...The cats are ready/Departure looms. I am going to have to do a lot
of writing for this letter. I have already seven pictures and not near
that many paragraphs.
With this hike, and the recent geocaching treks, I am thinking of changing my name to Skinwalker.
The GPS said it was only two and a half miles round trip. Seems longer but then it was very hard. A lot of route-finding, very steep, and much loose rock. Not a casual Appie stroll up Tucks for sure. Two hours 40 minutes up, 40 minutes on the summit, then and 2h20 down. Very scary too. Some places you can look over the edge and see a thousand feet straight down. I don't like the edges. Compared to the edge it was a nice easy ascent up the ramp but approaching the edge, watching the horizon get lower and lower, I was getting closer and closer to the ground. Crawling forward, crouching, one quick glimpse, straight down, vertigo took over and I had all I could do to sit back and turn away. There is such a tremendous urge to fly off an edge like that.
But a most delightful trek. Sorry you could not be here to share it with me. The best part I think was reading in the summit journal of others who have made it. Especially the kids. Nine years, eleven years, and one who was 56.
The next best part was coming back to Eldo and soaking in the hot spring with a gin&tonic on the side.
Such are the costs of skinwalking. The only blood shed was when I slid slightly into a barrel. Not any worse than a mosquito bite. And I would rather a cactus any day, they are easier to avoid.
One correspondent writes:
> I can't imagine hiking nude. Not for the embarrassment - I'm pretty
> sure I could get past that if I really wanted to do it - but for the
> scratches and abrasions. One would need to be very careful around
Especially the jumping cholla! The teddy bare kind are cuddly. The best part about hiking this way, aside from the sense of freedom and connectedness with the earth and the complete lack of laundry to do afterwards, is that it slows me down. Often I even wear sandals instead of plimsols and sox, however I still pay very close attention to the sounds that might indicate others nearby on the trail and the surface where I am placing each step.
My personal best such walk was one in the woods of northern New Hampshire. I did ei8ht miles without even the sandals over two minor peaks of the 4000-footer list. The carpet of pine needles and soft earth, the outcroppings of hard granite, places of mud and wet moss, and the slightest movement of air. The sense of where my skin was, to feel where the inside of me left off and the outside of me began was missing completly; I felt quite at home.
Stratches and abrasions are less of a problem than you imagine. And
skin heals of its own accord, mostly does not need to be sewn or patched,
always fits, never out of style, wash and wear, drip dry.
Who needs a special day for pie? As with most things. Everything has its day. This day in question, 3/14, Pi day, is also Einstein's B'day. Now that's a neat coincidence if there ever was one.
In all actuality we should have had our party at 1:59 being as that
is the first occurance of the numerical string in the day but even with
the moon it would have been nearly impossible to toss the ice cream round
the circle; not to mention finding any party goers up at that hour. So
instead we settled on 15.9 hours thus putting the party in the afternoon
sun, just before gin&tonic time. . . o O (Come to think of it 1:59
would not have worked cos in the twenty-four hour clock there would have
to be a zero preceeding the one and that would change the value of the
ratio of the number of slices to the number of raisens in the pie.)
A thick yellow-brown pall obscured the the horizon where the city should
have been glistening in the sun. The smog oozed westward out of the valley,
around the White Tanks, and spread like grasping claws, tentacles hovering
above each development, westward, and like a creeping vine, mirrored in
the air followed the route of I-10. It is with trepidation in my heart
that I realise how Phoenix has already numbered the roads out beyond Tonopah.
How long before they annex all this open space?
Finally I gave up and took it to a local small garage mechanic who told me about the anti-dieseling fuel solenoid that cuts the idle fuel flow when the ignition is turned off. The solenoid turned out to be Ok and the power source was good and stable but the ground return wire, instead of going right off to ground at the engine, disappeared into the wiring harness to only the engineer knows where. Therein lay the problem. It did not go to ground. At least not all the time. Had to be a bad connexion down the line.
The simple fix was to cut in a new ground right where the wire went into the bundle and so I did. Works great! Good for another couple hundred thousand now.
> One of my joys in this retired life. Feeding the birds and...
We have feeders for the humming birds. One near each hot tub. Great entertainment. The dominant males have a tough job defending all that territory.
> Guess thats enuf for now. Bring
me up to date on your goings
> and comings, longfalls and shortfalls.
Lots of goings but no comings. Plenty of shortfalls too. It was an exhausting day. The moon is on the wane and the stupidity factor is at an all time high for the month. One of these times I will learn to get in sync with the stars and pay more attention to the phase of the moon. Had a disasterous failure of one of my disk drives. My own doing. Stupid move. I think I have recovered all the lost data, except for one very nice picture, but it has been a hard lesson. Add to that Ian being his usual recalcitrant Self and his mother and grandmother coming to visit for tea and chat and to trade Steven for him, and me trying to be on duty and entertain them all at the same time. Quite a party.
On the side, during the past few weeks I have been building two more leaded glass windows. One is more or less copied from a tile work by Mike Tedder which shows a figure kneeling in a supplcating manner before the great cosmic spiral. At least that's what I see in his work and what I tried to recreate in glass. The other is an original work commissioned for the Post Office tub room window. I'll have a picture of that one in my next letter.
Social Security called from Boston to tell me my application has been approved. That is a bright spot in my day. Sort of like graduating from high school, eh? Opens a new chapter in my life. Now if I can just bridge from here to June when their checks start I should should be able to make it without loosing my shirt to the creditors. Not that I have a shirt to loose.
Klaus and Susi will stop here for one night on the second or third day of their month long holiday through the western states. I will have to figure out some nice dinner.
I hope all the snow is gone from the north country before I get going
too far in that direction. Last thing I want is to meet a late Spring
snowstorm in Donner Pass with no guests aboard to feed me.
Wow! Why do I still see her as a little girl with a cats cradle string
at a barbie in your back yard? Was it that long ago? '94? or somewhen like
that. The same is happening with other kids all around me. My sister-son
Bryan, whom I last played with when he was nine and we motorcycled to North
Carolina, before I went to Antarctica, is now 24 and married. Even this
"little" grandson who came into my life recently and use to look up to
me and say "Wow" has grown a foot in the past year it seems and now looks
me level in the eye and says "Watch out old man." At least he is still
smiling when he says it.
Signs spaced out just so along the beginning of a newly paved section
of AriZona state road 238: "This road is smooth/Your car won't rattle/Please
slow down/And watch for cattle." What? No BurmaShave?
However, before I go, let me add a mention of the next special day: April 23rd is the feast day of Saint George.
And one more parting thought: Tourists don't know where they've
Travellers don't know where they're going. --Paul Theroux
The time has come, the Walrus said,
The bus is about to board;
If you're going along, time to make your bed,
Else you're left behind with the hords.
Have a look at the itinerary
of The Cat Drag'd Inn for the next few months and see if you'd
like to ride along for any part of the tour. Or perhaps think about sponsoring
some kid who might benefit from spending part of their Summer school break
living on the road and seeing the country close up.
I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to
myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and
diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier
shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered
before me. --Sir Isaac Newton
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Copyright © 2003, A.J.Oxton, The Cat Drag'd Inn , 03813-0144.