Travels With Oso con Migo
Odyssey In America
OAE On The Road Again -- The End of Summer
10/6 Mad Hatter's Tea Party
Carolyn wrote yesterday that she "leaves tomorrow" to go "home" to
Nawlins, a.k.a. NOLA, and find what is growing in her fridge:
> My place did not flood, but I don't know if there's hurricane
> leaking. I'm prepared with disinfectant, rubber gloves,
masks and safety
> glasses to tackle my putrid refrigerator. I haven't really
> that. There is now electricity; I'm hauling water and a
solar shower; the gas
> isn't hooked up, but I have my trusty propane stove. At this point
> have a job and don't know how long it'll take for the clinic to
rehire me or
> to find something else.
I don't know what to say. It's not like she had a big investment there,
Do you know: Did she once upon a long ago live in that city long enough
to grow roots? Or is it that she feels the life she only just started
there is not yet complete and needs another chance? I asked her those
questions and I have the feeling that if I were living in her style and
had to start over I'd probly just as well start over elsewhere. But
then again perhaps if I felt I had a mission to accomplish I would
probly return as she is. That's what I mean: I don't know what to say.
Yesterday was 10/6 you know, the Mad Hatter's
Tea Party, but it wasn't
much of a party without you and her, not to mention all the old farts
that are here now. Everyone is bent on such a course of restructuring
and getting out that there seems little enough gaiety. Maybe that is
only my perception cos I am in such a hurry to go nowhere and so much
to do to be ready to leave. Somewhen along in here we also had The Eldo
Bare-B-Que Pot Luck Last Supper. Good time had by all, especially
Denali who spent some time with a seriously sharp knife carving up the
filling for a pumpkin pie.
It doesn't help that the smokers and the clothes-minded are taking over
the place already. I canna believe how gagging-bad those people stink
after I've been living so long with only the smell of clean Humans.
Even in this open space of the "office" when one of them walks through
there is a bubble of stench around them.
I suppose I had better get used to it...
The score is four nudes to three clothed and as likely as not there are
ashes on the desk along with the chads from the Frequent Soaker Cards.
Bill would be tearing out his hair if he had any.
Friday the 14th...
Go west old man, go west. Every day I take another load of stuff to La
Casa Blanca, two lots over, where I will be squatting for the coming
Winter. I am looking forward to building things for a season, instead
of fixing them. I am looking forward to a season of not dealing with
the public. Perhaps I will yet find some worthwhile individuals to
absorb some of my time. In the meanwhile a big fat rattlesnake was
apprehended trying to slither into the Sunset Tub. In the picture the
fence boards are 3.5 inches wide. The black and white bands on the
snakes tail must be racing stripes.
The well drillers have arrived and set up their smelly noisy
contraption. CyB have been busy opening up the "back yard" between La
Casa Blanca and the Labyrinth. Looks nice. When the big trucks get out
of there then we will start fencing out the clothes-minded world and
creating a nude enclave. Looks to be a nice place to spend a Winter.
2005october17monday, That Time Flies is
a Relative Thing
Wicked neat thunderstorm woke me at oh-dark-thirty. A quarter of an
inch of rain means I will not have to irrigate this my day off. I'll
stay inside and write letters instead.
Time flies. Does that mean we are having fun? I've been too busy
with all the packing and moving to notice. Where is all the fun?
When I was a wee lad and anxiously awaiting some event my mother would
tell me time would pass fast enough, to enjoy it while I could because
someday it would speed by too fast for me to keep up. Now I am an old
man and I realise it must be something indigenous to mothers; I have
read that other mothers have said exactly the same thing. Time does go
by faster and faster.
Einstein said it was the law of relatives except he wrote his laws as
algebraic formulae with Greek letters and nobody could understand them.
I will translate this one: The younger you are the more relatives you
have older than you and so time goes slowly, then, later, the older you
are the more relatives you have younger than you and so the faster time
goes. He also said, by way of a corollary, that the relative who
travels ages slower than the relative who stays at home. So I guess
that makes me not so old as my younger brother?
Betty writes on the subject of typing
and typographical errors:
When my hands are cold, I cannot type. And when it is too warm,
and hands are sweaty, I hit wrong keys because fingers slip. And
when the weather is neither too hot, nor too cold, I am distracted by
the perfect magnificence of nature and my thoughts whirl faster than my
Saturday Almost Halloween
Getting close to the end. It is pathetic how the
new owners are so
afraid of a nude person. Several of them came yesterday to meet with
CyB and two actually wacked through bushes to get into the venue at
Lily Pond and avoid confronting the nude person at the desk. I am
truly sorry such people are taking over here.
my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?
That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.
From A Shropshire Lad XL, A.E.Housman,
Samhain is not in my dictionary
Fifty-two here just at dawn now. Today is the day. Move it. Even
cannot find room to pack, everything has to be moved. I will not be
sitting here another night. The first thing on the list is the Internet
Got to find that bird before I can go off in search of the turkey.
I've moved from the hot spring where I have basically been living in
hot water for about four years; a
fantasy land of hard work and almost no laundry. Next door at La
Casa Blanca there is enough work renovating it to keep me busy for
another while and then some. The new well is functional tho not
completely plumbed. Water at the wellhead is measured at 118f. We need
to get a tub or two set up right away. There is so much to do.
