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Literacy in an Illiterate State

New Mexico is a rough state. Among the 50 states, it ranks low in a lot of good things (economic opportunity, health care, infrastructure) and high in a lot bad things (crime). In education, it is #50, the absolute bottom of the pile . The overall literacy rate is 83.5%, which is bad enough, but recent data also shows that 76% of fourth graders and 79% of eighth graders are not proficient in reading, and 29% of adults read at the level of a 5- to 7-year-old. Compare those to global statistics that show the literacy rate for all males and females that are at least 15 years old is 86.3% and developed nations almost always have an adult literacy rate of 96% or better. Things are dire here. I experienced this first-hand at a recent visit to a dentist. There was a man who couldn't fill out his new patient paperwork because he couldn't read it. Someone in the office sat there and read each question out loud to him, lots of personal questions about his health. So much for patient pr

Am I A Water Person Now?

Let's not get carried away. I've never been much of an in-the-water person and I'm still not, but on-the-water is different. I've been getting out on a kayak once or twice year. On my nomad travels, I've gone out kayaking in Washington State, Banff, California (that was actually paddleboarding), Colorado, Louisiana, and in several international destinations. And I really enjoy it! Probably the main reason I haven't gotten out more has been the friction of not owning my own watercraft. When I have to work around rental place schedules and deal with the paperwork and hassle, I'm far less likely to do it. So now, I own a watercraft and it's great! This was a completely random purchase. My cousin and I rented inflatable kayaks in Buena Vista last summer over Labor Day weekend. The river barely had water in it in some parts but also had enough water that made a big rapid that caused us both to fall out of our kayaks. And it was so fun!  Five months later, we

In Which I Feature the ALPS Mountaineering Meramac 2-Person Tent

I haven't done a whole lot of camping since I lost my favorite camping buddy back in April 2021. I enjoy camping. I nestle down into my sleeping bag and am lulled to sleep by the sounds of nature. But it just doesn't hit the same without my sixty-pound body warmer jumping into the tent early because he was scared of the dark and asking to be let out at first light, ready to go play in the mountains. I still went a few times in 2021 and 2022 (most notably at 18,000 feet , which was amazing), but not like I used to.  I started off this year camping one night in mid-January near Trotsky's grave in Arizona, close to the New Mexico border since I was staying in Santa Fe for five weeks. Since then, I decided to really get back out into the forests this year, to make a deliberate effort to be in the trees and the tent.  Arkansas I stayed at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch for a climbing weekend. You can also rent cabins or stay in the lodge. During the climbing festival, the camping are

Even More Utah!

Just like my little adventures in Nevada that I posted about last week, another stint in Utah was not originally in my 2023 plans. But with a week to kill because of the Death Valley closure, why not check out a random area of Utah that I haven't made it to yet? And that was the Sevier Valley . Fremont Indian State Park (Sevier) From the turn off 89 to this state park, there are multiple small stops you can make. Each is just a few steps to some really cool Native American rock art. I've included a few pictures below. Be sure to bring your binoculars to check out the more than 60 images on the Arch of Art. It's quite amazing how the people who did this were able to get the images onto the rock face. It seems incredibly dangerous.  There are supposed to be some nice hikes, including small canyons, off Castle Rock campground in the state park, but I didn't have time to check them out. You can also bike or run the five mile, flat Centennial trail, fish for trout, or enjo

Keep Nevada Weird

Nevada is such a strange place with so many quirky things to see. On my way from Colorado to the Sierra Nevada, I was planning on driving straight through and not really seeing anything, but plans change. My week-long stay in Death Valley was cancelled due to flooding from Hurricane Hilary , so I found myself with a week on my hands. And really, Nevada is a great place to have time on your hands. The Hotel Nevada This hotel in Ely was always in the plans because I couldn't drive from Ouray to Mammoth Lakes in one day. After spending so much time in nature all summer, the flashing lights and bells and cigarette smoke of the casino were jarring. I couldn't think why I would have booked a stay here.  But it turned out to be lovely. The staff, while in absolutely no hurry to check you in, are exceedingly friendly and interested in chatting about who you are and what you're doing in such a random place. They give you a drink voucher for that night and a breakfast voucher for