Travels With Oso con Migo

Odyssey In America

OAE Off The Road Again -- The Days Are Getting Longer Now...Nude Sunbathers Ahead

Gentle Readers:

tis the Season to be...

...brolly, drolly, holly, knolly, loblolly, not to mention banally, or just plain anally. Or just plain be.
The molly fish in the Lilly Pond are liking the rhyme.
Incognito pack, visitor's badge, lap desk, arriving at NASA. efoto by Mike.

Monday 13 December, in the mail...

My newest correspondent, Barbara, writes:
...It seems that my adventures thru life are unending...whereas some remain stagnant...I have been fortunate to not...each day brings me new knowledge..I am comforted by the fact that no matter what the future may bring...except blindness...I can continue to make baskets...strange all the trips above and on this earthly plane have led me to this...I am truly blessed and presently this Jewish lady is singing X-mas carols as I listen to the CD...

Dandy! Well written Barbara. I feel the same way tho I would not have written my thoughts so eloquently. I am tempered by too many mundane issues. Two days ago my oven failed to ignite and preheat just when I had a bread pudding ready to bake. Well! If that didn't set off a scramble around the neighborhood trying to find an oven, with propane, that worked. One lady has a convection oven that works only when her rig is connected to shore power. Another has an oven but has never used it. My request was in danger of getting sidetracked into a discussion of how one can cook bread pudding without an oven. Joe, a guest, piped up that his rig had an oven that hadn't been used since his wife died a couple of years ago; it was being used to store books and things but he could clean it out in a minute. I was reluctant to press him--he was a guest, he was sunbathing--but I was getting nowhere with my compatriots. Finally, he ran off to clean out his oven and see if he could light it and I ran the other way to fetch my pan of pudding. We didn't even wait for the oven to properly preheat. It was getting hot so the bread went in. And an hour later it was out nicely done and he got the first bowl of it. Yum!
NASA Mike y ajo at Goddard.
Now that I've got the dishes done I have my oven all apart and today will take the failed part shopping at the RV store. We have to match it to a picture in the cataloque. The oven is so old there are no numbers in the index going back that far.

The weather has finally turned nice. Maybe we are now into the stable Winter pattern of boringly clear skies with daily temperatures that regularly fluctuate between 40 and 70 every day. All the water is still not out of the ground from the rains of the week I was travelling. I missed all the flooding that happened here. The campground was under water. Betty's rig sank to the axels and had to be dragged by the tractor to higher ground.

Great little walk to Indian Eye with Denali and Tamara. Denali was being a real little Indian doing the climb in naught but thin moccasins. The desert is incredibly green after all the rain of the recent weeks. Grass even! Several inches of grass. Lush flowers of all sorts. Pools of water in the stream beds.
Denali on hike to Indian Eye. efoto by Tamara

Solstice Weekend Ruminations

My oven is repaired and a banana bread test turned out Ok.

It just occurs to me that when you loose your wisdom teeth you gain the wisdom not to go through it again. I have often wondered what humans did with wisdom teeth before there were dentists. Perhaps we did not grow them then? Perhaps we did not live long enough to grow them? Perhaps we were not smart enough to grow them and that is also why they are called wisdom teeth...

Here I have at least as many books with me as can be found mouldering in my trunk in my sister's house. Too precious to give away, many already discarded by libraries, not likely I will read again--not likely I will read again most of the books I haul around with me--but they are all to precious to do away with. Such an investment and almost no value whatever to anyone else...

I am flying off to "our nations capitol" this afternoon for a quick Antarctic party/reunion; an affair befitting my station in life as an Elder of the Tribe, and a desperate attempt to regain past glories. Even if I have a good time I hope to return with the wisdom not to do it again.

Snowing in BWI--2005 December 19

South Pole Satellite Data Link--You can't do that! graphics by NASA.The Reunion was great! The last time I was at NASA Goddard was for the 25th anniversary of the launch of ATS-3. That was a while ago and it is still functional. Now this 20th anniversary of the inception of COOL-SPACE and the South Pole Satellite Data Link. I hope you all start now planning a 30th; I want to start now looking forward to it.

The weather deteriorated after Cindy left me off at BWI and it was snowing for a couple of hours prior to my flight. I had a nice nap on the floor by the gate and watched with no small trepidation as they began de-icing planes. Baggage handlers were sliding across the tarmac like kids on skates.

Finally I left BWI in the snow and left the snow in BWI. The skies were clear above and below by the time we'd reached 41 angels (You know, I remember that word "angels" being used at least in one movie to denote thousands of feet of altitude but I cannot find the reference in my dictionary now.) and the flight was mostly smooth all the way to the warm sunny of the AridZona desert.

It was great meeting all those OAE friends. I was especially impressed with the way we can make direct-dial phone calls all the way to South Pole these days. I hope they are on the telemarketers Do Not Call List.

... and I guess I would do it again.

I must admit, at first I wasn't going to consider it. Then all the pieces fell into place and it was hard not to. Once I'd taken that step I got all excited about the event, the opportunity, the possibility, but still harboured thoughts that perhaps the greatest thing I could take away from such an insane idea is the good sense not to do it again. But now? Perhaps it is a further sign of my maturity that I am looking forward to the next one. Is that what happens when we get old Mike? We look forward all the time to the next reunion to see who else is still left?

Marilyn writes:

Amid CyberSantas, Advertising Angels and Empty Calorie Cookies, may you catch a whiff of wood smoke, the memory of an ancient Solstice bonfire.  The darkness is enlightened, an oak tree grows from an acorn, the Wheel of the Year turns. Blessed Be!
Solstice Soakers at Sunset. efoto by Camilla.

