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Showing posts from December, 2017

(Revised) Starting the New Year as a "Dear Abby" Columnist

Once a friend told me that she/he never quite knew what I would blog on, next week. I considered that a fine compliment --the kind that all bloggers should aim for. Very well then, a new year is starting, so let's start off in a new direction: giving "personal" advice.

But first let's dismiss the reader's objection that my credentials are not in order, when it comes to being a relationship columnist. Since when are credentials an issue on the internet? I thought that was half the reason for having an internet. If bloggers only blogged about subjects they actually knew something about, of what use would semi-unlimited data limits be on the internet?

Since my friends don't even know have I have a blog, let alone read it; and since I don't blabbermouth names or places on the internet, I should be able to discuss their "case" without invading their privacy.

I listened to he/she discuss the personality and behavior defects of their other half. Thank goo…

Sinking into a Surprise

Of all the advantages of a fatter tire on a mountain bike, not the least is being able to go down dry washes, arroyos. Arroyos are the most natural highways, with ridgelines coming in for second prize.

I was doing so, the other day. Thank goodness I chose a route that descended that arroyo, and finished the loop by coming back on a smoother dirt road.

What was it about this arroyo? It certainly wasn't pretty. But it was impressive on some level, if only I could figure out what that level was. The arroyo had gotten a small bit of ATV traffic; thus the gravel was packed down just enough for me to keep moving on the mountain bike.  So neglected -- and yet it was only a couple miles from where masses of RVers hang out in the winter.

Downward it went, always sinking closer to the Colorado River. There is something creepy about that, in the pit of the stomach, and not just because I had to dig out of the hole on the second half of the loop.

Maybe it was analogous to aging and death. At any …

Making RV Travel More Adventuresome

Two reasons make this topic timely. I just read another adventure history by Samuel E. Morison, called "The Great Explorers." Books like this always rub a modern fellow's nose in his own weakness and non-adventuresomeness. Compare Magellan to a modern traveler -- the latter doesn't even rate as an earthworm!

Secondly I am camped near large groups of RVers hitting the Quartzsite scene in January. It is truly amazing how serious and worried these people are about the microscopic practical details of their rigs. Don't they understand how easy and comfortable it has become?

But maybe there is a good reason for their constant and obsessive worrying: as a culture we are not so many generations removed from when travel was physically difficult and dangerous. So the tradition lives on...

At least one commenter on this blog would argue that we should just put physical adventure aside, as a thing of the past; and that we should move on to social, psychological, or aesthetic a…

Life Exists During the Christmas Shopping Season

It has been awhile since I offered extra credit points to the reader who can supply the right information: in this case, the name of the essay in which Thoreau said (more or less) that he had walked all the way across Manhattan and hadn't seen one person who was actually alive.

That is a useful thought to keep in mind if you find yourself in a busy shopping area in the USA near Christmas. There are softies out there who will tell me that that is not a "nice" thought. But it was actually...

I walked into a Walmart recently in an Arizona desert town, and the quote from Thoreau came to mind. But something I saw relieved this otherwise gloomy thought: a little dog was walking around next to a touring bicycle, fully loaded, and leaning against the side of the building.

Why wasn't the little dog on a leash? Where was the owner? I considered guarding the little dog, but maybe I too wasn't really alive. Instead, I continued into the store to do some routine shopping.

When I …

Payback For Not Blabbermouthing Boondocking Sites

Ordinarily it is not a source of pleasure to find that an interloper has discovered your own secret dispersed camp site. So why did that happen here? It was in an arroyo somewhere in southern Nevada. 

Years ago, when this lifestyle was new to me, I happened upon a rocky overhang in the side of a cliff, which was redolent of an Indian cliff dwelling. It wasn't perfect -- it opened to the north, instead of to the south. How gloriously comfortable it would have been if it had faced south.

Still, it was tall and provided good protection. Back then, I was more impressionable. I positively fluttered my eyelashes over this spot. So I dragged my trailer to it, almost getting stuck in the process. And I had a campfire under the rocky overhang. It was fun to act like a kid, by projecting shadows of my hands onto the roof. 


But now I noticed somebody else had at least had a campfire there. Maybe they had slept there, too? Instead of being angry about the intrusion I felt strangely good-natured …

Nietzsche and Desert Tortoise Fences

The other day I noticed fences, intended to protect desert tortoises. (Or some other species. It hardly matters to the rest of this post.) The fences seemed so elaborate and expensive. Common sense asserted itself to make me think, "You've got to be kidding..."

By luck I happened to be reading Mencken's book on the "Philosophy of Nietzsche." Imagine Nietzsche pulled though a time machine to modern America. I don't think he would be an angry white man about what he saw.  More likely he would just sneer at modern culture and say something like, "I knew it would be bad, but I didn't think it would be this bad!"

The limiting case for his sneering may be these fences. What could more perfectly embody the "slave morality" of the masses than treating endangered animal species as though they were so precious. Nietzsche would have thought it was just fine that a superior species, such as homo sapiens, could wipe out an inferior species like…

Building Character in a Canyon

I had a rematch with a complex canyon system recently. Would it still be interesting -- even after hitting it pretty hard the last few years? Proceeding through the canyon, the experience became more subjective and internalized. What could I do differently from the past? Or should I forget about myself and "externalize?"

Indeed, something was quite new this year: instead of walking the canyon, I was mountain biking it on my new bike, with 3 inch wide tires. These "plus" tires do quite well on the rubble and sand. I highly recommend that anybody in the market for a new bicycle go with 3 inch tires.

The experience also seemed new because biking is faster and cooler than walking. Walking is so slow that it almost numbs the mind. And it is warm.

The canyon has a badlands type appearance because much of it is rather soft and easily eroded.




The trick is to focus on it qualitatively rather than quantitatively. Think about the variety of interesting shapes, and how they got th…

Quality Travel Experiences

Strangely, a certain coffee shop near St. George, UT, has been the location of a couple different experiences for me, memorable because there was something to them, other than scenery.




The coffee shop was located in an affluent housing development, at the foot of red cliffs. Until recently the coffee shop had a gift shop built into it -- the gift shop was trying to look like an Indian 'kiva.'  (Presumably the gift shop was "inspired" by the small Indian reservation, nearby.) 

It always seemed ironic and thought-provoking that Native American culture appeared so upscale and glamorous in the gift shop, with the expensive coffee table books, hand-carved wooden flutes, music, books, etc.; and yet, the genuine Indian reservation a mile down the road was a slum. (I rode my bicycle through this irony when I rode with a local club.)

But this year the kiva-gift-shop had been converted to an expensive restaurant. Presumably the menu featured items 'sacred to the Native Ameri…