And I need to get away for a visit to the beach and the mountains. I do
wish that some of you could be along for the ride. I'll be looking out
for someone else who needs a grandfather-for-rent. and a ride to Never
Whilst I am on the road there is no satellite-internet access. Messages
move via the shortwave Ham radio at about 700baud and I am permitted
only 30minutes a day. Pages and pictures such as this will wait until
I'm wired again.
2005nov3rd, Wenzday Was Red Hat Day
The water from the new well has a distinct blueish cast. Camilla said
the water at Eldo was like that in the early days and she figures that
eventually it runs more clear when the copper is gone. I've noted from
time to time at Eldo that the water in certain of the porcelain tubs
would have that bluish cast but it seemed to have more to do with the
sunlight and shadow. In any case the water is HOT. Too hot right out of
the well for soaking. 118f!
And the well sings! It was first noticed yesterday morning just after
the sky clouded over. A complex chord of fluting notes that one can
play by fingers covering various of the bolt holes in the cover of
the wellhead. There is a considerable flow of air coming from down the
Perhaps the well pierces a subterranean cavern? The sound went on for
hours. After a while I stopped listening and went on to other tasks.
The satellite network antenna had to be relocated. Small wiring changes
to the well pump to make the very temporary lashup a tiny bit more
And at The Cat Drag'd Inn, a
lot more cleaning and packing to get ready for the road. All the throw
rugs out to beat on the line, vacuum, dishes left over from three days,
cat-box, rubbish... I never did get to washing the windows; that has to
be done afore I can drive or I'll not see to stay on the road. Sara(h)
has also been busy, patrolling her new digs, returning now and again to
see if The Cat Drag'd Inn is
where she left it.
As to the mystery of the singing well? Camilla thought it might be some
Earth Spirit, a friendly one I hope, happy to be released; Bill finally
called someone and they said that it is caused by the differential air
pressure resulting from a lowering in the barometer which is also
bringing on the cloudy weather. When the barometer turns round and goes
up the well will suck in air but it may not sing then. I more prefer
Invoking the spells of higher numerical arcana I reason that there
are 81,430 cubic inches of air in the well. Short of measuring the
outflow what can one assume about the rate? It is dependent upon the
size of the holes and the differential pressure. The well is not
whistling now. Perhaps next time we will arrange an aeolian harp...
Much Later, Gila Bend, New Moon at
It was a bad news-good news beginning at Casa Blanca. Had a nice soak
for starters and sent some last minute mail. Washed the windows. Last
packing. All set? And then the engine would not crank. Main battery
seemed rather down. It has been behaving as if it were on its last
charge for a few days now; is this the end? A jump to the house battery
got the motor running and the battery took a healthy charge for quite a
few miles down the road toward the battery store. But they did not have
the 8D size in Maintenance Free. Nor did the next place. So I gave up
on that and went shopping for ice cream instead.
Sara(h) went to the vet for her annual inoculation. She weighs in at
nine pounds four ounces. I went to a bank with a tote bag in hand. I
changed twenty-five twenties into five hundred dollar coins. A mix of
Sacajawea dollars and Susan B. Anthony's or "gold dollars" and "eagles"
for those of us whose syllabicity is challenged. Counting them out is
going to make paying for fuel and groceries more meaningful.
We'll spend this Thursday night at the Elks Lodge in Gila Bend and
continue west in the morning.
In The Morning...2005nov4friday, Gila
Sara(h) La Gata conMigo is not at all happy with the change of
environment that greeted her nose. Perhaps it is only the pea-stone
park or the smell of the nearby railroad but she did not make her usual
foray before breky. Fifty-four degrees and clear at dawn. The Cat
Drag'd Inn is well and the motor started. On The Road Again...
In The Morning...2005nov5saturday,
Not too many miles yesterday, 54 is all, including a little to the side
to look for a cache that was there the last time I travelled through
here. Arrived Dateland late morning to visit Linda & John, one of
the Ham Radio people I chat with. Flat here, more flat than around
Tonopah it seems; but then one doesn't see the flatness through the
bamboo wall that encloses El Dorado. We talked about flatness and
floods and went for the nickel tour around the neighborhood. One item
is the monument to the soldiers of Camp Horn, 81st Infantry, 1943.
On the road with a date shake. The local joke is that this is likely
the only date one is going to get in Dateland. I didn't know there were
so many different kinds of dates.
Stopped at Telegraph Pass for a little walk. Stopped in Yuma for fuel.
Price is not as high as in Tonopah. Fifty gallons, one hundred
forty-five dollars. I was expecting to take on half again more than
that; looks like the main fuel tank gauge is reading nearly half a tank
low. I suppose that is better than it reading too high but it still
means something else to fix.
Over the sand dunes and through the washes looking for Five Palms
Spring. The road in the guide book is nearly impassable unless you have
four wheel drive. The Cat Drag'd Inn
has six wheels and got stuck
anyhow. I'll spare you the details.
The road that is passable doesn't go in the
right direction. We'll try
again tomorrow. For now I have a nice flat spot and it is almost dark
despite the extra hour of daylight presented me at the CAlifornia State
I've decided to relate the gory details anyhow. It is another of those
times when I neglected to get any pictures so writing a thousand words
might be some sort of penance.
East of where the Highland Canal intersects CA78 there are two gravel
roads to the south. It is the second one that the Hot Spring Guide Book
says goes to Five Palms. Approaching from the east, from Yuma,
westbound along CA78, I missed that turn, and made the other one, the
first road east of the canal. Nice road. Wide turn, two lane road, very
dusty hard gravel, but wrong road. Turned around in a wide spot and
went back to CA78 to find the correct road. Ahh! There it is, between
those bushes, one lane, rutted, sandy.
