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Showing posts from 2022

Camping with DEPLORABLES on Holidays

  During my working-stiff years in a major city, I used to watch the masses take off on holiday weekends.  They went to the other end of the state, where the lakes, rivers, and forests were.  Meanwhile I stayed put in the metro area, and did my favorite bicycling of the year.  The traffic was so light! This technique worked so well it makes me wonder if a camper is more likely to find peace and quiet in a Walmart parking lot, on a holiday weekend, rather than heading for the "backcountry."   People can be forgiven for getting discouraged and deciding that  there  is no  such thing as backcountry on a holiday weekend. But in fact, there is.  In summary if you allow yourself to think like everybody else, you will end up camping with everybody else.  (And you know what that means.) You just have to be assertive in breaking certain bad habits, such as going to "free campsite" websites and apps.  Avoid anyplace that can be recognized as a tourist-brand-name: if it has a

The Perfect Climate

There is an app on my phone that is more enjoyable than the others.  It is called Pocket Rain Gauge.  It gives one all-important fact and spares you the uninteresting junk on all the other weather sites.  It tells you how much rain you have gotten over the last 24 hours.  Where I am camped in the Arizona desert, we have gotten 0.26" over the last 24 hours.  Paradise! Can you imagine a better climate than getting slow rain at night?   Every drop soaks in.  I am already looking forward to spring wildflowers. If that isn't enough, slow rain at night makes for good sleeping.  And the world smells so good in the morning.

Glorious Winter Up North!

What celebrities snow and ice have become!  Some of these snow/ice videos are astonishing, or rather the people are, the crashing and sliding cars are. I envy and admire the people on these videos.  That is not facetious.  Nor is it schadenfreude .  People of a certain latitude have a chance to show what they are made of, as they experience Noble Suffering this winter.  Even better, they are learning -- or relearning -- some facts of life that they seem to have forgotten. They are relearning cold, friction, momentum, gravity, wind and other old-fashioned analog variables.  One might even be tempted to call these things facts, as authoritarian as that sounds.  Actually Nature's authoritarian streak tends to get neglected as poets and philosophers celebrate the freedom and spontaneity of living in 'harmony with nature.' Society had been circling the drain in a digital world, the world of what you see on an electronic screen.  It was a world drunk on censored fake news, fake

Mother Nature's Christmas Present

Camping on a riverbank is something many people like to do, and I am lucky enough to be doing that.  This is Arizona so it is more of a 'bank' than a river.  But I always like arroyos.  This one had a special gift for me.   Miles of nice, navigable gravel. In one spot and one spot only, a 10 foot high waterfall sits across the arroyo.  The rock waterfall is steeper than the photo shows: you couldn't walk up it.  But the Little Cute One surprised me by scampering up the rock waterfall. In the middle of the photo is a hiking pole, to indicate scale.  The gushing water has left two holes that are 3 or 4 feet deep.  How deep would the water have to be above the waterfall in order to dig out such deep holes?  I wonder how fast the water was moving? Notice that the holes are dirt, but there are no plants growing in it.  That would imply that the water event was recent.  The monsoon season this past summer was quite spirited.  But are you willing to believe the holes were dug out

What People Are Willing To Believe In

  Do people still tell their kiddies about Santa?  (I am so out-of-touch with modern childhood!)  If they did, wouldn't the 3-year-old just whip out their smartphone and look up Santa on the internet?  Earlier in life I used to disapprove of the Santa Claus tradition.  It seemed like a bad policy for adults to teach children something that makes them distrust adults.  In fact the Santa tradition should be praised.  How many beliefs become unbelieved as easily as Santa?  How many beliefs and delusions only waste a couple years of your life? How many are imposed by The Rulers (parents and adults) with genuine affection  for The Ruled? You'd think that the moral of the story for children is that the Santa tradition is good practice at learning to disbelieve nonsense in general.  Apparently some children decide that the Santa tradition is the exception rather than the rule for the rest of your life. Thus they continue to believe in shibboleths such as phony pragmatism and busy-ness

