Tuesday, December 31, 2013


A hike today with Tucson friends was a little more than this body was ready for. So it will be off to the park's hot tub to relax the muscle knots.

Then back home to listen to a shortened version of my traditional New Years Eve. Tonight I will only listen to Beethoven's Ninth rather than all of Beethoven's symphonies.

Nope. I will not be sozzled. I will be in bed long before midnight local time.

The title of the post was courtesy of an online Dictionary where the word for today was "sozzled".

Monday, December 30, 2013

Book: Lawrence of Arabia

Mini book Review: Lawrence of Arabia by Scott Anderson

The setting for the book is the Middle East preceding and including World War I. In addition to the war going on in Europe, the Middle East countries involved in WWI wanted to rid their countries of foreign influence and domination -- European or Ottoman.

This well written book (618 pages which I read as an ebook) became a page turner.

One of the players in that Middle East struggle was TE Lawrence. The extensive research going into this book follows the life of TE Lawrence as an archeologist, as a spy, and as the leader of an Arab army in the Middle East. Although Lawrence is the focus of the book, there are several other persons who also influence the shape of the Middle East after WWI.

For what little may have been accomplished at the end of WWI, 100 years later little has changed in the Middle East: the same tribal and religious issues remain.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas 2000

In a recent searching of my computer archives, I came across my Christmas greeting of the year 2000.

As I search for a home without wheels in Tucson thirteen years later it seems appropriate to share that letter from long ago.

Christmas Greetings 2000

To you all a joyful Christmas Greeting.
My hope is that you are happy and well.
Some readers may find these words repeating,
Bear with me then as high points I retell.

Hoping early this year for unemployment,
My wish was not granted and I still slaved.
Time for balance and get more enjoyment.
So I vacationed with money I saved.

Wisconsin’s north woods in March I headed.
We tapped many trees and collected sap.
Stoking and boiling we were rewarded
With maple syrup - all the work a snap.

Been a while since I saw a Wisconsin spring
Watching the earth rebound from winter’s care.
And grass turns green and an eagle takes wing.
My spirit’s renewed just for being there.

In mid June t’was time for another break.
To Alaska for a trip of camping
With tent supplied and food catered - with steak,
We toured very well in three weeks of trekking.

Alaska is beauty that is certain.
Because of the cloudy and hazy skies,
Never did see the Denali mountain.
Goin’ back some time for that elusive prize.

Enjoying nature’s world all the year long;
Hiking and snow shoeing many a trail.
There’s no better way to escape the throng.
For raising the spirit it cannot fail.

Big news: last work day at the end of year.
Of this working world I have had enough,
I now look forward - to change of career.
I am selling my home and all my stuff.

Going back and forth as weather dictates
A fifth wheel trailer will contain my load.
Seeing Canada and a lot of States
Hiking the trails, I’ll see you on the road.

The photo of the eagle pair was taken near Juneau on that Alaskan camping trip.

I have not gotten back to Alaska to see Denali.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

Thirteen years ago as I prepared to travel full time in an RV, a Bon Voyage gift from the Gard family in Boulder was a small Christmas tree that stores nicely in Wandrin Wagon. Each year, I retrieve the box where the tree is stored for 360 days each year. The decorations vary each year. Some years it is red peppers. Some years the tree is decorated with colored globes. This year it is candy canes and snowballs.

No matter how you spend this holiday, my wish for you is that it is a:

Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Memory -- Christmas Cactus

A couple of days ago on a return from a hike, I stopped at a cactus greenhouse which was advertising Christmas Cactus. The image brought back memories of my childhood. My mother had many plants and one of those was a Christmas Cactus which I remember seeing in bloom. Not sure how often it bloomed or when. Recollections of the pink blooming plant caused me to make an impulse purchase of a Christmas Cactus -- aka Holiday Cactus

In twelve years of nomadic travels, this is the first plant I have acquired. I have managed to complicate my life -- just a little. It will be a challenge to properly care to keep it alive to bloom again.

What have I done! I could have enjoyed the memory.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Junk Mail

For 13 years I have not received junk mail. For those 13 years, I have been using a mail forwarder. Only first class mail and subscription magazines are forwarded to me. Once a month I use an online form to request my mail forwarded to a specified address. Depending on my travels, that could be Post Office general delivery or an RV campground where I am parked. The received packet is never more than an inch thick.

In that packet of accumulated mail for a month there is no junk mail. When living in a house in the 1990s, the mail was held at the post office while I vacationed. Upon return, that pile of mail was four to five inches thick. There might have been a few pieces of first class mail.

That is a disturbing memory as I consider a permanent address in Tucson. Perhaps I could have a shredder installed beneath my mail box and ask the postman to place only first class mail in the mailbox and the rest goes in the shredder.

If the USPS was run like a business, there would be no junk mail. The costs of delivery would outweigh the return for the creator of that junk mail. However, there will be junk mail as long as lobbyists make the decisions for the US legislators.

That is another downside to permanent living -- junk mail.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Truck and Trailer SOLD


For that single person considering living full time in an RV, this truck and trailer combination is an inexpensive beginning of on the road living. This is an experienced system designed for living off the grid or living in a full hookup RV park.

