Cabin essentials

Colorado is The Catcher in the Rye of western US states; there are many obvious and compelling reasons people like it, but that doesn’t prevent it from being total fucking bullshit.

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If you’re going to visit one of the forest service cabins of Montana there are a few things you should know.  Out of the essential list of salt, oil, tinder, garbage bags, and slippers you’ll surely forget at least one, but try to not leave an outright majority behind.  This is the most important thing.

It is also tempting to visit for one night only, especially if the cabin is local or if you are just passing through.  This usually does not work out well.  There is always too much to see in one evening and morning, even within 300 yards, but if the point of a cabin visit is to slow down and sit, chores and novelty prevent that too well unless you give yourself a full day and second night for the rest of your life to catch back up.

A natural corollary to the contemplative side is to go in the winter.  Montana winters are long.  As the solstice marches close today it gets dark-dark by 6 and is only light enough to move without a headlamp by close to 8.  Proper backpack camping is quite possible and its own brand of fun this time of year, but having a full room or two and a stove that will hold heat most of the long slumber such nights require is best appreciated now.

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I’ve made a habit of packing a little shotgun or rifle for short excursions to hunt for squirrels and rabbits.  In the last 10 trips I do not believe I’ve shot more than two or three rabbits, but the practice is a good reminder for moving slow and exploring groves and thickets that you’d otherwise have to work far harder for an excuse to visit.

Mountain-top, or at least mountain-side, locations are preferred or at least a big bonus.  Later, and more readily visible, sunsets and earlier, more readily spectacular, sunrises are good reasons.  As is being in a place into which cold air does not sink in the wee hours, right as your last logs are sublimating out into the bright black sky.

It is always a good idea to hedge bets about how you’ll get to a winter cabin.  This past weekend was not the first time we’ve brought both skis and snowshoes along, with a choice made at roads end (snowshoes this time, too little snow).  Fatbikes are in theory good options for mixed and shallow snow cover, but the conditions which in the age of climate change predominate early winter, namely dry powder atop ice, tend to not suit bikes as well as the mere depth measurement would suggest.

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Cabin trips were easy 2 years ago, when Little Bear would contentedly lay on a blanket and make noises at the fire through dinner and coffee time.  These days we worry that his enthusiasm will eventually take his head into the corner of the wood stove, but otherwise he’s easy.  Or at least as easy as he gets in toddlerhood.  He loves carrying wood, one medium piece at a time, and mostly stays far enough back to avoid flying chunks.

Which brings us to Colorado.  Last winter we went without a cabin, in large part due to the proximity of the desert, but also because Colorado doesn’t have that many forest service cabins, and those it does tend to be horrendously expensive.  In the age of rampant population growth, and National Park weekly passes which will soon top 70 dollars this is the state of things to come.  But that doesn’t mean it is right.  Full trailheads and user fees are symptoms of a disease, one we all too often spread just as we try to escape it.

Tis the season, right?

New happiness 

Or; what the hell I’ve been doing for the past month.

img_5221img_5220img_5218img_5216img_5222When I look at a graph of the number of posts I’ve made here each month for the past 10.5 years a number of significant trends become obvious.  First, that the average number of posts went down back in 2010 when I switched from blogger to wordpress and started taking the writing more seriously.  Second, that the monthly total varies widely with only modest and seemingly insignificant trends (October has been a good month, because it is my favorite time of year).  And third, that volume of content has historically been a reliable if less than direct predictor of my happiness.

The last month has nicely managed to complicate that.  Going almost a full month with only one, not especially interesting note is the longest drought in the past decade.  And it has been a hard month for me, one with some wild emotional swing and new emotional challenges cropping up just about every other day.  In the last few days I seem to be coming out the other side, with a lot of new knowledge gained in the areas of home and auto repair, as well as of myself and how I interact with those around me.

