Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Un-Great Debate

There was much excitement brewing in the Abbey household as last Friday's presidential debates were officially said to be on. We celebrated the fact by going out to eat at a local Maharishi owned place that sells mostly vegetarian dishes and ordered the only pizza with meat on it off the menu (fire roasted chicken) and ate it out front in the tables along the sidewalk. The gelatos from next door fell through when of the six flavors listed, only one remained so we went home, warmed up the television and put the littlest non-voting Abbey to bed.

Overall, the debates were disappointing as they mostly sounded like campaign sound bytes with a lot of patting themselves on the back. Although I though Obama held his own quite well and McCain kind of flopped, I still would say that it ended in a draw, at least for me. Having seen quite a few of the polls about the debate, I guess I'm in the minority since most have Obama as winning the debate. I took some notes while watching and here is my summary on the candidates.

McCain Positives
  • Announcing a spending freeze on all but essential areas has been sorely needed for eight years now. Government has grown more in last eight years than probably anytime in history. As a Constitutionalist, this is exactly opposite of why our founding fathers created the government the way they did. They fled hear and fought wars because governments took over more of our daily lives than necessary for national defense.

  • Although I don't believe McCain will follow through on this, he did say he would veto all earmarks. What is an earmark and what is essential will of course be up for discussion should McCain win the presidency but I hope it will be better than all the previous presidents in my lifetime that just signed the bills anyway.

  • He said he was against government-sponsored healthcare, which again as a Constitutionalist, I think is what our founding fathers had in mind. Anyone who thinks the government can create a better healthcare system that what we have already only needs to look at Fannie and Freddie to know that everything the government touches turns to a giant ball of red tape, politics and excrement.

  • Opposes torture & Guantanomo Bay. We have a long way to go to regain our trust in this world.

  • I think he sincerely believes in the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission that the current occupant for the most part has ignored.

McCain Negatives
  • Enough about the surge. Put enough fingers in the dike and you can plug all the holes but that doesn't mean the problem has been fixed or will be fixed when the time, if ever, comes to withdrawal.

  • Obviously the current occupant and McCain both think that all these preconditions need to be set in order to talk to an axis of evil head of state. Obviously neither of them has the balls to look them in the eye and show them who is boss. The only preconditions that need to happen is that no guns are brought to the negotiating table. But McCain and the current occupant's idea of preconditions is that they must meet all our demands before we sit down and talk with them. Hardly seems like a strategy to peacefully negotiate things.

  • McCain mentioned that defeat in Iraq would increase sectarian violence. Huh? Sectarian violence increased the moment we stepped in expecting to be seen as liberators (as McCain believed) and offed Saddam Hussein. Does that mean we are already defeated?

  • I dislike his my passport has more stamps than yours so I'm more qualified argument. Especially since his running mate Palin only got a passport last year. I think a good leader requires a good mind, not necessarily travel experience.

Obama Positives
  • Saying that we shouldn't have gone into Iraq because we didn't know the cost, have a strategy, and hadn't yet finished the job in Afghanistan. Obama also said we didn't use our military wisely in Iraq and I agree with this statement as well.

  • Finally answered the reason of why he vetoed the funding for troops in Iraq which is exactly the same reason McCain also vetoed a bill funding soldiers in Iraq, because of time table language being included or excluded, depending on whose party you belonged too.

  • I believe Obama's belief that war in Iraq has only strengthened Iran is correct too and was one of the major reasons why I was against overthrowing Saddam.

  • His willingness to engage in direct diplomacy at a place and time of his choosing but without preconditions is also what needs to be done. It doesn't mean we have to automatically capitulate anything, but merely to look them in the eyes and let them know we aren't scared.

Obama Negatives
  • "I have a bracelet too…" comment. Good grief, talk about sounding like a grade-schooler.

  • Couldn't keep on topic. In one two minute response to a question on Iraq, he also brought up the subjects of China back to Iraq again and then off to economy, healthcare and national security. He did a good job of remembering the highlights of his platform but sure couldn't answer a question directly to save his life.

