I lost track, back there between doing the lube in a car park and climbing a tower to fix a hurricane damaged antenna for one of Roger's ham radio neighbors, lost track of which day was which date. Now it is monday and I am in Tallahassee on the return leg. Fuel prices have come down if you can believe the news. Still over two dollars a gallon for diesel here but then FLorida has had the highest prices outside of AridZona. . . o O (...and better roads too. I wonder if there is some correlation there... Well, except for Gainsville.)
Last night's sleep was in a rest area someplace, Elaville comes to mind however I cannot find it on the map now. Next morning, this morning, I spent some time helping the guy in the next slot north fix a broken fuel line on an Isuzu diesel in a bait hauler. Learnt a lot about the "keepers" between the pump and the injectors on the fuel lines. Also learnt about how much pressure is in those lines. Blew a hole in the hose we used for the first fix. I went back to The Cat Drag'd Inn and checked my keepers and found more than two loose.
Picked up Gary along the Way after spending most of the afternoon at the FLorida Museum of Natural History. As much as I dislike roadside billboards the big word "Chocolate" caught my eye on one a few miles south of Gainesville. "Chocolate - The Exhibition", with support from the National Science Foundation. Have to take advantage of your tax dollars at work. This is a travelling show so you might get to see it yourself. It will be at Gainsville until after the first of the year. "This exciting new exhibition from The Field Museum, Chicago explores the legends, history, science, economics and enduring allure of this delectable wonder, which has been used to express love, flaunt wealth, pay debts and honor the gods." Just as at the Hershey tour, there is a chocolate shop you have to exit through however this experience is missing "the smell" which Hershey employs to simply drive you crazy with desire. Nonetheless it was a good thing I left my "plastic" under guard with the watch-cat and brought only a few dollars in my pocket.
Gary was hitching back to Las Vegas. He'd hitched east to visit an estranged wife and his "bible thumping hypocrite kids". I left him off at the truck stop and took on 88.2 gallons of DF#2 at 2$05/gal. (Another year of school for that boy in Erode.)
217 miles today, 24.9 of which were used up going around the block in
Gainesville several times trying to find the museum. My out of date charts
and the poorly signed roads were not helped any by the fact that the museum
is not on Museum Road. The contents were moved to a new building four years
ago. At least after spending six dollars on fuel to find the place there
was no admission fee. I'll be thankful for that.
Plenty of opportunity to write and fix things here. In the yard a couple
of donkeys cavort with a llama, several cats and a dog keep Sara(h) La
Gata hovering at the end of her tether, and a hammock nap in the sun lasts
all of fifteen minutes before the next rain comes. Mike takes me shopping
at a construction site where we find some nice Pyrex items.
There must have been sixteen or ei8hteen people around the table spread with the traditional repast typical of a Jewish-English-Floridian ethnic group. The conversation was lively and the food was also, especially with Ezra eating with his hands whilst creating a new style of cranberry-pumpkin cammo on Mike's white shorts. The friend of Mike's brother, sitting next to me, had been in the navy and we had in common our Shellback and Bluenose initiations. After dinner Barbara showed me how to weave baskets from long pine needles and I showed Mike how to weave zipper fobs. Truely a grand family and a great dinner. Thanks you-all.
Well! Now that Thanks have been given and the Thanksgiving Turkey has
been gobbled it is time to turn about. Westward Ho!
The beach is closed along there and in Navarre it looks like a scene from a New England greeting card. White drifts against buildings and along streets. Trucks and loaders working to carry the white stuff away. But the white stuff is beach sand and the roads are narrowed with it. Restaurants without roofs. Poles without wires.
But still it seems as though a lot of people are standing around not cleaning up and not rebuilding. Are they still in shock? Waiting for FEMA loans? Or don't have contractor license? Lots of hasty signage, black type on yellow card, tell you that doing contractor work without a contractor license is a felony in FLorida. Maybe that's why. Is one required to have a license to clean up such a mess? I missed a lot of photo ops: Artsy compositions of sand drifted around stop signs. Kids at a playground using a downed section of chain-link fence for a trampoline. Rows of identical trailers set between the white lines of parking lots and connected with umbilicals of power-water-sewer all wrapped neatly like a holiday gift in chain-link fence .
Tonight I'm in Alabama. 225 miles west of where I started.
The rain is getting worse and going north along s.r.59 through Foley there are traffic lights out of service. The rain is sheeting, a tornado warning interrupts "Car Talk", I consider returning to Rainbow Plantation and actually get to the point of driving past the road into the camp when a glint of blue and sunlight breaks through the cloud and the sky lightens so I drive on, taking the "HC" route around Mobile, across Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana. Long day.
The clouds dissipate. I pick up a rider somewhere and carry him across
three states through the afternoon and evening. Driving through Crowley,
Fred answers my call and we chat on the radio about everything and nothing
until the bridge to TeXas looms out of the dark and his signal fades.
