Archive for the ‘Camping’ Category

Smokey the Bore

June 2, 2021

No, those are not smoke signals.

The National Holiday Road Trip© is finally in the rear-view mirror, and here in New Mexico we seem to have escaped with one forest fire caused by some shitbird’s abandoned campfire. ’Ray for us.

There’s never a killer drone around when you need one, it seems.

“The good news is [the fire] did not grow since yesterday,” said Julie Anne Overton of the U.S. Forest Service.

If that’s the best you can do, we’ll take it. But next time, unleash the flying murderbots, please. We gotta thin the dumbass herd most ricky-tick. Roast their little weenies for them. It’s barely June, f’chrissakes.

Road hard, or my home really is on the range

February 15, 2021

Welcome to the Hotel Tacoma.

Some of us want to hit the road; others are compelled to.

I’ve been both over the years, rambling from Maine to Spokane and Bisbee to Bellingham, occasionally by thumb, a time or two by bus, but most often behind the wheel of a Japanese pickup truck with a camper shell and all the fixin’s for a bit of home away from home.

Trucks with beds and friends with couches saw me through my rambling, gambling years, as I rolled the dice with one newspaper after another. I eventually came up winners by leaving the business altogether.

Marrying well didn’t hurt, either.

And while I have kipped in the beds of trucks since, I have done so as a tourist, not an honest-to-Steinbeck nomad like the people in Jessica Bruder’s non-fiction book “Nomadland,” which has been reimagined by Chloé Zhao as a fictionalized film set to debut Feb. 19 on Hulu.

It’s challenging to make a go of it when your house has wheels. Finding a spot to camp, a shower, or an unguarded Internet connection is a lot like that job of work you don’t have anymore. It’s a whole lot easier when you’re only doing it for funsies and can splurge on an occasional visit to Starbucks or Holiday Inn Express.

The people in “Nomadland” are not posers. They swallowed their fears, and their pride, and jumped into that endless asphalt river.

And speaking of jumps, it’s time for another great leap forward … into the latest episode of Radio Free Dogpatch.

P L A Y    R A D I O    F R E E    D O G P A T C H

• Technical notes: I went back to the Comedy Closet to record this one, using a Shure MV7 mic and Zoom H5 Handy Recorder. Editing was in Apple’s GarageBand, with a sonic bump from Auphonic. Music and sound effects courtesy of Zapsplat. Special guest appearances by The Firesign Theatre (“Temporarily Humboldt County”) and Mel Henke (“See the USA in Your Chevrolet”). I usually saw the USA in a Toy-o-TA, but to each his own.

Travels with Frances

February 6, 2021

I want to see this movie.

Surprise, surprise, hey? The guy whose Motel 6 of choice used to be a Toyota pickup with a six-foot bed and a topper wants to see a movie about people who live in their vehicles.

Well, for your information, wiseguys, I read the book of the same name, by Jessica Bruder, and it was excellent. And furthermore, I would watch a flick about paint drying if Frances McDermond were in it.

So, yeah. You can find me with a big box of popcorn in front of the TV on Feb. 19 when “Nomadland” comes to Hulu. But queueing up for a gig at Amazon’s new fulfillment center on the west side? Not this old rubber tramp.

Remember, I read the book. Anyway, I don’t have a Toyota pickup anymore.

Get OUT!

August 4, 2020

Getting away from it all in 2010, when the Adventure Cycling Association’s Southern Arizona Road Adventure spent a day in Bisbee.

It’s not just bikes that are as rare as hen’s teeth, rocking-horse shit, and integrity in the nation’s capital.

Now it’s everything outdoorsy, from camping equipment to boats and birding binoculars.

Pretty soon “getting away from it all” will mean “going home.”

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.

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.

A van, down by the river

April 13, 2020

“Down by the river … I parked my Chevy. …”

You (OK, I) might have been thinking to yourself (or myself): “Man, a van, down by the river. That would be the thing right about now. Fresh air, solitude, no cootie-carrying COVID Charlies popping in and out, sneezing on everything. Get tired of this place, move to that place. Living the dream, baby.”