I know I changed my mind before. However, I have been contemplating a settled existence for over a year. It is time to move ahead on that imagined future. The process begins with selling Wandrin Wagon and Silver Slug.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Dead Tree Books vs. eBooks

I prefer reading a real book. I like the tactile relationship. My bookmark informs me of how much is left to read. The real book has value as a used book or as a donation.

A new book habit can be expensive. Perhaps the initial purchase of an ebook is less expensive than the new tree based book, but the ebook cannot be resold. A physical book can be traded or sold at a used book store to recoup some of that original purchase price. A real book is also a hazard for the full time RVer. A book is ballast.

Fortunately, the lending of ebooks from public libraries (via Overdrive apps) has reduced my annual costs of books. Like most of life, demand is what drives a market. Demand for my non-fiction preferred reading means selections are limited. (That is the situation at two libraries where I have access.) With a greater demand for fiction, there are more titles from which to choose.

Fiction is a good choice for an ebook. You start reading at page one and read to the end.

The downside to non-fiction ebooks are the references to other parts of the book with maps, photos, footnotes and appendices. An included link in the text sends you to the referenced item. However, my experience is that I don't get back to where I was reading. As a result, I have given up following references in ebooks. Maybe the software has gotten better, but I haven't checked recently.

Following a reference in a real book is not a problem. Just use a finger to bookmark where you were reading and head to the reference.

Fiction is good as an ebook; for non-fiction I prefer a tree based book.

Note: This post was a result of the Calvin and Hobbes strip of December 10, 2013. I have similar feelings about ebooks as Calvin's father.

I have often wondered how college texts work as an ebook. The answer is mixed according to Why College Students Prefer Print Over E-Books.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Settled In Tucson

Yesterday I arrived in Tucson after a 250 mile drive across southern Arizona. The last stop was in Yuma visiting friends from the Westminster Colorado Elks.  250 miles is a long driving day for me, but there was nothing along the way I had not seen before. Several times. The exception was the miles long Solana Generating Station west of Gila Bend. (A Google search revealed what I was looking at.)

There is little traffic on I-8 from Yuma. That changes when I-8 merges into I-10 heading to Tucson. The three lanes of traffic reminded me of my stay in San Diego with lots of car and truck traffic going some place -- fast.

About one o'clock I pulled into the Far Horizons RV Park. After getting parked and hooked to shore power, it was time for a late lunch/early dinner.

Within an hour, the thoughts about settling in Tucson were being reviewed once again. When I hit the road with truck and trailer in 2001, it was a decision made as a result of a five minute conversation with an RVer. Little research followed and over 12 years later I am struggling with a need for change from nomadic travel.

That was when I found myself wondering why I don't make a similar instantaneous decision to settle in Tucson. I want a permanent living arrangement. Not a home on wheels.

Until I make a more settled decision, the Far Horizons RV park is a good place for my home on wheels.

Sun is the new crop of southern Arizona:

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Valuable Rust

When walking the Oceanside pier shortly before I left San Diego, I spotted this very valuable rusty vintage Schwinn bicycle. It must be valuable; it was locked to the pier railing.

As I was taking the photo, the guy from the nearby kitschy kiosk on the pier said that his previous rusty bike had been stolen. Not taking any chances with losing his transportation again, that valuable rust is locked up.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


There's a word (acronym) that rarely appears in headlines. However, when scanning tech news headlines, there it was: Cobol: Grace Hoppers gift to the world of business.

Cobol was the first computer programming language that I used when working with the Bank of America in San Francisco in the mid 1960s. Cobol was followed by several other programming languages when I was still writing code. When the personal computer appeared, I learned a few more languages. I still enjoy writing code. Today's code is Basic macros for Excel spreadsheets.

I am still a nerd. A couple of years ago when Sudoku was the new rage, I wrote a program to solve the puzzles. To me that was more fun than solving the puzzles.

With a programming refresher, I could solve Sudoku puzzles with Cobol. Then I could apply for one of those Cobol programming jobs. That is the conclusion according to a quote from the article:
As the number of developers who cut their teeth on Cobol dwindle, and universities take Cobol off their curriculum, demand for programmers with the skills to maintain legacy Cobol applications is increasing.
Back to programming in Cobol! That would certainly be a life change for this guy who hasn't had a job in 13 years and hasn't programmed for a living since 1980.

Note: My puzzling preference are crosswords.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Long Pants Weather

Hawaiian shirts and shorts have been placed on standby for a future warming trend. That might be at least a week away.

The shirts were already stashed and I wore long pants for the last last three days of my stay in San Diego. Yesterday, I arrived in Yuma. Cold temperatures persist. Day time high was in the mid 50s. Night time low temperature was in the 30s. I put on even warmer clothes.

Yes. Cold is relative. The relatives in Wisconsin and Colorado have been experiencing zero degree temps. By comparison, San Diego and Yuma temps in the 50 degree range would be considered balmy.

If I had lots of money, I would spend the next three months in Australia. Since I don't have a lot of money, I will have to wear long pants.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Murder of Crows

Reviewing photos of the past year, I came across this murder of crows roosting on a fence. Why murder. For those wondering minds, I searched the internet and found this:
A group of crows is called a “murder.” There are several different explanations for the origin of this term, mostly based on old folk tales and superstitions.

For instance, there is a folktale that crows will gather and decide the capital fate of another crow.

Many view the appearance of crows as an omen of death because ravens and crows are scavengers and are generally associated with dead bodies, battlefields, and cemeteries, and they’re thought to circle in large numbers above sites where animals or people are expected to soon die.