Earlier in the day I did a laundry and met with the web guru of my email
host. Learned a few things and have clean sheets for a change.
The road south to Col.Bubbie's led me past another antique shop but it took about three miles of exit ramp and service road to get to their front door. The attraction was another of those red-yellow-green traffic lights. Two hundred and ei8hty dollars they wanted. What I'm looking for is a proper pot in which to keep honey; this place at least had a tacky molded thing "made in China" (and that don't mean China Maine) that looked like a bee hive with a bear for a handle. Too tacky even tho it is the first thing I have seen in all this search that even comes close. Instead I found something else more interesting. And useful. Two red hats! The rain was pretty much over and the temperature was dropping.
At "Galveston-Oh-Galveston" there is an establishment known as "The
Free World's Only Surviving Genuine Government Surplus Store". Col.Bubbies
Strand Surplus Senter reminds me a little of what Hilton's Tent City near
North Station in Boston used to be. Rows and columns of bins and shelves,
tubs and boxes, stuff. Hanging from the ceiling, hanging on the walls.
Stuff. Everywhere. Some of this surplus never goes out of style. Thick
wool blankets. Nice sweaters. Warm hats. Rest Area on U.S.59, south of
Inez, for the night. 290 miles today.
Bes and Leon have a smooth wrap-around drive with two full hook-ups
for visitors. I visited them a few years ago. This is a good place to stop
for a day or so and do odd maintenance projects. Now if it will only warm
up a little. 40f this morning, too cold for laying about on the concrete
under the bus.
3001 S. Emily Drive Beeville TeXas is the home of another two of my pen-friends. They must be richer cos this place is bigger, and further off the road, with a longer drive. It is hard to tell, between the grey overcast and the grey buildings and the wet grass, about a third of the way in from the edge of the image you might discern them waving.
Under the pavilion, near the bar-b cooker, in the northeast corner of
Schrier Park, lives a fine young calico cat. No!, Virtual Travellers, not
Sara(h) La Gata conMigo. I would like to believe at least she has the good
sense to be aboard The Cat Drag'd Inn. No, this Schrier Calico is of a
different sort. Smaller cat, more of a smaller pattern, a tortoiseshell
perhaps. I left a pile of Sara(h)'s kibbles at the opening of her burrow.
Junction! you need to go find this cat and give her a good warm home.
The situation was not all that much better at El Paso. I could not find
the theater I remembered from the last time and I could not find any other
theater after twice going around the block of main street from one end
of the strip to the other. Onwards. Westward. Almost at the end of TeXas
I finally found a theater. The menu for my supper consisted of Popcorn
and "National Treasure". A good combination that was followed by a nice
sleep in their car park tucked in next to a Wide Load.
At the TeXas Mile 0 fuel stop I picked up a rider looking to get to Salem Oregon. Ernie was headed to Salem to clear up a DUI charge that had caught up to him in FLorida when he applied for a CDL. He had lots of storeys to tell and the miles went by quickly. Somewhere between Las Cruces and Deming the car ahead of me hit a box in the "Granny Lane". Cardboard all over the place and these black "cushions" were sliding across the road as I braked hard and pulled into the breakdown lane. Now we could see that the cushions were really jackets and Ernie was out of the bus in his bare feet to gather them up before the trucks following us could run them over. Ten black nylon jackets. "Good-Ole-Boy" stuff, with "red necks" and designs embroidered on the back that made them something I would not wear nor gift to any friend of mine. Ernie thought we could sell them at the next truck stop.
At Deming when I pulled off at the SKP DreamCatcher camp to have a look at their newly completed clubhouse--and leave off a couple of books for their library--Ernie sold two of the jackets at the Eat-Here-and-Get-Gas place across the street. Wow! My share of that sale would put ten gallons of diesel in the tank.
Having a rider aboard tended move me along. I would have taken two days
and a few walks to get from El Paso to Phoenix but after leaving Ernie
and jackets at a truck stop in Eloy I went on to have dinner with Ian's
Doing the numbers. For those of us interested in statistics:
Days: 39, 1st november thru 9th december.
Observed: License plates from 32 states including Vermont.
Miles: 5,780. That amounts to 148 miles per day. I really drove about twice that on half as many days.
Fuel: 601 gallons of Diesel#2 and maybe ten gallons of propane. 5780/601=9.6 mpg but there seem to be some extenuating circumspections. Doing this calculation for each fill-up results in an average 8.7 mpg.
Cost of Diesel fuel: US$1304. Cost per mile $0.225; cost per gallon $2.169.
Other vehicle expense included one regular service--a day out back of a Wal-Mart and a shower in the bushes after--and the air drier problem noted above amounted to some $400 and three days of not doing other things. For everything else there's MasterCard...
I had a lot of fun and even learnt more than a few things. Met some
really neat Humans. I'm only sorry I had nobody along to share the adventure.
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 © 2004, A.J.Oxton, The Cat Drag'd Inn , Center Conway NH 03813-0144.