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Showing posts from August, 2016

Son of a Son of a (Sagebrush) Sailor

Although I've never felt much of a need to read Sigmund Freud, his "Civilization and its Discontents" was interesting. In it, Freud mentioned that some people had described a powerful "oceanic" feeling; but he had never experienced it. Perhaps Dr. Freud never had the experience of camping in drab, ugly, and half-dead forests in the summer -- to escape the heat -- and then busting out into the open in September. An oceanic feeling can be very powerful indeed. Better yet, this feeling can be used for a practical purpose: it helps to kee p an outdoorsy lifestyle interesting, long after the tourist phase is over. Recently this oceanic feeling provided a real phantasmagoria for me: breaking out into the sagebrush hills seemed like heading out to sea on a sailboat. Perhaps this was helped by reading Jack London's "South Sea Tales." (  I even listened to some Jimmy Buffett songs for the first time in a long while. For instance, as you

Island Hopping Across a Sagebrush Sea

Yes, 'sagebrush sea' is a bit of a cliché. But it's a good one. Strunk & White do not approve of burying readers under too many metaphors. Indeed, we have all been readers on the receiving end of a writer who was a metaphor drunk. And yet, how can writers suppress themselves when something wonderful has put them into an expansive mood? At such times, the mind naturally seeks out analogies with other good things. Every year I spend my canonical fourteen - days visiting my favorite mountain biking area, near Gunnison, CO. The topography, geology, altitude, town, and BLM management philosophy are responsible for making it a success. And every year I praise decomposed granite as geology's greatest hit. To make it even better, I ride downhill on singletracks, and then 'recharge the gravitational battery' by riding uphill on the roads, to complete the loop. Falling into one of those generous and expansive moods, I can't avoid comparing this experience to

Should Camping Tough Guys Have Satellite Television and Internet?

Let no one confuse a retro-grouch with a human fossil. This retro-grouch made a giant leap forward when I bravely submitted to my first demonstration of Facebook. The fellow who gave the tutorial was quite good at giving demonstrations. Actually, I was impressed with Facebook as a platform. It seemed useful for certain types of groups. It seemed well integrated with other platforms on the internet. So then, if I was so impressed with it, why haven't I opened up an account? Two things are stopping me. 1. Won't I lose control of ad-blocking on Facebook? Please don't tell me that ads are not too obtrusive, so far. On an internet browser such as Firefox, you can use a free ad-blocking program that works 98% of the time. I am suspicious that most of the bandwagon towards smartphones and Facebook is ultimately motivated by the desire to get people addicted to a platform first, and then bury them under ads that they can't do anything about. 2. Thoreau's classic wise-crac

Maybe Autumn Will Always be Magic

Once again it's here. My favorite time of year. Every year I am amazed to be so affected by the coming-on of cool weather. Some years I have been interested in analyzing this remarkable longevity. But this year, I just want to feel good about it and hope it keeps going year after year -- like my van! In a similar vein, I love camping at tree islands in the Gunnison area, year after year. Last year I was in the mood for deconstructing the romanticism of this. But this year, it suffices to bask in it. Perhaps there is a natural dialectic going on here. One year I reconstruct the visualization that I deconstructed the previous year. L et's hope that the new version is better in some way than the earlier one. There is something symbolic about tree islands -- something that is different than other features that people go ga-ga over. Oh sure, I am probably prone to some anti-tourist snobbery. But a natural feature ceases to have an effect on you when somebody sticks a bar-code on

A New Team Sport: Talk-Walking

During the recent 14 days with the Band of Boondockers, we had enjoyable, non-athletic walks up the road, twice a day. It was more like conversational sauntering than hiking. Some people would consider it pretentious to compare our conversational sauntering to the walks in the garden that the philosophers of ancient Greece took with each other, but an indulgence of this type is useful if it helps bring back a long-neglected, yet wonderful custom. To appreciate conversational sauntering to the fullest, compare it to the new cultural atrocity of people sitting down to a meal at the same table, with one eye on the people they are there to talk to, and the other eye on their damn smartphone. Consider how the mere act of walking naturally overcomes some of the defects of conversations. Those prone to over-intellectualizing (aka, building sand castles in the sky) might be affected by the physicality of walking: they are reminded that human beings have bodies, and that moods sometime depend

Traveling Down the Path of Righteousness

As I approach my canonical 14 day limit at a location that has internet, a sense of setback is understandable. I had been on a roll of internet-free living, before I backslid into sin, here. Let's back up a step and look at the Big Picture. This all starts from the premise that there are few better ways to spend the end of your life than in pursuing Moral Perfection, a la Ben Franklin. I'm afraid the results of this project have been disappointing, so far. Rather than merely dwelling on "Thou shalt not...", the pos itive agenda is to be more light-hearted when reading real books off-line, and to break my concentration whenever possible. In doing so I can co-opt the cheap trick that the internet uses to sink its hooks into its victims. Another positive approach is to dwell on the geographical freedom I gain when camping in places where the internet is not available. Tomorrow I have a chance to put this into practice. Ah dear me, let's hope this doesn

Some Sympathy for Women of the Camping Tribe

Women-campers is a subject I seldom think about. At the moment I'm interested in visualizing campers as an anthropological tribe, and wondering what it all looks like from the perspective of a "squaw." Do they like camping? Do they feel important and fully engaged? For the women of our neighboring tribe, the answers to both these questions is, "Yes!"  They were from rural Missouri. The grandmother was the head wrangler. She taught her granddaughter the skill of horsemanship. Maybe she was in charge of the tribal cookpot as well. And the horses themselves are like constantly needy children. How did she manage all that at the same time? I dunno. But wo men have always ma naged somehow. But what about the women in our tribe of campers? Do they have a tribal function that is solid and real, or can they just look at the pretty scenery and call that ' success?'  They usually don't know much about motor vehicles, solar electricity, or those watt, amp,

The Under-appreciated

It is quite amazing how over-rated and over-hyped some things and some people turn out to be.  Geographically, Colorado woul d be an excellent e xample of this. All you can do is remind yourself that people are sheep, and then flee. The converse situation, with the U nder-appreciated, is more enjoyable to think about. It is a challenge to identify and dwell on the goodies of the Under-appreciated. A tangible example can have a big impact on the observer. I wrote about my newfound appreciation of Classic Television. Perhaps the reader can suggest other shows than the ones I've mentioned. What I really need is DVDs with those shows. My current kick is "The Virginian." One episode, "Run Quiet" of Season Two, is about a deaf mute who gets into all kinds of trouble. Along the way, he meets a woman who had been treated shabbily by a fiance. She had become cynical and defeatist about men in general. Despite herself, she takes an interest in this deaf mute. At