But the term “murder of crows” mostly reflects a time when groupings of many animals had colorful and poetic names. Other fun examples of “group” names include: an ostentation of peacocks, a parliament of owls, a knot of frogs, and a skulk of foxes.
Some days I wander. Some days I wonder.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Second Thoughts

After writing and posting the For Sale post for the truck and trailer, I wondered what I was doing. I was really wondering.

Danged. Sure wish I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Help!

A new dream has already formed. I'll call it Plan B. Keep the truck and trailer. Live seven to nine months in Tucson at an RV park. For those warmer summer months head to Arizona's higher elevations and rent a space at an RV park. A location in northern Arizona is not a long drive and would be a good option for those summer months. Possible locations include Prescott, Verde Valley, Show Low, etc.

Considering my indecision, I removed the post and the ad.

Hope you are enjoying this soap opera of second thoughts!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Hummingbird Photos

This hummingbird photo was take earlier this year when I parked in Tucson.

Friend Donna from Boulder sent me a link to photos of a Hummingbird Raising Her Family. I'm awed when I look at these photos. The natural world is a mystery -- and so very beautiful. Words are lacking to describe the intricate details in each of these photos of nest, hummingbird and fledglings.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Live Turkey

Rather than a stuffed and cooked bird, here is a live turkey on the table.

Long live the turkey!

Wishing you a festive Thanksgiving.

Photo is from the archives when I was dry camping at Cottonwood Campground near the Rio Grande in Big Bend National Park. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Mini Stone Henge

When I passed through Quartzsite in October on my way to San Diego, I stopped for several nights to search out the mini stone henge I had built in January of 2004. The photo is from 2004.

In January of 2004, I was a member of the WINs (Wandering Individuals Network) and at the edge of the wash where I was parked, I built the mini stone henge from the many oblong shaped rocks I found in my desert walks.

In my October 2013 search for that long ago construction along the edge of the wash, I found no evidence of the structure. Considering I might not be able to find the structure, I thought I should be able to find several oblong shaped rocks in a single spot. No luck there either.

Even though I found nothing, it was a good excuse for a walk in the Quartzsite desert. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Agree With Scrooge

Christmas seems to come earlier every year. In September, the Costco stores already had plastic Christmas trees and other (made in China) decorative stuff for the home during the holidays. A big faux conifer wreath for the front door. Lighting displays. That was only some of the items. In my most recent visit to Costco there was a range of gift items along with even more plastic Christmas decor.

Driving around the neighborhoods I noticed a sign that said "We hang Christmas lights -- Call xxxxx".

Then at the grocery store earlier this week was the bell ringer. It's not even Thanksgiving. In order to make their numbers, it appears they had to start early this year since the shopping period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is shorter this year; Thanksgiving was so late in November.

Then I came across this on the internet:
Shoppers around the country say they are planning to spend an average of $801 for gifts this holiday season, down from $854 last year according to the twenty-ninth annual survey on holiday spending from the American Research Group, Inc.

In telephone interviews with a random sample of 1,100 adults nationwide conducted November 10 through 14, 2013, the average planned spending of $801 for 2013 is down over 6% from average planned spending in the 2012 survey.
There is something seriously wrong with that survey. That cannot come even close to reality. They certainly were not calling the average income earner who makes a little more than $50,000 a year. That $800 would have represented almost two percent of their annual income.

Guilt giving is just a few weeks away.

Scrooge had it right. Bah. Humbug.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

50 Years Ago

50 years ago I was working a part time job at the Coca Cola Bottler while at the University of Wisconsin. When I showed up for work that afternoon, the office manager met me as I arrived. He was wondering if I had heard the news. I hadn't. The news was that President John Kennedy had been assassinated.

The office scene that day remains etched in my mind. There were windows looking out to the production floor, there were the windowed offices of the execs and the clerical staff at their desks. As I listened to the office manager relate the gruesome news, I also noted the time of day -- 3:20.

Where were you when you heard that JFK had been assassinated?

Monday, November 18, 2013

FAQ On Settling

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” – Albert Einstein

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined.”
― Henry David Thoreau

Why the settled future?

Perhaps those quotes are not the most appropriate to this decision to end my nomadic wandering and take up a settled existence in Tucson. However, reading those quotes about six months ago caused me to make the change in my life.

This need for change is who I am. I was employed for 35 years in Information Technology. Things change in 35 years. It was called Data Processing back in the 1960s. During those pre-retirement years, something had to change in the major job responsibilities to keep my interest. I could not repeat the same process over and over. I was a bad slave. There had to be something new in the job; a new product; new process. Something new was required that would challenge the brain cells.

The "new" would last for about two to three years. Five years was the limit. Ten years was unheard of. Twelve years of living in a home on wheels is the longest I've lived anywhere since leaving the farm for university. Twelve years is also longer than I was ever employed with a single company.

It was time for change.

Do I know what I want. Not really.

What if the Tucson home base doesn't work out?

The plan is to lease/rent an apartment. If it turns out the Tucson settled life is not what was imagined, I can move to the next imagined future. That imagined future might be another urban area. It is not likely that it would be a return to nomadic wandering, but sometimes the past is more attractive than the imagined future. It could happen.

What about those hot summers of Tucson?

