to simplify 2.0    notes from a life on the open road

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


I should probably clarify my remark the other day about my first stab at overnight backpacking being "not too far around the corner." See, I'm currently making my way back to LA over the next week or so, shortly after which I'll hop on a plane to go do the touring musician thing in Australia again for six weeks. 

You know, because someone has to. 

Anyway, the point is that that by "not too far around the corner," I meant sometime later this summer after my return to the States. In glacial terms at least, that is indeed right around the corner.

In the meantime, I'm getting sucked into various blogs by thru-hikers of the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, etc... and holy cats! Vandwelling in the wilderness is positively bourgeois by comparison. Suburbanites say that I'm really roughing it, but they don't know the half of it. 

Way up here in the forest outside Alpine, Arizona, it's dropping into the 30s tonight, yet I'm sitting in bikini weather thanks to my heater (no, I am not wearing a bikini), my stomach is full from the usual plate of grass-fed goodness, and I'm knocking back a smooth Newkie Brown Ale before calling it a night. Say what you want about this rolling life, but I'm hardly roughing it. 

Then yesterday, after a leisurely hike to a nearby hot spring, I lounged around the above campsite reading all day, spent a cool hour and a half or so playing Bridge online with my Pop (my newest hobby – consider it preparation for the swingin' golden years I foresee in some octogenarian-only RV park), and then settled in to watch a movie before hanging it up for the night. Again, not roughing it.

Meanwhile, these thru-hikers go for days at a time in the same clothes, with no heat, no internet or cell signal, a steady diet of granola-like stuff, blisters from walking 20+ miles a day, sometimes in the rain or snow... Listen up suburbanites – now that is roughing it. 

And it sounds completely awesome.

Monday, April 20, 2015


One of my more boneheaded moves – which really is saying something – kept me hanging around Silver City for several days until earlier this afternoon. Middle of last week, I woke up in Truth or Consequences, and shortly after breakfast realized that I had no idea where my wallet was. 

A full day of searching followed, including tearing the van apart, backtracking all the way to Las Cruces to the last place I recalled using anything in the wallet, and just generally wracking my brain to figure out what the hell could've happened to it. The wallet, not my brain – that's been a mystery of its own for some time now.

By evening, I was ready to throw in the towel, so started canceling credit cards and ordering replacements to be sent down the road to Silver City. Exhausted from the day's efforts, I decided the drivers license and a few other things could wait a day, so crawled into bed, felt something odd, reached down deep into my sleeping bag, and...found my damn wallet.

Now, ordering new credit cards is a process that's about as reversible as a back-alley vasectomy, so I've had several days in Silver City to kick myself while waiting for the new cards to replace my perfectly good old ones. On the upside, I got to hang out a bit with fellow nomad Ed and his bud Patches.

Better still, Patches and Ed gave me a whole bunch of backpacking gear that they no longer use. I've been itching to go beyond mere day hiking for the past year or two, but my lack of gear has made for a pretty foolproof excuse for putting it off. No more though. I still have a few items to round up, and a bit of learning to do I suppose, but this lifelong cityslicker's first forays into overnight backpacking aren't too far around the corner.

Think of it – an All-Star Bonehead all alone in the wilderness for days at a time, with little more than his wits to guide him. What could possibly go wrong?

Sunday, April 19, 2015


I came across this while looking for a practice room up at Western New Mexico University's music building yesterday:

Ah, the venerable Mac SE, complete with 9 inch monochrome display, 1MB of RAM, and a 10MB hard drive. How far we've come. The geezers out there will no doubt wax similarly about the Underwood, but the message is pretty much the same either way. Progress sure is something.

It's been just 25 years since the SE was discontinued, and the year-old smartphone in my back pocket is way more powerful. Not even close, actually. It makes you wonder what a similar exhibit will look like in another 25 years. They may have to provide a microscope so you can see it.

Thinking about it more later on, I realized that my spaceship is about the same age as that SE, and the parallels don't end there. Both models remain iconic to this day, their funky shape and design set them apart from a crowd of blah, and despite struggling to keep up with modern speed demons, both are still out there getting put to good use by nutjobs like me.