2017-04-20

RoadTrip planning

I wanted to talk a little bit about how we decide what we're doing next.

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First of all, Angie does most of the effort, occasionally I look up something or other to help out, or because I'm interested in maybe going there. To do this she uses 2 websites really heavily.
This first is an incredible resource for finding camping. In the West I'll say that it's a lot less necessary, since you can usually just get in to a National forest and camp anywhere, but out East it was absolutely crucial to our avoiding sleeping in Walmart parking lots, stealthing, and the like.

The second is a similar site for rockclimbing locations.

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Her usual method is to look at Google maps for where the big forests are, particularly for backpacking routes, and the like. Next she'll do a quick Google search, to look for the more touristy things we might be interested in in the state... like say, airboat rides through the swamps in Louisiana, or a city she wants to visit, and locate those.

Then she'll pull up mountainproject and see if there's any good climbing in the state, and maybe pick out some areas that might be interesting. Then she'll pull up freecampsites.net and look for campsites that coincide with places we want to be. Sometimes she'll drop destinations because there's no good camping nearby, and it's not worth it. Sometimes we can make those locations stops on the route as we go from point to point, so we don't need camping nearby. Sometimes we'll go anyway if something is really exciting, or even pay for camping... but rarely.

Once we get to a forest we usually swing by the local ranger station. They'll often have tips for good hikes in the area, as well as info on where to get water, the local distributed camping rules, etc.

Then, armed with this information (campsites, and destinations) we play it by ear. In Louisiana we ended up inverting our whole plan due to both of us getting sick we beelined for the beach and worked our way north once we'd recovered, instead of south.

This kind of planning sometimes takes a whole day on the Internet, to figure out several weeks. She tries to do it in smaller chunks, a couple of weeks at a time... maybe looking farther ahead a bit only very vaguely, but in the end the goal is to identify destinations, and come up with a vague plan that we may or may not end up following, so we have something to work from.

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Rarely we do want to do something that requires a reservation, in this case we actually do have to plan stuff out to the day for a short time. Doing this is always a big burden, takes Angie much longer, and limits flexibility if something comes up, so we try to avoid it when we can.



More shelters of the southwest

Here's some photos of the Gila Cliff Dwellings. The caves formed naturally. A group of Mogollon people moved in during what we believe was a time of significant environmental pressure, particularly a major drought across the south-west. This is within easy reach of both the Gila river, and a spring-fed creak that runs there. They then built homes inside the caves. It appears they left not long after, so this site has been unused for quite some time. This is one of the only cliff dwellings that people are allowed in to.

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Note the T-shaped window. This is common of the ancient Puebloan style, but many other things (such as lack of circular rooms) indicate Mogollon. The Mogollons were friend's with Puebloans, and were not usually a cliff-dwelling culture, so this group probably picked up some of their ideas from the Puebloans.

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Sadly by the time the site was found i was very difficult to tell a lot of things. The site had already been trashed by people, and no-one has been able to pick out what route people actually used to get up the cliff. This cliff is not shear, a climber of moderate skill (such as myself), can nearly go straight up it.

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Here is a Morter, directly in the bedrock.

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This is a much smaller home, also likely of the Mogollon tribe. This one is constructed under a rock-shelter down in the valley. It looks like it's filled in a little with dust, even still we could stand up inside. Much of it has collapsed, but it would've been a lot more spacious than I expected actually.

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These shelters just look like such nice and comfortable homes. Warm in the summer, cool in the winter.

Near this location there are a number of pictographs as well.

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Not shelters, but as long as we're talking about pictographs, here's some neat petroglyph as well, that we saw down in Vallez Canyon... a difficult location to get to (we really needed the lifted 4x4), but neat anyway. I actually know nothing about the originating culture for these petroglyphs except that Gila has few petroglyphs (and thus it is believed Mogollon didn't make them).


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I've been reading "Neither wolf nor Dog" lately, so I was suddenly very aware of what this was, someone's home and entire life, and what it is now, a tourist attraction, though I don't yet have anything intelligent to say on the subject besides that.

2017-04-09

Some shelters from Texas and New Mexico

I just wanted to post some of the interesting shelters I've seen recently while traveling the southwest.

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First, here's a Jacal built by Gilberto Luna. It's a traditional style of mexican home. The Luna raised 8 kids in here, and lived to 108. At 5'6" I can stand at the very back, but no-where else in the shelter.

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The posts are sunk in to the earth just a bit. The whole shelter is dug in to the dirt a little in the back (though likely this is due to the slope behind it collapsing). It uses a boulder as the back wall, which is part of why the roof is taller there.


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The roof is wood beams, with ocotillo across it, held down against with with fencing wire. The version we saw had a layer of felt... this may be repairs or not, the man did raise sheep after all. Then there's dirt and such on top of that.


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Here's another random shelter we ran in to, this was someone's attempt to build a shelter up in the mountains of New Mexico. The roof looks pretty waterproof, made with layers of thick bark, but the sides are not windproof at all, the wind blows right through (as it did while we were there). Great rain shelter, not a great shelter on a cold night. It seemed like the walls used more material than needed, it must've taken a long time to build.

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This is a more traditional constructed house... sadly I didn't take any pictures of the various adobe structures we saw in various levels of destruction. Adobe is made by mixing manure mud, and drying it in to bricks. The bricks are then stacked in to a structure, using a similar mix as morter, and the final result is plastered over. This means it's made entirely with local materials (what modern folks call bushcraft :P). We noticed they often layed cables in to the layers of adobe, to help keep the walls from falling outwards I assume. The top beams are just layed directly on the mud. Then traditionally ocotio across that to make the roof.

The structure shown here I believe is part concrete. It's built in a style mixing mexican/spanish and anglo methods. But check out that awesome fireplace, with a stone header. A lot of the structures we'd seen actually used wood in that place (This was true for the various missions for example) - which probably works, but is a lot more likely to accidentally get burnt.