  • Doesn't seem to have a clue when it comes to fixing the size of government and kept on talking about how he wants to spend more on early child education for kids younger than school age. Um, shouldn't that be the responsibility of parents? I certainly wouldn't trust the government to do a better job of teaching my child the colors and shapes than I could.

  • Showed disrespect by calling John by his first name instead of Senator McCain. Disrespecting one person shows a likelihood of future disrespect to others in my opinion.

  • Although I don't know if this is a negative, Obama kept saying he agreed with things McCain had said. I don't think this is a very good campaign strategy. I think he should have phrased things like, Senator McCain's idea is good but it would be better if…" and finished the sentence.

I marked down McCain as winning the debate on spending and Obama winning the debate on Iraq and Iran. I thought it was a draw when it came to Russia and Afghanistan as they both agreed a lot there and I thought they both flubbed the current economic crisis questions. Both answered questions like they would rather have teeth pulled than answer directly, both interrupted the other many times and both were heavy on the adjectives when describing the others persons policies and light on the supporting proof. I got tired of Obama raising his finger signaling his objection to McCain's comments and I got tired of seeing McCain’s face looking in dire need of a bottle of Pepto-Bismol during Obama's comments.

I think most of this can chalked up as opening night jitters and I expect the remaining two presidential debates to be better. I'm sure their handlers are spending lots of time showing them clips of their performances and coaching them on how to better answer questions. Until then, I am awaiting the vice presidential debates in two days with a sort of morbid curiosity. If I were Palin's advisor, I would tell her to lay low and not expound upon her "qualifications" for holding the office. Biden will pounce all over her. If I was Biden's advisor, I would tell him to lay low and not get all worked up and shoot off at the mouth as he has a tendency to do. But I have a feeling the VP debate is going to be a train wreck just the same and I'm going to be standing there watching it happen.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Dream In the Beginning: Part One

Prickly Pear Cactus & Snag

I stepped out of the airport into a brilliant white light that I hadn't seen all winter long back in Iowa. Sunlight. I quickly shed my jacket and stuffed into my already bulging duffel bag containing all my gear for the next month and made my way off the runway and into a small building representing the international airport of Flagstaff, Arizona. It felt good to be free of the 'canned' air that I had been breathing most of the day. As convenient as they are, I just can't adapt to flying through the air in a hollowed out aluminum tube at 500 miles per hour breathing heavily conditioned air. After all, I was a mountain man and mountain men weren't supposed to be riding in airplanes but rather going on wild dory boat journeys down the entire length of the Grand Canyon.

Being unfamiliar with the airport there, I waited for a half hour in the hot sun outside the only set of doors at the taxi sign before it occurred to me that traffic might be so light that one wasn't going to come unless I called. I wandered back inside, found a phone and surprisingly enough, a phonebook so that I could dial myself a ride. A yellow taxi showed up a half hour later and I threw my gear into the back of the cab before we headed off for a motel on the other side of town. After a while, the cabbie broke the silence by asking me what brought myself to town. In the best John Wesley Powell/mountain man/explorer/adventurer voice that I could muster I told him that I was spending a month boating down the Colorado River in a wooden dory boat. It didn't get the response that I had expected and in fact drew no response at all. Silence prevailed for the rest of the taxi ride.

Down the River by Edward Abbey was perhaps the second or third book I read of his. I remember being fascinated by it and asking my father about the Colorado River only to learn that he had been down it on one of the huge rubber rafts when he was younger. He didn't remember much of the trip and couldn't answer many of my questions but my fate was sealed and I knew that someday I was going to have to boat down the river in a wooden dory boat. Abbey made it sound as if that was the only way to float down the river and after having done so, I couldn't agree more with him on the issue. So the years went by as I grew up and went to college all the while scheming that before I got a real job, I would take a wooden dory boat journey down what was left of the Colorado River between the Boulder and Glen Canyon dams.