When we got back from our backpacking trip a loud clock started; 35 days until the start of the school year, until days of almost guaranteed sun came to an end, until my schedule became much less flexible, until we needed to be not only somewhat unpacked but fairly close to the end of a long list that had to be done before winter.  We made it, by the way, though being able to see the end of that list only serves to highlight just how extensive and intimidating we’ll find the master list of 2, 5, 10, and 20 year projects.

I am in short making the final and irrevocable transition to adulthood; assuming a frightening total of mortgage debt and willfully and joyfully spending crystal weekend days at home digging and painting and cutting.  The investment is in this place and in ourselves, an action built on an assumption of both permanence and mortality.

Of course, we didn’t just come here to build, and fall is right around the corner.

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The miracle of 2017

Summer has emphatically arrived in Montana, with a solid week of highs in the 90s and little wind or thunderstorms to break things up, but enough lightning strikes in the broader neighborhood to get one worrying that August might justify its seed with a burly crop of fires.  It was in brief an ideal time to move, for the third time in 9 months and hopefully the last time for the next half century.
Ideal is largely sarcastic, but summer has become my clear choice for least favorite season, and I’d sooner give up a scorchingly azure weekend in July than a foggy one in October.

Our new house is a dream, and to a lesser extent a nightmare.  We started moving in almost immediately after close (M insisted on an ice cream cake for celebration), and that night after Little Bear had gone to sleep we both walked around marveling at the 130 year old details, and at the major projects standing plain in almost every corner.  Absent the houses magnetic pull on our instincts, our good history of trusting those, and our plan to be here a very long time indeed this move/project would not make any sense.  Five days of filling the garage with boxes, enjoying a yard shaded by 90 foot Doug Firs, and watching LB sprint through the halls has along with some basic painting and cleaning gone a long way to remind us that the good things in life are not always especially practical.
Little Bear has been with us every step of the last fortnight; backpacking, packrafting, touristing in Yellowstone, negotiating last minute financial niggles, and cleaning out two storage units.  As a toddler he’s been tabla rasa for our anxieties, which has not made daily parenting any easy but has helped us come back again and again to the essentials of getting things done and being nice enough to each other in the process.

img_4981As has been the theme of this year my memory has been hard put to retain and process events at a rate which can even hope to amount to a few essays now and again.  I marvel at how great writers throughout history rarely had long-term spouses and even more rarely, children.  Translating experience into words isn’t about exceptional content so much as it is about a life quiet enough to understand what just happened.

I’ve been tempted, for the first time in a decade, to let this website lapse for a while, but was quickly reminded that this was not an option.  Both for my own creative sanity, and because Mike, Tim, Jason, and Monica all provided invaluable moving assistance this week, and we wouldn’t know any of them had it not been for this corner of the internet.  So special thanks to them, and for all the readers putting up with content even more stochastic than usual.

The miracle of this year is that I’ve still yet to get sick.  Moves, loss, existential crises, and more good on the career and housing and personal front than I had any reason to suspect have added up to the most eventful year of my life, which is barely half over.  I’ll thank circumstance if it is kind enough to give me space to understand it all this fall and winter.  We hardly plan to leave the state until 2018.

The enchanting wind


One thing I only touched upon a few months ago, during our final search for a new and hopefully permanent home, was weather and climate.  At the time the human components loomed larger, prioritization whose efficacy has been born out in the ease with which we’ve strollered around Helena’s convoluted streets over the last four weeks.  My thesis that the sparser places of the western world tend to be more courteous has for the short term been born out.

But weather and climate have a huge impact on daily life.  I don’t dislike the heat of the southwest, but I’ve always found it more difficult to manage than even the coldest winter.  If anything, Missoula and especially the Flathead were never quite cold enough, with too much rain during the coldest half of the year.  Another 2000 feet of elevation would have made Kalispell just about perfect, but the world has to maintain some sort of balance.

The Flathead was also too still.  Wind is one of my favorite things, it helps move unideal weather along, and cools temperature and malaise alike.  Thankfully Helena has outdone itself in welcoming us.