Cars Stuck in Snow

 Snowstorms have made the news all over the world, recently.  It certainly has made for some entertaining videos, with cars stuck in the snow or sliding into other cars.  Apparently the world is full of people who expect too much from their all-wheel-drive or 4WD car or pickup. Why are people so insistent on driving in snowy weather?  After all, they accepted lockdowns during the Covid pandemic.  So why don't they go along with 'General Winter' when he locks them down for a day? Does somebody need to explain to these people that all-wheel or 4WD systems don't help you brake better on ice? Many recent trends in the automobile industry are hurting people's efforts to drive through snow.  Consider how low the ground clearance is on modern passenger cars (aka, sedans).  Driving through deep snow, the underbody of the car floats on top.  That means drag from the snow as well as less weight on the wheels and therefore less traction.  This is one more consequence of fuel-e

The Great Desert Sky God Weakens

 When traveling down the Colorado River, there is an unusual pleasure to look forward to.  Rubble.  That's right, rubble.  By the time you hit Lake Mead you will be a slave of the Colorado River for the next month or two.  It doesn't start out well. Near Lake Mead the rocks are razor sharp.  Just reach down and touch the ground with your hand -- you almost need gloves.  These ghastly rocks destroyed my rear mountain bike tire once -- it half exploded.  This year I switched to an "enduro" rear tire with a heavier casing. When your dog goes out for a romp, the little fuzzball almost needs doggie hiking boots unless you stay in the arroyos.  Be sympathetic and avoid harsh surfaces. But further downstream, in central Arizona, the rubble takes the form of desert pavement.  And are you ever in the mood for it!  Desert pavement is not too sharp.  It can support the gigantic motorhomes that snowbirds "camp" with.  Of course desert pavement varies in its support or

Why Don't People Say 'Goodbye' Anymore?

 It has crept up on me how many people no longer say Farewell, So Long, or Goodbye.  Goodbye is supposedly a shortening of God Be With Ye.  In Spanish they used to say Vaya Con Dios, go with God.  Now the world says Be Safe.  What's with that?   I am suspicious that their real message is Be Afraid. It is ironic that I would be suspicious of 'Be Safe' because I have always been a bit of a safety nerd.  Shop class in high school gets the credit for this.  Working around all those tools required safety lectures to inherently reckless teenage boys.  But I didn't resent the emphasis on safety, even at that age.  In fact I adopted the idea that injuries are merely unprofessional and should be looked down on. Once an attitude like that is adopted, it can be applied to many important activities in life, with driving a car being the most obvious.  I was a "roadie" bicyclist for many years and never had a serious injury.  So many cyclists did get hurt. Lately the Twit

The Little One Sends a Christmas Card

The Little Cute One sent a Christmas card to her old mommy and daddy, the young couple in Phoenix that I adopted her from.   First photo of the Little Cute One, twenty minutes after adopting her.  We went shopping for doggie supplies. Perhaps this is a good time to repeat some encouragement for other travelers who are having trouble adopting a dog. I found her on Craigslist>Community>Pets.  It helps to stay flexible.  Perhaps the dog is a few years older than you want.  Maybe you don't like the color.  You can't really see the dog's behavior in a still-photograph.  Don't be too suspicious of somebody else's dog as "used equipment."  There are plenty of sensible reasons why somebody has to give up their dog.  The younger generation has been priced out of home ownership; they live in rented apartments.  The landlord or new landlord doesn't like dogs.  The young person's situation changes for various reasons, and a dog doesn't necessarily fi

Sentient Life Roars By

(Beyond Bullhead, AZ.)  It is hard to believe that I look back on the era of ATVs/"Quads" with nostalgia but it is so.  They drove slower and were more approachable than their more modern replacements, the side-by-sides.  I had nice conversations with ATV Quads people from time to time, which is probably hard for readers to believe, the way I besmirch the motosports industry. It always feels good when you get camped away from a busy noisy dirt highway that is popular with the modern side-by-side enthusiasts, but yesterday was Saturday after all, so I had a couple of the morons come by the camper.  One came by rather slowly, so I can't complain about noise and dust except for the loud redneck music he was spewing out.  He changed his mind about his route and started working on getting turned around. Then something remarkable happened: he turned his music down, as if self-aware of being just a few feet from the open door of a camper.  Wasn't that amazing?!  I realized f

