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Showing posts from July, 2016

Renewing a Travel Lifestyle

Normally, when a person embarks on a big project, they shouldn't expect an instant pay-off. Surprisingly I am getting one on this "camping without the internet" project I am embarked on.

For years I have driven by some land on the west side of Colorado's San Luis valley that I fluttered my eyelashes at. But I never camped there because there was no internet signal. This year I stopped.

Since my camera broke recently, I can't show a photograph of the land. Perhaps it wouldn't be that impressive in a postcard. But who cares? It starts off as high rolling (BLM) pastures. Wave after wave of ascending green curves. Mountain biking up through it reminded me of some of Wagner's orchestral overtures, back in the day when I was first exposed to them.

It was a big deal when I reached the first tree. The boundary between forest and sagebrush/grasslands was irregular and indented, like an interesting shoreline with many bays and islands.

The topology changed. My heart s…

Withdrawing From "Fellow" RV Travelers

An old man in a van is camped a few hundred yards from me. He hasn't come over to visit. I haven't tried to visit him. That seems a little defeatist, considering that I might have visited with him when we overlapped on a road a couple days ago, and he appeared lucid and non-senile. (Which is better than average, let me tell you...)

This is just one example of a more general trend I seem to be settling into: a withdrawal from "fellow" RVers. I'm not really sure I am doing the right thing. It's not a hard-core, cynical attitude. It's more a matter of being tired of disappointment and frustration. The path of least resistance seems to be minding my own business.

Thinking back over the years of ineffectivenessat this issue, it seems that most encounters hadsomething in common: we only had something in common, superficially. In fact they were pursuing a completely different paradigm than me. There is nothing wrong with their paradigms, if it works for them. I ju…

Visualizing a Book Correctly

It is a great project for a camper to wean themselves from an internet addiction. It is so strange the way you miss it most for the first day or two. When you finally debauch yourself by backsliding into Sin, you expect some huge rush of pleasure. Surprisingly you end up curling your lip and saying, "They're still talking about the same old crap. Why am I wasting my time?"

Why indeed? The benefits of cutting the daily cord are huge for a camper. They can choose so many more locations. The feeling of (soft) adventure comes back.

But 'fleeing vice is the beginning of virtue,' as the old Roman writer/poet, Horace, said. A camper has a lot of time on their hands. If you remove the internet, you have to add something else. Like what?

Books, let's say. I've never really been a good reader. I'm not referring to speed and comprehension. There has always been a problem with my... attitude. Actually it may have been lethargic visualization.

Let's take a brief d…

The Format (of the Medium) is the Message

After having two blockbuster successes with classic television, "The Rifleman" and the original "Star Trek", I was prepared to declare victory and move on. But then some clues on steered me in the direction of "The Virginian." How did I manage to miss this marvelous program when I was a kid? Actually it is probably because I was a kid. The Virginian had a 90 minute format -- too long for young kiddies.

Since I am watching the first two seasons, it was fun to see some of my favorite guest stars from "The Rifleman" reappear on "The Virginian." Similarly,  new guest stars on "The Virginian" reappeared 3-4 years later on "Star Trek."

The long format virtually makes the show a mini-movie. Superb guest stars, from the movies, would deign to appear on this television show: Betty Davis, George C. Scott, Robert Redford, Matthew Broderick, and even a young Ryan O'Neal, who looked about 17 years old.

In a longer sho…

A Photographic Manifesto

Sure, it is bad news when you drop your digital camera with the zoom out, and kill it. But maybe the longer-term result can still be good. In the past I resisted rushing out to buy a new camera, and instead, took a vacation from dragging a camera along. The appetite will return after awhile.

Better yet, why not use the hiatus to reevaluate what you are trying to accomplish with a camera.  It is not as obvious as it first seems. It is a "nice" thing to have an excuse to pause on a mountain bike ride, and soak up an especially pretty little snack. 

These flowers caught my eye, the other day. The photo is mildly pretty, but I don't see what the viewer can get from this photo that they couldn't get from millions of other pretty photos already on the internet. And there will be more next year.

That prettiness is trivial and mostly useless does not make it EVIL. But it does mean the photographer hasn't gone as far as they could have. Notice that there is only one thing a …

Nature Lovers and Long Dead Philosophers

If there ever were a time to invoke the old adage that 'practical men are just the slaves of some long-dead philosopher,' the time is now, after I've just read one of the most important (and juicy) books in years. The book is "Rousseau and Romanticism," by Irving Babbitt.

Only a chapter or two is about Rousseau's effect on how his followers perceived nature. But it is the chance in front of my face, especially during summer camping holidays. It seemed that my neighbors belonged to three tribes of "nature lovers."

Tribe #1. A couple women were car camping close to me. I complimented them on the sunniness of the campsite they chose. The car was a Subaru. (eyes rolling.) One of them had flown down from Oregon for the holiday.

Unfortunately many of the nearby spruce trees were dead, a la Colorado. I probably shouldn't have pointed that out. She ignored my un-compliment of the forest, and said that the trees were "beautiful." Really? Do yo…

Beating the "Always On" Inverter Syndrome

In order to camp away from electrical "shore" power, one need not be a Gandhi or Thoreau wannabee. In fact I rarely think about after-market "boondocking" equipment or most sections of "how to" forums; and I avoid obsessive modifications to my camper trailer.

It is only when a real problem shows up, that I go on the war-path. When a leaf spring broke recently on my trailer, weight-reduction became my 'Cause.'  The most immediate and large weight-reduction was to downsize the 6-volt (golf cart) batteries from four to two.

One project has been to break the habit of leaving the DC-to-AC inverter "On" 24 hours per day. (I use DVDs as sleeping pills at night.) Although I have an inverter that has a low "idle" power draw, this parasitic draw still totals up to 10 Amp-hours over a 24 hour period. One could argue that this is small compared to the nominal capacity of the battery pair (235 Amp-hours.)

Still, this is my current project, an…

Metaphors with a Life of Their Own

Hopefully I will continue to do certain things right on this blog: not over-selling travel, and not over-emphasizing books. Carried to extreme, both of these things are more than merely ridiculous. They are vices.

But combine two things that don't appear to be all that related, and some magic happens. Maybe that is what thinking is all about. When travel and books are combined, some memorable pleasure can happen. It won't happen often.

'Be careful what you wish for...' is an old adage that must be in many people's Top Ten list. During the fire season in late May and June in the Southwest, I yearn almost obsessively for higher humidity, clouds, and rain. Well, we got some all right. Over the holiday weekend I spent a day or two holed up in my little camper-trailer, unable to do much of anything outdoors. Actually, what is there to do indoors, other than read books? (I had no internet connection.)

The good news is that I had an awfully good bo…

Being a Cool Professional Camper over the Fourth

I hope the reader hasn't wasted a great deal of time reading certain cliché topics, such as 'Should a camper have a gun?' On and on this sort of discussion goes. What's the point?

It is obvious that owning a gun is "negative safety" for a camper. It is too likely to put you into the state penitentiary as your final campsite.  Just consider what it is like to camp on public lands over the Fourth of July weekend.

I chose a new area for me. The road didn't look busy. The campsite looked non-flat and not terribly desirable to other campers. So I pulled in. An hour later a giant fifth-wheel pulled right in to my site -- without being invited. Then they ran their generator until 10 pm.

My first reaction was anger. But wait a I not always preaching that being a full-time RVer is a profession -- not a vacation? Do you know of any job that doesn't give you assholes to deal with? So why not act more professional? At least that is what I preached to my…