Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Remote RV Park

From four and five lane congested freeways of San Diego to the Thousand Trails Pio Pico RV Park is fifteen miles. The last seven miles are a winding two lane road. Remote, but close to urban wants. This is my kind of place.

Want a really quiet stay, find a spot in the east end of the south side. Daytimes the crows and several species of birds frequent "my yard". At night it is the sound of coyote in the nearby hills.

Not entirely quiet. Wandrin Wagon is parked under an oak tree. The sound of an acorn dropping on the roof can be quite unsettling -- especially when sleep begins to take over consciousness.

The park is a good place for hiking the nearby hills. Today, the surrounding one time ranch tracks and trails are part of a network traveled by the Border Patrol looking for the illegals crossing from Mexico -- just seven miles distant. In past visits to this park, I hiked many of the tracks. After three days, still no hiking. Hoping to remedy that. Soon.

Final Wilson Sleek test.... The one negative with this park's location is cell phone reception. From no signal in some parts of the park to a weak signal in others. Hills all around and in the oak trees does impact the signal. In past visits, I found the E section to be one of the better places to park Wandrin Wagon -- to get cell signal. However, an amplifier is still needed.

This poor signal allows for another -- and final -- test of the Wilson Sleek. The mini antenna that came with the Sleek was used for these tests. Both the cell phone and the MiFi reported a signal with no bars. With the Sleek, the cell phone showed one bar. No call was tried. The MiFi card showed two bars. Throughput was as expected. Slow. Guessing that the trees have some impact on the sent and received reception. Sometimes, transmissions stop completely. Canceling and restarting the transmission may result in completion of the task.

Time on the internet is quite frustrating. Maybe that's a good thing.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanks For Each Day

This turkey was given a reprieve. He was just too good looking.

That tom turkey was thankful to see another day.

My thanks and gratitude center around this nomadic life style adopted ten years ago. Life could not be better. Every day there is an opportunity to explore and satisfy my never ending curiosity.

Today, I am thankful to be in San Diego spending the Thanksgiving holiday with daughter Vanita, Gabe and Gabe's family.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

To The 99% -- Buy Local

The nationwide retailers' annual sales are dependent on the yearly Christmas guilt** shoppers. When the multinational make their numbers, that is good for the stock prices and the CEOs get big bonuses. Some in the millions. That is not so good for the financial state of the 99%.

How about disappointing those corporations this year. Rather than spending guilt** shopping dollars for Christmas at a multinational retailer, do your shopping at a local retailer whose owner is part of the 99%. It may be the same product found at the nationwide chain. It might cost you a bit more.

Don't stop at your Christmas guilt** shopping. When eating out, head to the local eateries that are not part of some national chain.

Finally. Don't put your purchase on a credit card. (Another multinational money maker.) Use cash.

Corporations rate and rank success in terms of dollars. This cynic wonders whether the movement will go anywhere if these OWS people -- and their supporters -- at the end of the day end up shopping at the nationwide chain retailer or restaurant.

The message: Shop at local retailers that are part of the 99% rather than some Wall Street corporation.

** Guilt shopping is not a typo. It is "guilt" shopping for any gift to an adult. Gifts should be limited to children under ten. Even for those, one or two gifts are sufficient.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Wandrin Trail Relative

On my nomadic travels, crossing paths of friends and road acquaintances happens frequently. On rare occasions, the path is in a relative's neighborhood.

Each year the Palm Springs area is an extended stop on my way to San Diego. Area exploring includes a weekend day at the College Of The Desert Street Fair. (A year round weekend event.) Hundreds of booths offer a variety of stuff made in some Asian country. Booths are dedicated to hats, belts, purses, dresses, towels, toys, kitchen utensils, watches, sunglasses and reader glasses, and more. Some booths sell and market locally made products. The good part: rather than some nationwide chain, the booths are run by entrepreneurial Coachella Valley residents.