As the maps show, Montana is a windy state, thanks to the eastern plains and more close to home the aftermath of orographic lifting.  Our little cactus valley is an island in the storm, but to my delight the hills immediately above town are more thoroughly strafed.  And when things get too calm the Rock Mountain Front is not far north, the place where the high wind warning threshold had to be upgraded from 58 to 75 mph because the former was just too common.

Life is good.

Home

The me of a decade ago would not easily recognize the me of today.  Since arriving three weeks ago we’ve done a lot, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how interesting most of it has been.  If I had the time I’d probably have a lot to say about how much and just why I missed children’s mental health in the past six months, but my team and I started cold at a new-to-us site, and it’s the end of the school year.  My old job in the Flathead was such that I could never really write much about it without getting closer to a HIPAA than the half dozen steps I prefer, but I’m hoping this new one will be different.  It promises to be a lot of fun, in the rote, occasionally mind numbing, but always in the abstract more than worthwhile way working with emotionally disturbed kids is.

We’ve also jumped right in to buying a house for the first time.  Our first evening out looking at B-list houses got serious when we learned that an offer had come in on our A-list, which we had yet to see the inside of.  Yet somehow 48 hours later we had a house under contract, a sprawling, odd, and quite ugly thing built during the first full year of the first Roosevelt administration, in an almost ideal location.  It has many problems, some more pressing than others, and hopefully if everything goes well we’ll have a few decades to tackle them all.

The novelty is that all this is very appealing, just like our evening walks around town, for inspiration.

IMG_4697Helena was founded on gold mining, and became the territorial and then state capitol because of its convenient yet discrete proximity to the copper kings of Butte.  For one brief period in the late 19th century Helena had more millionaires than any other city in America.  And the Victorian architecture shows it.IMG_4680IMG_4688

Some of the true mansions are still around, as museums (old governors mansion), bed and breakfasts (top), and private residences.  Plenty more normal (<3000 foot square) Victorians are kicking around, in almost all the materials and styles one could imagine.  Our presumptive late-Victorian is hiding its age under pale puce metal siding and pigeon shit, so we need some inspiration to distract from negotiations over leaky pipes and vermiculite.

That we’re here, now, is a result of planning and work, but that we (read; I) are ready for the wholistic investment is the result of nothing more than time.  There are too many interesting places and worthy choices out there, and we’ve seen enough to realize that six lifetimes wouldn’t be enough to know them all.  Today is time to stop wandering and start a longer acquaintance.

We made it

The family is back in Montana, and a mostly sleepness night and a whole lot of box lifting the past few days can’t blunt how good it feels.

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To celebrate, the Go North sticker is on sale today only, cuz duh.  South-southeast is the worst direction ever.
img_4253 (1)M and I have moved a lot in the last 13.5 years, though by current standards the first four or five were so simple as to just not count.  10 years and 11 months ago, for instance, we moved from Ohio to Arizona in one Xterra load, with three bikes and a waterproof duffle on the roof.  A little over two years later that same Xterra took us north to Missoula, full, while towing squeaky the UHaul trailer, who reduced us to 35 mph in the shoulder going over the pass from Idaho into Montana.  Even though we had a lot more to move this time, maturity and perspective (and massive help from all of LB’s grandparents) made it seem easier, even if the loading and unloading processes took far longer.

One of the benefits of moving between states twice in six months has been being forced, twice, to examine all the stuff we’ve accumulated by chance and choice.  Some of the answers to that introspection have given pause, but mostly they’ve evoked the best sort of nostalgia, which is vindicating.  There is little to regret in the last 14 years.

Being here, back in Montana, certainly doesn’t seem like it will be one of them.  My new day job promises to be the most challenging I’ve had, but at some point in the next few weeks regularly scheduling programing will return.

