Sunday, November 1, 2009

moab, documentaries, deck plate, dipping bars,
uncertainty, and the beaver moon




I don’t like to drive from SLC to Moab all in one day so I went off on some sand roads south of Page for the night.

I spent a week at Lisa and Glen’s place in Moab. They provided a great place to park and are fine people. Glen knows EVERYTHING about local places to hike and camp. He pointed out places to camp south out of Moab in my DeLorme atlas. I’m set. We also had dinner one night with Theresa, one of my old principals, who grows the BEST garlic I’ve ever tasted. I truly enjoy these visits.
If in the area, check out the all volunteer community radio station—KZMU 90.1 and 106.7. They broadcast most of what is happening in town. If you don’t like the music, tune back in later. Each programmer plays the music she likes so the genre changes depending on the day and hour.

As luck would have it, the last Farmer’s Market of the season was on the weekend I was here. I snagged a fabulous loaf of blue cornmeal walnut bread, a VERY decadent small chocolate pie, and a tub of cheese by the local cheese-maker. Lisa picked up ten pounds of Alaskan salmon. I learned that salmon caught miles off the coast tastes way better than river salmon. Salmon are starting to die once they reach the rivers and start to turn red. For the best taste, one wants salmon to still have a silver color. Not that I eat fish but I love learning stuff like this.

A few mornings, I went running along the Old Mail Trail on the Millcreek Rim—beautiful. This old horse trail served as a mail route for miners and ranchers who lived in Wilson and South Mesas in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. I missed a wonderful photo by not having my Cyber-shot with me—snow on the sage against red sand and rock—beautiful.


It seems strange that the last three times I’ve stopped in Moab to visit Lisa and Glen, there have been documentary films showing that weekend. This year the Moab Confluence’s 2009 event was called EATING THE WEST and was all about local food and sustainability. One film was about a Swiss Alps cheese maker. Some of the greatest cheeses in the world are made only in the summertime in the spectacular high elevations of the Swiss and French Alps. Cows are allowed to graze on mountainous pasture at higher and higher elevations as the snows melt in the warm weather. The cheese itself is made right there on the slopes in little stone huts. The lush array of herbs, grasses and wildflowers in the alpine meadows make for some of the greatest tasting cheeses in the world—Gruyère, Beaufort, Appenzeller, and Comté. The featured cheese maker was up there with only a young local assistant and a cow herder—WAY up there and very isolated.

Another film was titled the ‘Titans of New Guinea’. These people have fished traditionally for 40,000 years using bamboo spears. After WWII, fishermen had access to fishing line, hooks, outboard motors, and spear guns. Along with this came the use of money. Instead of continuing to trade for items they needed, they now had to catch more fish to earn money for food, clothing, school for their children, etc. With over-fishing the fish population has gone down dramatically. The Nature Conservancy is helping communities, such as the featured Pere village on Manus Island, protect the oceans’ nurseries—coral reefs. The village has recently created a Marine Protected Area to prevent over-fishing on reefs where grouper spawn—a move that will help stabilize fish populations that villagers depend on for survival. Villagers report a promising increase in fish numbers since Pere first imposed limits in 2004.

‘Seeds in the City—The Greening of Havana’ was a very informative film about urban agriculture. City food production has gone up 50% in just 5 years. As many as 100,000 Havana residents are involved in growing food. Many work their own backyard gardens, while others join together in collectives to work vacant plots of land provided by the state. Still others hire themselves out to work fields started in front of colleges, hospitals, factories and office buildings. More than 90% of perishable vegetables eaten in Havana are grown locally.

‘Fridays at the Farm’ was a presentation about a photographer/filmmaker and his family who decided to join a community-supported organic farm in Pennsylvania. They head up there on Fridays to work and spend time quality time out in nature focusing on the natural processes of food cultivation. The presentation looks like video but it was compiled from nearly 20,000 still images featuring time-lapse and macro photography sequences. Way cool.


One morning I went for a short hike with Glen to some 10,000-year-old cliff art. I thought Moab was pretty much overrun with ATVs, and it is, but there are still many trails that are accessible to only hikers and mountain bikes. Where we pulled off the road, there was no designated trailhead and not really all that much of a trail. Absolutely stellar.
I emailed Glen about the art and he wrote back, “The rock art we went to is the really old stuff. They generally refer to it as the Desert Archaic. It's the same as they find over in the Maze in Barrier Canyon. So sometimes people call that rock art the Barrier Canyon style. The normal rock art that you see around here is much more recent.” Didn’t I say he knows everything about the area? Unbelievable.
Stop in Gearheads on Main Street if you could use some information, maps, camping gear, or need to fill up your flasks and jugs with free filtered water. Two good maps for the area are Moab West and East Trails, recreation topo maps of trail and road access on public lands by Latitude 40˚ maps.




I rarely use my fresh water holding tank, preferring Reliance jugs. The last time I used the tank was the summer of 2007 for the weekly double-overnights up on the Kaibab. I installed a 6” deck plate ($12 at a marine supply store) on the tank. After cutting the hole, I soaked up the standing water in there and cleaned out the inside with bleach. After the tank dried and aired out, I began using it for storage. I don’t come across natural food stores all that often in my back-road travels, so when I do, I hit the bulk bines and stock up with about 15 pounds of TVP, nutritional yeast, cous-cous, and other grains and legumes and place the plastic bags in the holding tank. Works well. I also throw in some off-season clothes. I’m sure others won’t consider the storage aspect but anyone who regularly uses their water tank might consider installing a deck plate for periodic cleaning of the tank.


Scott fabricated a set of dipping bars for me while I was up in SLC that I can use outside the casita. I drilled two holes in the bellyband and thread rope through them to secure the bars against the trailer. I’ve been working on my lungs, heart, and legs, now the bars should help me build back some upper body strength. Thanks again, Scott.

I plan to spend a couple days down in the canyon rims recreation area, just east of Canyonlands National Park. I recently heard that there have been bear sightings in that area. For some reason a couple have come down from the mountains. Way strange. It’s November and I’m still a bit too far north so I need to be getting on into New Mexico soon.
From time to time in my travels, I talk to RVers and their mindset seems to want it all planned out. One pulls out his RV park directory and picks the RV park or campground where he will be that night. He pretty much sticks to the interstates and has a list of the standard tourist attractions to visit. It’s like connect-the-dots, secure, but kind of boilerplate, lackluster, and dull. The camper mindset seems more open. One has a general idea of where he will be camping that night. He will have checked out DeLorme to see where the public lands are or will follow a tip a friend might have given him. No idea of what he will find there. Campers look at this uncertainty in a positive way—somewhat compelling, a little spice, a little adventure, maybe a little risk. These people tend to be more laid back and roll with the punches. If a place does not work out—so what? Just roll on. As we grow older many constrict their boundaries; they continue to seek what is comfortable, familiar, and safe. These are our last years—why not look at things more openly?

November – The Full Beaver Moon. Time to set beaver traps before the swamps freeze to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation suggests that the name Beaver Full Moon comes from the fact that the beavers are now active in their preparation for winter. Also called the Frosty Moon.

We find comfort among those who agree with us
growth among those who don't.


RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’
FOR INDEX OF POSTINGS GO TO JULY 2006

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