Monthly Archives: January 2014

Cow Pie On My Mud Flaps

 cows in the sunset

Cows in the misty sunset

Another long day on the road ends in a motel in Alamo, Nevada. After last night’s freeze-out I need a hot shower and am dead-tired, in part, from not sleeping well last night. So I’m cheating, but I had only one snacky sort of meal all day.  I can report a heightened sense of smell and taste. My jeans want to fall down even more easily than usual! It was a grand day despite a wrong turn that cost me an hour’s worth of time and fuel to sort myself out. So much for Fred the old fly boy and his compass! 

I thought I have known a few  "Areseholes of the earth." Maybe this is the real one!?

I thought I have known a few
“Areseholes of the earth.”
Maybe this is the real one!?

I’ll post lots of photos with this blog but it is impossible to describe or photograph the vastness and beauty of these high, wide valleys. Some winding passes had summits over 7600′ and the little old truck complained about the thin air. Mining is prevalent throughout the state is seems, with some mountains apparently being ground to dust. This is offset by sprawling range land everywhere. Occasionally you come on the ruins of a stone ranch house and it seems sad to see someone’s hard work and love abandoned. Modern technology has little respect for its foundations it seems.

The way we were

The way we were

For part of the day my route followed the old Pony Express trail and I wondered at how quickly this vast region has been conquered with a web of highways, fences, railways and mines. A sign proclaimed this to be the loneliest drive in America. That suited me fine.  I felt an urge to ride off over a ridge on a horse through the sage brush and stunted junipers. There was a time very long ago when I worked on a ranch and had a horse and was in lust with the girl on the ranch down the road. But this! My cowboy days didn’t resemble anything in the movies, not like the country around me now! People really do say “Howdy” here. Git along now. I got me cow pie on my fenders and great big tires to spread it all around. Whoo haw.Liitle house, big lawn

I find myself trying to see the whole country as the indigenous people must have.  What a rich homeland!  Theirs was certainly not the utopic existence some idealize, but it must have been incomprehensible to be invaded by an alien race who wanted everything for themselves, taking more than their immediate needs, dividing and owning and destroying wantonly. I saw a herd of pronghorn antelope grazing on the wild plains today. I imagined the days when their numbers, as well as deer, elk and bison were abundant and almost became teary thinking about what we have done in our headlong rush to self-destruct.

The last tree

The last tree

Speaking of self-destruction the lonely roads are in beautiful condition, the speed limits are often up to 75 mph which of course are well exceeded.  My little truck and trailer chug along at 55, 35 on some of the high steep grades. Heavy trucks rocket past me and leave me feeling as vulnerable as the squashed rabbits on the pavement. There are plenty of crosses planted along the shoulders of the road; I suspect many folks probably fall asleep at the wheel as they hurtle along the long straight miles. Certainly, many people wave from their vehicle when we meet on the road. It is that lonely. I’ve often spent more than an hour without meeting anyone as I drive along.

The long way

The long way

I turned into this motel after I could begin see the vivid red glow of Las Vegas against the high clouds. It’s still a little over one hundred miles away! It looked biblical.  ‘A Tale of Sin City, sod ’em and go for more!’ I have no interest in seeing the place. Dreading having to pass through on my to visit friends in Arizona, I have found a sneaky little route around the place which takes me right by Hoover Dam. If this blog gets posted, I made it through.

Hoover Damn! What incredible engineering.

Hoover Damn!
What incredible engineering.

On a final note of bizarre desert contrasts, the owner of this motel calls himself an ‘Aviation Archeologist’. With all of the military airbases and test facilities out

No comment!

No comment!

there in the vast desert, there are crashes. These guys go off into the outback to find bits of the wrecks. I held some interesting airplane bits in my hand tonight including a turbine

Find the sheep

Find the sheep

blade from the famous crash of an S-71 Black hawk. These past days leave me feeling a bit alien.

