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Showing posts from 2021

Saying Something Good About Tourists

  I have been on the war path lately with tourists. It is too easy. Therefore let's focus on touristic success stories. That last paragraph brings up a movie metaphor: remember the speech by the political officer at the beginning of "Enemy at the Gates?" He said that the 'country needed examples to follow -- what it needed was heroes.' Krushchev walked over to him and asked, 'And what about you. Do you know any heroes?" 'Yes, Comrade,' the political officer said, 'I know one. '  A nd off the movie went, telling the tale of the spectacular Russian sniper from the Urals, Valery Zaitsev. from  . Kruschchev (Bob Hoskins) on left, political office (Joseph Fiennes) on right. Well, I too know a hero, or at least an example to follow. A young couple from western Colorado told me they hit the gate at the national park at 430 am. Admission was free, which surprised them, but that isn't why they did it. They were there to enjoy dawn, th

How to Improve Summer Camping in Coluhraduh

1. Confiscatory taxation of UTVs (side-by-sides), ATVs, etc. At the very least, make this apply to Oklahoma and Texas license plates. 2. Deposits of 25 cents on throw-away beverage and water containers. 3. No electrical amplification of sound (aka, music) at campgrounds NOR IN CARS in the campground. No bongo drums. 4. Lock gate of campground at sunset. At Thursday noon, lock the gate until Sunday noon. 5. Campground speed limit of 5 mph. Mechanisms should enforce this speed limit -- something that does severe damage to the tires would be ideal. 6. Inverter-generator usage should be restricted to an hour at breakfast and an hour at the evening meal. 7. Anti-bark collars on dogs. These seven measures would go a long away towards making Coluhraduh camping less disgusting. They might sound a little draconian, but considering that Scenery Tourism is the first thing that needs to be locked-down during the upcoming Planet-wide Climate Lockdown, these steps are the lesser of two evils. You mi

True Progress, Outdoors

Long-suffering readers know that one of the pinatas (tilde on n) of this blog is the modern deity of Progress. That is not because I'm opposed to progress, but rather, to the Media's misuse of the term. The Media chases freakish novelty obsessively and then calls it progress. But when I spot true progress, my heart skips a beat. Look at this wonderful umbrella/parasol for a picnic table at the campground.   Over at another campsite there is this canopy for dogs?  I was fluttering my eyelashes over these two things. It almost seems as though the Gringo has finally come to understand that the art of living outdoors is living partially outdoors, and making it adjustable. Haven't I been preaching that for years? It is such a thankless job being ahead of one's time.  These two illustrations of true progress show characteristics that it typically has: humble, incremental, concrete, and demonstrable. In contrast, phony progress is tipped off by grandiose language, vagueness,

More Visualization Tricks for Tourist Areas

I forgot to mention a trick that has worked well for me in overcrowded situations. Remember the old days when you went Christmas shopping at brick-and-mortar stores? Many people thought that was a dreadful experience, and so did I. One day I was at a crowded mall and suddenly a "crazy" thought popped up: what if I became numb to the hordes around me by thinking of them as bushes, shrubs, or trees. After all, when you walk through a forest you aren't reduced to a nervous wreck. So what is the difference between shrubs and people? All I had to do was renounce certain traditional thoughts such as humans as sentient beings with free moral agency. Actually, this was quite easy. Once you have become numb and neutral about the hordes around you, you can relax. Don't make eye contact with anybody. Never initiate a conversation. If somebody asks you a question, you can politely smile at them, try to answer their question in three or four words, crack a little joke, and sneak o

Damsels in Distress

We don't have water at this campground. Three young women came by and asked about water. Their options weren't appealing. Being an old blowhard, I started going down a track that seemed wrong, so I quickly shut up.  Recall the old story of a wino panhandler who asked for help from a passerby; it was followed by advice. The panhandler then interrupted the passerby by reminding him that he had asked for help -- not for advice. They would have thought it was politically incorrect to inject some common sense and tell them that three attractive young women are more than capable of getting lots of help on lots of things. My goodness, that would have been such an awful thing to say! But to hell with political culture. Look at it from the point of view of nature. It is an advantage that young attractive women have, from the evolution of our species. Why doesn't that count?  Meanwhile, we were looking off into the sunset. The rain was over and the sun was coming out. Pretty and chee

