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Showing posts from December, 2019

Can Motor Vehicle Shopping Be Fun?

I pined for a new trailer for years, did my homework, but then waited until I reached the age where you could withdraw funds from your IRA without paying an extra penalty. Since I bought a plain vanilla cargo trailer, and spent two months converting it into a real travel trailer, the experience seemed like quite a memorable adventure.

In an analogous fashion, it is now time to buy a newer tow vehicle, since I have transitioned from ObamaCare to Medicare, and can forget about the loss of subsidy that would be caused by a spike in income.

But will buying a new tow vehicle be fun or adventurous? I am having my doubts. I am not going to convert the tow vehicle -- I will just buy it. Doing mechanical work on a motor vehicle is my least favorite thing to do.

If you were repainting a bedroom, you might make it more fun by at least changing the colors! But my newer tow vehicle will have to be a van, just like the old one. Nothing else makes any sense. 

Truck-based SUVs are hardly available anymor…

Don't Underestimate How Boring Desert Camping Is

I wonder how many armchair travelers, stuck under grey skies in the north, look at the postcards put out by Arizona visitors, and immediately fall for the romantic escapism. It probably doesn't occur to them that the winter camper is indoors, in the dark, by 530 pm, and that it is dark until 7am.

And what does that camper do for 13 hours of darkness in a little box where you can barely walk? At least at home, in a normal house, you could walk to the bathroom (or microwave oven) during television commercials. In an RV your butt is glued to a chair, or you are twisting or turning in bed, wishing that you could still sleep 10 hours a night.

When you finally admit that you don't sleep like a youngster anymore, what do you do with all those hours of darkness? The nearby desert town probably closes shop at 6 pm. There is no social life when camping in the desert, unless you live where people are a bit non-transient, and you get a chance to know them.

The easy answer is, "Well, I r…

Arizona Cowgirl Rides Off Into the Sunset

Actually she rode in from the sunset. 

The colors of sky were changing, so I grabbed my dog and went off for a sunset stroll. Instinctively I walk away from the sun. Looking up into the small mountains ahead of us, where you could say the Arizona alpenglow was lighting up, I could see a black dog, white horse, and caballera riding down from the mountains, towards us.

The labrador wanted to come over and check us out, but she wouldn't let him. She was riding bareback (recall that scene in Polanski's "Chinatown" when Faye Dunaway told Jack Nicholson that she had been riding all morning -- bareback. Naturally that raised an eyebrow on Nicholson's face.)

It takes so little for a human being to make another human's day. And she did that for me. Normally I try to block other humans from my mind, since their outdoor recreation consists of noisy sports. But there is something quiet and classic -- noble I would say -- about horse riding.

Changing My Style of Reading

It is so easy to spot other campers' maladjustments to 'the lifestyle.' Most of them do not have any kind of recreational activity; they are just couch potatoes looking for free rent; they watch satellite television or run generators half the day.

But I have always known what my biggest problem was: I read books in a nerdy, serious mood. There is little relaxation or pleasure in it, for me.  On a long winter night, this causes sourness or glumness in the reading chair.


Paper books are almost irrelevant to a mobile camper, for obvious reasons. So let's just talk eBooks. The eReader "manufacturers" show advertisements of some young, attractive person reading their gadget, outdoors, perhaps on a mountain top or on the beach. I am surprised they don't show somebody skydiving while reading their gadget.


I have never liked reading outdoors, with the intense sunlight, wind, and a bit of insect life. But the eReader ads are correct that I need to relax with a book, …

Struggling to Appreciate an Ugly Part of Arizona

Most people do a fair -- or even a large -- amount of physical and mental exercise, during the course of a lifetime. But what about our ability to appreciate places, when so much is stacked against them?

Every year, during my annual visit to Yuma, AZ, I try to build my muscles when it comes to appreciating this gawd-awful thermal hell-hole, and I'm happy to report some success.

The endeavor is so much easier during the two month window in mid-winter. Unfortunately all it takes is a little bad luck with the heat and I have to beat down an absolute detestation of this place.

Yuma is one of the few places in Arizona that doesn't have lots of obvious natural beauty. That might be the place where a visitor can really exercise their muscles.

Consider all the agriculture in the area. Yes it is irrigated and petrochemically-addicted. The soil does nothing other than provide mechanical support for the roots and soak up the chemicals. Still, the plants are green, and they do make food out o…

The Real Reason for Battery-powered Tools

I suppose a lot of tool shopping takes place over the holidays. I was in Home Depot today and was really surprised how completely battery-operated tools dominated the tool aisles. You have to struggle to find a corded tool that runs off of 110 VAC, aka, normal household electricity out of the wall plug.

What sort of answers would you get if you asked the average customer to explain this domination by battery-operated tools? Probably something about "convenience."

The convenience argument is actually pretty lame unless you are working in back of the barn or in the 'outback' somewhere.

Did these customers ever notice that corded (110 VAC) tools are more powerful and less expensive? 

The customer is afraid he will be old-fashioned if he buys a corded tool. So he lets himself be pushed along with all the other sheep.

The real reason is "ecosystem entrapment." That is the business model that every global cooperation yearns for, these days. Apple was the early master…

Reading Cheerful Morning News

In olden times a person might start their day by reading the newspapers, full of depressing news, lies, spin, and entertaining trivia. It was never an admirable or beneficial habit. More recently we fall into the bad habit of doing the same thing on the internet. 

At least I avoid news-sites and You Tube drivel, and restrict myself to the pundits. But it can still be depressing. Perhaps that isn't the right word. I do ask myself, "Why bother with this?"


This morning I actually smiled as I read a new article by Fred Reed.  Fred used to be one of my favorite pundits, but he isn't so young anymore, and has probably lost his journalistic contacts as an ex-pat in Mexico.

Ahh, but he is still at it, and wrote that hard-hitting article today.  It was a welcome surprise to be smacked in the face with some sunshine, early in the morning, by the internet.

The Truth About Arizona Winter Camping

RV wannabees love to be told what they want to hear. (How did the lyric go in that old Simon and Garfunkel song? "A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest...") And you know what that is, for Arizona desert camping.

Now let's show you that it isn't always like that!

Helping Somebody on a Project

This isn't the first time I have helped somebody on their camper (RV, rig, etc.) But it is the biggest project in which I played mentor. I thought it would make it smoother to also be the 'student.'

It really is a fascinating challenge for me. Perhaps a parent would dismiss my use of the word 'fascinating' because I am just doing to another adult what he has been doing to his child for years!

Obviously I will not bore the reader with a blow-by-blow account of microscopic "practical" details. What is of interest is how all of this bears on the human condition.

1. Being helpful in the right way. A mentor sometimes accomplishes most of what they are ever going to accomplish by simply informing the student that something can be done. Sometimes it is enough to make them feel confident, without getting down 'into the weeds' of microscopic details. Furthermore the mentor must be careful not to foster dependency of the part of the student: help them get star…