Archive for the ‘Fire’ Category

Cast off, matey

September 20, 2020

The New Albion Privateer, in matte black.

There’s a new ship in the harbor: a New Albion Privateer.

The temptation is to load it down, saddle up, and sail away. But to where?

Lacking a passport, I’m restricted to the lower 48 states, Alaska and Hawaii being something of a long bunny-hop by bike. I don’t think Hans Rey could make either in one go, even if he started with a bean feast, a lit fart, and a tailwind.

Unfortunately, several of my preferred bolt holes are either hot as blazes or actually on fire. And if I leave New Mexico, I face a 14-day quarantine when I return.

Plus, Herself would have to rassle up her own grub in my absence, in addition to working for our living, catering to Miss Mia Sopaipilla, and assisting the assisted-living place with Herself the Elder, who recently took another digger, this time breaking her right wrist.

HtE is issued a fresh 14-day quarantine every time she leaves assisted living to see a sawbones, which is not nearly as much fun as seeing the road unfold before you from the saddle of a brand-new bicycle.

This is a review bike, of course. Merry Sales provided frame, fork, and a big box of bits, but the Great Parts Shortage of 2020 being more or less ongoing, I had to contribute a few items from my personal collection, among them a wheelset, inner tubes, saddle, and brakes.

Between us it made for a pretty tasty build, and I can’t say much more than that until the paying customers get theirs. In the meantime, I’m getting mine.

Still sticking pretty close to home, though. I’m not getting too far away from the mailbox until our ballots show up. That’s a review I can’t wait to write.

A Grimy Handshake from Patagonia

September 13, 2020

The bike stops here: Just east of Rancho Pendejo sits
the Cibola National Forest.

I’ve somehow gotten myself on Patagonia’s mailing list, probably through buying stuff from them — and good stuff it is, too — and they sent me a note the other day linking to a piece by Mike Ferrentino.

Yes, that Mike Ferrentino, he of the Grimy Handshake. His stuff is even better than Patagonia’s.

Anyway, Mike wrote about wilderness, and why he no longer poaches trails there, and it’s worth your attention.

In other wilderness-related news:

• A forest ecologist from CSU-Fort Collins wonders whether some iconic forests might fail to bounce back after a wildfire.

• Trying to take pix of the fires? Ian Bogost says your phone’s camera was not built for the Apocalypse.

• Have the orcas finally had enough of our bullshit?

Less bushwa

September 11, 2020

OK, now they’re just fucking with us to see if we’re paying attention.

You can’t make this shit up. “Liz Bourgeois?” Yeah, right. Who’s her supervisor, Heywood Jablomie?

Ash hole

September 8, 2020

The iPhone camera didn’t care for the conditions, and neither did we.

With Labor Day in the rear-view mirror, we’re on the fast, winding descent to fall, the election, winter, The Fear, and the decline and fall of western civilization.

And now here’s Patrick with the weather!

We got a surprise visit from someone’s wildfire smoke last evening, probably Santa Fe’s. Though it could’ve come all the way from California or Colorado, where my sister reported from Fort Fun that clouds of noxious smoke from the Cameron Peak Fire turned day into night.

“We have also had lots of ash falling,” she added.

Here we got only smoke, which made the setting sun look like the devil’s fiery bunghole. The pic doesn’t begin to do it justice. It was as red as the business end of a plutocrat’s cigar as he’s telling you to clear out your desk and hit the bricks.

This morning the sky has an odd, flat, metallic sheen, and the Duke City is enjoying an air-quality alert, though we don’t have to cut it with a knife and chew 20 times before swallowing the way they do out to Californy. It must be tough to sell real estate when so much of it is floating around in the sky.

Ash Thursday?

August 20, 2020

Looping around to the west-northwest and the Indian School trailhead.

A fine haze hovered above the Rio as I hiked around the Foothills trails yesterday.

A neighbor remarked that it looked like a “Star Wars” scene set on Tatooine.

