Now, by machines, we are torn loose from Earth —
too soon, too suddenly surrendered, the arts, skills, strengths,
that were our pride as Man.
Confined by our own edifice, borne up on vast abundance and colossal waste,
Restless, disconsolate, passing in higher, faster flight
over old arduous obstacles,
above old bitter boundaries,
we course across this dwindling globe that once seemed infinite,
Hoping to find some shell of civilization harboring still
the echoes of old faiths, passions, and delights;
we descend into the seas, scale the last dread peaks, cross ice caps, dare outer space,
seeking somewhere, in some last far place, our birthright: the wild majesty,
beauty, freedom through which for a million years Man grew,
— too few of us aware that to any beauty we must come as lovers, not destroyers,
come humbly, softly, to look, listen, learn,
to cherish and to shield.

— Nancy Newhill, 1960

There are flights. There is jazz music. There is love, and there are traffic jams. Beneath everything is soil and life, mycelium, bacteria, and death. It suits us to ignore our literal foundation in the earth – the better to make use of it. But only for as long as we can sustain our footing can we simultaneously leech it’s support. With global communication must come a global awareness reminding us that our collective activities do not conveniently sink in to an unaffected environment. Nature notices everything.

That’s how I’m feeling lately. A look at grad school in environmental education has reminded me of a purpose I always knew: to work for the earth is to do good. Leaving dogma at the door and treading lightly with morals, I have always felt that working for the earth is working with your hands; it is showing others the door to mother Nature’s heart, which is in fact each individual’s heart combined; it is choosing to eschew certain of our common practices; it is remembering old ways of doing things; it is watching each footfall, minding each life taken for my life prolonged, and drinking water with gratitude. My generation, and successive ones to come, have been handed a conflict in terms, forced into a lifestyle that we know will undo us. We can only look to higher and higher technology to do better what we have forgotten to do for ourselves. Yet the vast gains in efficiency and knowledge that will be the legacy of global information exchange can only hasten our collapse, which we know, but which we choose to ignore. Or maybe, rather than considering a collapse of civilization, we would do better to consider a lift-off, a massive forgetting. One day soon the children of the world will not know most of the species that we know, outside of printed images. They will be untethered by the burden of a failing reality, since most of what was will be already gone. The teeming of life, if they ever have access to any of it, will be a quiet, static spectacle for them.

These are the worries and considerations that define the worth of showing someone a peak-rimmed lake, or a white bark pine, or a fox’s track. With discoveries in nature come discoveries in oneself. When the trees have names then even a dog-hair forest of lodgepole pine becomes inherently good, worth keeping. Worth not-destroying. I don’t know where a Masters in Environmental Education will take me, but I believe that it will be a positive step in the path back to the ground. Back to remembering.

bisononmoon

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January 30, 2015

 IMG_20150122_085850403_HDRAlthough as I write this I’m sitting at my friend Evan’s table in Missoula, Montana, I’ve largely given up this town as my home. For ten years I’ve lived, studied, and worked here; I’ve traveled away, always returning to the warm arms of friends and sunny, south facing mountains. But this winter things have changed. The house that I was living in with my girlfriend Kindra was put up for sale and sold. We moved out, and she moved to Paonia, Colorado, for an internship with High Country News. I failed to land a full-time job here in town that would have kept me grounded, so now I’m flying, or treading water, as they say: once again homeless and wondering what the next big thing will be. It’s a situation I’m starting to get used to. I’ve gone back to guiding cross-country ski trips in Yellowstone National Park, a short-term job that pays huge dividends in fun, adventure, experience in the outdoors, and interesting photographs. The job pays reasonably well in money, too, but my season ends next week, so I’ll once again wonder what to do.missou

In my late teens, something inside of me said that I should give up judgement on people and things, that I should take things in with fresh eyes every day and forgive what doesn’t seem quite right. Giving up judgment altogether isn’t exactly practical, but I followed the notion as well as I could. That single shift in intent of behavior has informed much of my subsequent path, often causing me to stumble on the normal hurdles of life that others seem effortlessly to stride over – a predictable schedule; a full-time job; interests and hobbies that are contingent on living in the same place for long periods; a stable community of friends. I’ve wanted all of these things at times, but I’ve also found huge advantage and interest in keeping an open mind to my own whereabouts and activities. As a child I would spend long moments staring at blades of grass (often at soccer practice), convinced that, to a consciousness small enough, just one of those single green runways would make up all the conceivable world. All of this is to say that, even in the discomfort of not knowing what to do or who to be, I am ok with what my life is. I believe that, in truth, none of us know.IMG_20141231_113823552_HDR

