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Showing posts from August, 2023

Good Car Mechanics Are Impressive

I couldn't believe the repair shop invited me into their work area where my van was up in the air.  That is only the second time in my RV-traveler career when a shop allowed me into their inner sanctum.  The young mechanic showed me that the aftermarket part I had ordered online was not going to fit my van. He was so professional and so young!  How had he even lived enough years on this earth to pick up all his skills and knowledge?  Normally I don't think about being impressed with people's jobs.  Perhaps that is because I think in terms of meaningless office work in giant corporate or government bureaucracies. But guys who actually know how to do things, how to fix things, are so impressive. That repair shop will definitely get my business again when I loop through Grangeville ID next year.   They didn't even charge me anything.  I insisted on paying something, so the manager let me tip the mechanic $20.  Finally the manager had an educational discussion with me about

Loaded for Bear

  At a place where I would have least expected it, a NAPA auto parts store, I saw some survival equipment such as knives, hatchets, and a "survival spear".  Imagine that! It was about 3.5 feet long.  Rather heavy.  No lithium batteries required.  The ultimate in "tactical" equipment!   Just imagine running naked through the forest, jabbing and stabbing prairie dogs, chipmunks, and ... grizzly bears.  The only thing that ruined this primal fantasy was the unwieldiness of this survival spear when carried on a mountain bike. After the rain ends I am headed for "Montanee."  Consider this fair warning to any grizzly that is fool enough to challenge Primitive Man and his miniature poodle.

Time to Conquer Montana?

  I have hardly ever camped in Montana.  What a shame!  A gigantic state ignored.  Of course Montana is not as big as it looks on the map because the eastern half is probably too low and hot in mid-summer. Two summers ago I made a noble effort to correct this oversight.  I ended up on the northern edge of the Yellowstone ecosystem.  I drove past warning signs about grizzly bears and felt uncomfortable camping there.  Ursaphobia is something that one must overcome in order to camp in Montana. Most of the grizzlies are found in or near Glacier and Yellowstone national parks and the corridor between them. I have bear spray, but have considered a handgyun as well.  The handgun project is probably nothing more than a thought experiment.  Target practice is noisy and expensive.  Could I really hit a charging grizzly in the brain with a handgun?  At least with bear spray, you don't have to aim very well.  Of course shooting bear spray upwind will not be pleasant. During the handgun though

Chance for the DNC to Earn Its Pay

Who actually runs the Democrat Party in the US?  Do you know?  I wish I did.  For the sake of argument let's say that the DNC runs it. (the Democratic National Committee.)  They are at a critical time right now.  Let's pretend to be a highly paid political consultant, hired by the DNC to help their side.  What would your advice be right now? My advice would be to pull the plug on the Ukraine debacle and  instruct their minions in the corporate media to simply ignore the topic from now until the election.  Is this even practical?  I used to think it wasn't. But nobody talks about the Afghanistan debacle anymore.  Nobody talks about the destruction of the Nordstream pipeline.  Old news becomes ignored remarkably quickly.  If news about Ukraine disappeared suddenly, it would leave quite a vacuum.  But there is always something to fill the vacuum. Start with the obvious: another indictment of Trump.  The DNC's job is to move the news over to the right "lead story.&quo

Staying Flexible When Camping in a Heat Wave

During the recent heatwave I tried to think my way out of it.  For instance, why not flood myself with thoughts about cool climates.  As luck would have it, Book Bub notified me of a discount on "The Last Viking" by Stephen Bown.  It is a biography of the Norwegian polar explorer, Roald Amundsen. At the end of the day I was inspired to take an unheated shower.  That doesn't mean "cold" water, such as the water that comes out of the ground.  It just means ambient temperature water from 5 gallon water jugs that sit around at camp.  After showering with a half-gallon of that kind of water, I felt wonderful.  And there was something pleasing about not using any propane to heat up water for a shower. The book helped me stay flexible because that was a big part of Amundsen's success.  He studied the Inuit in northern Canada and learned everything he could about dogs, sleds, clothing, and equipment.   It has long been a cliché that the Eskimos have a large number o

An Alternative to Gadget-Oriented Camping

There is only one more day to what I hope is the last real heat wave of this summer.  So it is a good time to watch videos of people installing air conditioners into RVs and powering them with lithium batteries.  It is an interesting idea, but I am likely to hold off.  Being a late adopter is a life-long habit that has served me well.   But on top of that, I have never owned an air conditioner, despite living in a few places where everybody had one.  (And you know how right everybody is!) Half-facetiously I call this "noble suffering."  More seriously it could be called constructive or creative suffering. Camping is reduced to scenery-vacationing if it is robbed of creative suffering, necessities of action, and problem solving.  Solving every problem by buying one more damn $600 lithium battery, gadget, or electronic module has become the great vice of modern camping, and it is You Tube videos that are feeding that vice. So what is the alternative?  This post likely to get

Should Russia Go Slow Until Summer 2024?