Leaving Sodom

Some people actually like 'going for a drive.'  I can't say I'm one of them.  I drive like I shop  -- because it is necessary and let's try to get it over with.  But there are exceptions.  There are some areas in New Mexico where the density of traffic is so low that you can slow down, relax, and look at the scenery.  Then you cross over into a state to the north -- which shall remain unnamed -- and immediately you notice three times as much traffic.  I've not only cancelled that state, I've coloradicated it. But yesterday I was enjoying the drive along the north shore of Lake Mead.  Every year that I return to the Southwest, I enjoy the air more and the land less.  The landscape along Lake Mead belongs on the moon instead of Earth.  Still, you can be in the mood for that sometimes, especially when the sun is low.  It helps to have a 50 mph speed limit. I sighed, I cooed while driving over the Colorado River and leaving the great Sodom of North American tim

What Makes a Walk Perfect?

 It is almost funny how people can get interested in things that don't seem terribly interesting to most.other people.  The little dog and I had a perfect walk yesterday.  It surprised me how unspectacular and accessible 'the perfect' can be.  The rest of the day it seemed important to understand why it was perfect. For one thing, the walk started right at camp.  It is nice not to drive to a hike -- that would remind one of 'commuting to work' back in the rat-race.  I once had a hiker-friend who laughed when I told him that half of the sport of hiking consists of driving around in some damn car. It began with a rough and half-filled-out plan.  It would be a 'bushwhacking', non-official route.  The answer was not completely known. On a winter day in the Southwest, calmness almost guarantees a beautiful day. The air was still chilly -- but not cold.  No bugs would be seen today.  No snakes, no lizards.  But the little dog did harass a grasshopper. The sun fina

If You Can Stand Some Good News...

  You want some good news?  It is the best news imaginable that a declining culture like ours can still produce journalists like Glenn Greenwald: The link for this episode is on  His show, soon to start up on a regular basis, is called "System Update."  Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi make me feel optimistic about this country.  But I can't link to Taibbi because the fur is still flying over the Twitter Files that he is working on.

Emergency Power Needs to Be Shipped Over!

I am willing to put my opinions about NATO and the US Empire aside, and be patriotic about the need for generators being sent to Ukraine.  It does seem a little odd that the call hasn't been for solar panels and wind turbines, instead of old-fashioned, gasoline-burning generators.  Oh well. Now, let's get down to work: where are all these generators to come from?  It doesn't help to talk about factories that make generators, because that is too slow. I've got it.  Let's commandeer all the generators being used by RV snowbirds in the American Southwest and send them to the Ukraine.  Surely the owners of those generators wouldn't mind making a sacrifice for Freedom and Democracy in Ukraine?!

Differential Erosion

 It is easy to walk through canyons and enjoy the weird shapes left by water eroding conglomerate or mudstone at differential rates. Wouldn't it be nice if you could look at the destruction of your civilization and society and at least see some beauty in that destruction?  That might sound like a perverse wish, but since you can't do anything about that destruction as a puny individual... It would be better to think of some way you can push back against the destruction in a way that fits the limited powers that you have.  Ahh but such thoughts are too gloomy.  Let's think about joyful animal spirits: "I like the look on ol' Pop's face when I do things like this!"

A Rant Against "Improvements" on the Trail

Some years back I knew of a Tucson hiker who told of a member in his hiking club who always dismantled rock cairns on hikes. "What a kook or hothead!," I thought.  So it is ironic that I find myself doing the same thing, these days.   It brings to mind some Old Testament prophet smiting idols or graven images.   That is not quite the right analogy.  What was the cairn-builder thinking, anyway?  Is building cairns the moral equivalent of spraying rocks with graffiti?  Or maybe the cairn-builder actually thought they were performing a public service?  What comes next, after the cairns:  brown carsonite stakes, and then hand-rails?  A paved trail, caches of emergency supplies, and a motor vehicle shuttle, waiting at the far end?  And of course, fees and a reservation system. If a hiker got lost in the canyon, they would not die; it would just take longer to walk out of the canyon than they anticipated.  So what?  Besides, anyone seriously lost or injured should always backtrack