About twenty feet in there was a narrow wash of soft sand. I could feel
the front wheels sink as they rolled through but they were back on hard
pan before the rear wheels rolled in and bogged down. One back and
forth and The...Inn rolled
free. I made a mental note to hit that one a little faster on the way
out and continued south. There were a couple of other soft spots in the
first half mile or so, however I did not see them as bad omens. Then I
came to a point at which the road ahead dropped away, a gentle slope,
very sandy and rutted. It was apparent from the looks of it others had
been stuck there and I was sure that this bus would sink. So I thought
to turn around while I was still on the hard surface, find a wide spot
to park, and maybe walk in to the spring.
The first point of the turn, forward, dropped the front wheels off the
edge. That should have been enough of a warning but I guess I was too
busy thinking to pay attention to the facts. The bus backed out of that
ok as the rear wheels were still on the hard surface. Then I didn't
fast enough and the rear wheels rolled out onto the soft verge. I'd
gotten out and walked around out there before I started this
turn-around and thought it firm enough but it wasn't. I tried some back
and forth but right from the start she was in too deep. Stuck sideways
across the road at N32° 57.869' W115° 17.339'
Just as I was getting out my AAA card to call for help a big SUV whose
fat knobby wheels were as wide as my duals came by and stopped. He
agreed to have a go at pulling out The...Inn
and got out a wide flat cargo strap that already had a couple of knots
in its length. I tied my end to the front axle and he tied his end to
his trailer hitch. We tried several pulls and succeeded in getting my
rear wheels up to the the edge of the hard surface but they were so far
sunk in that they couldn't roll up. We also broke the tow line so now
it had another knot. I shovelled out some of edge of the road to make
more of a ramp and he let some air out of his great knobby tyres since
they had been digging holes in the road and after two more pulls and
adding another knot to the tow line The...Inn
was up on the hard surface.
My bowline around the front axle came apart with some effort but his
knot around his trailer hitch had to be cut away. I showed him how to
tie a bowline and gave him a roll of those dollar coins to buy a new
cargo strap. Then he guided me through the rest of the turn-around,
three more points, before waving goodbye. And when I got out to the
start of this awful road I remembered to roll faster through the first
sandy spot back to the pavement.
2005nov7monday, Camping with Flies
Notes leftover from yesterday afternoon. I can smell a feedlot
somewhere west of here. The flies are thick on the side of the bus.
Five Palms Hot Well is a sandy bottomed puddle of tepid water
thirty feet across, surrounded by several more than five palms. Perhaps
as many as twenty not counting all the sprouts. There is a wall of
cattails around the north side and a spillway framed by small rounded
stones and two sandbags. In the middle floats the cover from an old
cooler chest. This cover serves a dual purpose. Its shape keeps it in
place over the flow of warm artesian water and mutes the sound of the
water in order that soakers might converse without yelling. The cover's
other purpose is that of a floating table for beverages.
According to other soakers the well was drilled by General Patton in
the early 1940's to provide water for nearby army training camps. Today
water is still rushing out of the old well casing.
Today's adventure was a propane leak. Seems I
remember smelling propane
yesterday or the day before but didn't put much stock in it. This
morning it bothered me enough so I got out my propane leak detector and
hunted around where the smell was. Ah yes, looks like the regulator has
failed; there is gas leaking from the seal around the first stage. Now
this is a high priority problem. Short of building a fire by the side
of the road there will be no hot water for a cup of tea until the
regulator is replaced.
The Sanitarium Geocache, Highline Hot Well, and three parts stores in
El Centro later the time is now 15h30 PST and I am having tea in a rest
stop by the side of I-8. Chula Vista is still two and a half hours
away. This rest area is 42 feet below sea level, near the western edge
of the basin that contains the Salton Sea. The pass through the
mountains ahead of me in the Cleveland National Forest is 4100 feet
above sea level.
2005nov8tuesday, The City of Lights
Driving into the sun yesterday afternoon, westward from that nameless
"safety rest stop--8 hour parking limit" was nothing like driving into
the environs of San Diego Country. Coming down from the hills, where
there was space to think between cars, to the city of El Cajon where it
was dark, 4,000 feet in 22 miles, was like driving into a "Red Giant"
to use an astronomical term. A turbulent sea of red light, waves and
cross currents, twinkling, blinking, red light. I've not driven in such
dense traffic, especially at night, for a long while; it was good to be
reminded why I don't like it--The rudeness of some drivers is surpassed
only by the stupidity of some soakers who bathe with their clothes on.
Now it is early Tuesday morning in Chula Vista and I've a bread pudding
about to come out of the oven. Yum! Sara(h) La Gata conMigo just came
in for her nap. Today I will sit still by this grassy lawn in front of
Jim's house and think about who next to visit.
2005nov10thursday, writing in the rain
Jim and Stoker live in a small house in a compact neighborhood thick
with kids and cars. Jim is a programmer by vocation and a tutor by
trade; Stoker in the meanwhile stays at home preening his feathers and
cracking nuts. We shared some meals and I was able to get online to
catch up with a Brazilion messages piled up in my primary email host.
Sara(h) La Gata had a good time climbing trees and turning over the
soil in Jim's flower bed.