Towards the end of my college career my planning started getting serious. I did some research and learned that the outfit Abbey took, Grand Canyon Dories was still in business. They offered several different versions of the trip and after much research; I elected to take the first trip of the season in April for a couple different reasons. The wildflowers would be blooming and the temperatures would be relatively mild compared to the oven baking temperatures regularly seen during early summer in the bottom of the canyon. The temperatures during the middle of summer are simply unfathomable. Second and perhaps most importantly, the first trip in April was allowed to depart a full two weeks before the rafting outfitters could begin allowing us to have the river to ourselves. I could take any of three different parts of the trip but decided on doing all three segments and one upping myself by taking the extended version which was three days longer than the regular version giving more time to hike. However two things stopped me in my tracks. One was that the waiting list for that trip was over a yearlong and that it required a staggering amount of money that I as a self-financed college student who was finishing up his fifth year of college didn't have. With just over one hundred dollars to my name and a car that held all my worldly possessions, I accepted a job immediately after graduation and sulked up to Minnesota with my dream put on hold.

I didn't forget about the trip completely and even half-heartedly negotiated being able to take a month off from work to do the trip after I had saved up the required time. It took several long years to do so and like a kid the night before Christmas, it was slow time. With no assets to start a life post college, I scrimped and saved, living on as little as I could comfortably do to accumulate the necessary funds to book a spot on a trip. Whenever I wanted to splurge by eating out instead of cooking in, I kept a picture of a wooden dory boat with a man half crouching in the middle looking down the gullet of a monstrous wave where I could see it. After two long year, with my vacation days calculated and a cold sweat breaking out at the thought of spending such a large amount of money, I finally made the call a year and a half in advance and booked myself on the first wooden dory trip. I was the first person on the list and there was no backing out.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Third Absolute Certainty In Life

There are only a couple absolute certainties in life. Death is one and taxes are the other. However I propose that there should be a third one to the list. Whenever congress gets together for a bit of bipartisan legislation like this $700 billion bailout, it is bad for you and me. We should tuck our money in mattresses and run with them screaming towards the hill. Bipartisan legislation is just a euphemism meaning everyone gets what they want and we the tax payers end up footing a bill so full of pork that it makes the Iowa State Fair look like a single hors d’oeuvre.

$700 billion is a lot of money. The current occupant of that big white house and the current occupants of the other big house with the gold dome toss it around so cavalierly. Let me put this in perspective. Let us pretend that you are in the U.S. mint and they tell you can keep every dollar bill that you initial. Let us for the sake of round numbers say you can initial a dollar bill in one second and you never have to take any breaks and won't get writer's cramp. It would take you 11.5 days to pocket your first million. It would take you almost 32 years to become a billionaire. In 717 years, you would pass Warren Buffett to become the richest person in the world assuming that he assets stayed the same between now and then. Finally in 8101 years, you would finally have $700 billion dollars in your name and due to inflation; it probably wouldn't even buy you a loaf of bread in the year 10109.

I fully expected that this would be a done deal by now and it hasn't. Evidently some people up on "the hill" have woken up and realized that we can't afford to spend $700 billion, the same as our national deficit for the entire last year, even if dire things will happen because we don't bail out these entities who made the bad loans. Almost no one is saying what would happen if this bailout didn't happen. Those that do talk about it do so in general terms like it would be bad. What bad actually means is left to the imagination. I guess since I saved for a rainy day and could survive with the economy much worse, I actually want to see what is over the abyss should the bailout not happen. But as I said in the beginning, this is bipartisan legislation so they are probably only fighting on who gets what, not what has been left out. We are certain to be fleeced over it. The only consolation would be to die before they had a chance to get it from me via taxes.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Arrival of Joe

The air went from a controlled stale cold to hot heavy dampness that instantly clung to my entire body like a cheap plastic raincoat as I stepped outside the airport doors. A smell not entirely different from that of a roomful of wet dogs assaulted my nose. Having spent the last twenty-six hours in various planes winging around the world, I'm pretty sure they got a similar dose of my smell. A crowd of people speaking in a different language all jostled to be the first one near me and tell me something that I did not understand at first. Gradually I began to make out"Hey Joe," before they rambled into a broken thickly accented English pitch to get me into their taxi cab.

