Archive for the ‘America’ Category

Our Town

Hitch #1 was full excitement.  Months of anticipation revealed a world of stimulation.  Everything was new.  As we became more accustomed to routine and settled into Hitch #2, it became more of a challenge to keep things fresh and exciting.  The cliché rang true that variety, after all, really is the spice of life.

When you work and live in the field without electricity you appreciate the importance of getting the most out of your daylight.  The great grey beast of November challenged our internal clocks to realize the full potential of the nearest star.  During our first hitch, a 6:00 a.m. breakfast allowed up to start the work day as dawn gave way to morning.  For some absurd reason, the civilized world demanded that we change our clocks between the end of our first hitch and the start of Hitch #2.

“Does that mean breakfast at five?” Marty questioned.  “There’s no way I’m waking up at 4:30 to cook!”

Four-thirty.  Even I had to admit, it sounded brutal.

But, we all agreed on the necessity of enjoying that last sliver of daylight after the work day.  It’s hard not to cherish that golden hour when the sun surrenders its ferocious intensity.  The entire desert relaxes with the deep breath, relishing in the brief lapse between solar acquiescence and the onset of nighttime chills.

“What if we just all agree to change our watches?” Jimmy proposed.  “We could have a normal schedule.”

“Yeah, like a nine to five,” joked Ross, his sudden surprise showing as he began to seriously consider his words.

“Remember how pretty it was to watch sunrise during morning stretches?” “We should do that,” retorted Becca.

“Perfect!” exclaimed Jimmy, “Whenever the sun comes up, we can all set our watches to exactly 8:15! That way, sunrise is always during warm-ups.  It’s brilliant!”

Jimmy was right.  Waking up to the stars is no problem as long as your watch tells you that it’s already 6:30.  And so we began Hitch #2.  Sun salutations became sunrise salutations.  Each passing day brought new innovations to our field routine.  We found simple ways to spice up the monotony of ten straight days of camping and manual labor.  The wire scraps from our fencing project became the canvas of wire art.  The work day featured endless sing-a-longs and tests of lyrical knowledge.  Whoever wasn’t assigned a daily task assumed the role of Toastmaster, interrupting labor to toast to such things as “Ross’s new hat,” or “fences completed and fences yet begun!”

The Toastmaster at his finest

We continued our culinary adventures provided by our subscription to a local community supported agriculture box with that theory that “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”  Bequeathed with more Persimmons than all seven of us had seen in our entire lives, we doctored up the most delectable Persimmon cookies ever.  And they were vegan to boot.  Persimmon cookies will join the likes of the turnip greens in our beloved Scavenger Chili, as new patented staples of the Owens Crew.

When you work and live in the field, little things can provide immeasurable pleasure.  Waking up at 4:17 a.m. (Civilized Time, or CT) is no fun.  However, what’s not to love about a breakfast call from Jimmy’s harmonica at 7:00 a.m. (Magical Desert Time, or MDT, for short).  Even the long desert work day is a little easier when you know there’s a Persimmon cookie at the end of the tunnel.



Nomadic Base Camp

There comes a time in every outdoor badass’s life that he lives out of a car/van/truck and does awesome things.  Admittedly, my Rad-O-Meter has a long way to go before I get there.  Nevertheless, I figured I might as well start preparing myself for future explorations of Gnar.  Ever since I saw my first dirtbags on a climbing trip to Squamish, B.C., I’ve dreamed of getting a truck and converting it into a mobile base camp.

Ticket to adventure


This is definitely version 1.0.  I got easily inspired by the rigs at BajaTaco and some fellow Yota drivers but decided to keep it as cheap and as simple as possible.  I put the sleeping platform above the bed shackles for a nice fit, but I could probably get by with less storage and be able to enjoy more headroom.  The beam running down the middle  not only provides support, but will help separate and organize gear. I plan to test different mattress set-ups to find the balance between headroom and comfort.

Luckily, I have a real home for a while, so I can experiment all winter long before actually moving in.  Future plans include trap-door style storage, power supplies, lighting and maybe even refrigeration.  Stay tuned for further developments.

The Desert

If you need isolation for your contemplation, the Mojave is the location.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Desert Solitaire, posted with vodpod


Unashamedly inhospitable, she doesn’t pander to Man.  Let him wander the canyons of Yosemite and ponder the giant Sequoia.  The Panamints need not anthropological approbations.  The Bristlecone…the creosote, they will stand hard against the desert gusts with or without my support.

This is why I come to the desert.  My praise is disregarded as an uninvited guest.  I can’t look at her.  So, I’m left to turn inward, to discover what the lashings of wind and sand leave behind.


I love Boulder.  Dismiss it as Pleasantville, hate on the Trustafarians, whatever.  The fact is, it´s fantastic big town.  At just under 100,000 people it has a definite downtown without suffering the sprawl of larger cities.  This means there are tons of activities right out the back door.  Whether you into biking, hiking, running, climbing, or skiing, Boulder has it all.


To maximize the Boulder-Cancún culture shock ]Mother Nature treated Colorado to a vicious late-October storm.  Inclemente weather left the hiking trails vacant so that our boots could carve first tracks in the fresh pow.  What a way to leave América!



Yellowstone all but shuts down in late October.  Few tourists and hardly any services made it feel like I had the park to myself.  I arrived early on a chilly Thursday morning to a dusting of fresh snow and headed straight for the Grand Canyon…of the Yellowstone.  The parking lot was empty and the only prints on the trail were from a fox!

Elk flock to the north entrance of Yellowstone


Falls on the Yellowstone River


Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone!

Big Sky Country

I arrived in Montana expecting wide open spaces and grizzly dudes with shotguns. While it failed to disappoint on those two counts, Missoula offered up some unique surprises as well.  The Red State seems to attract sizable population of independent, free-thinking people.  As my fantastic host, John, attempted to describe locals he often fell back to, “He’s just his own dude.”


Mi amigo John in his native habitat

Wild, organic food is alive and well in Missoula:


Shoot it, skin it, cook it.

The University of Montana’s answer to bikes and longboards:


On-campus Quad parking

Snow in Cascades!

As my departure draws near I’ve been trying to see friends and enjoy Washington as much as possible.  Earlier this week I headed out on a hike up the West Fork of the Foss River to Trout, Malachite and Copper Lakes.  We were pleasantly surprised that some of the northern faces had been dusted with some pre-season Cascade pow!


Malachite Lake basin

Gigantic old-growth hemlock!

Gigantic old-growth hemlock!