Travels With Oso con Migo

Odyssey In America

OAE Off The Road Again,  The Dog Days - A Sirius Period... .Nude Sunbathers Ahead

Greetings Cohort:

Past The Cusp of Summer

SkinWalker SkinnyCaching along the road.The Relative Humidity is up (inside The Cat Drag'd Inn) from 10% a few days ago to 50% this morning. MuuuugggY! Outside, the Abnaki Weather Stick has uncurled a half a turn--I was wondering if it would have forgotton how after all these weeks of such low humidity. My body feels as tho it is drowning. The air is so thick.

Jodi's mom called from PHX to warn of the coming dust storm and Ham operators on the radio said visibility was 1-4 miles in blowing dust and winds up to 40mph. We had enough time to get most things put away or tied down before the wall of dust came from the east and swept across Eldo in the early evening.

This morning is the cleaning up after... No damage but a lot of mess. The strangest thing so far is all the plastic trash bags. All over the place, a dozen at least, widely scattered. I don't know where they came from.

Monsoon Arrives

Late o'clock last night into oh-dark-thirty this morning it lasted. Still some very light rain going on but the wind and thunder have abated. No damage at first look except for the front desk having blown away. I saved my awning just in the nick of time. 0.9 inches of rain in the gauge at the tub cluster and Lake DeeLore is half full. Got to go wring out my tool box and find the front desk.


Just finished a lube and oil change on The Cat Drag'd Inn. The lube went well, all the fittings took grease; I'm glad I have that air operated grease gun now. The oil change was Ok. Five gallons of oil, must be ten dollars a gallon, and two oil filters and two fuel filters. One of the fuel filters was on too tight. Broke two filter wrenches and collapsed the filter before I took a 24 inch Stilson wrench to it.

Transformer trailer crossing i10 on 411 ave bridge.The big transformer went through town one day in here somewhen. Quite a parade. The transformer was carried in a cantilever trailer riding on at least 128 tyres. One tractor pulled the trailer and two more pushed. The parade included several RV's, power and telephone wire-lifter crews in their trucks, a geedunk on wheels, and a flatbed trailer carrying two porta-potties. And of course no parade can be complete without the police closing roads and the people lining the way. Most interesting perhaps was that the cantilever trailer could change its wheelbase as it went along. The axels could change length to accomodate the width of the road. Each end of the trailer was steered independently by a helmsman who could move his steering wheel from one side of the trailer to the other. Probly the whole parade was nearly a half a mile long.

4august On the Road for a Holiday

Left El Dorado/Tonopah in the afternoon and made it as far as Gila Bend before tired and dark set in. There is a new truck stop at the east junction of i8 and bi8. Nice clean pavement. Great place to crawl around under The...Inn and look for the latest glycol leak.

PetroglyphsThe road from the west end of Gillespie Dam bridge south to the petroglyph site has been widened, graded, and extended. Big turnaround. In the dusk of early evening the petroglyph cliff looks very much diminished by the width of the new road.

The glycol leak is in the heater loop where it passes forward above the propane tanks. I can see a place where a brass elbow has been rubbing on the frame. Bad-Bad Me... Although I don't remember it being that way the last time I worked on it. The glycol is pissing out of the elbow right where it is touching the frame. I think I might ignore it for this trip. I can isolate this section of the coolant circuit and it would be better to work on it at "home".

Everything else mechanical seems to be Ok so far. The a/c in the rear window protrudes a little more than I would like it to, blocks my rear vision. But then it also blocks high beams from following cars.

At bed time I found a stowaway. One of those new breed of tail-less lizards found at El Dorado. Quite a lively little bugger. I'm thinking now I should have adopted it instead of putting it out to fend for itself. Could have been useful as a flycatcher but I fear La Gata would have been jealous and it would have been soon missing more than its tail.

Sara(h) La Gata is not a little miffed at the strange sounds and smells outside her door and elected not to make her usual morning rounds. She sticks her head through the cat door flap, looks from side to side several times, and then pulls her head in and sits there. Perhaps it will all change back to normal if I wait right here she thinks.

5th of august... I'd rather a gin & tonic

Under the eastern skirts of Yuma this afternoon, where, I have been given to understand, the Yumans live. Gave up early on driving any further, I canna take it anymore, this weather is not fit for man nor beast, Yuman or otherwise.

