Saturday, October 31, 2015

at this point it gets all chronologically messed up

i've been trying to show you things from the camping trip in some kind of chronological order, i have no idea why. let's just say i spent approximately five weeks out of september and october and i went camping.

stuff happened, and i took pictures to show you.

here's a little video from the day the first snow of the season fell.

Friday, October 30, 2015

field trip

earlier this week i was on my way to the grocery store by sort of the long way so i could buy eggs at the farmstand, and at the bottom of my road there were two festively parked vans with official looking designations, even though one was white and one was red.

now, here's a tip for you: usually when you are near a big roadcut and you see two or three 18 passenger vans with some kind of official crest on the door, it will turn out to be a collegiate geology department field trip.

and what's there not to love about that? so i did what i typically do in this situation, when i can see the group and i'm not in a hurry: i parked my car and marched right over there and started asking what we were looking at. i have never once done this and had the professor or TA or whatever not be happy that a passerby wants to learn about this here roadcut.

and sure, i've read some papers about these rocks, but if you're anything like me when you read geology papers, you end up having to look a lot of stuff up because for some reason geology papers seem to be written for geologists and not your average joes who happen to like rocks.

so it's super educational to be out on this huge rock with a nice young geologist who is trying to explain all this stuff to entry level undergrads.

true story: i pull up and i'm looking at the rocks with these kids and one of them says "are you a geologist?"

"no, just a rock fan."

Thursday, October 29, 2015

open letter to internet advertisers

dear internet advertisers,

internet advertising, for some reason, is a big topic these days.

i love the internet. i love to read on it, chat on it, play games on it, shop on it.

and advertising on the internet is big business.

and so is adblocking.

look, you NEED advertising to pay the bills, or else people consuming content need to pay for it. some sites give you a choice. some sites try to play both sides of that, though, and if you pay them for ad-free content, they try to give you ads.

no, no, no.

you get what you pay for.

and advertisers? if you are paying for spurious botnet fake eyeballs on your ads, how is that helping anybody but the brokers of fake views?

so ok, advertisers. let's talk about my consumption of advertising and how maybe you can develop a model that will work for you and not be obnoxious.

i'm not opposed to ads. they keep the lights on at my favorite content providers. i do not like cheesy no-escape ads for dubious products, or ads that are offensive to me.

here's the thing: if the ad is for a product i am interested in, i will happily watch it all the way to the end, and not just the five seconds i have to wait to escape. if the ad is compelling or beautiful in some way, i will watch it simply because it's interesting, even if i have no intention of buying this product. if your ad is interesting enough, i will click right to your website.

and that's what you want, right?

you don't really want to annoy me and have me make a mental note to skip every ad for every product you make, ever, and not buy anything of yours just because your behavior is annoying? you probably don't even want to make me sit through thirty seconds of ad time for, say a pickup truck i'm never going to buy (i've never owned a car that wasn't a subaru wagon, and i don't really need to watch subaru ads, either, because i'm already buying subarus.) i don't care about shampoo (have you seen my hair?), and i find weight-loss product ads downright offensive.

i would like you to consider my attempts to escape your ad to be a declaration that this ad does not interest me. if you make it hard for me to close your ad, i assume that you and your product are not just bad company and bad product, but that your business practices are probably fraudulent as well.

so here's what i want: i want the ability to look at the ad or not. i actually do read and sometimes click sidebar ads and banner ads that don't stand between me and content. it helps me find goods and services i actually need and want.

failing that, i don't mind a popup that asks me to watch a few seconds of that ad before i close it or not. if i don't want to see the latest action movie (i have not seen a movie in theaters in YEARS, nor do i buy or rent movies, and rarely do i watch them on tv), i'm not really your target audience anyway and i don't need to keep seeing that trailer.

you might, i don't know, use your awesome data collection to discover which products and kinds of ads i am REALLY NOT INTERESTED IN and maybe don't try to ram those into my eyeballs.

