Tuesday, December 6, 2011

disaronno, blue cover, eton, notebook, a fisherman,
sandbags, and chicken little

December’s here and that means my annual bottle of Disaronno and Grand Marnier. With the winter solstice approaching, I’m searching for a bottle of bordeaux (fat chance). I should have planned ahead and picked up a bottle while up in Moab at the state liquor store. Next year. Maybe I’ll luck out and at least find a bottle of Pink.

When I was at Siscily’s place in Chama, I noticed she had painted her propane tank covers on her casita. It looked good so I asked if I could copy her idea. She will no doubt be painting polka dots on her cover but I’ll be leaving mine like this.

My solar powered eton radio died so I ordered this new model. I don’t use the radio all that much but the weather band comes in handy from time to time and I definitely use the LED flashlight.

The last couple of weeks I’ve been reading my road notebook. It’s just about full and I will be starting a new one in January. Back in my February 2008 entry ‘the lifestyle—what it’s like to live like this,’ I recommended that one might want to keep a road notebook for making entries on the days you move from one camping spot to another and the kinds of data that might prove useful. Anyway, it’s been a hoot reading the notebook. I had forgotten what my thoughts were like back on my first day on the road and all the various occurrences over the years. I also had wanted to make note of miscellaneous data to add to the new journal in case I get back to certain areas.
Useful data to enter in the road journal: day’s mileage, route, how steep the roads were, what the dirt roads at the end of the drive were like, GPS coordinates, the camping spot, thoughts on the drive, and whatever. Make notes on roads, trails, and other things to check out in the area and anything that mighty be helpful to look back on if you come through that way again or if you want to provide someone with specifics.

Last year I got down to Brantley Lake State Park in early December (early for me to be that far south) and noticed how low the water was. When I asked about it I was told they let water out in the fall for Texas. There was great hiking down on the lakebed so I wanted to get to Brantley early so I could do more of it this year. I needn’t have hurried. The lake never filled back up this year. I took the first photo last year and the second photo is of the same boat this year. All this green growth in new. There are even new creatures out on the lakebed.

I sold two of my silver pieces in the last month. They are going to be holiday gifts. Now that winter is here, I’m back in the NM state parks (the only thing that enables me to do this is I choose the more out-of-the-way parks) thoroughly enjoying indoor hot showers. For eight months of the year taking outdoor sun showers is generally no problem but there have been days in November when I was ready to go conventional. Anyway, when it’s not too cold or windy, I have my bench set up outside. People see me working with silver and come over to have a look. If they ask to see completed pieces, I’ll bring out my display case.

I couldn’t find where this story originated. I’ve come across it a couple times. I like it; it goes along with my conception of simple living. The story is called, ‘The Mexican Fisherman.’
An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, but what do you do with the rest of your time?
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15 to 20 years.”
“But what then?” asked the Mexican.
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”
“Millions—then what?”
The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

Like I said, I like the story. But, I find it sad. Most people just don’t get it. Thankfully I’ve never had the status quo ring embedded in my nose.

November’s sixty minutes sixty years: nailed another month with 2030 minutes.
THANKS Diana for your sixty sixty challenge. It’s hard for me to believe how much it has improved my overall health. Prior to taking this up in July, if I didn’t exercise early in the morning, I generally bagged any exercise for the day. But now, if I don’t go out and give thanks in the morning, at least I go out for a brisk walk later in the day. After getting through the first month, now it’s, ‘I have to get in my sixty minutes!’ Not bad. A focus on health should always be a part of one’s mindset.

So, last year I got into medicine ball exercises (using a dumbbell); a stellar way to tone the body. And this year I’ve gotten into Diana’s sixty minutes sixty years challenge, tabatas, brisk walks, and stretching. Not bad since next month I will officially be ‘an old man.’ Last month I’ve added sandbags. For tabatas, I researched dozens of body-weight and light dumbbell exercises. I had no idea there so many to choose from. It’s all come a long way since my high school PE classes. Anyway, one site I’ve been gathering data from covered a few sandbag exercises. Oh man, this is SO cool. After doing a google search for ‘sandbag exercises,’ I now have four pages of exercises to play with and use in my tabatas and on their own. I acquired three different bags differing in style and size and filled them with different amounts of sand. The small army surplus duffle is presently the most fun. One reason I like using sandbags (besides being ‘different,’ which always gets my attention) is that the movements seem to be more ‘real life’ (some more than others), movements used in everyday activities as opposed to the movements using barbells and weight machines. To improve physically, one needs to keep throwing the body curves, or it quickly learns to adapt and starts to coast along. Definitely not a good thing as we get on in years. I’m looking forward to using this new medium in the coming months (although I’m getting some strange looks from people out walking their dogs [not that that’s new]).

December humor— Chicken Little
One day the first grade teacher was reading the story of Chicken Little to her class. She came to the part of the story where Chicken Little tried to warn the farmer.
She read, "....and so Chicken Little went up to the farmer and said, "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!"
The teacher paused then asked the class, "And what do you think the farmer said?"
One little girl raised her hand and said, "My grandpa’s a farmer and I think he’d say something like, 'Holy Sh*t! A talkin’ chicken!'”

I wonder what I’ll choose for next year’s monthly wrap-up. So far I’ve covered: Night Sky, Full Moons, and Humor. Whatever it is, I’ll probably come back in 2013 with another year of Humor. I’m just havin’ way too much fun.