My early and cool start from the east end of Gila Bend was gobbled up by a fine little museum at the Visitor's Center near the west end where postcards are still six for a dollar. Tax included. Visiting the Visitor's Center was the object of another geocache search. Whilst reading all the displays and placards I saw a 25-35 lever action Octagun. I used to have one of those, manufactured in the late 1800's. And on the wall above, a framed paper telling about all the folks who perished crossing the 40 mile desert between Gila Bend and Yuma when the Octagun was a popular tool. Granted, that was before any Yumans lived there but it gave me pause to reflect and so decided I'd best fix my glycol leak in Gila Bend as there were no services along the way.

Petroglyphs of an older sort.Over the past 12,000 years a lot of diverse peoples have lived and travelled in this area. The Hohokum were among the earliest, the Yumans are the latest. Basket weavers to dream weavers, they have one thing in common: A finely tuned ability to manage water and irrigate the land. At Painted Rock BLM Historic Site (north from i8x102 on Painted Rock Road) old blocks of basalt covered with a patina of "desert varnish" are a canvas for glyphs old and new that people use to tell their storeys. How is it that what the old people left behind we call art, of historical significance, and work to protect and revere it; but what the new people do now we call graffiti, vandalism, and proscribe it.

Framing In The Cat Drag'dThere went the morning. Lunch later I headed west to find another geocache. This one is in the ruin of a little house on a little hill. Perhaps once was a thriving little business before the interstate bypassed all the traffic on the little road. Hard to say. There's nobody there to ask and the walls aren't talking. The roof is open to the sky and the windows frame the desert. It was a good place for a skinnywalk.

Now, it is nearly sunset and I am parked under an irrigated tree in the SunDance RV Park. With both a/c's operating the electric meter is spining around at a furious rate. Outside the temperature has begun to decline, down to 102f now, from a high of 110f. I just couldn't take it any more. How did those people survive here without air conditioning? Granted, 12,000 years ago the climate was cooler and clothing, as we know it today, was not de rigueur, but in the last few hundred years? The wagons the Mormon Division had were not air conditioned when they blazed the trail that later became interstate 8.

On a lighter note there is the bad-news good-news pair. I forgot my 30a extension cord so that makes for some creative parking arrangements to get short cord close enough to the power tower in this campground. Good thing it is their off season and the place is not so crowded that I cannot park catty-cornered. The new speedometer is working just dandy! Counts miles without clicking and sticking, improved readability too--I got the large type version with with an inner dial for km/h and a built-in hi-beam indicator.

6th agosto, Chula Vista, CaliforniA

What's a "chula"? My diccionario says "girlfriend". So this town is a place to look at girlfriends? Probly on the beach, eh?

Telegraph Hill CacheToday started early at Yuma, oh-dark-thirty, after a quick breky, I was on the trail to the summit of Telegraph Hill. Great day for a skinnywalk on a sort of paved road steeper than I remember any part of the Mount Washington Carriage Road. Even the Service Road thereof. Wicked! From 200 feet MSL at the bottom to 1500 feet at the top where the Telegraph Pass Cache is located under a pile of rock next to a "buckthorn". About five miles round trip, two and half hours. Not bad for an old man.

Then things slowed down. Back to last night's campground for a shower and some chit-chat--the camp host, Ellen, is from Connecticut--and a turn at email. Then lunch before finally getting on the road in the heat of the day. I stopped to look at three more caches along the way to Chula Vista but Summer late afternoons are not the best time to out tramping around in this neck of the desert. The heat was oppressive.

The temperature going over the Crestwood and Laguna summits on i8 was 105f! It was slow climbing but with all the fans running and the water spray on the radiator from time to time The Cat Drag'd her self up the hill just fine. The best part was that the air temperature began to drop just as the road went down the west side of the hill. Down to 85f here in Chula Vista. Cool!

Seven Agosto, Visiting Jim and Familia in Chula Vista

Jim is someone with whom I share the Antarctic Service Medal, except that he received his whilst on duty on an icebreaker with the Coast Guard, years before I was counting penguins and fixing satellite radios. His son Jim went on hikes in the White Mountains with my Scout group back in those days. Now, Jim the younger is leading kids on hikes in the mountains here and Jim the elder has retired from being Keeper of the Bears at the San Diego Zoo.