also, if your ad is interesting and i didn't mind seeing it the first four or five times i watched it, at some point my attention is taxed and i don't want to keep seeing it anymore.

i also do not mind if i answer a couple of questions about products because clearly a marketing firm is paying some of your bills. i don't mind telling you which brands off that (short) list i've heard of or have a favorable impression of in order to support content i want to see.

i do not mind at all allowing you to make contact with me at my convenience about stuff i might buy.

in short, instead of finding ways to force me to consume your commercial messages, i would like you to do your jobs better. you have the data collection going already. i am an actual money-paying, ad-watching consumer. when you give me that chance to say "no, thank you, this ad does not interest me", you earn goodwill from me and you gain valuable information about how you should better target your advertising.

so how 'bout it? let me have control over what i want to see. i promise to keep buying stuff.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015


campsite 20 is one of two remote campsites on waterbury reservoir that are accessible by land.

and by "accessible by land", i mean there's a trail that goes right to it. and by "trail", i mean that if you look at the historical map of the area surrounding little river state park,  you can see that these campsites essentially sit right on historical roads that are now considered to be cross country ski-trails. they're just a hop and a skip off of the multi-use trails, and they're one of the loveliest ways to go down to the water, so if you're going to camp there, you're going to have visitors.

the thing about it is that if you start off with your dog on the trail and you decide to go down to the lake by that route, you have to already be there before you learn that the campsites are occupied and let's face it, in cold weather those campsites are less likely to be occupied, so you're rather a surprise to the visitors.

most people are polite when they come through your campsite. most people, when they realize you're there, call their dogs back to them and they holler a greeting or come respectfully through and make pleasantries because they're aware that they are walking with their dogs (and they nearly always have dogs) through your current living space.

these polite ones, i like. i always ask them if they will stay for tea and cake. they never do, and i don't know what i would do if they did since even though i have plenty of cake and plenty of water and a good selection of teas, i only have the one cup. two, if you count the one in the rain bucket.

the couple from connecticut, they were nice. they were also a little lost and did not really know how to get back. i couldn't help them much, because i have never been to the site by trail. it's pretty straightforward if you go by boat.

but the man, he was from here.

not like i'm from here. i have only lived here since 1973, which makes me most definitely from AWAY. but even though he lives away, he is FROM here. his grandfather's old farm was one of the ones bought out when they built the dam, and lies under the lake. his father worked on the crews that built the dam.

the reason they would not stop for cake, they said, was because the purpose of the walk in the first place had been to exercise off some of the cake they had already been eating and maybe feel less bloated.

fair enough.

but boneheads visit, too, although out of all the people who came through my camp with varying degrees of politeness, only one pair were real boneheads.

they were preceded by their three large and completely uncontrolled dogs, after which, when they saw they were in my campsite, they could only be bothered to holler "they're friendly!" this was followed up with "we're just going to the beach."

then they threw my collected driftwood into the water, which the dogs declined to return. "GOOD BOY!!!" they yelled. "who's a good boy? who's a good boy?"

i simply went ahead with my in-progress activity, which was washing up and changing shirts. you HAVE to do that in the window of the day that's warm and dry, else you're miserable later. plus get bent. if you charge into my living space like that, you are damn well going to be aware that it's my living space.

so then when they were done throwing my collected wood into the water and in general making themselves obnoxious on the/my beach, all three dogs came charging up into my site, unaccompanied, with trailing cries of "GOOD BOY! GOOD BOY!"

and then one of the good boys came under my tarp to pee on my gear.

the woman tried to call him back.