For some summer months of 2014, my plan is to drive the newly purchased vehicle to some mountain village and rent a space for a month or two to explore and hike that local area. Yes. That can be expensive. However, there are some pretty significant costs to the upkeep and driving costs of a truck and trailer.

Why not keep the Wandrin Wagon for summer travel?

The Wandrin Wagon may not sell. In that event, it will be part of the travel plans for the summer of 2014.

Considering the Wandrin Wagon (2004 24 foot New Horizons fifth wheel) was designed for this single guy, the unit will not have a wide appeal to those in the market for a small trailer. Designed for boon docking with solar and battery power to spare, it is ideal for that single planning to live in the deserts of the southwest for the winters. The truck (2000 Ford F-350 diesel) will be kept until the trailer is sold. The truck and trailer combination would be an inexpensive way to check out full timing for that single person.

Will the blog be continued?

The blog will probably go on. In the past, some of the blog posts were not written about nomadic travels. That diversity of subject material will continue. Perhaps future posts will be more wondering than wandering.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Settled Future

For twelve years I've wandered with my home on wheels in tow. It's been a great ride, but I am long overdue for a change. For several months I have been evaluating and searching (virtual on the internet) for the ideal urban area for a settled living. The conclusion was that there is no ideal urban area to call home, so Tucson was selected as a compromise.

My six month stay last winter in Tucson was an enjoyable test of settled living. The RV park was in a walkable neighborhood. Hiking was close by. No longer a stranger in town; the Starbucks barista knew my name and drink.

When I leave San Diego in a few weeks, there will be few stops on the way to Tucson arriving there before the end of December. Once settled into the RV park, I will be on the hunt to rent an apartment. A car will be purchased. The truck and trailer will be put up for sale.

Then I will live that imagined settled life in an urban environment.

There will be travel in the future. Just what future travel will look like is imagined in possibilities: a visit to Hawaii; a train journey; car journeys to a location for extended exploring (i.e. a Rocky Mountain town, San Francisco Bay peninsula, Front Range Colorado, Olympic Peninsula, Portland, etal.); house sitting; a cruise.

The decision to stop nomadic wandering isn't easy. It still is an unsettling thought. But this guy needs a change in daily life. It is time to commit to an imagined future of settled living in an urban place.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Mini Book Review: The Cancer Chronicles

The Cancer Chronicles -- Unlocking Medicine's Deepest Mystery by George Johnson

Cancer is a disease that little progress has been made in treating -- let alone curing. With heart bypass surgeries, artery stents, valve replacements, disease of the heart is not the killer it once was. Antibiotics are able to cure (in most cases) bacterial infections that might result in death.

Cancer continues to kill about the same number (age adjusted) of people that it did 50 years ago. Cancer has been around a long time. It was found in the bones of dinosaurs. As Johnson does his research speaking with cancer experts and researchers from around the world, he details what is known about cancer and what remains unknown.

The author also details the operation of chemotherapy and radiation used to destroy the cancer tumors. The therapy search by drug companies continues for treatments that will truly impact the cure rates of cancer.

The information in the book helped me to better understand the disease and the difficulty in finding a cure. The treatments and therapies are almost as bad as the disease. On that less than happy thought, the book gave me pause to consider what I might do when faced with a doctor telling me, "You've got cancer."

Caveat. The interest in reading a book about cancer was curiosity and learning. There may be some cancer lurking in this body. If there is one, it is unknown and unfound.

There are other books about cancer available. However, when I was searching for a book about cancer, this was one of those that I could borrow as an ebook from a library.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Mini Book Review: One Man's West

One Man's West by David Lavender

I have read several of Lavender's history books. Although more of a memoir, this book is history since Lavender relates his first person experiences as a miner and rancher in southwest Colorado from 1930 to 1950.

The author described the towns and land features of southwest Colorado and southeast Utah. Those stories brought back memories of my travels and exploring in those areas.

The good times, the bad times, the ranchers, the sheepherders, and a long list of characters are included in this fine book of stories of Lavender's early life in southwest Colorado.

First copyright for the book is 1943. I read the 1956 edition.

Wikipedia's David Lavender bio.

The first story of the book begins in Ouray -- the Box Canyon blogger's home when not traveling.

Quoting David Lavender:

"...[Ouray's] setting, however, is superlative; I think no town in America can boast of finer.

"The village lies in the bottom of an enormous rock amphitheater. The best way to see it is to stretch out flat on your back. There is only one direction in Ouray -- up."

Monday, November 4, 2013

Mini Book Review: The Eighty-Dollar Champion

The Eighty-Dollar Champion by Elizabeth Letts

I'm a sucker for books about dogs or horses. This time it was a horse. Snowman was a reject at a horse auction and headed to dog food and glue when Harry De Leyer bought him for $80 as a lesson horse for a girls' school. Discovering the horse's ability to jump fences, De Leyer began the training to make Snowman a champion jumper. In 1958 and 1959 he took away national honors outperforming the usual thoroughbred competition.

Letts writes a great story about this unlikely rags to riches story about a horse.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Cool Windy Day

Yesterday (Sunday) I arrived in the Coachella Valley (Palm Springs area) for a week long stay. Excellent timing. 90 degrees was the high yesterday. Big cool down since yesterday. Today, the temps were in the low 70s.

