Go Man Van Gogh

July 3, 2020

Get thee behind me.

The Fourth of July holiday weekend is upon us, we are urged to park our bad selves at home, and here comes The New York Times to torment us with an article headlined “The #Vanlife Business Is Booming.”

Because of course it is. If you have a few hundred thou’ burning a hole in your skinny jeans, that is.

The hoi polloi may find the Mercedes Metris conversion more their style (or the lack thereof, ho ho ho). You can get one of those for under a hundred large.

Or you can just knucklehead it on the cheap. Throw a surplus pup tent, a Coleman bag, and an Igloo full of PBR and weenies into the Wagoneer, break down a gate at some national forest, and shoot the ol’ AK until you can’t hear the voices in your head anymore.

Anyone tells you to knock it off, or asks where your face mask’s at, tell the sumbitch he’s gonna wish he was wearing a catcher’s mask and give ’im the butt in the beezer.

Murka, baybee! USA! USA! USA! Land of the Free*!

* Some restrictions may apply.

Sick and tired

July 2, 2020

The governor is not amused.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham didn’t bring the BFH* yesterday. But she pointed to the drawer where she keeps it and said, “A lot of y’all lookin’ like nails to me.”

No real surprises there. New Mexicans are acting like The Bug® has had its ass kicked. Nope. The caseload is rising, the numbers are even worse in a couple of neighboring states, and any further tiptoeing toward what passes for normalcy around here has been put on hold.

This is bad news for Herself the Elder, who would like to see some relaxation of restrictions on assisted-living centers. She’d enjoy an in-house sitdown with Herself, or maybe a short outing for some shrimp fried rice, that sort of thing.

Nope again. Not this week. Not as long as New Mexicans insist on wandering around in clusters with their faces hanging out, acting like preschoolers who won’t eat their vegetables.

The gov’ is sympathetic, to a degree. She sez to us she sez: “We do have isolation and COVID-19 fatigue. Everybody wants this to just go away.”

And despite all evidence to the contrary, she said she remains “cautiously optimistic … assuming people wear their masks and limit their traveling around in their communities. Let’s do this together.”

But she kept glancing at that drawer.

* That would be the Bravo Foxtrot Hotel, a.k.a. the Big Fucking Hammer.

R.I.P., Carl Reiner

June 30, 2020

Two of the funniest people ever. Now there’s one less.

God damn it. Who is Mel gonna watch movies with now?

I first stumbled across Carl Reiner via “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” Then it was “The 2000 Year Old Man,” Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows,” “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid,” and all the rest of it.

He never retired. And he never will. God is laughing His ass off right now.

• Late update: Rudolfo Anaya, author of the groundbreaking Chicano novel “Bless Me, Última,” has likewise shoved off. ¡Chale! Que triste es la vida!

Glide path, v2.0

June 30, 2020

“We’re coming in hot. …”

James Fallows, himself a pilot, wonders what the National Transportation Safety Board might make of Adolf Twitler’s response to the pandemic.

In the previous two decades of international public-health experience, starting with SARS and on through the rest of the acronym-heavy list, a standard procedure had emerged, and it had proved effective again and again. The U.S, with its combination of scientific and military-logistics might, would coordinate and support efforts by other countries. Subsequent stages would depend on the nature of the disease, but the fact that the U.S. would take the primary role was expected. When the new coronavirus threat suddenly materialized, American engagement was the signal all other participants were waiting for. But this time it did not come. It was as if air traffic controllers walked away from their stations and said, “The rest of you just work it out for yourselves.”

“We’re approaching our final destination. Please return your tray tables and seat backs to their fully upright positions, place your heads between your legs, and kiss your asses goodbye. And thank you for flying Trump Air.”

Glide path

June 28, 2020

“On your left! On your LEFT! ON YOUR LEFT, GODDAMNIT! AIIIIEEEEEEEE!!!”
2018 file photo by Chuck Jagermeister

Turns out it was a glider pilot who augured in yesterday near the Menaul trailhead, a spiky area from which Herself and I have collected ouchy souvenirs of various ground-level mishaps.

“Get the tweezers, Bactine, and whiskey, hon’, we got a long day ahead of us.”

View, with alarm

June 27, 2020

Herself enjoys the view from the topside
of the Sandia Peak Tramway in 2016.

It’s a pretty view, a’ight.

Pretty enough to get me into a Sandia Peak Tram car with 19 other dummies in plague season?

Nope.

I wanna get up there, I’ll ride the ol’ bikey bike up the other side. It’ll hurt like hell, and it’ll take a lot longer than 15 minutes.