"oh," she said, delicately holding up the edge of my garbage bag as if she did not want to get near to dog pee, "he peed on your garbage".

yes, he had, and that's bad enough, because even if he peed on my garbage, he still peed on the outside of my garbage bag, in my tarp area, where i live. you know, right next to my food.

but she was too dainty to touch it.

i had to, though, because i still had to live there and i had to get it out and rinse it off so i could keep using it without getting her dog's piss on MY hands, and they weren't even gone from my site before i discovered that he had also peed on my lifejacket, my boots, and my spray skirt.

the man acted like it was a terrible imposition on HIM when i called this to their attention.

you know that gesture people make where they put their hands up near their ears like they're going to cover them? yeah, he made that gesture. and he turned and walked away, saying "i'm sorry. i'm SORRY. i'm SORRY." until they were all out of sight.

he did not sound sorry to me. he sounded like i'd had a lot of nerve putting my stuff where his dog could pee on it.

i fished my gear out from where i had stowed it to be protected and dry, and i rinsed it off and hung it all up to dry.

my things, up to dry

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


so maybe you're paying enough attention to my ramblings to know that i came home from my stay at casa quince, cleaned and repacked my gear, and headed back out to the res to live on site 20.

site 20 it kind of a primo site with a lot of amenities, including that it is a spectacular location. it also has the drawback of being accessible by foot or bike, and it is a popular destination for people who want a nice view of the lake.

more about that later.

anyway, for the first half of my stay i had a neighbor at site 19: tom from connecticut, which is not at all like tom of finland. google it yourself. i'm not linking it not because i don't approve, but NSFW.

anyway. tom was a good neighbor. i like having neighbors (which i define as people occupying campsites close enough that i can see their lights at night), but not too close. tom was the kind of neighbor that you might stop by his site on the way into town to buy ice to ask if he needed anything and he'd come down with a short grocery list and some cash and then later on when you come by with his stuff he meets you at the boat landing with a tasty apple and a freshly made thermos of hot chocolate.

the morning he packed up to go i helped him move, which seemed to me to be the neighborly thing to do.

and i got a lovely picture of his dog.

and while i was having him hand stuff downslope so i could pack it in his boat (i was already wearing water shoes), i saw this little lady swimming by and we harassed her long enough to put her on tom's paddle and get a picture of her.

i won't bother to label which picture is which. i hope you can sort that out for yourself.

Monday, October 26, 2015

rain bucket

my brother in law has a knack for buying me gifts that when i open them i feel lukewarm about because i cannot imagine how such a thing will be useful, but then later on it turns out to be just the thing i needed and when i say to myself "i wish i had a ...", it turns out i already have one.

such was the case with this bucket. the first time i used it, in august, i figured you needed something to hold it up by its handles. you know, because it has handles.

but no. you can just fill it up and it just sits there and holds ten liters of water for you. the surface you put it on doesn't even need to be all that level or smooth.

when i was living on casa quince i filled it every day with stream water for washing with, which is nicer than lake water, especially if it hasn't rained in a while.

more recently i was staying on site 20, which has no conveniently situated brook at the back of it. i wondered if the bucket only works if you fill it and then schlepp it to where you're going (the convenient carry handles let you carry it like a briefcase), or if you can just leave it empty to catch rainwater.

luckily i had an opportunity to test this on my second full day in camp, when the sky opened up and rained buckets and buckets of rain, so i stuck the bucket underneath the downspout of my tarps and in twenty minutes i had ten liters of nice fresh rainwater.

it's kind of magical the way it just fills up and plumps itself into shape. i sort of want to know what genius mechanical engineer figured out what shape to make this thing.


fifteen minutes later

Sunday, October 25, 2015

meet the smiths

here are some people i met on a sunny afternoon while paddling the res.

i stopped to talk with them because of their beautiful little boat. it's quite an eye-catcher. turns out it's a 2009 aristocraft torpedo, which is hand built in the style of the 1956 aristocraft torpedo, on the same jigs and everything.

sweet, yeah?

and they have a vintage '56 mercury outboard on it, too.

we were drifting along talking about this and that and life on the res and the rangers pulled up and joined the conversation about wild times and bad behavior and we laughed and drifted and then eventually went along our ways.

