Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2020 Visions

Waxing Crescent Moon

I'm not a big party person. I believe that people who stay up late on New Year's Eve making loud noises and killing brain cells are nuts. Lunatics crying for help. That said, I really enjoy getting up early on January 1 feeling obnoxiously happy and refreshed. So do your thing. I'll do mine.

I guess if you put stock in the notion that cosmic psychological revolutions occur when the wall calendar that your favorite non-profit mailed to you two Novembers ago runs out of wilderness photos or sad-eyed rescue dog portraits, you could make a resolution or two to escape entropy. Avocados, push ups, and planks just might trick the Universe that eats itself into sparing you. It's worth a try. Conversely, you could just suspend all that desperate positive thinking and accept what is. You might find that it's rather beautiful, being right where you are supposed to be. I have no idea. Personally, I'm just farting around.

Meanwhile, funny cartoonists continue to entertain us. I love self-deprecating humor. It has the power to unite humans and to expand our appreciation of the moment that embraces us all.

Peace, Love, and Happy New Year,

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Greta the Great

Waning Crescent Moon

It's the climate, stupid.

In 2019, everybody has a gripe. Everybody is a victim. Everybody has a conspiracy theory. Mostly, these things are rooted in unwitting needs planted by suggestive advertising. It is rare when you meet someone who stops and takes responsibility, who examines their own actions, who places the blame where it belongs - on the face in the mirror - and corrects their course.

All the little things people fuss about pale in comparison to taking control of the messes we all create. The fundamental solution is as simple as complying with your parents' long ago annoying insistence that you clean up your room, brush your teeth, turn out the lights on your way out the door, or do your share of the household chores: stop creating messes for others to clean up.

You, yeah you (me, us, face in the mirror), grow up. If you still don't get it, learn from this kid.

Watch this Greta the Great video.

I love this girl, this Greta Thunberg, this ray of hope. Long live Greta.

Click here to read her story.

Peace, Love, and Priorities,

Thursday, December 5, 2019

All Great Men (and Women, Too)

Waxing Gibbous Moon

I guess I should be tired, but I'm not. This morning, at 7:51 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, I successfully completed my 68th lap around El Sol, thus exceeding all reasonable expectations by a couple of decades. I feel good, though somewhat balding and rickety, and not in the least bit "old." Earth, as we know, has been around for ~ 4.6 billion years. No human is, was, or ever has been "old" in comparison, i.e., in reality. I will in all probability become balder and ricketier, but I will happily move on to whatever is next before I ever get "old."

I learned today, thanks to reading my favorite news and travel magazine, that gold was first discovered in Tuolumne County, California on December 5, 1948 in or around what today is coincidentally known as Jamestown, California. That's JAMEStown, in case you missed it.

I feel obligated to point out publicly that, given the above data, I should be awarded a fist-sized gold nugget, preferably today.

I could really use a fist-sized gold nugget today because unfortunately, Spugly the Spectacularly Ugly Palomino Transporter, required a new set of front brakes yesterday, to the tune of $598 U.S. That amount is precisely the same as my food budget for December. Without said nugget, I will be reduced to foraging in the woodsy woods woodsy for berries, nuts, mushrooms, and the occasional small game animal, assuming I can catch one, until at least the year 2020.

I find it ironic that Spugly vroomed across half of America without a problem, only to spit out a couple of brake calipers and shoes as soon as it got home. Clearly, Spugly did not want to stop.

Today the rain that has blessed the central coast for several days is taking a day off, perhaps in my honor (hard to disprove) and perhaps to facilitate the smooth transition of a biggo hunk of shiny gold from a vault in Jamestown to my trailer in San Juan Bautista (just a guess). I think this makes just as much sense as somebody on TV saying there is a river somewhere in Earth's atmosphere.

As soon as I finish this pot of Peets Major Dickason, I am going to march across the road to see if I can pilfer some early artichokes from the farmer's field or bean a squirrel with a well-rounded, fist-sized, actual river rock from San Juan Creek. Stew is on the menu.