There must be many Russians who would like to see their forces finish off the Ukrainians quicker.  I too used to think it was a mistake to fight the war the way they have: small operations at the line of contact.  Why are they trying to reproduce the Western Front of World War I? But if the Russians finish off the Ukrainian regime in 2023, the war will be old news during the presidential election in late 2024.  That means it will be ignored.  I would prefer to see a military debacle in Ukraine come crashing down on the Biden regime's head during the presidential election. If that happens, it might have an effect greater than just finishing off Biden.  It might affect Washington's vassal states in Europe or least the current leadership there.  The ultimate success would be to see the neo-con cabal in Washington lose its power and influence.  The end of the Victoria Nuland era can't come soon enough. Charlie Chaplin in "The Great Dictator"

Tantalized in Late Summer

A couple surprises came my way on top of this mountain.  Previously the thick forest up here seemed unappealing.  But the forest's coolness fits in with the lateness of summer to inspire you with hopes of coolness.  It is a beautiful -- but tantalizing -- thought. I was also surprised how pleasant it was to hear the quiet gurgling of many small streams that have suddenly appeared after several days of drought-busting rains.  People who live in backwoods home must have pleasures like this: pleasures that are humble to an outsider, but are nevertheless felt intensely.   To make this pleasure interesting and intense you need only contemplate the warm prairie just a few miles away and the torrid trenches of the Salmon and Snake rivers that are almost a mile beneath me in altitude. This is a funny time of year.  I start prematurely celebrating the killing off of another summer.  Oh please be patient!  It is good enough to have a green parasol for the next couple weeks.

A Tortured Topography

It is so hard to visualize the topography and geography of the tri-state junction of WA, OR, and ID.  I just got it straight that the land between the lower Salmon trench and the Snake trench is Mountain Time Zone.  I have a hard time visualizing the land south of Clarkston/Lewiston as part of WA.  Then there is the steep drive across the Grand Ronde Canyon if you try to drive between northeastern OR and Clarkston/Lewiston (or Grangeville.) What a combination!: Palouse-like prairies, steep trenches, and 5000 foot elevations between the trenches.  Unfortunately the forest is usually too dense to enjoy the viewscape, so you have to approach it through the feet and the imagination.  There is something to be said for obscuring great views.  Effortless eye-candy tends to be a short-lived snack.  But reaching out with your imagination can keep you interested for a long time. Up to our old tricks of biking to cell towers.

"Au Naturel" in Western Idaho

One of the greatest pleasures of outdoor living seldom gets mentioned, let alone glorified like it deserves to be.  I refer to a partly cloudy sky.  Not completely cloudy  -- I need to do some solar charging after all.  Besides, the contrast of blue sky and clouds is wonderful. For two days of the last three I have deliberately walked outdoors without a hat on.    The sky  was not at war with me, for a change.  It felt so liberating to go au naturel like this!  Gone was the usual fear and dread.  I could feel safe and friendly and expansive towards the kindly immensity of the sky.  I gushed over it.  Of course then I got greedy and believed the weather forecast of 0.42" of rain.  We got 0.06"-- it serves me right.  Still, that is more than we have gotten for two months.  

Astounded by the Ordinary

It is fun to drive to town after a week of solitary camping.  It certainly is economical to limit your motor vehicle trips.  I used to go to town to do laundry, but now I have eliminated much of that by washing clothes at camp.  It doesn't use as much water as you think. The other excuse for excessive trips to town is groceries.  Shifting your diet to grains and beans (and root vegetables, cabbages, and canned goods) can help with that.  A larger refrigerator would help a lot.  Being cheap with refrigeration is false economy.  (Even the most expensive refrigeration won't cost an extra $100 per year.  Look how easy it is to blow an extra $100 on transportation.) Going to town is not abandoning nature for city-ishness.  I like to think of city-things as being natural, too.  For instance, going to town is the only chance I have to admire the human female.  These days, the safe and politically-correct cliché is that 'well, after all, women are just people.'  I say, Bullshit