Then comes the feeling of adventure. The mystery of risk and the unknown makes my heart beat stronger. We can say that everything has been mapped and seen, but we so easily forget what lies beyond our own personal territories. The focus of the world’s eye misses more scenes of intrigue and color than it catches; hard to reach places, even those in guide books, hide momentous occasions. And it is up to the observer who finds him- or herself there to be the right kind of catalyzing delegate, one who can create the spark of a new feeling from an interaction between people and places never before put in that single combination. I know a secret about this kind of travel. Over land, It is done best on a bicycle.IMG_20150129_135409876_HDR

In mid-february I will take a vacation to central Florida. Starting in Ocala, a most inauspicious place, three friends and I will ride 300 miles through national forest backwaters and swamps, on dirt roads and trails. I have no idea what we’ll find there, no expectations of who we’ll meet. I do expect to find some alligators, both alive and wild, and cooked on my plate. Otherwise, the trip is an open book. I’ll be taking the mountain bike that I made from a pile of thin-walled steel tubing, using bags that my friend Paul, who is organizing the trip, made from reams of tear-proof cloth. The workmanship of risk – that fail-factor by which an intricate process of creation can be brought to the ground at any moment by inattention, inexperience, or impatience – applies both to the making of my chosen vehicle and the making of an adventure. All considerations for success must be held in balance and carefully maintained. In my experience, hope must be held highest: hope that everything will go according to the plan and align with consistent laws of physics, which don’t always seem to hold true. As for the Huracan 300 bike packing route to be tackled this coming month, here’s hoping it will be a great adventure.IMG_20150122_090932436_HDR

Zero gravity in Yellowstone

We went to the Yellowstone Canyon before breakfast looking for the “pillar of light.” This phenomena is supposed to occur early in the morning, when the angle of the sun is low, between temperatures of -10 to -20 degrees. Not much colder, not much warmer. In those conditions, uplifting thermals will combine with the mist from the nearby Lower Falls, and with a pocket hot spring nearby, to send shafts of water vapor and snow in vertical columns, which then get caught by the hazy light. We didn’t see that, exactly, but I did catch this moment while looking…

Stories to come, when the days get longer.

Photo dump from Globe, AZ

October 7, 2012

I originally wrote this post two weeks ago, in Tempe. Due to computer errors and incompatibility, here it is, many days later. I write this on a decades old processor in the lobby of an El Paso, TX hostel – at 10:30 pm, everyone in the group is sound asleep except for me. My eyes are burning, my lips are chapped, my butt is sore. We are almost 1000 miles into our Southern Tier adventure, and I cannot describe what I’ve seen well enough to do it justice. Please consider the photos below to be a thousand well-written words apiece. Goodnight until more wakeful times – the desert night is warm and dreamy.

Back To It

September 10, 2012

Seasons change, season change seasonchange…where are you? Is your season changing? You step out of the house, throw your leg over your bicycle and pedal down the road, coast down a hill, maple trees hang overhead making a tunnel of green. The air that blows by you is cooler

and tinged with a sweet scent that you can’t quite put your finger on. It might be sap oozing out of constricting tree trunks, it might be the new layer of rot below the new fallen leaves, scattered in the gutter. It’s still summer, after all, but you’re thinking now of leaf piles thigh deep, of bare branches, and of spring coming again after a long winter.

