Joshua Tree National Park Article

A friend of mine asked me to write an article for a magazine about Joshua Tree National Park that would be of interest to owners of tent trailers and small campers. I reluctantly accepted, as I really don’t have time for these kinds of projects — they interfere with my camping and backpacking time. He said I could take a few months to complete it. So I proceeded. In the end, the magazine decided to make it a four part series.

2014-11-20 PU Times Mag Cover

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Magic Birthday Desert Camp

Most women I know have an obsessive fixation on birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries. That’s okay, in the proper context, they are good things to celebrate. Most men I know place less significance to these occasions. For the most part, I disdain them, but Joyce and I usually celebrate them with each other in our own way for the right reasons.

Last week Joyce asked what I wanted to do for my birthday. Hmm… backpacking was the first thought, though not communicated. Seeing that I have been home very little the past few months, the more appropriate response was to suggest something we could do together, which normally is camping. Camping is good. So that was my suggestion and it is what we did and it was another great weekend with my wonderful bride.

MAGIC!!

Friday morning I found myself in Tampa, Florida a long way from home.

Tampa to California

Thanks to modern technology I left Tampa, Florida in the morning and arrived at our campsite in the afternoon. Sometimes technology is a really, really good thing!

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Technology Might Be Killing Wilderness

Technology 1Since the passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964, it has been under attack. Attacked by those who want to relax the standards and develop wilderness areas for the “benefit“ of society,  attacked by those who want more intervention via “land management,” attacked by the trail builders who want more well-groomed pathways, attacked by the sign people who want all kinds of directional and interpretive boards to inform people where they are or what they are looking at.

Technology 1aThese attackers may seem to be unrelated to each other, but they have one thing in common — all these groups directly or indirectly see wilderness as an economic opportunity. Additionally groups of people such as the trail guide writers, the whitewater raft companies, and wilderness guides are benefitting financially from the wilderness and increasing man’s impact by bringing an increasing number of people into our wild areas. Oh, they say they do it to introduce more people to wilderness, but lets face it; they do it for the money. More people are not good for wilderness. Especially more people who would not have ventured forward without those who provide information and/or access.

But these attackers are not the biggest threat to wilderness; technology is. To keep our wilderness wild, society must see its value. Technology changes our perception of wilderness. It also changes the individual’s wilderness experience, whether it be used in selecting a destination, planning a trip, or using gadgets once we get there. To sum it up:

Technology marginalizes wilderness.

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Halloween Camp

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Halloween is generally a pain in the ass. Little people coming to the door trying to extort treats from me, threatening me with a “trick.” And the little beggars always begging for candy. I can’t take it.

This is excaborated with the constant door bell ringing, ringing, and ringing, which throws Corky into a tizzy, running around in circles and barking his head off — to the point that I have to lock him in the laundry room.

This is compounded by Joyce yelling at me to look at some store-bought costume a little person is wearing. All this Halloween stuff that consumers waste over $7 billion dollars worth of spending.

But this year I had a plan….

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No Rattlesnakes, No Water, No Fun

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Great ideas pop up in my head around 2 am. They hit me like a thunderbolt, instantly wake me up, and I immediately take survey of the idea; usually sitting up to give the idea the respect it deserves. There are three courses of actions I can take regarding these great ideas:

  1. Tell myself that I will evaluate the idea in the morning to see if it still holds water as a great idea, and go back to sleep. This doesn’t work out well most of the time. I forget what the idea was completely, or misplace it in the hidden folds of my brain and sometimes find it again at a later date — sometimes more than a year later. I rarely use this option.
  2. Analyze the idea while it is still fresh in my mind. This is often a poor method of handling the idea, because, more often than not, I end up playing with the idea until it is time to get up.
  3. Get up, write the idea down, and go back to sleep. Of all the idea handling options this one is the best.

In the morning, if the idea still exists, it is examined for clarity and sanity. If it passes both tests, the idea is placed in a holding pattern. If after 7 days the idea stands this test of time, a plan is put into action to bring the idea to fruition.

This is how the Rattlesnake Canyon Loop hike was created.

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Backpacking and the Grinch Who Stole Time

What’s Up With That?

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Can you think of a place more time reliant than an airport? Thousands of flights each day all struggling for on-time take offs. Baggage and cargo that must be moved from terminal to plane, or plane to plane, or plane to terminal. Fuel trucks and ground crews maneuvered and dispatched to meet the airships and ensure their timely turnaround. Inside the bowels of the airport flight crews scurry to take command of their airy steads; to gallop upward; to depart – on time.

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Escape from Walden Pond

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The Backpacking Trip That Didn’t Happen

A while back I decided to visit Walden Pond. Not because it is wonderful wilderness and not because of Thoreau. I was going to be in Boston anyway, and Walden Pond and Thoreau are historical curiosities to me – nothing more and nothing less.

For the uninitiated, Walden Pond was the locale for the Transcendentalist Philosopher Henry David Thoreau’s experiment in self-reliance. The pond itself is not significant, but for me it ended up being quite pleasant and relaxing.

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Last Boating/Camping Trip of the Year

And what an adventure it was

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But before I share the adventure, clarification is needed. This was not our last camping trip of the year; it was the last trip with the boat. Joyce and I are like nomads, most of the time allowing the seasons to dictate where we will camp. Winters find us in the deserts. As winter turns to spring we mix it up; camping in both mountains and deserts. Summers are mostly spent in the mountains; and as summer turns into fall, we return mostly to the desert.

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