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Showing posts from January, 2021

The Desert Screams

Real rain drops, on the metal roof of my camper. Ordinarily it is not a sound to look forward to. But it is, in 2020/21. The Fake News on the weather channels said that we got a quarter of an inch. I don't believe it. But we got at least 0.05" which is big news in Arizona. Listening to the rain drops on the roof made me think how important it is to be receptive to natural things. Otherwise, you are just stuck as a scenery tourist. By chance I was reading a short history, "The Romantic Revolution," by Tim Blanning. The Romantics weren't all wrong: we do need to be sensitive to the world. Yes, it is subjective and experiential. But what would you prefer: dry facts, a pile of statistics, or algebraic equations? In the morning Coffee Girl and I went out for a walk. The desert was certainly different. The camera helps a little bit in experiencing how special things are. From sound to sight, we proceed. But of course after a rain, it is smell that is truly special. I

Reacting to a Worthless Trail

  So what do you do when your luck runs out, on a ride or trail? You have to react somehow. My last mountain bike route was terrible. It was nothing but loose rubble and steep arroyo crossings, with large rocks in the two-track ruts. It was fairly easy to do the most important thing: stay uninjured. I don't feel too much of the young-male-ego thing. Even more, I am not going to risk injury on something as contemptible as Arizona rubble. So I pushed the bike for a half-hour through the rocky crap. So why even be here? Marvelous cool temperatures, no insects, no rattlesnakes, and sunny skies. (I said 'cool', not cold.)   One  good thing about pushing a bike is that you are moving slow enough to notice certain things, like this dead cactus. I don't know how it got hollowed out.   Closeup of the photo above. The metamorphic rocks grabbed my eyes, but the photos of them were not interesting. I don't know why. There was an intense struggle for life around here, sometimes

Finding a Thread in the Desert

Saturday is the official mountain biking sabbath, especially when the town is crowded with visitors because of one of its horsey events. Crowds of people mean too many motorsports people out on the dirt roads. Fortunately it is possible to work around them by opting for a walk in the arroyos (dry washes) on the weekend. It is always gratifying to turn a disadvantage into an advantage. Of course I could buy a fat bike and see if it can handle the loose gravel in the arroyos. For years I have wondered why it helps so much to go on an outing right from the camper's door, instead of driving to a trailhead. Perhaps driving to an outing makes me feel too much like a tourist, instead of a camper who has insinuated himself into the outdoor world. At any rate, my dog and I walked -- I never "hike" -- to the nearest arroyo. Would it be wide enough to avoid thorns from overhanging mesquite trees? Just barely. But it can only get wider as it proceeds downstream. I felt a little fo

Your Own Photos as "Album Art"

"Slideshows" have been around for a long time on laptop computers and other gadgets. For whatever reason I never paid much attention to them. But I have set one up recently for all the photos taken during traveling and camping the last few years. The slideshow has been surprisingly effective at reviving an interest in bringing my camera along on outdoor outings. Here is another trick at reviving an interest in photography: watch the movie "Barry Lyndon." The movie is a bit of a 'downer.' But nothing beats it when it comes to beautiful photography, scenery, costumes, and music!  I have no idea why you can't just go to the usual places and download an mp3 album of the movie's score. But if you search "Barry Lyndon" in the search box, you will be able to find individual songs that are downloadable. Searching for "Barry Lyndon" on You Tube works quite well, too. (I use You Tube on my PC, rather than the app on a smartphone, so that m

The Art of Escaping Yuma

A traveler in the USA has some real advantages to enjoy. Our weakness is the shortage of cultural and historical aspects of travel. Let's talk about one way to lessen these disadvantages.  'Leaving Yuma' is a good example. It is delicious to do a good job of it. Start off by admitting the grim truth, without any sugar-coating or pep talks: Yuma sucks to high heaven. And then let the first heat wave hit you. What happens? In Yuma, you can't even bring your dog in the car when you go grocery shopping during the daylight hours, except for a few weeks per year. Today is probably the last day.  Then wallow in it a little bit! Laundromats will soon become hot -- combine that with them being desperately crowded. Take a chance and grab a laundry cart that an old snowbird-biddy thinks belongs to her, and see what happens. Parking lots are congested. People back out without looking what's behind them. After all, their necks won't twist that far, and only newer cars have b

Advice to Podcasters

  Are my readers interested in media criticism? I am not sure. But they probably should be, since media consumption is likely to become a bigger and bigger part of life. Recently I was following a tip to a new podcaster, "The History of England," (David Crowther. It is a history of the country of England. Do not confuse with Kevin Stroud's "History of English" about the language. ) I had high hopes but they fizzled out. It is a shame to admit defeat because there was a lot of good content on his podcast. It was large. And his voice is pleasant to listen to, despite the usual "speech defect" of an English accent; that is, he is half-non-rhotic. Since podcasting is a new medium to me, it interests me to see likes and dislikes take shape fairly quickly. What bothered me about Crowther's podcast is the snideness in his voice. It isn't the greatest defect in the world, but I still want to run away from it. Why so? Perhaps it reveals the podcaster

Some Questions for RV Wannabees

People thinking about becoming RVers have a problem in front of them. Information. That might sound facetious, since there are so many You Tube videos and old-style blogs available on the topic of RVing. But few of them discuss what really matters.  Instead, they just talk about their "rig" or about converting their van, because that is how they monetize their channel. "Just click on the link." The old style blogs show pretty scenery, day after day. Putting these two traits together, we could say that the propaganda out there assumes that the benefit of RVing is all about relaxing in the sun or looking at pretty scenery, but the main challenge of doing so is finding out where to camp or what aftermarket part you need for improving your RV or van. How an armchair traveler looks at RVing.   I'm here to tell you that this point of view is all wrong. So then, what "matters?"  Largely it is finding things to be interested in, when the initial euphoria of ga

Mountain Biking Towards An Un-named Piece of Music

It happened again. I wish it happened more often: an intersection between mountain biking and music. Years ago I wrote about an experience like this on a despicable trail outside Madera Canyon, south of Tucson. But the unpleasantness of the trail created an appreciation for the mood of the music, which was ascending and gentle. (But, my goodness, I was long-winded back then!) The music by itself was enjoyable -- but it really was the synergy between the biking experience and the music that was magical.  In a sense, then, someone with no musical talent or training can become a type of composer, by combining the music with other parts of their life. A few months ago I heard a solo piano work 'played' (aka, acted) by the 'lady of the house' in a classic TV western of all things. IMDB wouldn't divulge the identity of the music, but it sounded like Schumann or Brahms. I kept searching. ...but with what? It's not as if you could hum it to the internet search engine,