Travels With Oso con Migo
Odyssey In America
OAE Off The Road Again -- Winter Solstice to Spring Equinox
On the Road--Off the Road. It's a sort of a circular thing: On &
Off. Off & On.
But first, before I paste in the current news I must ask of you, in all
seriousness: In my previous letter "The End
of Summer" which photograph was obscene? Was it the rattlesnake in
the grass? Or the field of cacti wearing cups? Two copies of that
letter were returned--marked "Obscene Photographs"--by censors
along the line. And mind you, all
the genitilia, even the butts
the men's breasts, were covered
with "Band-Aids" in the snailmail edition.
So it must have been the snake in the grass. Or maybe it was Denali's
big open mouth.
Winter Solstice: Carolyn writes from
"Day by day things are getting
better here. I recently heard a Chinese
blessing: "May you live in
interesting times." Yes, indeed, it may be
difficult, but it is certainly
interesting. Although 70% of the city is
still uninhabitable, I am seeing
more FEMA trailers and blue roofs, which
means more people are coming
back. My two favorite radio stations
(including NPR) have returned
from exile in Baton Rouge and Atlanta Each
little thing that happens is a
ray of hope.
"On Saturday I went to Tipitina’s
to see Arlo Guthrie and Friends,
including Willie Nelson.
(Yes, I thought about you when I saw Willie.)
Arlo and friends spent two weeks
traveling down from Chicago on The City
of New Orleans, doing benefit
concerts. Their last concert was here and
they were joined by Ramblin’ Jack
Elliott and Willie Nelson. They put on
quite a show, four hours long and
full of beautiful moments, topped off by
Willie, Arlo and the entire
audience singing “The City of New Orleans”,
then all the musicians getting on
stage and all of us singing “Will The
Circle Be Unbroken”. It was
"Music is the pulse of this
city. We’d be dead without it. Someone told
me that New Orleanians don’t
dance because we’re happy, we dance because
we know it will make us feel
better. I’ve come to realize that New
Orleans is in a constant state of
celebration and mourning, and mourning
always turns into
celebration. Historically, people here have been
through a lot and the bottom line
is, if you’re alive there’s reason to
celebrate. And here we are,
alive and in New Orleans!
"I’ve decided to ride in the
Krewe of Muses (600 women strong) parade
during Mardi Gras, just to
celebrate this place. I hear it’s quite an
experience, and now more than
ever I am here to participate."
I'm still thinking about what to do. Not stuff sacks. I think I burned
out on those finally two years ago. It is easy enough to loose touch
with the whole "Christmas" thing out here in the desert. A few folks
cling to some decorative lights and there is usually a potluck or two
but without the bustle of the city and the kids and the hype of all
that crass commercialism there is little enough--certainly no snow--to
set this part of the year off from any other part. Without paying close
attention it will not be until perhaps Febter that one might notice the
days getting longer and realise that Spring is soon upon us.
I'm not sure how I really feel about all that. It is a loss I know. I
miss the singing and the spirit of the cold and snow, I miss racing
down The Carriage Road on a blade sled. I often revisit
in my mind's eye the decorated floor lamp at the Observatory and the
boy from Scouts--truth to tell he was a young man by then--trudging up
the East Fields that Christmas Eve with a Dwarf Spruce in hand that
he'd cut from the top of Lion's Head. But the hype and the salted roads
I can do without. The traffic is just as bad here and so I avoid going
into the city as much as I can. Winter Solstice is a much more sensible
2006 Gregorian New Year
Left over from last letter but only now finally
all wrapped up: Had a neat fire in the engine room of The Cat Drag'd
Inn. These pictures are of the view down through the turbo access hatch
my bed. One shows the burned insulation and the other shows the gap in
the exhaust pipe where the clamp failed.
Coming down the long hill from Payson with the exhaust brake on puts a
lot of back-pressure on that clamped joint. I suppose it has been
working loose since the last time I fixed it by the side of the road
Ten Sleep most of two years ago. Good thing the vinyl foam insulation
is fire retardant and self-extinguishing; all I had to put up with
the noxious fumes. I've had that pipe welded this time.