I have been through my share of airports but the international terminal in Manila is unlike any I have experienced. In most airports, as soon as you clear customs and security areas, relatives can greet you still inside the building and the assorted taxi cab drivers, bus drivers and other similar sorts must wait outside for your business. At the international terminal in Manila there is no indoor meeting place for arriving passengers. You are funneled through security and directly through the outside doors where the taxi cab drivers, bus drivers and other similar sorts wait to greet you and all the relatives are relinguished to the bottom of a winding ramp out of sight. At the time, I didn't know this and started wading through the hordes of Filipinos anxiously trying to get me in their mode of transportation and relieve me of a few or many American dollars as I tried to find someone less than five feet tall in a crowd full of people less than five feet tall. Over and over it was, "Hey Joe, need a ride?"

Now my name isn't Joe and part of my brain was trying to solve why I was being mistake for Joe while frantically searching for my bride to be. It was only later that I would learn that Filipinos often refer to Americans, especially tall blonde Americans as Joe, short for G.I. Joe. The American military has a long history in the Philippines and so it was understandable but it was something that I wouldn't yet undertand for a day or two.

I walked up and down the sidewalk searching amongst the plague of locusts calling out Joe but without success. Fortunately, my future wife pleaded with a guard at the bottom of the ramp to come up and rescue the American gringo and after a dozen trips up and down the sidewalk, I finally saw her. As soon as we met and hugged, the crowd instantly parted like Moses and the Red Sea. I was with a Filipina and they knew that there would be no liberating me of my money in their taxi that day. But like mosquitoes hungry for some blood, there was other foreign prey about and they went off in search of it.

Reunited, we walked down the ramp to meet ten of her closest relatives. In the Philippines, families are very tight knit, so tight that if one yarn in the family goes somewhere, dozens come along for the ride. In my case, they were coming to pick up an American in a van and ten were all they could bring along and still be able to squeeze the American in edgewise. All the seats behind the driver had been stripped out and replaced with two futon like benches that faced each other with a twelve-inch aisle between them. Everyone sat facing each other and due to the lack of foot room, your feet were placed on the facing bench between two people whose feet were on either side of you. My goal for the trip had been to meet the family and undergo a wedding blessing of sorts since all 500 of my bride's closest family members wouldn't be able to make the wedding back in the states. I had hoped to meet them gradually but now crammed cheek to jowl in a minivan, the getting to know you phase started quite quickly. The engine was started and after clearing the airport we sped off onto the streets of Manila and into the night.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Year of the Landscaping

A while ago on another blog, I told of this year being the year of landscaping. The picture above shows some of what we've done. I did the grunt work of installing the pavers and my wife did the planting of the plants and spreading of mulch. The end result is a very low maintenance flower bed of sorts where weeds don't visit, less lawn to mow which is always a positive, and the best part is that I can run the wheels of the mower on top of the pavers and reduce the weed eating factor. Right now the weed-eating factor is zero and I would like to keep it that way.

But in order to keep it at zero, I have to deal with this. This is a picture of a large tree root from the oak tree out front that is poking up through my lawn. I've moved over the top of it for almost half a decade with no problems and then this spring it decided to leap up and hit the blade of my lawn mower, bending the blade and the crankshaft. Now this doesn't have to be a terminal illness for a lawnmower but when the costs of fixing are as much as a new lawnmower, I told my lawnmower in my best Palin like voice, "Thanks but no thanks." Since lawnmowers were still plentiful, I decided to run the lawnmower until the bearings gave out, the life giving oil drained out, and the engine seized and died. I'm still waiting and hoping it doesn't happen anytime soon since the lawnmowers have long been sent back to factories and their cousin the snow blower is standing in their place. Normally I would be home free but my lawn is still as green as early summer.

I'm not sure how to fix tree roots. I've read burying them under dirt can starve them for oxygen and harm the tree. Besides, even that is but a temporary fix. Cutting them or grinding them also can hurt the tree. So I'm left with perhaps putting stones of some sort around the perimeter of the roots and landscaping it as I have done other parts of my lawn. Perhaps next year if the year of the landscaping continues.