First Day of Solstice

Nice Solstice meal. Mostly put on by CyB who also watched the desk so the rest of us could feed uninterruptedly. YUM!

We had a proper drumming around the bonfire and a sage smudge blessing. But way too cold for much pagan nudity; everyone was hidden under layers of polar fleece and wool blends. No point in taking photos of that, you can see polar fleece in a catalogue.

Second Day of Solstice - Christmas Eve-Eve

Chrisnakah Dinner. efoto by Camilla.Finally! At this late date I have figured out what my Solstice Project is to be. Books! Give away some books. Books I have not been able to sell I will give away. But it is a special giving away that these books will have. Something new I have recently come across. See The Read & Release Programme at for detale. I will set a bunch of books in motion and do it in the name of The Friends of The Cat Drag'd Inn so you all can look and follow the path they take. Twenty books have been set free.

A Few Days Later in Safford.

We're just getting started on a short holiday tour for/with a mother and her daughter. A couple of guest$ at The Cat Drag'd Inn to be carried about the countryside. They get a good time and I get to see a few new places. Not entirely off the street people as I have known them for about a year here but guests nonetheless who paid the fuel and helped with the cooking and dishes. Just the kind of family I want to work with in my idea of a B&B on wheels.

This first day started with a visit to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix and then we drove across a 4500 foot pass and through Globe to Safford. Last night before supper we had a soak at Essence of Tranquility Hot Spring and then went up the street to the rest area in town to park for supper and sleep.

Tamara and Denali, mother and daughter (5yr), were just the kind of people who I have in mind for this sort of touring. We had been corresponding about this tour and discussing the stops and the route for a month or so. They paid for the fuel and brought along some of the food. I did the driving and we shared the cooking and dishes. I learned a lot about the care and feeding of 5yr-olds but I would do it again in a minute. If there was any special focus it was a quest to soak in other hot springs and a search to find snow for Denali.

Denali--snowgirl in the making.We found some in the high passes along routes 60 and 180 between Springerville and Pie Town (overnight at the town park and breky at the Daily Pie Cafe). You know Denali, she rode nearly the entire 1200 miles wearing less than me most of the time. On more than one of those occasions when we took a snow break she would leap from the bus into a crusty plow-drift with nothing on but her "footies". Finally we took to locking the door to give her mother time to get some clothes on her.

Another peak event along the way was the before dawn fly-out of the snow geese at Bosque del Apache south of Socoro. At 06h00 we were not the first to arrive on the Bosque's "Flight Deck" viewing area. The surrounding wetland was carpeted with ducks and geese, honking and chirping filled the air. Maybe forty minutes later, the first blush of deep orange lighting up the undersides of the clouds, one snow goose stretched. Seeming to stand on the water. Wings extended. As if a human might yawn with arms extended.

Gila River at Gillespie Dam after two inches of rain. efoto by Bill.On the Flight Deck fifty bird watchers stopped chatting among themselves but they were already too late. In the Visitor's Center the previous afternoon I noted the time of sunrise and inquired when the flyout would take place. Anywhen within a half hour before dawn, the Docent declaimed, the birds don't post a definite departure time. This time they were early. In the second it took for that first stretch to register with the observers the entire surface of the roost errupted in a clatter and flutter. Thousands of snow geese lifted off, as if the entire surface of the wetland were rising up, and wheeled about. Waves of birds flew across the Flight Deck as the birds made way to their breky. The quickest among the photographing birdwatchers swung their cameras about to capture their silhouettes crossing the waning moon. I just stood there in awe.

Whilst we were having delightful weather touring and birdwatching and soaking, the folks back at El Dorado were really taking a soaking. Rain and more rain. This is supposed to be the sunny and dry season. The so-called rainy season is usually in the Summer. This year seems to be backwards. The desert likes the water, it is turning green everywhere.

And for those of you following the Adventures of Ian: Ian is moulting. Becoming a full-fledged Teen-angler. Playing in the band. Succumbing to the peer pressure of his first year as a Fresh Man. Perhaps I have forgotton my own such rites of passage, watching him now, it is a sorrowful sight. At least we have a bear in common.

Have you read Krakauer's _Under The Banner of Heaven_?

Yet another scary book. On page 297 the author writes: "...if Ron Lafferty were deemed mentally ill [during his trial for murdering a mother and her baby daughter because God told him to] because he obeyed the voice of his God, isn't everyone who believes in God and seeks guidance through prayer mentally ill as well? In a democratic republic that aspires to protect religious freedom, who should have the right to declare that one person's irrational beliefs are legitimate and commendable, while another person's are crazy? How can a society activily promote religious faith on one hand and condemn a man for zealously adhering to his faith on the other?

"This, after all, is a country led by a born-again Christian, President George W. Bush, who believes he is an instrument of God and characterizes international relations as a biblical clash between forces of good and evil." [Exactly the same defence Lafferty mounts for his crime.]

Except that Bush is the President of a so-called "Christian" country and Lafferty is a commoner.

Twelfth Night Come and Gone

Running to catch up with my nose. efoto by Tom....and still this epistle languishes in my bit bucket and my Annual Solstice Letter has yet to be started. But it is interesting to see who has not sent me their letters and cards. Last year was different, I don't know what to make of it. Are there lots of folks not sending cards and letters this year? Or are there that many of my set of annual correspondents who are waiting so not to be first? Or is the ennui of some greater nature and affecting more than me...

Thursday the 13th...

Still too cold for much fun; my nose runs so fast I can barely keep up with it.

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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Copyright © 2004, A.J.Oxton, The Cat Drag'd Inn , Center Conway NH 03813-0144.