We're back to catching dogs. Been about six months I think since the
last wave and these we are now seeing look about that old. They are
free ranging and free with their piss and shit as well. Caught the
first one over the holiday but being a holiday and all the dogcatcher
was unavailable so Bill let it go rather than put up with its incessant
barking right under his window. I slept right through--told him to
shoot the dog, or take it far down the road as he does with the pocket
gophers. But then yesterday we caught it again. There were two that
seemed to travel together and it looks like we caught the same one both
times. Anyhow, the dogcatcher came and loaded it into his truck while
the dog's mate looked on from the other side of the fence. Bill and the
DC chased the dog and it headed off to the neighbor's fenced yard with
the open gate where they seem to breed. So the DC went in his truck
across the street and picked up four more. The neighborhood is quiet
Denali and Tamara came for a too short visit. We
had a good soak and then a nice mud bath. The mud was very refreshing
and I have to give thought to building a nice big wallow. Perhaps I
go next door wearing mud and they wouldn't notice my lack of clothes.
Twelfth Night Eve
Went for a walk today. First time I've been out back there since about
From the ridge that extends south from Indian Eye one can look down and
southeast to see a large pile of trash.
Someone drove a long ways through gullies
and over the desert
vegetation in a 4wd truck to leave off this load of refuse. Mostly
looks like 2x4 framing scraps but some of the wood has nails in it.
There are four computers, a monitor, two printers, and one porcelain
commode. I was able to salvage two hard drives. On one of them I found
a resumé for Damon Garry Motts so I wrote: I found your name on a hard drive at the
bottom of a half a ton of garbage in the Saddle Mountain Outback near
Tonopah and just wanted to know if you knew anything about it...
But the postal service office returned my letter marked FWDG ORDER
EXPIRED. No work for Office Obie this week.
I followed the track out more or less to the northeast for a while
before turing west to return to my truck. Looks like the dumper came in
from the powerline road. I can't get my little truck in there and
there is too much of a load for one trip in it anyhow. Do you know
anyone with a big 4wd pickup?
The picture here is a
view of the pile against a backdrop of the ridge extending south from
Indian Eye. The computers are in the foreground, the commode in the
background. Just to the right of the commode is a rectangle of ground
cleared smooth of the small surface rock as if a tent were set there.
Some mother's children...
2006january12, Hattie Caraway Elected
to The Senate in 1932
Must be Thursday now. I went shopping yesterday. The most I can say,
the best I will say, is that I survived yet another excursion into the
pollution ridden city of Phoenix. Not a bad day until I broke my best
pair of Antarctic prescription sunglasses. I could see it coming--and
it has happened just
this way before--and somehow I seem to be powerless to change the
course of events. In the carpark of some grocery I removed the glasses
from my face and set them in the well under the tranny shifter.
Right then flashes in my mind, I can see it, hear it, happen, the
glasses will break there. And I ignore the premonition, the vision, and
go shopping. When I return, load the bags of purchases, bent upon
getting out of the carpark and on to the next item on my list, shift
into second gear, and crunch, just like in the vision. After I glued
the frame back together, and last thing
before heading out to Tonopah--I had four tubs of ice cream in the
cooler--I went up the street to a "vision center":
--Can you put my lenses into new frames?
--Yes, do you have the prescription?
--No, I have the lenses;
can you put my lenses
into new frames?
--Yes step this way please.
Blah-blah-blah later she is about to pop the lens out to measure it and
see what they have available.
--No! Wait. First, you have not told me how long this is going to take
and how much it is going to cost.
--Well, if we have something that fits it will just take a little while
this afternoon. Our frames start at ninety-five dollars.
--NINETY-FIVE dollars? Forget it! I can buy a lot of glue for that.
Friday The 13th slip'd past unnoticed.
However, the 16th was very nearly a kettle of worms. Hasty shopping,
hasty packing, lots of loose ends getting ready for Quartzsite. At
least this time the The Cat Drag'd
Inn cranked and
fired off when I called for it. That was one good sign in a morass of
conflicting signals. To make a long storey short, writing from this
distance of miles and hours, suffice it to say that this time the sugar
bowl did not topple from its perch and spill its contents on the rug,
and all the paper that escaped from the bed of the little truck is
biodegradeable and will soon disappear amongst all the other litter
along the road.
