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Showing posts with the label HolidayFestivals

A Better Way to Spend Your Holidays

Addendum: A Honda Element just had a contest with a snow-melt-engorged tributary of the Gunnison River. Which one do you think won?

I missed the show, but I heard about it. Perhaps the Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV) driver had heard (incorrectly) that there was free camping on the far side of the river, from one of those lists of free campsites on the internet -- that are obsolete the microsecond they are published. Then he took the chance of trashing his vehicle, all for the sake of saving 5 or 10 dollars.

It is time once again to put out an advertisement for a better way to spend your holidays than camping. Just a few years ago, "stay-cations" were talked about as an alternative to travel-oriented vacations. Has that new buzzword already receded from public thinking?

I hope not, because it is a great idea. Think of how much fun people could have by going to a nearby luxurious hotel, resort, or casino. Let the kids go to a real movie or …

Choosing Rather Than Being Chosen

Is this really happening? I am camp hosting on the first of the Big Three summer weekends, in Colorado, and I am enjoying myself. So is everybody else. And they are such nice folks.

So what's the catch? Oh yea, we did have some obnoxious ultra-lite planes fly over the campground at 7 a.m. at low altitude, for no reason other than saying, "Look at me." But the kids probably enjoyed it.

So why am I jinxing myself by shooting my mouth off on the internet? The gods smite mortals who commit hubris online. At least I won't compound the sin by also committing blabbermouthery about my location.

This experience reminded me of a trick I learned long ago when winter camping in one of the crowded places in lower Arizona. It seemed clever to camp away from the crowd. But invariably, some clown would see me off by myself and move in close. Then they would start off-loading the kiddie motorcycles, contractor generators, etc.

And I would think, what did I do wrong? Actually, what works …

Being a Cool Professional Camper over the Fourth

I hope the reader hasn't wasted a great deal of time reading certain cliché topics, such as 'Should a camper have a gun?' On and on this sort of discussion goes. What's the point?

It is obvious that owning a gun is "negative safety" for a camper. It is too likely to put you into the state penitentiary as your final campsite.  Just consider what it is like to camp on public lands over the Fourth of July weekend.

I chose a new area for me. The road didn't look busy. The campsite looked non-flat and not terribly desirable to other campers. So I pulled in. An hour later a giant fifth-wheel pulled right in to my site -- without being invited. Then they ran their generator until 10 pm.

My first reaction was anger. But wait a I not always preaching that being a full-time RVer is a profession -- not a vacation? Do you know of any job that doesn't give you assholes to deal with? So why not act more professional? At least that is what I preached to my…

A Decorated Grave in the Forest

So close to Memorial Day, it was strange to stumble onto a well-marked grave for a dog, in the forest. It had a large blue Christian cross with some nice words about the dog, "Jack". A plastic doggie water bowl was in front of the cross. Did the owners come out every year and replace the bowl, or symbolically pour water in the bowl? I found myself quite affected by this, especially considering how difficult it is to dig a grave a couple feet deep in rock.

I know one man who would not have been impressed: the fellow who camped nearby last winter. He once told me, with some disgust in his voice, "You treat her like a person!", referring to my dog of course. (In fairness, I try to repress baby talk and other behavior that is obnoxious to other people.) 
That's one of those phrases you hear every now and then. There are several others.
Dogs offer unconditional love.Dogs are loyal.I like dogs better than people.All of these phrases seem to miss the mark. I have only ha…

Historical Picture for the Modern Fourth of July?

Will internet search engines ever get better? They are supposed to be so good now, but I don't believe it. All they do is match keywords, buzzwords.  And then use your search as the input to an advertising algorithm. They don't respond to thoughts or ideas.

For instance, we are on the eve of  "our" most obscene national holiday. A more optimistic person would have merely said "most ludicrous and hypocritical" holiday. I have trained myself to tune it out, rather than dwell on it with sourness, and then lash out at what America has become.

But it would be better to find something more constructive. What if internet search engines were actually good, and I came to them with a thought instead of a keyword? What history books or novels could I read that would inform on the situation an American finds them-self in, today? 

Who else has experienced pride in their country when they were young, and then grew to despise their country? Was it only grouchy old men who di…

The Time of Year to Be Realistic about People

There is indeed a silver lining in every cloud. The decline of American culture and society has brought an unexpected blessing: the "Fourth of July" (once called Independence Day) has superseded Christmas as the most ridiculous national holiday. 

Believe it or not, that has made it easier for me to ignore or laugh at Christmas. I saw a car in the parking lot with one of Santa's legs crushed by the trunk of the car. Poor Santa's withered leg dangled out. Now there is a motorist who has the right attitude about Christmas! Don't be sour or critical about it. Limit your comments about Christmas to crisp and good-natured mockery, when it is irresistible. The rest of the time, say nothing. Talk about the weather or the condition of the roads.