After walking the aisles and finding no stuff that I want or need, I check out the half dozen produce booths selling edibles. Finally found something I want -- or need. 

Eating is a requirement for shoppers. There are a large number of food concessions ready to serve any ethnic food and appetite. My food choice is a pork BBQ sandwich (without the bread) at Al's concession.

Al and I share an ancestor several generations back. Al left the cold and snow of Green Bay Wisconsin to enjoy the warmth of the desert. Packers green and gold still flow in his blood. In his booth, the Packers colors and logo are prominently displayed.

Daughter Amanda helps her dad every weekend efficiently taking orders for Al -- the cook/grill man. Next fall Amanda will be in Wisconsin attending the UW at Green Bay. Al will certainly miss her.

Next time in the Palm Springs area, be sure to drop by cousin Al's booth at the CoD Street Fair. Say hello to cousin Al -- in the Hawaiian shirt -- and have a natural beef hamburger.

Friday, November 11, 2011

TV Habit Kicked

"When television is good, nothing — not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers — nothing is better. But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite each of you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there for a day without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland." -- Newton Norman Minow as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission in a speech given to the National Association of Broadcasters convention on May 9, 1961

The newly arrived RVs at the campground were setting up this afternoon. After hooking up to shore power, water, and sewer, the next item was to get a TV signal from a communication satellite. Those RVers on a smaller budget set up the tripod and mounted the dish. They then proceeded to point the dish at that satellite 22,000 miles out in space.  Soon there were the beeps and whines from the signal finders of the TV or the gadget until a picture is seen on the TV.

At one time, I was one of those RVers. However, most times my subscription to DirecTV was on vacation. Six months (or whatever that time was) later, billing started again. TV may have been a wasteland in 1961. Today it is a garbage dump.

I make the wild assumption that little has changed since I watched TV three to four years ago. That was when I quit the TV habit permanently. From the 200 channels, there were less than a dozen channels that I watched. The ones I recall were Discovery, History, Learning Channel and PBS out of New York. To get PBS, more money was shelled out for the east and west coast feeds from DirecTV.

The most frustrating thing was watching a one hour "educational show" on the History or Discovery channel. Every ten to fifteen minutes there were two to three minutes of commercials. The show returned as the narrator spent several minutes reviewing what was already seen. At the end of an hour, there may have been 35-40 minutes of "education". So I acquired one of those TIVO type devices. The shows were recorded and they were never viewed. It took a long time to realize I wasn't a TV watcher.

Essentially I was paying about $70 a month for four channels which I watched for perhaps a total of seven hours a week. Maybe. There were better ways to spend $70 a month. Buys lots of books.

Never been much of a TV watcher. Born before TV, I didn't grow up with the TV habit. At the University of Wisconsin, TV watching was at a bar on State Street. As a family man, I was reading or constructing something most times. That personal computer (an Apple IIe) in 1981 provided another diversion.

Looking back, I realize that the TV was there for others. It was a habit to have a TV in the house. Fortunately the TV habit was kicked.

A piece of trivia: The S. S. Minnow of the 1964–1967 television show "Gilligan's Island" was sarcastically named for N.N. Minow to express displeasure with his assessment of the quality of television.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


While in the Palm Springs area, most of my hikes have been at the Coachella Preserve. Wide open spaces with few people. My kind of place. Could be described as a minimalist environment with few bushes and no trees. Nothing blocks the expansive views. In some ways, it is like eastern Montana where the plains go on for tens of miles. Once again: my kind of place.

On a previous hike at the Preserve, I came across this Peace intaglio.

Yesterday, my hike took me past that same intaglio. A modification had been done. Why.

After repairing the changes and returning it to peace, I moved on.

Just a few feet away is a smiley face intaglio. After I fixed some minor facial features -- like the schnoz -- I took the portrait.