On Wenzday morning I relocated The
Cat Drag'd Inn to the San Diego Yacht Club where she felt right
at home berthed along side the Brazilion or so medium-tall ships in
their slips. We were here to visit the Ham Radio Station known as W6IM
which is one of the hosts for my on the road email.
Rod, w6mwb, was good enough to show me the station and invite me to
lunch. One thing Ham Radio people do periodically is gather round a
particular frequency to tell each other where they are and what they
are doing. Usually when I check in there are people I know, sort of
like a neighborhood or club of folks with similar interests, but never
anyone I am actually looking for so it was especially neat that w6mwb
answered when I asked the Net Control Station if he'd checked in yet.
Rod drove down to where I
was parked and took me to the Ham Shack. After that visiting we went to
the fish shack for lunch and met several other Hams. Lots of old-timers
with storeys to tell and an appreciative audience. It was all a great
day for me.
After lunch I took some time for a nap and a bit of vehicle
maintenance. The right-side driving light had been moved from its
mounting frame by some encounter with an irresistible force and was
dangling by the wires. After that little repair we relocated again. Now
I am only a few miles north of the downtown area visiting OAE friends.
Old Antarctic Explorers is what we call anyone who survives their first
Winter on The Ice. Some folks are gluttons for punishment and go back
for more. Jeff described his reason for being one of 28 to Winter Over
at South Pole as a profound need to experience 100 degrees below zero.
Salmon with Teriyaki was the main course. Yum!
2005nov11, Drinking Wine With Veterans
I have been sitting on one street for the past two nights, soon to be
three nights, breaking bread and sipping wine with Jeff and Ann and
several other assorted humans. Jeff is a veteran of McMurdo and South
Pole so we have some Winter-Overs in common there. Angie is another OAE
who was at McMurdo for a Winter. We've been putting together an old
computer to help me upgrade to the New World, and we have gone after
four geocaches within walking distance of their house here on Appleton
Also accomplished a couple of showers, a laundry, some minor fixes, and
a cleaning of Sara(h)'s cat box. All this visiting is taking more time
than I expected. But actually should take more time yet for best
12november, Sleepless in San Diego
There has been an on-going problem with the Ham Radio Airmail-WinLink
system in that it disallows the use of the BCC Field for eddressing
transmissions. Each time I sent out a letter with eddresses in the BCC
Field there would be returned one error message saying the first
eddress was invalid. The rest of the list would fail but I didn't learn
that until after sending daily letters for the first week of this
journey. It took a visit to the operator of the San Diego station,
supra, to sort out the reason my mail was being returned and the reason
why BCC is disallowed: SPAM. Precisely the reason I don't like to put
lists in the TO field to start with. Oh Well...
Only two of the list of my alleged correspondents replied to my
entreaty concerning this matter to say they did not mind sharing my TO:
field. At least so far anyhow. I am wallowing in some sort of self-pity
when I wonder if others I thought I was writing to might someday wake
up and wonder why they've not read from me for so many miles.
In the meanwhile, here with Ann and Jeff, it has been party-party-party
with several of Ann's friends visiting as well as me. Good times!
This morning I get on the road again. 700 miles to the next visitations
in Durham and Paradise.
Later on the 12th, Atascadero. The
Longest Day: 334 miles.
Longest day so far. Ventura Highway, in the sun; highway 101.
Words to a song? All the beaches I passed looked nice but not very
inviting. Crowded parking, peopled with Tex Tyler's friends and
relatives. Just as well. I am a lot further along now.
Monday, 14th November,
Triskaidekaphobia Strikes Again
I remember bits of a beach yesterday, and 77 gallons of fuel and a
shower at a truck stop somewhere, but little else. Two hundred
seventy-seven miles the odometer indicates, and now the GPS tells me The Cat is Drag'd Inn at a SafeWay
in Fairfield. Another thing I remember from last night is finally
paying attention to my senses and reacting in a timely manner when the
telltale wave of brake lights give a clew that a traffic jam was about
to occur. Jumping off at the exit close to hand and following the GPS
to get around the jam and watching to see all the traffic bottled up on
The beach was something special and I will have to return somewhen to
wrest full enjoyment out of it. Shark's Tooth Cove is the place to look
for. Just in case you chance upon the section of CAlifornia Highway One
a few miles north of Santa Cruz but not quite all the way to Davenport.
It is a steep rocky coast along here and the sea has carved fantastic
shapes and grand sandy-bottomed caves where you could well be nicely
isolated when the tide comes in.
Fairfield is not so special. Hard to find a place to park. Another of
these planned communities where the plan is to make life difficult, if
not downright miserable. The first shopping circus I tried to get into
had a rejection patrol on my tail the moment I came in the gate.
Moments after I shut down the motor and commenced to clean up the mess
of two hours of washboard interstate this guy was blinking his lights
and telling me with professional politeness that overnight parking is
out of the question.
The second place I tried, a SafeWay in a little cluster of small shops,
is perhaps not making enough profit to squander it in such manner; but
the carpark, flat and inviting tho it may be, is fraught with low
trees, tight corners, and little traffic control islands. But Sara(h)
likes the trees and I am too tired to continue and so we stayed.
And Stayed And Stayed And Stayed Some
Let me tell you a little more about yesterday. Let's see... It started
dawn when the Alarum Cat went off. Saying that yesterday started at
dawn is sort of like saying, of someone you really like the looks of,
that their "legs went all the way down to the ground".
Nonetheless, the Alarum Cat has no snooze button.
