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Showing posts from November, 2021

When Visiting Town Is Actually Fun

Nothing pleases a person quite as much as making lemonade from a bunch of lemons. With that in mind, there is a way to turn the holiday rampage of motor-crazed yahoos in the desert to advantage. Since I was pretty close to town, I rode the mountain bike there. I hardly ever ride in towns anymore, so it was a treat. Mesquite's streets resemble the wide streets of Utah. They have dedicated bicycle trails and nice neighborhoods. It was a chance to test out a bakery along the way, a small pet adoption center, and buy some apples and bread. I have always been surprised how fun it is to knock around town and do the ordinary errands of daily life on a bicycle. Let's hope eBikes really catch on and more people do this. But how with they keep the eBike from being stolen in front of the grocery store?  On the way back to camp, I even got the pleasure of a ten-year-old boy who finds a new route or a shortcut.  For an old "roadie" like me, it was a reminder of how happy my body a

A Holiday "Parade" in the Desert Southwest

(This is a rant against motorsports in the desert. But first, a disclaimer: the vehicles themselves are quite versatile and lend themselves to use by mature and sane recreationalists, as well as farm and ranch work.  On mountain bike rides I frequently stop and have nice chats with such people.) On this Thanksgiving weekend, t he weather is perfect in the desert. The motor-crazed yahoos do not want to waste it. They were screaming by my campsite before the sun was up. It is strange how they travel in large groups or convoys, with American flags sticking up. Maybe they think they are on some sort of para-military "adventure" and they need compatriots for safety. And do they really enjoy eating each other's dust? But let's be fair: they could have been driving faster. I even imagined a slight politeness as they passed by. Some gave us a friendly wave. Did they really imagine that campers admire them or their machines? But most of all I noticed and appreciated that they

When Time Zones Mess With You

What time is it? You don't hear that question as much as you used to. But the time certainly gets confusing in one particular place: the route between St. George UT and Mesquite NV. St. George has become so overcrowded and nerve-wracking that I no longer spend much time there. Then you 'retreat to Mesquite' which is also booming, but it is less crazy than St. George. You travel through three time zones. They mess with your mind all the way. In summer the sequence would be 10 a.m., 9, 9. In the winter it would be 10, 10, 9. The only time zone that makes sense is Arizona time, God's Time. It usually takes me a couple days to get the phone, computer, and dashboard clock in the van to agree with each other, and I am tempted to be non-compliant with the Pacific Time Zone when I'm in Nevada. And what if you are camped near Canadians? Why don't they use a metric calendar and clock? Of course it is silly for a camper to pay any attention to "o'clocks". Why

Rose-Colored 'Glasses for the Ears

Although the daylight hours have been calm and comfortable, nights have been windy. Tonight was so bad I put the (trailer) stabilizers down. They seemed broken but are probably just jammed with sand and dirt. How long must you camp in this part of the world before you make it a habit to lubricate things?!  I also slapped on some noise-cancelling headphones and played some relaxing solo piano music, to drown out the screaming wind.  Was my dog scratching herself on the floor and causing the trailer to shake? No. So what was happening? Then I pulled off the headphones and was shocked at how windy and noisy it was. Being under relentless attack from the wind is no fun. The headphones instantly returned me to a peaceful world and a beautiful world, despite the trailer shaking some. Removing the headphones was as drastic as stepping out of a comfy winter cabin into a frigid snowscape. It is funny how we take some layers of protection for granted -- such as house insulation, hats & sungl

Shopping for a Visual Metaphor About Winter Darkness

Lately I have been posting about doing better with winter darkness. It seemed desirable to look for a visual metaphor on the internet. It was fun to shop around and try to find the perfect one. The visual metaphor needs to express how one's imagination during reading can take the mind into the great outside world, as an antidote to the closed-in, cloistered, depressed feeling a person can get during too many hours of darkness. Here is the best one that I found.  from Perhaps the photo should have had a cat looking out the window?  It would nice to think of the perfect musical metaphor for this same idea, but I can't come up with anything.

Revenge of the (Canadian) Snowbirds

Things are starting to get a little tense on the I-15 corridor. Any day now we could get our first wave of Canadian snowbirds, probably from places that line up with the longitude, such as Calgary. Must I put a disclaimer in this post that says something like, "But I really like Canadians?" (Well, I do like them.) But after two winters of being cooped up in the Great White North, it is possible they will act crazy. Let's face it: even under the best of circumstances, they are a wild and lawless people. It is impossible to get them to follow any rules and act like civilized human beings. (facetiousness warning.) So this year we might get lucky and they will act like a horde of college students invading a beach town on spring break. Or maybe they will act like Vikings landing on the shores of England in 900 A.D.  Soon they will be displaying their maple leaf flags in the American desert and arranging the rocks in little circles around chollas. Desert paradise as Canadian s

Mesa Country

  I should feel happy for people who visit red rock country and become wildly excited, but for me it isn't the color that matters so much. It is the camp-ability of the topography.  Mesas and plateaus are easy to camp on. Canyon bottoms are difficult to drive through, camp on, or get a wireless signal.  Crumpled mountains make for surprisingly few camping locations. And of course, mesas make for good dirt-road mountain biking.

Busting Open the Dark Box in Winter

It isn't a new idea in the world, but it might be the first time I ever put the idea into practice: visualizing a book rather than just reading it. What exactly is your brain doing when you read a book? It knows the meaning of each word, but that is only a partial step towards visualizing a sentence. You are still just mechanically rastering across the page. There is something dry and sterile and lifeless about it. It is eye-fatigue, but the mind stays bored. But what if you changed your job from a movie scriptwriter to the person responsible for "screenplay" or teleplay? They turn the sterile verbiage of the writer into tangible things that move and can be photographed in an interesting way. Perhaps somebody who has spent most of his life reading non-fiction doesn't really appreciate the importance of this verbiage-to-screenplay transition. Switching to fiction, things change. I happen to be reading Bernard Cornwell's "Saxon Tales" right now. Consider v

The Importance of Domesticity During Winter

Recently I was gearing up to handle camping during long winter nights. Coldness isn't the challenge where I camp. Neither is sogginess. But darkness is. At first I was considering adjusting the specific activities that occupied time during the dark hours. Perhaps that approach is upside-down, and what is needed first is an attitude adjustment. Then specific activities will flow from that attitude as its consequences.  In the past I have put a low importance on domesticity. Like many bachelors perhaps, I think of oppressive female fussiness when thinking of domesticity. It might help to raise my estimate of domestic arrangements, comforts, and economies during the long hours of winter. Animals snuggle in, during winter. They don't consider themselves too high and mighty to busy themselves with domestic comforts. An animal-like humility might be the essence of the change in attitude that would help the most.

There Are Red Sunsets and Then There Are...

  Normally I like to find uncrowded areas with lots of dirt roads for riding the mountain bike. But occasionally a scenery orgy is fun.