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Showing posts from May, 2015

How Do You Find Eclectic Blogs?

Once again my internet browsing is wallowing in the gutter. Perhaps it would be better to say that I am bored to death. Blame laziness. It seems like most blogs write about the same thing every day. Political blogs and travel blogs are the worst of the worst. Travel blogs could be replaced by a computer program. Indeed, maybe somebody should sell an "app" that automatically puts travel posts on "your" blog. How would anybody know? The result might be a blog with frie nds and followers in the thousands.  Let's have some fun: what would today's blog title be if an app was writing it. "An Exclusive Paradise Adventure in the Grand Canyon, for Free, Topped Off with a Beautiful Sunset!" Nah, too long. Perhaps we are so trained as mass consumers that our information-grazing habits imitate our consumption. Thus we fall into blogs that offer tired formulas and repetition. My excuse for being so lazy is that one only has so much time, there are too m

Calming the Beast in the Cabin

I'm weakening. I hate camping underneath a thunderstorm. But the mud will dry up tomorrow. There must be readers who are sick of my praise for wet snow and cold mud in May in the American Southwest. They are probably thinking, "Put up or shut up. Move to Puget Sound if you think wetness is so great." My sermons are an echo of the ones from William James, presented in the page-tab at the top of your screen, Summiting: Ideals and Suffering. In trying to benefit from suffering, the key word is 'non-routine.' Over the long run, suffering loses its charm. In order to be stimulated, you must somehow idealize it, and that is hard to do to something routine. The weather the Southwest is having right now is definitely non-routine. I'm not just opining and theorizing. My bouts with cabin fever have done me some good, and hopefully for the long term. I was forced to do things that are easy to neglect: a book that was supposed to be re-read, but somehow wasn't

Cabin Fever of the Mind

In an earlier post I played at visualizing cold wet weather and mud as medicine. Not only does it postpone the wildfire season later into June, when the monsoons are only a couple weeks away, but it also rebuilds a healthy appreciation for sunshine in your own mind.  Depending on where you live, you might not need any help in appreciating sunshine; but a gringo in the arid western states certainly needs help. What Southwestern weather is supposed to be like, in May and June. And Mother Nature is at it again. When cabin fever reaches a crescendo, you can fight back, but don't fight back too soon: there is an art to enjoying a miserable day. Your rebound is robbed of its glory if it isn't prepared by a nadir. Artificial aids are permitted: consider watching the first five minutes of the latest "Jane Eyre" movie, the one with the faint lighting and the haunting score by Dario Marianelli. It is quite amazing how tuned in you can get to the amperage and voltage of

So What Happens When You Miss Your Turn?

I was getting that sinking feeling that I had missed my turn. Sure enough, I ended up 60 miles away from where I was "supposed" to be. It happens every now and then. So what? You can't be lost near the edges of the Plains of San Agustin in central New Mexico. It is unique, or at least rare. It's a chance to escape the sameness of mountains. Lately I've been doing better than usual at having good camping experiences in places that I tend to neglect. Why the neglect? Is it just internet addiction? There is usually wi-fi somewhere, although it is expensive to use it unless you have a will of iron to resist eating there. But I have it easy. What if I was a real city-slicker with some extreme, ideological diet? How would you survive with the tiny grocery stores? Western Family, and Shur-Fine brands are the only things that aren't priced at a confiscatory level. There are a few staples available, and with a tub of dry goods and canned goods in the rig, you sho

Thirsting for a Special Type of "Beauty" in the Badlands

Reserve, NM. I was up to my old tricks on a hike when I became aware of an unusual thirst and satisfaction. By 'old tricks' I mean choosing hiking over mountain biking on unusually cold days, leaving early, walking up canyons with my dog, and avoiding marked trails. Obviously I never take my GPS gadget or study Google Earth before going on an outing: no cheating is allowed! What was unusual was the badlands topography: one arroyo and ridge, leading to the next. There didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. I had never noticed before how extreme randomness in a landscape creates a desperate thirst for some kind of order or pattern.  Looking at badlands has somewhat the same effect as looking at "Medusans" in an episode in the third season of Star Trek: the Medusans were reputed to have the most sublime thoughts in the galaxy, but their bodies had evolved into a formlessness so ugly that the mere sight of them would drive human beings insane. For awhile t

Travel Envy

For whatever reason I continue to glance at bicycle touring blogs frequently. Usually it only takes a glance to gong them, and for reasons you can easily guess. Nevertheless it is almost worth the daily discouragement in order to experience occasional bliss. And I'm doing that now, with a blog by a cycling couple from the San Juan Islands, who are touring a park northwest of Seville, Spain. Why do I enjoy the Griffins' blog so much? In part it may be that their lack of tent camping spares the reader a lot of repetitive details. But I even enjoy their photographs, which I usually dismiss in travel blogs. Perhaps the route itself gets some of the credit. They are riding medium-fat-tire bikes on dirt trails in what is almost a national park. The trails are usually mild -- an under-rated pleasure in bicycling, if there ever was one.  Remember that there is no mountain biking allowed in national parks in "freedom-loving" America. The scenery is much like New Mexico,