Peace, Love, and Possible Tommy John Elbow Surgery,

P.S. As my esteemed and much loved Dad (December 1, 1917 - July 20, 1963) liked to say, "All great men were born in December." This, of course, goes for women, too.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Potentially Extra Grateful

Waxing Crescent Moon

I would be extremely extra grateful if you spent some of your hard-earned holiday gift moolah treating your friends or family members to one or both of my books. It's SOOO simple!

P.S. I stole this picture from I-can't-remember-which-one of my siblings from their trip to South Africa this year. I also forgot the warthog's real name, so I made one up. It's a real warthog, though.

Peace, Love, and Small, Very Small Business,

Monday, November 18, 2019

Spugly By The Numbers

Waning Gibbous Moon

Spugly the Spectacularly Ugly Palomino Transporter certainly measured up to its rigorous task on my recent spin around the Southwest Divided States of America. For the uninformed, Spugly is a 1987 Mazda B2200 long bed pickup truck with a 4 liter engine and a plywood bed liner that covers up gaping rusted out holes in the long, but sadly incomplete bed. Spugly spent its first twenty-six years in Marina, CA, a pleasant little beach town with lots of corrosive salt water fog. Hence the holes.

Anyway, its initial owner was a gardener who puttered around locally until he became ill. For ten years, Spugly sat idle in front of the gardener's home. When I bought it in 2013, it only had been driven 93,000 miles. So really, despite the rust, it was a good deal for $1,500.

By the way, you will note that although Spugly has a name, it is a truck, not a girl or a boy or any sort of imaginative combination on the broad spectrum of twenty-first century gender identities. It is a very good little truck of which I am fond. But it is an it. Any type of personality or character is just  projected or assigned because life should be at least a little bit fun, IMHO. If this movie wasn't at least a little bit fun, it would be just plain ridiculous.

Spugly was named in the parking lot of the Windmill Market by Cud'n Mindy shortly after I bought it. I remarked that I had recently bought this spectacularly ugly vehicle and instantly, Cud'n Mindy blurted "Spugly!" That woman is a genius.

On the aforementioned road trip, Spugly logged 4,386 miles on 144.2 gallons of gasoline (which was alarmingly cheaper in Uncalifornia than here at home - by a lot - like $1.50 per gallon cheaper most places) for an average of 30.4 miles per gallon. That is outstanding if you ask me, Or even if you don't, it is still outstanding. It burned only one quart of oil on the way to Tejas. I stopped at Lube N Go in El Paso for an oil change and new oil filter as I was leaving. From there all the way to San Juan Bautista, it hummed and purred and didn't burn any oil at all. Way cool. Spugliferous.

Spugly has a bench seat, much more comfortable than bucket seats, no air conditioning, no power steering, no electric windows or mirrors, no radio, no cruise control - none of that stupid stuff that you do not need and have to pay oodles of bucks to fix when it inevitably breaks. Some day I will shell out the money to replace the multi-chipped windshield which is probably one pea-sized gravel shot away from shattering in little bits right in my lap. But no big hurry on that.

The gray, Sun-degraded, plastic front bumpers are held on by an array of black zip ties, adding immensely to Spugly's sleek, classy lines when viewed from the silly rear view camera in your $40,000 compact sport utility vehicle. I mean, what did we ever do without those things?. I should probably get new license plates next time I register it, though. They are both so battered and rusty that the cops are bound to stop me sooner or later. Yes, I am going to get "SPUGLY" plates for certain. Eat your heart out.

Peace, Love, and Transportation,

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Get Back

Waning Gibbous Moon

There are much worse ways to finish a trip than a walk on the beach and breakfast with a dear, beautiful friend. My heart swims with the dolphins.

Peace, Love, and Happiness,

Wednesday, November 13, 2019


Waning Gibbous Moon

People have been pulling over and sleeping in their vehicles for as long as there have been vehicles. Only recently have people called it "boondocking." Also recently, they have tricked out their vans with solar panels, tweeted about it like it's a wild adventure, and YouTubed the whole thing with how-to DIY instructions using Dad's tools and Mom's sewing machine (and blogged about it, too).

Last night I may or may not have parked Spugly in a sandy turnout/cul de sac halfway between I-10 and the southern entrance to Joshua Tree National Park. I may or may not have cowboy camped under the stars on my truckbed on federal land without paying a single red cent.