And come evening, all that vaporized forest certainly made for a thrilling sunset.

The photo really doesn’t do it justice. The sun was as red as Sauron’s Eye, and it vanished long before the actual horizon in an impenetrable cloud of smoke. Whether it came from the Medio fire near Santa Fe or one of the many, many others scattered around the West, I have no idea.

I had been thinking about a nice long road ride this morning, but now I’m not so sure. I like my air a little less chewy.

An example from the monkey*

August 16, 2020

Heading down Spain. If I’d had a little more tread I’d have stayed on High Desert and picked up the short stretch of dirt to the Embudito trailhead.

Well, we don’t have any fire tornadoes swirling through the neighborhood, so I’m gonna go out on a limb and call it a pretty pleasant day.

Herself was busy with this, that, and the other, so I slipped out for a solo ride on the old DBR Prevail TT, which doesn’t see much daylight anymore.

It was my road-racing bike Back in the Day®, when I still did what I called “road racing” and actual road racers called “getting shelled.” So it was a pleasant change from the usual 32-pound touring machine. Even a no-hoper like me feels frisky on a 20-pound bike.

So we climbed some hills, and then some more hills, and I didn’t even need the 34×25, because I’d left a dozen pounds of bike back in the garage.

Meanwhile, the Democrats have their own hill to climb starting tomorrow. I don’t see a virtual convention crushing it, eyeballs-wise. The traditional dog-and-another-dog show has rarely been what I’d call must-see TV. Not even the Yippies could put some zip into this mutt.

Anyway, the GOP has stolen their best bit, what with running a pig for president not once, but twice.

* “The higher it climbs, the more you see of its behind. — St. Bonaventure, “Conferences on the Gospel of John.”

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.

Smoky, no jokey

June 18, 2020

I’d like air that’s just a little less chewy, please. And thank you.

It’s a bad day to be an air-breathing organism.

InciWeb shows four fires in New Mexico, two in southwestern Colorado, and an even dozen in Arizona.

The Bush Fire northeast of Mesa is the biggie at 115,000 acres. That’s pretty country out there. Or it was, anyway.

As a consequence, we in the Duke City have been awarded an “Air Quality Alert” by the National Weather Service, and I will testify that the air is of very poor quality indeed. I’d send it back, but UPS says they won’t pick it up.

And there’s no telling when we might get a suitable replacement anyway, with the Bush Fire only 5 percent contained.

Smoke gets in your eyes

June 8, 2020

How many horsemen does the apocalypse have these days, anyway?

Most mornings I get a fine clear look at the Sandias as I shamble around El Rancho Pendejo, opening windows to air out the joint.

Today? Not so much.

New Mexico Fire Information and InciWeb both report a handful of fires in our fair, dry, and windblown state. One of them, Los Charcos, is just down the road a bit, on Isleta Pueblo. There are three more down in the Gila National Forest, plus some more in Arizona, and the Duke City has issued a health alert for this morning. Our gentle 45-mph zephyrs should send the forest exhaust elsewhere by this afternoon.

Los Charcos was human-caused. Happily, it — unlike the humans and their megadrought — is nearly under control.

And the windows? They’re closed.

Powerless

October 9, 2019

“Who turned out the lights? Strike a match, Betty Lou, I can’t see shit.”

Remember the good ol’ days, when you could make magic just by flipping a switch? Communication, refrigeration, information, even transportation, all delivered with a wave of one hand. One finger, actually. No, not that one.

And without burning down half the county, too.

As is often the case, our brethren and sisthren in California are getting a sneak peek at the future this week as PG&E returns them to the Dark Ages, that they may not be barbecued by their desires for communication, refrigeration, information, even transportation.

I wonder how much safer everyone will be with a few million generators busily chugging along next to the woodpiles.

“Crank up the Honda, hon’, ‘Dancing With the Stars’ is coming on!”

• Extra Bonus Snark: Good timing, awarding the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to three scientists behind the lithium-ion battery. We’re gonna need a bigger one, dudes.