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Showing posts from September, 2023

Has the Canadian Parliament Done NATO a Favor?

People are still aghast about the behavior of the Canadian Parliament the other day, when they gave a standing ovation to an elderly Nazi from the Ukraine.  Wouldn't it be ironic if something good came out of this?  Sounds impossible at first! I don't follow the regime media of the NATO countries so I could be wrong on this, but haven't they imposed a regime of silence on the history of Nazism in the Ukraine, not just during World War II but also in its aftermath?  Doesn't the regime media of the NATO countries boycott mentioning the neo-Nazis (Banderites) in modern Ukraine? I only know that the "alt" sites I listen to will refrain from using the word, Nazi, so that You Tube doesn't cancel them.  (Typically they are forced to use euphemisms such as 'ultra-nationalists.')  That would seem representative of the censorship regime across the board.  You would think it would be important to the taxpayers and voters of the NATO countries if their governm

Back to Winter Camping and Loving It

Maybe it was just useless speculation and bravado to say that I was going to stay in colder climates this winter in order to avoid the usual overcrowded and known-by-everybody camping locations in the Southwest.   Yesterday I moved into a state that you can easily guess from this photo: It is not a warm state.  And I camped at 8400 feet.  It gets down to freezing at night.  Perfect.  No bugs.  But no snow or ice either.  In the morning, the trailer is at 40 F or so.  About 3 a.m. the Little Cute One decides that it is Snuggle O'Clock:  she leaves her own warm bed and crawls up into mine. Here is the drill: don't get out of bed and then sit down in a chair.  Instead, do a minute of shoulder shrugs.  Why is that so effective?  Put a half inch of closed cell foam on my chair.  The chair itself is just a mesh which is great for summer, but an icebox in winter. Heat up water on the stove and pour it into the right container.  Then stick it in my parka as a body heater.  If you put a

A Better Winter?

Just before autumn officially started we had our first perfect autumn day.  How I love the camper's door facing the morning sun, and then opening that door to the morning chill and bright sun!  There was no wind and no insects. It was enough to make you think this is the best of all worlds.  But it isn't.  "September" is too brief.  Blame that on that damn 23.4 degree tilt in the earth's rotational axis.  Why doesn't Greta Thunberg do something about this?  The internet gave some bizarre examples of the tilt that other planets have.   from Daylight hours disappear so quickly at this time of year.  It is time to think about finding better camping locations this winter.  The weather in the Southwest is delightful in winter, but camping places are so well-known and crowded.   Thinking a way out of that will not be easy.  Should I stay further north to avoid the crowds?  A real heater -- that is, a vented one -- would be necessary for an RV in se

Visual Metaphor for the American Empire

We are sliding into cool weather.   Tomorrow I will move camp down closer to town.  Before leaving I wanted to remember what happened here on the first day.  The Little Cute One and I took a walk along the road we were camped on.  The road was surprisingly smooth and on a near perfect isocline.  Hey wait a minute, what is going on here?  I looked down the slope and sure enough, there was a water diversion ditch paralleling the road.  That is the second such ditch I have encountered this summer.  They actually seem like a good idea, but I'll bet the Forest Service has not built any for years.  There was a forest fire here a couple years ago.  I think I was in town when it happened. Currently camping where I might have seen a forest fire three (?) years ago. I actually like burned forests.  You can see the surrounding landscape without all those damn trees in the way.  (I am a fan of eastern trees with leaves, not western telephone poles with needles.) Forest fires leave some strange

Relentlessly Upward

It takes a carefully maintained sense of balance to enjoy a mountain bike ride.  I am not just talking about what you do with the handlebars and leaning the body. There was a road that headed uphill from camp -- I think.   A little information from maps certainly helps, but you only want enough encouragement to try it.  You don't want somebody spoonfeeding you all the answers in advance.  Much of what I care about is simply not available on any map. I got what I was hoping for: a monotonic climb, without any of those useless and disheartening drops.  Relentless climbing.  It is so easy to slip into a daydream on the way up:  you are true to your calling, your Noble Suffering. The Little Cute One was running along side me.  She wasn't suffering any.  She wondered why good ol' Pops was so slow. Surprisingly, reaching the top is not the most glorious moment on a ride like this.  I love the last minute or two of the climb, when you see blue sky poking through gaps in the trees

