Weather Forecasts | Weather Maps | Weather Radar

I Tend to Wander

This blog chronicles oddly-themed travel and food adventure in the Americas and Europe

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Warm Mongolians

Well, I've taken up knitting. I am throwing my mittens in the kitty for the Dulaan Project, an effort to supply warm, well-made clothing to Mongolian children spear headed by FIRE, the Flagstaff International Relief Effort, Mossy Cottage, Knits, and the Kunzang Palyul Choling Buddhist community of Sedona Arizona. 'Dulaan' means 'warm', they say. Not just 'warm' like 'toasty- cozy', but 'warm' like 'kind'.

When one thinks of Mongolia, one sees, perhaps, shepherd ghers on a vast and grassy steppe in the spanking wind under a bottomless sky, Silk Roads and silver, shaggy ponies and galloping hordes. Like parts of Kansas,one thinks, but with really awful Soviet architecture all buried under mounds of mutton. One would be pretty close to right about all of those things, but might need to add to that bright and windy vision, that, in December and January, just before the spring time dust storms, the temperature plummets to a lunar - 30 degrees. One might also fail to toss into the mix homeless Mongolians huddled in the subterranean heating ducts of Ulan Bataar for months. Dreaded "dzud' disaster blizzards so brutal and relentless they freeze shepherds' eye-balls and kill not just the sheep and dogs, but the wolves.

In knit-ins across this country and possibly others, the Dulaan Project is supplying warming, even life-saving, mittens, scarves, hats, tuques, baclavas, afghans, and sweaters.

42% mountainous and .7% arable, this is no place to be without a scarf.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


At Survival 101 school, we heard piles of terrific stories, one happy one in which an unassuming, but industrious little lady, having gone down in white-out conditions in her Sesna on the way to a Girl Scout jamboree, drew a huge and successful distress signal in the snow with Kool-Ade.

Another was a morbid nugget of physiological trivia. Did you know that, when a person freezes to death, in the last moments, when all the blood has retreated to the core in a last ditch effort to surround and protect the heart and brain, in a sudden and final flash, all heat is suddently released giving the sensation of being on fire and the victim leaps up and runs around tearing off his clothes. People would be found half naked and dead. Rape or some horrible molestation was suspected until more was learned about the physiology of hypothermia and this stage is now called "paradoxical undressing."

Gosh. Makes me shiver just to think.

Hike Massanutten: Pine, Stone, Fog, and Death

An hour west of Washington DC, the northern prow of Massanutten Mountain rises up like a fifty mile long ship plying the Shenandoah River. This northern prow end is called Signal Knob. It rises above the Shenandoah Valley and the little town of Strasburg which has the worst Mexican food in the most beguiling restaurant on the planet with mounds of lush palms and Latin American-y coleuses whizzing and banging and fiesta-ing all over like sirens luring you onto the rocks and a horrid and pointless death by insipid salsa. Luckily, it is frequently closed, or at least is on Mondays as are all the restaurants in Strasburg even the one that said, "We treat you like family", but when we pressed our noses to the chicken wire embedded glass in the bolted door there was a sign in the vestibule above a basket of improbably red geraniums that said, "Premises under video surveillance for your protection."

Monday must be the day before the supply ship comes, and Strasburg was down to seige rations and every single one of the restaurants were battened down shut and the only one that wasn't should have been. Sitting down, I leaned my elbow in a puddle of Pepsi and a girl with yellow rubber bands on her braces (I hope) handed us a menu and said, "There's really no sense in looking in there, ma'am. We only have the Country Baked Beans and the Tuna Melt? Do you want that?" and a little girl from the next table with a lazy eye came over to our table and wanted to eat our pickles.

I too love Fort Valley/Elizabeth Furnace. We bike there and I have a really spectacular scar from a cataclysmic crash from bombing down a fire road near Elizabeth Furnace on a lovely summer day.

Once, we were chased by grouse.

This Black bear may have fallen from a tree, which does happen, but was probably killed by poachers for its gall-bladder. Those jerks.