It seems all roads lead to downtown Las Vegas, like it or not. Fortunately the signs are good and soon I’d swirled through the spaghetti network of overpasses and swoop-de-loops and found myself heading toward Hoover Dam. I was stunned to realize that monster casinos go on and on and on. I saw a church that at first appeared me to be a casino with a hundred acre parking lot but then the god-botherer name was displayed in a monstrous neon sign. Las Vegas doesn’t do much for me but it draws folks from all over the planet. Hoover Dam is a project that makes you want to call it DAMN! It is an incredible piece of technology, especially considering the completion date of 1935. I was surprised to have to pass through a security inspection, but then paranoia is far reaching and Al Queda would, I’m sure, love to have this place on their resume.

I caused a minor distraction when I noticed a bighorn mountain sheep ewe who had managed to get herself trapped below a high cutbank. No one believed me at first because the critter blending so well with the rocks, but eventually my credibility was confirmed and the wildlife department was summoned.

I drove on southward and through the town of Bull Head City. I thought it would be another whistle stop but it proved to be yet another mega center of gambling temples and huge facades. It is located on the Colorado River and I made my way south through an endless strip mall that is filled with geezers. Tens of thousands of them. They teeter along on their Harleys, stumble over the crosswalks, lurch along in their vehicles which include everything from huge motorhomes, ATVs and bicycles to fabulous hot rods. They’ve all come to expire in the warmth and everywhere, businesses cater to them. Geriatrics is a massive industry. Scooter shops, hearing aid stores, clinics, hospitals and everything geriatric within imagination is part of the shameless enterprise. Trailer parks and Rv resorts of massive acreage are endless. It is bizarre. Even out of town in the open desert, “Dry” Rv parks cover massive expanses of raw desert. I stopped briefly in Lake Havasu to confirm the madness of being where the London Bridge was shipped and reassembled in the mid-sixties. It was intended to be the navel of a new city and it worked. The American seem to be the masters of the incongruous and bizarre.

Falling down...falling down.

Falling down…falling down.

Interestingly, the bridge is sagging between its footings. This is the actual bridge that the nursery rhyme was written about and truly it is “Falling down, falling down!”

Eventually I arrived in Parker, another community crowding the banks of the Colorado River.

I made a surprise visit to some friends from Campbell River, on Vancouver Island, who live there in an Rv Resort for a good part of each winter. It was a wonderful surprise but unfortunately the miserable jerk who owns the place began pounding on my trailer at 06:30 and evicted me with no uncertain threats. Despite my intention to pay him, he didn’t want any of “Your Kind” in his “Private resort.” Walmart is apparently the navel of the Rvers world and you can park there welcomely, “Jest go on in and buy something.” I left and posted my last blog this morning from the Parker MacDonalds.

I drove on south, stopping on the roadside to put on shorts and a summer shirt as the day warmed. Taking my camera across the road to record the ever-amazing vista I promptly fell through the ground into an old gopher colony’s burrows. Suddenly I realized how alien I am in this country. At home, with just a pocket knife and a lighter, I came survive in the woods. Here I’d be doomed without a lot of good local knowledge. I want to learn, it fascinates me.

The Rig

The Rig

In Quartzsite I missed my turn because the place is overwhelmed with Rvs and motorhomes. In January, there is a massive orgy of Rvers, a trade fair, swap meet and general love-in for those who follow the Rv life style. The intersection where I needed to turn was clogged, heaped and snarled with motor homes, all towing something, wanting to go in opposite directions at the same time. It was the most amazing traffic jam I’ve ever seen and all at a quaint little cross roads. I finally managed to escape dead ahead and ended up driving to Yuma through a beautiful piece of country. Unfortunately a large piece of it is reserved as a proving ground for the US military and I wondered what covert skulduggery goes on out there in the cactus forest. Tonight I’m writing in Ajo Arizona a few miles above the Mexican border. The country is beautiful and by what and who I see here, it may as well be Mexico.

Beyond Yuma

Beyond Yuma

I must mention the clearly massive effort by the Americans to defend their border. There are checkpoints, helicopters and patrol vehicles in many places. It is interesting to note that the

Yuma Pastoral

Yuma Pastoral

Agricultural industry and other labour intensive industries in the US southwest would collapse without the sweat of the Mexican immigrant. The vast farms around Yuma are all supported by Mexican workers who clearly live in worker’s compounds like ants. Old buses, painted white and towing plastic outhouses on trailers were parked everywhere the fields were being worked. There may be billions of dollars of Rvs and other hi-tech toys in this part of the world, but some things have a long way to go yet. Chatting with locals, yes more geriatrics, who run the Rv park where, where I stopped last night was an affirmation of oxymoronic values. They hate Obama, are sincerely born-again, but thank you Jesus, “I don’t go anywhere without my pistol. It makes me feel better.”