Treeing Ten Turkeys

I was surprised by an odd sound outside the trailer door.  It has been awhile since I have seen any wild turkeys.  There seemed to be about six of them, walking around in their clumsy and confused manner. Of course the Little Cute One heard them too.  She came to the screen door and looked out curiously and then frantically.  I couldn't resist: I opened the door so she could give chase.  It was a "target-rich" environment.  She didn't quite know how to choose a target.  There must have been ten of these birds.   It takes all they have, but those silly birds can finally get air-bound and into some low branches of nearby trees.    They seem so unbalanced and awkward when they do land on a tree branch.   How does this species survive?  Just think of all the predator species that would consider turkeys a tasty lunch! In particular, what about grizzly bears?  I was carrying two cans of bear spray this summer on my mountain bike.  I watch scary videos on bear attacks, a

Surprised by What Was in the Ground

Despite my praise of the last campsite I relocated to one that could not have a neighbor.  Getting settled in required some digging, despite the newly built leveling blocks.  Digging beneath your high wheel has the advantage of chocking that wheel -- a nice reassuring thing, since land is seldom flat. I grit my teeth as I started to dig.  It is never easy.  Sometimes you hit your first rock in the first couple whacks.  Imagine my surprise to hit nothing but dirt, and not just any dirt, but lush loose dark almost-black soil.  I didn't believe such a thing was even possible in a Western state, the empire of rubble.  And I was halfway up the mountains rather than in a valley, next to a river. It would have surprised me more if I had struck a large nugget of gold or if oil had spurted out of the ground.  But not by much. I am making a big deal of this because it is so satisfying to get beyond the mindset of a scenery tourist and think about being a pioneer 150 years ago -- someone wh

Strange Contrasts Between Spaciousness and Confinement

  How the world changes when you drive perpendicular to a river!   Utah is a great place to practice that game, because of the Colorado River.  Here in Idaho I drove away from the Salmon River to accomplish the same thing. After climbing 2000 feet where nothing was flat, I was surprised to find a large flat campsite.  It had certainly been used and since it was a Friday I expected to accrete neighbors.  But none came.  Apparently there is a bit of a camping lull between Labor Day and hunting season. What a large and flat campsite it was!  Here was a chance to act out a long term fantasy: pull everything out of the tow vehicle (a van) and organize it.  Normally that is impossible at campsites because the actual work space outside the van is tiny and cramped by rocks, weeds, and steep slopes.  What a strange irony there is to being confined in one sense while looking off 40 miles in most directions to suck in those great panoramic views.   The campsite was as big as a football field, and

A River Runs Through It

I was experiencing a rare delight for me by day-camping next to the Salmon River in Idaho.  The river was flowing so fast for this time of year.  It must be all the rain we've had over the last two weeks.  Better yet, I was taking an afternoon nap to celebrate the last trailer repair problem.  (The welding shop guy had wired the electrical brakes incorrectly, shorting out and damaging the brake controller unit under the dash in my tow vehicle.) I heard some angry yelling and screaming coming from the other side of the river.  But it wasn't the other side -- it was coming from the river itself.  A father and son were floating down the river in flotation jackets and they were trying to make their way to shore, right outside my trailer door.  The father was screaming about hitting his heel against a rock. But they made it out of the river, and he was able to walk.  Once that little excitement was over I thought about what a great idea they had.  They were having a little adventur

Reducing Weight Is The Main Game for a Traveler

There are so many   things to reduce when you are a traveler: complexity, maintenance-intensive junk, stylishness & fripperies, wasteful habits, etc.  One good thing about serious rig problems is that it focuses you on reducing the weight of your rig.  In fact I have reacted to trailer problems in the past by going on a real jihad against unnecessary weight.  (In contrast I have never had a weight-related problem on the tow vehicle, a full-sized van.) So it is trailer "diet" time again.  Progress is being made, but it is slow and humbling.  Most of the discretionary weight in a trailer lies in water, canned goods, and tools.  (Paper books were transferred to electronic storage of information, years ago.)  One can either reduce things or redistribute them to the tow vehicle, assuming that it is not overloaded. I was a bit discouraged because you'd think that many years of experience would make it easier to put the rig on a 'diet'; yet the opposite seems to b

Backcountry Travel Reality Versus Romanticism

This post is aimed at convincing travelers, especially newbies or armchair travelers, that taking heavy motor vehicles or trailers into the backcountry is expensive and troublesome. But it all looks so beautiful on You Tube channels!  Pure escapism.  Why not just accept those videos as part of the entertainment industry, while being more cautious personally?   After nine years of heavy use, my trailer's axle bearing fried in the backcountry.  Fortunately the road was smooth, so my insurance company was finally able to find a towing company willing to come out to me.  I told the insurance company to emphasize, when talking to the towing company, the road smoothness and my location at a junction where the tow truck could turn around. My cellphone amplifier was a real lifesaver.  So many phone calls were necessary to get the job done.  While waiting for the tow truck I called different shops to find trailer axle parts.  The moral of the story is to stay within reach of cellphone conne