“One thing you can’t recycle is wasted time.” Anonymous

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

Monday, November 14, 2011

small world, coyotes, running of the bulls, IZ,
salmon run, an empty park, fresh cup,
and George Washington and the axe

Sometimes when I’m camped in a nice secluded spot miles back in from the asphalt, the world seems to grow smaller. At such times ‘the world’ is easily defined and it’s boundaries clear. I can feel this when Nature is coming on strong. Maybe I’m running down a trail trying to get back to camp as the clouds are darkening and there’s the sound of thunder off in the distance. Or I’m in my camper as the wind is screaming like a banshee or it’s pouring buckets. The same feeling exists at more gentle times. I might be sitting around a small fire, taking a mug-walk, a bowl-walk, out walking with M&M, sitting under the awning during a warm summer drizzle, or sitting inside watching the snow. Sometimes it’s more sensory. It could be the fragrance of the sage I threw on the fire or the feel of an early morning fog lifting off a glass-smooth pond, the call of an owl or coyote. I can open up to the rhythms and tempo of the natural world—sunrises and sunsets, moonrise, the sound of the wind in the trees, and the flowing water of a mountain stream. It all seems to gradually seep in as awareness expands. It’s like a re-connecting with the simplicity of life. I’m thankful that I can live like this for most of the year. Hopefully, I’ll come up with a way in which I can experience it for even more of the year. As of now however, winters, are pretty much a write-off, but there are other aspects that make the time somewhat pleasurable.
Many don’t understand why campgrounds, the grandiose, and the ‘sights to see’ don’t do much for me. Different strokes. I’m basically content with how I live. Maybe I have a low threshold of satisfaction.

Often I hear a coyote’s call from out in the desert. A sound I enjoy listening to. Other times I hear a pack of coyotes yipping wildly in unrestrained excitement. This sound I don’t care for so much. The pack is celebrating the death of some unfortunate creature. It is not exactly the semi-romantic howl of the wild people most often associate with the animals. It is a frenzied, hysterical cacophony of voices that precedes prey being ripped apart and devoured by the pack. I don’t know, maybe there is too much time to reflect on what I see and hear in this lifestyle.

Well, it’s almost time for ‘the running of the bulls.’ Nay, you say—that’s in July. I say, Ever go shopping between thanksgiving and christmas?

If you have not listened to Israel Kamakawiwo'ole singing, ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World,’ check out this link.
Did you catch the two transitions?

Whenever I’m in the Chama area I spend time at Paul’s place down in Tierra Amarilla, the 3 Raven’s Coffee House (pictures and story in my December 2009 entry). Right from the get-go it was a fabulous place (well, after ten years of work) but somehow he manages to improve upon it every year. The 3 Ravens got written up in this year’s October issue of Fresh Cup, the magazine for Specialty Coffee and Tea Professionals (www.freshcup.com). Way to go Paul. Can’t see how he can top this but he probably will. Also, remember that Paul is a drum maker. If you are interested in a custom wooden drum, Paul is the person to get one from. His wood shop takes up a good portion of his building.

I saw Siscily when I was passing through Chama. Remember she used to be a ranger at Heron Lake state park. She still runs a kayak rental business in the summer. I was invited over to her place one night for dinner. A few of her friends and Paul were there and we sat around a fire and drank cabernet sauvignon, ate, talked, and told a few joke. A good time. I might enjoy stuff like this more than most since I don’t get a chance to do it all that often. Siscily also stopped by my site a couple times and brought me home grown tomatoes and some wild apples. There is an apple tree next to the visitor center in town.
One morning I had a nice talk with Anthony, the superintendent of Heron and El Vado. A good guy who is very knowledgeable about the area. He grew up in Chama, went off to college, came back, and worked his way up through the park system. He initially stopped by my site to tell me about the closing of Willow Creek for Halloween. They set up quite a popular event in the campground and have been doing it for the past three years or so. Willow Creek reopens afterwards but then its almost snagging season. Not a time to be staying in Heron.

Whenever I stop at Heron Lake as I head south, most mornings I run the trail. I thought I covered all of it, from the visitor center down to El Vado. The other day, Siscily told me the park had a 3-mile trail from the visitor center to the east meadow. Yep, I had to go check it out. Not bad, but my favorite section is still the Salmon Run Trail section. It’s even better now. They blocked off some sections of the old cart path and routed runners/hikers/mountain bikers onto some nice single tracks.

I met a great couple one morning while I was out on the trail. They’re from TorC and were staying in the Brushy Point cg. They had a small, older 5th wheel but, like me, they also have the camper mindset. I rarely come across people like this. Just about all of them are into RVing. We had a good talk. Things like this can make my day.

I never stopped at El Vado as I meandered south so this year I pulled in to see what it was like. When I got there, there was not a single rig in the park. My kind of place. I stayed there for a week and a half and for most of my stay, I was the only camper. Way cool. It was nice having an electric hookup but it was back to the sun shower bag. Every other morning I ran or hiked the Rio Chama trail and most afternoons took M&M for a walk. Jack, a camper with a Fleetwood/Coleman Evolution E1tent trailer pulled in one day. I was really surprised how much room there was in his rig. The box was only 10’ but the inside seemed twice as big as my casita. We had a good time one evening sitting around his campfire exchanging stories. Not bad.

I was planning to leave one Wednesday but noticed in my pocket at-a-glance that it was ‘Day of the Dead.’ Sounded like it was not a good day for being out on the roads so I waited one more day. As always when heading south from Chama, I stop at the 3 Ravens Coffee House for a mug of Paul’s high octane. One mug and I’m good for the whole day! Also, as always, I stocked up with supplies at the La Montanita Food Co-op in Santa Fe. It’s easy to get to and there’s plenty of bulk bins and a good selection of sandwiches at the deli counter.