The best and worst of the Colorado Plateau

This is a stupid exercise, one which tends to highlight my more willful and generally less flattering tendencies, but I found a similar exercise last fall useful enough that I feel compelled.  Ordering ones thoughts is handy, for historiographical purposes, no matter their prejudice.

This time I’ve gone forth without numbers.

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The landscape of the Colorado Plateau is the whole story, everything else is a footnote.  The canyons, slot and otherwise, are as enchanting as anything on earth, manmade or natural.  The mountain biking is simply the best which could be thought up anywhere, by man or super-man.  But our return after years of visiting gave me new eyes for the overwhelming variety (diversity seems too strong a term) found between Zion and the Uncompahgre, the Mogollan and Echo Park.

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The high plateaus and their forests have grabbed my attention this time around.  They largely hide in plain sight, the Markagunt, Paunsagunt, Pahvant, Tavaputs, Kaiparowits, and Aquarius, obscured by funny names and the lack of named tourist destinations.  Relative to the actual mountain ranges to the east they both lack recognition and have contributed far more substance to the creation of the areas we all love and visit.  Dark Canyon (Abaho) is mighty, but compared to the grandeur and perennial river of Zion (Markagunt) Dark and Bowdie and Gypsum and their cousins are dusty ditches.

It is this enormous relief which catches enough moisture to reveal the Colorado Plateaus potential, and the high overall elevations which makes the region both what it is and tolerable to visit in the warmer half of the year.

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All of this is no longer close to the secret it was 15 years ago, even if many pockets and indeed whole neighborhoods remain off the radar.  The Mighty Five campaign has had too many dollars behind it, and the CP is far too Instagramable.  As mentioned a few weeks ago, Zion and Arches and everything in between is problematically close to far too many large cities.  One should not blame anyone for actually getting outside, and I don’t, but the planning required to get a backpacking permit in the Needles or find a parking space in Springdale is of a far more exacting nature than it was even a few years ago, and this is a trend which seems unlikely to do anything but persist.

Accessibility and crowds have a tense relationship with the landscape of the Colorado Plateau.  On one hand the whole area is riddled with roads, circumstances and ruggedness having held them back entirely in shockingly few places.  On the other, the peculiar nature of the cliffs and canyons makes for different rules of travel than in the more northern forests and mountains.  Just because you can drive within 3 linear miles doesn’t mean you won’t then spend a day getting there, and increasingly often those road miles are rough and slow.  Federal agencies have been fighting a proxy battle with county governments for decades over the degree and and quality of road access, and gradually but certainly the former is tipping the balance towards slower driving miles, which is the last best hope many places on the Colorado Plateau have to remain mysterious.

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Lastly, the people.  To live on or near the Colorado Plateau one has three choices: settle in one of the larger peripheral cities (Flag, SLC, Grand Junction, Durango, Vegas), “settle” in one of the few towns within the CP which have an almost year-round tourist economy (Moab, Springdale), or try to make a living in one of the settler towns within the Plateau which are broadly speaking fighting an intracommunal war between the extent to which traditional economies will in the 21st century be sustainable and the savage lure of tourism.  It is far from clear when places like Tropic and Escalante will make a year round, sustainable living off tourism as a community, and even far-er from clear if the fate of Moab and especially Springdale is something anyone would wish on themselves (other than, and perhaps even including, the old timers making a fortune selling their real estate).  The recreation economy is good for those who sell bikes and canyoneering gear to those (like us) who settled as close to the promised land as decency would allow, but it is not clear just how good, long term, it will be for the folks who live within the plateau itself.  I don’t necessarily have a problem with admitting that it, like the great plains, are destined for exceedingly minimal human population, but the persistent kindly and false justifications for places like Bear’s Ears are in the face of 2017 a bit hard to hear.