And with that I hope the intaglios survive to amuse or frustrate future hikers.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Calming Moment

Turned out to be more than a moment. When Mozart's Clarinet Concerto started play on iTunes shuffle, it became a calming experience. After a few bars, I sat back and enjoyed the entire concerto as nothing else mattered. Nothing did. No doubt my heart slowed down a beat or two.

Compared to other symphonic works, I cannot explain why that Mozart composition calms me every time it is heard.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Hitchhiking With a Walker

The scene: several miles from the nearest building at a T intersection in the desert backroads between Palm Desert and Desert Hot Springs.

The hitchhiker is an advanced middle aged over weight lady. Leaning on a walker with her thumb out she has a temporary cloth brace on her leg. Perhaps the reason for the walker. There is a small tote bag and water bottle at her feet.

My reaction is shocked. Did she hitchhike to this point and now trying to get a lift into Palm Desert or Thousand Palms -- seven to eight miles distant.

She is thumbing for a ride in the direction I am coming from.

When I spotted her, I was in the process of relocating to another RV park heading in the other direction -- about 15 miles distant. Would I have stopped to offer a ride if going in her direction. Probably not. Seems heartless, but I don't give hitch hikers rides. Even those using walkers. And if I did stop, how would I get this lady and all her stuff into my truck. Most people have a hard time pulling themselves into Silver Slug. The step up is a challenge for even the able bodied.

Could she have been playing the sympathy factor with walker and leg brace. Could there be a gun in the tote bag and she is going to "car jack" my truck and trailer and leave me at the side of the road. Sounds like I've been watching too much TV. No TV in my life. How about calling it a creative imagination.

Alternatively, this might be part of a sociology class experiment at a nearby college. Were there college students with a camera hiding in the few distant creosote bushes.

Still stunned. It was a first. Seeing a hitchhiker with a walker.

As I wrote this post, I wondered about a non-emergency 911 call to report a hitchhiker with a walker needing a ride.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Cool Hike

Palm Springs is in the midst of some cool weather. Today's hike was cool. Literally. With a wind out of the northwest, it was a cool hike with a couple of required layers to keep me warm. Temps were in the 60s.

In the distance was Mount San Jacinto with a dusting of snow. Good place for the stuff.

After that previous hike when I had all those forgotten profound thoughts, today I carried my digital voice recorder. For whatever reason, today there were no profound thoughts.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Don't You Get Lonely?

That is the usual question of me when questioners find I travel alone? What! I don't even have a dog for company. No doubt they conclude there is something wrong with this guy. Probably a psychopath.

Recently that same conversation resulted in an unusual question, "Don't you get bored?" That was a strange question regarding traveling solo. I was stumped for an answer. Somehow traveling alone never equated to boredom. My response to the questioner was that I didn't get bored. There was always something to keep me busy or drive my curiosity. Always found something to do -- either physically or mental challenging. Sometimes it is the maintenance of living.

Since the question was posed, I could not resolve how to equate loneliness with boredom. However, that may be the attitude of the extrovert. The extrovert needs an audience and becomes animated and alive when surrounded by others. Without others with whom to share or talk to, the extrovert becomes lonely and -- perhaps -- bored.

However, I am essentially an introvert. I can make a very comfortable and enjoyable life with solitary activities -- physical such as hiking or mental challenges such as crosswords.

Earlier this year, I happened to cross paths with a long time road acquaintance. As we chatted catching up on each others' travels and plans, my acquaintance advised that I really needed someone to travel with -- or at least in a tandem rig. When I responded that was not going to happen, he suggested that I should have a dog. I asked how that would change things. Don't recall the response, but no doubt a comedic exchange followed when I responded that I was not a dog person. My road acquaintance (an extrovert) was projecting his needs on me. The extrovert needs an audience. The introvert is happier alone. That introvert is who I am.

Nope. I am neither lonely. Or bored.

To quote Steve Jobs: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma–which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And, most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” -- From 2005 Commencement Speech at Stanford given by Steve Jobs