Note to self

Crossroads and Intersections

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“I see myself at crossroads in my life,
mapless, lacking bits of knowledge

then, the Moon breaks through,
lights up the path before me…”

John Geddes


Well, I definitely see myself at crossroads, not just a simple right or left turn. My map is full of intersections, highways and dirt roads. The problem is, which one to take. I know, the destination is not the important part, it’s the journey.

Maybe the Moon will shine tonight and tell me which way to go.

That’s the beauty (and dilemma) of seasonal work. Once the season comes to an end you have to make changes to your life. Move, idle, work? Search and choose…

I seem to be content with changing things up. After a couple of structured months with responsibilities for others and work schedules, leisure seems attractive. Then, after enjoying the great freedom for a while, a daily routine does not appear that bad.

Not working is not as easy as it sounds. The question of a purpose in life comes up. Once you have a work schedule that issue seems to be clouded over. With a lot of free time, it pops up.

Obviously, I have to much time to think…

I am probably going with Robert Frost. Have a great weekend, y’all.


The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

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Nature

A Ride in the Park

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“The purpose of life is to live it,
to taste experience to the utmost,
to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

Eleanor Roosevelt


Alright, it was a cold, clear night. For the first time in days I could see the surroundings of West Yellowstone. The town is still in hibernation, only locals frequent the supermarket, the bars, and the occasional  coffee shop. Everything else is till boarded up.

There are still 2 feet of snow on the ground, huge snow piles cover the parking lots.  Around ten o’clock I had my hot chocolate and a pastry, ready to roll. I was dressed like an explorer near the North pole, plastic double boots, fleece pants, insulated snow pants, fleece and soft shell, mittens, the whole yard. It felt right, given temps were still in the teens. Soon after the park entrance I encountered my first group of bison. Probably the first biker of the season. We checked each other out. Females and their young. We came to an agreement. Giving each other space…

A few miles later three big bulls…

Different story. They did not feel like budging, standing in the middle of the road, staring at me, not giving an inch. Luckily a maintenance worker came by in his pickup truck and offered me to stay on his safe side while passing the big boys. Hope they are gone on the way back 🙂

I rode 14 miles following the Madison river to the junction. Just north of the junction I found a thermal feature with bubbling water, a lot of steam and some hoar frost. That was beautiful.

On the way back I ran into 4 groups of other bikers, including a tandem. Bike season has started, even it is still nippy around here.

Luckily, the male bison were gone!

Can’t wait to shed some layers, although that may not happen soon, according to the forecast. It looks like snow and rain and wind for another week…

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Conservation

Car-free National Parks

“No more cars in national parks. Let the people walk. Or ride horses, bicycles, mules, wild pigs–anything–but keep the automobiles and the motorcycles and all their motorized relatives out. We have agreed not to drive our automobiles into cathedrals, concert halls, art museums, legislative assemblies, private bedrooms and the other sanctums of our culture; we should treat our national parks with the same deference, for they, too, are holy places. An increasingly pagan and hedonistic people (thank God!), we are learning finally that the forests and mountains and desert canyons are holier than our churches. Therefore let us behave accordingly.”

Edward Abbey


I know, this is not a popular proposal. But it’s worth a thought.  I am sitting out a snow storm in April, waiting for the storm to move out, so I can ride my bicycle into Yellowstone National Park. It is still winter up here. Nevertheless, the Park Service has opened the roads for bicyclists, two weeks before they open the roads to cars. That’s the one chance to experience the interior of the park on bike before the summer onslaught.

Unfortunately the road to Old Faithful is still closed, due to heavy bear activity. Apparently the grizzlies have come out of hibernation and are munging on bison that have succumbed in the thermal areas to winter starvation.

Later this year, millions of tourists will line the roads and observe wildlife from the safety of their cars. Some will get out and try to ride a bison or get a selfie with a bear cub…

Not the park Ed envisioned.

 

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Inside Out

Hollowness

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“Never was there, perhaps, more hollowness at heart than at present, and here in the United States.”

Walt Whitman, 1871


The above quote is from Walt Whitman’s essay “Democratic Vistas”. I recommend reading the whole piece, seriously.

