Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Definitions: Bar

(1) Wet dirt. Sand, gravel and assorted gunk in a stream bed.

It lies sort of parallel to the current. Sometimes it's exposed only at times of low water.

A bar forms when moving water slows and can no longer push along the sediment it's carrying. The sediment piles up and the water continues on its merry way as if nothing had happened.

(2) A stinky dark hole where beer is consumed, where you find yourself suddenly surrounded by someone named "Gladys" who is larger than you, uglier than anything you've ever seen before, and seems to have cornered the market on freckles and upper arm fat. And is quite a bit more drunk than you ever imagined that anything remotely human could be.

And that's about the point of it: remotely human.

Which is how you begin to feel when you look around and discover that most everyone else in the place, either male or female or whatever is a variation on this Gladys theme, and a very constricted variation on it, as though they all originated from the same litter.

And there you are, halfway through a long backpacking trip, hoping to spend the weekend in this little town called Dry Hole, at first delighted to discover that it was there at all (which was an immense surprise since it appears on no map), and has a grocery, and a place to stay, and a bar, which is where you are.

But now, as time goes by and Gladys oozes toward you in an unsteady sort of amoebic predatory way, you begin to realize that at least one of the other creatures in the place has assumed ownership of her, or it, or whatever, and that you are not welcome, at all, anymore, stranger, and then very quickly you begin to envy the beer that has passed through you and slipped away down the drain, leaving you behind like a dark forgotten accumulation of reeking sediment that is too clumsy to get away and therefore has to remain behind, come what may, like all that jumbled crude gunk in all those anonymous stream beds you have stepped over.

The end.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

And Then She Ate The Dog

Elspeth the Architect, the first English woman to ride a motorcycle around the world. (Image from

Now that many women are speaking out about their lives, and receiving some (overdue) justice, and at the same time revealing themselves as victims, let's take a look at a woman who charged ahead, decades ago, accomplished the breathtakingly unexpected, and is not also a victim.

Let us give thanks.

At the age of twenty-three, Elspeth Beard became the first woman to motorcycle around the world. 35,000 miles with just a tent, some tools, her savings and a ton of determination, she reveals what she learnt about herself on the road...

Interview with Elspeth Beard at First Women UK.

Image from In Venus Veritas.

She now runs an architectural business in Godalming, Surrey.

Image from In Venus Veritas.

From her web site...

Elspeth Beard specialises in creating or remodelling interesting and unusual buildings, both old and new. When working with old buildings, she likes to give them a new lease of life by mixing conservation with contemporary design; the clean lines and modern feel of new elements contrasting with the original features of the existing building. Much of her work involves the conversion of listed buildings such as water towers, lighthouses and barns into striking and unique family homes. She also creates all kinds of new houses, varying from traditional timber-framed constructions to modern buildings with rendered walls and large areas of floor-to-ceiling glass.

More info:

Elspeth Beard Architects

ELSPETH: Vanguard, interview In Venus Veritas.

Elspeth Beard - One of the Early Globetrotters at Motorcyclist Online (dog story, old photos).

Elspeth Beard is one of a select band of bold women to ride a motorcycle around the world, and she was the first Englishwoman to do so.

Around-The-World by motorcycle, misc info, old photos.

Another woman: Tamara Raye Wilson, rock bassist, photographer, motorcyclist, motorcycle racer, mechanical engineer at Disney.

Tamara Raye Wilson on the course. (Cicadawheels)

Interview with Cicadawheels: "Tamara Raye Wilson, Just Smiling, Having Fun And...Ride!"

Tamara Wilson: A Disney Engineer's Perspective on Quality Motorcycle Protection.

Snapshots from the Hell On Wheels Moto Scramble

Yeah, well, she chose to compete this way too. (Todays Cycle Coverage)

Tammi Tibetan, musician.

Moto Lady: Posts Tagged 'tamara raye'

At Born Free 6 Chopper Mania. (The Moto Lady)

Tamara On The Burly Brand Jackrabbit. (The Moto Lady)

Another woman: "Sarah Marquis (born June 20, 1972) is a Swiss adventurer and explorer. From 2010 to 2013, she walked 20,000 kilometres (12,000 mi) alone from Siberia to the Gobi Desert, into China, Laos, Thailand, and then across Australia. In 2011, she gave a TED talk and in 2014 she was named one of National Geographic's Adventurers of the Year." (Wikipedia)

From her web site.

Why walking is the ideal speed to see the world

How do you walk 500 miles? Extreme hiker Sarah Marquis explains how pain gives way to pleasure during an epic trek through the wilderness.

From Siberia To Australia: Sarah Marquis' 10,000 Mile Walk

"This story, it is my story," Sarah Marquis says. "And it is a story of a woman." Marquis is an explorer, but she doesn't scale mountains or jump off cliffs. She walks.