That was the view as I headed out for a hike this morning. The overcast and gray skies were not the problem. It was the strong and gusty winds stirring up lots of dirt. The wind and dust made for an unpleasant hike which I cut short after almost being blown down a hillside. Shielding my eyes from dust and with my balance/focus issues, it was time to call the hike complete.

Cool weather is predicted for the entire week. That works for me. Cool temperatures and a mild breeze make for a good hike -- another day later this week.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Sand Filled Shoes

Parked at the Elks in Yucca Valley, nearby Joshua Tree was a place for exploring and hiking.

The distinctive shaped Joshua tree is not a tree at all, but a really large member of the yucca family.

Another draw to the park are the rocks. There were rock climbers on the rocks. Some were just scrambling. Others were in teams using ropes to scale the more difficult climbs.

When I parked at one of parking spaces for climbing rocks, I met a couple from Oregon. My age. It was a good time of the year to climb rocks in Southern California. They said they mostly scrambled, but they did have ropes and equipment just in case.

I was walking in one of the more popular parking places when the tour bus drove up. As they exited the bus, I noted it wasn't English that was spoken. Their timing was excellent. Two weeks earlier, the Federal government shut down would have denied the tour bus entrance to the park.

With a ten minute photo stop, they would have been unable to see this tarantula that I spotted when I was hiking a desert trail. My foot gives an idea of the size.

One of the must stops along Park Boulevard, is Skull Rock. No tour buses when I arrived. Nor were there any other people. I was alone to scramble some rocks and take photos.

Hungry time arrived. Time to eat my gorp that I brought as a snack. No sooner had I sat down, and this beggar appeared. When he realized (can birds do that) that I wasn't going to feed him, he left.

Hiking on trails that are shared with horses, stirs the sand on the trail to a fine grit. These shoes don't keep out the sand. I poured out a couple of tablespoons of sand.

You ask why the minimal shoe for hiking. That works best for me. The less material there is between me and the earth, the easier it is for me to walk/hike.

At the end of the hike, it feels so good to empty the sand filled shoes.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

More Stories

It was time to hang out with the unclean and the unwashed. Yup. It was time for a laundromat visit. Search results on the Yelp app found two laundromats to choose from. First stop was the closest one. From the parking lot, my first impressions were not good. Just in case I was incorrect, I went inside to check out the washers and dryers. The place was dirty. Rather dark. Several washers weren't working. It was by far the worst laundromat I have ever visited in the 12 years of nomadic wandering.

Time for Plan B. Got in my truck and consulted the Yelp app once again to get the address for the second laundromat. As I sat there trying to read the small print on my iPhone, a truck pulled into the parking lot. Late thirties couple dressed in "retro hippie". She went into the cleaners. As the guy got out, I noted there was a goat on the front seat of the truck. Soon the goat was on a leash and they also went into the cleaners. I was unsuccessful in getting a photo.

Okay. Time to move on. As I backed out of the parking space, a guy came up to the truck window. He was clean shaven, missing a few teeth and had clean clothes. Expecting he was going to ask for some spare change, I rolled the window down part way. His question -- and I am not making this up -- "Do you have some Viagra that you could spare."

My response was that I couldn't help him with that.

Headed off to the second laundromat. No problems. No stories. Just clean clothes.

Certainly was an interesting stop at that first laundromat. The good part is that I have more stories for my repertoire.

Didn't get a photo of the goat today, but I was able to get this photo in Tombstone several years ago as this young man walked his pet goat along the boardwalk.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Mini Book Review: Walden On Wheels

Walden on Wheels by Ken Ilgunas

Full book title: Walden on Wheels: On the Open Road from Debt to Freedom

Graduating from college with an undergraduate degree and a $32,000 debt, Ilgunas finds there are many people competing for the same poorly paid jobs. How to get out of debt became a focus. Three years later after working in remote Alaska he had paid off his student loan.

Acceptance at Duke University in a master's program, Ilgunas is determined not to get into debt again for education. With an ancient van outfitted as his dorm room, he lives on a campus parking lot. Living compact for two years became a daily challenge while he avoided any chance of being spotted by anyone including the campus police.

Closing in on his graduation, his campus living becomes known. The college relocates him to another campus parking lot. He finishes his degree and is honored to be one of the speakers to address the graduates.

There was no rule against living in a car on campus when the author first enrolled. However, shortly after his graduation, there was an additional rule on the parking permit application -- no living in vehicles on campus parking lots.

This is a great memoir of a young Ilgunas, graduating with student debt, adventure living in Alaska and finally living simply (credit to Thoreau) in a van while getting his master's degree.

For more written word from the author, check out Ken Ilgunas' website.

Just a few days after finishing the book, there was an entry at My Budget 360 about the Student Loan Bubble.

By comparison to Ilgunas, my financial struggle through college was easy. It took seven years of part and full time working to support my way through college. I even managed to buy a new baby blue convertible along the way. However, I couldn't make it to graduation without getting a loan in my last semester.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Quartzsite from atop Q mountain

October 2013

January 2003

Note: The white in the photos represents RVs/trailers and vendor tents.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Mini Book Review: Crazy River

Crazy River by Richard Grant

With a reckless curiosity, Grant sets out to raft an unexplored river in Tanzania. Arriving in Zanzibar he makes his way to the mainland with the help of a local street smarts golf pro. As Grant travels East Africa, he relates the history of East Africa through the travels of Burton and Speke in the 19th century. He also relates an abbreviated story of the travels of Stanley and Livingston.