The holidays put a lot of pressure on you to make "conversation" with people. You probably find yourself looking down the table and wondering how it could be possible that you all came from the same womb. Just settle for c…

Amerika's Most Obscene National Holiday

Is "obscene" too harsh of a word? It could be. For many years I called Christmas the most obscene national holiday. But that was a mistake. The commercialism (and endless, stupid music) of Christmas might be objectionable on the basis of taste, but it doesn't really offend important values held by serious and sincere people. After all, Christmas really isn't a Christian holiday; it never was. It's simply about fun.
But the hypocrisies of the modern Fourth of July do offend the values that most Americans used to take seriously. What could be more disgusting than pretending to care about "freedom" one day a year when, in fact, freedom means little to the average Amerikan today.
Too bad I haven't paid more attention to politicians' speeches; it would be great to have statistical proof of a mere suspicion of mine that Democratic politicians don't even bother bloviating about freedom -- nobody would believe them if they did. The whole notion seems …

Valentine's Day: Pulling Down the Goddess's Statue

Once again it's time for the annual Valentine's Day peroration. Hopefully this version won't make me as unpopular as the last one. It would be nice to have the advantage of my boondocking neighbor: she nonchalantly dismisses RV wives as "all needing mansions on wheels" or being afraid to dry camp and preferring to stay in RV parks with hookups. Nobody is offended when she says it. I should be so lucky.

I probably wouldn't be writing any of this if an ad during the Super Bowl hadn't outraged me. Yes, outraged -- somebody who isn't a part of TV culture can retain the ability to be outraged at cultural depravity. The ad featured a half-nude "ho" giving a pitch for some kind of Valentine's Day goodie that men were supposed to remember to buy for their honeys. Her punchline went something like, "It's simple, guys. Give and ye shall receive. (wink, wink.)"

Try to imagine the male analogue of that trashy ad. I can't come up w…

Doubts about the Human Race in Phoenix

People who aren't completely accustomed to airline travel sometimes feel affected by the big picture when they take off and leave the trivial earth-bound details behind, or rather, below. A calm perspicuity can set in at 35,000 feet. But at times perspicuity is troubling rather than calming.

In a famous scene in the classic film noir, The Third Man: Joseph Cotton and Orson Welles ride alone to the top of a Ferris Wheel type ride at an amusement park in post-World-War-II Vienna. The cynical and ego-centric Welles character stops the ride at its apogee where they can look down at small objects, people, crawling around on the surface of the earth a hundred feet below. He asks the Joseph Cottoncharacter, 'Would he really mind if one of those ants stopped scurrying, because it died from the watered-down penicillin that Welles was smuggling in Vienna?'

It is thought-provoking, and yet troubling, to come in from a solitary camp in the desert and hit the outskirts of a monstrosity…

Boneyards in the Badlands

The Uncompahgre River valley, southwestern Colorado, a couple Halloweens ago. In answer to my question, the boys at the public lands office said, "Mancos shale." What a cool name. It was Eastwood's name in his second Spaghetti Western. It was this rock that made the western Colorado Badlands bad.

Mancos shale results from silt. It suffocates the roots of plants; thus few plants grow out here, and hardly any critters. Not even crypto-biotic soil. Only an occasional prairie dog or scavenger would try to make a living here.

It's not like I'm complaining. Instead of standard tourist scenery, I prefer scenery that has a strong flavor of any kind, even the horrific. There is more drama in it. It is more evocative of life and death struggles. Maybe I've bought too many postcards from Nietzsche, over the years. 

Well this is the place for it -- the Badlands between Montrose, CO, and the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. The complexion of the ground was th…

Modernizing an Obsolete Holiday

One of these days somebody needs to construct a Top Ten list of ludicrous obsolescences: those anachronisms that somehow survive in the modern world, despite being way past their shelf life. Certainly Independence Day in America would make it near the top.

Mother's Day

It still feels strange to cycle in shorts instead of long pants. Could a transition from cold to hot really happen so quickly? Maybe you have to sense nature primarily through the skin to appreciate this.

At any rate, after the ride over the Continental Divide -- practically in the city limits here -- I was relaxing with a coffee at my favorite shop downtown. Swallows were putting on quite an "air show". They are real hot shots; the original "Top Guns".

About ten swallows were constructing nests at the interior corners of a concrete roof. This was the first time in my life that I've seen such a good example of this, and just think, it was Mother's Day!

How do they cling to hard and vertical concrete surfaces?

Do they have suction cups on that tail?

While facing these little hot shots and photographing the crap out of them, my back faced an interesting sculpture and water fountain. ("Interesting" to a guy who usually doesn't appreciate the arts…

Sweet 16

My little poodle, Pancho, celebrates his 16th birthday this week. He has no illness or pain that I know of. But he has the usual old-dog issues like deafness and maybe 50% of his eyesight left.