The Cattle Rustler of Q.t. Cañón

 (Almost Lake Mead.)  The Little Cute One sure loved our walk through the canyon system.  She was off-leash so she could practice her cliff-climbing skills. Apparently there has been a generational improvement in the RV demographic.  Years ago I never saw anyone walking through the canyon.  RVers just sat in their rigs all day and did whatever they did. But now there seems to be more hikers.  Maybe that was the explanation for the rock cairns on our walking route.  (I dismantled most of them.) (A rant against rock arrangements by snowbirds has been redacted...) Anyway we walked upstream in the bottom of the canyon.  There seemed to be a lot of erosion left over from summer, I guess.  I even saw hoof-prints and cow poop, evidence of more vegetation than usual.  Finally we startled a cow and a steer, who came running towards me, as I hurriedly snapped Q.t. π   back on her leash. As it turned out, an eBike was coming downstream, and it was he that frightened the cattle.  That is the first

Good Weather and Crowded Camping

Before a camper gets too far south, the camping changes.  There are other campers everywhere. "Dispersed" camping is not very dispersed at all. Perhaps this should be the year I practice what I preach: accept the fact that you can't get away from other campers, and deliberately move close to solarized campers.  That is pretty easy to do.  With practice you can glance at a camper a long way off and tell that they should be avoided.  The signs are: noisy motorsports around their rig;  a toy hauler (fifth wheel trailer);  ID or MT license plates; no line of solar panels on the roof; a construction site generator on the ground; a long thick extension cord coming off their rig. Consider this rig: He could be a great guy and a good camping neighbor, but as you scout out a neighborhood you should stay clear of a rig like this.  What exactly is in that box on the upper story?  But if you look closely, you can see a solar panel on the roof.  So he might be OK. I guess I just do

Sailing on a Sea of Rubble

 It seemed like another loop might work out, because the two-track was somewhat smooth on the low end.  So the next day we biked up to the top of the alluvial fan on a major road, and descended on that two-track. Yuk!  Well, it could have been worse.  The rocks could have been sharp as well as 'baby head' sized.  Just think what steel spokes have to put up with!  I worried about puncturing the rear bike tire because it was a thin, light-duty tire. All the way down I thought about what the geologists claim:  that large rocks drop out first (from the stream flow down the alluvial fan), and smaller rocks make it further down.  So maybe I had something to look forward to.  But would reality actually live up to " book larnin' " for a change? It happened more gradually than I wanted and the change wasn't completely uniform, but by the time we reached the bottom of the two-track, it had become four times smoother than at the top. The alluvial fan was no longer a rand

Comfort Versus Camping

 I have yet to dig out and use the Mr. Buddy heater this winter, despite the inside temperature falling close to 40 F at night.  Is that a silly bit of mock heroism?  Some people would think so. Maybe I should virtue signal that I am resisting the propane heater to show solidarity with my NATO brothers and sisters in Europe.  But nobody would believe that.  A certain amount of austerity is implicit in any camping experience -- if that has no appeal, you might as well go back to a stick and brick house in the suburbs.  Recall the quote that I have given several times from Joseph Wood Krutch, in his biography of Samuel Johnson: Many men, oppressed with a sense that most of life is [mere illusion] and trivial, have sought in various ways to make contact with "reality." To some, that has meant hardship in remote places; to some, as to Thoreau, solitude and simplicity; to still others, it has meant the search for God in mystical experience.  To Johnson it meant reminding himself o

Spinning Through Time Zone Hell

Long-suffering readers of this blog know that no autumn/winter is complete without a rant against the Pacific Time Zone.  Of course we could focus on good news: Algodones, Baja California Norte, Mexico has (unofficially?) seceded from the Pacific Time Zone and joined Yuma time.  So has Winterhaven, California, USA.   Let's hope that Blythe CA and the towns close to Colorado River in Nevada do the same thing.   The ultimate triumph would be to win over Clark County NV to the cause of Truth and Justice. I refuse to update my van's clock and computer to Pacific Time.  What an annoyance it is, every year, to undo the absurdity of Daylight Savings Time on the first Sunday of November.  Then in a few days I travel between St. George UT and Mesquite NV.  That involves going through the 'Bermuda Triangle' or 'Twilight Zone' of time zone changes in the far northwestern corner of Arizona.  (Arizona is the same time as St. George for half the year, and the same as Mesquite