So Saturday was a big dinner day to say the least.

And it was a good day to sit around and visit and fix things and write letters. Tomorrow will be another road day.

Ei8hth August, On The Road North West South East West East...

Recycled Flyers by Cecil OglesFirst to Balboa Park. At the Parkit 'n' Market I found Cecil and Lil and their "Recycle Flyers". Cecil collects empty soda and beer cans and makes aeroplanes out of them. Some of the craft he constructs will actually fly if you install an .049 engine in them. Planes may be requested constructed of the brand of your choice. While Cecil does not take orders per se he will let you know when a plane in your brand is available. I've seen a lot of this sort of recycle art and these which Cecil makes are far and away the very best quality.

On to the Spreckels Organ Pavilion for the Sunday Concert in the Park; this one event was worth the trip. PHX does not have anything to match it. I also went looking for some Old Antarctic Explorers but they were not home. Drove around looking for a beach but by that time on a Sunday afternoon there was no parking available for a bus.

The Secret Canyon CacheEast on i8 to Pine Valley, the Pine Creek Trailhead, and the Secret Canyon Geocache. Finding the trailhead was easy enough but beyond that the going got tough. One false start, one long detour, one bushwack back, and finally found it right next to where I thought it should be. I took the bare bell--just the thing for a skinwalker--and left one of my world famous hand crafted zipper fobs. The hike out was a lot more straight forward, no trouble staying on the trail.

9th august home again home again...

Just for the hell of it, and to check the mail, I stopped at Eldo for this night. This day started at a rest area somewhat east of Pine Valley where I ended up after the cache hike in Secret Canyon and shower in the carpark. Drove and drove; it was after dark when I departed and after midnight when I stopped. The only road across this way is i8 so i8 it was until the second opportunity to turn north towards Blythe and Quartzsite. The first section of that northward road, county road s34, is dead straight and mostly flat, climbing from sea level to a few hundred feet MSL. Then that road meets one running more or less northeast, state route 78, and that seems to be up and down with lots of twists and turns. The first road is very sleepy; the second one is quite wide awake.

Blythe for lunch, Quartzsite for fuel. The temperature was poking at 120f. I canna take much more of this. All I can think of is cool water.

10 august, SKP North Ranch, between Wickenburg and Prescott

Raining all around except here. On a hill about 3000 feet MSL, great view. The thunderstorms have been moving from north to south all afternoon. Curtains of virga have been passing by on both sides but here it is still hot and dry.

The Day Before Friday the 13th, Sunset Crater, north of Flagstaff

Nice drive north. Left The Ranch at dawn and drove through Skull Valley to Prescott. Found one cache there and didn't find another. A good walk in the boulders around Lake Watson anyhow. One could easily spend a whole Winter, maybe several, exploring all through this area. The road goes up and Up and UP to i40 and then it goes up some more to Flagstaff. Along the way is the old town of Williams.

Main Street is the Historic Route 66 and right in the middle of it is the "Museum On Main Street". Williams is the "Gateway to the Grand Canyon", a railway makes daily round trips to the South Rim.

I parked up the street in Sunset Crater National Monument at the Bonito Campground for the night and Laura came to visit. The Perseid Meteor Shower scheduled for display that evening was pretty much a wash due to thunderstorms. While there wasn't hardly enough precip to measure, the lingering clouds transformed our skywatching into a Scrabble game. Later, much later, we did see a few meteors whilst making bread pudding for breky. Then I slept most of the day and Laura went home to work.

The campground below Sunset Crater is around 7,000 feet MSL, 6,000 feet higher than the springs at El Dorado. According to the rule of the adiabatic lapse rate there should be a difference of 18 degrees F. between here and there and that is about what we have.

Friday The 13th by the Side of the Road

Charlie's 1969 Chevy VanNorth of Prescott after morning shower and coffee in Flagstaff and afternoon coffee and chatter in Williams. Slow drive. Lots of going round in circles. Actually I've been all the way into Prescott, out the other side, and then turned around to come back here and have another look at this wide spot in the road overlooking Watson Lake and populated by seven other nomads.