If I did, and maybe I didn't, it wasn't that wild. I mean there weren't any bears or pumas out there. Rattlesnakes can't shimmy up truck fenders and seek out sleeping campers, if there even was a camper in a pickup, even if it was me. So big deal if I did, big deal if I didn't, okay? I definitely didn't "boondock." You couldn't even pay me to say I did that.

I did, however, drive through Joshua Tree this morning and stop a few times to stretch my legs. My favorite was the Cholla Gardens exhibit, which was way better than the ocotillo patch. The ocotillo patch was nearly bald. The Cholla Gardens were flourishing. I followed the National Park's posted advice and did not touch the cholla, duh.

Then came the less than riveting drive between 29 Palms and Agua Dulce. There was one decent mural, one gazebo, and zero bike racks.

Just outside Agua Dulce, though, is the fantastic Vasquez Rocks County Park (Los Angeles County). Not only does the Pacific Crest Trail run right through the park (and through the town), but the rocks are incredible and so are the petroglyphs.

The park was named after Tiburcio Vasquez, who was either a murdering thief or a misunderstood Robin-Hood-like martyr in the 1800's, depending on who you ask. One thing for certain is his park never ceases to impress.

Arriving in Ventura in time for sundown was a delicious treat and traffic along the beach into Santa Barbara was surprisingly light. This day, this next to last day of a diverse and fun month-long trip, was appropriately diverse and fun in itself. Should I "boondock" in Santa Babylon tonight? There's a different term for it here. I think it's called "trespassing" or "vagrancy" or something like that.

Lucky for me, the Earl of Montecito fed me tacos and Myra the Wonderdog loaned me her sofa for the night. This is called "friendship" or "kindness" for which I am truly grateful.

Peace, Love, and Couchdocking,

Tuesday, November 12, 2019


Waning Gibbous Moon

You know that expression"the crack of dawn?" Well, here it is.

I got up extra early this morning to meet my friends Lisa Smith and Nancy Reid for a sunrise walk on the East Wetlands Trail near the Colorado River in Yuma, AZ. If you have not read the most recent edition of Lisa and Nancy's outstanding Parks and Travel Magazine, be sure to click here.

The first walk was so wonderful that we decided to take a second walk on the West Wetlands Trail so I could see the river up close. There were cranes, mockingbirds, and ducks and even beavers! I am too slow on the draw with my camera phone to produce any wildlife shots. I leave that to the pros like Lisa. I make do with stuff that sits still long enough for me to take a deep breath and squeeze the trigger.

This dazzling shot is a historic bridge from an old piece of U.S. 80, the southern tier coast to coast highway built in 1928. Most of the highway west of Dallas, TX has been removed or paved over by Interstate freeways, particularly I-10 and I-8, but lots of good memories remain.

The wetlands trails feature both paved bike paths and sandy footpaths, plus an elaborate playground and educational exhibits. Yumans and yuccas should be proud.

By mid-morning, the air temperature had begun to rise noticeably so we retreated to The Landing, a superior breakfast establishment that is part of the Historic Coronado Motor Hotel. I feasted myself into a coffee-and-eggs stupor, after which I rallied for today's journey across the Colorado River into California.

What a great day! The past few weeks in Uncalifornia have been pretty smooth. I didn't get to see everybody and every place I intended to visit, but I came pretty close. And the mini-adventures into close contact with the natural world were refreshing.

If Spugly can hang in there for a few more days, I will be home in San Juan Bautista by Friday.

Peace, Love, and More to Come,

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Yaqui Ridge Is All You Need

Waxing Gibbous Moon

Today I completed a piece of something that I tried to start way back in February. I horsed Spugly around the hairpin turns on the gravel road up to Montezuma Pass, AZ. Then I hiked to the southern terminus of the Arizona Trail (AZT) at the U.S./Mexico border and back. The last mile down switchbacks along Yaqui Ridge bothered my knee, but coming back up was much better.