Visualization During the Coluhraduh Tourist Season

  Why would somebody be in Coluhraduh during the summer tourist season unless they were desperate for the job? It is an obvious question to ask. The answer takes a bit of thinking. Voluntary psychological torture seems worthless but actually it is a wonderful chance to see if you are made of the Right Stuff. But first, let's recall a TV western metaphor I saw once: Cowboy #1 and his buddies were trying to start a fight in a western saloon, so #1 poured beer over the head of a stranger, let's call him #2. They expected the response to be immediate and violent. But #2 barely reacted. #1 asked, "Ain't you even mad?" #2 responded, "No, not really. But don't do it again." That is how to visualize your own central nervous system in Coluhraduh during the tourist season. People impinge on you in a dozen unpleasant ways -- your normal response would be to flare up in anger. But like Cowboy #2, you must visualize your central nervous system as being so inert a

The Windward Side of a Fourteener

  After all these years of practice, I have finally come to appreciate the western (windward) side of major mountain ranges. How embarrassing it is to be such a slow learner. Well, I'm not the only one. Look at many of the population centers of Coluhraduh -- they are on the eastern side of a major mountain range, making them ghastly, dry, fire-prone, and rattlesnake-infested. The perfect altitude is 9000 feet, so I'm dialed in just right. But there is another feature even more important. Clouds, of course. I used to campground-host on the eastern side of the San Juan Mountains, and get perpetual miserable burning sunlight. But on the western side of a fourteener, I have finally found bliss.

Waltzing With Mother Nature

Do you think it is fair to praise Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns as works of genius? The plots are lame or copied. The dialogue might as well be dropped. The real star of those movies is the musical score of Ennio Morricone. And yet there are some great visuals. Leone understood the climate of the American Southwest and he could express it so brutally and powerfully with the camera. (The movies were shot in southern Spain where the climate is equally horrid.) That is a rare achievement. And yet, I can't think of a scene in his spaghetti westerns when the miracle of rain is portrayed. Maybe a camera isn't the right tool. That is what I thought about on our second day of rain on the mountain. The poor campers! But they seem to make the best of it -- I don't know how , in those tents, and with children and dogs inside. The "pen" isn't any better than the camera for truly expressing rain in the Southwest. That leaves music.   This was a real challenge. Solo

The Answer Was Blowing in the Wind

Only old people remember when beer cans or bottles were the favorite form of litter. Starbucks paper cups came up in the litter-world for awhile, but they never really established hegemony. For the last twenty years or so, disposable water bottles have been the most common litter. A week or two ago I started to notice the appearance of blue cheapie Fauci masks as litter.  Was I reading too much significance into this? I didn't pick them up -- "safety" was my official excuse. But the real reason was that I enjoyed the metaphorical significance. I only leave my mountain once per week, or so. Perhaps that makes gradual changes seem dramatic and exciting. Down in the city, two-thirds of the peasants were in open rebellion of the mask mandate. That is putting it a little melodramatically of course. Just say that they were ignoring it. Even a coward like me got brave. I stuck my chest out, and swaggered into the Walmart without a mask, almost hoping that some little runt would

Greta and I Keep Trying

The world just doesn't appreciate how hard Greta (Thunberg) and I work to save the Planet. My earlier post about imposing a planetary lockdown against scenery tourism did not generate a massive amount of applause. Very well then, I accept the challenge of  improving the plan. Just look at the throw-away water and soft drink bottles that have to be hauled out of here after a holiday! Disgusting. How about a $1 tax on every one of those bottles. I'm not being facetious. I wonder how many of these bottle-junkies are blue-voting, green-voting hypocrites from Boulder and Denver. There should be a "head tax" every time they cross the county line.  Better yet, tourists should be sent to a dot gov site to initiate the process of filling out a simple 23-screen application for a scenery-passport. Guarantee them a response within 6 months. If they don't like this method, they could stay closer to home where there are excellent recreational trails and public parks. If those

