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Showing posts from May, 2013

Lord of the Flies

WARNING! Animals were harmed in the making of this post.

At my late dispersed campsite, there were so few bugs that I could have almost left the screen door open. It almost seemed too good to be true. And you know what they say about...

Moving over to Alpine, AZ, I went out searching for a dispersed campsite and good places to mountain bike, helped by Jim & Gayle's advice.  Much to my surprise I stumbled upon a place where the Mogollon Rim fell precipitously into a canyon. I say 'stumbled' because I was NOT out there looking for scenery -- I was looking for a side road to camp on. The long-suffering reader knows that I'm going to argue that 90% of this pleasure wasn't really from the scenery per se, but rather, from the surprise.

How strange that some folks want to be told -- exactly -- where to camp, as if finding it isn't half the fun. Despite the lucky break with the scenery, there was no place to camp. So I went back into the travel trailer for a second.


"Top Gun" at Cliff's Edge

Luna, NM. If you ever spend time reading product reviews or discussion forums on digital cameras, well, I hope you get more out of them than I do. It's far easier to just say that the "best" camera is the one that gets taken -- every time.

Recently I was chewing myself out for forgetting my camera on the short dog-walk when Coffee Girl treed the coatimundi, the first I've ever seen. It's so easy to do so because short walks don't seem to "count." 

Chastened by self-nagging, I went for a late afternoon dog-walk, this time with my camera. Out the RV door we went, walking up the short distance to the cliff's edge.

Although I could camp -- and in fact have camped -- right at the cliff-line for a dramatic view, experience has shown it best to camp a short distance away. This is a statement that many optical sybarites would never buy. I can think of one Lazy Daze motorhomer who would back his living room and IMAX window right up to -- or even hang over -…

Beating the Dry Season in the Southwest

Here we go again: Dry Heat, enervating sunshine, and relentless blue skies. As a veteran of the Southwest I assure you that the trick is to glory in noble suffering. [*] In five weeks, the monsoons start. And besides, there aren't even any wildfires raging right now.

 Until then, we must use a little horse sense with the southwestern sun...

Many animal species use horse sense about the sun. Dogs are crepusculent at sunrise and sunset, and somnolent in mid-day.

Mexicans and other cultures of hot climates have a lot of sense. But homo sapiens (var. gringo) isn't so good at the game sometimes, especially when vanity about a suntan is involved. Now don't take this as a personal insult. Mal-adaptation to the sun is simply part of our Northern European and Protestant DNA. But we're not completely foolish either...

Years ago I imitated other gringos in wearing sandals during the Dry Heat. Big mistake. My heels would crack and bleed. I tried every possible unguent. None did much …

Verizon Creates a New Camping Mecca

I don't talk about specific dispersed campsite locations and resent it when other people do. Why this should be so might be the subject of a later post. Today I want to tell you about a large area of dispersed camping that is now attractive, thanks to it finally getting Verizon cell coverage. How many times does a huge block of high quality public land open up? Actually it isn't all that often that Verizon adds a whole new tower in a rural area. This is news, folks.

For years it has been a pleasant drive through southwestern New Mexico, going from Silver City to Springerville AZ on US-180. There were many dirt roads heading off into interesting public lands, but I seldom stopped for long, because there was no Verizon cellphone/internet coverage. What a pity.

This year I was delighted to pick up a strong signal near Glenwood, NM. I pulled over to scan the horizon for a new tower. The only one visible was on a tall mountain three miles west of Glenwood. The tower wasn't new; p…

RV Camping is a Game of Inches

...positive inches, when you're lucky. I've done a lot of back-and-forth about whether my next travel trailer should be a converted cargo trailer 6 foot or 7 foot wide. When we discussed trailer size a few months back, didn't an experienced RV camper say that width doesn't matter much? He wasn't necessarily wrong, of course. It all depends on your camping style. If you spend a lot of time camping in ponderosa forests, where trees are far enough apart to suck you in, width does matter.

But in this case, I was using a flank attack (where width mattered) rather than a direct frontal assault, where ground clearance was even trickier. It's an example of how logically-distinct design criteria blur together in the real world.

At any rate, the campsite (near Luna, NM) was worth it.

Strange Animal Urges

Silver City, NM. People who don't walk or mountain bike with dogs might not realize that they can be an asset in finding wildlife. They might think the dog would just chase off the wildlife or scare them away. But it's easy to forget the power of a canine's olfactory. They know something is up, when the human is oblivious.

Yesterday Coffee Girl, my kelpie, took off like a maniac. Soon I heard her barking in an uncharacteristic style. Actually that's a misnomer. Dogs bark in different styles for different prey. I was alarmed by this particular bark, so I ran over to her. 

She had treed something. She had her front paws on a tall pinyon pine. (This area is full of the tallest pinyons I've ever seen.) She looked rather triumphant about it.

I had to look carefully, but there it finally was: a coatimundi, the first I've ever seen. Interesting creatures.


Another strange thing happened yesterday. The blog's hit-count tripled for…

How a Mountain Biker can Fix a Broken Heart

When the mountain bike frame cracked a couple days ago, I was resigned to the worst: a new frame or maybe even a new bike. It is too bad that the industry has gone to 5-year frame warranties.

Annie, of Twin Sisters bicycle shop in Silver City NM, surprised me when she mentioned a local guy who has done TIG (tungsten inert gas) welding of aluminum bicycle frames. Here is the happy outcome:

His price was ridiculously low. Since the bicycle shop deprived itself of selling a new frame (or even a new bicycle) by providing this information, I went back and gave her a generous "finder's fee," which surprised and pleased her.

A commenter, Brian, recommended welding a triangular gusset at the broken joint. I agree with him. In this case the welder chose not to do that because he thought he'd get too close to the carbon-fiber suspension parts (the little black swing arm, in the photo). Instead, he chose to build up the thickness of the TIG weld. He also sliced completely through …

Mountain Bikes and the School of Hard Knocks

It wouldn't be so bad -- really -- to come home one day and find that your wife ran off with an itinerant revival preacher, that your pickup truck was towed and impounded, and that your dawg was run over. At least they'd write a country/western sawng about you.

But who is going to give any sympathy to a mountain biker with a broken heart and a cracked frame? It cracked some time last week, just fore of the seat post/top tube weld.

Sigh. With a little bit of analysis I think I know who the culprit is. I had ridden with a rear rack that was cantilevered off of the seat post, because you can't mount a standard rack on a full suspension bike, which bends after all.

The rack warns people to put no more than 25 pounds on it. I put on less than half that. With 20/20 hindsight I suspect that their number was pulled out of thin air (or the next most imaginary source, computer modelling.) It would be too expensive for the rack manufacturer to do real-world, destructive testing on all …

Mentors, Proteges, and the Sociological Spreadsheet

Silver City, NM. During the Vietnam War protestera, the educational establishment sprouted new fads, including the one that the students should decide which subjects get studied and which don't. Arelatively well-known educator countered at the time that if a teacher has spent decades of his adult life at his job and has learned nothing more than inexperienced children, then that teacher has wasted his life. I agree with that argument and think that it applies just as well to professional travelers and full-time RVers.

Ahh but there is a problem. None of us really likes to listen to free advice from anybody. The minute you start giving advice you are presuming a type of superiority over other people. This is the emotional appeal of nominating yourself as "world improver" and social reformer, a la Ralph Nader or Mayor Bloomberg.

Onto these two counter-currents we can add a third: as we age we might feel a concern for our "legacy." We are forced to acknowledge how p…