Travels With Oso con Migo

Odyssey In America

OAE On The Road Again -- Driving The Blue Highways

Nude Sunbathers Ahead

Greetings Virtual Travellers:
Does anyone know why/when the blue highways became red? I suppose it depends somewhat upon whose roadmap one is using. All of my current crop are from AAA and there are no "blue highways"; all the roads are red or black, or red with black borders, or white with red borders. No blue. The navigation programme I'm using from Delorme uses blue for Interstate Highways and red for anything else big enough for a number. I'm sure William Least Heat-Moon did not have Delorme and was not talking about the Interstates when he wrote of blue highways.

This Was One Hail of a Cache!What I am doing this trip is picking end points and using the navigation programme to plot the shortest distance, rather than the fastest, to make a route for a day's drive. This often has the desired effect of sending The Cat Drag'd Inn along some small offbeat roads off the beaten path. The speed limits of these roads are still too fast for how I like to drive and everyone else still goes screaming past whenever they can however the scenery is vastly improved. Yesterday for instance I drove past Squawteat Peak (2924'MSL) near Bakersfield TeXas and came to the small town of Iraan.

Along the way I met a thunderstorm and hid under a highway bridge whilst grape and raisen hail pelted the road. A few miles further on the Winey geocache was found hidden under a layer of hailstones. My first cache in a thunderstorm. The humidity is up. My hair and feet noticed first.

Thursday at Eldorado TeXas, mostly quoting Tumbleweed Smith: "For years, Jim Runge has staged some of the most unique events ever to occur in the Lone Star State. ... Two years ago Jim took up residence in his hometown of Eldorado and started the EOBOC, the Eldorado Olympic Bid Organizing Committee... This year, his "Running of the Bull" Festival is slated for July 24 & 25 around Eldorado's courthouse square."
Why The Hell Do I Have To Press 1 for English?
Jim Runge's office is on the south corner of U.S. highways 277 & 190 in a remodeled gas station across from the Sheriff's Office and Courthouse Square. Inside, his office looks somewhat like the inside of The Cat Drag'd Inn. There are more rooms and taller shelves. In the Historical Society Museum and Quilting Center around the corner one of the items on display is the Boy Scout shirt he wore at the Jamboree at Valley Forge in 1967. I was at that same Jamboree.

Another item in the museum is 142,000 marbles (54 gallons of marbles in antique glass water-cooler carboys) from Corinne Robbins. She amassed this collection during 25 years of school teaching. Some folks said she played for keeps but mostly the marbles were presents from her students.

2006may26 Georgetown TeXas Wolf Ranch Maul

Found a hotspot here so I think I'll stop for lunch and mail. Did nine caches in the past couple of days along the road that should be logged. Found seven of them and picked up several bags of trash at the same time.

I went looking for a seafood restaurant near the junction of U.S.190 and Ranch Road 33 in TeXas when one cache started out with the name "Oysters and Clams" but it turned out to be a gathering of old fossils. (Are there ever any young fossils?) The Commanche Series rocks from the Cretaceous age are exposed in a road cut that lays out a feast of oyster and clam fossils.
A Gathering of Old Fossils.
One of the neatest caches was "Headache? Rest Here" in a rest area not too far back. I looked and looked but I didn't know what I was looking for. The place was mostly grassy, under tall shade trees, cool and clean; except for some trash spilled from a barrel near one of the picnic tables the only other debris was a few items outside the barbed wire fence. Three or four passes along the fence watching the coordinates zero in. The only thing out of the ordinary was a styro cup and a Tylenol bottle. Wham! Talk about headaches.

I wrote in the log: ...--must be too early, I've had only one cup of coffee this morning. Clever hide but bad idea. This is the sort of thing that I jab with my trash picker stick and toss in the tip.

Then, on my way to a later cache, "Fox Hollow Camp", I saw a nice red fox. I think however that the name of the cache should be changed to "Poison Ivy Catch"! I've not seen such profusion of leaflets-three in a long while. I could just feel tendrils of itching oil reaching out to me. Finally, when the trail was blocked by a gate I could have climbed over I turned around and fled. Back to The Cat Drag'd Inn and a hasty shower.

End of this day in Rockdale TeXas. Heat and humidity drove me to stop at an RV park where I might have access to power sufficient to run the a/c. Turned out to be a good thing. My water tank ran empty when I washed my dishes and then the pump would not self-prime. The bus motor's air filter service flag was up so that needed to have the dust blown out. Turned out to be a busy evening after a long day of not too many miles.