For northbound hikers of the AZT, this is counterintuitive. Wait...to hike from Mexico to Utah on this trail, I have to go south first? Well, yes, actually that is true. No road goes to the southern end, so hiking down from Montezuma Pass is required.

Last February, due to "inclement" weather (the snow and ice did not look anything like anyone ever named Clement), I started the trail in Patagonia, the first trail town north of Montezuma Pass. Then I promptly slipped on ice after about 14 miles and bam, my trip was over. Almost eight months later, I am still having trouble with the knee I jammed that day. But it held up for a couple of hours today, so I'm happy. The long views were terrific.

I hung out at the border for a little while to soak in the scenery. No hordes, zero hordes, not even one solitary horde of people of any sort from el otro lado stampeded over, under, around, or through the silly barbed wire fence.

The only folks I saw at the terminus were two young people who hailed from Indiana. We had a nice conversation about how wonderful the trail systems are in their home state, especially the trail called the Cardinal Greenway. But of course you know all about Indiana trails because you have read Palomino Nation: My 2016 Crazyass Walk Across America, right? Of course you did.

My feet and toes are barking like a kennel full of p.o.ed Chihuahuas after all that up and down on  the rockstrewn trail. But other than that, Yaqui Ridge was fun and both sides of the barbed wire are totally beautiful. It was as though the barbed wire wasn't there at all.

Peace, Love, and Love Some More,

Saturday, November 9, 2019


Waxing Gibbous Moon

Can somebody please explain to me how, just six short years ago, in 2013, I managed to ride my bicycle from Plano to El Paso (The Pass)? And how, now, in 2019, I struggled so mightily to operate an internal-combustion-engine driven, four-wheeled truck basically the same distance? Sheesh!

Today I exited Texas via The Pass, but not before stopping at Angie's Restaurant in Fort Hancock to feast on her heavenly vittles. If you read Palomino and the Dream Machine, you may recall my love for Angie's chicken fried steak. If you did not read it, shame on you, but it is not too late to change your evil ways.

I entered New Mexico on Highway 9, the sane, blissful, traffic-less, safe alternative to psychotic I-10. What a relief. Highway 9 essentially parallels the border most of the way across the state. The U. S. Border Patrol maintains a visible, nagging presence on the dirt roads and ranch spurs next to the highway approximately every 300 feet. No need to build a wall here, folks, just fill in the spaces with a few more cops staring out into the void. Solid work, men.

I stopped in Columbus, NM to snap some photos and chat with the dudes in the Railroad Museum/Post Office. This was the site of some mad skirmishes back in the day between Pancho Villa and some old white guy. Pancho got the worst of the skirmishing, but somehow ended up getting the state park on the edge of town named after him - Pancho Villa State Park. Nobody even remembers the other guy except the dudes in the Museum.

An hour or so down the road is Hachita, where nothing presides over everything. Nothing dominates here like nobody's business. Nothing is going on, save rust, wind, and nostalgia.

Two miles past Hachita, though, is a cool Hiker/Biker/Hunter camp. Continental Divide Trail (CDT) hikers or Southern Tier bicycle tourists or random rattlesnake wranglers can pull in here and take a load off.

The CDT crosses Highway 9 about a mile west of the camp. I parked and got out of Spugly for a while to check out the trail in both directions. I have to admit I wanted to wander. Oh, did I want to wander.

Instead, though, I returned to Spugly (the recipient of a fresh oil change at Lube 'N Go in El Paso) and chugged the rest of Highway 9 west to Highway 80 south toward Douglas, AZ. All kinds of cold, nasty weather is supposed to churn its way into America in the next few days, so my strategy is to hide as far south and west as I can get without a passport. Maybe the hawk won't find me.

My hawk evasion plan means avoiding higher elevations, too, so I didn't take the turn up into the mountains to see Chiricahua National Monument. Instead, I stopped at the Apache Museum and the Chiricahua Museum down on the highway to see the snakes. They have all kinds of allegedly live rattlesnakes in glass display cases here. Very peculiar, if not cruel. Of course, I had to take pictures.

Douglas, AZ is right on the border. The main drag is pretty cool. It has murals plus both bike racks and a gazebo, so there you go - this is one high class burg.

Peace and Love From the Desert,