Finally, I leave you with a shot looking up through the branches of an oak tree. It looks like an easy climb but I haven't tried it. I've thought about taking up some sort of antenna with me and installing it in the branches as far up as I can climb giving me the best television reception of anyone around this February when analog television signals are history because in theory, I would have the tallest antenna around. I've found plenty of sites of people installing ham radio antennas BETWEEN trees but none of people installing an antenna IN a tree. So for now, I just ponder the possibility.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Promise a Long Time In the Making

I go to work pretty early in the morning so I spend probably the better share of the year driving to work in the dark. There is a three or four months in the summer where the sun is up and perhaps just a month worth of days where the sun is lounging down on the horizon line. I enjoy those days because there aren't too many of them. Yesterday found me on the road heading west towards another town and I got to see the run rise only in reverse through my rearview mirror. It did appear larger than it actually was. Why I saw the sun rise after a couple months of driving in the dark is all due to a promise that I made long ago.

When we bought our house and moved into it, we most concentrated on fixing the innards. Except for the kitchen which had recently been remodeled and the bathrooms, I've gone through and remodeled it. That involved gutting, rewiring, reflooring, and building in some essential stuff like closets for storage and bookcases for the book kind of storage. Not wanting to start the bathrooms just yet, we declared this year the year of outside remodeling. Even though it had been declared, I hadn't been planning on painting it but one day as I was eyeing the exterior sizing up some landscaping, half the paint leapt to their depths in a shower of flakes. I didn't mind the tangle of flake bodies on my lawn because they seem to decay quickly or blow away but it did leave a lot of unsightly bare spots showing. Perhaps it was the year of the paint after all.

I thought about doing the work myself for all of about three point two milliseconds but my wife was harder to convince. It was only after I got a quote that was ridiculously cheap, or the value of my time has skyrocketed, that she relented and let me hire it done. So sometime in March, I put some money down for a new paint job on the house. At the time, it was still cold and blustery and we had no idea that this would also be the year of the rain.

Rain it did. The handful of houses that had paid before us, took an entire spring and summer to get painted and the crew didn't show up to our house until a couple weeks ago. They were figuring that it would only take them two days to prep, paint the house and stain the many decks. It ended up taking two weeks due to rain. They finished by hanging up the new shutters that I had purchased and collecting the second half of their money. I was only two glad to give it to them because they did a fabulously meticulous job and I couldn't have been more impressed.

So what does this all have to do with a promise? Well my wife has been itching for an arched arbor to put at the head of the path leading towards the back of the house so she could plant some climbing roses under it. I have been hoping the issue would go away by telling her that I couldn't do it until we did something about our siding because it would just be in the way. Of course that was before all the paint had ungraciously committed suicide. So with the house painted and just the plastic to take off and the shutters to hang, I headed to the big box lumber store to buy some shutters and get supplies for an arbor. I spent all day yesterday on "vacation" working on it and I'm still not done. Today I'm back at work so I can rest up and finish it on another day.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Musings of My Childhood Home

Iowa has gone major change in my lifetime and that is but a severely cropped portion of the whole picture. During my grandfather's generation, two and a half million people lived in the state of Iowa and almost one million of those lived on farms. Today, our population is now just shy of three million people while only 150,000 or so people remain on the farms. While the states overall population increased some twenty percent, the farm population dropped eighty-five percent. I find these statistics staggering.

The farm homestead where I grew up was situated in the south-central part of a block of land 960 acres big or exactly a mile deep by a mile and a half long. In my lifetime there were a dozen families that lived on that block of land and perhaps 50 or so people. The land itself was divided up among eight landowners. Before that there were even more families and even a school. Today, only three people remain, two of who are my parents and the land is divided up among three landowners with my parents owning the vast majority of it.

As the years went by, the buildings were hauled off or torn down for their lumber. Those that weren't torn down or were left behind moldered and decayed into the land. Now as I drive by these sites on occasion during a particular nice sunny weekend, all that remains of the farm families that once lived there are a cluster of trees that once provided shade on a warm summer afternoon. I try to imagine the proud farmhouse that no doubt stood among those trees or the well-kept lawns and large vegetable gardens. There would undoubtedly be a few chickens pecking in the dirt, perhaps a few flowerbeds for gathering blooms for those important occasions when somebody was ill. being married or buried and always a small orchard. Now if you poke around these sites, all that remains are perhaps a few wild looking once domesticated flowers, a snag of a tree that once used to bear fruit and perhaps a foundation or the remnant of a clothesline post or two. The scene always conveys a sense of sadness to me.