Memorable Day Weekend, Rainbow's End, Livingston TeXas

Here it feels like I am below sea level. Humidity is above 60% inside the bus according to my consumer quality RH guage. Mostly it indicates 20-25% when I am at La Casa Blanca. All this water in the air is making my hair limp but my feet feel better.

I have a fairly shady spot here at Livingston in the new section of Rainbow's End. Shade is a rare commodity at this place. This part of the camp is more expensive than the old section and it is the only part with WiFi so far. But all the activities are in the old section so I guess I will be commuting by bike to Happy Hour and laundry.

Oops... Not supposed to say "Happy Hour" anymore. The PC term now is Social Hour. Nobody is allowed to be happy, too much liability... And another thing about liability: One result of wearing the orange slow vehicle placard on the rear of my bus and toad is that it seems to be inviting people pass me in no passing zones. I don't recall that sort of behaviour happening before this recent change in decor.

Slow Bus AheadPerhaps it is just the part of the country I am driving in. Or maybe I am only encouraging the fast-driving fools to behave even more stupidly than usual. It is of no help that some of the speed limits posted on these two-lane, no-shoulder county roads are 65 and 70 miles per hour. I'll be doing 55 and these people will go screaming past regardless of the censure of the center strips. Even uphill and on curves these fools will pass. Have they no sense?

I suppose it is a good thing that they are not staying behind riding my tail and fuming. But it is not my intent to encourage them to pass under hazardous conditions.

I woke, for the second time, Monday morning to a tepid shower plashing my face. The first waking had been when Sara(h) came in to brush my beard. Now she was howling to come in from the rain. I dashed forward to turn off the mains and isolate The Cat Drag'd Inn from the lightning, opened the door to untangle Sara(h) from the camp chair whose seat was not unlike a birdbath, and then decided to stay up and have coffee since it was already that time and the weather radio was barking flood and tornado warnings.

About three hours later the wind and thunder faded away and it was quiet inside. I could hear water dripping. Inside. The roof vent over my bed was still open. Had been open all this time. The foam pad was greedily soaking up the rain as if it were a desert in a ten year drought. Local Ham radio conversations reported ten inches of rain had fallen on the county to the south. Not nearly that much was in my bed, it should dry by night time.

Tuesday Mourning, Still Cloudy

After yesterday's incident with the rain in my bedroom was all dried out it was a relatively pleasant day. Happy Hour at the Clubhouse was good. I told that rain in the bed storey and got a lot of folks laughing and telling storeys.

The best one needs a little refinement; I suggested to the woman who told it she should write it out and send it to the SKP magazine or Reader's Digest:

Seems there is a SKP member named Ted who used to frequent the parks. He travelled alone in a Class C that had been built and modified to suit his needs. He lived in a wheelchair. To make matters worse his right arm was somewhat truncated.

On this particular occasion the woman was telling about she greeted Ted as usual with a hug and a --How ya doing.

Ted replied that he was just coming back from one of the best Summers he had ever had. Really, she replied, tell me all about it. What did you do?

"Well, Ted said, early on I was having dinner with an old friend and we got to talking about how it is living alone on the road in a chair and one arm not fully functional. Not much of a problem I told him; I can deal with almost anything that comes up, even some of the minor fixit things around the house. The worst thing is getting dressed and undressed all the time.

"My old friend laughed and told me he had the perfect solution for me. I just had the most wonderful time. He sent me to a nudist camp! and for a whole month I didn't have to dress or undress but once."

That storey got more laughs than my rain in the bed storey tho some of it was at the expense of the nudist way of life as the followups indicated. This same woman, I suppose I should invent a name for her... Let's see... She looked like a Marge so we'll go with that. Marge told this one on her Self. She said:

"Just last week when it had been raining? I came back to my coach after Bingo-night and proceeded to get ready for bed. It had been a long day of everything; you know how some of those days are. I'd spent several hours fixing the pulldowns on my awnings and washed the outsides of all my windows after all that rain.

"Well, I'm standing there getting undressed and I remembered that I hadn't put down my awnings. Why, anybody could just look in and see me! Then I thought, no, they'd have to be pretty tall to see in these windows; you know how high off the ground they are. So I went on with getting undressed and washed and went to bed.