Another neighbour here told me about his interest in finding wrecked aircraft in the desert.b the aftermath of WWII there is a plethora of crash sites throughout this region. It is, I’ve learned, a popular hobby. He described finding human skeletal remains. He claimed the corpse had Mexican identification.  I was again admonished not go out into the desert alone.

Just to the north, I passed through the Barry Goldwater Military Gunnery Range, of course it’s absolutely massive, where fighter jets rumble and scream all day and night. It’s a shock to have them pass fifty feet overhead with a thunderous roar. In the tent trailer next door, four young men, working on a job nearby, watched TV until they fell asleep, snoring loudly. The same program went on and on. It was all about guns, ammo and shooting. The dialogue was interspersed with the same damned bango tune. I used to like banjos. The boys are off to work now, the TV is still on. Now it’s endless game shows while the fighter jets practice with their ugly thunder overhead. The din never ends.

Beneath the thunder of fighter jets, doves cooed softly in the sunset.

Beneath the thunder of fighter jets,
doves cooed softly in the sunset.

In God we trust.” Now pass the rocket launcher. I’m gone to Mexico.

Posted in Ajo, Arizona

Fred Goes For A Drive

Fat Man In A Tiny Trailer       Part 1

This series, Fat Man In A Tiny Trailer, is the first in a series about my motor trip to Mexico and back home to Vancouver Island. I’m incorporating it into ‘Seafire Chronicles’ as part of that journey.

Orf to see the wizard

Orf to see the wizard

The little guy brings up the rear at the Coho Ferry terminal

The little guy brings up the rear at the Coho Ferry terminal

Aboard the M.V. Coho, Victoria is in the rear-view mirror, Port Angeles ahead. The journey has begun!  I’m feeling utterly ragged, old, obese, tired, even in some pain as I sit at this lap top computer blinking in the light of the sun setting over the Strait Of Juan De Fuca. There’s a fabulous sun dog hanging over Race Rocks. It’s twin lays to the south over the Olympic Mountains.  The seas are calm with a light Easterly wind and no swell. Never leave port on a Friday it is said, but I feel optimistic.

I love this old boat and its crew’s informal competence. The Coho runs as a successful example of free enterprise and should embarrass the hell out of British Columbia Ferry Corporation with its incessant whining and fare-raising. But…I’m leaving that all behind for a few weeks and hope I come back far better able to cope with life in the fat lane. (NO, not a typo!)

It’s been another day in the life of Fred, driving down to Victoria from Ladysmith, touring auto-wreckers along the way to find parts for the old truck I’m driving to Mexico. I actually found what I needed in only five stops, had a lovely visit with my daughter in Victoria, left Jack the dog in her care and I’m off.

God knows I can’t afford to do this, I already live the role of poor starving sailor-writer all too well but I also know that I can’t afford not to go. I can’t see anything clearly so I’m off to walk in the desert, literally and figuratively. It’s time for a pilgrimage. Thanks to a very supportive spouse and other good friends, I will see this through.

My personality flaws have me digging a grave with my fork. The fatter I become physically and mentally, the lower I feel and so even more comfort eating occurs. It is a deadly spiral. I’m two-hundred fifty-four pounds and with a surgically repaired heart it is overdue that I come to terms with living a whole life. I can plead to be a compulsive artistic type but I also know most artists aren’t recognized until they’re dead so better anonymous than stiff and famous. This will be a travel-log, more spiritual and esoteric than geographic but I hope its going to be as much fun as painful epiphany. 

I’m orf to see the wizard!

I’m armed with a down-loaded e-book call ‘FatLoser!’ It is about self discipline and mental toughness, explaining in blunt terms how to regain control of your life. It has grabbed my attention. I’ll share some quotes from time to time.

So rule one: Get used to feeling hungry and living with it.

