‘The Last Best Place’

Yesterday, Emily and I slowly and carefully made our way home from our bi-weekly trip to southern Vermont. While Emily navigated the rain and slush, our red Husky, Cinnamon, dozed in the back seat with her food bowl resting against her forehead. In between troubleshooting calls from work, I casually flipped through the pages of the latest issues of Rovers Magazine and Backpacker. Maybe I’m ADD, maybe it’s because magazines are filled with photos, illustrations, and infographics with advertising forcing its way onto nearly every page, or maybe it’s just a product of information overload in every facet of our lives, but I never seem to read the articles until I’ve spent numerous sessions skimming the whole magazine and have gained all I possibly can from doing so. I had apparently finished surveying the terrain as I soon found myself completely engulfed in a Backpacker article.

While somewhat prominently listed in the table of contents, this particular narrative should have had a teaser on the cover at the very least. Even now, at 4am, I’m forced to write this with the hope that my mind can then set the imagery and remeniscing on the skill of the story teller aside for a few hours. This fantastic tale in which three friends followed an un-labeled, hand-drawn map into the Sierras in the summer of ‘79 in search of a small cabin with “MAGIC LIVES HERE” written in the smoke curling from its chimney was submitted to Backpacker in 1983. It is utterly unbelievable and yet, considering the author disappeared on a hiking trip in 1987 leaving no way to verify the story, completely understandable that this was never published until now.

I couldn’t quite comprehend how the following short wire from August 20th, could possibly pull a reader-submitted story out of some filing cabinet where it had sat for over twenty years, but, in hindsight, one can easily imagine how memories of that outlandish story of teenagers finding tranquility and John Muir’s journal in the Sierras might’ve1 flooded back in.

August 20, 2010, MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. (AP) – United States Forest Service officials are refusing to comment on reports that a hiker recently discovered a journal buried near a stone cabin deep in Inyo National Forest, in southern Sierra Nevada, or on speculation that the journal and cabin both belonged to famed outdoorsman John Muir, who died in 1914.

“There are lots of things buried in the mountains,” said a Forest Service official who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, “and there are probably huts and cabins that only a handful of people have ever seen. That doesn’t mean they’re important, or anything to get excited about.”

I’d highly suggest you grab a copy of the November 2010 Backpacker, turn to page 85—or just browse the magazine a few times first, as long as you don’t forget—and read “The Last Best Place”. You won’t be disappointed.

November 2010 Backpacker magazine cover

1SPOILER ALERT: I said “might’ve” because I could find no record of the above wire nor the author-gone-missing, making the backstory of its origins highly suspect. In fact, it is a piece by one Steve Friedman who has contributed to Backpacker in the past (including another fictional account under a different pseudonym). This is a wonderful, hopeful piece of fiction which has put further flame to that inner desire to escape to the wilderness which exists in many of us. It harkens back to reading My Side of the Mountain as a child.


FunRoverA Land Rover Blog for Landy nuts by Landy nuts.

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying this fresh, new Land Rover blog. It is well written, well designed, and quite informative.

Most of the Land Rover blogs I stumble upon are either restoration diaries, devoted to over the top modifications for mudding & rock crawling, or plastered with advertising. This one, while still in its infancy, feels well curated. Focusing on Defenders and motoring in the U.K., it follows their own motoring & green laning experiences, reviews products they’ve tested with their Land Rover, covers responsible driving, and other Land Rover-centric discussion.

Here’s to their success!

The Commute

Nearly a year later, the 1982 Land Rover Series III 88” is really road worthy and, as it’s my only inspected vehicle, I’ve finally taken the plunge and it’s become my daily driver. It’s slow. And rough. And loud. And still needs a lot of work. And I absolutely love it!

Every weekday I commute from Shelburne, VT, to Waitsfield, VT. It’s a long, but beautiful drive as I circumnavigate Camel’s Hump. In my car, I generally headed up Route 7, skipped over I-189 to I-89, got off in Waterbury and headed over Route 100 to Waitsfield. It’s easy and relatively efficient. When summer rolled around I would often cut over to Route 116, meander down & over through Huntington, climb Route 17 over the Appalachian Gap, descend into Waitsfield, and take Route 100 the last stretch to the office.

However, the Land Rover is a different beast altogether. The highway is right out since it really only pushes 55 MPH without an overdrive. Even that feat requires quite the long, flat stretch of asphalt. While I know it can handle the App Gap, the amount of time spent in the extremely slow and raucous 3rd gear would be unbearable on a daily basis, although I’m sure I’ll do it a few times for the view.

For the week before I even started driving the Land Rover, I started honing a shorter, slower, lower traffic route that missed all the town centers. Mostly because my car was not inspected and I had become the not-so-proud owner of a $100 ticket, but also with the knowledge that I’d be switching to the Land Rover in the very near future. A few days with the Land Rover and I only had to make one minor change to shave off half a mile and a bit of a hill climb.

While whittled down to about 38.5 miles it’s still 1 1/4 hours through Hinesburg (past CVU), over to Richmond, down through Jonesville, and eventually to Duxbury and up over Route 100 to Waitsfield.

Surf & Turf

Out of 5 #190, Surf & Turf — songs about surfing and skating

I’m in love with this cover art! As always, Out of 5 mixes are only available for a week, so go grab it while you can. [Via Out of 5]

Comfort Food

Yesterday I was home recuperating from driving myself to the brink of sickness. The fridge was nearly bare and I craved nourishment that’d leave me satisfied, but still feeling up to a long walk with Cinnamon.

I had some Cabot Seriously Sharp cheddar and a few ripe avocados I had picked up for sushi. I zipped over to the Shelburne Supermarket on my longboard for the only missing ingredient: a Stewart’s baguette.

I usually save this meal for resuscitating stale baguette, but who am I to complain about fresh? Enter, my favorite comfort food:

Avocado Detail


Slice half a baguette in two (laterally), sprinkle lightly with olive oil and lay thin slices of cheddar cheese on top. Bake in a toaster oven until the baguette is golden brown and cheese is melted & bubbling. Cover the toasted baguette with sliced avocado. Sprinkle w/sea salt and serve hot.

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