"Well, next morning I went out to look for my ladder and get on with my projects and there was my step ladder, right where I left it, under that very window where I was undressing, and there were footprints on the top of it, and they were not mine."

I may just go back to Happy Hour again today or tomorrow and spin some more nudist storeys, perhaps see if I can convert this place...

It's hotter than blazes here, am I supposed to get used to this? I don't mind the heat so much but the humidity is deadly. Its so bad here that even the pages on my WWWeb Browser are sticking together!

2006june1st at CARE. Who CAREs

I have finished reading A Wilder Life by Ken Wright. A good and interesting set of essays. He has an enlightened outlook on the concept of being alive and living in this screwed up world. His ideas about having children in the face of over population present a good rational except that he could adopt and achieve most of the same ends.

One part stands out and I excerpt:
"... but are you still a traveller?

"... Yes--I travel every day. I have only changed the direction of my travel ... traded breadth ... for depth ... explore deeply rather than covering a lot of terrain... I hunger for awareness, adventure, knowledge, and challenge."

Perhaps that is the Way my direction is changing also with how I am driving slower, less, the back roads, sitting still for longer periods to explore deeply.

2005jun5th a Monday mourning at NOLA.

Yesterday was a long day. And the day befor that as well.

Got underway from Livingston in fine shape after leaving off my application to practice caring at the CARE Center next Spring. Hot day to drive. Sometimes I wish the bus had engine a/c but I'm sure that would knock the mileage all to hell. Fuel stop at Orange TeXas and after I sidled up to the far back boundary noticed lots of trash to pick up. First tho I wanted to check the mail and write a squib or two. When I looked up next all the nearby trash had disappeared. A few moments later I spied a woman adding another armload to the barrel so I went out to meet her.

Another trash picker?, I said, you've beat me too it. She waved her arm and pointed, --There's lots more over there. After a little while I got my bag and gloves and went out collecting. She, Rosemary, was staying in a small pop-up trailer behind me and invited me to sit and have a glass of wine so I brought a goblet and some crackers and cheese. We had a nice chat about travelling and living on the road and geocaching.

The road from Orange to NOLA goes past Crowley where lives Fred, who used to work at a transmitter site in Littleton NH. The last time I was along this Way, this far east, was In Search Of The Thanksgiving Turkey a couple of years back. Brunch with Fred, rehashing old gossip, neither of us had much to add, and on down the road.

Somewhere along there, well after noon and nap time, I pulled off the road for a nap. Walk about a little, wash the windscreen, fill a waterbottle with the fine reserved water from Casa Blanca Hot Spring, and feel the ground move as if there was an earthquake. Just then there was a freight train passing by on the far side of the six lane roadway. It must have been three hundred feet away. I wondered if the pounding weight of the engines could do that. The ground must be like jelly, like a water bed.

Finally found my way to Carolyn's in uptown New Orleans. Only got lost once. There are a few differences between the roads depicted on my charts and what they really look like on the ground around the Super Dome. A carnival leftover from Mardi Gras was blocking one way out, another was under construction. Eventually I found a way around the impasse.

Carolyn had arranged parking for me behind a Methodist Church off Saint Charles and across the street from her apartment. Thanks be to the Methodists. It was a tight squeeze getting The Cat Drag'd Inn but finally after three tries we were settled, parked in the shade, and Sara(h) was out at the end of her rope exploring the edges. We'll sit here for a day or three and have red beans and rice for supper and take in a concert in the park.

2006june8thursday, Katrina Ground Zero, School in A Tent

The ATM is Out of Service.Waveland Mississippi is an aptly named town. This is where the Eye of Katrina came ashore. A wall of water thirty-six feet high pushed the town inland five and a half miles to the berm of Interstate 10, and a few hours later dragged it back out. The devastation was complete. The vault of the bank on Coleman street was the only structure in downtown main street left standing. No matter how you look at it, much of New Orleans survived intact, however this town of about 3500 people was nearly entirely washed away.

