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Showing posts from August, 2020

Sexing Up the Sport of Hiking

My dog and I haven't done a hike in a long time, which is a real shame, considering all the advantages it has. What prompted me to take action this morning was the temperature: it was the first day of autumn chill. Hiking has always been more enjoyable to me in chilly weather. And it worked again. We started in the cool shade and suddenly emerged into warm sun. What a delicious contrast that is!  Soon we came out of the ponderosas and onto a grassy ridgeline, where we had a view of the entire valley around Council, ID.  Although I could have mountain biked this trail, it was actually more fun to walk it.  Getting too chilly for comfort is what I need to get out of the Drudgery Mode that seems to go along with hiking. Nobody forces you to be dreary -- but it seems to be an integral part of the image of hiking. When somebody says the word "hiking" I first think of a donkey, with its back bent into a concave U by a heavy load, plodding along a dusty trail in the hot sun, whi

Death in the Afternoon

Council, ID.  Now reading "Sharpe's Eagle," by Bernard Cornwell. Not so far away from my trailer, two black cows started up with some angry bellowing. Except they weren't vacas ; they were toros. Actually it has been many years since I have encountered real bulls, and not just the nambie-pambie specimens that you see nowadays.  My dog will sometimes chase cows when she is off-leash, but she made no move toward the bulls. The bulls were on opposite sides of a barbed wire fence. One would push his big head across the fence and push at the other bull. They would paw angrily at the ground and kick dirt on each other.  One of the bulls must have been young: he was more demonstrative, and would flop around in the dust.  The bellowing was quite noticeable. A little scary. I actually closed my door, although the bull on my side of the barbed wire fence had little interest in me. That little bit of caution reminded me of something: ahh yes, I was just an 8 year old boy, ridin

The Aspirational Overlander

 Council, ID. Now reading "Sharpe's Rifles," by Bernard Cornwell.   Notch by notch I have crept towards "overlander" status, although real four wheel drive (4WD) enthusiasts would laugh at this. Most people know of somebody who has become a complete fool about how ruff-n-tuff their 4WD machine is. There must be many a wife whose patience is tested by a husband who has become ridiculous over this. The lucky wives stay good-natured while rolling their eyes and shrugging over "boys and their toys." So why should a wise old man like me head down this direction at all? I like the challenge of improving my rig's backroads capabilities without getting drunk on the topic. There is an element of practicality, especially when the camper has any wet roads to deal with. Young yahoos will squander unconscionable sums of money on 4WD. But those who belong to the brutally-utilitarian school -- that is, the 'brutalitarians' -- get their fun by resisting th

Early Indicators of Autumn

New Meadows, ID. These leaves would not make a good postcard, but they stopped me dead in my tracks the other day, on a mountain bike ride.   It is what they imply: autumn. They are the seasonal mirror images of crocuses in the spring, which a poet once called "the advance reports of an army, marching from the south." There are other indicators of incipient change: I have seen a couple squirrels dragging large pine cones off to their winter stash. The squirrel was struggling with the bulk and weight of the pine cone. How authentic Nature becomes when we see wildlife earning an honest living, and not just sitting around looking cute-sie for the tourists. Early indicators like this caused sweaty palms and heart palpitations in this old RVer, probably because I hate summer. But to experience a thrill after all those years -- I must be doing something right. 

Surrounded by Multi-Ton Trees

  New Meadows, ID.  It is tempting to say, "Be careful what you wish for..."  But I was only wishing for rain, not for the high winds that go along with thunderstorms. Of course at this time of year you only get rain with a thunderstorm. When one started kicking up, I couldn't help looking at these massive trees standing around my campsite -- and they were all leaning! I am just not used to being 'ground zero' for heavy trees. So I moved to what should be a safer place. from    Along with the high winds came forest fire smoke ! _________________________________ How do people think and feel about the environment around them? A modern person hears the word "environment" and thinks of butterflies and rainbows, colorful sunsets, and which angle their retirement McMansion should face in order to maximize financial gains. But that hardly matters, because a modern person is a fraud about nature. Go back a couple generations and ask what "sea pe

Somebody Shook My Hand!

On the last post I left out the biggest advertisement of all, for Idaho: the roads and trails aren't littered with loose rubble. That is no small thing to a mountain biker or hiker. The reason, I suppose, is that, here in the North, there is enough rain and vegetation to produce the mouldering bio-mass that eventually turns into soil, unlike the Southwest that I am used to. (I am so sick of that brown rubble, I could almost puke...) __________________________________ Something happened the other day that seemed like a small miracle. It would have been unnoticeable until a few months ago. Somebody shook my hand! I hope I didn't tense up, defensively, and make her feel bad. But it has been so long... Now where did this "retrograde" (and politically incorrect) behavior happen? In a small town in Idaho. I had approached the owner of the laundromat and coffee shop, and told her that I was an RVer, and only met two laundromats per year that I liked, and hers was one of them

Cautious Expectations in a Traveler

There have been pleasant surprises this summer in Idaho. It has been comfortable at elevations of 5000 feet; elevations in that range are relatively easy to find. (Anyone who has spent a lot of time on the Colorado Plateau would expect a lowly 5000 feet to be hot.) Secondly, insects have not been the problem that I thought they would be. Of course when you don't arrive until July, the odds are in your favor.  Early summer is buggier. Wildfires have not been a problem this summer, so far at least. Once again, credit some good luck. I never would have expected to get much pleasure from looking at needle trees, since I still think that trees are meant to have leaves. But the needle trees here are so tall and straight that I just have to admire them. Besides, they produce dense shade which is one of the best things that life has to offer.   The scenery is excellent here, an important secondary interest to me. I took very easily to the bizarre notion of water flowing in the creeks and

Pride in What You Do

Since I can't figure out how to edit gadgets on the new "improved" Blogger. And I really hate new improvements with software. New Meadows, ID.  Now reading: Sharpe's Honor #7, by Bernard Cornwell. For the first time in the longest time -- and maybe the first time ever -- I stood outside the work area and watched a mechanic repair my bicycle. He found out why the symptom reappeared, after it was supposedly fixed by a bicycle shop in another town. (And he was already familiar with the reputation of that other shop.) I asked him questions and learned a lot about how to fix this problem "in the field". (Traveling long distances to a bicycle shop can be ridiculous.) This was a great experience -- one that you rarely get because of the sign that says, "Insurance Regulations Do NOT Permit Customers in Shop Area, " or the usual joke about how much per hour you pay if you leave the premises, how much you pay if you watch, how much you pay if you give advic

Summer Nostalgia During a Heat Wave

It has been years since I experienced 90 F temperatures, so I was worried about taking my dog in the van for an appointment, in mid-day. But just driving by a shaded city park and seeing kids adapting to the heat wave, put me in a good frame of mind. More than merely adapting to it -- they were playing with it. While waiting for some routine service on the van, Coffee Girl and I went across the street and enjoyed some shade from the building and an iced coffee, my first of the summer. I turned a dish of water over on her head and rubbed it in. Dog hair can be a great evaporative-cooler-mat! Why don't I dunk her head in water all the time, in summer? It happens so many times: having a dog brings me back to childhood and nostalgia. A heat wave in summer contributes to that mindset.  I wish I understood the "ice" economy in the America of 1900. Something about storing it underground, surrounded by straw? Surely that didn't last all summer. It was a great day -- at le