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Showing posts with the label changeOfSeasons

(Autumn) Paradise Lost!

I wonder how many RV wannabees look at the pretty scenery on blogs and vlogs, and then flutter their eyelashes about "Living the Dream" someday? To their eyeballs, the RV lifestyle must seem like an escape from reality.

But it isn't. It might be an "alternative reality" in a "parallel universe," but it is not an escape from reality. 

The most mordant illustration of this fact happens the third weekend of October in Utah. The kiddies get a school holiday on the same weekend that deer hunting season starts. Remember that red-state Utah is fond of guns, ATVs, and making babies.

This weekend always causes my heart to sink. The weather and scenery are perfect in Utah in October -- and a cynic would say that 'things that seem too good to be true, usually are.

Actually, it would be better to say that things can be perfect, here and there, for a  short while. And that is what happens until the third weekend in October. If you were considering visiting M…

The Benefits of a Freak Cold Front

After a lot of unnecessary worrying, the dreaded cold front has vanquished Utah. Actually it has turned out rather nice. I "retreated" to Green River to warm up. But Honour required me to first find a legal loophole: like a good general I am superstitious about retreating. But making a small loop back to where you were recently is different from "retreating."

So that is what I did. Rather than sit in the trailer and freeze -- or worse yet, deign to use a heater or plug into shore power -- I am spending most of the day in the driver's seat of my van, with its huge windshield facing the sun! What a great feeling it is to be warmed by the sun, when you are surrounded by chilly air!

This afternoon I am being reminded of the calm euphoria and healthy-mindedness that comes from being able to enjoy a sunny day. 

Postscript: last night was the coldest one. It works wonders to shake/roll the shoulders to warm up, when you are sedentary at a desk. Also, I filled a nalgen…

Autumn Pleasures

A person could write forever about how wonderful autumn is. One of its understated virtues is its scratchy, dry texture. This is visually evident in tawny grass seedheads. 

On today's ride I brought my real camera (an Olympus TG-5) to look for sunflowers. They were found. It took a lot of looking but I am pleased I found a camera that has an adjustable aperture just by turning a knob, instead of the usual stepping through a complex menu that is virtually invisible in bright sunlight. I love blurry backgrounds.

Real "Fall Colors" For a Change

This is the time of year for "leaf peepers," that is, tourists who drive around and gawk at yellow aspen leaves, while rhapsodizing about fall colors, plural.

I envy people back East at this time of year: old barns, real trees with leaves, a true variety of colors, apple cider, and crisper mornings.

But guess what?!  My friend and I went prospecting for a new campsite today, and we found something unexpected. I made him stop in the shade, at a stream crossing. There were maple leaves on one side of the road, and oak leaves on the other.

 And we found two streams that had a little water flowing.

Three miracles of nature on one day is all the excitement that I can take!

Towards Utah

It's hard to believe I was a host for three and a half months! The gig is finally up, and the timing is perfect. It's "Wagons, Ho-o-o-o-o-o!", this morning.

Towards Utah.

The Shadows of September

Talk about 'a watched pot never boils...'

A couple weeks ago I started obsessing over the length of the noon shadow, as created by my camper. In early summer I got so little shade that I spent the entire mid-day inside. Then in mid-August, improvement was noticeable: I could actually sit outside in my chair if it was backed up against the camper.

Then I forgot about it, for a week. Today I was astonished to see the luxuriousness of that shade. A September day might be nearly as warm as mid-summer. But you can find shade in September, which is what really counts in the American Southwest.

This might seem a self-inflicted problem, since I have no awning on my camper. But in the Southwest, mid-day winds are over 30 mph.

Thus the long disease of summer is over, regardless of the temperature, although it is cooling as well. For the next six months I can stop fantasizing about moving to Spitzbergen or Jan Mayen Island. 

It brings to mind a term I don't use frequently: Grace. WordWe…

Celebrating the Waning of Another Summer

It is worth exulting over the passing of another summer, even though it was a merciful one, that is, cool and wet.

Summer is a season that must be suffered stoically.  Oh certainly, August is still a summer month. But the small improvements compared to July are noticeable: slightly later sunrises and longer shadows in mid-day; and cooler temperatures, even if it is only a couple degrees.

It is a fundamental fact of human existence that a couple percent of improvement from a given base seems to affect a person more than the base.

Even easier to appreciate is the waning of the tourist season in Colorado. Some of the big school districts restart in early August, these days. 

The icing on the cake is that we are getting afternoon thundershowers that might not bring a lot of rain, but they bring clouds, shade, and a 10--15F cooling off. How magnificent!

Caption Contest for Mothers' Day

Who was responsible for setting Mother's Day on the second Sunday of May? Whoever they were, they loved their mother, because that time of year usually has excellent weather in most of the USA.

And then there is Colorado.

