Monday, March 25, 2013

To go please

Bottled water?!  Yeah that sums it up.  Get a "to stay" cup and enjoy your time with your beverage.  Ruminate.  Carry a coffee mug to go.  Maybe buy one of those fancy reusable bottles that will pay for itself in less than a week by drinking from the tap instead of buying water.  It's water!  You are lucky to live in a place where you can drink from the tap.

And while you are at it, recycle what containers you do use.  Simple.


Also, if your politics make you cringe at the notion of being a treehugger then call it resource management.

If you dig infographics this is a cool place to learn about water, less about how we package it and more about how we use it.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Poll: Your ideal non-home home

If you had the opportunity to ditch the mortgage/rent, what would you do?  If you feel so inclined, please tell me why in the comments, especially if you select other.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

I could care less, but not really.

I could really care less what you do but I will attest to the rewards of a full sensory experience while playing outside—the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and the way things feel.  My senses are mostly in full working order and for that I am extremely grateful.  

When I go hiking I stop to smell the flowers.  I carefully choose vistas to admire.  I gather rocks and leaves and familiarize myself with their textures.  I also can't resist the bittersweet taste of a ripe thimbleberry but I definitely I do not shut off one of my most complex senses by stuffing earphones in my head.

The wind in the trees or the song of a bird . . . it makes no sense to me to turn that off.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Literally Unexpected

The unexpected is a huge part of the appeal of playing outdoors;  to see new places and try new things.  It's what makes it so much fun.  Some people fancy themselves eager to experience the unknown, myself included, but what happens when things are literally unexpected?  

When you go outside you do your best to mitigate danger through preparation but lets face it, if it is truly unexpected, you likely didn't prepare for it.  Yes, the logic is sort of circular but it is something to consider.  You can learn how to splint a broken leg in advance and that is smart preparation but if you do so then it is part of the known world, it's just the unwanted part of the known and something you try to avoid.

So what is the unexpected?  Hell if I know.  Need I remind you of the circular logic again?  What I do know is that the only way to successfully address the truly unexpected is through the acceptance of it.  No matter how much you learn and prepare, the unforeseen will happen.

Side note:  This is an interesting book on survival situations.  Overall, I enjoyed the book but especially the first half which spoke more about the science of surviving.
Deep Survival, by Laurence Gonzalez

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

So You Think You Are Hardcore?

The best place I have found to have a conversation.
"Have you met the family yet?"

I heard that question over and over again along the way.  I hadn't, but since those asking me were already intriguing people in their own right, my interest was definitely amplified.  It was more than a week after hearing it for the first time that "the family" and I finally crossed paths.

I was doing an abbreviated version of a self-supported bike tour down the Pacific Coast when this took place.  Due to the limitations of life as a working stiff, I was denied the time I needed to ride from Canada to Mexico, or the B2B (border to border) as I learned it was called.  Instead, with only two weeks off, I had to settle for riding the Oregon and Northern California Coast down Highway 101.  Nevertheless, it was a spectacular compromise.

Bleeding Tooth, aka Strawberries and Cream
The myth of "the family" became a reality for me at Elk Prairie Campground in the redwoods.  I had been at the campsite for only a few hours with my tent pitched and busy preparing my dinner when a tandem bike rolled in.  Aboard it was an adult up front and a youngster, about 8 or 9, pedaling in the rear with a kid trailer in tow in addition to front and back panniers stuffed tight with camping gear.  Incredible!  The sheer weight alone made it a Sisyphean task. The climb up the road into Elk Prairie was a steady 6 to 8 percent grade.  I examined the set-up from afar when shortly thereafter another cyclist pulled up, fully loaded with panniers and another kid trailer.  This was the family, five people in total ranging in age from their early 30's to 3.  Later on we got to talking and I learned that this was their 3 month summer vacation.  They were riding 500 miles, self supported and camping the whole way.  The couple were both Montessori teachers and each day along their tour they crafted various lessons for the kids.

The following day I opted to stay in the splendor of the redwoods and do some hiking when we bumped into each other again.  I had shoved off quite early that morning for a ten mile hike out to the ocean and back, the whole way humming the theme music from the Forest Moon of Endor scene in Return of the Jedi.   Fern canyon lived up to every bit of its name and my expectation to see Ewoks turned to dinosaurs.  About halfway back on the return leg I was accosted by some very exuberant kids wielding dip nets.  It was imperative that I help them find, or at the very least direct them to, a pond or stream where they could catch minnows and frogs.  School was in session.  Soon their parents appeared and apologized, albeit unnecessarily, and explained that this was Biology class.  I was in even greater awe now than on the previous day when I saw them pedal into camp.  

By all appearances these people were the antithesis of hardcore.  If you met them at the grocery store or in a mall (although I suspect they don't spend much time in malls) you wouldn't have thought twice about what they were doing.  There was no entourage or hipster soundtrack to accompany them.  I saw no Go-Pro cameras or indications of sponsorship and there appeared to be no gnar shredding when school was in session.  They were just "the family" on a summer vacation ... but they were legendary among bike tourers on the coast that season.

If you ever ask me to give you an example of the most hardcore thing I have ever seen, you can be assured that "the family" is in contention for number one.
This map is a little older but it is one of two that I used in Oregon and it proved indispensable.  Kudos to Oregon for supporting bike touring and cycling like it does.
Always a good resource when planning a bike tour.