, a sex object, or a status symbol. Although they buy -- or rather, they borrow -- on that basis, they later come to regret on the basis of engineering trade-offs, those sober and grown-up issues that would be too boring or nerdish to consider at the point of sale. These have been my prejudices for years, and they were confirmed by a day of shopping for a new trailer and van or pickup in Tucson. My fi

Different Metaphors for Travelers (update)

Tucson, AZ. When a full-time traveler pulls into town, a ritual ensues. Much of it is just shopping and errands. But more importantly, the traveler begins once again to reconstruct a lifestyle, always hoping to improve on the last place. Metaphor #1. For some reason I never saw the similarity of this reconstruction to something I was "brainwashed" with, as a child. My father, a teacher, would go down to the woodshop and collect sets of four or eight identical pieces of wood, sometimes blocks, sometimes round columns or other shapes. He would sand them off nicely for his two sons. Those were our toys and we ended up with a large box of them. We didn't have many plastic commercial toys or gadgets.  Hour after hour, day after day, my brother and I would build skyscrapers out of these wooden blocks. When the skyscraper reached as high we could reach, we would admire it for 3 seconds, pull a block out of the lower corner, and then laugh with boyish delight at the collaps

Playing King of the Mountain

Some time ago I wrote about how over-rated the "happiness software" industry is, and how human happiness is not that much different from animal happiness, because both are primarily hardware. Readers didn't buy it . Very well then. How do they explain the little poodle in the photo? Has he just downloaded an upgrade to some trendy happiness-software? Could the operating system be tween those fuzzy ears even handle sophisticated software? Or maybe he has just read a special doggie version of Norma n Vincent Peale or the latest and greatest self-help guru ? A man will be happy under pretty much the same conditions that a dog will be: t he dog-pack 's wild romp is similar enough to a human tr ibe's hunting trip. The best proof of this is to watch a rampaging horde of bicyclists, all feeding off each others energy. Consider my bicycling club's recurring game of "king of the mountain." In the Yuma area there is only one real hill, the mou