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Part II, Models of the Good Life

How strange it is that, after 16 years of full time RVing, I've finally had a chance to camp and mountain bike with other campers. It's wonderful. Why hasn't this happened dozens of time? Just about any rig could be parked where we have parked this past week. About a third of RVers have bicycles bungeed to the ladder at the back of the rig. (Virtually unused of course.) So this isn't about "practicality." In the 'Solitude' chapter of "Walden," Thoreau asked, "What sort of space is that which separates a man from his fellows and makes him solitary? I have found no exertion of the legs can bring two minds much nearer to one another." Good ol' Hank. I think we can answer his question: it's about the 'vision thing.' Retirees and travelers look like they are in one big category when you look at them from the perspective of the whirring hamster wheel of normal American life. But they are actually quite different

Different Models of the "Good Life" in Retirement

Part I: the Bark Park model. Some people think that doing their homework about retirement consists of talking to investment "advisers" or reading glossie rags about "America's Top Ten Undiscovered Retirement Dream Towns." Or perhaps one half of the soon-to-be-retired couple has fallen under the evil sway of the cant of travel blog escapism. I'd like to suggest a faster and more effective approach to your homework: regardless of your pet situation, find a nice bench at the local "bark park." Just sit there and observe and think about the Big Picture. Isn't it obvious that you are watching dogs enjoying the 'good life?' There is nothing subtle about a happy dog. Should the situation be that different for another species of social animals, such as homo sapiens? Oh certainly, homo sapiens is long past its hunter-gather lifestyle.  First our animal species adopted the dreary routines of settled, neolithic agriculture. The donkey model

My First Flash "Flood," part II

Between the noise and the rain and the sticky goo, I was getting cabin fever. Not just a hackneyed expression, this is a real state of desperation. Oddly enough, whenever I have personally experienced this mood, I rebelled against it with the most determined optimism. This can seem odd or even a little magical to the person experiencing it, but, if we are to believe William James in The Will to Believe , it is common behavior: It is, indeed, a remarkable fact that sufferings and hardships do not, as a rule, abate the love of life; they seem, on the contrary, usually to give it a keener zest. The sovereign source of melancholy is repletion. Need and struggle are what excite and inspire us; our hour of triumph is what brings the void. Not the Jews of the captivity, but those of the days of Solomon's glory are those from whom the pessimistic utterances in our Bible come. Germany, when she lay trampled beneath the hoofs of Bonaparte's troopers, produced perhaps the most optimist

My First Flash "Flood," part I

Camping in popular places and times is something to avoid. Places like Moab UT. There is very little dispersed camping still left there thanks to its overuse and misuse and mass popularity. But I had a couple reasons to be here. So I rolled into a dispersed camping area close to sunset, in order to assess the neighborhood before committing. Gee, it was rather uncrowded and quiet at the end of the road, where I found a nice flat spot. Maybe people were scared off by the oncoming rain and windstorm? How foolish I was to think that everybody was already there by sunset: I was projecting the travel habits of a full-time RVer onto time-constrained mass tourists. An hour after sunset I heard some vehicles outside. One glance out the window at the height of the running lights identified them as toy haulers, and I knew that my paradise of one hour was lost. They didn't even wait until morning light to start the madness. Suffice it to say that camping neighbors like this are the reason

In Praise of the Federal Government

...or at least part of it. The reader, being the suspicious cynic that he is, thinks the title has been chosen as a set-up for satire and facetiousness. Not this time. It is just too easy to mock the federales right now. Where's the challenge? Besides, readers know that I am basically a "small-government" classical liberal. If they disagree, then I am annoying them. If they do agree, then I am boring them with an all-too-familiar sermon. In politics people can lose their credibility when they become too ideologically predictable and uniform. They lose their individuality. Instead of working out opinions on their own, based on their own experiences in life, they end up merely repeating ideological package-deals, bumper sticker slogans, shibboleths, and mantras. Consider, briefly, an analogy from the investment world: do you really trust perma-bulls or perma-bears? If an investment advisor can't change gears based on changes in the world, is he anything other tha