Friday, January 20, 2017
The Last Great Walk by Wayne Curtis is about Edward Payne Weston's walk from New York to San Francisco in 1909. He began this excursion on his 70th birthday, averaged walking 38 miles per day and proposed to finish his walk in 100 days. The book covers the few roads of his day, troubles with his support team and tells of him walking along railroad tracks for a lot of the way through the west. The rest of the book details traffic, its incredible growth, designs of roads and how communities and people changed because of the car.
The book also goes into great detail about walking, covering cadence and how many steps we walk today, the rise of La-Z-Boy reclining chairs, how man initially became a walker, navigation and knowing where we are at the time, the type of lands we favor, what happened to the "verges" (that social space between sidewalks and streets where cars now park), and this detail is where I re-read most of the book.
The Lost Geography of Walking, chapter 6, details Marchetti's Constant that proposes humans are willing to spend about an hour each day out and about, traveling and un-sheltered or "commuting". The time our ancestors spent away from their shelters has always been part of an elaborate calculation. We innately desire larger territory and the rewards that come with it, but there is a price to pay: it requires physical exertion, and means being in the open, a threat from our enemies and predators. A human's territory is about how far we can travel on foot in an hour, or about a mile and a half.
Weston finished his 1909 walk in 105 days, battling bad weather, a poor choice of routes and the issues with his support team. There were people in most every town he walked through who wished him well, many who crowded the streets (getting in his way) and some who were very supportive, providing aid just when it was needed.
Though sad because he didn't make his goal, he resumed the same walk the following year, finishing in 78 days. This time he walked from the west to the east with the wind at his back, averaged 45.5 miles per day, had a sponsor for the entire trip, a better route and improved trip support. He was now 71 years old.
Yes, I like this book and recommend it to other walkers, hikers and backpackers, plus anyone who understands human-powered travel like bicycling. Even studious drivers will like the traffic history. The amount of background information is well worth the time and will support your understanding of walking to a high degree. I still find my self going back to re-read certain chapters, mostly details about actual walking. If you like to walk, this book is a great reference manual.
Weston continued a few long walks afterwards, but after being hit by a car, he died in Manhattan, 2 weeks after his 90th birthday. By one account, he had walked ninety thousand miles in his lifetime.
While I may never reach Weston's 40+ mile per day stamina, I still hope to continue putting one foot in front of the other, getting outside to see new things, and walking for as long as life allows me to.
The book The Last Great Walk was purchased by me at a used bookstore, and this review is my own.
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
This year we have 6 fewer Fee-Free days at National Parks in the US, 10 Fee-Free days instead of the 16 days like we had last year during the Centennial Celebration.
Here's the Fee-Free days for 2017:
- January 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- February 20: Presidents Day
- April 15-16 & April 22-23: National Park Week weekends
- August 25: National Park Service birthday
- September 30: National Public Lands Day
- November 11-12: Veterans Day weekend
So, next Tuesday, January 17th is the first 2017 Fee-Free day at a National Park near you. Get out and enjoy!
Friday, December 16, 2016
I am off work today, bundled inside watching the winter storm work its way in with deepening grey skies, wind whipping the leaf-less trees and dried brown grasses, with the temperature continuing to drop. It was 9 degrees at sunup today, now it is a balmy 23 degrees, and today's high of 27 was hours ago. It is forecast to snow later this afternoon, through the overnight and into tomorrow, then slowly clear, with a sunny high of nearly 50 degrees Saturday.
I leave for vacation next week. This is another quick drive to Florida, to see our son for the holidays, and bring back what stuff we can in my small car. The 2-day drive will be quick, for sure. Two 13+ hour days, driving about 1820 miles each way through two time zones, a bunch of major cities, travelling all Interstates will leave us 5 days to visit with family and friends near Orlando. Then repeat the drive back here with a loaded car.
The weather looks good with no snow or major storms each way. When we get back, we will both work through the holidays in Colorado, just like we did the past 2 years, and probably will the next 3 to 5.
I will try to write about the trip, as I have before. Perhaps we will stop someplace cool, or visit a neat site with a story to tell, or catch some photos of a place not seen by us before.
So whether you stay home or travel, please enjoy this holiday season and celebrate it the best you can. Happy Holidays to you and yours and have a great New Year!
Thursday, November 24, 2016
After a long, long fall, winter is finally here in Colorado this year. While the small amount of snow we have received may be worrisome for those down the Colorado river who depend on our water next spring, it can still be a heavy snow year. Storms are lined up about every 2-3 days, but sunny days are in between them, melting what little snow we get. We will have to see.
With the cooling weather, my head was cold whenever I was outside. My hair has thinned a lot this last decade, and I am wearing it shorter now so it doesn't look like a comb-over. And my older knit hats just are not as warm as they used to be and they don't cover my ears well.
So I bought a new hat.
A Polartec 200 Fleece Beanie in black from REI. Usually only $19.50, I got about $3.50 off with the REI winter sale coupon. The hat is warm and the fits-all size actually covers my ears. While wearing it out in the wind the other day, the lower 30 degree air reached neither my head nor my ears. Wearing it under my wind jacket hood was just perfect. It also didn't mess up my hair too much, though my hair is hard to mess up now. The REI Beanie is available in gray also.