October’s sixty minutes sixty years: nailed another month with 2115 minutes.

Exercise is hard. It’s sweaty. But it’s also a chance for me to get out of my comfort zone and see if I can do more than I think I can. I look at others who always stay in their comfort zone and I just don‘t want to look like them or live these last years as they do. I sure as hell don’t think or act like them. Different strokes—never developed the herd instinct. Exercise is not about getting in a workout on a Tuesday. It’s about adding 20 years to one’s life—active, useable years that one can truly live. For most, this seems to be a very hard concept to grasp, let alone hold any meaning. But I like to get out of my comfort zone from time to time. It adds a little spice to life (not that I’m going to take up bungee jumping).
“You may delay, but time will not.” Benjamin Franklin

November humor—George Washington and the Ax
Teacher: George Washington not only chopped down his father’s cherry tree but also admitted it. Now, Joey, do you know why his father didn’t punish him?
Joey: Because George still had the ax in his hand?

bonus humor
This misprint is from a Michigan publication, InTune: “Parents are encouraged to stay throughout the concert and not to heave at the end of their child’s performance.” Oops!

The first wealth is health. Ralph Waldo Emerson

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

Thursday, October 13, 2011

art deco, on the rim, flaming cow sh*t,
check the water, nasty body fluids, it’s a hard life,
extended time off the grid, and
games for when you are older

Ah, simple pleasures—a cold glass of water, a book, and a lowrider in the shade of a juniper. OR
a glass of wine, a book, a feline, and a lowrider with a view OR
a mug of yerba mate, a book, and a lowrider with a view
This lifestyle has WAY too many choices. This can lead to stress. I’ll endure it somehow.

Speaking of stress, I bet you are sitting there stressing over where the term ‘Art Deco’ originated. The name was coined at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels in Paris. It was the predominant decorative art style of the 1920s and 1930s, characterized by precise and boldly delineated geometric shapes and strong colors, and used most notably in household objects and in architecture.
Now you’ll be able to get a good night’s sleep. If not, try an offering to Morpheus.

I finally found a quiet, secluded spot to camp that felt good (how many months did that take?!). It was at the end of a spur road off FR 211 in the Ashley National Forest Uintah Mountains south of the Flaming Gorge area in Utah. Stayed there a couple weeks to recharge. It rained half the days so I gathered quite a bit of firewood and kept it under a tarp. I like bundling up and reading by a small fire when it is not too blustery. M&M and I had some stellar walks just about every day. We could go off in any direction to make a loop. Some afternoons if Meadow was kind of mopey, she would look at me and meow. I would ask her if she wanted to go for a walk and she would perk right up and shoot her tail straight up in the air. Spoiled little twit. Even Mesa has started doing this.
While out walking and mountain biking I came across a number of other secluded spots to camp farther down some other spurs that appeared to not get much use. Not bad. I’ll have quite a choice if I come back to this area. Puddles were iced over a couple mornings and I had to break out my winter sleeping bag. It’s WAY too early for this.
When I was pulling out, 3 forest service trucks were coming up the road. There was a large notice board at a junction down the road and I stopped to read the papers. The forest service was starting their fall burning with 1,500 targeted acres. Some being where I was camping. Good timing.

I planned to scoot into one of the campgrounds along rt191 to fill up my water jugs but the three I passed were already locked up for the winter. I continued on to Vernal and stopped at the forest service office to ask where some places were in town and to fill the Reliance jugs. Called some friends while I had phone coverage but I only managed to talk with one of them. This lifestyle has a few drawbacks. There was a BLM road and a forest road south of town off rt191 that I wanted to check out for a spot to camp but neither worked out. I kept on to a spot south of Wellington that I was familiar with. I REALLY don’t like driving this much in one day.

I stopped in Moab and had lunch with my friend Lisa at the Love Muffin Café. GREAT little place. We sat outside and ate some tasty wholesome food. Lisa and Glen were out of town when I passed through last fall so it was a treat to touch base and catch up. Glen gave me a stellar suggestion for another area in the rim country south of Moab to check out. THANKS Glen.

I came across a nice isolated spot to camp on the rim. The weather was warm and sunny so I pretty much went about each day in boxers and Tevas and from time to time a sun hat. Sure wish life were more complicated. I hate this concept of simple living. (^_^)
While down in the rim country, I had to go back to my summer bag and leave all the windows and two roof vents open at night. Most change their bedding, between light and heavy, by the season. I seem to be changing it by latitude. Oh well, each day I just try to deal with it all.

I had an urge to head south to New Mexico WAY too early this year. Don’t exactly know why, maybe the poor camping spots this summer. I guess I’m just spoiled. If I remember right, I don’t generally get to southern Utah until the end of October or early November, NOT September. When I got to the rim country however, I just wanted to stay there. It just feels so good this time of year. Stellar views with plenty of places to hike down on the rock and enough red dirt roads for mountain biking.
This is one of those areas where the stars seem to come down to the horizon, 360. Two nights around the new moon, I rolled out my exercise mat, poured a glass of wine, laid down on the ground and watched the night sky. M&M would come over from time to time to check on me. As I’ve stated in past entries, I believe once someone reaches 50, they should stop acting their age. And a little regression would be nice.

While trail running this past summer, I kept an eye out for moose and bears. Now I’m looking out for these guys. They’re much smaller than moose and bears but noticeably faster with two sharp pointy parts that are best not to come in contact with—and some real nasty body fluid.

The smell of wood campfires can get old pretty quick. Since I’m back in open range, it’s back to flaming cow sh…, I mean, cowpie fires. I’m thinking about buyin’ a cow.

