90,000 Miles to Me
canadian geese

6,500 Miles • A Hypocritical Rant, Gray Geese and Throwing Spears

This is a backdated post from September 24th, 2017

Gas this morning was only $2.19! I haven’t seen less than $3.00 in months, and wished I could fill more than one tank. I’m conflicted (read: hypocritical) because for my own pocketbook, I want prices to stay low, but for every other reason I want them to keep going up and stay there.

If it hurts the average consumer more and more to buy gas, they will, out of self-interest, be motivated to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles, which will put pressure on manufacturers to make more fuel-efficient and alternative powered vehicles, which will decrease crude oil consumption, which is exactly what our economy and our environment need. We are close to/at/past “peak oil” (depending on who you believe; anyway, it is at a critical point) which means that the world has extracted the maximum amount of oil in a year that we are ever going to get, and from this point on we will get out less and less oil each year. So each year there will be even less oil available than the last.

And considering that we only started pulling oil out maybe a century ago, but we have used more oil every year since and are using many times as much oil now as we did even a decade ago (no, I don’t have exact numbers), we will run out far faster than it took to get us to this point.

So we really, really need to adjust our habits to reduce our consumption before we have so little that prices skyrocket and all our fancy gas-guzzlers sit around useless because we can’t fill the tanks. And before we don’t have enough to manufacture the many products we’ve become so dependent upon.

And yet I traded in my bicycle for a gas powered van and justify it by not buying a propane stove or heater. I told you, I’m hypocritical.

Anyway, end of rant. I saw some geese today. Six large geese slowly waddled across the road. With gray bodies and long black necks and heads. Wishing I could paint them with watercolor paints. Maybe I’ll learn watercolor painting.

Had a picnic lunch of dashboard-warmed pierogis and homemade applesauce at a rest stop surrounded by tall trees. The trees are starting to turn colors.

In the afternoon I drove up a windy road of tight switchbacks in a tiny national forest in Ohio. A sign read “Road impassable for campers, RVs, semis” and the switchbacks were so tight that the larger vehicles would almost surely have gotten stuck.

A ways down the road there was a small Indian Heritage Center where I stopped in to see what they had to offer.

sign for Fort Ancient Earthworks

There was a campground on site and a small museum that cost $6 to get in. I don’t have disposable money at the moment, so had to pass, but there was an activity on display out front that was free and I availed myself.

In a box there were a bunch of spear-throwers (called atlatl) made out of craft store dowels and meant for kids. But they were functional enough to get the point across.

a homemade atlatl lying on the ground

This simple device was a game changer for prehistoric humans. Rather than simply throwing a spear (pictured at left), which was limited by how far or hard they could throw it by their own power, the stick (at right) effectively doubled their arm length, significantly increasing how far and hard they could throw the same spear.

They held one end of the stick, called atlatl, and stuck the spear into a slot at the opposite end of the atlatl, and then threw more or less as before. Like this:

use diagram of an atlatl

Thus they could hunt game from farther away, keeping them safer, and could hunt larger game, providing them with more meat for less expenditure of hard-won energy. See, game changer. 🙂 Sorry.

I spent a happy hour practicing on the field in front of the museum, trying to get the spear to go through the target ring. I developed a decent throwing technique, and got plenty of exercise going after it after every throw, but it became clear that aiming consistently would take much more practice. I got it through the ring once, and though it was just luck, it still felt good.