When we drove by the one in the picture above, I didn't get out to explore it because I knew exactly where the garden had been, the fruit trees, the flowerbeds and the old chicken coop foundation. I grew up there in a proud farmhouse that has long since rejoined the earth. In the picture below, you can see a white pine tree that seems out of place and one post of the old clothesline that is still standing though leaning far from vertical. The garden was close to the foreground of the picture above underneath a windmill that hasn't been there in twenty-five years. Back in the late 80's when my grandfather died, we made the decision to move to his farm on the same block of land but a mile north along the fenceline. Most of the buildings and storage needed to operate a farm were already over there so it just made sense. But for me, this place in the picture above will always be my home.

If I close my eyes and think back, I can still here that windmill creaking idly in the wind as I played in the dirt underneath the large silver maple tree now leafless and lifeless in the picture below. In the summer months, that tree was our air conditioner and where I spent many hours shucking peas, snapping beans or husking corn from the garden. All the produce from the garden was hauled up in an old red metal wedge-shaped wheelbarrow with two wheels along the gravel road. It seemed like such fun to pull that wheelbarrow at a full run to see how fast I could make the trip up to the house and back. Several years ago at an auction, I saw an identical wheelbarrow to the one of my youth and bought it for a whopping dollar. We still use it around our house and someday if I think of it, I will take a picture of it and post it here.

There used to be a lot of white pines in our yard because I helped plant them as a kid. Back then, they were mere twigs with a few fine white roots on one end. Most got eaten by deer and one got ran over by a certain kid pushing a lawnmower through some grass that had gotten too tall during planting season. I tried to hide that one from my mom by putting the top half over the stump. It fooled her for a few days but eventually it turned brown and was discovered. Not a well thought out plan on my part. But two survived and can both be seen in the picture above. I had my graduation picture from college taken in front of the white pine on the right near the gravel road. It was probably only a dozen feet tall back then. Now it is taller than the telephone wires. I remember when I planted my tree thinking that someday I would be able to climb it like the ones that I used to climb at my grandfather's farm. It didn't quite work out that way. The ones on my grandfather's farm, where my parents now live, have all died off and now that the one I planted is big enough to climb, I'm too "old" to climb it. Perhaps someday when my daughter is older and it is just the two of us, we will come back and climb that tree when no one is looking.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The 100 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time

Here is a list of The 100 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time as composed by National Geographic Adventure magazine. I have read over thirty of them so far and own about half of the remaining ones. The rest are out-of-print and will take some doing to find. Ever since I read the original article and saw the dozen or so that I had already read, I knew I was going to have to read all the rest. I haven't yet been disappointed.