When I started using the water I got from an outside faucet at the forest service office in Vernal, I found leaf matter in every Reliance jug. Quite a bit of it, not just a few specks. Guano. I put a few drops of bleach in each jug and covered the mouth with a piece of screen when transferring water into my galley jug. I was hoping nothing harmful would start growing in my water supply. Never had this happen before. Now I will be checking EVERY time I fill up the Reliance jugs. So far, I feel fine. All the RVers who use their built-in water holding tank and have not installed a deck plate would not even know if anything, other than water, was in their tank. And it sure would not all come out whenever they drain their tank. I have trouble understanding why so few choose to install a deck plate. It’s a simple procedure and only costs $12. I definitely would not want to be drinking out of a holding tank year after year without looking in there from time to time to see if anything was growing and to give the inside a good scrubbing. Different strokes.

When I come across a secluded place to camp, I frequently stay for a couple weeks and sometimes 3 or 4. But the additional weeks entail making a town run for supplies. I’m working towards nixing the town run so I can stay in one place for a month. Often a town is 30 miles away and at times it can be 60 miles to a town with a decent size grocery store. I’ve been up roads where it has taken me 40 minutes just to get back to the asphalt. I’m talkin’ off the grid here—not in a campground or where there are others camped a few hundred yards away. Well, I guess that’s obvious since I mentioned ‘secluded’. Two 5-gal propane tanks generally last me over a month and for most of the year, a month and a half. I could open the deck plate in my city water tank, take out the bags of grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and yerba mate and fill it with water—but that is A LOT of weight back there bouncing up and down. It’s not like the weight is over the axle. The holding tank’s location works fine for those who travel the asphalt and stick to graded roads but for rough roads and double tracks damaged by erosion, washboards, and whatnot, all that weight can’t be good for the suspension, frame, and rivets. 15 gallons of water weighs 120 pounds. I’d much rather carry water in the tow vehicle. The frame and suspension can better handle the weight on rough roads. And it’s not like I fly down these roads. Often I’m only going 5-10 mph but even at those slow speeds, everything can really get to bouncin’. Remember I’m going miles on these roads not just a couple hundred yards. This winter I want to look into a 40-gallon water tank that I could carry in the bed of the Dodge. 40 gallons would last me 20 days and I would supplement this with the Reliance jugs that I already have. Sixty gallons of water to cover a month off-the-grid with no town run would weigh nearly 500 pounds (480).
I love living out in Nature and I have so many interests and activities that my times off the grid generally go by faster than I realize, especially if there is a network of trails in the area. That certainly would not apply to most people I meet or hear about; they need to be constantly entertained. Hopefully I’ll come across a place next summer where I can try this. If not, maybe next October in the rim country. But then, this would only be possible if a ranger does not come by and start keeping track of my days. I had that happen once.

I’ve been going out for more walks this month. It’s not something I ordinarily do. I’d rather get my cardio in other ways but I might be getting hooked. I was reading an article about the health benefits of BRISK walking at 15-minute miles or faster. I never walk that fast. Sure was getting a burn in my butt and in my calves, though, if I used proper form. I guess walking for exercise is not as lame as I had thought. But it needs to be at a brisk enough pace to get your heart and lungs working at an elevated level. I need to stop at a high school track at some point, so I can learn exactly what a 4 mph pace feels like. Casey Meyers, author of ‘Walking: A Complete Guide to the Complete Exercise’ is in his seventies and still walks 3 miles most mornings at a brisk13-minute mile pace. Except for City of Rocks, none of the places I’ll be staying this winter offer any decent trails for running but each place does have areas where one can get in an hour of brisk walking without doing circles. Huh. I’m also trying to do a 10-15 minute walk within 15-20 minutes after a meal. It’s supposed to raise one’s metabolism and thus burn more fat. If I don’t feel like a walk—I know for sure that I’m just being lazy or I ate too much. Just call my Porky.

September’s sixty minutes sixty years: must be on a roll, did 1870 minutes—that’s 3 for 3.

As for my September ‘Quad 200’ challenge, not so good. What a dumb idea. I’ve always known to not work the same muscle group (except for maybe abs) on back-to-back days, let alone six days a week and yet I set out to do it anyway. Guess my success with Diana’s ‘sixty minutes sixty years’ and tabata circuits was getting to my head. Too over-confident. I was easily getting in the 200 reps each day, hitting them from various angles using different exercises. My reps, however, weren’t going up; my quads were not getting stronger. Well, duh. Muscles don’t grow on the days they are being worked but rather, on the days when they are resting. When you work a muscle group hard, the muscle fibers tear. You grow muscle and grow stronger as the muscles repair themselves. You have to give them time to do that. One also needs to feed them by taking in enough protein. People say they get enough protein without knowing how much is required let alone know how many grams they are getting each day. Unreal. The RDA for protein is geared to sedentary individuals, not to those who exercise and put some umph into their workouts. So anyway, I bagged the challenge, gave my quads a few days of rest, and shot for 200 reps every other day or two. My reps started to go up. Let’s have another—well, duh!

October humor—Games For When We Are Older
Musical Recliners
Red Rover, Red Rover, The Nurse Says Bend Over
Spin the Bottle of Mylanta
Hide and Pee
Kick the Bucket

bonus humor, (if you like cats).

Normally, we do not so much look at things as overlook them.
Alan Watts.

