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Survivorman Returns

Image courtesy of Discovery Channel.

I'm a big fan of Les Stroud, better known as Survivorman. When his survival show first appeared on Discovery seven years ago, it was a breath of fresh air -- by shooting everything himself (he lugs all the gear with him; no crew), Stroud gave us a voice in the wilderness that was authentic, minimally produced, and very personal. Indeed, this is a show created by, written by, directed by, and starring Les Stroud. He even provides much of the music, and brings along his harmonica to play in the wilderness. So this is very much the vision of one man.

The initial run of Survivorman was three seasons, and they took a long time to produce. He spent a total of 170 days in the wilderness over a period of years. Stroud had to find some remote location, go there, survive, recuperate, edit the footage, and then repeat...dozens of times. It took roughly four years to put together the three seasons (a total of 23 shows), and it took a toll on Stroud -- each season's number of episodes declined, he was kinda beat-up from all that wilderness adventure, and he shot his last Survivorman episodes at the age of 47. He worked on various specials, spent more time with his family, focused on his music, and it was easy to assume from the fan's perspective that our Survivorman (in the sense of a guy going into the wilderness by himself with cameras) was retired.

Les Stroud - closeup
Image courtesy of Discovery Channel.

But now, at the age of 50, he's back -- surviving for ten-day stretches in two locations. Each location is split into two one-hour-long shows, so in a sense we have a fourth mini-season of Survivorman here. It's basically the same formula (though now the camera gear is fancier and the journeys are themselves longer), and Stroud is the same man -- though he's just a touch older and wiser. And that last comment is saying a lot; Stroud has been pretty damn wise for decades.

The new season (dubbed Survivorman Ten Days) is currently airing on Discovery, and is mid-way through its run. Check local listings for show times in your area -- the new episode airs tonight at 8pm Eastern/Pacific, with a mini-marathon of previous episodes leading up to it.

Here's a clip with footage from tonight's show, shot in Norway. In classic Survivorman style, Stroud finds a novel way to light a fire:

This new Survivorman run is great, largely because it retains everything that made the original series great: Les Stroud alone in the wilderness with a harmonica. Play on, brother.

Les Stroud in Norway
Image courtesy of Discovery Channel.

Blogger disclosure: I was not specially compensated for this review. I freaked out a little when I heard there were new episodes coming -- it's like Christmas came three months early.

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Live Smarter
All National Parks Are Offering Free Admission on April 21
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Looking for something to do this weekend that's both outdoorsy and free? To kick off National Park Week, you can visit any one of the National Park Service's more than 400 parks on April 21, 2018 for free.

While the majority of the NPS's parks are free year-round, they'll be waiving admission fees to the more than 100 parks that normally require an entrance fee. Which means that you can pay a visit to the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Yosemite, or Yellowstone National Parks without reaching for your wallet. The timing couldn't be better, as many of the country's most popular parks will be increasing their entrance fees beginning in June.

The National Park Service, which celebrated its 100th birthday in 2016, maintains 417 designated NPS areas that span more than 84 million acres across every state, plus Washington, D.C., American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

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Weird
Massive Tumbleweeds Invaded a California Town, Trapping Residents in Their Homes
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For Americans who don’t live out west, any mention of tumbleweeds tends to conjure up images of a lone bush blowing lazily across the desert. The reality is not so romantic, as Californians would tell you.

The town of Victorville, California—an 85-mile drive from Los Angeles—was overtaken by massive tumbleweeds earlier this week when wind speeds reached nearly 50 mph. The tumbleweeds blew across the Mojave Desert and into town, where they piled up on residents’ doorsteps. Some stacks towered as high as the second story, trapping residents in their homes, according to the Los Angeles Times.

City employees and firefighters were dispatched to tackle the thorny problem, which reportedly affected about 150 households. Pitchforks were used to remove the tumbleweeds, some of which were as large as 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide.

"The crazy thing about tumbleweeds is that they are extremely thorny, they connect together like LEGOs," Victorville spokeswoman Sue Jones told the Los Angeles Times. "You can't reach out and grab them and move them. You need special tools. They really hurt."

Due to the town’s proximity to the open desert, residents are used to dealing with the occasional tumbleweed invasion. Similar cases have been reported in Texas, New Mexico, and other states in the West and Southwest. In 1989, the South Dakota town of Mobridge had to use machinery to remove 30 tons of tumbleweeds, which had buried homes, according to Metro UK.

Several plant species are considered a tumbleweed. The plant only becomes a nuisance when it reaches maturity, at which time it dries out, breaks from its root, and gets carried off into the wind, spreading seeds as it goes. They’re not just unsightly, either. They can cause soil dryness, leading to erosion and sometimes even killing crops.

[h/t Los Angeles Times]

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