Saturday, December 19, 2015

Discover Winter; The Undiscovered Season

 It hasn't been a great winter so far this year. Of course, it's not really winter until Monday, but so far the "winter season" has been a bust, with temperatures in the 40s and 50s, rain (at least we're getting precipitation), and a decided lack of snow and cold. (These photos are from previous years.) "They" blame it on "global warming". Funny how, when it's warm for a couple of months, it's like "See, Global warming IS real!" But when it's cooler or colder than average, global warming becomes something called "climate change." Now, because the powers-that-be don't want to admit the truth, even to themselves, they are trying to link global terrorism to global warming. Oh for crying out Pete's sake!

But that is not why we are here today. We are here today because I have not written often enough, and I want to encourage readers to get out and Discover Winter! Eventually, it will get cold, and we will get snow here in Minnesota and NW Wisconsin. Even last winter, which was very bereft of snow, we still got a whole bunch right at the end of the season. Winter truly is the "undiscovered season".

Get out and enjoy winter. I think that is especially true as we age, because if we do not stay active all the year through, bad things start to happen, like we (or at least I) get fat. Winter activity burns two to five times the calories of similar activities in the warm months, and last winter I got out on my skis one time, and my snowshoes only three or four. My fat-bike was my saving grace, because it is still fun with only minimal snowcover. This year I started the season with weight gain from an inactive fall, and pneumonia. Also, I think I used to tolerate the cold better than I do now, in my 60s. I used to live by Elsa's ("Frozen") motto, "The cold never bothered me, anyway!" Part of that, I believe, is acclimatization, which I need to get working on for when it does get cold, but I suppose part of it is just getting older.

Before the fat-bike came along, I liked Nordic (cross-country) skiing but I loved snowshoeing. I've been a snowshoer since I was 14 years old, and my original pair now decorates the wall of our family room while we have a half-dozen pair in the garage, and a brand new pair under the Christmas tree! Snowshoeing is easy. If you can walk, literally you can snowshoe. And they are very reasonably priced, or you can often rent them at state and regional parks.

The same can be said about fat-bikes. If you can ride a bike, you can ride a fat-bike. They are more stable and to me, it brings back the joy of riding my first bike. Here too, the costs have come down. Yes, you can buy a cheap fatty at the local discount store foe a couple hundred bucks, but for only a few hundred more you can find quality bikes from manufacturers who stand by their product.

 That leads to my other favorite activity, winter camping. The "hot tent renaissance", using a lightweight canvas tent equipped with a wood burning stove that hearkens back to the "golden age of camping" has truly changed the face of winter in the wilderness. Yes, there are still those stalwart mountaineers who insist on shivering in their sleeping bags, waking to a coating of condensation ice crystals falling like snow inside their tent, and cooking over a little gas stove in the vestibule so they don't die of carbon monoxide poisoning. It is so much nicer to have a warm, breathable tent, with a cozy fire in the stove, cook over the stove and be able to hang stuff up to dry in the tent that will actually be warm and dry in the morning! Again, there are places in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin where you can rent a hot tent to try them out.

In recent years, I have often been tempted to let winter get me down, but I need to get back into that Elsa mindset. This winter I plan to enjoy the season, all season. As the sign from Snowtrekker Tents on my office door says, "December 21st. Finally, camping season is here!"

Proceeding on...

Saturday, June 13, 2015

We Come to a Bend in the River

Several weeks ago, I decided, after 27 years as a Park Ranger, 13 years of which have been with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, it was time to hang up the flat hat. On August 1st I will turn in my badge, keys and all that goes with it, and move on.

"What will you do?" people ask me. "Go fishing?" "Travel?" Well, yeah, there'll be some of that, but the reality is that my business, Emergicare Medical Training, needs me, and I will be spending most of my time training people to help those who cannot help themselves..Before that, I am traveling back east to visit my mom, sisters, family and friends in the Washington DC area. (I wanted to return to the Adirondacks for the first time in 10 years, and while that may still happen, visiting Mom is the priority.)

Writing is another priority. One that I have not given enough time over the past 10 years or more. I mean, look at this blog. No entries since last December! I am almost ashamed to call myself a writer. Note: I said, "almost". Look to see that change, starting right here, right now. I am committing myself to at least two posts here each month. I want you to come with me on the road to adventure, because the other thing I am going to do is live up to the name, 2WX: The Two-Wheeled Explorer.There are things I want to say, skills I want to pass on to my grandkids. Places to go, people to meet, fish to catch. Gravel roads to ride down.
The travel starts next weekend, but the adventure starts right now. In the indomitable spirit of Captain Lewis and Captain Clark...

We are proceeding on!