I have followed many semi-marked trails that wind up through a forested mountain slope before reaching a beautiful summit. Sometimes, getting back down is not as easy as climbing up. The way down may take a different route and can be quite tricky. I’m not sure if it is always the National Park Service or just helpful people leaving stacked rocks to point the way, but I really appreciate whoever took the time. Like breadcrumbs, those stacked rocks help me find my way home. However, just recently, I came across an article explaining the true history of these stacked rocks.
For centuries, humans have been building such markers. These piles of stacked rocks are called cairns. From middle Gaelic, the word means “mound of stones built as a memorial or landmark.” Supposedly, there are plenty of these memorials built in Celtic territories, as well as in other cultures; indigenous peoples in the United States often used cairns to cover and bury their dead. I really hope that was not the case because in Moab and also Tuco, there were a ton of them everywhere, and they were not pointing in any direction. The possibility of those being graves… well, let's just hope they are not. With that said, you can't always rely on stacked rocks to find your way home. Most of the time, it is pretty obvious that the location of the stacked rocks is just someone leaving their mark, at lease I hope so. It’s always interesting to learn the history of the things that we do as humans.
I give special thanks to the people who left appropriate stacked rocks at critical junctions to help me find my way through the wilderness
Please share your experience below in the comments.
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I love my microwave. Hell, I can’t remember when I didn’t have one. For the last few months, however, I have been forced not to rely on the microwave because it requires my generator to work.
“We surprise ourselves with being able to survive – fuck you convenience” – Will Johnson
I’m no scientist or biologist so I can’t confirm that using a microwave will slowly kill us nor do I really care. “They say” that the emissions may or may not be any worse than what our cell phones and laptops emit. Also, there are studies that report, “microwaves destroy more enzymes and nutrients than other cooking methods”. Fuck It… Let’s face one fact.. “We are going to die from something”. So this is not a blog about stopping people from using the microwave.
When I sat down and thought about it, I really only used my microwave to re-heat food and drinks, with the minor exception of those frozen vegetable bags (those are so good). I remember back in the day I would use the microwave for a lot of things like, breakfast meals, hungry man dinners, and my favorite, hot pockets. Who doesn’t like to pop something in a machine and have it ready in minutes? It gives us more time to do something else, let alone the number of dishes you don’t have to clean after cooking.
With that said, I think reheating food is the most important aspect of owning a microwave. Over the years I had learned how to reheat my food in a microwave without it getting extremely dry except for pizza. I never could figure out a good way to reheat pizza in the microwave. Now, depending on what I’m reheating, I will either steam it or place it in foil in a frying pan for a few minutes. For really saucy stuff, I try to keep a variety of sauces to add when I place it in the frying pan. I’m telling you now, that nothing comes out dry. Matter of fact, it actually tastes better reheated.
For coffee, I keep a small pot on the stove to boil some water. I also use that pot for warm water. I can avoid using the water heater for small things like a warm cloth to wash my wash and hands on cold mornings and evenings.
Being off the grid makes you think about all the things that you use and for the most part take for granted, because they seem unlimited. Seriously, I’m not living in a cave, but when you don’t have money, that’s when the fun begins. I will write another blog about, “off the grid becoming a fun challenge”.
Right now my microwave is an expensive bread storage compartment. My next camper will have a “toaster oven” and a “stackable steamer” instead of a microwave. Don’t get me wrong… I may go back to using a microwave at some point in my life, but for now it’s just something that I can do without and may add some seconds to my life.
Please share your experience with a microwave. Also, share some of your quick meal recipes to help avoid using the microwave.
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During my stay at the Angel Fire Resort, I had to check out the Enchanted Circle. The Enchanted Circle is a century road ride around Wheeler Peak. The park host informed me that some of the roads are dangerous but incredibly beautiful.
As you can see from the map, there are many attractions along the way. I set out early on Scenic Byway heading towards Taos from Angel Fire. Right off the bat, there was a pretty good climb to get that heart rate up.
I passed through the tiny, artistic town of Arroyo Seco on the way to the Taos Ski Valley, then continued north to Questa. In the distance, I saw mountain vistas of aspen and pine in the shadow of 13,161 foot Wheeler Peak, New Mexico’s highest point. I made a quick detour to catch the rare river access of the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument north of town, then returned to Questa to turn east on NM 38.
I took a lunch break in Red River. This quaint little town nestled in the middle of the mountains had a ton of lodges, resorts, restaurants, and gift shops. Ski runs rise steeply just off the single main street. During the summer months that offer a lift ticket to the summit for lunch and awesome views. This would be a great place to escape from the race of everyday life.
I loaded up on food and water because the ascent out of Red River was steep and long. It was hard to take in the breath taking views being out of breath. At lease someone painted encouraging words on the road, "Halfway there", "1000 more yards", etc... The scenic views were vistas of spruce and aspen as far as the eye could see. There was no time to catch my breath, the descent after cresting the mountain was crazy exciting. Freshly paved roads made for high speeds. Only a few blind corners to negotiate until the level run into Eagle Nest.