After running the river, he explores and speaks with the locals of Burundi and Rwanda -- the scene of genocides in 1994. He arranges an interview with the Rawandan president who operates as dictator to keep peace in the country. Checking with the Rawandan peoples, they say that if the president were to die tomorrow, the genocide would begin once again.

Throughout the book, Grant questions the continuing aid and handouts to the East African countries. In spite of the thievery, corruption, and encountered diseases, Grant survives to the end to write his view of East Africa -- where it was and where it may be going.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

That's Settled

Actually, none of the issues have been settled. This is only a lull -- a truce -- in the Federal legislative bodies' negotiations.

With new deadlines in early 2014, this "reality show" will continue. I really doubt that anything will be done before the first of January since the holiday season begins in a few weeks with Halloween and soon followed by Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Since the disagreements over budget issues will arise once again, I will repeat my suggestion from the last budget stalemate. The approach is simple that plays no favorites.

The suggestion: Every check written or every recipient of a Federal government payout will receive one per cent less -- including my Social Security. No exceptions. Taxes will be increased across the board at a half per cent. Just leave the existing loopholes in place. Once again no exceptions. Medicare premiums will also go up by a half per cent.

Of course that won't happen.

The truth: Nothing has been settled.

Now if these guys were really serious about budgets, the penny would be out of circulation and manufacture of the penny would cease. It costs almost two cents to create every penny. It's not much, but it is something.

This post is essentially a rerun of a post of February 16, 2011: Speaking Of The Budget

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Desert Warmth

Starting at 5200 feet at Prescott three days ago, it took just two days to drop 4500 feet in elevation to Quartzsite. Parked at Hi Jolly BLM for a few days before continuing to San Diego.

Temperatures have been great here. 80 degrees plus/minus. Very comfortable shorts weather. Good for walking the deserts and some hills in the greater Q area.

It's also comfortably uncrowded. Lots of room to spread out. Pick a place 100 yards -- or more -- from the nearest neighbor. Still there are empty places. This will not be the situation in January. Fortune might allow 50 feet between rigs. More likely, it will be 20 feet.

There will be no 80 degree days in Quartzsite when I return in January. It will be colder. Day time temps will be in the 60s and night times in the 30s. There will be crowds of people. That means traffic jams. Already I wonder why I will come in January.

To get some much needed exercise, I stepped outside and went for a walk.

Walking the washes searching for pretty rocks is one way to walk desert. Actually, I didn't look that hard. I enjoyed the walk.

There were a few struggling saguaro.

With nothing better today for those week long stays in the desert, the widely available rock becomes material for those with a creative and artistic bent.

It was a great day for a pleasant and warm walk in the desert.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Mini Book Review: Into Thick Air

Into Thick Air by Jim Malusa

Instead of climbing the high point (thin air) of planet earth, Malusa bicycles to the low points of six continents. Hence the title of the book -- Into Thick Air. These low points are deserts and the lowest of the six is the Dead Sea at 1388 feet below sea level. Starting at some distance from the low points, the author traveled via bicycle and camped on the way to the low spots.

Malusa wrote a good book because he knows that adventure travel is only interesting because of people met, the unexpected, misadventures or facing Nature's usual indifference to humans -- or anything else.

Several quotes from the book:

"The spaces between tourist stops are not empty -- they just seem that way if you're in a car. Although we can move between points quicker than ever, the places between still exist, so the world is not shrinking after all."

Regarding planning of a journey: "Travel without surprise was merely an agenda."

"A lifeline is also a leash. Even when turned off, the presence of the phone blunts the tingle of self-reliance -- the feeling that if I screw up bad enough, the show is over."

Considering Malusa's remote travels in desert terrain, the author quotes John Van Dyke's 1901 book The Desert. "The joy of mere animal existence, the feeling that it is good to be alive and face to face with Nature's self, drives everything else into the background."

Friday, October 11, 2013

From The Archives

What's in a name. 
With a different name, would this tavern/bar/saloon have survived.

Then you do have to wonder why 
the property owner didn't remove the previous business name 
 before posting the site "for lease".

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Elimination Round One

Prescott has been crossed off the list of places to settle down. It's cold here. Any shopping requires a car. Too much traffic.

37 degrees this morning when I got up. There was snow on the distant hills. The forecast predicted a high of 50. The weather predictors were close. My thermometer read 52 degrees shortly after one. No shorts today. Strike one.

The eight/ten mile long retail corridor along Hwy 69 requires a car to get to my favorite stops -- Costco, Trader Joes and Starbucks. Strike two.

With two and three lanes of traffic congestion on Hwy 69, it is slow going most times up and down the hills. Strike three.

Comparing this experience to the three month stay in east Tucson last winter, I will take Tucson. Everything was within two miles and I could walk to a Sprouts or Fry's grocery store.

The one positive about the stay in Prescott was a visit with Allan. He and I met ten years ago when we were members of the Wandering Individuals Network. Allan has dual residency with a single wide in a Prescott Valley RV park for summers and a small trailer that he parks near Parker on the Colorado River for the winter months.

As Allan showed me his home, I began to consider alternatives to the apartment or condo.