It took me several tries to give up on sending mail so I wrote some
more in my journal. Somewhen along there it occurred to me that one of
my credit card bills is usually due about this time so I wrote a cheque
and prepared it for posting to a letter drop if ever I found one. Then
I noted, through some convoluted chain of events more visual than aural
or writeable, that the bottom of the overhead cupboard above the
library shelf was falling away from its hanger. The poorly maintained
CrApelfornia highway system was wreaking havoc on my home. Driving in
this state is like enduring the effect of a sustained earthquake.
Perhaps the locals are inured to it.
Upon this unnerving discovery all plans for the morning were shelved,
so to speak; it was instead, time for a cup of tea and a slice of
rhubarb pie. Then, with dunnage and broom stick I jacked the cupboard
back into place and fashioned a wrap-around fix, a splint for the joint
where the screws had pulled loose. I knew there was some good reason
for hauling that old broomstick all this Way.
By now the UPS store was open. It is the subject of another diatribe of
course but has anyone else noticed how there are more UPS stores
located in convenient locations than there are United States Postal
Service offices? After that visit then grocery shopping at the friendly
SafeWay which has been so nice as to host me for the night. Finally,
about nooning, I am ready to relocate to the nearby NAPA store.
Two mechanical problems are ongoing. One, new in the past week,
involved the air dryer and compressor. I am still looking and listening
for advice about that one. The other goes back more than a year but is
now getting bad enough to warrant some serious attention. The fuel
gauge on the main diesel tank has become more and more erratic.
Sometimes it bounces between a quarter tank and a half a tank, it never
reads full and usually when the gauge says the tank is empty there is
still some in it. But I am never sure. Somehow I am now motivated to do
something about it.
Like millions of other Americans I am sure, I have been collecting the
State Quarters and paw through my change every time seeking the latest
issue. On occasion I find a New Hampshire Quarter. I save those too.
They are special. New Hampshire may not be the "Live Free or Die" state
any longer now that Emissions Testing on your chainsaw is creeping into
the backwoods communities of the North Country and the "Old Man of The
Mountains" has left
town, but the NH Quarter is still the only "two headed" coin. You can't
loose a tossup with that one. I never know the date of each new issue
but I redouble my efforts whenever I hear other folks mention that
just found a new one. Kansas is the object of search these days.
So off to the NAPA store and surprise of surprises they did in fact
have two fuel tank sending unit kits on the shelf. One kit included the
gauge whilst the other was built by Stewart-Warner to automotive
industry standards. Both sending units had a about a two-inch mounting
flange with five screw holes. I had yet to uncover the location of the
sending unit in the bus's main tank but was fairly convinced that was
point of failure. The top of the tank is covered with a layer of dirt
thick enough to grow mushrooms if it were not for the fuel. I purchased
S-W kit and removed the bus around back of the NAPA place where a
store-front Baptist Church had a suitable carpark and the adjoining
stubble field would double as a catpark.
Tools out, box to sit upon, bungee cord to hold open the fuel-fill
access door, drop light redirecting the solar insolation into the
mushroom-growing darkness. All set, ready to get dirty. I shovelled my
way down to the top of the sending unit and swept the area clean. There
were six screws. And the flange was nearly an inch larger than the
replacement under consideration. Well, I'm this close so I removed the
old unit anyhow, just for the look-see. Inspection accomplished, all
buttoned up, back through the list of light, cord, box, tools, and
return the S-W sending unit to the NAPA store. And there, in the change
of my refund, were two bright shiny new Kansas Quarters! Ahh! See?
There is a purpose to everything.
Now we're through to half past mid-day and I still have miles to go
before I sleep. Durham is the goal, to break bread and visit with OAE
friend cmdr Mark. Been several years since I was a revenant at his farm.
Once north of the urban sprawl that stretches from San Francisco
through Sacramento the land opens up flat and farms of nut trees
alternate with rice paddies. Far to the north, through openings in low
hills, I can espy a pair of snow-capped mountains. Mount (Peter) Lassen
(13 thousand feet) is the southern-most volcano of the Cascades.
Mark lives with several brothers, wives, and kids, among their nut
orchards. I learnt that English Walnuts are the ones we eat. An English
Walnut scion is grafted onto a Black Walnut stump because the black
walnut tree has
a stronger root. There are also pecans growing here. The rice paddies
grow California white rice primarily for export to Japan--at least this
country is exporting something to Japan.
2005november17, Up The Hill in Paradise
These people in Paradise are a neat couple. He
paints (artist) and she
cooks (YUM!) Frank was another of those 12y.o.once upon a long ago in
my group and was an artist even then. Now, as a "starving artist", he
makes a pretty good living at it. Last time I visited this family they
lived in Vermont when their son was 10; now he is thirty something and
married with dog. Frank and I had a good time last night reminding each
other of the old days. He has a lot of storeys of events I remember
differently--or not at all. Things happened a different way in his eyes
and some parts I was never aware of at the time they took place.
Some of the things we/they--him and his cohort--did in those days we
would never get away with in today's social climate.
I have to wonder what has taken the place of the adventurous spirit of
too many of the youth of today.
18nov2005 Friday, Stray Cats
Sara(h) and the other cat went off for a tour of the neighborhood just
as did Frank and I. Sometimes she, Sara(h), gets beyond the end of her
rope and I find my Self with an unplanned delay. Time to write another
letter, have an unexpected conversation. So it was this morning.
Saturday, Visiting in Paradise and
along the Way to Reno.