An Under-rated Outdoor Pleasure

Almost Lake Mead.  Mountains don't crash down into a river, all at once.  They seep downward and outward, along the glaciers of gravel known as 'alluvial fans.'   I would rather call them gravel ramps. Riding a bike up these ramps is one of the under-rated pleasures of the outdoors.  Locally a smooth gravel road heads straight up the ramp.  It is quite a grunt.  My little dog was lashed to the bike and trotted at the perfect speed to keep up with my second-gear pedaling. I wish there was more second-gear pedaling in mountainous areas, instead of grinding uphill in first gear, and then coasting down, with your disk brakes getting hot.  What a fine thing it is to reach the top in second gear, give the dog a drink of water, put her in the milk crate, and then "eat your bicycle dessert" by coasting downhill, hardly pedaling at all. Gravel ramps can be remarkably uniform in slope, unless they are cut by an arroyo.  There is something addictive for man and dog to move t

Chasing South Slowly

Almost Nevada, almost Utah.  When a guy chases the seasons, he can sometimes get it just right.  This week I have descended the Colorado River system to where it falls into the 30s (F) at night and rises to around 60 F midday.  No flying insects, no sweat when walking, and no dangerous temperatures in the van for my little dog. But it is remarkable how narrow this perfect temperature range is.  I should have learned more about Evolution.  How could there be over 7 billion human critters on this planet when they are so mal-adapted to the planet's temperatures? Actually perfection only lasted two days here.  On the third night cold winds howled down the canyon from Utah.  Maybe it is fair to call them "Santa Ana" winds. At any rate my "program" is still in effect: only migrate south when daytime highs can't reach 55 F.  It's not that I dislike Arizona, but a couple months of it is quite enough.  The camping locations of Arizona are crowded and well-known,

A Better Veterans Day

Since Veterans Day speeches in the USA have a way of glorifying the US military, interventionism, and a planet ruled by the Pentagon,   some improvement is desperately needed. Does somebody deserve maudlin remembrance for getting unlucky as cannon fodder in some useless war that politicians tricked a country into? But what about the positive aspects of the martial tradition?  Those should be honored on Veterans Day.  And there are opportunities to do so. Let's start by honoring the brave militia members in the Donbass region, who have been shelled by NATO/Ukrainian artillery for the last eight years.  They have been performing a soldier's highest duty: protecting his family and people from invasion by a foreign power.  Since 2014, Ukraine has had an illegitimate government imposed by neocon warmongers in Washington DC. The people of the Donbass are Russian speakers for the most part.  They are tied to Russia historically, culturally, and religiously.  NATO is a foreign power th

Feeling Empowered

There seems to be a pattern: laundromats haven't raised the prices of the washing machine all that much, but they double the prices of the dryers, and hope you don't notice it until it is too late. I was thinking about a commenter's suggestion to handwash clothes when I had surrendered to the laundromat, the other day.   Modern virtue signaling, using WEF-approved methods. O ne has to kill time somehow at the laundromat so I also surrendered to a  fast food joint that I could walk to.  Entering the Wendy's I braced for sticker shock by telling myself that "it's your own fault for being here."  (In fact I have pretty much rubbed fast food and coffee shops out of my life.) Finally a female employee (I think) walked up to the counter and asked if I had used the kiosk, which is basically a giant smartphone where you can wrestle with stepping through the menu system.  Once you get good at it, there will be a software upgrade of the system so you can relearn a b

The Earth's Axis Flips?

A couple posts ago I speculated about Turkey's realignment towards the Eurasian block.  Since then, a real game-changer has come along: Saudi Arabia might be joining BRICS+.  If that happens, it will be like the earth's spin or tilt has changed!    This subject has gotten a bit of attention in the media but not as much as it deserves, perhaps because it is an ongoing process instead of an all-at-once news item.  Just think how much time we spend watching news that is unimportant, while something of earth-shaking importance is fairly neglected! Where can a person learn more about this topic?