Puppies With Two Legs

I was almost laughing at myself as I did it: as I drove the utility vehicle by a campsite of (south Asian) Indians, I waved at small Indian children, and they waved back. It was impossible not to feel delighted with the little munchkins.  I actually remember my grandparents acting like that around my siblings and me 60 years ago. But I never act like that around mainstream-white-middle-class kids, and haven't for decades. In fact I completely ignore them. I dislike them. Why the double standard? Physical cuteness? -- nah. Do they first perceive behavior from me that then starts them into cute behavior? Or do they start it? What a strange thing it is for a human to be delighted with just about any dog and to feel indifference or even disdain toward little members of his own species. I doubt my reaction is all that different from most Americans. It is possible that the inability to be delighted with "our own" children is one of the best proofs that we are circling the drain

A Calm Day in the Southwest

Two perfect days in one week. You won't believe this but I actually sat in a chair outdoors.  Rare for me, but some people do a lot of it. The air was a little cool and the sun was a little warm. So it was possible to adjust the angles to be perfect. But what about what really matters: the wind. It was dead calm. What a rare experience it is in the Southwest not to feel under relentless assault from the sun and wind and blowing dust. Perfect moments are really perfect when they are combined with just the right music. A good suggestion for this moment is Schubert's Rosamunde D. 797, No.3 (Andantino). My goodness, they love to label things with confusing jargon. It is on an album, "Schubert, The Essentials." In order to deprive Bezos of a little business, my music comes from  .    

That Special Moment Just Before a Tsunami

Many people have probably watched videos of the tsunami that hit Japan a half dozen years ago. Some people describe the shoreline pulling out to sea just before the tsunami hits. Sometimes they talk about an eerie silence. I guess that is easy to explain: as the shoreline pulls away from you, the usual sound of waves on the shore is further away from you. _____________________________________  Today I was trying not to surrender to Fear and Dread about the upcoming holiday since there should be one more day of normalcy, it seemed. It was late morning and yet the wind was not howling. The morning outflow of campers was already over. The campground had an eerie silence to it. I turned the engine off so I could just soak it in. It was a precious moment and deserved to be honored. Then suddenly, without any warning, cars started driving into the campground. Their driving wasn't blatantly aggressive, but somehow it seemed menacing. Oh no, here it comes! I thought it would hold off until

Start of Camping Season Caption Contest

  The Texans are readying their rigs for the start of the camping season in Coloraduh. It has been a while since we had a caption contest, so... Credit goes to Ed, the great quotemeister of the internet!

Lockdown on Scenery-Tourism Needed

  It has made the virus-lockdown easier for me to focus on the good things that came out of it. For instance, I have always been in favor of 6 feet of distance between people. Being greedy about it, I would prefer 6 become 10. I like seeing those plexiglass sneeze-guards go up to protect people who work in retail settings and get sneezed on 100 times per day, during a typical flu and cold season. Let's hope the plexiglass stays up. It is disappointing that half the parking spaces at stores haven't been painted off. Wouldn't it be nice to open your car doors and not worry about smacking somebody else or getting smacked by them? Many people eat "out" less than in the past, and save a small fortune by that discipline. And if you do eat out, the diners next to you aren't bumping into your chair every time they shift a little bit. If I were a Democrat I would be worried about the nonchalance of people in ultra-blue Colorado about mask-fear-compliance. (Granted, the

Plato as a Campground Host

  Help me here, people. I am trying to get worked up to doing a little homework on the Mind-Body Problem of philosophy. But before tackling this, it is worth noting how being a campground host opens your mind up to question democratic pieties of the 1800s. Countries ratcheted their way towards universal suffrage back then, as if going one more notch in that direction was "Progress." I wonder if any of the mighty theorists of universal suffrage had ever worked at a retail store or as a campground host. Now that I have made excuses for dismissing history and political sciences as useless theorizing, let's move on to philosophy. Let's take Plato as the symbol of the Mind-Body Problem. He was a male. Would a female philosopher, tied closer to the circle of life, be as easily taken in by the notion of disembodied thought? Didn't Plato have a house-full of slaves and servants that got him out of doing a hour of honest work in his life? That also makes it easier to sit o