nice people. very pretty boat.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

political differences

a lot of our political process seems to be about image and focus grouping and marketing these days.

i am going to tell you right up front that senator sanders is my favorite candidate in every race he enters ever since i became a convert. senator sanders is my senator. i didn't like him in the early years of his political career, but the more i hear him talk, the more upright i realize he is. he does his own shopping. he flies coach. he answers his mail thoughtfully, and he tells you what he thinks, instead of what he thinks you want to hear.

how do you want your candidate to appear? hillary will appear that way in your district. she will shape shift faster than you can focus group. (and i don't mean to pick on hillary. most major candidates will do this.) she'll disavow her voting record, tell you she was taken out of context, and you very much get the idea she wants to be elected and will say anything, do anything, be anything until she gets your vote and then it's back to bizzness as usual, which is lining her pockets and the pockets of the rest of the wealthy lawless class.

senator sanders doesn't care about what you think of his hair. he never once made an attack ad. not once. he doesn't believe in them. he's been saying the SAME STUFF his whole career: income inequality hurts us all. opportunity inequality hurts us all. sustainable profits are much better than stripping companies and land and people of all its value and letting the wealthy amoral few walk away with everything. quality of life is important. fair treatment of prisoners benefits you whether or not you are in prison or someone you love has ever been incarcerated. the obscene unjustified war is too damn expensive and why aren't the wealthy paying for it if they want it so much? why are the poor paying in money and blood?

some candidates want to be president and will say anything to get to be president. senator sanders keeps saying the same things because he believes them and he wants a better life for us, regular people. he wants you to understand what's at stake and why it's important. he hopes enough people will agree to get things done.

ask your candidate. ask very hard, in a lot of ways. ask and keep asking: what change do you want to bring? show us what work you've done. how do we know you mean what you say?  why do you want to be elected?

if their answer is glory or strategy or party politics, toss them right out.

and yeah, i know y'all call him bernie. and i know he doesn't stand on ceremony. but bernard sanders is my senator. he answers my letters and my calls. he's earned my respect. we're not on a first name basis.

i'm actually not wild about him being president, because i'm worried about losing his effective advocacy in the senate.

but he's a good man, a regular guy. listen to what he says. don't think about his image. he doesn't care about hillary's email. why should you care about his image?

Friday, October 23, 2015

old and new

are you sick to death of hearing about the venture vermont outdoor challenge? i sort of hope not, because i'm not done talking about it yet.

i will  tell you, however, that i have completed this year's challenge and am already wearing my shiny new medallion. i got it last week on a day that i came home to check my mail and while i was here have a hot shower and probably later i'll talk about that, but meantime, here are the two medallions , one having just come off my lanyard, and one about to go on.

i love pretty shinies.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

rain configuration

early on in my stay at site 20 there was a day of rain.  a lot of rain.for now i'll just give you the video.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

i have things to tell you.

really, i promise. i have pictures and everything. it's just that i'm out camping rather longer than expected.

it's cold out.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

why yes, i did send this to a state office.

department of forests, parks, and recreation DOES rock.

flask and DFPR sittin' in a tree
first comes love
then comes a clustertangle the secretary of state just doesn't even want to hear about...

Monday, October 19, 2015


flask's camping protip:

make cake ahead of time and freeze it. it should be a sturdy cake, like this. once it is frozen, cut it into slices and wrap it in single portions which you can eat frozen, defrosted, or toasted on your campfire.

you're welcome.