So far, I am very pleased with the new beanie. It shoves into my coat pocket pretty well, is very light weight, and keeps me warm as toast. Not a lot to ask of an under $20 item, plus it was on sale!
I purchased this item with my own funds and have not been coerced into reviewing this product by or for anyone.
Remember to "Opt Outside" this black Friday with REI, friends, family and your pets. This movement is growing and there are many more outdoor groups involved this year; walking, hiking, canoeing and spending time "not in a store". Unfortunately, I have to work (in media) but will be outdoors in the morning hours Friday. Happy Thanksgiving!
Friday, November 4, 2016
"This is the longest Indian Summer ever," the waitress said. She is right, too. It is November first, the day after Halloween, when it has typically been so cold here in Colorado, that the children have to cover their costumes with winter parkas and stomp through the cold snow and freezing temperatures just to collect candy while saying "Trick or Treat".
I spent several Halloweens in Colorado with my children, freezing while I followed them from house to house with other moms and dads trailing behind. Sometimes it snowed. Sometimes there was no snow, but the main constant was cold. Very cold. 30 degrees, 20 degrees, teens, even colder once, I think. I remember my hands being so cold I couldn't feel them them anymore. My feet, too. That was a year it was snowing. Some parents drank to keep warm. Those of us not drinking watched after both them and their children. Finally, we all went home, warming ourselves in front of the gas fireplaces while children checked and ate candy.
I'm sitting with my friend David in a small bar/coffee shop/restaurant in a smaller town in a county as large as an Atlantic state. David and I had just finished an autumn hike of 5.5 miles at a nearby mountain. This is one of my favorite local-ish hikes that climbs to 7500 feet, a trail surrounded by spruce trees, a mountain island surrounded by meadows. Yes, this is Spruce Mountain, an open space park in Douglas County, Colorado I have written about here many times.
We had gone for lunch afterwards at a favorite place of David's. We both enjoyed our lunches, the coffee and latte, the service and local history. There was a photo on the wall of a man and motorcycle standing among piled boards with a caption about a June 1965 storm, telling how the tornado had taken down the garage, but left no scratches on his motorcycle inside. That kind of local history.
Our hike had been quite fine. It was cool today, in the upper 40's when we started on the trail. It was windy here too, the windiest I had seen yet while on Spruce Mountain. Windy enough to blow me around at Windy Point, maybe 50-60 mile per hour gusts there. It is all part of the Palmer Divide weather phenomenon there, where storms stream either north or south at the last minute, confounding meteorologists statewide. Once back in the trees, the wind was not so bad, the path was wide and sandy. The climb up to the top loop was very cool along the stony edge, but the temperature warmed up to the low 60's when we got back to the car. We were the third car here, now there are 11 and one of them is a retirement community bus (seriously active seniors).
So about that Indian Summer thing. I believe that Global Warming has now reached us and is staring us squarely in the face while we wonder what to do about it. We cannot turn the calendar back. Maybe we cannot even slow Global Warming, science doesn't really know. Some don't even acknowledge it, others won't care until their homes are underwater, while others are running around yelling hateful things about it.
I think one thing we can do that can help is to change from heavy, industrial international farming to a local permaculture system where we grow all our food locally and organically without using chemicals, GMO's, or semi-trucking it around the world with logistic networks. Voting for renewable wind/solar/geo energy world-wide, and demanding that we must use it now can help. Making the change to electric vehicles will make a big difference too, but only when we can replace every gasoline vehicle on the planet, cease pumping oil from the ground and giving so much money and power toward it. Then we must equalize the social differences that create our imbalance of wealth with too few rich and too many poor. Meet people halfway and share. Then reduce our wasteful get, get, getting and constant consuming and the need for everything to be "profitable". Part of this is an internal change where we must learn to choose not to hate, choose not to consume, choose food for its locality and healthiness, choose people over profit while treating everyone nice, choose peace over war, choose community with others, choose happiness over pain, just choose to do the right thing.
Perhaps after all those changes and choosing, Global Warming may slow enough, just enough for us to live peaceably together. That's my opinion.
Friday, October 28, 2016
While browsing the Internet this weekend, I found a site which featured old black and white photos of the 1920's through 1940's "Tin Can" campers, campgrounds and the sites from that time. Called "Camping In The Old Days" the site link is available HERE.
This is truly a collection of picnic photos, including family camping, fishing, hunting, big family and church group events, trailers, tents over old cars, sports photos, business advertisements from all around America, taken earlier this century.
Badlands National Monument was authorized in March 1929 but was not "established" until January 25, 1939. It was designated as a National Park November 10, 1978, just after I graduated College. The visitor center was constructed in 1957-58, possibly when the park roads, campground and picnic tables were built.