The Australian: Sarah Marquis faces her toughest test on epic Australian adventure.

On Point: Her Long Walk: 27,000 Miles Adventurer Sarah Marquis has walked from Siberia to Australia. Alone and fearless. She shares her story. [audio]

BBC World Service: The Documentary, Sarah Marquis, Explorer In a classic Aboriginal walkabout, Swiss explorer Sarah Marquis fished, foraged and gathered food from the wild. She discusses her Australian odyssey with Steve Backshall – himself a world-class adventurer. [audio]

3 years Alone On Foot: An Interview With Sarah Marquis Hear her tales of survival, nature connections, perseverance, various encounters, and learn about an overall amazing spirit- all documented in her book, Wild By Nature. [audio]

I usually don't post photos belonging to others, but this is all too good to pass up, so I'll chance it. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Definitions: Day Hiker

A day hiker is someone whose scope is limited to the hours between dawn and dusk.

Most of these people started out in day camp and were permanently stunted by the experience, which forced them to believe in strict boundaries and to fear the dark. If in doubt, you can easily identify day hikers because they wear clean new clothes. Day hikers have no idea what dirt is or how to use it properly.

Most day hikers are actually afraid of dirt, as well as trees, shrubs, birds, squirrels, bugs, and basically anything that does or does not move by itself unless it is made of asphalt, or concrete, or sheet metal, or plastic, and has a neon sign over it, or batteries inside.

Especially bears.

Day hikers love bears. Bears scare the snot out of them, and not in a useful way.

They love being told that stepping even one inch off the pavement will bring the bears to drool indecently onto their crinkly new Supplex cargo pants and Taslan parkas and then eat them.

This might be true. Could be. But it's bad for the bears in so many ways, including the inevitable indigestion.

Hey, but some of these fears are based on real facts, and why not this one?

Encourage day hikers to remain vigilant. Warn them about how even a dab of mud on a pants cuff can start them down the old slippery slope. Talk about body odor and what sorts of unspeakable things will follow them around with evil intent if they have any of it, even the merest whiff.

Use yourself as an example. Of what can happen to a person who ever stays out after dark, even once.

Ask them for food and water.

Ask if Dewey is still president.



Pick your nose extravagantly, then demonstrate how to launch a snot rocket. Show them your eye booger collection. That should do it.

If not, then ask for money. Grin. Keep that demented gleam in your eye. Keep asking for money.

If none of this puts them off, then you may have new recruits. Good luck. Everyone needs luck these days.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Hard At It (Or something.)

Our Director of Operations, Milford "Clueless Joe" Poltroon — temporarily banished to the vacant desk out on the landing for not paying attention, being AWOL, and taking an excessive number of long unauthorized naps.

Lazy Disorganized Ahem Hard at work on other things this week.

Let's blame it on the staff.

Due to possible miscalculations, inept management, and/or sloth, we are interrupting our regularly-scheduled nonsense to resurrect a couple of our best posts from the past, at least according a select sample of the one-in-seven-and-a-half-billion people who might read this blog every now and then, possibly by accident.

Let's see then...Ah — OK. Try these and see what happens.

Definitions: Boulder Hopping

Definitions: Alpine

Meanwhile, work (or something resembling it to people who don't know any better) continues behind the scenes, on other things.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Definitions: Contour Trail

This is the kind of trail that takes things literally. It finds a contour and then follows it, remaining at a fixed elevation, like those contour lines you see on a topographic hiking map.

By necessity, because of those restrictions, a contour trail cannot actually go anywhere, or even exist in anything resembling ordinary reality.

On average terrain the elevation simply changes too often, and by too much, so at best a contour trail could only loop back on itself, if it was really, really short. This is all right per se, but never gets better than boring. If you like walking in tight circles around a lone tree, then this might be your event. (Net elevation change per lap: zero.)

And the sort of terrain where a real contour trail might be possible is actually so rare that most such trails are in fact artificial, and are used only for synthetic activities. Think of the Daytona International Speedway, for example. Or think instead of the La-Z-Boy 500, which is not only slower and safer than NASCAR events, but even less interesting, which makes it great for napping to if it's on TV.

Want another example? Sure, why not?

Imagine the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, "a place so flat you seem to see the curvature of the planet, so barren not even the simplest life forms can exist". The description makes it seem uncannily similar to the typical office environment yet it is so different when you actually get there, being a place where you may experience "the passing thunder of strange vehicles hurtling by on a vast dazzling white plain". Instead of some idiot stinking up the place with microwave popcorn every afternoon at 2:35, and playing country rock on his radio in the next cubicle all day, every day. ("Well it doesn't bother me.")

Both those environments are so infinitely two-dimensional and sterile and featureless and brain dead that there is nothing to contour around anyway. And they are no good for hiking, which is what we're really interested in, so screw them all. Let's be wild and dangerous and go cross-country. How about it?