But at least I’ll know where I’ve been, and how I got there.

Fire on the mountain

June 26, 2020

As we left a line of firefighters began working their way up that hill from the left. Must’ve been fun doing it in the dark last night. Maybe not.

Somebody, man, god, or devil, got careless with combustibles here in the ’hood last night.

Details are elusive, but somehow a hillside about a mile from us got lit up at stupid-thirty last night, while we were abed.

The smoke-eaters must’ve gotten right on top of the thing because the evacuees were all back in their homes in a matter of hours. And this morning things seemed to be in the mopping-up stage.

Not what you like to see as the weather heats up ahead of a Fourth of July weekend. In fact, not what you like to see, period.

Car camping

June 24, 2020

My lodging for Interbike 1999. While I was en route, anyway.

Two distinctly different takes on the ancient and honorable practice of kipping in the car, the first from Adventure Journal and the second from NPR.

I’ve spent many a night racked out in my rides, starting with a 1974 Datsun pickup that had an aluminum topper. The two ’83 Toyota longbeds were an upgrade (more space for me and the dog(s). The ’98 Tacoma? A little less so; that truck was too pretty for stealth camping.

One of the best ever was Herself’s Subaru Legacy Brighton wagon, acquired sometime in the mid-Nineties. Fast, decent fuel economy, AWD, long enough for a 6-footer to sleep in, and no icy water dripping on the sleeping bag on rainy/snowy nights (all truck toppers leak eventually, especially if you bounce them along the indifferently maintained dirt roads of Crusty County for a few years).

Of course, the best thing about kipping in all these vehicles was the certainty that it was both temporary and voluntary. Even a Motel 666 in Dipstick, Idaho, looks pretty good after a couple-three nights spent roadside in your ride.

Clutch effort

June 23, 2020

The descent from the intersection of Pino Trail and Wilderness.

More adventures, still more!

Today I decided to challenge the ankle a bit with some off-road foolishness in the Elena Gallegos area. I thought I was being smart by waiting until 10 a.m. to head out, reasoning that the weak would get theirs earlier, in the cool of the morning.

Well, you know about me and smart. Never happen, is what. Everybody and his grandma was out there with me.

I had to dab a couple times while climbing one section I call Cholla Clutch Cañon because I screwed the pooch riding it as a descent back in 2017, grabbing a fistful of cane cholla to keep from skidding over the edge. (See “me and smart” in the previous paragraph.)

Anyway, the trail wizards have been waving their wands at this stretch since I last rode it and muscle memory was of no help whatsoever. Also, everybody else was riding it as a descent, on full-suspension mountain bikes, which proved something of an impediment to Wrong Way O’Grady, with his rigid, drop-bar Voodoo Nakisi weirdomobile and mad climbing skillz.

Speaking of mad skillz, the Adventure Cyclist boyos have posted my latest review online. Surly has updated its Disc Trucker with an eye toward the gravel-gobbling, bikepacking market.

And wonder of wonders: You can still buy the rim-brake Long Haul Trucker if that’s how you roll. I don’t know that you’d necessarily want to ride it up Cholla Clutch Cañon … but hell, I’d probably try it.

The temperature is testicular

June 22, 2020

Smoke from various Southwestern fires is pooling down by the Rio.

Boom! And just like that, it’s officially hot as balls here at the Duke City Chuckle Hut.

We hit the century mark this afternoon, according to our Acu-Rite weather gizmo.

I got outdoors while the temperature was a frosty 84 degrees, so I didn’t explode like an unpierced spud in a microwave. I’m still not running, but a six-mile hike is a fine means of making a motheaten carcass carry its own weight for a couple hours.

Incidentally, if any of yis who commit pedestrianism have not yet tried trekking poles, you might consider giving ’em a whirl. I scored a set of Gossamer Gear LT5 poles when they went on sale earlier this month, and they give me something to do with my hands other than gesticulate while arguing with the voices in my head.

Also, moreover, furthermore, and too, they help buttress the bum ankle as I stumble up and down the rocky Sandia singletrack in my quest for the wily endorphin.

Alas, when I turned around up near the wilderness boundary a cloud of overcooked forest was obscuring the view. On a clear day it’s no trick to see all the way to Mount Taylor and points west.

Something else that’s not so hot: The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta has been canceled for this year. That’s a solid-gold kick in the ’nads for bidness and gummint. A study of the 2019 fiesta estimated the economic impact at $186.8 million, with a corresponding shit-ton of tax revenues for the city, county and state.