If we made a photo caption contest out of this, my offering would be, "Gee, Pops, where are all the customers?"

I guess this means that the tourist trade is headed straight for the crapper this weekend.

The Evil One is Back

There are plenty of Arizona snowbirds who think that sunny 70 F weather is perfect. What do they know? They are just tourists.

On a day of this so-called perfect weather I couldn't believe the force of the sun. Wasn't it just a month ago that we were worried about the solar panels charging the batteries completely?

A feeling of pure dread came over me. Here it is, the first of February, and I am already being knocked into 'hide from the sun' mode.

The sun is already a Malevolence. It is the purpose of all Life to vanquish it  -- or be vanquished by it.

The Solution to Winter Evenings when Camping

Long winter evenings have never been my favorite thing, when boondocking. All I could do was waste time on the internet or read books. Perhaps older eyes just don't like reading in the evening. Or maybe I have had my fill of reading by evening.

The result was boredom and glumness. This was a serious problem for me. My solution was to go to bed early.

Some solution! It results in poor quality sleep. And who can sleep for 12 hours per night?!

Lately I have been experimenting with organizing things in the evening. Consider all the photographs stored on your computer. They need to be organized and culled. This ends up being fun because it gives you a chance to reminisce over your travels.

You could argue that you just have too many photographs to tackle in this manner. Then why not just throw them out? You are never going to look at them again, anyway.

Organizing is needed for the file structure on the laptop and the smartphone, as well.

There are physical things that need to be organized,…

How Not to Shut Down So Early at Night

It has only been a couple weeks since I stopped my incessant whining about hot sunlight and dry air. And now I am already whining about too many hours of darkness, and getting cabin fever during rainy days.

There is something to learn from the campers who wear headlamps at night. They continue to do useful things at night, instead of limiting themselves to boob toob, yoob toob, or miserable books.

In fact modern headlamps having gotten ridiculously good. No longer are you allocating one hand to carry things, while trying to get things done with the other hand. Have you ever tried to operate a zipper with one hand? A camper spends most of the day fighting zippers, especially in winter.

The other day somebody went mountain biking by me at night. I couldn't believe how bright his headlamp was. I am still not motivated to ride at night, but it would sure be great to stay active in the evening with daily chores.

Ahh, but there's the battery, the weak link in any of these electrical gad…

Best Fall Color Experience Ever

A new reader to this blog might expect a photo-dump after a title like that. But I didn't even bring my Canon digital camera. (I did bring the smart phone, but just don't take it seriously as a camera. Maybe I should.)

My friend and I were mountain biking down a trail along a "draw" in the Gunnison CO area. Despite the anti-scenery slant on this blog, I just had to stop and ogle what was there: about 20 aspens, blazing yellow of course, that were pinned between the cliff and the dry creek. 

It was really sagebrush country, but the small aspens had managed to survive in their chosen niche. There was a drama to their tenuous existence. Also, it had rained a little recently, and the tiniest bit of moisture seems miraculous to me, after this summer! 

The autumnal morning's sun was just clearing the cliff, so that it illuminated the tops of the stunted aspens. The rest of the area was dry sagebrush, in all its glorious austerity. What a contrast!

This was a powerful examp…

The Annual Lump in the Throat

Every year at this time, I think about the same thing: the most important change-of-seasons. It was made more memorable by what my dog and I were doing: having one of our best mountain bike rides of the year, and in one of our favorite places. (How many untouristy areas can still be found in a place like Colorado?!) This summer has made me sick and tired of hot sun, so it was no small miracle that the day seemed glorious despite being sunny! 

It was getting on to mid or even late morning, but there was still a chill in the air. She and I pretty much like the same temperatures.

I notice the seasonal transitions at other times of the year, but somehow, they don't affect me in the same way that the onset of autumn does. There is no lump in the throat, as there is now. Perhaps that's because it is so great to get rid of another summer. Summer is just a long disease that one must submit to, stoically. Or maybe it's because I start migrating more as cooler weather comes in.


There is "the Cloud", and There Is the Real Thing

Have you noticed how tourism/travel literature always shows blue skies in its postcards?

Who the hell wants blue skies all the time! It is that time of year again, when aridity and blue skies and sunlight become oppressive.  

But this morning there were clouds, merciful clouds. Granted they were not the picturesque clouds that the Southwest gets during the summer monsoon season.

But don't think I'm complaining. It is worth suffering through the wildfire season, when your skin and fingernails slough off your body, and your hair turns to dry straw, just to experience the bliss of the monsoons.

Strictly speaking, it wasn't the clouds that were so glorious, it was the shade. In June I would rhapsodize over shade caused by anything.

Dogs agree with this opinion!

Cooling Medicine in the Outdoors

On my first day away from the thermal hell-hole of southwestern Arizona, my dog and I "had coffee" with the famous coffee shop dogs of Patagonia. Then we went for a walk along a rail-to-trail. 