A Philosophical Poodle in a Wet Arroyo

 Central Utah.  The pressure is on.  I am always pontificating about the West being praised for pretty scenery while the actual reality is rain, or rather, the lack thereof.  That means there should be something to say when we finally get a little rain.  We only got a tenth of an inch but on Mancos shale that was enough to get my van stuck.  I waited awhile and then used "poor man's four wheel drive," that is, pressing halfway down on the parking brake, while revving the engine to about 2500 RPM in order to overcome the braking. Shouldn't something seem different after the rain?  You will hear that deserts smell good after a rain.  They do , if there are a lot of creosote bushes.  That is more of a Mojave Desert thing. I was near a reef that had no creosote bushes or any vegetation, so there were no signs of the renewal of life from the world of plants.  No animals or birds were to be seen. So that's it?  A big nothing-burger after rain that should be seen as mir

'Progress' at the Laundromat

 Whether we want to admit it or not, we are all speculators on inflation.  That is true regardless of whether you talk or think about inflation.  Rather than try to take on the issue in global or abstract terms, I prefer to illustrate inflation with something from everyday life.  Let's consider the place that RVers "love" the most, the laundromat. Reprogramming the machines to take more quarters is labor-intensive and cumbersome.  Surely they need to come up with something better.  This is what I saw recently: Dollar coins?  Don't think I've ever seen one.  But the machines didn't take dollar coins directly.  You had to put them into the machine on the left in order to generate the quarters that the machines accepted.  Perhaps they were getting ready to transition the machines to dollar coins.  At any rate, this seems like a clumsy way to implement the inflation program. Here is a better way: They have transitioned half of the machines to take credit cards. 

Paradise Lost

When driving my van out of a parking lot in St. George UT today, I did something I can't ever remember doing: I played 'chicken' with an inexhaustible stream of cars, in order to get into the driving lane.  It seemed crazy at the time, but otherwise I would have been there until 11 pm.  And the cars behind me would have been furious. This is proof that 'reputation is a lagging indicator.'  People still think that St. George UT is some kind of paradise that they need to retire to. They see glossy real estate brochures, showing people playing golf in January, wearing shorts, and with red rocks in the background.  They are told that St. George is the 'Baja' of Utah.  There are a few palm trees around here, in fact.  And they will soon have heater tapes wrapped around them. In fact this place is just a traffic jam.  It has three weeks of good weather in autumn and one week in the spring. (except for the hellish winds.)  In the summer it is 100+ for months on end

A Rocky Dog Park

Jumbled.  That seems like the best word to describe the rocks around here.  From the little girl's point of view, rocks make for a great playground.   But my goodness, these giant boulders have all fallen from the cliff, and there are new boulders thinking about it.  Look at how precarious the boulder is in the top center of this photo: On the other hand, some rocks look pretty stable:

The Glory of Winter Sun

What is the ultimate luxury for a camper?  One good answer would be "a hot shower with 20 gallons of water." Another good answer would be "basking in the winter sun."   In the winter it is easy to feel giddy on a sunny day, after suffering the relentless onslaught of hot sun the rest of the year.   It feels like skin candy to feel warm sun and chilly air at the same time.   I have actually walked around outdoors without my Henschel hat and  deliberately exposed m any square inches of skin to the sun!   For the ultimate luxury in winter camping, I parked with the trailer's door facing south -- something that I never do the rest of the year.  Normal screen would have been better than the solar screen that I have. In a small and non-descript arroyo, there was quite a wonder if you look at it right.  Imagine you are a lizard on a chilly winter day and found a palace like this to luxuriate in! I was hoping that my little dog would crawl in and pose, but the lizard-

Supremely Content

  Have you ever thought what an ordered list of your favorite landscape features would look like?  Near the top of my list would be high mesas and plateaus, ridgelines, and perhaps reefs at the very top.  Utah seems to be the reef capital of the West. Q.t. π might agree with me. It is very satisfying to play a day right.  It was almost too cold to ride here in central Utah.  So we walked instead.  Besides staying warm, walking allows you to get into rougher places. Chilly air, dry air, sunlight, and a light wind.  I love winter.