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Showing posts from October, 2021

The Perfect Ice Cream to Finish the Meal

Over the years, the road trip movie has been a popular genre. They rightly emphasize personal growth rather than scenery. One that comes to mind is "City Slickers", made back in the 1990s and starring Billy Crystal. Do you remember that famous scene when they have a "shootout" over one guy's ability to choose the perfect ice cream to finish off any meal? An analogous approach works with travel experiences: choosing the perfect book, movie, or music that pairs up with a moving travel experience. Music is my choice. The travel experience in question is having an engine konk out on me, with only 26,000 miles on the odometer. (Bad crankshaft bearing.) Although a new engine was covered by the powertrain warranty, there was still plenty of angst. There were only a couple of the engines available in North America because of supply chain problems. It took 2 weeks of waiting for an engine to show up, but then the work got done pretty quickly. A New, Shiny, and Clean Eng

Bookends at Book Cliffs

It has been a long time since I have had this much drama in my RV travels. And once again it happened at the foot of Book Cliffs. What is it about this place? How can a person get good out of a disaster like needing a new engine at 25,500 miles on the odometer? Yes, it is covered by the powertrain warranty. Together with double digit inflation and supply shortages of all kinds, this is a sobering time. I needed a good way to kill time while waiting -- GM was making the waiting as miserable as possible by giving no tracking number for the engine shipment. My dog, Coffee Girl, and I go to the foot of Book Cliffs every morning and walk some of the trail system in fine autumn weather. I adopted her during the first drama at Book Cliffs, when my first dog (a miniature poodle) ran off because he was frightened by all the shooting going on just before a hunting season started. Since she is 15 now and has sarcoma (cancer) I guess she has seen both bookends of the Book Cliffs drama. When a b

On to the Next Project of Enjoying a Difficult Season

It seems funny to switch to a new project about enjoying a difficult season -- winter -- so soon after making a big project out of enjoying summer more. Perhaps the summer project worked well enough that it encouraged me. What makes winter difficult? It isn't the temperature or the clouds or the snow -- not for snowbirds, it isn't. The difficulty is the long hours of darkness.  Remember that the American Southwest has a higher latitude than the Texas coast or southern Florida. Phoenix is only slightly south of Atlanta, GA. The easy answer to too many hours of darkness is to sleep more. Yes, animals do sleep more (and better) in cool weather, but there are limits to that trick.  Recently I was watching a video by Jonna Jinton, a young woman who spends the winter in northern Sweden, so her credentials are similar to an Alaskan. She was probably quite correct when she recommended not trying to sleep too much. Her point is even more important for an oldster. Campers in small RVs,

The Romance of Real Winter Camping

Now that I've fallen to the level of an armchair traveler, I might as well make the best of it. There are videos about guys camping in big tents -- big enough to walk around in -- in deep snow.  My favorite videos show the tent with no floor. The guy tromps around inside in his snow boots. You hear the crunching of the snow with every step. A wood stove is crackling away inside the tent.  Smoke pours out the chimney tube that exits a special hole in the tent wall.   Then he walks over to his cot. A huge fluffy sleeping bag is piled up on it. And his dog is snuggling in the bag. The dog gets a pet from the man and looks up at his man. The dog has an aura or halo of contentment and coziness. My eyelashes are fluttering by now. Compare this scene to the hackneyed look of an RV snowbird in Quartzsite, AZ. There is almost no romance or adventure to what they are doing. The trouble is that the romance evaporates when you start thinking about the inconvenience of burning wood, taking yo

Healthy-mindedness in Autumn

  It cannot be repeated too often that the greatest thing about rain is how it makes you feel after the sun comes out and the mud starts to dry. Of course this is only true on one level: I don't mean to suggest that an individual's subjective feelings are more important than the survival of every living thing in the world because of the rain. Somewhat analogous to that wonderful after-rain feeling is what happens in autumn. I took my dog out for a walk today, where we got a great view of cliffs and mountains in two directions. More importantly, the air was so pure, cool, and crystalline. Unbelievable. No smoke. And walking didn't make me warm, as it usually does. I walked around like a joyful idiot, soaking up the sunlight and feeling totally at peace with the world around me. Summer is almost worth it if it helps you feel like this. We went up to the mesa in the loaner car from the dealership. It is a passenger sedan. I haven't been in one of those things for years. I