When I saw the picnic table a few weeks ago, it appealed to me in a practical, 'keep your paper plate from blowing onto your chest' sort of way. I share the photo I took below so you can compare it to the black and white photo above and enjoy its simple, and profound function. Though the locations in the park are different, the tables are the same unique design. All the way back to when I was born, up to now, it still functions as intended. All through my life, and probably more. Almost 60 years. That's cool!
Friday, October 21, 2016
Our drive north on I-25 went to just north of Cheyenne, where we switched onto US Highway 85 at exit 17. Then we drove into the great Wyoming empty. The emptiness continued for miles and miles. We teased about UFO's and kidnappings in the night, discussed what used to be in the empty and abandoned buildings en-route, counted cows and birds along the way while driving north through miles and miles of empty.
We found gas in Torrington, laughed at local bar signs in Lingle, passed the Stagecoach Museum in Lusk (didn't stop), finally turning right onto US 18 at the rest area at Mule Creek Junction. We turned north onto South Dakota 89, stopping for photos at the Bicycle Sculpture in Pringle, SD, before picking up US 385 in Custer. We passed the Crazy Horse Memorial, talking about how it didn't look so different than it did on our last trip. The weather had been wonderful all day with the deep blue skies and a few puffy clouds. Turning right onto SD 244, we followed that to Mount Rushmore. This is where we found differences since our last trip.
|View of the court with state flags|
|Photo from the railing with the amphitheater|
|Starting the Presidential Trail|
|Closer photo from the P Trail|
|Presidential Trail is all TREX|
|Lincoln peaks out|
|Looking up to George|
|Trail side rocks and trees|
|The steps down|
|Roosevelt in the shade|
|Looking back at the causeway, restaurants and stores|
|One of the compressors used on the mountain|
|And the story about it|
|View on the way back up|
|Getting ready to leave|
|My only close-up photo|
Getting to Mount Rushmore had us driving north through Denver on I-25 to US 85 at Cheyenne, then US 18 at Mule Creek Junction to SD 89 at Pringle to US 385 at Custer then east on SD 244.
Total Road Trip miles were just over 1500 and we felt we saw a lot in those 2 days and really got away from home/work.
Friday, October 14, 2016
I like Road Trips! Especially when legally driving 80 MPH on the Interstates! This is along I-90, heading west toward our next adventure at Deadwood, SD. Yes, Deadwood is a REAL place, not just a dream spun by HBO writers.
Named for all the dead trees found in its gulch, Deadwood was originally on land granted to the Native Americans in 1868. Once gold was found there, people didn't seem to care whose land it was. Prospectors, along with gamblers, prostitutes and gunmen arrived and an outlaw town began. Well that was the 1870's and the Black Hills Gold Rush, triggered by General George Custer from gold found along French Creek, was fully and roughly underway.
I'm not a gambler, so my interest to go there was the downtown Adams Museum and the Midnight Star, Kevin Costner's bar, restaurant and gambling hall which also holds a collection of Costner's movie memorabilia.
|Adams Museum from US 85|
|Corner building on Sherman Street, love the hand cut stonework|
|Main Street looking north|
|I love these Ghost Signs|
|And this Ghost Sign across the street from Midnight Star|
|The Silverado Hotel and Gambling Hall|
|Funny, seeing Deadwood painted on the water tower|
Afterward we walked around Deadwood, enjoying the older preserved buildings and architecture. We tried to find the historic Mount Moriah cemetery above town, but got lost on the very steep streets.
Our time was up. From Deadwood, we drove west/south on US 85 through the Black Hills National Forest. The clear view and steep drop from the forested mountains all the way down to the plains at Four Corners was awesome! We drove through the big empty again all the way back to Lusk, where we turned west onto US 18. One town we passed through was Shawnee, which except for one resident, was abandoned.
At I-25 we drove south back to Castle Rock, arriving around 9:30 PM. There is one more chapter of this Road Trip coming next week.
Deadwood is located on US 85. From Rapid City, go west on I-90 to exit 17 and go south on US 85 which becomes Main Street in town.
Friday, October 7, 2016
|Badlands National Park|
We checked into the motel and drove in to Badlands National Park, paid the $15 fee (good for 1 week) and drove from west to east stopping at all the overlooks we passed. This was a great road trip.
|Dances With Wolves movie scene, shot from the right of my viewpoint|
|Note the white color of the late afternoon|
|Combinations of shadow and light|
|Lots of layers|
|Sun setting behind the National Park sign near the welcome center|
|Near the campsite|
|Trail to the door, sunset on the rocks|
|Nearly full moon|
|Shot on day 2, driving east to west|
|Note cactus on top of the mound|
|Continuing layers of stone|
|Canyon and the distance|
|Included to show you the wind, and how your picnic plate will be in your lap without this windbreak|
|Our first and last endless overlook|
All these photographs from this Road Trip are straight from my 16 MP camera, none have been modified, treated or adjusted in any way.
To get there, follow I-90 East from Rapid City about an hour to Wall, SD at exit 110. Also in the area are the Minuteman Missile sites along I-90 at exits 116, 127 and 131. Wounded Knee is about 60 miles south inside the reservation.