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Hiking in Cold Wind

I don't do much hiking these days. Normally it is suffocating and stultifying. But it sure is nice when it is too cold to ride a bike.



Today Coffee Girl and I did a nice hike in our "back yard," while camping near Moab, UT. Most of the hike was along a windy cliff-line, in abnormally cool October weather. I have no photos to show you, because the closer scenery was austere to the point of being ugly. But that is a good thing! It made the distant scenery look that much better. 

But then, scenery wasn't the point anyway. When hiking in cold air, my "spiritual" battery is on a fast charge; walking discharges the battery at roughly the same speed.

Something similar happens with summer hiking, but in reverse. There are softies out there who will tell me that it is "negative thinking" to hate hiking in warm weather. Not so! The intensity of the pleasure coming from cold-weather hiking is proportional to the intensity of the displeasure during warm weather.

What Would Edward Abbey Have Thunk?

Moab, UT. The world is still full of people who have to be given credit for good planning of a certain type: they arranged to be born in the right year. In fact, most people who chose to be born from 1945 to 1960 in Europe and North America should get credit for this.

The author, Edward Abbey, also deserves credit for being born in the last decade or two when one could still experience the glories of Moab, UT. What would he think today?

I believe it was in "Desert Solitaire" that he wrote about being so tired of the summer heat in Moab that he got in his car and blasted down a washboarded gravel road on his way to the LaSalle Mountains, in order to cool off. 'The ultimate test of man and metal,' was how he put it.

Let's consider his example of deliberate hardship and postponed release, and see if it applies to my situation today.  I was able to use it by remaining parked in a ghastly place, just to milk the act a bit.  I "enjoyed" tourist helicopters overh…

UTVs: Another Insane Industry

I am at it again: questioning the sanity of a large industry. But this time, at least, I heard similar thoughts from other people.

I recently took a training course on handling a UTV (or ROHV) safely. (Those are the car-like "ATVs", typically with side-by-side seating.)

For the life of me, I can't understand why anyone would waste their money on something that just isn't that much fun. Fast motion is fun for a human being -- but for how long?

Because of accidents, regulators have now smothered the machines in safety equipment. I felt panic when I first put that damn full-face helmet on. In fairness, that went away pretty quickly, and it was not as hot as first thought.

But my prescription bifocal sunglasses could not sit on my head right, because of that bloody helmet. The bifocal line obscured my vision. (Only a government safety regulator could design something that ruins your vision, and then call it "safety" equipment.) 

Almost every aspect of this infernal …

Time to Switch Your Animal Species Loyalty?

Is it good or bad to declare solidarity with an animal species other than the one everybody says you belong to?

That question is unavoidable as I look out my trailer's door to see a half dozen trekkers per day on their way north on the 800 mile Arizona Trail. Of course I can't know whether they are doing the entire course.

How do you explain these people? Is it simply an ego-achievement sort of thing, like running a marathon? Or are they reinventing a religious experience in a post-Christian, secular age? If so, we should call them 'los peregrinos,' the pilgrims.

Or are they actually having fun? If they consider 800 miles of water-less, hot, blistering trudging -- plodding! -- to be fun... well, they aren't the same animal species as me!

It is so easy to understand the fun of my dog as we start off in the morning, biking slightly downhill. Soon she is blasting away at 20 mph, even though she is going on 12 years old. We have to run the gauntlet along yard after yard of…

Patriotic Heroes in the Arizona Desert

Is this a new trend or did I just notice it for the first time, perhaps because of my biases? I noticed so many motorsports people running around the Arizona desert with American flags on the back of their machine. Sometimes they go to quite a bit of work erecting a flagpole back at camp.

Doesn't that seem strange to you? What is the point of adorning sports equipment with the American flag? Maybe fishermen should tape a little American flag to the end of their poles. That might be kind of fun to watch if they are fly fishermen. What are the 'motos' trying to say -- that their sport is more patriotic than others? And what does any sport have to do with patriotism?

Perhaps in their febrile imaginations, their Polaris Ranger -- blasting around in the Arizona desert -- is like a military Humvee, blasting around in the desert of some Mideastern country. Therefore they are 'supporting the troops, who are protecting our freedom.'

A strange game is going on in the minds of a…

Learning From Somebody Else's Enthusiasm

Because I know nothing about the sport of rock climbing, it seemed like I should at least watch people doing it. When was it -- the early 1990s? -- when this sport became popular where I lived at the time. I had a friend who got sucked in, while I just rolled my eyes at the latest fad.

After all, there weren't good places to pursue the sport locally. So it was likely to turn into one of those sports where one buys a bunch of equipment and spends most of the year planning and fantasizing over a vacation at some exotic location. I have never been attracted to sports that can only be pursued at a few specific locations, far far away from where you live.

Therefore I was not pre-disposed to think highly of the rock climbing that I watched recently. Surprisingly, it was rather interesting.


For one thing the climber was using their entire body, unlike the aerobic sports, which tend to only use the legs, lungs, and heart.

Secondly, there was risk to the climbing. I am not going to offer an ad…