Even though it was late in the morning, it was still cool, thanks to the altitude of 4000 feet and some high clouds. I deliberately under-dressed because I was desperate to be cool.

It worked. I imagined my skin being bathed in a slow-moving miasma with healing properties. And somebody else was miraculously cured as well: my dog, Coffee Girl, had developed a limp back in the desert. I couldn't tell what the cause was. When she hit the dirt trail she was her old self, running along jauntily. 

Perhaps it was the sharp rubble back in the desert. Or the Evil Ones.

I too was getting sick of feeling rubble underneath my feet with every other step taken. 

Soon the sun burned through the high clouds. I actually felt happy to have the sun hit my face. That is the ultimate proof of restored heal…

The Desert Winter is Over

We can all admire people who suffer in silence -- but only if the suffering is unavoidable. When a snowbird/camper is too warm in Arizona in mid-winter, it is because they are following the calendar, rather than the thermometer. But I'm proud of myself for surviving through January.

Fare ye well, Desert. It's off to grassland and oaks for me.

There may be a smart-a&& commenter who wonders how this agrees with my praise of Suffering, when camping. Remember that there are two distinct types of suffering: 1) noble and voluntary suffering, and 2) the merely disgusting kind. 

Type 1 ennobles Man. He can visualize it in a way that inspires him to crawl out of the banal routines of daily existence. Type 2 is meaningless. And I would put Heat in the second kind.

Finally, Finding Hope in Moab

I have been struggling to make 'lemonade from the lemons' of Moab. The pressure was made worse by a Utah school holiday coming up. But I'm glad I didn't give-in to defeatism. 

Surprisingly good results can come from remembering that 'the early bird gets the worm.' There is a jeep/ATV road that is easy to see from my campsite. It looked quite appealing to mountain bike on. Should I be so foolishly naive as to try?

I started a few minutes after sunrise, when it was still chilly. For the first hour and a half, not a single motorized device passed me, despite this trail being well-signed and well-known. Then I popped out on a dirt road and had a nice conversation with a young couple who was taking their niece on a walk. My dog loves children, and vice versa.

It is not surprising that this worked, but it is that it worked so well, and in Moab! There is probably quite a wind chill factor when 'four wheeling' in an open jeep, ATV, or Texas wheelchair ('side b…

A Heart-breaking Song in Sagebrush Hills

I wrote the last post after being so affected by the contrast between holiday tourist traffic and the total isolation I had just enjoyed on a mountain bike ride, earlier in the morning. If uncrowdedness were so great, why doesn't everybody avail themselves of it?

I suppose it is just human nature to go where everybody else does, by chasing brown signs put up by the forest service, park service, and BLM. It seems undesirable to think for themselves.

But the mass-tourist would probably not agree with that. They would argue that crowded places are crowded because they are more beautiful than the average place.If you then asked him, "What is beauty?', he would think you are being silly or argumentative, since beauty is "obvious." He means anything that is BIG, vertical, or freakish.

Although few tourists would consider the location of my morning mountain bike ride to be ugly, they would think it less entertaining than where they were.

But I was quite entertained, I assu…

Watching the Summer Tide Drive Home

Unaccustomed as we are to wasting time and money at coffee shops, Coffee Girl and I were sitting in the cool September shade outside a coffee shop in Gunnison, CO. We had just finished a satisfying mountain bike ride up steep sagebrush hills.

Just think: it was Labor Day weekend, and we didn't run into a single person out there. Not even any "Texas wheelchairs!" Great views and land, and pretty good dirt roads. But it wasn't a "brand name" location. (And if you don't learn anything else from this blog, Grasshopper...)

Looking at the stream of gigantic vehicles drive by (mostly from Crested Butte), I was at a loss for the right word to describe my feelings. Earlier in life, when I was a hothead, I might have looked at this tidal flow with disdain. A few years later, I would have rolled my eyes. But what about now?

'Perspicacity' comes to mind. Normally that word seems right for high altitude, when looking down towards all the little scurrying ants i…

Maybe Autumn Will Always be Magic

Once again it's here. My favorite time of year. Every year I am amazed to be so affected by the coming-on of cool weather. Some years I have been interested in analyzing this remarkable longevity. But this year, I just want to feel good about it and hope it keeps going year after year -- like my van!

In a similar vein, I love camping at tree islands in the Gunnison area, year after year. Last year I was in the mood for deconstructing the romanticism of this. But this year, it suffices to bask in it. Perhaps there is a natural dialectic going on here. One year I reconstruct the visualization that I deconstructed the previous year. Let's hope that the new version is better in some way than the earlier one.

There is something symbolic about tree islands -- something that is different than other features that people go ga-ga over. Oh sure, I am probably prone to some anti-tourist snobbery. But a natural feature ceases to have an effect on you when somebody sticks a bar-code on it. T…