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Showing posts from May, 2022

Patrick Doyle Does the Panhandle

This summer is important to me. No more will I tolerate oppressive forest fires, dry heat, and drought. So I am spending early summer in the Northwest and late summer further south, when monsoons will hopefully put out the forest fires that already started in May. On the first real day of looking for a new campsite, I was shocked to learn that I was completely 'out of shape' for camping in dark, wet forests. Would my open-differential rear-wheel-drive van get stuck the first time it rained? Did I even own an umbrella? A rain suit? How would I walk my dog in the rain and keep the inside of the trailer clean? The forest was thick and dark. It almost seemed threatening. And here I was: a new ATT customer with a WeBoost amplifier. But was it going to do me any good? I am ashamed to admit it, but I felt sort of panicky. What happened to my mighty ideals and hopes? I thought of some music written by Patrick Doyle for the beginning of "Carlito's Way". Now if you listened

Is Credulousness Eternal?

  Credulousness, credulity. 'Credulousness' is a longer word but it is easier to say. The war in Ukraine might seem like a topic that is so serious or sad that you might want to block it from your mind. But there is some good news, too: Ukrainian conscripts (aka, cannon fodder) are starting to disobey orders or surrender to the Russkies. Thus they have chosen to live. That is a rare development. Soldiers tend to follow orders even if it means near-certain death. When you read books about the Great War (World War I) it is hard to believe that officers would blow a whistle and the troops would go 'over the top', just to be caught up in the barb wire and slaughtered by machine guns. The exception was the French soldiers who partially rebelled against their officers. The soldiers would not go on offensive charges across no-man's-land in 1918, but they did stay in the trench and fight defensively. I think that is a true moment of glory for French culture. And now some Uk

Back On Planet Earth Again

When walking the dog this morning I chanced upon an unusually smooth section of gravel road. (Unlike New Mexico, Idaho puts gravel on its forest roads.) Skinny tracks criss-crossed this road 'all over the place.' It was earthworms. I can't even remember the last time I saw vermicular-Americans crawling out of the ground after a night of rain.  The loveable little app, Pocket Rain Gauge, says we got 0.27" of rain last night! Everybody has read that 'your skin is the largest organ in the human body.' Is it ever! My skin, nails, and hair are going through a resurrection these days. I am wearing a baseball cap! And I used to make fun of them as unmanly, nerdy, ugly, and ineffective. There really are some adjustments to camping with rain, but I am 'up' for the challenge. The most important issue is traction on dirt/gravel roads, or rather, right off of those roads.  It is important to camp by backing away uphill from those roads, thereby making an easy esc

The Best Scenery in America

  When most people read the title above they hear, "What is my favorite national park?" Well, there is no accounting for taste.  In fact, national parks are not beautiful at all -- and remember, you read that here! They are merely freakishly big, vertical, or red. "Beautiful" means variety, balance, harmony, and utility: the color green, productive agriculture, soft hills with womanly curves, spirited creeks, barns, wildlife and herds of domestic stock, not many people, and trees. A few rocks are tolerable. And that is what you see in the Palouse of eastern Washington, especially near its border with forest land. Driving through this land on a semi-rainy day, I lusted for a drone to photograph it. The three-dimensionality might get washed out if photographed from the highway. Sunrise or sunset, and partly stormy skies! from openstreetmaps I managed to camp in the national forest near Moscow, ID with my first ATT signal, as a newbie customer. Idaho actually puts gra

Escaping the Oppression of the Desert

It is hard to believe but when  Q.t.𝞹 runs across the lawn, her feet come back soggy. The air feels so medicinal, moist, and gentle compared to that horrible dry air in the south. Water flows in the arroyos around here! I am just loving escaping the desert Southwest. For the rest of my life I will come north in the summer. But let's not oversell the Northwest. By mid-July, temperatures will be Phoenix-like, and you won't even be able to see the forests and mountains with all the forest fire smoke. The forests up here are just fuel bombs waiting for a match. This area has two summers. Early summer is wonderful. Late summer is ghastly.

Her First Moose!

  It is funny how some geographical features seem interesting despite being less than spectacular, visually. Arroyos in the Southwest are a great example of that. Here in the Northwest, river estuaries are interesting. As the river debouches into a lake, you sometimes get shallow lakes -- almost wetlands. It is a great place for wildlife. I was thinking about that this morning when a moose calmly walked along the shoreline, no more than 50 yards away from me. Q.t. 𝞹 was in the van with me. Finally she saw the moose. Surprisingly her reaction was mild.

We're Not in Phoenix Anymore!

  Early in my career as an RVer, I learned to avoid water: too many tourists, noisy boats, music noise, fees, bugs, etc. But I am happy to make an exception to that behavior now. I suppose parents go through things like this, when their child is the right age. Near Lake Coeur d'Alene I tried to look at the water as if I were a former Phoenix street urchin. Just imagine how soft and lush the green grass is, in this area, from her point of view! I wonder what would happen if I rented a canoe and took her out for a paddle? And she saw a moose?!

Where the Deer and the Antelope ... and the Poodles ... Play

Q.t.𝞹, my newish miniature poodle, surprised me with her behavior on this high altitude sagebrush/grass/aspen land near Vernal, UT. Perhaps it shouldn't have been a surprise. She gamboled across the field literally by leaps and bounds. It was delightful to watch. The sagebrush was just the right height, and mixed with green grass so as to fit the stature of a 20 pound miniature poodle. Why was she going crazy? She had spend the first 4+ years of her life living in a hot urban hellhole (Phoenix), including some homeless street life, getting knocked up by a husky, having a litter of 'hoodles,' going to (good) second owners, and then finally to me. And now she was running on soil and green grass instead of hot pavement or rubble.  That must feel great to a dog; after all, they are pawed/padded creatures, not hooved creatures.  She chased white-tailed deer. I had brushed her the night before and had not yet reinstalled her collar, so she ran free and naked, a perfect little c

How Much Will Nato-stan Take?

