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Back With the Wagon Train in Wyoming

I am migrating south through the southwestern corner of Wyoming right now, but not quite at the same spot as in July, when I was heading north.  Then, it was the famous South Pass. This time it is Ft. Bridger. This must bring a smile to the face of anyone who is a fan of the classic TV western, "Wagon Train."  Just think how many tourists have been disappointed -- and probably appalled -- by southern Wyoming! They hear the word "Wyoming" and immediately think of the front cover of a National Geographic magazine, the Grand Tetons, Jackson Hole, "Jellystone Park" and Yogi Bear, and maybe even the movie "Shane" and its opening shot and musical score by Victor Young, or the fictitious "Medicine Bow" of the classic TV western "The Virginian." Then they look out the windows of their car and see brown, treeless, hills and plains. It is about as bleak as anywhere in the West, bitterly cold in the winter, hot in the summer, and windy

Latitudes and Altitudes

Frustration with unharmonious latitudes and altitudes is not exactly news. But I was hoping to do better at solving the conundrum than when I was a newbie RVer. The Columbia River system is to the northwestern USA what the Colorado River is to the southwest. (Notice no upper case S.)  Overall the northwest slopes downhill towards Astoria OR, where the mighty Columbia debouches to the sea. (Or shall we be Lincoln-ian and say 'where it rolls unvexed to the sea?') At the middle latitudes, altitudes are inconveniently high. Credit bad planning by the topo committee of North America. This messes up the autumn migration towards the south. You can't just wait until you are 5 F cooler than you want, and then drive 100 miles south. It is embarrassing but I really don't have a better and smarter idea about migrating south. Perhaps it doesn't matter so much: as long as Indian summer holds, it is nice at most places. When winter hits, it hits all at once, and you skedaddle qu

Bicycling "Naked"

I stopped to talk to a couple of mountain bikers the other day. The man had a nice handlebar bag, which I complimented him on. He said he liked to ride without one of those ubiquitous "Camelbak" bags that are virtually part of the uniform these days. It felt so good to hear somebody else said that. I have always disliked anything on my back. I used to joke that it was half the reason why I biked instead of hiked. But when everybody else buys their $100 Camelbak (or another brand) you can feel like such a crank for being different, even though you can give good arguments for your preference. Anyway I am back to biking the way I like. What a difference! ______________________________ Isn't it amazing how imitative humans are, if a curmudgeon has to consciously struggle to liberate himself in such a trivial thing?! You could blame this eccentricity on a tacto-centric orientation. Again, it makes one feel like an oddball. The other day I walked out of my trailer on a coolish

Watching Critters Play

It is quite something how most things in a new town don't really matter to a traveler. But when the eye -- or rather, the mind -- finds something that does matter, it really gets noticed. Take water, for example. Oceans, lakes, waterfalls, and rivers all have their fan clubs. But it is only rivers that actually matter to me. I think the reader can explain this without any help from me. The local river, the Salmon, is doing its best to please. The other day I saw a couple of ducks floating downstream. The current is fast despite it being the low-water season. The "quackers" seemed to be playing with the current. Normally ducks don't seem very interesting to me, despite their interesting colors and patterns. But these two ducks caused me to give a pleasing sigh, out loud. Why so? Does wildlife need to be doing something to be interesting?  Well, it certainly helps. Playfulness is one of those things. And it makes sense that a creature seems closer to us -- and better

Sanity Restored at the Playground

Who would have ever thought that this scene would even be noticed: Idaho school boys running on a playground, without masks, and closer than 6' from each other. But I did notice it, and it looked wonderful. Nor were there any supervising adults nearby, perhaps with uniforms and emergency radios. I saw no medi-vac helicopters idling their engines at a heli-pad next to the school. from   It left a comforting impression on me and all the other drivers on the road, no doubt. Earlier in the day, just the opposite thing occurred. I was driving down a residential street at 20-25 mph. About a block ahead of me two boys were waiting to cross the street. There was no crosswalk painted, but I stopped for them.  The boy ran across the street with such exaggerated nervousness, and his bodily movements were almost feminine. I am used to younger American males talking in almost feminine tones, but how could they walk or run girly-style? That is one way to look at the hysterical over-