An Armchair Traveler

'How have the mighty fallen!' I guess that old tagline applies well to my current situation of squatting at a GM dealership in Utah, waiting for a new replacement engine -- at GM's expense! It does seem like quite a come-down. I have never aspired to be an armchair traveler. On the other hand I read history books that take place a long way from home. It is fun running to a mapping app to learn about the geography that pertains to the story. Possible alternatives: 1. Rewrite old posts. 2. Make comments on the blog/vlogs of people who actually do travel.  3. Change the blog to a You Tube channel that photographs itself sitting in front of a computer screen, while critiquing people who really do travel. 4. Start a "how to" channel/blog that pretends to be friendly to "fellow" travelers but is actually about selling crap. from

Learning Not To Ask Why

Once upon a time when I was younger, I used to ask why. Why doesn't the world around me make any sense? Why are situations that are fundamentally insane allowed to exist and to persist? It never did any good. All it did was make me angry or full of complaints. Then other people would get sick of the complaints and blame the complainer, not the situation.  I am happy to be done with most of that. There is no better test than to be facing a serious mechanical problem at an automobile dealership. The good news is that it was a General Motors product, so the engine dissolved like toilet paper in a septic tank with only 25,000 miles on the odometer, so the powertrain warranty will cover it.  The American automobile industry -- or what is left of it -- is still relatively important. It is tempting to ask why American manufacturers didn't shrink down to marketing and finance, and outsource all design and manufacturing to East Asia, years ago. It has been a few years since I read any o

An Individual CAN Adapt

The new era of the Great Reset is not evolving quite as I expected, showing once more that predictions are difficult, 'especially about the future.' By now I expected the Climate Lockdown to have been announced in a dramatic way, with most of the news media trumpeting it as a New Dispensation. But we appear to be sliding seamlessly from Virus Lockdowns to supply-chain crises and energy shortages, with the Climate Lockdown staying implicit. Perhaps the Powers-That-Be learned that the public has become weary and wary of the very word "lockdown". More fundamentally, what is happening is that the Forever War era has transitioned to the Forever Something Else era in order to empower the people who don't think they have quite enough power yet.  Where does that leave a helpless individual? The good news is that we are not quite helpless. An individual can't do anything about soaring energy prices, which are probably Forever. But we can make certain adjustments such

Casting a Shadow on the World

  What good luck! I arrived on the top of the little mesa just before sunrise, that is, the vans were still in the shadow of the mesa but the mesa-top was in the sun.  As the sun crept higher in the sky, the shadow-line on the ground advanced slowly toward the vans. It seemed like fun to use my body to make a shadow on the windshield of my friend's van and then flap my arms and see if he got confused. But there was no shadow...anywhere. I kept moving my body along the cliff-line to align the shadow correctly, but nothing worked. I was beginning to feel like Bart Simpson after he sold his Soul: he couldn't get the automatic door openers to work for him, and failed to fog a mirror. After a few minutes my eyes adjusted enough to see a vague and weak shadow moving along on the ground. Well, really! I thought my shadow 100 yards away would be pretty vague, but not that vague. What a brutally honest metaphor for most people's insignificance for their own era or the next! No wond

Letting the Leash Out for the Land and Trails

  Lately I have been on a streak of underestimating the land and trails around me, and was aware of it. So today we chose a small cliff/ridge only 50 yards from my campsite. I expected it to be a nice place to walk my dog, Coffee Girl, but nothing more. But the sandstone rocks were surprisingly tough to climb. Fortunately they were so grippy that I felt like Spiderman on them. It was probably a foolish place for a geezer to playing around, so I took it slow. Coffee Girl wanted nothing to do with those rocks. Dogs are not good technical climbers. She skulked off, looking frightened and worried. All of her life she has been a bit of a Nervous Nellie. Actually it was fun to grab a sandstone hand-grip and launch up the rocks. I can see why people take up rock climbing. It is more engaging, mentally and emotionally, than sports that are merely aerobic. Where did Coffee Girl go anyway? Back home? As I got near the top I started dreading the sound of a dog falling and hurting herself. What a

Some Success at Camping in the New Age

Every beginner at camping has had the same type of bemusing experience. Typically it happens in the empty corner of a Walmart parking lot. But it could be at a truck stop or a mostly empty national forest campground. The camper is delighted to be camping alone, that is, free of noisy neighbors.  Then some interloper (invader) moves in surprisingly close, despite the fact that there was plenty of room to space out. That brings us to what happened today: we were a bit nervous to be camping in the real world again, after the bliss of camping in empty land to the north. "Real world" means a place known to everybody thanks to the blabbermouth "where to camp free" websites.  We made an excellent choice on an empty road, with some visual interest and with good places to ride, nearby. The scheme was to 'monopolize' the two end campsites on this dead-end road; that is, we took the two sites even though we could have fit in just one. In the Olde Days, taking just one