In the end I was too late to have breky with The Too Crazy Ladies, Beth
and Red at Black Rock in Brenda. That gave me time to catch up with the
rest of Tuesday and so here we are in Blythe, an hour later than the
same time in Tonopah, tucked into a corner of the fairgrounds, amidst
one of those spring-up-overnight communities of people who gather for
Red Hat Day at Blythe, Locked Out of My
At first I thought Sara(h) figured out how to
lock the door from the inside. That would be pretty unnerving for me
cos it would imply that she could also un-lock the door when we were
driving. Or worse--when there was a big ugly dog out there. Not likely
on second thought, that she would reason one from the other. I used to
know a cat named DFC (a.k.a. Inge),
at the Mount Washington Observatory, who had figured out how to
open the front door by jumping up and hanging by her claws from the
latchstring. The wind would blow open the door and out she would go.
She never learnt to close the door behind herself, nor to open it to
get in, and would frequently be found ages later, crusted with frost,
sitting on a snowbank outside the office window waiting to be noticed.
Thus her nickname of DFC.
Then I discovered Sara(h) was outside with me. We were both out at the
end of our ropes. That fact didn't absolve her completely from the
possibility of having locked the door and then come out, all innocent
looking. No, especially not with that smug look of self-satisfaction
over her shoulder as she bounded in through her special cat door. So
there I was, standing outside, facing The Second Adventure of the Day.
The first was fortunately out of the oven by now for it would really be
a disaster if the Bungleberry Pie was still baking and I was locked out.
I won't tell you how I finally gained ingress, that might compromise
the absolute security of The Cat
Drag'd Inn. Suffice it to say that I eventually found that
Sara(h) had nothing to do with it. More likely Betty did it. The last
time she left, after borrowing my wilted lettuce for the potluck salad,
the door latch mechanism broke when she shut the door. Do you know, do
you have any idea what a door latch mechanism costs these days? Almost
more than I make in a week! At least I didn't have to go all the way in
Quartzsite to get one.
Betty said later it is a typical male characteristic to blame someone
else. She said the latch probly broke when I came out a moment later
with the slightly squishy bell pepper she had forgotten.
Friday at The Fair Ground: Lost Highway
& The Dry Branch Fire Squad...
...are just two of the several bands that played opening day of this Blythe
Bluegrass Festival. This is the 19th year the affair has been here;
only a few folks, including the announcer, have been here for all of
them. You can tell next year is going to be a humdinger! The cover of
this year's programme is already calling attention to it.
On the home front, I am still puttzing around with the flat tyre on my
bicycle. Time for a new inner tube I'm afraid. Patches on top of
patches hekd together with glue that isn't gluey enough just does not
seem to work. My Chicken Curra-Torchie went over
well at the potluck on Thursday. I knew it would so I set some aside
for supper today. There was a lot of rice remaining however so that
became rice pudding today.
The Monday After.
And it is also amazing to think of the convoluted course these words
will take in their journey to get across the lot from my house to your
house. And the way they will change form from ideas to letters, from
100110001 to beepity bleep, sweeping through the ether and the wires,
here to Austin to Chicago and Who knows where else before wriggling
through the connexion to your cellphone and finally becoming letters on
your screen, letters to ideas.
Mile99 and the Ham Radio Flea Market
Arrived ok after a short drive from Blythe. On the way here I stopped
in at the public dump station in Blythe, just to try it out. Already
there was a long line so I gave up on the idea of dumping, what the
hell, with a 60 gallon tank only a quarter full I really didn't need to
go. But I did take on a few gallons of water and that took more than
half an hour.
East to the Flying J where another long
line had RV's and cars backed up to the top of the exit ramp. Trucks
were rumbling along on the wrong side of the road to get to their fuel
island and everyone coming out was diving for the verge. I waited for a
little while and then sorted out that if I turned into the hotel park I
could get round the back way. I didn't need fuel anyhow, just wanted a
shower. That plan worked ok, there was no line for showers.
