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Showing posts from July, 2021


I couldn't recognize the howls yesterday. Wolves?  But they were too high in pitch. The cows grazing nearby appeared unconcerned. These days I seem to go to You Tube when I want quick information on something, rather than Wikipedia. I wanted to hear sounds of coyotes and wolves, rather than move my eyeballs over a pile of verbiage, or worse yet, jargon. The You Tube recordings of coyotes did sound similar to what I heard here. It was howl-like rather than the high pitched yipping that I am used to. Do Wyoming or northern coyotes sound different than the scrawny coyotes of the Southwest?  Northern coyotes seems less famished and bushier than those of the southwest, but would they sound different? I don't get it.

Bouncing Back From Fire

What is the history of this forest/sagebrush boundary that I'm camping in? There was a fire semi-recently. I can hear the chainsaws of local firewood gatherers a couple times per week.  For some reason, burned forests don't scare me off. For one thing, the breeze blows through them better than for a normal tangled forest. And the view opens up. I wouldn't even say burned forests are ugly. There are lots of fuchsia flowers between the burned spars. Rather pretty.  It is true that my road would never make it onto "America's Top Ten Wildflower Auto Tour" package deals. Maybe that is why one field worker drives by per day, instead of heavy traffic from Jeep Wranglers and RAZR side-by-sides. So what do I do: just gawk at the fuchsia flowers for three minutes and then leave? That sounds too easy. Maybe the local forest has something better to offer than eye candy -- such as drama. Forest fires are no joke. I camped right across the road from one once. It was right o

Plants and Face-Plants

Yesterday I enjoyed running across a large herd of antelope at the same time as a herd of black cows. And they say cows are stupid! At least cows make plenty of noise for communicating with their fellow herd-persons. As far as I can tell, antelope are mute. And cows make trails useful for human walking. The pasture was relatively free of sagebrush. The grass was green and lush. Imagine that -- something that was actually green!  It was good to be walking again. The terrain and road situation just didn't lend themselves to mountain biking. The edge of the ridgeline extended for miles. It was blessed with a merciful breeze, so no insects were noticeable. It might sound perverse but I rather liked the haze from distant forest fires. It moderated the sun, ordinarily my arch-enemy.   It was satisfying to adapt to the land: to take it for what it is and make the best of it. After all, what is the point of traveling if you drag yourself and your sacred preferences around with you?  ______

A Noble Landscape

This morning inaccuracies in my map confused the bike ride but I rather enjoyed it, anyway. After all, perfect information would destroy the process of exploring by reducing it to mere consumption. It will necessary to walk to the top of the ridge -- maybe that is a good thing since I try to bike everywhere. The camera doesn't do too badly at capturing the glorious nature of this ridge. But they have their limits: cameras thrive on verticalities and that is not what is admirable about this terrain. The uppermost mile of this ridge brought gradual changes in its personality. The ridge morphed into a proud headland, defying the western wind as it stood steadfast in Wyoming's sky-sea. It could only be experienced through the skin or through the pressure between the feet and a pedal. So noble and grand! This must be what a sailor experiences on the bow of his ship.

Easy and Hard to Please

I had seen that truck pulling the horse trailer, before. It was a flatbed pickup truck with a goose neck style horse trailer attached to it. The rancher would let the horses out onto a green swale, for a tasty snack. In the bed of the truck a large border collie would pop out to the edge. Somehow he found a grip and didn't fall off. What a noble creature! So enthusiastic and full of purpose and meaning. The dog looked around in all directions, so eager to get down to work. He was a Waaaahomn ranch dawg, and prawd of it -- Yippee I Oh, baby! And yet I laughed at myself for being such a simpleton, so easy to please. What sight could be more common in ranch country than a contented dog or two in the bed of a pickup truck? But it was so classic.  I t was impossible to see something like this and not go away with a persistent afterglow: all was right with the world. __________________________________  Most afternoons the ritual of torture plays out. The clouds build up. Rain really lo