It is not satisfactory enough to keep saying 'I am astonished!' about events in the world today. Something better is needed. How much suffering will "Nato-stan" go through for such a dubious cause? But this won't be the first time that Rulers have been willing to virtually commit the suicide of their nation. I actually benefit by reading about some of the suicide-attempts of the past, if you are willing to admit that making sense of the world is a benefit. What suffering the average peasant is willing to go through just because they are afraid of their mighty Rulers! It is easy to explain. Rulers are a rather compact, semi-united nucleus of power, whereas the peasants are disunited. In olden times it was the churchmen who were screaming God, God!, GOD! at the masses, thus keeping them in line. And the King was appointed by GOD ALMIGHTY, so you'd better be willing to die for the king. Today it is the Media that brainwashes the peasants. Slogans such as Freedom,

Camping Can Be a Game of Inches

  Interstate highways can mess up the road system that really matters: the dirt roads of the backcountry. So they put tunnels under the interstate highway to let vehicles cross under. I have always avoided these tunnels in the past. I didn't want an unpleasant surprise. But in this case I knew somebody and their rig that made it through the tunnel successfully. Still, I walked the tunnel first. The photo barely shows the top-line of the trailer behind the van. The trailer is about a foot and a half higher than the van. I had to remove its internet antenna. Anyway, for the first trip through a tunnel, it was kinda' fun. And let's not forget that tunnels screen out big rigs, especially toy-haulers! 

Goodbye Old Girl

I don't like maudlin descriptions of somebody's dog's last days, because it might discourage would-be dog owners from adopting a dog. Besides, a melodrama about the human is not the point. I put Coffee Girl 'down' this morning, at age 15.5 years. She did not suffer. And her old age did not cost me much money. In a high meadow in New Mexico a few years ago. . What could a newbie dog owner learn from her marvelous career? 1. Don't be afraid of animal shelters. 2. Don't take 'dog breed' books literally. They will tell you that a herding dog needs 10 hours per day of chasing cows or sheep or it will come back into your house and chew the sofa into a million pieces. They will make you think a herding dog can't be a good household pet. 3. Herding dogs can have exemplary behavior off-lease. This adds a lot to the owner's and the dog's pleasure. 4. When adopting a dog, tune yourself out, especially your eyeballs. Choose a dog for their behavior,

Cancelling an Entire State?

I had to laugh at myself a couple days ago when I went through Cortez, CO. It seemed like a personal defeat. Silly, huh? I had implicitly cancelled the state of Colorado, and today it is time to make it explicit. Cancelling an entire state is something that sounds kind of sad or extreme. The first thing a person should probably do upon cancelling a state is to think of small exceptions to the general rule. I have even done that for California, the first state I cancelled. In fact cancellation occurred the first year of being a full-time RVer. But I have debauched myself by sometimes going into California for 5 miles or so.  

Doggie Reincarnation Really Does Work

It was strange going through the Moab commotion and feeling completely indifferent. All I could think about was leaving town quickly and finding something nearby that seemed meaningful to me. (That means something other than scenery, of course.) So I went to my favorite cliff system. The foothills leading up to the cliffs proper have the look of Mancos shale. Harmless if dry, but barren and ugly. And yet the land had some bright red flowers from hedgehog cacti. Here are the girls checking out the flowers: So there was something meaningful. It won't be long before I have to put Coffee Girl down. She began her career at the foot of these cliffs. Here she is, the first day I got her: It has been a wonderful career. I got her because my first dog, a miniature poodle called Pancho, was frightened by gun-crazed yahoos sighting in their rifles, just before hunting season. He took off, into the cliffs. After a week I accepted the fact that he was dead. So I adopted Coffee Girl. Of course,

Complaining About Tourism Doesn't Make You a Grouch

  Moab, UT. Believe it or not I gave a bit of thought to actually camping in the Moab area. It was pre-peak-season and also unusually chilly. So perhaps there was some hope. Much to my surprise Moab was quite busy. That makes sense I suppose: most of the tourists are locked into reservations made months ago -- so fluctuations in the weather shouldn't affect them very much. After a ten minute stop at the grocery store, I happily left town. If you have ever made sneering-comments about touristy places, your listeners probably wearied quickly, and you yourself got a bad taste in your mouth. Complaining about tourists is a cliche' that makes you sound like a sour, elitist misanthrope. But you might not be this at all.  Consider another explanation: the human imagination is prone to being sentimental, romantic, and escapist. That is what makes travel interesting in the first place.  When you see thousands of tourists in your area, you can't help but see mass-consumers of bar-cod

North Early, South Late

  Isn't it something how a long-time full-time RVer can still feel a lump in their throat when they head north in spring or south in winter! It quite amazes me. It is proof that a camper like that is doing something right. This summer will be different for me. I have decided not to campground host in Colorado, because the camping situation in that state has become hectic and congested. In fact I will try to avoid the state altogether except for some fringe areas that aren't popular with the masses. Which is prettier: Idaho or Iowa? Foolish question? Not really. During the fire season you can't really see Idaho -- there is no point in being there. I have decided to avoid the northwestern states during their wildfire season, 15 July -- 30 September. For the first time in many years I am going to the Northwest early in the summer --- like right now! In late July I will head south and hopefully find some monsoonal rain. The southwestern states are already having fires and smok