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

Saturday, September 3, 2011

more moose, might as well be dead, a dead sony,
mesa’s bear, another challenge, and
children’s books

We all know people who might as well be dead (sounds like an opening line in a thriller). These people have so contracted into their limited viewpoints that it is as painful to be around them as it must be for themselves. The flexibility and joy and flow of life are gone. Most anyone can be faced with this grim possibility unless we realize that we need to work with our life. We need to have some form of practice in our day to day existence. We have to be willing to spend time doing something that is not easy. The problem in life is not outside ourselves. Food for thought.
Okay, okay, moving right along…

I spent a month disperse camping in Teton Canyon, just east of Alta, WY. Some great trails for running in the mountains. Just down the road a bit was the Mill Creek trail and up at the end of the road were a number of trails. Not bad. Can’t think when I’ve had such a choice of trails, at elevation since getting into this lifestyle. Sure wish I had more opportunities to run in the mountains. Can’t quite bring myself to run much on the flats so winters in the desert are pretty much a write-off.
My friend Linda drove up from SLC for a few days. That was pretty cool. It’s nice to have someone there to do stuff with from time to time.

I know there has been major cutbacks but… No, this sign on the Idaho/Wyoming border was along a forest road.
I left the casita in camp and went out in the Dodge looking for other places to disperse camp in the area. After spending two 4-hour days looking for forest roads and driving them, I did not come across any spots that would do it for me. If I was merely into RVing, there were plenty of possibilities, but none for a camper who likes secluded spots that feel good. Actually this whole summer has been like this. Guess I was due for a down year as far as camping goes, but then 4 out of 5 isn’t so bad. Maybe the gods thought I was getting spoiled with the nice disperse spots I’ve been coming across. Oh well, there were plenty of good things about the summer. Don’t think I’ll be coming this far north next summer. I’m actually looking forward to starting the meander south earlier than in past years. DeLorme shows a number of forest roads in the Ashley national forest, south of the Flaming Gorge area in Utah. Might spend a couple weeks checking them out.
One cool thing that happened this summer was I got in touch with a lady I used to teach with down in SLC, probably close to 20 years ago. She lives part time in Idaho, real close to where I was camping. We had a nice visit and dinner. Not bad.

One morning while out running the trails, I took the most awesome photos I’ve ever taken of a moose. Later, when I went to show them in playback mode to Linda, the images just appeared white. When I brought the images up in Elements, the same thing appeared on the screen. My Sony Cybershot had died. Guano. The next day I drove over the pass to Jackson and purchased a Nikon Coolpix at DD Camera Corral (great photography shop). Sure was bummed about missing the shots of the moose.

One morning I was reading a book inside the casita and Mesa was lying out in the window cage. Suddenly he sat up, focusing on something, and then he tears out through the cat door. I thought he probably saw a squirrel. Not so. This critter is a bit larger than a squirrel. Don’t know why he wanted to dart outside. But then, I never thought he was overly bright. These shots almost make up for the moose photos I missed.

If I had a place like this one beside a creek to give thanks each morning, my resolve might never waver.
August’s sixty minutes sixty years: snagged it again with 1880 minutes. Hope I’m on a roll. I’m even up to 5-exercise tabata circuits (40 cycles for a full 20 minutes). Now THAT’S some major progress.

It is our responsibility to be healthy. It is our obligation to take care of ourselves—for one’s self, our families, and society. Doctors can help, but your body will more often than not tell you what you need. One just needs to take the time to listen. Most health tips are common sense. When working full time to pay the bills for all one’s possesses, having a young family under the roof and the lack of time, space and attention, our personal health care often moves to the bottom of the list in terms of priority. It’s unfortunate that with retirement and all the free time, space (being outside), and attention, most still keep their personal health care at the bottom of the priority list. And they are generally the ones grousing about our health care system. Those who are the burdens, bitch the most. Go figure.

Besides the sixty for sixty in September, I’m shootin’ for another physical challenge. I’m calling it the ‘Quad 200’—going for 200 reps daily, focusing on the quads, using various types of squats, lunges, step-ups, and other movements—hoping for 6000 reps by the end of the month. We’ll see.

September humor—Children's Books Not Recommended by the National Library Association.

The Boy Who Died from Eating All His Vegetables
Curious George and the High-Voltage Fence
What Is That Dog Doing to That Other Dog?
Where Would You Like to Be Buried?
Why Your Mom's ‘Flashlight’ Vibrates

The most important product of your life is you—why trash it?

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

moose in the window, doa, carefree children,
turkeys in the night, not my realm, and
dear cats and dogs

There’s frequently a hummingbird feeder hanging from the plant hanger so M&M are used to looking out at the little birds. But sometimes it’s not a bird. I hate this lifestlye—it’s SO unpredictable. (^_^)

The state of Iowa changed the name of its Elder Affairs Department to the Department of Aging. It goes by the initials IDA, Iowa Department on Aging. Nothing wrong with that. DOA also works.

Well, I’m heading towards Idaho. I’m making a quick stop here in Pinedale to check some things on the web and then I’ll be taking rt191 through the Bridger-Teton National Forest. It looks like there are a few forest roads this side of Hoback Junction so I should be able to find a place to camp for a couple days. I want to make a quick stop in Jackson for new casita tires. There are not many miles on them since I’m not into traveling the asphalt but many of the miles have been pretty rough. I don’t think trailer tires are designed for the primitive roads I tend to explore.