Finding a Castle in the Sky

  Some mornings I am not in the mood for the mountain bike, and am not sure why. There might be several small reasons but they don't seem to add up to a real excuse to be lazy. So I talk myself down about the difficulty of the ride -- just take it easy, find something a little interesting, and go. There was in fact a two track road at the top of the ridge that seemed worth checking out. I had no great expectations. Perhaps that is why the flowers were enjoyable up there -- and it was 10,000 feet. I guess that was going to be the big excitement of the day. There was only one set of tire tread marks on this dirt two-track. The forest map said no camping on this section -- I wondered why. The top of the ridge was coming up. I knew there was a potentially grand view, but forest fire smoke would probably ruin it. But I was here, and might as well give it a chance. What's this doing here? An old fire watch tower turned into a solar powered weather station? I was surprised it wasn'

The Armchair Admiral of the Black Sea

I have been amazed at the restraint that Russia has shown towards the reckless provocation from Washington DC, in the Black Sea recently, through its flunkies in NATO. What a relief it is to think that some countries have grown-ups in charge! You could belittle Russia's restraint and say that they are just sensible enough to know that NATO is provoking them deliberately and hopes to gain something from it.  Therefore Russia shouldn't fall for the trap.  Intellectually everybody understands that. But all countries have hotheads who want to respond rather than think. Politicians in any country are going to feel pressure to 'do something' about the 'bad guys.' How far will NATO's provocations go? Can Russia resist responding forever? I hope they respond in a limited way by blocking or damaging NATO ships, rather than sending them to the bottom of the Black Sea. NATO needs Russia to be an enemy of course to justify its budget. I almost wish I didn't avoid wa

Summer Breeze

The mosquitoes are merciful at my Wyoming camp. Although there are lots of sweat-bees and giant flies in mid-day, they don't bite. So I have no real complaint against the insects, and yet, how nice it is when a breeze blows them away.   Remember that this summer's project is to learn to like summer. So I took an extra moment to appreciate the breeze we had the other day. It is a little bit warm in the afternoon, but the breeze also took care of that. It is true that breezes taper off as summer progresses, but let's hope the breezes survive. What a difference there is between a winter breeze and a summer breeze!  There is hardly anything good to say about wind in winter, but in the summer, a breeze makes it close to the top of the list.  

Penetrating a Continent

  It was delightful and even a bit funny that I stumbled onto one of the old wagon routes that people went west on. After all, I have my needs and they had theirs, and the overlap is only partial. And yet here I am. This experience was exciting because it had some authenticity -- it wasn't just scenery tourism. Let's back up a step. I spend my time on continental land, land that some would call "landlocked." That word isn't really accurate, but it used to be. A continent was hard to cross -- it was just a tangle of obstacles. The sea was easier to cross. Sometimes continents are easier to cross than you might first think. Look at the riverways of European Russia: you can use them to go from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea or the Caspian Sea, with only short portages. The Scandinavians did just that back in the Viking days, and founded Russia. Likewise North America was penetrated in the 1600s thanks to the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River system. Much of the

Finding Your Paradise

I love geography, especially if I can "live" it. That is why I praise camping near South Pass WY, where all the wagon trains, Pony Express, etc., went through. But it was too touristy and motorheadish there, so I left the area.  Obviously I don't use Rand McNally or AAA maps or free camping websites to find my locations. (It is probably comical to see my face when a newbie gets out his Rand McNally atlas when talking to a snob like me.) So how do I find locations? I was looking for a non-tourist-trap. Such places can and usually do have interesting scenery nearby, although it might not be quite picturesque enough to titillate the standard scenery tourist on vacation. There are other negative filters: national parks, lakes, towns that sound "cool" and are full of retirement McMansions or wealthy Lefties. The positive filters are BLM/National Forest boundaries, high altitudes, ridge-lines, and dead-end roads. Avoid any road system that would make for a popular lo

The World's Best Persuaders

I am getting some things done around here. I had hoped to enroll it as a member of my archipelago of base camps, but I was wrong. Lander WY is too touristy. It is after all on the way to Yellowstone for people coming from the south and east. There is one particular loop road through the forest that I checked out the other day. There must be hundreds of dispersed campers out there, with a certain amount of uniformity: giant fifth wheel trailers with 6-8 kilowatt, open frame generators. It must take at least a couple stout guys to lift those generators off the pickup truck. They usually have several motorsports machines loaded off a flat bed trailer.  They certainly have gone to a lot of trouble and expense to have "fun" this holiday weekend. But are they having fun? A few of them are rock climbing, hiking, or fly fishing. I can see why people get interested in these activities in beautiful locations.  But such people are rare around here. For the most part their "fun&qu