Toni and Frank live in such a fine and dandy location. I hope the
Wal-Mart Syndrome does not encroach too close and no high rise
apartments grow into their view across the canyon. It would be awful if
Frank's paintings started sprouting ugly rectangular blocks of smoking
cinder along the skylines and moonscapes he does so well.
We did four geocaches! Two were an easy walk from their house, tho
extremely difficult for a skinwalker in a residential neighborhood. Two
others were out along SR70 where Frank took me for a little preview of
what the drive would be when I departed to continue my race with the
Thanksgiving Turkey. It is always more fun for me to share such little
adventures. It is always more fun to share these big adventures too. At
least I am happy that you, Gentle Readers, may be engaged in your own.
First order of business on The Road to Reno was to fill the main
propane tank. The furnace has been running a lot as I climb into colder
altitudes. There was no propane to be had at the first little store. I
had not shut down the motor cos it didn't look too inviting right there
by the tank and when I went to look for the proprietor a woman came out
and said: You're not gonna be happy and neither am I.
I guess she was expecting a big sale for such a big bus. Oh Well. Next
stop was Quincy. None there either. I did find Diesel for 2.75 so that
was Ok but the Suburban Propane dealer across the street from the
eat-here-and-get-gas place has closed up shop and moved to Nevada. Sure
would have been nice if they'd have put a big CLOSED sign in the
window. No other propane seen anywhere along the route as yet. This
would be a good time to have a wood stove in here.
Now I am writing from Sierra Hot Spring at SierraVille where the
temperature on the outside at Oh-Dark-Thirty is 22-25f depending upon
which thermometer I peruse. They were both at 23 a while ago. The bus
is warm enough inside but Sara(h) is not at all happy with the
conditions nor am I. Hard to type letters whilst wearing mittens. It is
a good morning for some Red River cereal with a little Cream of Wheat
The spring here is sulphurous. Not good for silver spoons, nor silver
bracelets and silver chains. But that aside, it was just the right
after the chilly walk from where The...Inn is parked. Seems strange to
be paying for soaking, to be on the other side of the desk...
The drive across SR70 was arduous to say the
least. Some of those
edges, those outside curves, especially where no guardrail exists, are
very much more scary from the height of this driver's seat than from
the front seat of Frank's little car. In a car so close to the surface
one does not see
over the edge as much as from up in this bus with no bonnet to distance
one's Self from the edge.
Many fine skinnydipping pools along the Feather River and the several
tributaries that feed it. Rock Creek is one of them but the
construction had the access completely obstructed, one way traffic
across the bridge, no place to park, no way to get through the line of
waiting traffic. Too cold anyhow; just one more reason to make a return
The bus did well over all. It took me three hours to drive the 52 miles
to Quincy, including a short break for lunch, and another two hours for
the 41 miles as far as SierraVille. The navaid programme time for that
distance is two and a half hours but it fails to take account of the
hills and extreme curvenicity of the road. Quite a drive; truly the
scenic route. Now it is early on the 19th and I am parked in the hot
spring's "quick exit" RV slip waiting for the hot cereal to cook. It is
taking over-long, perhaps due to the altitude. Or the coldness of the
water to start with. Ice on the puddles outside The Cat Drag'd Inn.
Got to go for another soak before I try to start the motor.
2005nov20, 5500'MSL Ketchup Hazard at
Now I'm really a day late. The late start from
Sierraville and all that
fooling around in Reno looking for propane cost me too many hours. Not
sure what the problem with propane is. The usual cutbacks in trained
personnel, the closure of local gas company outlets... I canna believe
it is cause of not enough profit. No propane at the two truck stops in
downtown Reno, the gas company is closed... Finally with the help of my
handy radio I was able to get directions to Baldini's Plaza, on the
northwest corner of Freeport & Rock, south of i80x17. Baldini's is
a fair sized casino with acres of parking and includes a fuel stop with
car wash and propane.
Coming down out of the hills west of the city was a dramatic change
from the tall tree forests to the open desert. The road east of Reno is
wide and flat until it changes from i80 to U.S.50. The Loneliest
in America, complete with the Loneliest Telephone in America (near Sand
Mountain N39° 16.48' W118° 24.51') is much more hilly and
curvy. The (or "a") Pony Express route went along this way. As evening
wore on the temperature dropped and the cold air settled so as I went
up and down over the various passes the temperature went up and down as
well. Eventually, with Spencer Hot Spring still an hour ahead I was
tired enough to give up and park. The Mount Airy Pass was home for
On the east side of Reno, overlooking the
interstate as you drive
eastbound, there is a large billboard signed by Bureau of Land
Management with the message:
Hot Springs on Public Lands
Stay Out of the Water
And Stay Alive!
...What about hot springs on private land?...
You know those upside down ketchup bottles one sees nowadays? Beware!
Opening one after sufficient increase in altitude can result in a
hazardous expectoration of ketchup.
Mechanically the bus is mostly behaving. Leaks
in the air system--for
brakes, steering, horn--are exacerbated in these cold temperatures. May
be that one of the check valves is misbehaving as well. Fuel mileage
numbers: 9, 9, 7, in the three fill ups so far.
Spencer Hot Spring is as I remember it from previous visits. I found
one of the tubs I didn't find last time and had to share the main
soaking area with a herd of cows and a bear. The area was also
remarkably clean compared to past visits. There used to be a cache near
there: up the road towards the Toquema Cave, something about the first
tree on the right. Bicycled up, six miles along a lumpy road and 1,000
feet gain in altitude; that was an ordeal, I am woefully out of shape.