Charlie lives in a 1969 Chevy van--over 200,000 miles on the original engine--is retired and wanders around, from wide spot to forest camp. Once in a while he stops at his son's for a shower. Joe has a pickup and a small, weather beaten trailer with newish tail lights glued on over the broken old ones. He says he's going to get rid of the trailer and put a camper in the back of his truck; the trailer is rotting out from under him. We chatted for a hour or so as the sun set about how difficult it is these days to find a place to park overnight.

Two other men park pickup campers side by side and have dinner together. Another van, newer than Charlies, at least from the 80's, has a 250cc Honda strapped on the back, a bicycle strapped on the front, and can't shift into first. It has to be started in gear. An old Class-A RV with the roof so loaded with stuff and things that the rear springs are sagging is near the far end of the line-up.

Some of these folks talk to one another as might neighbors from an old community, or men sitting in straight chairs leaning back against the front of the general store. They meet here from time to time and compare notes about where else to camp, where else they may park and not get run off before the night is over.  The police run them off because their communities have designated them as undesirables, the Mexicans run them off by their shear numbers, sadistic youth run them off by their crude ways and violent means.

Not too many places left, Charlie says, Most everywhere you turn now there's signs, --no overnight parking, --no camping. Even in the forest now you can't stay more'n 14 days and then the rangers run you off. Where's a body to live these days?

What ever happened to "This land is your land, / This land is my land... / This land was made for you and me."     (--Woodie Guthrie)? Has it all been sold to the developers? No, not all. Just most.

The Day after Friday the 13th, Passing Through Skull Valley

Penguinos to MeccaAn early start from the side of the road. On to Watson Lake Park for another crack at Mogli's Cache, that's the one I didn't get on Thursday. The directions say to allow a couple of hours of bouldering for the round trip. The directions also say it would be a good place for a picnic so I brought an apple. Bouldering is what I did last time, a beeline from carpark toward cache site involves a lot of up and down and round and round through a maze of house-size granite boulders. I got close to the cache but could not find it due to poor GPS conditions making it difficult to impossible to maintain course. This time the conditions were much better indeed.

Good thing I was a Rockhopper Penguin in a previous life. The path into the west side of the dam was fairly straight forward; I decided I'd pick up the trash that marked the route later since I'd be covering this ground on the way out. From the dam the way got interesting to say the least. You can almost find the cache just by following the downtrodden grass except that there is a clever diversion that repeatedly takes one off in the wrong direction. Only after several back and forths did I find the well hidden bridge.

Meadow, eh? But what a find! I found the cache and the guard-ants found me. I can see why it would be a good place for a picnic, the location is certainly well equipped.

SkinWalker at Mogli's CacheOn the way out I ascended the east side of the canyon wall to the dam. That part was pretty scary but well worth the effort for the workout and the different perspective afforded from the top of the dam. What a place. Carried out one bag of trash.

"According to _Arizona Place Names_ by Willis C. Barnes, the name [Skull Valley] dates back to 1864 and derives from the fact that soldiers ... found piles of bleached Indian skulls here while escorting Cales Bashford to Tucson in March, 1864." (Skull Valley postcard)

In 1894 the railroad came to Skull Valley and the first post office opened in 1869. Today, ten freight trains a day pass through but none stop to deliver mail. Today the community has several hundred citizens, some are ranchers, some are retired. There are still decendents of some of the original settlers living in Skull Valley.

On to The Ranch for a quiet evening of writing, and watching thunderstorms in the distance walking by on stilts of lightning.

Sunday, back to El Dorado Hot Springs...

...after fuel and shopping. 1300 miles, 8.9mpg, no problems but for the one glycol leak.

If you could have seen where I was climbing around a few days ago, and in what condition. Very foolish, especially to have been doing it alone. But fun! Oh Wow! For sure a place to revisit.

Well, now I am back to work such as it is here. Mostly a matter of sitting around making sure things work and counting someone else's money. I have discovered that for best results if I fix things in some halfassed manner, with already used and nearly useless parts, I will always have something breaking down to give me a crisis to manage, something to do outside. But that halfassed manner thing goes against the grain of my upbringing and proper parts are often too expensive an investment. Oh Well...

Love, 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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