Sunday, October 18, 2015

i've eaten off worse

this is the pavement or the parking structure at the hospital.

why yes, it IS shiny and clean. it has some kind of resin coating which i imagine can be hosed down with disinfectants in cast of some kind of spill.

and who doesn't love a sparkly clean parking garage?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

assorted views from casa quince

generic view from site

evening on the res

fire hole

morning fog

roughing it

workin' on my huck finn look

rolling home

Friday, October 16, 2015

the problem with my dish receiver

recently i had to get and updated receiver for my tv. it has a really super feature: it decides that i have not fiddled with the remote enough and turns itself off because of inactivity, which doesn't take into account my television watching style, which is to check the listings, see which channel i can tolerably set it to for the rest of the day, and not mess with it.

which means usually it turns itself off right at that one critical bit of dialogue that i have not heard in this episode of that show i've seen nineteen times but still don't get that ONE thing.

so yeah, by the time i find my remote (which apparently i'm supposed to keep in my hand for convenient channel flipping), the show has cut to commercial.

i do not seem to be the target demographic for anything.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


i spent twelve days on casa quince.

the evenings were cold, and cookings required fire. of course i brought a bundle of firewood with me, and there was a little firewood onsite when i got there.

it's a rule, though, to leave a site better than you found it, so if you found wood, you leave more than was there when you got there.

it's not legal on vermont state lands to cut standing trees, but you're welcome to saw up all the deadfall or driftwood that you like. and the farther you get fro any campsite into the woods, the more really excellent deadfall you find.

only you have to saw it into manageable logs and then use your straps to haul them into camp where you spent a good amount of your time sawing them up into decent firewood.

so i reorganized the woodpile, put it up on rails, sawed up logs and cut kindling.

yay me.

table, woodpile, fire

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

well, see, there's your problem.

last week sometime i heard a congressional asshat say an outrageous thing and nobody called him on it.

i am not telling you which asshat or which party because demmicans and republicrats alike are guilty of this same piece of trash thinking.

when asked what he thought congress should do about (insert important governmental issue), he said that the entire party needed to drop everything else and concentrate on what is really important: winning the white house in 2016.

oh, are you KIDDING me? this is not a football game. your job is not to win the white house, nor any other election. your JOB is to take care of the governance of the country whether or not you and your friends have total control (which is less control than you think it is) and whether or not all the actions taken are ones you approve of for ideological reasons.

your JOB, asshat, is to run the country best you can and if you think your job is most importantly about winning an election that's STILL OVER A YEAR AWAY you really do not understand your job, or your obligations under it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

the trip to camp

i was on my way back to camp after a milk run and i was thinking of flurgh, so i made this video.

it's slow like a norwegian documentary.

Monday, October 12, 2015


at the end of the bike racing season, i was looking for a fat bike. they used to call them snow bikes, because they were invented for rising in snow, but it turns out they're good for a lot more than that, so they just call them fat bikes now.

the reason i was looking for one is because on days when i don't ski and don't build snohaus, it would be nice to have the opportunity to go biking, and where i live they actually maintain winter trails for that, but you need a fat bike because snow.

the idea is that its very wide (4.5 inches) and low pressure tires function like snowshoes and just go through everything.

so cool.

a guy i know sold me a nice second hand one, low mileage, good price.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

circle of life

last summer i was having some leg cramps, so i bought a few bananas.

i have not yet figured out how NOT to have a fruit fly infestation if i have fresh fruit on my counters, and you KNOW you can't stick banananananas in the fridge.

you can either get all upset about sharing you space with the drosophilae, or you can enjoy observing their life cycles.

you just know which attitude i took.

of course you do.

because science.


no, they don't eat much. yes, i put out traps. yes, they're gone now.

you're welcome.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

dark of moon

did you see the lunar eclipse at the end of last month?

it was kind of a big deal for me. i was living out at casa quince. from home it would have been a simple thing. go out the door and look.

but it was different out at casa quince.

first of all, it gets dark early this time of year, and when it gets dark, i want to wind down and go to bed. casa quince faces west and has a hillside behind it, so to even look at the moon at all, i had to get in a boat and leave camp.

and it was COLD out.

there wasn't going to be any sitting in my little boat just off of my cove. i was going to have to paddle to keep warm.

but i was alone out there. usually there are other people on the sites and i can see their lights.

