List: Things that aren’t so bad about portaging a canoe through thigh-deep mud

As my Chaco-clad feet sank ever deeper into soupy black mud, I thought briefly of the woolly mammoths, who perished in droves as they struggled to free themselves from quicksand. Like the mammoth, who no doubt once inhabited the same sort of glacier-carved landscape I was now thoroughly stuck in, I was fighting against my own weight, not to mention that of the 100-pound portage pack strapped inconveniently to my back Continue reading “List: Things that aren’t so bad about portaging a canoe through thigh-deep mud”

Advertisements

No goals allowed

I have a small stack of journals sitting on my desk. I don’t write in them regularly; they’re mostly for keeping notes while I’m traveling. I’ll often go weeks or months between scrawled, barely-legible entries. In the back of each one, there is a tally of annual nights spent in a sleeping bag (tents, yurts, huts, cabins, hammocks, and truck beds all count). I’m usually in the thirties by mid-May, and, for the last few years, I’ve broken 100 nights by September or October.  Continue reading “No goals allowed”

Tinker toys

Speaking strictly anecdotally, many of the smartest people I know have a particular practice in common: as children, they would disassemble things (toys, bicycles) and put them back together to see how they worked. Having mastered the innerworkings of one set of items, they moved onto bigger and more complex objects (kitchen appliances, clocks), not always without consequence, and eventually, in some cases, became capable of changing the oil on their cars or repairing heavy machinery.  Continue reading “Tinker toys”

List: Hydrate or die

I have lived most of my life in an exceptionally dry climate. Colorado is the sort of place where you step off the plane and your nose promptly starts bleeding.

“At least it’s a dry heat!” chirp out-of-towners from humid places as they slather lotion on their peeling hands and faces. When friends visit, they often spend the first day or so feeling generally lethargic and remarking on how difficult it is to breathe when, say, walking up a flight of stairs.

“Drink lots of water,” we tell them. Continue reading “List: Hydrate or die”