Well, I’m having none of that. Like the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, I have begun my winter migration. Now in Los Angeles, in 6 days I will begin a cross country bicycle tour from San Diego, CA, to St. Augustine, FL. I’ll be riding with a group of 14 no doubt kooky individuals, and we will most likely bond tightly together for 66 days over the hardships and wonderships of touring across the country. Day 5 will land us in Brawley, CA, where the forcasted high for that day is an even 100 degrees. The low will drop down to a whopping 73, which makes me think that I’ve overdone it a bit with my 15 degree sleeping bag. Day 18 will bring us to Silver City, NM, the gateway to the Gila Wilderness Area, which is the first designated wilderness area in the world, the brainchild of Aldo Leopold, and the home to some miraculous cliff dwellings. By day 36 we’ll be all the way to Austin, Texas, the home of the unbesmirchable, world-renowned cycling star James Clayton –  http://www.bicycling.com/mountainbikecom/featured-stories/thief-among-us. Oops. Austin is also a place of great tacos, and music too. Day 49 will find us in Bogalusa, Louisiana, having just visited New Orleans, also a place of great music, and probably tacos, too. I’m really excited to see this cosmopolitan anomaly of American cities, and to visit the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, as well as the Lafayette Cemetery, number 1. We will also stay a night on Dauphin Island, on the Gulf Coast, and spend a considerable amount of time in Florida, skirting around Tallahassee before reaching St. Augustine on the Atlantic Coast. Check back in here for updates and pictures from the road – I promise to post relatively frequently!

In fact, I miss the Autumn of the northern climes already. I love it when weather systems kick in again, when rain offsets the sunshine to make it all the more precious, and when the majority of people leave the trailheads of the best hikes for the warm indoors. It’s the seasons of transition that make us most philosophical, that inspire thoughts of the greatest beauty and faith in the world. That’s why we hold elections at the height of all that, isn’t it?

I’m sorry to the hordes of readers who look to this blog for…something, I’m not sure what. It has remained unupdated for so long, and so much has happened in the meantime, to you and to me. Instead of recapping and making this post even longer, here’s links to what I’ve been into this summer. Before returning from Europe: http://www.modrofuz.sk/workshopy-pre-mechanikov-aj-beznych-cyklistov/. After returning from Europe, I helped to lead the JettRide: http://jettride.jettfoundation.org/category/blog/. Since finishing the JettRide, I had surgery to repair an inguinal hernia: http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/tc/inguinal-hernia-surgery. Don’t look at images for inguinal surgery on a google search. Don’t do it. That was a few weeks ago, and I have been paying close attention to my recovery since then. In addition to recovery, I also bought a motorcycle (really!). It needs some work, but boy is that thing a blast to drive around. I hope to tour with it someday, but never as a replacement for the perfection that is a bicycle.

odds and ends

May 14, 2012

I know what you’ve been thinking. Riding on your skateboard, your mountain bike, your fixie, or your daily driver, you’ve been thinking, gee, this is fun. But I feel like it could be funner. I feel like we as a society passed something by that could have caught hold. Something freeing, transportive, and stylish. But rollerblading is dead, after all. Oh well…

But wait! If you thought rollerblading wasn’t cool anymore, think again. You just have to go somewhere far away to find it (and you have to call it inline skating). Hence, one sunny weekday in the outskirts of Bratislava:

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Refreshing to see. Some these people are even commuting. There are separated paths for cyclists and bladers, and periodically spaced refreshment bars, serving beer, cola, and barbeque, for the parched and protien depleted.

I made an avant gard strawberry rhubarb pie last night. Strawberries from Greece, rhubarb from Zuzka’s garden, pie plate more like a tort plate. Crust artfully deliscious. Dad would be proud.Image

We seem to be going through a weekly cycle of weather, where the sun shines brilliantly until Friday morning, and then takes a break for the weekend. Well, we don’t let a little cloud-cover ruin our fun. Last weekend we caught a ride with one of Zuzka’s co-workers and her Italian husband to Trieste, a port city in the very northeast corner of Italy. A nice first glimpse of the Mediterranean (the Adriatic, actually, but my geographic sense is not refined enough to distinguish). ImageImageImage

So there is the scenery. Here is what we look like in front of a 1,500 year old Roman arch:

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Here’s a genuine Italian meat shop and a genuine Italian espresso bar (called Amigos Cafe):

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A Roman amphitheater, a nice building, and a final view of the city:

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That’s it from Italy (it was a quick trip), thanks Eva and Walter!