I once smoked like a smelter and was only able to quit when I resolved to discipline myself to live with my compulsion. I knew that to stop smoking did not mean I would quit craving them for the while. So, a change of life style, a change of habits. Like so many in our culture I eat for every reason except to fuel a healthy mind, body and lifestyle.

Far out man!

Far out man!

This morning I’m writing in a tiny cafe on the Washington coast south of Forks. After buying a few groceries there last night I think it should be re-named ‘Knives.’ Wow! The store is the only game in town and bloody-well knows it. Their prices are

The seagull crossed the T

The seagull crossed the T

rapacious. I spent the first night in the trailer parked in a gravel pit under the waining gibbous moon. Rolls of fog drifted by, freezing in glittering beauty everywhere. All around me was the burned ruin of a raped forest and in the distance, I could hear the surf roaring on the beach. It was eerie. I managed to bend the truck’s back bumper against the trailer tool box while turning around on a muddy logging road and the trailer wiring needs some attention. But I’m taking the glitches as a good omen. I buy coffee and a small breakfast of biscuits and gravy, the sun is shining. I won’t eat for the rest of the day. The pavement where I’ll work on the ‘Rig’ is dry. Life is good.

Yeah Really.... A drift woody!

Yeah Really….
A drift woody!

As named by Lewis and Clark

As named by Lewis and Clark

Astoria Oregon and the bridge across the Colombia River as seen from Dismal Nitch, WA

Astoria Oregon and the bridge across the Columbia River as seen from Dismal Nitch, WA

In Astoria I stopped for a day to visit with my good friends Dave and Renee who live aboard their grand ketch ‘Aquarius’. I’ve met these folks through the Fisher Poet’s Gathering. I helped them in the early stages of their purchase when the boat was up in Cowichan Bay. I didn’t do much except to do a quick survey and help tie the boat deal up until they were able to close it for themselves. Mine was a tiny part but it sure is a treat to see how a plan can go right. The boat clearly is loved and responding nicely to their attention. It is very homey now and the two enthuse about the day they can cut her loose and sail South.

Astoria dawn

Astoria dawn

I then drove on down the coast as far as Newport, Oregon. The day was bright and warm and sunny. At times the road wound along a cliff-edge hundreds of feet above the pounding surf, where sea-spray clouded windshields and kept the road wet. Even though it is January the beaches

This marina is FULL!

This marina is FULL!

were filled with people. Happy children flew their kites and dogs pattered about happily. I acquired an indelible image that day while picking up a few supplies in a Fred Meyers store. This is a monster retailer that sells ever thang under one roof. I didn’t find the coffins and the used aircraft section, but I’ll bet they’re there. Some food isles ended near the sporting goods and there, next to the potato chips, I saw a father bending over with his very young daughter admiring the handgun display. Say no more!

Haystack rock, Oregon coast

Haystack rock, Oregon coast

Next morning the sky was clear and warm. I rose at five AM and headed inland to Bend. After the snowy cold of the mountain pass and the tourist town charm of Sisters the central and eastern Oregon Badlands are dramatically different from the coast. I felt a very long way from the sea and wanted to turn back. Eventually I turned south from the dying town of Burns into an ever expanding panorama of semi-desert high plains, volcanic rocks, cones and ridges and finally entered Nevada in the dark at a ghostly place called Denio. IMG_0105

A ghost from days past, when men were men, and nobody knew what a computer was

A ghost from days past, when men were men, and nobody knew what a computer was

It had been a T-shirt warm kind of day, but I awoke in my little trailer to find frost on my blankets and door windows, my water bottle was almost frozen solid.  I learned that the temperature was ten degrees Fahrenheit. Oh yeah, right, it’s still January!

Choose your ride

Choose your ride

Now writing in a dreary cafe in a deary place called Valmy Nevada, I’m catching up on my notes and taking another back road south from Battle Mountain. My diet is supported with a scarcity of restaurants in

Sport model, Sisters, OR

Sport model,
Sisters, OR

this big country with its many very big people.  I don’t know what they eat but WOW! My Fat Loser manual points our how libido and physical attraction diminish with the onset of obesity. Perhaps that’ll be nature’s way of thinning us porkers out!  It has occurred to me that a good analogy is how poorly a gasoline engine runs when it is out of adjustment and trying to burn a fuel mixture that is too rich. It just doesn’t operate smoothly, uses too much fuel, and is slowly self-destructing while offering diminished allround performance; just like a human!

