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Showing posts from September, 2013

Unusual Camping Neighbor

Durango, CO. The reader might have noticed that I have been on a horse kick lately. A cynic would say that this is just a temporary romantic escapist fantasy by somebody who doesn't know what he is talking about. At any rate, it is time to recall the old saying about, 'be careful what you wish for.' When my kelpie and I came home the other day we found the area taken over by huge horse trailers and their occupants. Some kind of event/competition was taking place nearby. That was good news.  What wasn't such great news was that I couldn't really go inside my trailer. The first thing I thought about was what a horseman told me some time ago: "There is such a thing as horse sense, but it's not necessarily the horse that's got it." That would be a pretty tight fit for me and the dog between the action end of the horse and the door. Since I know nothing of the do's and don'ts around horses, it seemed like a good idea to find the hors

Top-Down Versus Bottom-Up Thinking

It's a challenge to think about choosing a motor vehicle that will keep you happy for years, especially for a full time RVer who pulls a trailer. Last post I inserted a quote from Tocqueville about a historian needing to flip back and forth between top-down and bottom-up thinking.  I ran across another illustration of this same principle, this time in the milieu of movie-making. The director's job is to make sure the actor understands his character's situation and motivation. But too much talk of that type is not helpful. For instance, in "The Count of Monte Cristo" (circa 2000), director Kevin Reynolds talks about this issue, in his commentary track: I've been fortunate. I haven't had too many actors that are like that. The main thing I try to do if they start wanting to talk about [a scene] in great generalities is to cut the conversation off.  I say, "We've gotta roll." And I'll give them a specific note. Somehow they'll pro

Part II, A Retro-grouch Goes Pickup Truck Shopping

Choosing a motor vehicle is a big part of most people's lives. This is even more true for RVers who tow trailers. But there's a lot more to this decision than picayune "practical" details, which could drown the writer and the reader if they didn't spend some time looking at the big picture. Conversely, if all we did was float along in the clouds of platitudes, hackneyed political theories, and socioeconomic statistics, the situation would become mind-numbing and sterile. What we need to do is slosh back and forth between the bottoms-up and the top-down approaches. By luck I happened upon a juicy and profound quote by Tocqueville -- yes, Alexis de Tocqueville of "Democracy in America" fame. (I only recommend volume 2.)  But the quote was from another book of his, "The Recollections of Alexis de Tocqueville," written a couple years after the communistic (and aborted) revolution of 1848, which he experienced first-hand in Paris. (The remainder

The Scottish Highlands of Colorado

It's easy to miss opportunities in Colorado because it is just too easy to be sucked into the stereotypical postcards, such as an alpine lake at the foot of mountains. Such things are nice of course, but when you've seen 'em, you've seen 'em. To enjoy landscapes for any length of time you need to branch out into new directions -- something that takes more imagination on your part.  Besides simple laziness, a middle-class traveler has the additional problem that his entire mindset is geared towards being a mass-consumer; and scenery tourism is just one more form of bar-coded  "consumption" to him. Most people, like me, also need to fight against a complacent surrender to "the medium is the message."  The three-dimensional attractions of the desert (or grasslands or ridgey hills) do not show up so well in a two-dimensional medium like photography. The reward for this kind of cantankerous independence is a greater appreciation for what is on

Appreciation of Anything Lies Mostly in its Context

Readers should never trust a blogger who might be on a drug trip. I'm afraid that I was. Normally a really steep mountain bike ride reaches a point where your traction fails before your aerobic capability does. This ride (Saguache, CO) was peculiar in offering such good traction that I could keep going until 'the snot comes out your eyeballs,' as a cycling friend once put it. Hence the psychotropic endorphin drug trip. Believe it or not, the whole way up (to a radio tower of course) I was rhapsodizing how 'metal detectors are the perfect outdoor sport.' This is not facetious, but it seems like it would be. Metal detectors -- those things that geezers buy from television commercials scheduled at the low-rent-district of the programming day. These are the times when only retirees are watching television. You know, handy-dandy kitchen gadgets and cubic zirconia jewelry. It's really 'Mildred' who was in favor of buying the metal detector. She thought it wo

A "City Slickers" Style Cattle Drive?

