Mugology: Three Great Tastes

Inspired by this huge cup, picked up at the Hershey store in Las Vegas, I am now officially hunting down Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup coffee.

Yeah, it will probably be gross, but I’m willing to risk it.

Patchology: Saddleback Butte

As the Summer turns to fall, the shores turn chill and the hillsides to tinder, the eyes of the camper (and Scoutmaster) turn toward the desert. October through March is prime camping time in California’s arid regions. Days are comfortable, nights are chilly but not arctic, and enough animals are active during the day to make hiking more than a long walk.

One of my favorite places in the desert is Saddleback Butte State Park, a modest, Joshua Tree-girt peak located in the heart of a triangle between Palmdale, Victorville, and Edwards Air Force Base. The campsites are mostly primitive, but there are toilets and showers, making extended stays possible.

I have been twice, and only on the last trip – in early 2020 – was I in the kind of shape to take on the crest of the Butte. It’s about a 1,200′ rise in about 4 miles, but the altitude is enough to tucker someone in poor shape, and the last 100 feet is a scramble not far from some fairly sheer cliffs. Summiting this modest promontory was more satisfying that I had imagined it would be, and vistas from Palmdale to east to Victorville and Edwards south to the ridges behind Wrigtwood on a bright and clear day were a huge payoff. I only regret not having taking better pictures.

I rewarded myself and my scouts with the above patch, purchased from the park gift shop in a trailer at the north end of the park, just as I had watched my predecessor do on our last trip.

This will go on a brag rag of some sort, either a blanket or a shirt. Either way, it is a favorite. I hope to go back soon: the campground is a delight and worth the drive.

Mugology: Zona Dreams

I picked up this little fellow in a tiny shop in Williams, Arizona while waiting to go in for dinner at the Red Raven. It’s cheesy, but it reminds me that I’ll live there again one day, when the fires, mudslides, quakes, crowds, taxes, and cost of living all get to be too much.

Patchology: Presidential Champion

Back in July I talked about how important the President’s Challenge and the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) were to me changing my thinking and my lifestyle, to getting me off my ass, off of fast food, and onto a much better life.

After earning the PALA four times, I decided to take on a much tougher challenge, the Presidential Champions Award. I managed to make it to the Bronze Award finally in 2016 year, and was starting work on Silver when the program was terminated in August 2017 by a President for whom “fitness” was, apparently, a four-letter word. 

So I am doubly proud of this award, which is the highest recognition that I have received for any physical activity since I was in High School. It took me the better part of a year to complete the requirements, and by the time I had completed it, fitness had become a part of my life, rather than something that intimidated me.

My GeekWatch

Of all of the watches that I can afford, this one remains my favorite. I’m now on my third Casio ProTrek. No, they’re not legacy watches: they last about ten years or so, even with regular service. But the last one I owned I literally wore everywhere, including some shallow scuba dives, and it only needed service when I took it below 20 meters too many times. They’re solar-charged, glow in the dark, are lightweight and tough as hell.

Don’t tell my wife this, but I’ve never been a Swiss luxury watch kind of guy, and the Apple Watch just seems like overkill. Between my Casio ProTrek and my Garmin Fenix3, I’ve got all of the timepieces I’ll ever need: geek watches for the trip, trail, and workshop.

 

Patchology: Hometown Heroes

I grew up watching Emergency! from age seven to fourteen, alternating throughout between a simple buff and wanting to be a firefighter. It seems I have chosen the former path, and as a part of that collect patches of fire departments that are relevant to me.

This shoulder patch, worn by the Los Angeles County Fire Department paramedics in the show, naturally belongs at the top of my collection, since it commemorates when my fascination with firefighting began.

Mugology – Travel Companion

 

My wife bought this insulated steel travel mug one day when we were standing in line at the Pinnacle Plaza Starbucks in Beijing back in about 2001. The motives were purely mercenary, as Starbucks in China was offering to take ¥1 RMB off of the price of a coffee each time you brought your own cup.

Given how often I was going to Starbucks in Beijing, I’d take this with me each day. I started traveling with it so that I could get similar deals elsewhere in China, and then found they were even offering such incentives in other countries as well.

This mug, my first, went everywhere with me. It has been dropped, kicked, and bounced by me, by the occasional bumbling barista, and by the reliably gentle baggage handlers it encountered, and it shows the dings and dents you would expect. But it still holds coffee, still stands mostly straight on the table, and still travels with me.

Happy Friday!

The danger of traveling and exploring with a DSLR camera is the temptation to focus on capturing the images rather than focus on living the experiences.

I don’t want to live my life through a viewfinder.

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