A Wonderful Life at the “Swimming Hole”. Texas.

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Paragraphs of Daily Thoughts, some Mental Therapy and some reviews of our “well seasoned” Gear. Published Weekly or so.

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“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.”
~ Edward Abbey ~ [Desert Solitaire]

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With Capital letters it is, as someone just wrote to us. About us. “A Wonderful Life”. What to think? It is so and not so. I have come a long way to even contemplate such words. If Lance had remained amongst us this Life of ours would not exist. Not as it has been these past a bit over 6 years. It has been his “Gift”. This wealth found within me, in my Heart and Soul would not be as such present. There would not have been hundreds of pages of thoughts written, 100,000+ photos would have never been taken, thousands of miles ridden, new true Friendships would have not existed. The wealth has always been there though. I have not changed much truly. I always took pride in my Life, my Profession, such as which actually had never made me think as I had worked a single day in my Life due to the Passion I had for it. Failure, as today, was never an option. Chef Ara! Those were the days turning down as much business as taking it on as I worked mainly alone booked 2 to 3 years in advance. I took pride then on as I take pride of Now, our present Life.

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The bank account was full. How ironic we now live a whole month on what was at one time a one day income. Of course as inflation catches up it is becoming a bit harder, but all and all, just shows it can be done. Fortunate I feel it is as such. The "freedom" is intense expanding itself by the day making Life actually harder when it comes to taking on a decision. Another irony. It is always the thought of consequences. They are the ones playing a role daily. And I guess I am not the only one thinking as such as this thought makes me smile, borderline a bit "laugh". When I recently cut my ties with Magazines refusing to pay what was agreed on as I now understand a pretty common aspect, teaching at Rallies, interviews and so forth, acquaintances realizing there was nothing left to suck out of our Life have disappeared. They were also thinking about their own consequences I have no doubt now. What a relief it has been taking on another step to find myself again with such freedom.

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So what about this Wonderful Life? One tainted because of it’s reasons in itself being what it is today? Of course I would trade within that millisecond having my Son back, would trade my own Life without any questions what so ever. But, that cannot be done and just as I have learned about "consequences" I have also learned what "acceptance" is as the choice is mine, as that choice is present for everyone to choose the path they will ride on. Life is deep when one such as I has the time of thoughts interminable not so often broken up as today the outer visions, sights and feels have blended with a mind all in unison. Maybe that is the lesson amongst the many of past times, present ones and let’s not forget the ones to come. It is the lesson. It lies within our Heart and nowhere else.

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There are no illusions of grandeur I felt so strongly as with the too many I have dealt in this recent past. There are no illusions period. Just be. Not a step backward or forward only trying to stay in synch with these present moments. The space has grown, it’s distance between it’s cliffs by the day is expending, the waves are calmer trying to grasp the true reality and not the man made fantasy so prevalent these days within the outdoor and adventure industries gone mad and over saturated. The feelings are free, it is only the ability to let them bounce back from this stage in constant change of colors, dimensions, textures and the skies painted so often by the clouds moving on so freely as maybe sending us themselves the message to follow their own tracks.

Our neighborhood for these winter times this Year.

Is it so hard to shed years of discipline? Years of a constant attention to a calendar, a watch, appointments? A certain discipline must remain though as Nature is not forgiving when on taking a wrong step. Plan B and C and further always has to be in one’s mind as the dirt tracks will not provide any helps if and when straying. But the watch and the calendar are gone for most of it’s part with only the seasons left in mind trying to follow them between the northern spaces in the spring, summer and fall, the southern ones in winter times. As now. It becomes almost as a ritual to take on such paths and yet the roads are of many in this vast country taken from East or a bit more West. A giant loop year after year.

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The weather has spoiled us here this time around. We have fallen into a timeless zone more than ever. Thoughts of riding up to Northern Texas has for now vanished with yet so many roads here not ridden and experienced. We received word from our Friends that the road to what we call here "The Swimming Hole" has been open, redone actually. The same one we almost got stuck on not too long ago. This is where Terlingua Creek and Alamo de Cesario Creek intersect. I cannot post a map because it is private property. Years of sculpturing the rocks. Another magical space where we have been before, where all has remained the same as such sculptures will not change within our time and yet to my own eyes is always so different with unchanged changes.