Eastbound again with advice from more than one person not to take the
west exit into Quartzsite
at Love's. Go to the east exit and
come back along the service road to the lights at 95. Good plan.
Traffic was backed up from the west exit all the way out to the i10
eastbound travel lane. The bottleneck is at Love's and the eastbound
service road was moving along for about half the distance to the Main
Event where it came to a stop.
But the eastbound east exit off ramp was clear
and there was no backup on the westbound service road until about
halfway back to the intersection there. The light let me through just
as I approached and it was clear sailing south on 95. The traffic
coming north on 95 was backed up all the way to mile 101!
So I'm settled in at the Mile99 Ham Radio Gathering and already have
sold three dollars of junk items on
The Year of the Red Fire Dog
I've been invited to participate in Medicare. It must be some sort of
Coming Of (Golden) Age Rite of Passage not unlike Registering for The
Draft. So I have to return to my home doctor for a medical examination.
It is all very complicated. Far more so than need be that's for sure.
More stuff sold, more stuff bought, a banana bread made, three caches
captured, and a tiff with the Red Hat Ladies.
Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) is an international event in which
participants plan, meet and ride together en masse on human-powered
transport (the vast majority on bicycles, and fewer on skateboards,
roller blades, roller skates) to "protest oil dependency and celebrate
the power and individuality of our bodies".
The dress code motto is "Bare
As You Dare". Full and partial (especially topfree) nudity is
encouraged, but not mandatory, on all rides. Requiring partial cover-up
is strictly forbidden and is a distinguishing feature of WNBR versus
other cycling events.
The wild flowers are poking up and opening. All the more spectacular
here in the desert where there has been no rain since last October. I
went for a little hike yesterday out to the Solitude Geocache and was
amazed and delighted to see the yellow daisy kind of flowers on the
salt bush and the tiny purple bouquets in clusters and ropes. I don't
know where they find the water they need for that sort of show. Finding this cache kept me on pins and needles right up
to the end. Really nice day for a walk.
Saint Valentine to Saint Washington
And let us not forget Saint Lincoln. Otherwise it was a week of cooler
than normal weather. Mostly to partly cloudy and over just the past two
days nasty with fever-sweats-chills. Sort of like the Valley Fever of a
couple years ago revisited. The fever broke Saturday night but all day
Sunday I could barely get out of bed. Even chasing down Sara(h) and the
two packrats she brought in for lunch was an arduous nauseating chore.
Fortunately, I'm tough, even when I'm too sick to do email.
Sorry to have thrown such a scare into everyone. But then I am so happy
to have friends to share with and so happy that it was/is not worse, I
hope you do not mind. This fever has been going on for nearly a week
and the intense abdominal discomfort of a couple of days ago threw
quite a scare into me. This morning my temperature was 99.7, down
somewhat from the 100's and 101 over the past few days but still
Yesterday I betook my Self to the 135$-a-visit
clinic that I last attended a year ago with that urinary track
infection. This nagging fever had gone on long enough and it was time
to get a fifth opinion. The waiting room was crowded and the queue just
to triage was over an hour long so after completing the arduous
paperwork I went shopping.
There are a lot of sick folks out there and whilst there is not the
plethora of doctors and clinics like there is supermarkets--in point of
fact there is a shortage of doctors like there is a shortage of
teachers but nobody in this society seems able to grasp the root cause
of the problem--NextCare in order to encourage a loyal customer base
has a "Frequent Sicko's Membership Plan Discount Card". You've got to
be kidding! Nope. There it is. For a fifty dollar annual fee you get
about 20% discounted from the office visit. In defence of NextCare I
must say that this plan is only for people who have no insurance.
Back from shopping just as it was my turn at triage. The medico put a
little clip on the end of my finger and a temperature probe under my
tongue. The clip is an oxygen sensor. Measures O2 in the blood.
Amazing! 98%. That's good. Pulse, functional; BP ok; breathing and
ambulatory. And my temperature was 97.4! Ninety-SEVEN point four. Some
sort of rebound from being so high for the past five days? I'm not
going to get my money's worth out of this visit, I can see that.
