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Showing posts from August, 2013

William Blake Paddles Down a Dry Granite River

The word 'flow' in the title of the last post and a comment by uber-commenter, George, reminded me of something. Gee, if only the search box in blogger worked right. After some brute-force-searching I finally found that other post. 

This blog isn't a travelogue of Breaking News of the day. There is too much of that approach on the internet. The more minute-by-minute writing becomes, the more trivial it gets. So I rewrote this other experience, hoping that a couple "moments of truth" will come across more clearly to the reader.

The Little Poodle and I "paddled" upstream -- on the mountain bike -- along the popular Arkansas River, near "Byoona" Vista, CO. We saw one river rafting company after another. As luck would have it, we made it in time for their mass "descension" of the Arkansas River. (If balloonists at the Albuquerque festival can have a mass ascension, then rafters in Colorado ca…

Flowing Through Colorado's Best Land

Gunnison, CO. Why try to restrain myself? I am in my favorite land in Colorado. Good luck to those who enjoy static shapes and colors in the landscape. But I'll never understand them, for better or for worse.  For me, the outdoor experience is primarily about motion, be it transportation, cyclical processes and strife in the environment, or my own motion as an observer.  Even an activity as pokey as hiking can provide enjoyment if I vicariously experience the frantic running of a doggie hunter companion. 

I don't care how the motion is achieved; be it horse, bicycle, a raven playing with ridge-lift, human hang gliders, or kayakers. (As long as it doesn't require a yukkie engine.) Perhaps I should add a You Tube gadget to this blog and let you click on the opening-credits scene of William Wyler's "The Big Country" (1957).

And indeed it is a big country in the upper valley of the Gunnison River. It's a land that has a healthy balance of horizontal and vertica…

Famous "Go Anywhere" Traveler Caught in Boondocking Scandal

I think I had honored my guest, Glenn of, a week before he showed up in Gunnison, CO. The bolts that hold the travel trailer to its frame were loosening -- and credit that vital discovery to my friend Mark (Box Canyon Blog). Since one of those bolts was under the shower stall, it was necessary to remove the shower stall. But hell, why not just get rid of it! You can see I was already under the influence of Glenn's philosophical penumbra, despite him still being a couple hundred miles away.

What horrors would be revealed by removing the shower stall? Tools, money, or cellphones, that were lost years ago? A rodent nest and one pissed-off mama rodent baring her teeth at me? How about ghastly water damage and mildew?

Oddly enough I found nothing except the bolt that needed to be replaced. It was no small miracle that a plastic tub of just the right size was found at a well-known big box retail store. Then I rigged up a cloth shower curtain that hangs into the plastic tub.…

Travesty in a Tractor Supply Store

Why are they doing this to me right now? It's just going to get me going. They are building a Tractor Supply store in Gunnison, CO. I'm appalled.

Tractor Supply. I'm old enough to remember going to "town" with my farmer-grandfather to buy something at a Tractor Supply store in the Cornbelt of the Midwest, 50 years ago! And the store actually was a part of the agricultural sector of the economy back then. An old fogey's memory being as selective as it is, I remember that he needed to buy a new water pump for his tractor.

Today I will occasionally walk into a Tractor Supply just to wallow in disgust. They are nothing but boutiques that project a "fine country home" image for the benefit of ex-metropolitanites who have moved out to a hobby farm or ranch. Fancy western-style clothes, cute-sie decorations, and gimmicks galore. OK, to be fair, there are still some serious and useful things in the store.

My grandfather drove me there in his pickup truck, of c…

A Retro-Grouch Goes Truck Shopping

Urban Dictionary dotcom defines a retro-grouch thusly:
1. One who is skeptical of technological developments until their usefulness and reliability have been proven.
2. One who insists on minimalist equipment that may be user-serviced.
3. Sagacious but irritable expert. OK I plead guilty. Nevertheless I defy you to find a better example of the absurd depravity of modern American culture than the pickup truck. I have never liked them, especially compared to vans, which are my preferred tow vehicle. Alas, vans are going through big changes these days to meet the fuel economy requirements. I am not eager to buy a used van that has become orphaned and obsolete. And really, their fuel economy does suck.

Considering how many complications they are willing to add to the new vans to coax them into slightly better fuel economy, wouldn't it make more sense to just make them smaller, like the late Chevy Astro van? Ahh, but that would be 'turning the clock back', which would viola…

Good Feelings When Visiting a City

Moments like this are so rare for me that they really stand out. (And of course they beg for explanation.) I was outside a coffee shop in Gunnison CO, and was enjoying being around the human race, and being in a city. It was amusing to watch full-sized, four wheel drive pickups try to parallel park in front of the restaurants.

A few college kids are back in town early, for the fall session. Every few minutes a pair of remarkably trim and tanned Colorado girl legs would prance by; it made me glad for sunglasses.

The bicycle culture is in full blossom in Gunnison. What magic the right bicycle can perform on an overburdened matron: she sloughs off 20 years as she jumps on her townie-cruiser, in her dress, and pedals away with a few items from the store in the bike's wicker basket. 

