Travels With Oso con Migo

Odyssey In America

OAE On The Road Again, Spring is Sprung/The desert blooms...Nude Sunbathers Ahead

Greetings Cohort:

...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.

Early March. Spring Rains Rain and RainHiking Family at Indian Eye

A young family came to soak and play at the hot spring. Their first day was quite a wash. Tents on islands of sog between seas of mud. We have had a couple of inches of rain in the past twenty-four hours, The bamboo wall and the littlest kids were making the best time of it. The next few days were grand and we all went for a walk in the outback to watch the desert bloom. Wild flowers are everywhere! and the air was warm enough for a proper wild hike. Isaac made a drawing of our adventure after we'd returned and had a refreshing soak.

Super Solitude Cache2003 March 9, Super Solitude Cache

I do enjoy this new game; it adds a certain direction, so to speak, to my otherwise aimless wandering. The set of Solitude caches were emplaced by someone else who likes to walk. My thanks and a tip of my hat to this person who goes by the moniker "Puz-Zel". Super Solitude is the hardest of the three to get to. Way back, beyond the end of the two-wheel road, beyond the end of the four-wheel road, almost to the end of the trail to the mountain goat watering hole. Great place to sit and eat a salted apple, some nice sharp cheddar, and contemplate the shape of the mountain that forms such a stupendous background.

2003 March 10, Saddle Mountain Wild Walk ajo on Saddle Mountain

Hiking to the Summit of Saddle Mountain has got to be worth several extra points when it comes to keeping score of nude hikes. Talk about bushwacking. Try that when the bushes are cacti and the palo verde wack back. There is no trail to speak of, not like one might be use to in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Such cairns as you find are mostly do it yourself--make 'em on the way up so you can find your way back without getting trapped going down the wrong gully. Skid marks every now and again show where someone else encountered loose rock.

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

Isaac's HikeEspecially 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.

Friday, Pie Day, March 14, Ageothermophobiac

Bill has coined a word: The adjective is:  ageothermalphobia. The noun is  ageothermophobiac. Fear of being away from hot springs. I'll put that right up there with S.A.D. and broken teeth, both of which afflict me this week.

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.)

Ides of March...

If you are questioning the sunny part then you must need to come out here. We have had a few cloudy days, and some rain. But mostly it has been sunny one day after another. Overly warm the past week also. Now with this cooler air coming we should get back to more seasonable temperatures. Last week, on one of the best of all days, I walked with two others to the summit of Saddle Mountain. The view back east towards Phoenix explains why you might think you are under a perpetual cloud. You ARE!

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?

20 march. Talk about days that will live in infamy...

It is a sad state of affairs to say the least. Today I am ashamed to be American. These people of the United States have yet to grasp the fundamental concept that these days--unlike WWII--they are not dealing with an adversary who subscribes to linear western thought. Korea and Vietnam were issues of the same sort of thinking, not to mention the first debacle in the Desert Storm. Twelve years ago already. Eastern religions and politics are different to those of the West, and Americans consistently fail to grasp the fact that the humans who live in those regions have a very different set of values and beliefs.

Happy Equinox. Spring is Sprung...

It is bad enough that we as a society are loosing touch with the etiquette of letter writting but it is being replaced with an interchange of ubiquitous messages mundane at best; more usually vacuous "did you hear the one about" gossip worthy only of barrooms, seventh grade, and The National Enquirer.

27 March, The grass is ris...

That too, here. My little truck, the dinghy, started bucking and snorting at low speeds and would not idle. Sometimes. Other days it would start fine and run great for hours and then go bad again. It is old enough to be fairly simple but still has a few emission controls to complicate the otherwise straight forward carburetor.

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.Boy in Spiral Window

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.

2003 April 6, Its Official, I'm Retyred. Or Re-grooved.

This is like Ian "becoming" a teen-angler a few months ago when we celebrated his 13th with a birthday suit birthday party in the big pool here. A new chapter now opens in my life as well. Jim wrote from Canberra that his daughter "Melanie will be 20 yrs old in June.  Just about to enter University..."

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.

Wenzday, 2003 April 9th, ShakeDown Cruise

Just 150 miles from Eldo to Picacho Peak to see if I still know how to drive The Cat Drag'd Inn. Shook down lots of things so I've been busy picking up after. Sarah La Gata conMigo is doing better; she ran right to her safe spot as soon as the fuel pump started. The awning spring is a bit sluggish after so long under tension, some of the cupboards will have to be repacked, the Spider Plants and the Wandering Jew need repotting.

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?

Saturday, 2003 April 12, Happy Big Wind Day Steven at Indian Eye

This day is probly as apropos a day as any to finish this missal and get it launched.

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 been.
 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.

Gardyloo, ajo

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.