It's not a perfect world. That ideal sticks and bricks place has yet to be found. Prescott would be a good place for summers, but it has been eliminated for a permanent settling place.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Retro Taxi

The Checker Car company manufactured this iconic taxi cab a long time ago. According to an internet search, the last taxis made by Checker was 1981. With some loving care, some paint and restoring the checkered band, this taxi is doing business in Prescott Arizona.

Don't recall seeing a taxi driver wearing a white shirt. However, this driver wore a white shirt -- and a bow tie. That was truly a retro sighting.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Next Stop South

The great part about nomadic life is that the scenery from my front door changes at each stop. This is the view south from the Prescott Valley Elks. 

Over the past 12 years, I have enjoyed the changing scenery and views where ever I had parked. Will I miss those changing views when I make the decision to give up the wandering life in favor of sticks and bricks. Sure I will.

Crossing paths with other full timers is also part of this roaming life style. When parked at the Thousand Trails boon docking, Randy was there. When Randy and I were taking an evening stroll we met John K. walking his dog Amy (?). John's destination is the Benson AZ Saguaro SKP park.

Bob and Donna were parked at the Thousand Trails park and came up to visit Randy and me.

Another day Oland and Cathy left the Thousand Trails park to visit me for a social hour where we caught up on each others lives since our last visit over a year ago.

More familiar faces were met at the Prescott Valley Elks. After a summer exploring the mountain west, Art and Connie are headed to their lot at the Benson SKP park.

After a summer of work camping, Ken and Debbie stopped here for a few days to visit Debbie's sister before heading to their lot at the Benson SKP park.

Considering my winter travel plans, I may not visit my lot at the Benson SKP park. No doubt that will make some winter traveler happy when they can park on my lot for several months.

Friday, October 4, 2013

An Inspiration

When recently looking at my archive of photos, I was scanning photos from my 1998 trip to Australia. The photos jogged my memory as I recalled the experiences: camping; hiking; kayaking; urban exploring; rain forest; Great Barrier Reef snorkeling and more. 

One bus tour was of Kangaroo Island. Bus tours are for the older generation. At the age of 58, I wasn't the youngest on the bus of about 20 people. There was one couple younger than me -- other than the tour bus driver. The tour included a visit to what is called the Sahara of Australia. With constant winds, the sand dunes are in motion.

As we arrived at the parking lot, the tour bus driver explained the geology of the area and the formation of the dunes. The bus was parked and we had the chance to join the driver on a walk to the top of the dunes. Looking at the group standing there, I decided that it might be the young couple, the bus driver and me that would be headed up. How wrong I was.

Standing next to an older gentleman, he wondered if I was going. Sure. Let's go. We chatted a bit as we walked in the loose sand. Soon we were walking up the slope of the highest dune talking less. Two steps up and one back is the way it was going. I slanted to the side avoiding the steepest part of the dune and the gentleman followed me. Soon we were standing side by side at the dune summit taking in the view.

As we stood there I realized from comments he made that he was about the age of my father. I wondered if he didn't mind sharing his age. No problem. He was 82. I looked at him and told him that he was an inspiration to me.

And that conversation and scene remains an inspiration to me. I hope to be walking and climbing sand dunes when I'm 82.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Dispersed Camping

Since this is dispersed camping on National Forest land, there is no one to enforce the fourteen day limit with no Fed employees.

That won't be a problem for me since I will hitch up this coming Sunday after seven days here.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Insects And A Snake

There is lots of flora to see in the desert and it is easy enough to spot. It doesn't move. However, the fauna is more elusive, but I did manage to capture photos of some in the last two days.

On yesterday's hike, there was something brown moving across the gravel. Proved to be a tarantula. About four inches long it headed into the grass on the trails edge to avoid me.

Last evening when I was sitting on the shady side of my home enjoying my social hour with a brandy in hand (for medicinal purposes), I spotted this walking stick (body was about four inches long) on the tire of the trailer. As a vegetarian, I wonder why he was there. Didn't look like it had wings. Did it walk from nearby greenery -- about twenty feet away.

This evening as I stepped out to go for a walk about 15 minutes before the sun dropped over the mountains on the horizon, I spotted this rattlesnake. The last rays of the sun gave the snake a greenish yellow cast. I cropped the photo for a close up of the danger end of the snake.

Always a good day when I can spot some creatures in the desert terrain.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Here We Go Again

Have to wonder why the only people objecting to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- aka Obama Care -- are some members of the House of Representatives. The usual push back for new laws are the corporations. Not so this time. Since the Act was created by lobbyists for the health insurance and the medical industries, there are no complaints. The lobbyists created a law which will make sure their sponsors don't lose any money and in effect will be able to make more money -- and the government made it a law.

Not sure what the numbers of millions of people that will benefit from the Act, but sociopaths have no sympathy/empathy for other people -- even those in their own districts who would benefit from the Act.

So what is the problem with those who are voting against the Act. What the Republican party is voting for is the repeal -- or defunding -- of anything that could be construed as a victory for the Democratic party. That is even more true for a legislation that has become known as ObamaCare. Make no mistake, the Republicans in office are voting against an Act that is called ObamaCare. It has little or nothing to do with their district constituency or their lobbyists. It has to do with the Obama tag. It's a personal thing.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Favorite Boondocking Spot

This National Forest boondocking spot is a favorite stop on my travels when passing through Arizona's Verde Valley. With great views, quiet and a Verizon 4G signal, what's not to like. Urban Cottonwood for shopping is just a few miles west.