(Read) 1. The Worst Journey in the World, by Apsley Cherry-Garrard (1922)
(Read) 2. Journals, by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark (1814)
(Read) 3. Wind, Sand & Stars, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1940)
(Read) 4. Exploration of the Colorado River, by John Wesley Powell (1875)
5. Arabian Sands, by Wilfred Thesiger (1959)
(Read) 6. Annapurna, by Maurice Herzog (1952)
(Read) 7. Desert Solitaire, by Edward Abbey (1968)
8. West With the Night, by Beryl Markham (1942)
(Read) 9. Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer (1997)
(Read) 10. Travels, by Marco Polo (1298)
(Read) 11. Farthest North, by Fridtjof Nansen (1897)
(Read) 12. The Snow Leopard, by Peter Matthiessen (1978)
(Read) 13. Roughing It, by Mark Twain (1872)
14. Two Years Before the Mast, by Richard Henry Dana (1840)
(Read) 15. South, by Ernest Shackleton (1919)
(Read) 16. A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush, by Eric Newby (1958)
(Read) 17. Kon-Tiki, by Thor Heyerdahl (1950)
(Read) 18. Travels in West Africa, by Mary Kingsley (1897)
19. The Spirit of St. Louis, by Charles Lindbergh (1953)
(Read) 20. Seven Years in Tibet, by Heinrich Harrer (1953)
(Read) 21. Journals, by James Cook (1768-1779)
(Read) 22. Home of the Blizzard, by Douglas Mawson (1915)
(Read) 23. The Voyage of the Beagle, by Charles Darwin (1839)
24. The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, by T.E. Lawrence (1926)
25. Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa, by Mungo Park (1799)
26. The Right Stuff, by Tom Wolfe (1979)
(Read) 27. Sailing Alone Around the World, by Joshua Slocum (1900)
28. The Mountain of My Fear and Deborah: A Wilderness Narrative, by David Roberts (1968, 1970)
29. First Footsteps in East Africa, by Richard Burton (1856)
(Read) 30. The Perfect Storm, by Sebastian Junger (1997)
(Read) 31. The Oregon Trail, by Francis Parkman (1849)
32. Through the Dark Continent, by Henry M. Stanley (1878)
33. A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains, by Isabella L. Bird (1879)
(Read) 34. In the Land of White Death, by Valerian Albanov (1917)
(Read) 35. Endurance, by F.A. Worsley (1931)
36. Scrambles Amongst the Alps, by Edward Whymper (1871)
37. Out of Africa, by Isak Dinesen (1937)
(Read) 38. Scott's Last Expedition: The Journals, by Robert Falcon Scott (1913)
39. Everest: The West Ridge, by Thomas Hornbein (1965)
40. Journey Without Maps, by Graham Greene (1936)
41. Starlight and Storm, by Gaston Rébuffat (1954)
42. My First Summer in the Sierra, by John Muir (1911)
43. My Life as an Explorer, by Sven Hedin (1925)
(Read) 44. In Trouble Again, by Redmond O'Hanlon (1988)
(Read) 45. The Man Who Walked Through Time, by Colin Fletcher (1968)
46. K2—The Savage Mountain, by Charles Houston and Robert Bates (1954)
47. Gipsy Moth Circles the World, by Francis Chichester (1967)
48. Man-Eaters of Kumaon, by Jim Corbett (1944)
(Read) 49. Alone, by Richard Byrd (1938)
50. Stranger in the Forest, by Eric Hansen (1988)
51. Travels in Arabia Deserta, by Charles M. Doughty
52. The Royal Road to Romance, by Richard Halliburton (1925)
(Read) 53. The Long Walk, by Slavomir Rawicz (1956)
54. Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada, by Clarence King (1872)
55. My Journey to Lhasa, by Alexandra David-Neel (1927)
56. Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile, by John Hanning Speke (1863)
57. Running the Amazon, by Joe Kane (1989)
(Read) 58. Alive, by Piers Paul Read (1974)
59. Principall Navigations, by Richard Hakluyt (1589-1590)
60. Incidents of Travel in Yucatan, by John Lloyd Stephens (1843)
(Read) 61. Shipwreck of the Whaleship Essex, by Owen Chase (1821)
62. Life in the Far West, by George Frederick Ruxton (1849)
(Read) 63. My Life as an Explorer, by Roald Amundsen (1927)
64. News from Tartary, by Peter Fleming (1936)
65. Annapurna: A Woman's Place, by Arlene Blum (1980)
(Read) 66. Mutiny on the Bounty, by William Bligh (1790)
(Read) 67. Adrift, by Steven Callahan (1986)
(Read) 68. Castaways, by Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (1555)
(Read) 69. Touching the Void, by Joe Simpson (1989)
70. Tracks, by Robyn Davidson (1980)
71. The Adventures of Captain Bonneville, by Washington Irving (1837)
72. Cooper's Creek, by Alan Moorehead (1963)
73. The Fearful Void, by Geoffrey Moorhouse (1974)
74. No Picnic on Mount Kenya, by Felice Benuzzi (1953)
75. Through the Brazilian Wilderness, by Theodore Roosevelt (1914)
76. The Road to Oxiana, by Robert Byron (1937)
(Read) 77. Minus 148°, by Art Davidson (1969)
78. Travels, by Ibn Battúta (circa 1354)
(Read) 79. Jaguars Ripped My Flesh, by Tim Cahill (1987)
80. Journal of a Trapper, by Osborne Russell (1914)
81. Full Tilt, by Dervla Murphy (1965)
82. Terra Incognita, by Sara Wheeler (1996)
(Read) 83. We Die Alone, by David Howarth (1955)
84. Kabloona, by Gontran de Poncins (1941)
85. Conquistadors of the Useless, by Lionel Terray (1961)
86. Carrying the Fire, by Michael Collins (1974)
87. Adventures in the Wilderness, by William H. H. Murray (1869)
88. The Mountains of My Life, by Walter Bonatti (1998)
89. Great Heart, by James West Davidson and John Rugge (1988)
90. Journal of the Voyage to the Pacific, by Alexander Mackenzie (1801)
(Read) 91. The Valleys of the Assassins, by Freya Stark (1934)
92. The Silent World, by Jacques Cousteau (1953)
93. Alaska Wilderness, by Robert Marshall (1956)
94. Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of the North American Indians, by George Catlin (1841)
95. I Married Adventure, by Osa Johnson (1940)
96. The Descent of Pierre Saint-Martin, by Norbert Casteret (1954)
97. The Crystal Horizon, by Reinhold Messner (1982)
98. Narrative of a Journey Across the Rocky Mountains to the Columbia River, by John Kirk Townsend (1839)
(Read) 99. Grizzly Years, by Doug Peacock (1990)
(Read) 100. One Man's Mountains, by Tom Patey (1971)