Every once in a while I come across a person who gives me flak when they find out I don’t care all that much about what is happening out in the world. I don’t follow the news, even when I’m on the grid. They say I should be more socially responsible when I say something like, ‘It’s not my realm.’ I’d love it if the world was a better place, people treated each other better, and we actually cared for our planet but there’s nothing much I can do on my own to make world changes. Are you familiar with Michael Jackson’s song, ‘Man in the Mirror’ (stellar tune)? There’s a line, ‘If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself then make a change.’ Then there was Socrates saying, ‘Let he that would move the world, first move himself.’ And Ghandi, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’ I don’t see a whole lot of this goin’ on. At this point in my life I’m quite satisfied with what I do. I taught for over 20 years, contributing to social development; I’ve been supporting a girl in the Philippines for quite a few years through Children International (I’m also going to start using Heifer International later this year; sounds more practical); I take responsibility for my health; I practice zazen and try to follow precepts; I try to do the friendliest thing, although it’s taking some work (actually, a lot of work); I eat and live lower on the food and resources chain (this does good for beings yet unborn); I worked down to a low carbon footprint; for most of the year I get all my electricity from the sun; I use only 2 gallons of water a day; I bring my own bags into grocery stores; I try to give my friends some laughs; I support grape growers; I provide a good life for two rescued animals, and I guess I could come up with quite a few more things if I had a mind to think about it. So when someone throws something like that at me, I try to think of the precepts (rather than voice what might initially come to mind).

A couple weeks ago, a carload of RVers pulled up and asked if I have seen a German Shepard. Nope. He’s blind. Where are you set up in case I come across him? They told me and drove off looking for the pooch. I put on a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, filled a Nalgene, picked up a length of rope and went out looking for the dog. Didn’t find him. Sometimes I feel more empathy for animals than some humans. But then again, an animal is frequently in trouble because of what a human has done, or not done. These people bring a blind dog to the mountains, a place with strange smells and sounds and don’t keep an eye on him. Unreal. Animals can’t protect themselves from cruelty or stupidity.

I generally keep the blinds rolled up at night so M&M can look out and see what’s going on outside. One night Mesa jumped down on me from the galley counter. Never did that before. It certainly woke me up. He’s not a little cat. He raced to the door and then up onto the back table looking out at something. Then back to the door and then to the tabletop. I was way too tired to get up to see what was out there. Then I heard the turkeys. ‘Forget it, Mesa, I’m not gettin’ up and those birds are too big for you.’ I thought turkeys roosted at night. Stuff like this doesn’t happen to those who have fish for pets. Always wanted goldfish.

Remember what it was like to be a carefree child on a summer day? Riding bikes, exploring creeks, meandering through the woods. Days filled with adventure and curiosity. Or nights, lying on the ground and watching the stars? Guess I never grew up since that’s still my life.

July’s sixty minutes for sixty years: NAILED IT with 1875 minutes. My resolve sure wanes from time to time, though. While I believe in taking responsibility for my health, there are mornings when I’d rather sit back and read a book than go out and give thanks. Luckily it has been balancing out. I think Diana mentioned on her blog or in an email that the first month can be tough (getting into the mindset) and the second month tends to be easier. It was, even though I had quite a few more opportunities for being active while house-sitting in Chama. I’ll see how August goes.

August humor—the note was posted very low on the refrigerator door:

Dear Dogs and Cats,

The dishes on the floor with the paw prints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Placing a paw print in the middle of my plate does not mean that it is suddenly your food, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Racing me to the top of the stairs is not the object. Tripping me doesn’t help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king-size bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out on the other end to maximize space that you are taking up, is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is not secret exit from the bathroom! If, by some miracle, I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge in an attempt to open the door. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years—canine/feline attendance is not required.

The proper order for kissing is: Kiss me first, then go smell the other dog or cat’s butt. I cannot stress this enough.

Finally, in fairness, dear pets, I have posted the following message on the front door:

To all non-pet owners who visit and like to complain about my pets:
1. They live here. You don’t.
2. If you don’t want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. That’s why they call it ‘fur’niture.
3. I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.
4. To you, they are animals. To me, they are adopted sons/daughters who are short, hairy, walk on all fours and don’t speak clearly.

‘Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.’
Ralph Waldo Emerson

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

one pot meals, virtual choir, wingin’ it, the winds,
way too many porker carts, an evil god,
and shootin’ the boss

Well, back in the dog days of summer. Know where that phrase came from? It’s the period between early July and early September when Sirius, aka the Dog Star, rises and falls with the sun. Unfortunately, so do the temperatures. Oh well, winter’s coming.

A thought on preparing meals—keep it short and simple. I no longer like to cook, let alone spend half an hour or more preparing a meal. I also have my main meal of the day midmorning, after I’m done with giving thanks. Since I get up at 5:00 for most of the year, I’m definitely hungry by 9 or 10:00. The rest of the day I’ll generally just snack. Most of my meals are prepared in one pot. Since I’m generally off the grid, water conservation is always a factor (I still only use 2 gallons a day). I eat a lot of spaghetti, buying different kinds when I can: brown rice, spinach, whole wheat (Bionaturae is great), whatever. As the water heats to a boil and the spaghetti is cooking, I’m mincing one or two jalapenos, cloves of garlic or shredding a carrot into the bowl I will be eating out of (saves washing another bowl) and getting other stuff out. Often, three minutes before the spaghetti is done, I’ll break an egg into the water so it can cook. I’ll then drain most of the water and add a big scoop of TVP to soak up the rest. From then on it varies: frozen or fresh vegetables, sunflower or sesame seeds, canned olives or black beans, canned jalapenos, Mexican style tomatoes, tofu, tepines (couldn’t live with tepines), minced onion, nutritional yeast, vegetable bouillon cube, cayenne, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, whey protein, whatever. So I start with spaghetti but it ends up tasting different. Sometimes it’s more vegetables than spaghetti. I rarely use spaghetti sauce and parmesan so it’s not like I’m having ‘spaghetti’ all the time. Just as often, I use cous-cous or quinoa. I get 2 or 3 pounds of it from the bulk bins whenever I come across a natural food store. And yep, most of it gets stored in the fresh water holding tank (Feb ’08‘useful items to have along for off-the-grid vagabonds living in small rigs’). Easy cleanup—one pan, a wooden bowl, and three utensils. It’s just one aspect of being present, living simply and paring my life to its essentials.