In Quest of Fire

  A couple posts ago I was admiring some campers' fortitude and cheerfulness when bad weather hit.   Yesterday I was in town all day. Returning in the late afternoon, I was surprised to see the campground 1/3 full of undaunted campers. They were quite upbeat despite hours of cold rain. One campsite in particular was fun to drive by. They were the only ones who had managed to get a fire going. The rain was too slow to put it out. The fire had no practical effect on their body temperatures; nor did they cook with it. Everybody uses a stove. But what an effect the fire had on them and me psychologically! Naturally it brings to mind that movie "In Quest of Fire" by the French director, made back in the '80s. Do you suppose they will manage to get the fire started this morning? We have five inches of snow and it is still falling. They are quite intrepid and seem to enjoy the challenge of everything. It would make a wonderful picture if they got it going again. I will run o

Conversation With a Newbie RVer

What a world it is! It certainly made me appreciate some progress taking placing in the RV industry. I spoke to an older generation RVer who was on their maiden vogage with their loooonnnnng trailer. There were all bushy-tailed and bright-eyed about living the dream. He was from Texas, where his rig might have been a good fit. There were three sites (out of 25) in this campground where his rig would have fit. But of course, they were filled. But he still felt optimistic. After all, they were finally living the dream. from I don't know where they ended up camping for the night. He mentioned that they were now on their way to Moab. Talk about leaving the fry pan for the fire! It was reminiscent of Lucille Ball in "The Long, Long Trailer." I got a kick out of the conversation. In contrast, consider the younger generation in their vans: they can actually fit in campgrounds or parking lots. They are wise to give up on the long RVs of the old

Why Is Camping So Popular?

I am still waiting for somebody to explain a bizarre situation that affects many thousands of people per year in Coloraduh. There is this enormous crush of campers trying to get into campgrounds that simply aren't that desirable in the first place.  Why? Don't worry, I won't go on a rant about everything that sucks about Coloraduh camping. The specifics are already well known and are too depressing to read. The explanation is what is at issue. Consider an analogy: my first time in New York City, as a bit of a young hayseed, I exited the taxi from the left side of the back seat. The driver instantly tensed up and shouted, "Hey man, this is New Yawk..." or something like that. With all the traffic rushing by at suicidal speeds just a few inches to the left of the taxi, I believed the driver, took his advice, and didn't make that mistake again. So why is there this crush of people showing up at sunset on a Friday night at a campground in Coloraduh? Couldn't t

A Non-tourist at a Tourist Attraction

I was pleased the other day when I walked up a trail to a tourist attraction, despite disliking tourist attractions and rocky trails. Many people see aversions as a "negative" thing, something to be avoided at all costs. Rubbish.  Aversions are part of a natural cycle that "charges up" the intensity of subsequent pleasures. Without aversions and suffering, experiences are just a bland sugary routine consumer experience. They become American cheese. Yes, the trail was rocky. So I had to reach out in some non-standard-tourist direction to escape this aversion. For awhile it felt good to throw rocks off the trail. Then I got close enough to the waterfall to hear it. It is an interesting and unique sound. Soon we were at the creek below the waterfall, but still couldn't see it. The air was cool and moist. What higher praise can you give? It was a microclimate there along the creek. The trees were tall and straight, unlike the usual scrawny diseased trees of Colorado