“I say we had best look our times and lands searchingly in the face, like a physician diagnosing some deep disease. Never was there, perhaps, more hollowness at heart than at present, and here in the United States. Genuine belief seems to have left us. The underlying principles of the States are not honestly believ’d in, (for all this hectic glow, and these melodramatic screamings,) nor is humanity itself believ’d in. What penetrating eye does not everywhere see through the mask? The spectacle is appalling. We live in an atmosphere of hypocrisy throughout.”

For five months I have been largely sheltered from the news. What a peaceful and harmonious experience in an otherwise chaotic and frantic world.

Unfortunately our internet was upgraded a week ago and I have gobbled up the news like a thirsty desert hiker. Only to be left feeling nauseous.

 

 

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Inside Out, Quote

Heaven Or Hell?

“Go to heaven for the climate and hell for the company.”

Benjamin Franklin Wade


First I though Mr. Wade was a visionary, who predicted climate change in 1856: Pleasant temperatures and a soothing climate in heaven, or the opposite in hell, aka “hotter than hell”. The latter pretty much describes the direction we are currently heading.

Then I found out the above quote was Mr. Wade’s answer, when he was asked to provide an opinion on heaven and hell.

So?

What’s to say about climate change? I believe climate change is real, meaning there is a trend of rising surface and water temperatures that coincides with industrialization and human population growth. There is no doubt in my mind. How about you?

The real questions are:

Is this rise in temperature relevant?

Is it caused or affected by humans?

Should we do something about it?

Can we do something about it?

It is easy to brush this topic aside and leave it up to the politicians to make decisions for us. We will not burn up within our generation, but it surly won’t be pleasant down here in the long run if the average temperatures keep going up.

Then what? Looking forward to good company in hell?

I am not sure Mr. Wade was all too serious with his statement.

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One Man's Paradise

Another Day in Paradise

“The love of wilderness is more than a hunger for what is always beyond reach; it is also an expression of loyalty to the earth, the earth which bore us and sustains us, the only paradise we shall ever know, the only paradise we ever need, if only we had the eyes to see.”

Edward Abbey


Ed had an uncanny ability to express fundamental truth in words that anybody could understand, if they were only willing to listen. He has written more than just “Desert Solitaire” and “The Monkey Wrench Gang”…

When am I going to find the time to read all these books?

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Conservation

Earth is not a Garden

Yesterday, I came across an article that touched upon technology efforts in the name of conservation: Algorithmic Wilderness: Robo-bees and drone-seeded forests: can technology mend our broken relationship with the natural world?

It was not so much the idea to develop drones doing the work of bees that puzzled me. Or the idea to plant a billion trees a year using unmanned aerial vehicles – the goals may be noble, but the approach worries me. Saving the world with technology? Nonetheless, this was not the painful part of the essay. The following sentence was more concerning:

Wilderness no longer exists. Humans have … irrevocably altered the conditions of life for almost every species on the planet.”

That realization hurt.

It was obvious to me that national parks are just some small protected islands that give us a glimpse what nature can look like. Most parks are too small to maintain a healthy ecosystem without human interference, and the human impact cannot be denied. However, some sparsely populated places like Alaska, Siberia, and Mongolia I thought would still be largely untouched by human activity. Apparently not so. I can see how climate change is affecting regions globally and our continued and renewed expansion into formerly protected areas, like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, certainly does not help the cause. It actually supports the notion of modern conservationist that tell us to give up the romantic idea of true wilderness, untouched by humans.

I must have lived under a rock. I had not heard of Green Modernists, or New Conservationists, Post-environmentalists or Eco-pragmatists until yesterday. These schools argue that we should embrace our planetary lordship and consider Earth as a giant garden. A garden, where we decide what grows, what gets harvested, and what gets eradicated. We are the gardeners calling the shots…

There is a flaw in this thinking: A garden is small enough in scale that we can control most parameters. We can even trick the weather, to a degree, using irrigation, green houses, artificial lights etc. When it comes to our planet however, that analogy fails. We cannot control nor trick the weather, and I am very doubtful that drones are suitable gardening tools to solve global problems. They also will not  change the tide of our current thinking that we can fix everything with smarter, better, and more efficient technology.

We simply need to become better stewards of the land. So much for today.

Find more details here:

Earth is not a garden

Some of the world’s most powerful conservationists are giving up on wilderness. They are making a big mistake.

 

 

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