Under the tree, all that I found was the empty cache container. Started
it over with the Smokey TravelBug, a lightstick, NH quarter, and
Geocache pin. I moved the cache to a somewhat less conspicuous location
on the sunny side of the tree. The cache needs a logbook and a
Today Is Monday--Utah! Innuendo and Out
I thought I might try to get all the way across in one drive, non-stop.
Can't stay awake that long. U.S.50 has lots of ups and downs and early
in the morning the temperature follows. Varying from a low of 15f in
some of the little dips and valleys to as much as 40f at the 7000'
At Scipio I saw diesel marked a full dollar more than regular. OFR!
Stopping for a bite to eat. Mileage so far today: 483 by the odo, 400
by the navaid. One of these days I must find a longish measured mile(s)
section and drive it to and fro several times...
2005november23wenzday, Cold Start at
Tuesday whizzed past, mile after mile, some of them very scenic in the
canyons of old U.S.50, some of them dark now there is no daylight to
save. I've been along most of U.S.50, by motorcycle in about '91, but I
don't recall this part through the canyon of Gunnison River and Tomichi
Creek. Something else to add to the do-over list. Keeping in mind all
the lessons of Wolf Creek Pass (10,550) and the admonitions of Young
Master Ian, The Cat Drag'd over Monarch Pass (11,312) in fine shape.
First time the altitude meter has had its thousands dial all the way
round in a long long while.
Along this drive over and around the mountains, many with snowy tops
and flanks--I even saw one snowplow cleaning the edge of the road at
Monarch--I have been listening to _Touching My
Father's Face by Jamling Tenzing Norgay. Talking books are just
the thing for these long drives with Virtual Companions. This book I am
going to have to read tho. There is much in it, especially at the
beginning, that I want to study more closely.
Stopped at Mineral Hot Springs for a bit of a soak and some
conversation with real people. The water is not as nice as that at El
Dorado nor can one see the stars. They keep the place bright so the
attendants can come round to read the temperature of the water and make
sure everyone is properly attired. No nudes is bad news.
Now it is dawn of Wenzday and both thermometers say 10f when I crank
the motor and it leaps into life. This is the last leg of the race and
I think I am going to win.
Thanksgiving Day 2005, Alamosa
Warfful breky and traditional--but for no cranberry sauce--dinner.
Stuffed as one is expected to be on this day. Now it is time for a nap.
Perhaps tomorrow we'll get back to fixing things.
Black Friday is the name of this morning. I wonder if all the days of
the year have specific names. Seems to me another silly concept that
the shopping done or not on one day can make or break the annual profit
of a business. What fools these mortals be.
Ten degrees of temperature in Alamosa this
morning where The Cat [is]
Drag'd Inn to the back yard of
Char and Fred, OAE from Palmer and other
stations. There is frost on my windows and the furnace is making up for
a life of indolence in AridZona. Sara(h) is not at all happy about the
conditions outside where a yard cat has to sleep in a bed of leaves
under the deck whilst she shares my down comforter and flannel sheets.
But from her inscrutable countenance I cannot tell if her feeling is
one of pity or smugness.
Now it is a matter of writing about Thanksgiving Leftovers. I have
beaten my Way across several states to be here with Char and Fred and
umpteen members of the various sides of their family. Kids from this
ex- and grand kids from grandparents twice removed. We had a
Thanksgiving breakfast with some and a Thanksgiving Dinner with some
others. Today we will have soup and twice-baked bread pudding if
anything at all. (I am trying out a new recipe where you take the
leftover stuffing and throw in some eggs and sugar and milk and bake it
again. It worked once before when I had a lot of crusty baked rice
leftover from a dinner for twenty. Added raisins &c and baked it
into a pudding. Yum!)
Today I must raise the winter windows on The...Inn and put some special
non-toxic anti-freeze in the holding tank...
Sunday, 27 November, 2005, Ojo
Caliente, Around The Horn
Time to catch up with these notes. I've been
rambling in more ways than
on the road.
South from Alamosa with, Thanks to Char and Fred, a fridge full of
leftovers and a tank full of fuel. The weather had been nice, albeit
cold, for the previous days of this visit, but now the forecast was for
snow. Fred was leaning towards a real nasty storm. I wanted to get to
"The Land of Enchantment" before the roads became hazardous to my
health. Just over the line was a geocache in a wide spot by the side of
the road; it made a good first stop. Cup of tea and find the cache. And
just then the snow caught up to me. Hard for a SkinWalker to properly
game in such adverse conditions.
Ojo Caliente is very much an upscale resort. Fifty dollars just to park
overnight and that does not include the soaking. This place takes you
for a soaking even before you have a chance to get in the water. Not my
kind of place but I had to find out first hand.
Now it is Monday Morning (coming down...) at a truck stop west of ABQ.
strong tailwind followed me south from Ojo Caliente Sunday afternoon
and when I turned west at "The Big Eye" it became an even stronger
crosswind. The...Inn was all over the road. Driving was a chore of
hazardous proportions and the wind advisory forecast worse. At
Oh-Dark-Thirty the conditions look a lot better so I'll get started
here shortly. Pie Town next.