The red rock escarpment (color didn't show up well on this photo) to the north is the backdrop for Sedona -- about 15 to 20 miles distant as the crow flies.

With a few other rigs parked here, the odds were that I would know one of them. That one was Mobile Kodger.

No doubt there are a few more road acquaintances in the Verde Valley Thousand Trails park down the hill to the right of the photo. For five years I had a Thousand Trails membership. I gave up the membership when there was little usage of Thousand Trails parks.

With a stored solar power in Wandrin Wagon, the price is right for this great location.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Heading South

When your home is on wheels, moving is simplified. This time it was the weather that made me hitch up. With Southwest Colorado predictions of snow at higher elevations and night time temperatures in the thirties, it was time to migrate further south. There also were freeze warnings. I would rather be warm, so I headed out.

With several options of travel to the southwest, I had explored several of them in past journeys. Looking at an Arizona map, I noted one place I had not explored previously. Homolovi State Park was right where I wanted an overnight stop.

The campground at Homolovi State Park has wide open views. Large spaces. Water and electricity at the sites. Dump available. There were lots of empty spaces to choose from. Arriving at the campground, I was the fifth camper. However, soon the place was swarming (actually there were about ten) with Airstreams. Must have been some kind of camping club.

The park provided some new exploring as I wandered around the various ruins dating from 1200-1400 AD. For more information about the history of the park and the ancestral Hopi that were here 700 years ago, see Homolovi State Park at this Wikipedia entry.

After touring some of the ruins, I joined a ranger led tour to ruins that are not publicly available. The ranger was a wealth of knowledge and answered many of the questions posed by the group -- including me.

The kiva at this site was rectangular rather than the round that I had expected to see.

The ground at all the ruins was covered with pottery sherds. Some of the sherds are from pottery made locally, but many more were from the trading route.

Making of stone tools through knapping was also in evidence with these stone shards.

No ruin site from the southwest would be complete without petroglyphs. This was only one of many petroglyphs at the ruins. Prior to state ownership in 1986, the area was a ranch and locals contributed the 20th century petroglyphs.

The Hopi ancestors that settled here were farmers using water from the Little Colorado River. In addition to corn, bean and squash, according to archeological research their diet included rabbit. They didn't get them all.

I always enjoy learning. Today was a great day.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fix $10 Haircut

Wondering what Larry's rates were, I peered through the window, but could see nothing. Were his rates higher or lower than $10. Larry fixes those cheap haircuts or those expensive haircuts. I still didn't know.

A long time ago when I had hair it was a business man's cut for me. There was no way to fix the disaster I ended up with after one haircut. A buzz cut was the only real solution. That is when you recall the barber's motto, "The difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut is about two weeks."

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Cool Rainy Day

A photo of a street light through tree branches (iPhone 4S, Lightroom, Photoshop).

Durango was rainy most of today. Several warnings of area flooding. Mid afternoon the clouds let loose with hail. Too loud to hear anything, I had to end a phone call with my daughter. The hail ranged in size from a half inch to the infrequent one inch size hail. Those make a lot of noise when they hit the roof. I don't want to know how large hail has to be to crash through the roof -- or the Fantastic Air Vent cover.

Predictions are for a sunny day tomorrow. That's great.

Reading, a crossword puzzle, internet surfing and travel planning kept me occupied indoors on this cool and rainy day.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Nature Remodels

After several months of little hiking, yesterday was a short hike. Today it was just under six miles round trip on the Colorado Trail from the Durango terminus. That should make me sleep quite well tonight.

As a weekend hike, I wasn't the only one on the trail. However, most don't go much further then the rock outcrops on the river where the kids and dogs splash. That is about a mile hike on the trail.

The bridge across Junction Creek was my turnaround point. A short distance before that point, the trail had been modified by nature. This was a recent event. It may have happened just a couple of days ago when the area was pelted with a couple inches of hail and lots of rain.

Several other hikers and bikers had preceded me across the avalanche of rocks, trees and dirt. The creation of a new trail left lots of texture to the trail. For this guy with balance problems, it wasn't an easy crossing.

About fifty feet below me on the river/s edge were several rocks and one very large rock that probably started the avalanche. The rock had the evidence of concussions with other rock on its tumble down the slope.

Looking uphill through the still standing trees, I spotted a location about 100 feet up slope where the rock was before the fall.

It was a great hike including seeing nature's remodeling of the landscape.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

No Clouds

When I awoke this morning at Navajo State Park, it seemed brighter than usual. After getting upright and stumbling around I realized I was still alive as I saw a reflection in the mirror. The brightness was natural sun lighting -- not some celestial world I was experiencing.

Opened the blinds and looked to the west. There wasn't a cloud in the sky. I had not seen cloudless skies in over ten days. After donning clothes, I went outside to check the skies in all directions. There was a single cloud far north over distant mountains.

Great traveling weather. Time to move on. Soon I was on autopilot as I secured and stored things, dumped the tanks, filled with fresh water and I was on the road with Durango the destination.

This time I had a Plan B in the event I found Lisa and Steve's field too muddy to take a chance. Walked their field before pulling in the driveway. Looked safe. If it wasn't, it was going to be some very expensive towing.

There may be a few clouds here, but nothing that looks like rain.

It was a great day to travel. Tomorrow will be a great day to hike. Finally.