I stopped in Eagle Nest for more water and to take in the beauty of Eagle Nest Lake State Park. I was informed at the store, that the picturesque 2,400 acre lake offers trout and kokanee salmon fishing. I thought long and hard about renting some fishing gear. The park is also a great location to see wildlife like, elk, deer bear, and eagles.
Almost home, I made a quick stop at the DAV Vietnam Memorial. The DAV was built by one family as a shrine to their fallen son. This is the only state park dedicated as a Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Angel Fire Mountain Bike Park
Below is a video which features some of my riding at the Angel Fire Mountain bike park. I posted this before on social media but, the main reason for visiting New Mexico was to kickoff my 2016 mountain bike race season. I registered for a few races in Angel Fire and Santa Fe. I had a breakout first few races with all podium finishes. This is one amazing place for outdoor activities. I made a ton of friends at the park.
This is what happens when strangers come over at night to enjoy the fire and share their beer.
Neo would cheat and go straight to his treat near the fire. However, after a couple of hours he started to understand the game. I will keep working with him as time and treats are available.
The view from the roof of my RV is amazing. You can see a good distance at night just by the light of the moon.
I was lucky to be in Angel Fire, New Mexico when forty hot-air balloons arrived for the annual Balloon Festival. It was a great experience to join the Koshare Gallup Hot Air Balloon Team run by Pete (Pilot) and his wife Colleen (Crew Manager). As a crew member, I assisted with inflating, chasing, and deflating the balloon.
Its a weird feeling helplessness as you float in the balloon. As you gain height you can feel the changing go the wind and the direction of the balloon. For the most part, you are in the hands of the wind. The pilots job is to try to find a safe place to land for both the passengers and the balloon. The chase group follows the balloon on the ground. They try to provide information about the direction of the wind by the movement of other balloons. Hopefully the pilot is able to use the winds changing directions at the different heights to navigate the balloon to safe place to land and also a place the chase group has access via the truck.
On Saturday evening all the balloons inflated on the ground to perform a “Balloon Glow” (the fire used to inflate the balloon provides a magnificent glow at night). What an amazing experience.
My RV was parked in Angel Fire, New Mexico, which was only a short drive to Santa Fe. As I drove into Santa Fe, the first thing that I noticed was the colorful culture. A quick right turn onto main street opened up to several restaurants, galleries, museums, and shops.
You can tell there had been many renovations over the years but, I still was able to get lost in the mystery and magic of the residents and markets. I spent many hours wandering the streets with its distinctive fusion of Anglo, Spanish and Native Cultures set against the backdrop of the “Sangre de Cristo” mountains.
There are eight Northern Pueblos that lie between Santa Fe and Colorado. Near Santa Fe, I was able to experience first hand the rich history of one of the eight.
Taos Pueblo “Tau-Tah - The Place of the Red Willows"
I ventured into the world of the Taos Pueblo, its a trip back in time as you take the guided tour through the most intriguing rugged landscape and native architecture. The adobe architecture, is said to be one of America's oldest, continuously occupied villages.
Taos Pueblo served as a major trading center for centuries and its Trade Fair drew thousands of mountain men, trappers and other traders. Taos Pueblo artists are known for their stunning clay pottery, jewelry, paintings and drums.
Over hundred Natives still live within the wall of this living museum. Its residents still speak the native language, Tiwa, and follow the many old traditions of no running water, and no electricity.
The tour ended with,“The Church of San Gerónimo” which was a significant piece of their history during the war. Sadly the original church was destroyed 1847—its ruins still stand next to the Pueblo’s cemetery.
You can spend hours wondering around the village, speaking with the residents, and enjoying the native cuisine.
While in New Mexico, I visited an Earthship. The Earthship concept was conceived by Michael Reynolds in the 1970s. The Earthship concept utilizes sustainable architecture, and material indigenous to the local area, or recycled materials wherever possible. The homes rely on natural energy sources to remove the need for utility services, " off the grid". Also plans are developed so that no specialized construction skills are required to build.
The majority of the building designs incorporate passive solar architecture, retaining walls constructed with used tires, filled with earth and stacked up like bricks. The interior surface of the tires is then plastered with adobe or cement and empty aluminum cans are mortared into lightweight, curvable walls. The design also incorporates many ecological concepts, such as water catchment from the roof, reuse of greywater, composting toilets, indoor gardening, etc.
An Earthship addresses six principles or human needs[:
My imagination was in overload. There are so many creative ways to build this sustainable homes. Technology truly exists that would solve all the worlds problems. I truly believe that we don't want to solve any problems. I will save that discussion for another blog.
One of Utah's top five places to visit includes Bryce Canyon National Park. The view are nothing short of amazing with its oddly-shaped formations of rock from the forces of erosion. Photos do not do this place any justice. I spent over a week exploring the many trails and scenic view points.
I seem to never get tired of watching the sun rise and set.
