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Showing posts from November, 2022

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