Not so much, it seems. Kylie Mohr chatted up a few van-life types and found that this livin’ off the road is gettin’ kinda old given current conditions.

Says full-time van-lifer Matthew Tufts:

“While thinking I’m living quite independently, I’m actually reliant on far more public places than the person with a home who fulfills a lot of those little daily tasks and activities from their residence. It sounds idyllic to weather this storm in rural locales and on the road, as if mobile living makes you immune to the issues currently plaguing most of society. But in reality, living on the road isn’t in the best interest of the greater population. …”

Happily, as in other corners of society, the nomads are taking care of each other, providing parking spaces, spare rooms, even apartments. Says one good Samaritan, Aileen Gardner:

“I definitely feel like we had a responsibility to take care of the people who are currently living on the road. The van-life community is honestly half the reason why people do van life. We take care of each other.”

Going nowhere fast

October 19, 2019

The leaves are changing faster than what remains of Il Douche’s mind.

Ever been stuck in the mud, or the snow?

You get out of your rig to evaluate the situation, consider your options, and compute the probabilities. Eventually you arrive at a conclusion.

“Well, shit.”

Everyone else is motoring gaily along and yet here you are, mired to the hubs in a mess of your own making.

“Well, hell.”

And, no, I’m not talking about our national political quagmire, though, yeah, that too.

“Well, fuck.”

This was simply a matter of me taking my eye off the seasonal ball for a second, and suddenly, boom, here it is, half past October and I haven’t ventured beyond the city limits more than a couple of times all year.

Thus there was something of a piling on, envy-wise, this week.

Old Town Bike Shop’s John Crandall and his wife, Kathy, rolled through town on a short motor tour of the Southwest. The neighbors headed north for a weekend in Taos. And Herself, a confirmed non-camper, sallied forth with a friend to overnight with the Sierra Club at Chaco Culture National Historical Park before Il Douche’s pals decide to strip-mine, drill, or otherwise frack the place all to hell and gone.

“Well, goddamnit all anyway.”

This last was particularly irksome. The Chaco junket had come up in casual conversation some time back, but I have the memory of a Mac 128K and some data gets overwritten in fairly short order.

Suddenly the trip got scrawled on the calendar in the kitchen and I found myself pressed into service as quartermaster officer, furiously inspecting, rejecting, and selecting neglected bits of this, that and the other. Camp stoves and cookware; sleeping pads and bags; and various creature comforts of our modern age (the BioLite PowerLight is a charming little torch/lantern/charger combo, particularly so when paired with SiteLights.)

All for a trip that I was not taking.

You know how your dog looks at you when you’re loading up for a car trip? Imagine my expression as we muscled all this gear into the companion’s Honda CR-V. Things they thought they needed and things I thought they needed — including two bicycles, because of course they were taking bicycles too and there was no bike carrier on this auto.

Like Rufo’s little black box in Heinlein’s “Glory Road,” the thing had to be bigger on the inside than the outside. I should’ve taken a picture. Sardines in a can have more elbow room.

The spartan Camp Dog, featuring the North Face Expedition-25, at McDowell Mountain Regional Park, circa 2016.

I was not consulted as regards the tent, and when I caught a glimpse of the companion’s eight-person (!) tent in its sack, I knew immediately what Private Pyle’s body bag must have looked like. Especially if they stuffed Gunny Hartmann in there with him.

There was no time to dig out the old North Face Expedition-25 and provide instruction on setup and takedown, so I kept my lips zipped. But I’ll bet that cavernous sonofabitch got cold last night.

Me, I was toasty in the old king-size with a couple of unauthorized cats. Today is shaping up to be sunny and warm, and I have a new review bike to ride, a Cannondale Topstone 105.

But I’ll be riding it on the same old roads, and you what they say about familiarity.