Virtual Bookshelf

In the process of deleting my old posts in preparation for my new start, I accidently on purpose deleted several posts of real value. One, my virtual bookshelf where I write down books that sound good that others have read or I have wanted to read and haven't yet obtained a copy. That post is here below as near as I could recreate it. Check back from time to time for additions. The second post was my listing of the 100 Greatest Adventure Books of all time which I will have to recreate or dig it out from my backed up version of my archives and post back on here soon. One of my many goals is to read my way through all 100 of those books. A man without a reading list with winter coming on is just asking for trouble.
  • Bill Bryson's African Diary by Bill Bryson
  • Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson
  • The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America by Bill Bryson
  • In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
  • Facing the Congo by Jeffrey Tayler
  • Siberian Dawn: A Journey Across the New Russia by Jeffrey Tayler
  • River of White Nights by Jeffrey Taylor
  • Riding the Iron Rooster: By Train Through China by Paul Theroux (Sage)
  • Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Capetown by Paul Theroux (Sage)
  • The Kingdom by the Sea: A Journey Around the Coast of Great Britain by Paul Theroux

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Welcome Back

So I have a new URL address, a new blog and you’ve made it here in some way. Why did I do it? Well I guess there are several reasons.

Reason number one is that I never have liked my old URL address. Back when I signed up for blogger, I had no idea what it was about. I tried a few of my common names only to find that they were already taken. Thinking that few people read anymore and fewer people know who Edward Abbey way, I started thinking of a character out of his books to use in the URL. It was free and I took it. But Hayduke never really symbolized me.

Reason number two is that I want to remove my archives and start fresh. Maybe even reinvent myself a little though I doubt that the latter gets done. It is easy to reinvent yourself short term but harder to do long term.

Reason number three and perhaps the main reason, I have for the most part recycled most of my old thoughts and feel it is time to change to new areas and perhaps cut back on the number of posts that I write. I have been writing five times a week but would like to cut back to just a couple times. I hope this will give me more time to think posts through and come up with some of better quality but in the end, it will probably just be fewer posts or what you’ve been getting. Either way, I will have more time to do other things. Fear not however, I will still be visiting all my old haunts and saying hello.

Finally, I have always wanted to go back into my archives and rewrite or perhaps expound upon some of my earlier posts, especially some of the ones that fell under the writing label.

I chose Riverbend Journal as the name of my new blog. I grew up near the satellite picture in my header and am very fond of the area. It is home and is defined by a river that does a huge bend there. In a way, it also ties in with my old header which is a topographic map of one of my favorite places on the face of this earth, also defined by a river that bends its way through the geography. Recycled Thoughts felt good for a person with something to say. Riverbend Journal feels like someone writing of home. I hope you enjoy it.