Saguache, CO. What was that noise? Was somebody going through childbirth? Or calf-birth? My herding dog, Coffee Girl, was all excited by the commotion, and rightly so. A cattle drive makes an enormous amount of noise. Whoa baby, here they come now. About a hundred of them. They missed my dispersed campsite by 50 yards. But that's closer than it's ever been before. At first I thought it was a ranch family doing an old-fashioned Western cattle drive. But the "boy voices" that I thought I'd "herd", turned out to be adult cowgirls. Recently I had overheard a conversation between a local and a metropolitan tourist, in a coffee shop. When the tourist left, the local rolled his eyes and said to the other local, "You can always tell a tourist from the shorts." Feeling self-conscious about my tourist status, and not wanting to ruin the authenticity of the experience to the cattlemen, I hid behind rocks and bushes when photographing them. As

Finally, "Emergency" Becomes Problem Solving, III

Now that I had overcome the urge to panic and make things worse, it was time for the positive agenda to start: what action should I take to get my RV unstuck off that mountain? But not quite. There was still one more useless act to perform, but at least it did no harm . I started walking toward the half dozen ranchettes at the top of the mountain, known to me from a recent mountain bike ride.  It turned out to be too far on foot. So why wasn't I riding the mountain bike? Probably because, in a panicky mood, I thought it would take "too long" to put on my bicycle shorts, and I had to "do something" immediately! Then I walked off to the ranchettes without bothering to put an explanatory note on the van's windshield. (That would have taken "too long", you know.) This act of stupidity just made me more ashamed of blocking the road to any motorist coming up the mountain, behind me. Once again this other person, personifying Experience, said, "

Turning an "Emergency" into a Problem to be Solved, II

It was unchivalrous of the reader to leave poor Ol' Boonie on that mountain, in dire need of succor and rescue. Let's see if we can improve on the situation. It's easy to look back on any emergency with a humorous perspective, and even to imagine yourself heroic; nevertheless, at the time, the situation seemed serious and scary, and you probably acted in a bumbling manner. Spinning out on a dirt/gravel road near the top of a mountain isn't a true emergency in the sense of rolling backwards, jack-knifing, and demolishing your rig. But at first it felt like it. I had never experienced this before. It's so easy for the mind to run away with fearful possibilities and scenarios. To make matters worse, my van and trailer were blocking anybody else from going by. Oh how hateful these fat-ass rigs are! I decided right there and then that my next trailer will be a 6 foot wide cargo trailer, and the next tow vehicle will have the width of a Nissan Frontier or Xterra. It

Photographic Evidence of RV Blogosphere Blarney

We interrupt this story of embarrassing foolishness, and will leave the reader hanging in suspense about whether Ol' Boonie gets off the mountain in one piece. But we'll get back to it next time. Newbies to the RV blogosphere might be unaware how much silly nonsense they are about to encounter. Most of it is harmless as long as they take it with a grain of salt. Much of it is due to "boondockers", since RV park "campers" are so middle class/suburban/boring that they seldom blog. The blarniest of the blarney-ers are probably van campers, or worse yet, stealth van campers. The last thing the RV blogosphere needs is one more smelly fool bragging about how he hasn't paid to camp for years because he camps for free (next to railroad tracks) in cities or on public land. Or how he sleeps in the trunk of his Toyota Corolla, together with a week's supply of his own poopies in double garbage bags, and washes himself with Baby-Wipes by "rubbing a littl

Sometimes an "Emergency" Can Just Be a Problem to Solve

Most of us have had an automobile accident or two. I'll bet you've launched into a retelling of the accident, only to notice that your audience has started fidgeting, has lost eye contact with you, and then changed the subject. Why is that? Lack of empathy on their part? Poor listening skills, short attention spans? Or was the story teller too animated and self-absorbed? ____________________________________________________ In either case, I haven't had an accident; but I did manage to spin out and lose traction near the top of a mountain in the Gunnison CO area; it was the first time in 16 years, and with two wheel drive, that's not a bad record. Now the question is, can I write about it with more efficacy than is typical in "horror stories." This wasn't a reckless stunt. I had probed the slope the day before on my mountain bike, and had let out half the air in the rear (drive) tires of the tow vehicle. And there was good motivation: the most sceni

Stay Optimistic About the Syrian War

As you follow the operations of the Media, the Congress, and the Imperial Presidency, it is easy to get disgusted and ruin your day feeling sour about the future of what's left of the American Republic. Do yourself a favor and resist the doom and gloom. The faster the hateful amerikan Empire breaks down, the sooner something better might replace it. It took over 400 years for somebody to sack imperial Rome, starting the clock from the time of Augustus. For the sake of argument, let's say that the British Empire collapsed when Indian and Pakistan gained their independence. We could date the end of the French Empire in the early 1960s, when Algeria gained independence. In either case, it took these two empires 200 years to collapse. The amerikan Empire didn't start until the end of World War II, so it isn't even 70 years old. The good news is that it is making great progress in destroying itself. We should all wish It continued success. But it is easy to forget the