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As for the peripheral towns, I can only say that Fruita has proven to be the least pleasant place we’ve lived, and by a margin which has frankly been shocking.  With the Junction/Fruita area being the 3rd or 4th best mountain biking area in the country there is obviously little to complain about, unless you have to do that ride at 1000 on a Saturday between March and October, and Junction itself is just fine.  Fruita however is two towns in uneasy alliance, downtown being the resilient core of the century old farming community, and the rest being a sprawling bedroom community for those who find the real city to the east too expensive, dirty, or just lacking in grass.  The result is that we’ve had both regular, walking access to fantastic beer and coffee and had to worry like never before about being hit while crossing the street.  Even while pushing a stroller.  I naively thought that a destination mountain bike town would invest in bike-friendly infrastructure, but Fruita is caught between a tourist economy that walk a few blocks downtown and drives their bikes to the trailhead, and a tax base which walks the paved paths within the bounds of their HOA and drives everywhere else.  More than usual I hesitate to condemn it, because what is good about Fruita is really fine, but circumstance suspended I just would not want to raise a kid here.

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Nothing at home or out there comes without cost.

This is not a business

But I am asking you to buy things.
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Back in 2010 the end of grad school and move to a new place, with what was finally and undeniably a real job, properly prompted introspection.  One prominent result was upgrading this blog to WordPress and taking it far more seriously.  What I’ve gotten from that commitment has been priceless; a sporadic freelance writing career that has brought both money and interesting projects, collaborations with publications and companies testing and refining outdoor gear, a far more nuanced understanding of myself, and most significantly a community of readers whose depth of commitment and breadth of background never fails to amaze me on the relatively rare occasions when it and I come face to face.  I’m an introvert, something I only poorly understood and could not embrace 7 years ago.  If I wasn’t, I’d probably spend less time writing to and for intimate strangers and more time face to face with strangers in living rooms and bars.

These intangible benefits could not have been purchased in any way other than time and concentration invested over years.  I’ve never made a cent directly from Bedrock & Paradox, and aside from writing gigs for other publications no secondary income either.  To be mild I’ve never been a fan of crowd sourcing, affiliate links, native advertising, and so many of the trappings of our current age.  I like working for a living, doing actual things, getting money without sleight of hand.  I’m also not comfortable asking for donations or doing any kind of subscription service.  On the one hand I’m small potatoes and monetizing in that way just seems insulting to you, the readers.  On the other, there are more demands on my time than ever, something which isn’t going to change, and there are some projects I’d like to push forward now, which require additional funding.

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So this is the compromise, three stickers designed by my lovely wife M, the shadowy figure which has made so much of Bedrock & Paradox possible since the beginning.  We’re selling them for $1.50 each, with graduated shipping charges for US and international buyers.  I won’t make too much money on each order, but I will make some, and all of it will go directly towards equipment necessary to get the next phase of Bedrock & Paradox off the ground.  They’re the best vinyl stickers we could find, the samples having survived many rounds in the dishwasher.  They’ll last quite a while wherever you decide to put them, and will hopefully both help us out while both giving you something of substance and making more explicit the bond between reader and author.  Because as ornery as I often am, I wouldn’t keep doing this without knowing I was reaching who I am.

As an additional thank you for investing, and for accompanying us over the years, we’re holding a pack giveaway.  One lucky person will get custody of the most recent version of the 610 pack, shown below and detailed here.  It fits a ~20 inch torso, and will come with shoulder straps, foam pad, and hipbelt.  Pockets exist for dual stays, but you’ll have to supply those.  Full details can be found on the sticker page or the new Bedrock & Paradox store.

Why isn’t this a business?  Because I don’t want to make money, I want to do things, and doing those things happens to require a bit more capitol than we currently have ready access to.  Making money requires compromise for the sake of efficiency, scale, and sensibility.  Long term I have no interest in those things, only in making exactly what I want to make, as best as I can make it.  That is what the stickers exist to fund, and that is what you’ll be voting for if you buy some.