To finish, here is an odd looking wildflower in Bratislava,Image a really freaky Czech bug, Image a quick drawing I did of my friend Marosh, Image and the absence of about 20 semi-trucks on the highways: Image.

Next time, Neo-classicism in Southern Moravia, weekend rain, and bicycles. Always more bicycles.

Our Big Hike

May 3, 2012

It’s hard not to compare Slovakia with Montana, even though the cultural differences could not be more pronounced. Still, there is a grace given to the landscapes of both places by largely unpopulated countryside punctuated with beautiful, green hills. Here’s a photo of the bike that I’m riding while I’m here, plus some of that landscape: Image

As in Montana, I try to spend my free time here exploring what wild lands remain. My previous visit here being in winter, I didn’t really get to see what Slovakia had to offer, until now. Last weekend Zuzka and I met our two friends Majka and Janko for a fieldtrip in the Mala Fatra mountains. Actually we were in a National Park, but it’s one of those Rational Parks of the world, without enterance gates/fees, paved trails, and showerless campgrounds. We slept here: Image

But to get there, we had to hike a gruelling 17 miles up to a high ridge and then along it, up and over cliffs, across snow fields, beyond the summits of numerous mountains, and beyond. To begin the hike though, in true European fashion, we checked out some castles: Image

This is Strechno Castle, in the town of Strechno, where we began our hike. The town:ImageFresh faced at the start:Image

Strechno’s old castle:ImageImageImage

We stopped here to eat lunch Image

then climbed into the snow Image

finally to make it here, which we thought was near the end but was only just the beginning…ImageImage

Majka and Janko take a rest…Image

And then we walk into some incredible scenery, more and more fatigued as we go. ImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Thus we made it to the Chata pictured earlier, slept in their attick, and ate a hearty dinner with fellow guests. Some people were up there for spring skiing, others for hiking, and others didn’t seem to know why they were there, but everyone enjoyed the weather. The next day we hiked down, via a very pretty waterfall.

ImageImageImageImageImageImage And we made it happily back to earth. The end:)

Back to Bratislava

April 24, 2012

Hi friends,

Those of you who care to read this have come not to expect very much in the way of frequent updates. I hope that this blog simply serves a few of my friends and family as an occasional surprise in your otherwise humdrum internet browsing experience. Someday maybe I will post a serial novel here. Or maybe an amateur radio show about bike mechanics. Or I’ll make a compendium of bike touring experience so large and complete that…nevermind, it’s already been done. Anyway, here’s some travel stories, with photos.

I am back in central Europe, staying with my now on-again girlfriend Zuzana, whom most of you know personally. It’s a beautiful spring for us. The lilacs are blooming, the beech (I think) and oak forests have exploded with a greenery that usually feels rarer than gold, people are slowly daring to take off their heavy coats (which means that Slovak women reveal their uniformly super-modelesque physiques), and the mood is generally sunny. Here’s an atypical view of the city. I took it for the great contrast of vinyard and old building in foreground, crazy soviet monument mid-shot, and region-typical apartment blocks near the horizon. Image

A couple more shots of the city before moving on to the spring green. Taken from the same vantage point, here is Bratislava’s castle. Notice the wind turbines in the background. They sit firmly in Austria, not Slovakia. Slovaks haven’t yet decided whether wind is a good idea. Although Bratislava has, I would say, a surplus of the stuff.Image

And here is Kamzik, a gigantic radio tower on a hill overlooking the city. This photo was taken during a hike in the hills.Image

These pictures look darker than they did in real life…. Ok, Here is Zuzka in a tree:ImageHere is me in a tree:Image

And here is us in the tree: Image Here is the forest: Image

We took a long hike from a village called Stupava back to Bratislava. The trails are all marked with these painted markers: ImageThe hike started by taking us to a ruined castle, the name of which I forget at the moment…

There were climbers climbing the base of the castle. Only in Europe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another dark picture that really wasn’t so dark in real life, but it looks nice:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thus, more or less, ended our hike. A few more photos of the city, and then I’m signing off. I hope to make more posts more often, but I also make no promises about that. Be well.

I don’t have too much to say, and less time to say it. These early nights and early mornings are great, but not for blogging. Let pictures tell the story. I hope that these photos will inspire you to ride your bike today.