In New Orleans the older part of the city is built on fairly solid ground, albeit not very high, earth piled up, washed up, by Old Man River. The newer part of the city, the area away from the river, is on land reclaimed from swamp by means of the levees and the pumps. This area is like a saucer, much of it below water level of Lake Pontchartrain to the north. This is the area that flooded when the leeve containing the lake failed. Houses were pushed from their foundations, cars floated like bathtub toys, people were stranded in the upper rooms and attics of their homes. It is to this area that most of the population has not yet returned. Most of the homes in these neighborhoods are ruined by the water, gutted, stripped by looters. Some can be rebuilt, some are all ready being lived in. There are FEMA trailers everywhere. See 1 dead in attic, Post-Katrina storeys by Times-Picayune columnist Chris Rose for some vivid and poignant description.
270 Degree Panorama of Waveland, MS.
In Waveland there are trailers and tents and piles of debris. Tangles of downed trees festooned with clothing and furnishings. Waveland Grocery is in a tent and opens Wenzday and Saturday for a few hours. The American Legion is in a tent. The school is comprised of several tents. The few kids here rollerblade on the slab foundation once occupied by an apartment house and in the field behind are the several tents and marquees of Camp Second Helpin'. There are no concerts in the park.
Momma Kaboom and Ron head up the volunteers who work to provide two meals a day for the many residents who are still cleaning up after Katrina.

2006jun11, Meridan to Iuka

Red Hats on the Mississippi High Point.Two hundred miles, three geocaches, and the Mississippi Highpoint. Moving inland, away from the flat coastal area into rolling hills with tall trees and many rivers. Elevation up and down around 400-600 feet. The Mississippi Highpoint is Woodall Mountain at 806'MSL in the northeast corner of the state near the small town of Iuka. This one was easier than Florida, I drove all the way to the summit.

Now I am parked on Main Street at a city park. Sara(h) La Gata is as usual at the end of her rope, this time chasing after lightning bugs. There's a hot spot here so I am typing and mailing.

2006june14, Iuka to Hollywood

I am rediscovering the small towns. Last night, now still as I compose this, was the latest in a series of small towns where I have parked overnight on main street, in a city park. I am in Hollywood ALabama, in the far northeast corner of the state. My OAE friend, Dave, has recently purchased some large portion of a quarter-section here that includes Scraper Hill (780'MSL) and he brought me out here to show it off and offer a small cleared part of it between his tool shed and gravel pile as a place to park. The road into his hill, his driveway as it were, is a mite overgrown to afford passage to The Cat Drag'd Inn so we settled for a picnic lunch and walk about, leaving The...Inn downtown.

Most of the land hereabouts is comprised of limestone, in evidence as large flats and eroded and frost cracked blocks. My map shows several caves on or adjacent to his property which prove to be sinkholes we can't get into due to the standing water. But the caves are there cos the water flows into them and comes out somewhere else.

There is also a super abundance of oak and hickory and maple, and poison ivy. Deer and wild turkey are in evidence, as are poachers. But no hotspots in this downtown so sending this letter will have to wait.

It would be interesting to find out at what evolutionary point of pavement, population, business density, in a small town's character does it become untenable to have drifters, gypsies, and full time Residence Vehicle visitors overnighting in your town's park. I wonder who would write a grant to support me doing that research?

Wenzday at a HighTech Flying-J Truck Stop and RV Park

WiFi works here so I spent some hours catching up on the mail and some other hours picking up the trash.

Spent most of Thursday at a museum in Oak Ridge and a two and a half hour bus tour that was included in the Grumpy Grandfather cost of admission. The tour went to several historical sites around town. One is the X-10 graphite-moderated nuclear reactor, now deactivated and registered as a National Historical Landmark. Another is an old Baptist church that predates the cloak of great secrecy surrounding the initial construction of Oak Ridge during World War II. At that time there were 3000 people living in the area comprised of three small farming communities. The church, and graveyard, was usurped along with all the farm land and homes. Some of the people were absorbed as workers into the Manhattan Project, others were displaced. Members of the church held annual reunions outside the fence for years during and after the war until recently when building was declassified and restored and the fence was removed. A pair of local Boy Scouts built all new pews on the original design as part of their Eagle Scout Project.

Put it on your list for when you are in the vicinity of Oak Ridge to visit the American Museum of Science & Energy and take this tour. Plenty of parking for Residence Vehicles out around the edge of the lower part of the car park.

Now to get across, around, through, or under, the Appalachian Mountains and follow the hurricane track north.

Be Well, Do Good, and Please Write.

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 © 2006, A.J.Oxton, The Cat Drag'd Inn , Tonopah AridZona 85354-0313.