On “Structured Rambling”

I don’t enjoy making videos.

I find it difficult to devote time bank funds to making and editing them.  And acquiring the skills necessary to make the videos at a level I’d like.

But I do make them once in a great while.

What once started as a random conversation with a person from Rhode Island, from my hometown, no less, in the parking lot of the local hardware store. I don’t see many people from Rhode Island traveling to the desert.

So, I quite enjoyed meeting a fellow native Rhode Islander from my hometown who went to another local Catholic school and shooting the breeze as I was schlepping paint to my truck.

My new friend asked a pointed question, though, “What’s it like to live in Moab?”

Yes, it’s pretty much my “go-to” stock photo.

It made me think about this place I now call home.

And I made a video.

Overall, I received some positive feedback. However, one person criticized my lack of great insights and my sharing of information that could apply to any Western gateway community. He stated that the video was nothing more than “structured rambling.”

structured rambling…. no real usable intel specific to Moab… You could change the name of the city to any Utah, CO, or Montana city and every statement you said would apply.

Besides wondering what “intel” he wanted (GPX waypoints to arc sites? Where to purchase tacticool gear so “I have his six?” Maybe the PMAGS name confuses him?), two points came to mind –

Alas, I’m a somewhat short, bald, and middle-aged guy with a mortgage who lives in an interesting place. Sorry to disappoint. (Well, not really! )

I suggest purchasing a Titanium Step Stool.

  • “Structured Rambling” seems less of an insult and a more accurate description of how Joan and I spend our time. It is also an admirable concept we now find ourselves aspiring to as we spend more and more time here.

I frankly forgot about this comment until this past weekend. Our recent trip exemplified this laudable ideal and reminded me of that one-off comment.

We had a loose plan, so we changed it and merely saw what we could see. After hiking several hours, we were no more than 1.5 miles from our camp.

And that’s par for the course for us.

We typically have fuzzy plans at best and rarely stick to everything we plan.

We’ll often pull out a map and frequently adjust it on the fly while consulting our maps. And where we go changes.

With the increasing corporatization of our lives, with the emphasis on metrics, “the grind,” and the narrative of nothing genuinely worth having unless there’s some goal with every hour spent, I think we should all incorporate more “structured rambling” in our lives.

There are fewer goals to achieve and more time spent experiencing what’s present.

Pick a place, see what you see, go down the canyon, or climb that obscure peak. Decide to hang out more in camp and drink that additional cup of coffee while looking over the canyon rim.

Or admiring the sunset as your shorter, bald, middle-aged husband gets dinner going.  PCO Joan.

Oh, we’ll always have goals. I certainly do at times.

But I do not doubt that “structured rambling” will continue to be the philosophy that guides much of our time in the outdoors.

Thank you, anonymous tacticool person on the internet. You gave Joan and me a great name to describe our outdoor time.


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Matt V
Matt V
4 days ago

Mark Messonnier
Mark Messonnier
3 days ago

“Structured Rambling” may be the new guiding principle of my hiking group as we age and start to do more base camping and day hiking. DANG! I wish I had thought of it first!

Randy M
Randy M
19 hours ago

I definitely find that my younger years of peak bagging too often missed many benefits of enjoying time in camp, relaxing at a high alpine lake or wherever I am at the moment. I now build time into my trips to allow for that “structured rambling”. No need to achieve anything other than time to appreciate where I am

19 hours ago

It seems that my friends and I have been doing structured rambling for decades. Heck, we spend too much of our lives rushing, making time, making distance, living with stress. Why turn outdoor time into just more rush? Yeah, we had planned to go over that pass this morning but we saw a bear and a herd of elk on the meadow below our camp, and decided to explore the stream along that meadow. The pass will be there tomorrow, chances are.

Oh, and “tacticool” is my new favorite word. I need a variation on “military grade” too.

Jim Dean
Jim Dean
15 hours ago

I travel a lot for work globally, and there are times when I choose to get “creatively lost” on purpose,,, I just wander through the city I’m in without a destination, looking at the sites. And when my time is up, my handy iPhone gets me back where I need to be!