Campers Who Are Smart

A couple times during the night I heard a funny sound on the metal roof of my camper trailer. It must be a very light rain or mist, I thought. Not so. In the morning the campground woke up to an inch or two of snow. It was not crowded here last night, but we had a half dozen campers.  Some people's reaction to this photo might be, "Can't they find something better to do?" It was dead calm for the first time in days. And it was calm in another sense of the word: snow in the trees seems to make it seem quieter, a lovely feeling that is almost the ultimate luxury in a noisy, overcrowded world. One young man was camping by himself. He had his kit arranged neatly on his picnic table. Steam was rising out of his coffee pot. I asked why his tent fly had no snow on it; he said the support-poles were collapsing a little, so when he got up for breakfast, he just shook the snow off. What an attitude this guy had! He took what other people would consider a setback, and made it a

Looking For An Angle at a Tourist Attraction

Long-suffering readers of this blog probably think I am such a snob about scenery-tourism that I wouldn't be caught dead in a tourist area. (And a cynical reader probably just thinks I am doing this just to give myself something to complain about...) But here I am, campground-hosting four miles outside a national park. We essentially function as an overflow bin for the national park. And here I was, walking up a trail to a waterfall that a hundred thousand (?) other people do every year. How was I supposed to think about this?  Was I supposed to be excited about the mere act of gawking at a waterfall? What for? -- I have already seen a photo of it. (Essentially that is my argument for the fundamental uselessness of scenery-tourism.) But it was early in the day, so the tidal wave of tourism hadn't yet hit. Nor did I get hot, as usual on a hike. It was strange how many softball-sized rocks were on the trail. Why were the tourists so lazy? They should have kicked some of these sem

Our First Haboob

We were driving up the steep road, up and into the Sangre de Cristo mountains. It was BLM land so you could still see between the smallish trees. Off to the south I saw something I had never seen before in person: a wall of dust coming north. It was almost unnatural looking because the wall was a straight line, lined up east-to-west, and advancing northward through Colorado's San Luis valley. (Technically it is Colorado, but in reality it is the northern end of New Mexico.)  My camp was 1500 feet above the valley floor, so perhaps it would be above the oncoming wall of wind and dust? Nope. The rush of wind and dust happened in a couple minutes. Visibility fell to a couple hundred yards. But in five minutes it was over and the sun came out again. So the experience was mild compared to the Great Mother of All Haboobs which hit Arizona a couple years ago. Still, it was a 'personal best.' The famous Arizona haboob of 2018 Most people don't go through that many freakish nat

Lucky to Have Modern Media

If you aren't careful, you can get discouraged by thinking about the state of the world. One way around this is to ignore news programs and pundits' articles and essays. This has worked well for me. Another technique is to think about what you can do today during your "off" hours, compared to your recent ancestors. They could spend their evenings watching sitcoms and commercials on television, or listening to pop music on the radio. There was no way for them to watch classic movies. They had books, you say. Did they? How many books did they have access to in small towns? Compare that to the books and music available online to anybody anywhere today! I thought about this when I was watching the Criterion Edition of the Russian movie "War and Peace" made in the 1960s. I am indeed fortunate. Ironically this movie does tie in with world events. Consider the reckless saber-rattling and trouble-making by NATO and the USA's Deep State in Ukraine. I doubt that t

A Tree Forever Lost at Sea

If you shop around for 'sleep, relaxation, ambient, white noise' music, they try to sell on their relaxing sounds of nature. Since when are the sounds of nature necessarily sleep-inducing? Last night I was on another cliff-line in southwestern New Mexico. The wind was howling, although most of the fury seemed to be in the tree tops. The forest floor was semi-calm, comparatively. But it sounded like a storm at sea. Think of the courage that sailors had until the last couple generations. It is hard for we moderns to imagine it. Here is a photo from the archive of myself and the Little Mariner, "clambering off a lee shore" near the tip of the Baja peninsula. When you have been camping in the desert for awhile, it seems dangerous to be where ponderosa trees weighing tons could possibly fall on you. It happens. Remember that this area has volcanic rocks near the surface so the trees' root systems are not well-developed. I felt under attack. But at sunset the wind fell