A few months ago I sent a link to some friends and they enjoyed the video so I’ll share it here. Some of you will have come across Eric Whitacre’s virtual choir on youtube but this link gives you the background. It’s a pleasure to watch Whitacre’s presentation. You can see he totally enjoys telling the story.

I topped my roughest road yet, by far (not that I wanted to), pulling the casita down a forest road off rt550 south of Silverton, CO, very, very rocky. We crept along taking 20 minutes to go less than two miles and the casita was really gettin’ hammered and of course, no possible place to turn around. One of those roads where the rear table bounces up off one of the legs. Someone at the natural food store in Durango had said to access this road from the north end because the south end was really rough. Good grief, the north end was REALLY rough, can’t imagine what the south end is like. Finally found a place on a short spur road and pulled in. To make the experience even more unpleasant, the ground was covered with powdered dirt. M&M LOVE rolling in powdered dirt. I HATE M&M rolling in powdered dirt. No way are they allowed in the casita lookin’ like dirtballs—baby wipes (a LOT of baby wipes!) and a wet micro-fiber towel to clean them up each time they wanted in. I never leave the cat door open in areas where they can easily get so dirty. The packed-in water lasts noticeably longer if we avoid powdered dirt and sand but some really nice spots have it. This was not an overly nice spot, however. Not bad but not worth the drive in. To make it all par for the course, mosquitoes descended and made setting up camp a real joy. After a breeze came up, I took M&M on a walk down the spur road and found out how short it was. Felt kinda boxed in here. Stayed two nights since I didn’t want to do that road two days in a row.
My rig now measures 37’ with a terrible turning radius and it’s affecting my lifestyle. Not good.

Sure am glad I got a V8 while down in Bisbee. Drove over two 10,000’ passes and one 11,000’. The Cherokee would not have been likin’ it. Colorado wasn’t working for me. The mountainous areas I was driving through offered limited forest roads and many of the ones I checked out on the maps, noticing the contour lines, looked too steep for pulling the trailer and most of the ones I tried were pretty rough with limited places to turn around and very few spur roads. I need more elbow room to get out in the sticks so the area limited my type of camping. For those who do campgrounds, it’s an absolutely stellar state to explore. But in the steep areas, even the campgrounds are right along the road; it’s not like there is an option. So—off to Wyoming. I just need to find a Wyoming DeLorme or I’m screwed. RVers and many campers get by with state road maps. I could never live my lifestyle with those. I need a DeLorme for each state. I need to know where the forest roads are. I need to read the contour lines. They help me decide routes to take and places to explore. I need to see where BLM and state land is. Nope, state maps don’t do it for me.
I felt much better once I decided to bag Colorado. I was having a tough time finding the kind of places I like and I was getting kind of bummed. This lifestyle is all about freedom and spontaneity. Can’t see how most pretty much stick to itineraries, schedules, and lists of sights-to-see. When I pulled out of Chama, I didn’t know if I was going to leave town heading west or north until the day before. It didn’t much matter. When I pull into some isolated spot, I rarely know where I will go next until I pull out the DeLorme. Different strokes. I can’t see how RVers can have any sense of adventure when they lay everything out before hand. Just sounds like a common road trip to me. Then again, I live in the west. Don’t know if I would have even thought about doing something like this if I still lived back east. Since I would not have been able to live this lifestyle back there, I might not have realized there are areas of the country where it’s not only possible, but easy. Guess I’m kinda wingin’ it at this stage of my life. Feels pretty good.

After a horrendous time of trying to give thanks while outside one morning, I stopped and picked up a screen tent. Never had one. The gnats were WAY too aggressive. Reminded me of black flies when I lived back in Lake Placid. The tent is not what I would have gotten if I had a chance to look around on the web but I figured I needed one NOW. The screen tent measures 9’x13’ and the instructions called for two people for assembly. Don’t think so. I thought 9’x13’ would be too big. Once again, I was wrong. It’s a good size for exercises and cardio circuits. For Tai Chi, it’s a joke. I keep having to insert steps to give me room. At least I can work on individual movements and transitions. My six foot table fits in there fine when I need it. Maybe this summer I will finally see if the two jigsaw puzzles I picked up at a thrift store have all their pieces. So far Meadow has only ripped two holes in the screen. One day a stiff wind came up just prior to a rainstorm and a guideline tab ripped out. That led to a broken roof pole. Once again, I thanked the gods for providing us with duct tape. After a month’s use, it is still holding up. Not bad for $40.

When I reached Wyoming, I picked up a DeLorme. Oh man, the current editions are worthless for the kind of camping I do. They don’t show nearly as many forest roads as the older editions. Luckily I have ‘90’s editions for the states I generally travel through. When I get someplace where I’ll be for a while, I’ll try to find a 90’s edition on eBay or some similar site. If one is just going to do national forest campgrounds, DeLorme is still the best thing going. Those annual RV campground guides cater to RVs (well, duh), so if you are into camping, don’t bother with them.
I’m more of less winging it here in the Wind River range. I go up a dirt road a ways, set up camp and the next day or so go off exploring on my mountain bike looking for other places to set up camp, preferably down narrow spur roads.