Does anyone know where hematite (Fe2O3) beads
come from? Another item
imported from Taiwan or China? Yesterday afternoon, when I was sitting
here composing the previous entry, an Indian-looking man approached
with a hand full of hematite necklaces. His storey was to the effect
that these necklaces sell in the local gift shops for upwards of 25-30
dollars. His people make them, he said. They buy the hematite beads--my
dictionary says the mineral is also called Bloodstone--but he didn't
seem to know from where. His people string the beads, sometimes with
other semi-precious stones such as agate or turquoise, to sell to the
waśicun. They make great gifts, he said, and things being as they are
he is selling them wholesale in truck stops. Four for twenty dollars. I
looked at a few. They might make nice presents. How about six for
twenty-five dollars, I said. Well, he said, seeing as it is so cold out
here, sure. So I picked out six and gave him twenty-five of those
dollar coins I've been hauling around.
2005nov29tuesday, Dead In The Snow at
This has got to be one of my favourite small
towns. Situated on the
Continental Divide at about 7,000'MSL ("It's All Down Hill from Here")
with a campable park across the street from the one room Post Office,
the town is not even a crossroads and certainly not an
eat-here-and-get-gas kind of place. There's not a fuel stop in 20
miles, and that depends on which day it is. The focus of the two
restaurants in town is on pie of course; full meals, set tables, wood
stoves, even live music at the Pie-O-Neer. No drive-up windows. Michael
says: One man's booger is another man's tutti-frutti
Some might say The Cat Drag'd Inn
was "dead in the water" however at 16f it is too cold for that
allegory. The white stuff is two inches deep at the Daily Pie Cafe. I
made the mistake of ignoring the possibilities and slept through the
insistent dreams of the motor not starting, the generator not starting,
the nearest AAA being all the way back to ABQ. At least I had not
ignored Michael's invitation to stay in the yard instead of going on to
the Last Rest Area in the Land of Enchantment. So at Oh-Dark-Thirty
when the motor went RRR-rrr-r... I was able to plug in the block heater
and the charger to the side of his restaurant. Now the only question I
have is: How did she start so nice at 10f last week in Colorado and not
now at 16f? Perhaps cos she's been off longer overnight this time is
the only explanation I can come up with. Aside from that the galley
sink drain is frozen. Everything else seems to be Ok.
Wenzday, 30nov2005, Smoke in the Cabin
Ian will remember this experience albeit this time it was not so bad
nor scary. Coming along the Mogollon Rim towards Payson and smoke began
to drift forward in the cabin. The last time this happened it was fast,
thick, acrid, and had resulted from the exhaust pipe coming loose from
the turbine. This time, after several stops and airings out, and as
much of an inspection as I could make with the motor still hot, it
seems that a panel of the firewall insulation has come loose and is
resting on top of the turbine. There is more than one hole in the
firewall and the smoke from the insulation is finding its way through.
Something else to fix. On top of that the air leak in the exhaust brake
has gotten so bad that the compressor is hard put to keep up so I've
had to cut off the supply to that appliance. Fortunately I'm down on
the smoggy flats of Phoenix and won't need compression braking for a
This morning I'm writing from Fry's carpark. Spending as much on
computer parts as I have on fuel for the whole trip to get here. So
much for sponsoring Gopu's next year at school.
Thursday, 1 December, 2005, Flying-J
Truck Stop, PHX
I'm afraid to add up what yesterday cost. Not that it matters much
other than the big hole in my moneybag. Lots of niggling issues sort of
came to a boil one right after another. One of the annoying oil leaks
suddenly got bad enough to pinpoint its source: The hose going to the
high pressure side of the tranny hydraulic oil filter has been wet for
a long while. I never saw it leaking until yesterday when I happened to
be under the bus dealing with another aspect of the main battery
failure issue. Fluid was pissing out of the swaged fitting at the
filter base, making a most annoying puddle on the street around the
corner from Virginia's home. At US$26/gallon that puddle was worth at
least a cup of Starbucks finest. So off to the tranny store to have a
new hose made.
None of these projects ever take as long as
takes longer. And no matter what I think I have to take apart there is
always something other to move out of the way first. So from late
afternoon until well after dark I sat in the front lot of the
Williams-Allison dealer doing a half hour hose R&R. The top end of
the hose is only accessible by removing the transmission. Or by going
down through the deck of First Class Berthing. Getting down to the deck
means taking apart the bed, rolling back the rug and soundproofing, and
prying up the glued in place access hatch.
After all that was back together again--except for the glue--there was
still the matter of the main battery. For some reason an 8-D heavy duty
cranking battery has, since the last time I bought one, become hard to
find. But this place had one so there went another hundred and some.
All told, these two jobs took another year off of Gopu's education
fund. But at least I was able to do all the work my Self.
Oh yes. And then there was the fuel. An hundred gallons at 2.26... Plus
18 gallons of propane at 1.70... There goes yet another year of Gopu's
education. Oh Well... At least the fuel prices have come down somewhat
in the past few weeks. Now that I am almost "home" The...Inn is mostly
all fixed up and ready for the road. Where next?
It is my plan, such as plans are, to head east in the Spring. Ready or
not, afford it or not, whether or not anyone cares, I have been away
from my sisters for long enough. They are going to suffer through my
visitation until I am satisfied they realise I am still alive. And
along the way 'twixt here and there I will visit my Self upon as many
friends as cannot hide fast enough from news of my arrival.
Be Well, Do Good, and Please Write.
I do not know what I may appear to the world; but
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
shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all
before me. --Sir Isaac Newton
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Copyright © 2005, A.J.Oxton, The
Cat Drag'd Inn , Tonopah AridZona 85354-0313.