A Cello at Apache Creek

  A day has to be a good day in Arizona if there was 0.10" of precipitation over night. We even had the slightest touch of snow flurries -- and it is almost May! The ground was definitely damp in the morning, and the imagination could puff up some spots into a puddle. The residual moisture in the air made for euphonious puffy clouds in the normally-mono tonous blueness. It is hard to be "blue" on an Arizona day like this.  And I must surrender to this. The morning and evening walks with my older dog are turning from andantes to allegros , but under conditions so fine, allegro need only mean slow and beautiful. It was project day: time to add another solar panel to the roof. After brainstorming with another RVer, this approach seemed the least complex and expensive way to camp in deeper shade this summer, despite it sounding ironic. With untinted glasses on, I felt woozy standing on a ladder and looking at the ghastly Arizona sun bouncing off the white roof. And scali

From the Ridiculous to the Sublime

You can see some extreme things out on the road, but what I saw yesterday certainly took the prize. It was a tricked-out Toyota pickup pulling a tricked-out "overlander" trailer, with tricked-out motorcycles inside. The two fellows had an interesting job. They drove this monstrosity around the country to appear at public events of various kinds. "Their" rig was essentially an advertising billboard for a motorcycle manufacturer.  They were friendly guys and I had a nice conversation with them. The ridiculousness of their rig didn't seem to bother me -- nothing surprises me in this world of ours. And besides, was their rig any more ridiculous than some of the things seen in my sport's culture? Do "roadies" still wear those tight, uncomfortable, shiny plastic, Italian cycling shoes ($250) with exposed cleats on them? They make it so hard for the cyclist to even get off at a coffee shop and walk around like a normal human being. What a nice concrete ex

The Opposite of Cattle Rustling

What a strange little animal! The calf ran over to my van like a dog welcoming his human home. He actually came up to the driver's door. What did the crazy little maverick want?  He took off in front of the van in the direction I wanted to drive. He hogged the road and wouldn't let me pass, although I came close a half dozen times. I was afraid to run over him. Finally I stopped, he stopped, and I threw rocks at him. This was getting strange. He was a half mile from mommy. What on earth is the rancher feeding these animals? _____________________________________ Last night my dog and I went on our sunset walk. As a dog gets older each minute of quality time gets more precious. Three more neighbors came up to visit, but they stayed on their side of the cattle gate. Tall, noble, beautiful. The horses graze in a lower pasture, about a half mile from camp. ______________________________________ On this morning's ride, I saw some pretty odd cattle. I can't remember ever seein

Making Bicycling More Pleasurable

I was shocked -- shocked! -- when he told me that he mountain biked with boxer shorts under loose fitting biking shorts, instead of the industry-standard $40 padded underwear or $100 padded spandex sausage shorts. Wasn't it Chesterton who reminded us to be 'frugal with our heresies?' And I have been: despite being skeptical about many of the trends that have come along in the bicycle industry, I have been conventional regarding bike-liners-underwear, the last few years. But it was not always so. Years ago I had two pairs of loose-fitting nylon shorts, with a thin, loose, and cool liner inside. I kept those shorts alive for 15 years, taking them to various seamstresses to resew -- and you know how hard it is to find a seamstress when you are on the road! Finally they were dead. But REI didn't sell them anymore. They were only selling the over-priced, thick, hot, overly long, overly busy mountain bike shorts that made you look like an urban rap singer. I refused. That pu

The Neighborhood Comes to Visit

The best travelers in the world are those who can meet people with interesting lives and talk to them. It must help to have an irrepressibly jovial disposition, be non-threatening, and have the right physical appearance and age. But even if these things aren't perfect, you still get a chance to meet the neighbors, every now and then. First it was the cows and their calves. Then "Hondo" paid call. That really was his name! What a great name for a real Western ranch dog, a workin' dog.   What a lifestyle Hondo must have! But it isn't all fun and games. He has 75 cows to fuss over. Of course he doesn't have to do it all alone. He delegates a certain amount of the workload to his human partner, who drives the ATV. She is recovering from shoulder surgery -- otherwise she would be driving her horse. Hondo even delegated a certain amount of work to me: he assigned me the job of checking on cows and their calves at a local wallow hole. The bottom is glutinous mud, and