One secluded spot was at the end of a road with only one BIG rock to maneuver over (no way to get around it). Don’t know what the Dodge is going to look like after a couple years of this kind of stuff. The site had a strong running stream less than 50’ away. I sure do like camping with that sound. Lots of mosquitoes, though. Glad I picked up a screen tent. This spot isn’t as bad as it looks. I’m not set up that close to a road; it ends right there. One evening M&M and I were out walkin’ along the stream. I was looking over at some lingering patches of snow and when I looked back, there was a pronghorn up ahead. Way cool. I don’t see all that many while out exploring, only while driving. Another time I was working at my bench in the casita and I heard some large animal sounds that I wasn’t familiar with. M&M sat up and looked out the window. Two young moose were briskly walking past the casita, not 40’ from us. I am so thankful for all these little occurrences that bring a smile to my face. Not a bad life.

After a couple weeks, I drove into Lander for supplies. I stopped at the Sleeping Bear RV park and campground for propane. The lady also let me use their laundromat, fill my Reliance water jugs and exchange some books. For an RV park, it was not all that bad, pretty laid back and the owner was very helpful and had answers for all my questions. Then I hit the new library in town for web access. Possibly the friendliest library I’ve been in. Afterwards I checked out Wild Iris mountain sports on Main St. My kind of place. Purchased a map of the Wind River range that showed a good deal more forest roads than the new (worthless) DeLorme. After picking up groceries and more wine, it was back to the mountains and a new camping spot.

So far the day had gone well. Now it no longer did. I had come across a neat spot while out mountain biking. It was back in less than two miles but pretty rocky in spots, with some steep dips, and a stream to cross. I drove in, digging trenches with the hitch jack in four or five places and bending the rear stabilizers and the angle iron that supports the holding tanks some more, keeping in low 4-wheel drive. Make a guess here? Yep, someone was in the spot. There was not anything else in the area that looked good to me so I drove back out, with more trenching and bending.

There was another spot a few miles away I had come across while out bikin’ so I drove there and stayed a couple weeks. I don’t like camping so near a road but it ended 100 yards farther along with a tight turn around at the border of the national forest. No vehicles came by other than a few porker carts. It had some good trails for running and biking. Well, there was at first. The second week a group of RVers set up a half mile back down the road. They spent a good deal of time out on the trails on their ATVs. The next time I went mountain biking, the hills were covered in loose rocks that they had churned up and turned the dirt to dust. That was fine in that it made the climbs more challenging but it looked like shi*t.
A couple of mornings I biked farther up the mountain looking for other camping spots and came across a few that would work but nothing stellar. There sure were a lot of vacant RVs parked out and about. It kind of rots when you find a nice spot out in a national forest and find a rig parked there and the owners only coming up on the weekends. Never been anywhere where it’s so prevalent.

There are way too many RVs dry camping up in the Wind River area. I came across quite a few clusters similar to this. One thing that’s good is that they don’t venture far in so they are not going to be in the places I like to camp. However, most of them have porker carts with them so they will be driving by my sites on their ATVs. Wonder if there will ever be an open season on them. These people have no idea of why campers go off to spend time in the Outdoors.

An evil god named Tabata came up with a way to make mere humans huff-and-puff and sweat. He used intervals consisting of 20 seconds of maximum intensity exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest. This cycle is repeated 8 times for a total of 4 minutes. And oh man, do they work. I use two various compound body-weight exercises (the more muscles and joints involved in a movement, the more caloric expenditure) for an 8 minute workout. It’s harder for me to do an 8-minute tabata than run for an hour and a half in the mountains. I try to do two during a workout. I’m working towards using 3 exercises for a 12-minute tabata and if I keep with it, maybe 4 for a 16-minute tabata, but that is probably beyond me. It’s hard to believe how effective this technique is for toning and limbering up and trimming down (and beatin’ the cr*p out of you). Cardio exercise, in general, is the best way to lose fat. The first few days that I tried tabata circuits with various exercises was SO discouraging but near the end of the second week I felt that, ‘Maybe I can do this.’
My first timed runs while in Chama this summer, on two favorite, pretty much constant uphill sections, were about 2 minutes and 5 minutes off last summer’s times. I was in Chama, running in the mountains for only a third of the time I was there last summer. After a couple weeks of tabata circuits, I beat my best times on running up these two hill stretches in the middle of my runs (one roughly 20 minutes and the other about 40 minutes). The tabata technique is a keeper.
There’s also, a nasty little device called the Gymboss. It was developed to prevent nice, gentle, fun-loving people from saying, “It can’t be 10 seconds already! I’ll wait a few more seconds before starting the ‘work’ phase of the cycle.” It’s a great unit that can be set for 2 intervals, work and rest, with a loud multiple beep or vibration going off after each. It can also be set for the number of cycles. After a couple days, I placed my Gymboss on a stump, backed off and shot it. I later came to realize I was being a wimp and ordered another one; they’re cheap. (^_^)

Meadow is always up for our daily walk. Even if she is inside sleeping, I’ll say, ‘Meadow, up for a walk?’ She’ll perk up, stretch, and come outside. Mesa also knows what the offer means but he doesn’t always want to go. He’ll tend to either stay and hang around the campsite or tag along for a while, then turn around and head back. He’ll be there when we wrap up our loop. It’s a treat when he chooses to go the whole way with us. He’ll always go the first couple times at a new spot to check it out, but then it’s like, been-there-done-that.

Presently I’m back in the Lander library posting this entry and doin’ the town thing. Then it’s back for another week in the Winds and on to Idaho with probably a resupply in Jackson. At least I have a ‘90’s edition of DeLorme for Idaho.

‘You have brains in your head, and feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.’ Dr. Seuss

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’