Perhaps it’s the old pilot in me, but I’ve learn quickly to top up with gasoline at every chance in this big country. Signs promising ‘Next gas 127 miles’ may well be proven liar when and if you finally get there. I’ve filled a Jerry can with fuel that I carry in the back. Signs in fact are vague, sunburned blank, missing, or badly shot up. I’m glad I have a compass and altimeter which have actually proven their value, as well as the off-road floodlights I installed on the truck. Jackrabbits, deer, and antelope bound out of the dark vastness immediately in front of you.

IMG_0113

After studying maps and Google Earth I thought I had a handle on my route but nothing prepared me for the vastness and hugeness of this country. It is stunning. I have driven past a hundred fantastic photographs in my determination to get to Mexico as soon as possible. My bladder and aching bottom determine where the next photo opportunity arises. Maybe this will be known as the squirt and click trip.

The evenings are already clearly longer with the southing I’ve made but oh God how I miss the ocean! Sea of Cortez or bust! 

Posted in Parker, Arizona

Changing Pace

Well, it’s just another dreary winter night aboard ‘Seafire’.The wind and rain and darkness are a constant this time of year but I’m happy enough with what we have in comparison to the rest of Canada. Does anyone have a cure for webs between the toes? Hopefully, the little trailer is on the move within a few days and webegone for a few weeks. The blogs will continue from where they may.

A change of pace, a change of waters. This is the tideline during spring freshet in the Strait of Georgia showing the outflow from the Fraser River....here's to spring!

A change of pace, a change of waters. This is the tideline during spring freshet in the Strait of Georgia showing the outflow from the Fraser River….here’s to spring!

It has been occurring to me that ‘Seafire Chronicles’ is evolving from being merely a journal of the ‘Musings and mishaps of the crew’  to a description of a spiritual evolution of myself and some of my fellows. That, in large part, is what sailing is about but as I evolve I realize a growing interest in minimalism and movement away from the shallow waters of materialism. No worries, we’re still on track. (In my last blog, I mentioned a fascination with third world people and lifestyles. Let me recommend a NFB documentary I saw on Netflix called ‘The Chocolate Farmer’)

 I received an e-mail today from a friend who was celebrating an anniversary after realizing the cruel betrayal of a partner and then a horrible ordeal with health problems. This friend is a fighter and a survivor who, remarkably, is grateful for the better person they have become through their experience. I want to share a few lines from that e-mail. “So we love, we learn. I believe that our “stories” are always about ourselves, and the players within those stories are there for our own growth. There is no blame, no right or wrong, just discovery and truth. Finding our own truth is the key to serenity.”

 To parallel this dear friend’s inspiring words here’s a quote from Jean Gau, a solo mariner who sailed a very slow boat around the world twice. “They understood nothing of the great dream which charmed the seas of his passage since it was not the same lie taught in their village.”

 I have become convinced that you are probably doing something right when it does not agree with the status quo. If you are feeling ‘normal’ and generally fitting in, something is very wrong. Maybe I’m just a contrarian, but I have learned it is best to try to drink upstream of the herd. Popular opinion shouldn’t affect the course of your life.

Those people I admire most are able to stand out from the crowd and are not deterred from their goals by the contrary ideas of others. I am dead envious of folks who have found a partner with whom they have joined their lives and created a positive energy far in excess of their individual sums. What things they achieve! I’ve introduced my readers to a few of those couples. Recently I received an e-mail from another of these ‘Super’couples.

 A lady who was my Spanish teacher here on Gabriola Island moved home to her native Colombia with her partner. In two years Laura (Pronounced Loura, not Loro, which is Spanish for parrot. A bit of humour for a language teacher) and her partner Kelly, have cleared some land, started a small coffee plantation, built a house and started an English/Spanish language school. They are in Soccoro located in the foothills of the Colombian mountains where the climate is moderate, the soil is rich and the Eco-tourism industry is beginning to boom. The political climate has stabilized there. Cartegena is described by many as one of the most beautiful cities in the world and you can now feel at ease visiting there. If you are inclined to do something off the track and want a real Spanish immersion situation let me hook you up with Laura and Kelly. Most of the photos in this blog are courtesy of them.