After the coyote attack last autumn (click the Dancing with Wolves tab at the top of the screen) I restricted him to walking on the leash. When he started slowing down and losing interest in going on walks, I was a bit slow to see cause and effect. Another dog owner told me how her last old dog loved eating and going on car rides right to the end. I wondered if I should take Pancho out in the BOB trailer that fits behind a bicycle and let him go off-leash. So I did both.

He started acting a whole year younger! What a little scamp. Seriously, his "hearing" has even improved, by which I mean his mental alertness has improved to react to what little hearing is left. But we saw the coyote close to camp a couple days ago. So his off-leash distance from me must be kept short!

I'm not sur…

Downtown Criterium, Day 4

I don't know of anything that makes the menacing whrrr'ing sound of a peloton of cyclists in a criterium race, especially when they are descending one of the hills on the back side of the course.

During my RV traveling years I always fantasized living downtown in an old mining town. There are only three or four real possibilities in each state. I have started to look for an apartment in downtown Little Pueblo, where unfortunately the second stories of most commercial buildings are empty or abandoned.

I wonder how prevalent this sort of fantasy is for baby-boomers who grew up in standard suburban Dullsvilles, with 100% reliance on automobiles built into the lifestyle; there's not so much as a sidewalk in those places.

The Latest Iteration of Folly

Seldom have I benefited more from a boob-toob-less lifestyle than recently, when I was spared the non-stop hype over the royal wedding. Why didn't they put it off a couple months so they could've hit the 30th anniversary of Princess Diana's wedding? (I guess there was a groom, but nobody remembers his name.)

People who worship the false idol of Progress should ask themselves some brutal questions. For forty years women have been liberated, supposedly, and they've all wanted to become hard-boiled district attorneys Monday through Friday; but they still want to be fairy princesses on the weekend, or at least on one "magical" day of their lives. My gawd, did you see that ridiculous "train" or whatever you call it that Princess Kate dragged behind her with the help of an aide. (Lady-in-waiting?)

Perhaps my whole problem is that I'm old enough to remember the world and the media making fools of themselves over Princess Diana. And yet the younger gene…

Day 2

I mountain biked up to a viewpoint on the Continental Divide and looked down at our annual bicycle race, once again using my 10 X zoom. When it comes time to buy a new camera, optical zoom will once again be the priority.

These are the Men's Pro guys going by. Looks like a few are violating the rules of the road.

They're Back

The annual bicycle race is back in town and today is the first day.
Top) Men's Pro category starts off by heading through downtown.
Bottom) I mountain biked to our public park built over old mining land, and photographed the boys leaving town, headed northwest for 94 miles. I needed the 10X zoom.

A Curmudgeon on Valentine's Day

Being able to ignore national holidays is not the smallest advantage of an independent lifestyle. Still, they give opportunities for thought, especially when they are as weird as Valentine's Day. Look at how the marketing hype panders to women, with the jewelry, chocolates, restaurant events, etc. Isn't this just a bit slatternly, 40 years after women's lib?
Valentine's Day is a perfect example of how 'there is no new thing under the sun.' Women always have and always will run a sexual extortion racket to their own advantage. Believe it or not, I don't really blame them for this. Biology and evolution have dumped a lot of overhead on the females. Males get most of the pleasure from reproduction, while women get stuck with the consequences. So there is a rough justice in women using their weapons to get even.
Their imperiousness used to irk me when I was a young man. Old age has moderated this. Getting a female dog has had an even bigger effect. It was amusing…

The Politics of Pigskin

Suspense is building in the sports world, now that we're down to four teams in the football playoffs; except of course for a few soul-less philistines, anti-American Europhiles who prefer their version of "football", and millions of wives who prefer ice dancing at the Olympics to the NFL playoffs.
But the drama of athletic competition can be appreciated on another level: sometimes a sports championship captures the zeitgeist, the spirit of the Age. There was a classic and famous photograph of the Detroit Tigers winning the World Series circa 1984, as Detroit and the automobile industry were making a comeback from the most brutal recession in decades. More recently the New Orleans Saints starting playing well in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina's destruction of that city.
Besides being a battle between Good and Evil, the upcoming contest between the Green Bay Packers (the Good) and the Chicago Bears (the... well, you guess) symbolizes the contest between two political…


Labor Day weekend in Silverton, CO. There is always some excitement in the middle of the day in Silverton, when the tourist train arrives from Durango, and disgorges the suckers and marks. The economy of the town depends on them. I've come to appreciate this daily ritual.

But part of the credit for the festive mood this weekend must go to the Harley riders. Even if you dislike their hobby -- and I do -- they really do bring a sense of visceral excitement to town, like a Biblical plague of flying insect pests.

Do Harley people really deserve the disdain they so often get? Sure, most of us hate their noise and other features shall I say it... their over-studied affectation of a commercially-prepackaged faux rebelliousness.

But to their credit, they've found a partial remedy for the pathological over-earnestness of middle-age, and the joylessness of old age. What is so bad about a matron feeling like a hot young chick in her over-priced leather fashions? Or i…