The Big question

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Where to live?  A question of massive importance that for obvious reasons we’ve been pondering a lot lately.  With a kid and a lot of stuff future moves will ideally trend toward the number of digits needed to eat chicken nuggets.  We also did the van life thing before hashtags were invented, and it lacks the romance and depth the net would have it possess.  There is a lot to be said for human life and attention and understanding only having the resources to get to know a few places well, and I’ve spent plenty of time in recent weeks pondering whether I care to add another to our list.

If you’re a regular reader here regular access to the outdoors is a priority.  It has been a driving force for M and I since 2003, and we’ve yet to have cause for regret.  Location is a factor, but it is not the factor.  Along with van life I’ve spent enough time as a car-dwelling outdoor bum to realize that there is more to life and purpose, a conviction that last six months has only served to reinforce.  So while for example back in 2007 we didn’t consider my going to graduate school in a place like Missouri or Michigan that would have looked good on the resume, we’ve also never considered (too seriously) places where the income to cost of living balance is so systemically out of whack that just maintaining a permanent residence would have required major and ongoing sacrifice.  In this matter one should be a persistent dreamer, but not an ideologue.

At this point circumstance merits an interlude on the importance of timing.  I was fortunate that I applied and was accepted to grad school just as 43s negligence tanked the economy, and we were smart to have not invested in real estate when we moved to Arizona in 2006.  When I went on the market post grad school in 2010, the impact of history was still deeply felt, especially (in retrospect) in the human services sector and most importantly in the state budgets allocated too them.  I was fortunate then, in a way I can only now appreciate, that one of the few calls I got back from the many applications I sent out was from a place which both did good work and was a good place to work.  The contrast to the last month has been enormous.  My resume is a bit fatter, but the larger difference has been broadly the economy and more exactly, the ACA.  Medicaid expansion has put what I do in high demand, enough that we’ve been put in the enviable position of having many nice offers from many nice places.

So then, how to make a decision?  Professional imponderables are too specific for any meaningful comment (unless any readers are contemplating moving west for a job in the non-profit children’s mental health sector, in which case drop me a line and I’ll do all I can), so I’ll restrict the following to location and the associated benefits.

Making a choice based on activity and climate preference is obvious.  If you’re a serious, obsessive mountain biker for example I don’t see many good reasons to live anywhere other than somewhere in the four corners state.  Aside from the central mountains and far west vestiges of midwestern sprawl (aka the front range) circumstance and weather generally allows for quality riding 10-11 months a year, and in the desert the riding itself is simply the best mountain biking on earth, several orders of magnitude better than anything else in both quality and quantity.  Truly obsessive, ski-every-month folks have a more complicated decision.  Colorado makes a lot of sense for these folks, especially with an eye to the future, where models suggest high altitude will protect the dying resource which is skiable snowpack.  The cost is of course crowds both in the hills and on the way to them.  There are exceptions and workarounds to this and any other similar situation, but the trend holds true across the west: there is a price to be paid for having many desirable things close (both natural and otherwise), which is generally having to be around lots of other people.

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 9.47.30 PMFor some, or indeed many, this isn’t a big deal.  It can even be a bonus, the wealth of cultural and culinary resources available most places in Arizona or Colorado vastly exceeds even the most cosmopolitan places in Montana.  For me, getting away from people is a very big deal, and not only because my standards for backcountry crowds are far too exacting.  (4 dayhikers, 8 backpackers, and one packrafter in ~50 miles of the Escalante certainly counts as crowded.)  As I suspected of New Zealand a lower population density can be directly responsible for a more congenial populace and a daily ethos which I find to my liking.

I’ve attempted to capture this dynamic in the above chart*.  The population of a given town or area (~100,000 in the larger Flathead Valley, for example) or even the population density of the county in question, doesn’t tell the whole story.  The number of people within a 250 mile radius (striking distance for a weekend, for the motivated) is more demonstrative.  It explains why the Grand Junction area, or Flagstaff, or Moab, or even the Escalante can be as crowded as they often are even in the absence of much local population and especially local involvement in the activity du jour.