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Every step is a discovery of a new shape, a new color and formation. The thoughts of it’s time taken to smooth out such forms is of an amazing path going down the past centuries when others where present and maybe throughout their own generations witnessed the changes and the final touches as I see them today. The waters were calm, we will never be there in flash flood times but my imagination can see the reel of such mixed in with the road of waters so slowly yet violently eroding the exposed curves and crevasses which today makes this space what it is. 

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All about our Gear

The Exped Multimat/Sleeping Pad/Chair combo

To start with it is important to understand that I never claim what I use on the road being the best. The market is so totally over saturated with camping products almost as generating Twitter and Facebook verbal wars as 9 out 10 weekend warriors are trying to make a buck writing product reviews so barely tested for a few hours. What I use is merely what works well while staying with manufacturers I have dealt with for the past over 20 years, often more. It is just about sharing for the ones that also would like comfort, and specially warmth outdoors in colder times, cool in hotter days. Durability, protection. Those items are not cheap, they need to last as with us they are exposed to the elements 24/7/365. That said I had been intrigued for a while now with the sleeping pad/chair combos as my own chair has seen better days and my pad was a while back stolen.

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I have used Exped’s products for years and always liked their quality and the one on one telephone conversations sometimes needed to really get a better explanation of details. They have many sleeping pads. I picked the SIM Comfort 10 because of it’s comfort and also it’s R rating of 9.5, meaning it would keep me warm, besides a sleeping bag, for temperatures dropping as low as -54F. Such temps will never happen with us but I have learned to choose exceeded expectations. “SIM 10” meaning a height when inflated of 10 centimeters, versus the “SIM 7.5” which obviously also when inflated would have a thickness of 7.5 centimeters. Why not? A little bit more weight and bulk, but again, a better protection against the cold, more comfort specially since I was going to also use it as a chair.

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Needless to say it has been the most comfortable and warm pad I have ever slept on. I like the fact of having two separate valves, one for inflation and obviously the other one for deflation. I throw it in the tent as soon as it is up and left alone it fills with enough air to use it as a chair. When night time comes I will use the little pump with my hands to add a bit more air, maybe 10 pump actions as I found out being inflated too much will take some of the comfort away. Morning comes, I deflate it a bit and again there is my chair for the day. The huge advantage of this combo is the fact that I can now sit "in the tent" if needed in bad weather or vestibule since it has no legs. An interesting concept since I read a lot and was not able to do as such before with my previous chair.

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The Multimat was an after thought. A tarp would probably work, but the 2 mm layer of EVA foam underneath and the upside made of fast drying ripstop nylon made it of an attractive offering. And it is as only weighing 1 Oz measuring 79×39". It is now an "off shoe" zone for me and I must say it feels real good on the feet as I compare it a bit to a room with no walls. The foam by the way has held up real well even when used on rocky surfaces.

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On to the sleeping pad the chair kit is added and remains without ever taking it off. I do remove the four stakes/rods when the pad is rolled up but they do stay in when used as a sleeping pad. I find it to be a smart configuration as the backing can be adjusted for different lean angles. I have found myself even falling asleep while reading, Spirit of course taking on that watch. Time to pack? The rods are removed, the pad is deflated first by itself while I pack up the tent and then on rolled and tied with two straps. It is that easy… and that comfy!

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Photos Galleries are on Smugmug

2013 Calendars in both styles can be ordered through Lulu  LuLu Journal

Calendar Nature

Spirit Calendar

Stay well,
               Ara and Spirit

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4 Responses to “A Wonderful Life at the “Swimming Hole”. Texas.”

  1. Doug smith Says:

    nice video and tunes.

  2. The Desert Scruff Says:

    Ara, quite a while back you published photos of your gear spread out. Included in your kitchen stuff was a hand brass coffee grinder. I think it had belonged to your grandmother. Boy, the hand grinders I’d tried over the years were worthless and I hate pre-grinding a bunch of coffee; it tastes lousy in a few days. I found a brass grinder made in Germany that was expensive, will last forever and works great. Like you say, good gear is expensive but it lasts and it does the job.

  3. texascindy Says:

    Enjoyed going to the old swimming hole with you, even if only in pictures! Like you, I can sit and gaze at the rocks and the different formations and I am amazed at the years and amount of water it took to create them. I think in thousands, though, not millions. But however long it took, it is beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Pam Says:

    Every time I check in with you and Spirit it makes my day! I get a silly smile on my face and sweet envy in my gut…be safe.

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