Laura and Kelley have built this house in the mountains of Colombia...note the absence of insulation!

Laura and Kelley have built this house in the mountains of Colombia…note the absence of insulation!

L'escuela

L’escuela

A little piece of Canada in the Colombian Foothills

A little piece of Canada in the Colombian Foothills

Laura harvesting oranges on their finca (farm)

Laura harvesting oranges on their finca (farm)

Kelly and friend looking good at the end of the day

Kelly and friend looking good at the end of the day

YES. it works daily as the prime farm vehicle.That is really a 1966 F-100 truck. clearly, there's no road salt used there

YES. It works daily as the prime farm vehicle.That is really a 1966 F-100 truck. Clearly, there’s no road salt used there.

Doggy guards part of the coffee harvest

Doggy guards part of the coffee harvest

The drawing at the end of this blog is something I adapted with the intent of it being the logo for this boat when I was about to register it in Canada as the ‘Brass Monkey’. While in that process I learned that the name ‘Seafire’ which I had bestowed on a previous vessel had serendipitously become available. I took that as an omen. That’s why you’re reading the ‘Seafire Chronicles’ instead of ‘Tales Of The Brass Monkey’. I’m thinking of bestowing the drawing and the name ‘Monkey Business’ on my little teardrop trailer. Wotcha think?

Monkey business

Monkey business

THE WORLD OF Tiny

I swear I have been passed on the road by a shiny Hummer with a ‘Think Green’ bumper sticker. All this enviro-speak is very trendy but when if comes to giving up personal comfort, well yeah but…!  I saw a photo recently of a fat man jovially sporting a T-shirt saying “I beat anorexia.” Yeah, it’s funny, but underscores how we love our extremes. We want to drive 300hp SUV’s and also get fifty miles a gallon. People’s vehicles are bigger than ever and obesity is worn by many as a badge of well-being but I’m just not that interested in global stupidity, I’ve got a full-time job dealing with my own.

A growing number of folks are taking pride in living fully by enjoying a fresh awareness of how little they need. Perhaps in result of recent economic events, it is a refreshing turn away from our perversion for lemming gluttony.  After living in a boat for years I can claim the benefits outweigh the inconveniences. Not much room for clutter here and if something aboard hasn’t proven its worth within a year; it’s gone. Use it or lose it! Forty-one feet up one side of the boat and the same down the other gives me eighty-two feet of untaxed waterfront property. I can change the view and the neighbours any time I want and, Yeehaw! You won’t find a damned lawnmower anywhere in this boat. Yes, I’d love to have a workshop aboard and I can think of other essential amenities but soon enough I could could end up with an aircraft carrier and still be wanting a little more room. Some of my happiest memories have to do with canoes and rowboats and backpacks; enough said.

Home on the bay. How much do we really need?

Home on the bay. How much do we really need?

I recently bought a teardrop trailer and that has led me onto some interesting paths of research. There is a quiet trend toward downsizing homes,  vehicles and RVs with folks taking pride in learning how little they realty need. That path helped me discover the tinyhouseblog.com which is a site dedicated to compiling stories about people who are discovering the joy of living in as small a space as possible. Boats, trailers, gypsy wagons, yurts and small buildings are all there. Not only are many designing, building and living in sensible homes, they are joyfully discovering the freedom of shedding the burden of being owned by mountains of “Stuff”. It is a trend which I hope gains momentum and flies in the face of consumerism. That is an insidious religion we have all been programmed to embrace. We worship in the malls and plazas that are our mosques and cathedrals.  Blind consumerism is as evil and deadly as any other fundamentalist dogma.