A Theory of Existence
From Earth everyone can see the ball of energy, “The Sun” in the sky. If this energy were to die all the planets would move out of orbit, and life as we know will cease to exist. Man is unable to turn the Sun on and off, but he has learned how to “harness” the energy which, in my mind is very different to “control”. Some believe the everything has energy just as I do. Each human being is born of energy. We are forever trying to harness this energy with the power of our minds. To this very day we do not fully understand the capabilities of the mind and how to control our energy. There are things that we naturally perform seemingly without our consent. We feel joy, pain, hurt, sorrow, anger, etc. Your body tells “you” when it requires rest and most importantly fuel. Most would agree that we are still trying unsuccessfully to both harness and control our individual energy.
To contemplate, “existence” we always attempt to start from the very “beginning”, where we continue to research and on which we seemingly can’t agree. I for one don’t really think it matters. I think it is simply “because it was possible”. It is like asking my mother and father, “Why did you create me?” and the only answer they could provide, “Because we could”.
I recently watched the Matrix again and wondered how someone could come up with such an elaborate plot. There was one reoccurring theme that stood out to me, “energy”.
Energy can exist in a variety of forms, such as vitality, strength, electrical, mechanical, chemical, thermal, or nuclear, and can be transformed from one form to another. It is measured by the amount of work done.
I had to watch the trilogy to confirm what I was feeling. At some point, I will research the writers’ philosophy and how they came up with the movie but, before I do that, I want to do a mind dump on what I mean by “energy”. When I think about energy, I think about its existence in everything including the role it plays. In order for a person to be able to fight, they must first have the energy. Everyone has energy because we are born with it. In the Matrix, that is the true key to the “war”. Both Man and Machine require energy. I don’t want to get into the idea of why a machine would want to exist, but let’s just agree that Man programed the Machine to exist. You can also say that God or whatever you believe created Man, i.e., programed Man to exist. To keep things simple, both Man and Machine require energy to exist and the absence of energy is death.
If you take a step back, you might agree that ALL was started by some form of energy.
In order for Man to win the war in the movie, they would need to kill the energy source of the Machine. In order for the Machine to win, it required a constant energy source. It seemed to me that the Machine understood that it required Man to some extent for it to continue to exist. Morpheus stated something to the fact that he didn’t know who struck first but we have to assume nuclear war was a last-ditch effort for Man to kill the Machines, mainly because of the EMP (electromagnetic pulse) and also the resulting dark cloud cover (the radioactive dust and ash from the explosion) that shielded the earth’s surface from the sun. Supposedly, these two things would kill the energy sources for all Machines. Nuclear war should kill everything because everything relies on the sun, which I consider the main energy source for all things. In the movie the Machines figure out another source of energy: Man.
There was another part in the movie when one of the Elders stated to Neo something to the fact that, it is ironic that the very thing that is trying to kill us is also keeping us alive. In that statement, we are introduced to “control”. The Elder pointed out that there is an illusion of control that exists; Man is empowered by knowing he could unplug the life support machine, but Man also knows the consequence is death for both Man and Machine. In essence, Man causes death to the very thing that allows Man to exist.
I had an argument the other day. It was a meaningless argument where we both exerted energy. Two individuals equate to two energy sources. In the argument, I said something that caused the other person to get angry. Simply put, the two energy sources collided. What if we understood the nature of this energy as a natural process that we truly are unable to control at an unconscious level? When we argue, there are two sources of energy competing for control. For the argument to be resolved, the energies require some form of control to either cooperate or disconnect. This control comes in the form of laws that are governed by some agreed set threshold or conditions. What I think we fail to realize is that the energy is constant and never ceases to exist. There will always be competing energy.
Man and Machine argue over control. Whomever has the most energy will win the argument or have the illusion of control. Since energy is constant, control is necessary. Existence is energy that we continually fight to control.
Gordon Wells RV Park is located in the desert near the Imperial Sand Dunes near Interstate 8 in southeastern California. I think I stayed there for over four months. I loved that Park’s hosts Dee, Russell, and Thomas. I have the most amazing luck when it comes to meeting awesome folks. I need to mention my park mate Greg who stayed at the park for several months because he was a contractor working on the road nearby. I mention him because, it isn’t a good idea to venture out into the dunes alone. There are too many unexpected events that could occur; a crash, heat exhaustion, and or death. When I wasn’t riding with Greg, I would alert Thomas or Russell that I was leaving the park to play. When alone, I would either stay near Test Hill or the front of Buttercup, which is the opposite side of interstate 8 both are easy to get to in need of emergency.
I loved that the Test Hill area was pretty calm compared to Glamis. You can easily access Glamis from Gordon Wells with a trip down “sand highway” or you could traverse the many dune and valleys.
On major holiday weekends, Glamis is absolutely bonkers with the number of cars, trucks, and buggies. The most amazing and expensive vehicles descend on the area to showoff. One day and one night trip to Glamis is something to experience, “TOTAL CRAZINESS!!!!!”. I was fortunate to experience all the major holidays without incident.
If you don’t want to stay at the RV park there is available dispersed campgrounds just north of Interstate 8 in the southern dunes. Grays Well, Midway, and Buttercup are areas nearby that are maintained with dumpsters, toilets, and paved or packed gravel roads.
There is nothing like experiencing the dunes in a fast vehicle. The Best description is, "rollercoaster without rails".