i'm a diurnal creature. and i feel pretty secure on my campsite alone in the dark as long as i can see it in the daylight. intellectually i know that it's not safer before the sun sets than after, but something back in my lizard brain needs to survey camp, settle in, and hunker down until morning.

from my site i could see that i was the only person in my immediate neighborhood, but out on the water i could see a long way up and down the res and the feeling of lonely nearly swallowed me up. places that are usually devoid of people never seem lonely to me, but places that have recently held people and lights seem very, very empty when they are dark and i am alone.

once i was clear of my cove the light of the moon fell on me so brightly i almost heard the click of it being turned on. the water was still and black and my boat is a pale grey, so that was quite a contrast.

it was too cold to just sit and watch, so nothing to do but paddle. south, around the point, toward the state park. less scary than paddling into narrower nothings and shallower water with snags.

owls hooted. coyotes yodeled. i whistled in the dark.

yeah, i know that's an expression, but i did it. literally.

and then THE NOISE.

it was loud. it seemed to whirl around me.

what? geese? don't they settle DOWN at night? i had not heard geese all day, and here was a huge invisible flock wheeling over my head.

holy. honk.

so i kept paddling. after a while i could see tiny friendly lights at the state park. a fire here, a headlamp there. still some miles off, but friendly feeling.

way down at the state park there was nobody down on the shore and i watched the moon enter the shadow of the earth.

and then i realized: i will be paddling home into the dark of the deserted north end by less and less moonlight as the eclipse enters totality. i know from experience that i will not be able to see my friendly little camp lights until i am around the point, almost at my cove.

darkness. still water. and a disappearing moon.

i know why this happens. i understand about the shadow and the orbits.

but a primal awe and fear overtakes me: the moon should not be doing that. it is getting darker and i am not at home.

away from the tiny friendly lights of the sate park, up into the narrowing dark, racing the decreasing moonlight.

home. home. i am going home.

at last i see my tiny little lights. i pause in my cove and watch the last of the moon be swallowed by the shadow. i beach my boats and go up to sit by my fire.

goodnight, goodnight.

Friday, October 09, 2015

a box!

ok, so way back in APRIL i received in the mail a very exciting box. it had some things in it, but the most exciting was this thing:

Thursday, October 08, 2015

trail spirits

sometimes at my local mountain bike venue, these little guys show up next to trails. i have a theory about how they appear and where they go to, but it's just a theory.

some seasons they seem to be all over the place.

this season i only found three:

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

...and sat down beside her...

my parents have weird senses of humor.

as a child my dad taught me the little miss muffet rhyme:

little miss muffet sat on a tuffet
eating her curds and whey
along came a spider and sat down beside her
and said:
"whatcha got in the bowl, babe?"

mmmhm. yeah. things were like that for me and my sister.

very funny, dad.

anyway, i was at my dad's house some weeks ago and we saw this beautiful spider in the planter near the door:

a little research tells me it's a black and yellow garden spider, which is somehow slightly unsatisfying in terms of species identification.

"yes, i could tell it's a black and yellow spider. it is black and yellow. and it's a spider."


lovely animal.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

adventures in deliciousness

ok, so it's autumn, which means the very best of cider donuts. go ahead, buy a whole bunch. at the cold hollow cider mill they're six dollars a dozen.

ok, now you are out at your campsite and you have stale cider donuts.

this is what you should do: pop one of those babies on a roasting stick and slow roast it alongside a marshmallow.

i do not need to tell you how to proceed next.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

tables turned

you know, venture vermont. and i can't just do a thing. i have to DO it.

so maybe i've already built the one camp table from found wood and twine, but i have to keep doing it. i spent a week working on this one. when i moved on to casa quince there was an appalling lack of camp furniture.

i like to keep my bags off the ground and have a place to put down my book and my binoculars and my map bag while i'm sitting in my chair. or, you know, it's nice to have a flat place to keep my mustard and sauerkraut while my tofu dog is grilling.