A matter of choice

A matter of choice

Floathouse community in Cowichan Bay

Floathouse community in Cowichan Bay

For years I have noted some folks stepping backward when they learn that I live in a boat. I can almost hear the thought at times, ‘He’s one of those!” That’s fine, your waters are too shallow for me; I doubt we’d have become friends anyway. This old boat hippy does however firmly believe that the price of freedom is responsibility.  No-one has the right to impose their personal preferences on others. I maintain my boat so that it is always tidy and seaworthy and self-sufficient at all times. There’s no point expecting respect from others unless you demonstrate you have some for yourself. I’m also learning that perhaps it is better to do big things in a small boat instead of little things in big boats. It is too easy to lose sight of the plan if you starting getting bigger boats and acquiring more stuff. Soon you are buried in a hole where your possessions own you. I know all too well! Not so long ago entire families went off to see some, or all, of the world in boats that were seldom over 30′ in length. Now the average cruising couple often has a boat at least 40′ long. Interestingly, each day’s dead reckoning is still calculated at a speed of 5 knots.

Home is where the boat is...41' of waterfront on either side!

Home is where the boat is…41′ of waterfront on either side!

Minimalism offers the joy of being able to go now. The encumbrance of stuff and where to keep it all, and the associated debt, is gone. I have wasted a huge portion of my life preparing boat after boat. Many of those have gone on to sail away over the horizon with a new owner. The first boat I owned could have taken me anywhere. I can’t openly admit any of the excuses which have kept me tied to the dock and which I thought were so important at the time.

When in fear or in doubt, raise your sails and bugger off out”…Tristan Jones

Emotional depression is an epidemic in the Western World. Sadly it is, I believe, a symptom of a huge malady relating directly to our consumerist culture. We all feel inadequate if we don’t look like this, smell like that, drive one of those, live in a faux castle and surround ourselves with other similarly deluded souls who desperately try to maintain a facade of bottomless wealth. Of course we can never catch up to those expectations imposed on us by a lifetime of spin doctors and marketing wizards.  So very many of us become bogged in a swamp of despair because we have been convinced that we just don’t measure up.  Rising crime rates, fiscally foundering governments? It is only an emulation of the mindset so prevalent in our own homes. If you have no self-love, it it is damned hard to respect and love anyone else. If the nation’s individual personal finances teeter on bankruptcy, how is it surprising that we have a national deficit?

Cheung Chow Harbour,  at least three generations seemed to live on each boat and... half the fleet was out fishing at any given time!

Cheung Chau Harbour,
At least three generations seemed to live on each boat and… half the fleet was out fishing at any given time!

I’m bending toward people who live in so-called third world conditions. There is a lot to learn from them. For all they don’t have, sometimes not even shoes, they have dignity and self-esteem. They can look you in the eye and actually smile. They understand, because they live so close to the wire, that you only have the moment. They are not emotionally constipated by worrying about investment portfolios or many of the problems of the future. They have not bought the myth that they are somehow immortal. If they can feed their children today that is their best expectation; feeding them tomorrow, a bonus. Most of the world lives like this; we are the privileged few. If only we could remain aware of that single fact as our middle-class erodes.

People who are not busy trying to build a personal empire have a lot more time and mental space to be philosophically and spiritually aware.  A documentary I recently enjoyed, ‘La Camioneta’, is about the new life of a recycled American school bus as it moves from an auction yard in the US to a new home in Guatemala. A man there, who has a small business refurbishing buses for local commercial use is asked why he decided on his particular career. I paraphrase his reply in part, “The thing about a bus is, even if the passengers are not all friends, it is a place where for a little while, people share their journey through life together.” That thought is profound. Consider that the whole planet is a place where we must share our journey through life. There is so much we can do to make our journey together better for each other.

I woke up yesterday morning in a new year. The world was still here and so am I, not even hung-over or under. Again today, it is the usual drippy, grey dawn where thick darkness gradually gives way to medium gloom. By mid-afternoon the day will slowly slink back into a palpable darkness which invades your being a bit more with each breath.

So in this new year I have a great boat and a little trailer with which I intend to use the remains of my little existence to go unravel some of life’s mystery and rediscover basics we have left behind. (“Something to do, someone to love, something to look forward to while doing no harm”) No matter how much philosophizing and analyzing one does, a balanced life can’t be refined better than that…. in my opinion.
My little odyssey will be described in part through this blog.  In some small way, I hope my discoveries help enlighten others. The journey began long ago. Soon I must shut-up about “Gonnado” and actually leave town. The blogs will continue. Bring some good boots along if you like but, no bigger than you need.

Country road

By the way, Happy New Year!