Of course Coffee Girl is enjoying the parade as much as I am. The best results are obtained when I am inside the cafe, since that allows passersby to approach her without inhibition. I look out the window and…

The Quixotic Quest of Replacing a Zipper

It has happened to most people, several times. You buy a fine jacket and then the plastic zipper craps-off two years later. In the past, "wardrobe malfunction" in the zipper department has followed washing/drying the jacket. Is overheating in the dryer to blame? Maybe I should machine wash the jacket, followed by "gentle" heat, or air-drying since temperature controls at public lavamaticas seldom work.  Please don't tell me that a jacket (with a zipper) needs to dry-cleaned.

This wouldn't be such a big problem if you lived in one town all year. Eventually you would find somebody. But when you are traveling, it is a much bigger problem. It is infuriating to think that the world wants you to scrap such an expensive jacket just because a couple cubic millimeters of YKK Delrin plastic has gotten dinged.

It happened again, just a few days ago. It wasn't as infuriating as the previous time: after making an excellent winter parka last for 20 years, I had fin…

There Must Be Something of Value in Mud

Well, I certainly failed to "meet spec" on the recent cold mudhole debacle in Colorado. Yes, it was disgusting and uncomfortable -- but so what?  Let's see if I can redeem myself today.

But first, consider how absurd the situation was. It was cloudy and rainy and only got into the 50s (F), even in mid-day. I was wearing thermal underwear and a skull cap, but just couldn't get warm. In August!  I refused to go out to the tow vehicle and retrieve my winter parka; I also refused to turn on my propane heater. Finally I crawled into bed in mid-day and watched "Lawrence of Arabia", so that the mere sight of hot sand and deserts and camels would cheer me up.

What is valuable or meaningful about mud? Perhaps mud is the best example we have of true progress, in the form of gravel roads. It is easy to look up the date that certain gadgets or machines were "invented." (This is usually a bit misleading, since a working thing is a combination of technologies, an…

Rocky Mountain High Mud-Skiing

Gunnison, CO. There's always something new to learn in the travel racket, or at least, to accentuate. Camping in the mud has never been my favorite thing, and most dog owners would say the same.

But wait, wasn't I just praising the ability of the human imagination to turn any situation into one of Noble Suffering? And I meant it, too. But I draw the line at flying insects and mud. Mud is not noble.

You might wonder why I had to crash in the photo above, with all that "dry" land between the two tire ruts. The photo doesn't show how crowned that middle area was.

And speaking of crowned... I couldn't take the forest mud anymore. I had to head in to town, just for the pavement. Towards the end of the day, it appeared dry enough to attempt an escape. It was only 200 yards downhill to the main road. I was patting myself on the back for having the foresight to camp uphill of the escape route, at this time of the year.

On the way down, the tow vehicle and travel trailer…

Danger Stalks a Ridgeline

Gunnison, CO. There were two pairs of those beady eyes. I had turned back just to see how much work it would be to climb back up the edge of the severely eroded laccolith. And there they were: two coyotes, with their acute powers of observation. They moved down the rocky edge as I did. Were they following -- stalking -- Coffee Girl and me? Surprisingly, she didn't sense the two coyotes up the ledge.

Coyotes are just 35-40 pound dogs, with the same weapons that a domestic dog has. But I have learned the hard way what kind of damage they can do, with their sneakiness. Even worse, they were hunting as a pair; I almost always see solo coyotes.

An instinct of extreme protectiveness kicks in, at times like this -- protectiveness for my kelpie, Coffee Girl, that is.  They might have some tricks up their sleeves by acting as a pair of killers. Recall the fate of the Australian hunter in the original "Jurassic Park." Remember when he took his hunting rifle out to match wits with th…

Enjoying the Full Cycle of Pain and Pleasure

What a relief it was to get downriver from the San Juans, and to get away from cliff-like mountains directly in front of your face. Each mile downriver, the valley got wider. Finally I could breathe again, and stretch out my arms to distant horizons, and reach upward to bigger skies. Who needs those giant heaps of static rock (mountains) when there are moving, puffed-up, monsoonal clouds to admire, instead. 

Now then, so far, so good. But where was I going? I hadn't really decided. Yes, that happens a couple times per year. I wear myself out on the pro-s and con-s of two or three alternatives. This is great fun. If there is still a stalemate at the moment of decision, I sometimes defer to trivial happenstances, such as 'what lane I'm in' or 'what side of town I'm on.'  Few things could better capture the sweetness of this style of travel as deciding your itinerary on the spur of the moment.

And so I headed through an area I hadn't been to, in ten years:…

How Can Anyone Say the San Juans are "Beautiful?"

Newbies to either this blog or to my disputer-in-chief, Box Canyon Blog, must wonder why two friends are always being "nasty" to each other on the subject of Beauty. Why can't we just be "nice?"  Well, can't two friends play tennis with each, and each try to win? Just think, the two contestants are hitting the ball in opposite directions. How awful! How negative!!!

I've just finished having another wonderful visit with friends in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. The hiking was uniquely good. But don't think that having a good time there was effortless. For one thing, the San Juans are not beautiful. They are merely visually impressive in a freakish and unnatural sort of way.

How can we think of natural beauty without first thinking of nature? It is inescapable to me to see nature as the marriage of male and female characteristics. Primarily female. On one hike John Q and I went up the "Stairway to Heaven." It was on the edge …