if you have enough big fat stumpy logs on your site, they'll do just fine as endtables and such, but casa quince had just one of those and only JUST big enough to hold a beverage and binoculars.

so i thought something in a free standing table would be a nice addition to the site.

so the first thing i set about to do was scout around on my board and collect nice pieces of driftwood and beaver cut. that sort of takes a while, building a collection. and then after a couple of days i had enough to start thinking about how i would use the pieces in a frame.

i had intended to build something on this general plan, but i had this gorgeous curvy complex piece of driftwood i wanted to use as part of my base on one side, so that presented problems of balance and just plain how to lash it together snugly.

i puzzled over it for a while, trying out one thing and then another and settling more or less on a structure that would hold up and be sturdy.

the problem with curvy pieces that want to roll how they want to roll is that while you're lashing one piece to another, things come loose.

so i had to lash the frame and then joint by joint go around and re-lash it, and even halfway through putting on the table surface i hd to re-do some.

but at last i had a nice sturdy table.

it makes a nice addition to camp.

Saturday, October 03, 2015


i have written about this before.  i'm pretty much against the trend of slapping ribbons and tshirts on ourselves and our cars and excusing us from actually helping people because we've done our part for "awareness".

awareness itself is a huge industry these days, which taps the public's wallets and makes them feel like they're doing their part, but doesn't do much to help researchers or patients. breast cancer "awareness" is now a huge profit-making enterprise, which really kind of sucks for a lot of reasons.

the big business of breast cancer
the cancer industry
think before you pink

on top of which, there's that thing about equating womanhood with breasts and the whimsical depersonalizing campaign to save the boobies. yeah, because it's not the women (or men) who have the disease we need to save or support, we need to save those all important tits.

so yesterday i was minding my own business in the grocery store and a woman i don't know came up to me and said "i see you're wearing your pink".

i was visibly confused.

"because wearing a pink shirt means... it's breast cancer awareness month..." she stammered.

"it's just a shirt," i said.

Friday, October 02, 2015


while i was living out on "remote site 15", i took to calling it "casa quince", which i thought was nice and catchy and kind of home-like. on my last full day there i carved a pretty sign for it.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

open letter to that park ranger who's way too excited about her job

dear that park ranger who's way too excited about her job*,

ok, maybe i will start by saying that even though i characterize you as "way too excited about your job",  i have probably mischaracterized you because your job is an awesome job, your park is an awesome park, and you are good at your job.

have you ever been in a park or other publicly managed tract of land and you meet the ranger and s/he seems not very happy to have people come in and use the park because people might make a mess or something?

and i'm not going to tell you what park it was (and it was a long time ago) but we got yelled at by the ranger for trying to sneak in when in fact, we had stopped at the gate, looked for the ranger, read the sign about putting the day use fee in the little box, put our day use fee in the little box, and went on our merry way.

...until the ranger caught up with us.

that was not a happy ranger.

but you, ranger who is super happy about your job, i have met you in your little stationhouse, out in your park, and on the lands surrounding the park proper. you seem genuinely delighted by every public contact with your park, even if it's just someone coming in to buy ice or firewood.

i think you understand fundamentally that people who use public lands are more likely to support public lands and also that every public contact is an opportunity to invite and to educate.

recently i learned from you information about historical park use, invasive species around the park, and even the date and time of our recent lunar eclipse. that last thing i would have known about except for i was out camping and not at home near my usual sources of information.

plus you're just a pleasant person to talk with, a welcome visitor in my day.

so thanks for your work. thanks for your enthusiasm and for the care you put into your job.

see you out there.


* "that ranger who is way too excited about her job" is not an anonymous ranger, although this letter might could apply to other rangers in other parks. this particular ranger is in fact, jessica hagerman who is the ranger at little river state park in waterbury, vermont. she is an awesome ranger and little river is an awesome park.


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