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A very round juniper on top of a 8000-ft mountain

A Juniper

Funny that the Bureau of Land Management feels like Piñon Juniper forests have taken over most the West, so they want to burn and poison plants and soil (and the living beings on them) over 223 million acres in the Great Basin over six western states to build fire breaks which are not scientifically proven to work. There’s an ulterior motive. Aside from “kowtowing” to cattle ranchers and stealthily turning ancient sagebrush seas into seas of cheat grass and other prickly invasives, the administrators of our public land feel like there are too many PJ forests. In fact the forests are smaller than they were 200 years ago before miners started cutting them down for cabins and railroad ties. But… continue reading

Out-Social Distancing the Rest

The past few months have been… interesting. For everyone. For once we are not entirely alone; we are entirely together being alone, isolated, scared and confused. How scary. In February, against my better judgement, I drove the Westfalia out to North Fork, California, on the opposite side of the Sierra Nevada, to serve another 10-day silent (Vipassana) meditation retreat. We were all aware by then (well, at least the thinking amongst us, or the medically-trained) that a pandemic was possible. On my way I stopped at the hardware store. N95 masks were still on the shelf at a reasonable price, and I was surprised. I felt like a wingnut for believing this could be serious. Meditation practice generally went well… continue reading

woman hiking in Utah

Where trails come from, where they go…

I subscribe to Wired Magazine in digital form, where I learn all sorts of neat things each day. This morning I spent over an hour watching a video produced by Wired, where an astrophysicist explains gravity to five people, ranging from beginner to expert. What a brilliant way of teaching/learning a topic, by helping someone realize how much they don’t know, and expanding on a concept bit-by-bit over an hour. (I was about at the grade-schooler’s level of understanding, haha. How far can you follow the concept? By expert level, my mind was blown.) This afternoon, an opinion piece popped into the Wired newsletter. It’s right up my alley. If you’ve been reading my blog lately, you probably know I’ve… continue reading

Death Valley rock formations

Rock or Wood?

I just spent a couple of gloriously mild days in Life Valley, canyoneering and hiking, conversing with and admiring a lot of rock. The Valley also had quite a bit of water in it due to some recent storms, but this time of year the plants and animals have retreated and it’s time for the rock to shine. And there’s a lot of rock. The Valley’s valleys, as they show (or don’t show) themselves from the car, are enshrouded, modest, and less-than-tantalizing by reputation. If one is brave and stupid enough to venture too far from the road on foot and with rope, they open in dizzying, hypnotic displays of color and texture, enfolding you. It’s not so much that… continue reading

Figure it Out

The other day I noticed someone crowd-funded a movie about the Hayduke Trail. (Reading what I just wrote made me puke in my mouth.) Actually, it’s worse. let me rephrase that: someone crowd-funded a movie about his hike of the Hayduke Trail. I suffered through the movie, then I wrote my thoughts in a 1-star review:

High Sierra glacial basin

Nature : Museum

Discussing my latest backpacking trip with my guy, I came up with an analogy which I like very much, and which seems original and enlightening. I compared modern wilderness visits with museum visits of the recent past (pre-2010). My first memories of museums were of the Anchorage Museum as a young teen, then the Louvre and Musée D’Orsay, and the Met in NYC and Mutter Museum in Philly as an older teen. Even if relatively brief, I treasure those visits for several reasons. Be they small or petty reasons it doesn’t matter, the memories are large as a very deep breath. Memories of carefully-curated open space and light, surprises of color and subtle hushed sounds. Photos were disallowed and so… continue reading

lake powell invasive mussel shells

New West vs. Old West

I’ve been struggling with thoughts about conservationism, conservationism against the prevailing tide, and my tiny place in the thick of things, as well as a sore knee, since I got back from walking Utah in early June. Some reading, and going through my photos, is helping me finally collect my thoughts. I can’t remember where I was when a friend forwarded me a link from the Canyon County Zephyr, but I was definitely in Utah. I was probably in the backcountry still somehow indulging in LTE “connectivity,” but unable to read much because I was busy walking. But with a few clicks and paragraph licks, I distinctly gleaned a sense of being the outsider where I was. I looked up… continue reading

Another Vanagon Wiring Harness

I made another wiring harness for another 1983.5 (water-cooled) 1.9L (2.2 GoWesty rebuild) Westfalia van. You can see the first engine wiring harness I made here. My friend’s van started right up, but still needs a new throttle body to smooth out the idle. We knew this before we started. The original wiring harness was in even worse shape than mine, with several sections of burned wire and wire casing. Anyway, here’s some pics of the new one I made. The pics were taken just before the harness was installed, and final connections made, so there are some unfinished ends. But you get the idea. Update: as of December 2019 both these harnesses are working fine, and no regrets. Except… continue reading

I’m Not An Electrician, But

I haven’t written for a while and since I last wrote I’ve had a pretty marvelous adventure through Utah and Arizona on foot. Yet here I’m going to write about a Vanagon wiring project I just completed. I’m sorry if this is totally off-topic, boring, and a waste of your time. But I took on this wiring project I’ve been wanting to do for a long time and thought I’d share a couple thoughts that could help other folks. Old: New: This was a pretty straightforward project and I’m pleased with the results. One thing I discovered while working on it bothers me and I haven’t been able to confirm anyone else has this situation: the original ECU connector was… continue reading

view of sagebrush forest and a deep canyon in the distance

Tuckup Canyon Head Flora and Fauna

I topped out at Kanab Point, a very quiet and lonely place. I did consider introducing myself to the people truck-camped there, but got a definite vibe that it wasn’t the right time. It’s weird to have feelings like that, but I always listen to my gut. Probably a great idea when one is that remote, and without any rescue beacon. But it was good to know someone was there in case my tonsil decided to explode. And as I went through those thoughts in my head, the truck fired up and drove off, without so much as a backward glance. People can be so weird in the desert. I know if I had flagged them down they probably would… continue reading

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