Elevation, and especially the change in vertical relief within a 20 mile radius, is also for me a huge factor in outdoor quality of life.  Higher elevation is almost always better.  It makes cool nights colder, sunny days warmer in winter and cooler in summer, and turns winter rain into snow.  When the weather doesn’t quite cooperate, on when you just want a change from the status quo, a change in elevation can provide that.  In this matter type is as important as quantity.  Grand Junction has such a large figure due to Grand Mesa, were that feature taken out the figure would be less than half of 5900 feet.  Grand Mesa is a somewhat homogenous feature, whose slopes are due to vegetation and land ownership not especially accessible.  The canyons south and north of town do provide quality terrain and close to 3000 feet of relief, but to say that the Grand Valley has a diversity of good terrain on par with Flagstaff, Escalante, Moab, or even Whitefish would be false.

It is worth noting that were the radius extended to 30 miles Flagstaff would have a truly extraordinary 9000+ feet of relief.  It had been almost a decade since we had visited, and driving south a few weeks ago and up into the world’s largest ponderosa forest, draped around the volcanic feet of the San Francisco peaks, was a beautiful reminder of just how extraordinary that location is.  Flag is a big and, due to geography, crowded and bustling town, but isn’t yet built up to the extent of a Los Angeles, Phoenix, and even Banff where the scale of human presence has all but obliterated what was once one of the most beautiful places on earth.  I have a rule to not live anywhere with less than 4000 feet of relief within 20 miles, but it is profitable to remember that by following that rule one is almost certainly participating in the continued trend of urbanifying the unique.

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A final point worth discussing, which is a bit more difficult to capture, is where a town gets its money and the extent to which it is a resort and vacation destination.  Escalante is becoming that, against all expectations, while Whitefish is emphatically a 2nd home destination.  Which is why weren’t not moving back there, and why any home with 2 bathrooms is 350,000 or more, no matter the size (I exaggerate, barely).  Beyond COL issues, the 2nd home phenomenon tends to create a never-neverland atmosphere which long term I do not find pleasant.  Whitefish, and towns like Crested Butte, Durango, and Jackson, have their livelihood tied up in appearances.  They pull tourists, retirees, and the wealthy in because they look the picture of a western ideal made real.  Which they are, but they are made not grown, and that artificiality comes home to roost when the folks who live their can’t afford to live there, and therefore the substance of the place becomes hollow and imbalanced.

Nothing comes for free, but this question and everything I’ve written here reeks of privilege.  It’s a choice and a problem I’m grateful to have.

*Numbers from statsamerica.org, which is a fantastic use of leisure time, but necessarily doesn’t tell the whole story.  For example, I draw % of 2nd homes from the “Percent of Total Units Vacant for Seasonal or Recreational Use” which is not an exact equivocation.

Next, next

“End and goal; Not every end is a goal.  The end of a melody is not its goal: but nonetheless, had the melody not reached its end it would not have reached its goal either. A parable.”

-Nietzsche, Wanderer… #204

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A short time ago we were all set for a new adventure.  I’d been a fan of Seek Outside since I reviewed their first pack back in 2013, and thought I was the person to help take their packs into the future.  In the past month it became apparent that this was not the case, and this Monday we decided to part ways.

What’s next for us?  I’m not quite sure.

There have been many highlights, with the biggest by far being the interactions with readers (either here, BPL, Rokslide, or elsewhere) who were also customers.  At first it took me aback (sorry Joel), but quickly became a consistent if stochastic surprise (much appreciated Will).  Those who only know me online might be surprised to learn just what an introvert I am, and while in my previous career I spent many hours with strangers on the phone and in person, doing the same thing with people who already knew me after a fashion, and doing so about one of my greatest passions, was a privilege.  And more rewarding than I would have imagined.  A great thanks to all, and I hope to see you somewhere down the road.