Another half-hour's wait and several more chapters of Fierce
Invalids Home From Hot Climates and it was my turn for the
doctor. No, make that my turn for the examining room. The doctor shows
up after another chapter. (I should like to get to know her a bit
better--tho not at the expense of 400-500 dollars an hour--she was of
an interesting personality.) She commenced with the usual poking and
prodding, breath in-breath out, looking into various places. And she
took my temperature. 98.6. On the way up again? Ahh. No. Ahhhhh. That's
better. Aside from sounding like I had a slight cold my lungs are
clear. Abdominal area palpates Ok. Urine sample (40$ to pee in a little
bottle. At that rate my urine is far more expensive than Grand
Mariner!) shows no kidney infection. So, all in all there is no real
conclusion. Perhaps the wave of stomach pain the other day was an
adverse reaction to the asprin I'd been taking with nothing to eat.
Perhaps I was just plain hungry after not eating for three days. We'll
have to wait for it to come around again.
I was beginning to suspect my thermometer might be out of wack but I
can feel when I have
a temperature. There is a certain tingle on the ends of my fingers,
sometimes a slight dizzyness, more than the usual amount that
accompanies when my head is in a fog. By the time I finished shopping
and drove all the way back out to Tonopah in the dark my fingers were
atingle and my thermometer measured 99.7 when I went to bed. The next
morning my temperature was 98 when I got up, it is 99 at this writing a
couple hours later. But I mostly feel Ok so I'm just gonna ignore the
whole thing for a while and go find some breky, watch the sunrise, get
back to fixing other things. Maybe go soak my head. Or fly a kite.
"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and
degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling, which thinks that
is worth war, is much worse. The person who has nothing for which
willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own
safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free
made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."
- John Stuart Mill
English economist & philosopher (1806 - 1873)
This quote may on the mark in and of itself, but this quote, like most
of the other rhetoric bandied about these days, misses the point
entirely in the context of the issue at hand.
It is one thing to fight, to be willing to die, for that which one
passionately believes, for one's own farm, family, livelyhood, but when
that passion is applied to converting the beliefs of other peoples and
cultures then it is a travesty of the very freedom this quote purports
The selfrighteous indignation, the denigration of another people's way
of life, the personal political vendetta, with which the present
American President's campaign purports to bring democracy to another
people whilst stealing it under the guise of national security from
those who fought and died for it in their turn is nothing short of a
bald faced lie. It is a specious cover for the industrial greed that
has usurped the guiding principles of the Christian ethic upon which
this country was founded.
Actually RAINED here yesterday afternoon! For all of ten minutes! Drops
came down the size of desert plates. One here, one there, another
the way... One hit a small bird Sara(h) was stalking and knocked it
over. But the water dried out so fast the bird was able to fly away
before it drowned. The only thing the rain guage caught was a dead
lizard and 0.07" of bugs.
2006march11 Another Spring Shower
Was not so cold here as I expected. Windy, blustery, cool yesterday
with increasing clouds during the day. The biggest storm of the Winter
was what the WxService forecast. Ninety Percent chance of
precipitation. At one point there was a little "shower". By the time
Camilla called it to my attention it was over. Oh! Look! there's a
raindrop. And another. There dummy, see where I'm pointing. Never mind.
Too late now, its all dried up.
Awnings furled and the wind blew. But I think I could have left mine
out. The peak wind was 32 mph from the west. The rain drummed on my
roof at times during the night. This morning is overcast with light
drizzle and 0.05 in the rain gauges. Even if I add both rain gauges
together it is still not hardly much considering the noise it made. The
ground is damp and smells nice but there are no puddles and the wx
stick has not uncurled much at all. During this day, whilst I have been
editing this page, we have had another 0.25" precipitation in the form
of light rain. Still not enough to make a puddle.
Almost Spring Equinox, I'd better get this into the mail.
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
Back to Oso
Back to ajo
Copyright © 2005, A.J.Oxton, The
Cat Drag'd Inn , Tonopah AridZona 85354-0313.