Travels With Oso con Migo
Odyssey In America
OAE On The Road Again -- Ides of August to Autumnal Equinox
The Ides of August
and Somewhen Later
Now I am settled in Center Conway at my home
port garage. I almost feel like a traitor here with AridZona tags. But
Paul understands. Rolled out the awning and found Ms.Black Widow
waiting for Spring. Got the cat out and the dirty oil out. The bent
bumper is off being straightened and the new oil waits to be
loaded--I'll remember not to start the motor too soon this time. All
the filters are prefilled and changed. There are four geocaches within
a mile so I will do those soon. On the cool side here. 47f yesterday
morning. I had the heat on and made a banana bread for the first time
since about March.
Lots done. More to do. Always something. It is interesting the sounds
of the voices on the ham radio. I recognise many of the individuals and
they me but it is of special note the accents. I guess that is what
being home is all about. When I went into the library for the first
time in three years to see if my card was still good the librarian
The bumper is straight, now I need to paint it and reinstall it. We
used the hydraulic outboard leveling jacks of a local firetruck which
happened to be in the shop for service to press the bumper straight
against the floor. I should have taken a picture
of it but the fire company might have gotten a bit bent out of shape
over that unconventional use of their equipment.
How does the rhyme go... Fruit flies like a banana, time flies like a
...? Tomato? Now that the bananas have been made into a banana
bread--male version--the Fruit Fly has nothing else to do so it flew
off to elsewhere to another cache.
Sun Day NOT
I'm just putting a bread pudding in the oven. One thing this cool rainy
weather is doing is awakening a need for warmth; building banana breads
and baking pudding is a yummy way to generate some heat.
Rained quite a bit from saturday night through sunday and even now, at
early o'clock on monday morning, still on and off. I neglected to set
out my rain gauge... But during it all on sunday there was a century
ride around the base of Mount Washington as some sort of a fund raiser
for The Tim Mountain Conservancy, one of the local private conservation
groups. So I played radio with members of the local ham radio club. Cat
o' Mine Tales guarded the bus and kept at bay the big dogs who live to
each side of the garage.
Conway Medical/Declared Healthy
Yesterday I went for a physical examination.
Pinch-poked-prodded...leaving no part untouched. The doctor concluded:
You are one healthy man. But he still wants some blood test for PSA and
he wants a colonoscopy (I cannot find that word in my dictionary. Nor
can I find Samhain for that matter.) As long as Medicare pays. And I
found out that Medicare pays for as many as 60 visits a year to the
chiropractor. That's almost as good as getting a massage. There could
be some benefits yet to this business of loosing my mind and my bladder
But I am not doing so well with trying to find work. Things have
changed at the race track. Security has become secure. Background
checks are just the beginning of the changes there. Sub-divided and
codifided and moved way out on the fringes. The environs of the track
are so spread out that one would have to commute between the
croo-ghetto and the office and then back again and beyond to most work
assignments. Oh, yes, and the dress code too. I think I don't really
want to work there, it is become too much like a job.
Tomorrow is blood test day. No sexual activity for 48 hours--can I
stand it? An orgasm can spike the PSA reading. And then a 12 hour fast.
Only black coffee (yuck) and water. After that then another bit of fine
tuning with the bone twister doc.
Saturday, 2006aug26 of Strings and
On a whim, a week ago, I volunteered to do a workshop on String Games
& Cat's Cradle. Olga, the Librarian, suggested I make a poster and
write a bio and she would put a note in the daily paper. So here I am,
in the Community Room of the library, with half a dozen kids and almost
as many mothers, playing with strings and telling storeys. Totally
unscripted, just about the most-right number of participants, some of
whom knew enough already to be able to help others. We started with
Cat's Cradle and had lots of mixing of pairs and trios. Then I told the
storey of The Candle Makers: a series of linked figures that include
Tallow Dips, Chair, and Scissors. We went through Tea Cup and
Owl's Eyes and Two Diamonds and then set two teams to learning other
sets of linked figures and storeys on their own. That's when I should
have been taking pictures but was too caught up in the excitement of
While I explained some about the history of
studying string figures (Jayne 1906 et.al.) and the spontaneous
invention of new figures (Oxton/Milligan 1998) one group was learning The
Butterfly Queen (ISFA vol 5:pp 210) whilst the other was
muddling through my instructions for Tere Te Vaka
(ISFA vol 2:pp 20): the storey of the boat that brought the first
people to Easter Island. Each team demonstrated the results of its
efforts to an audience of the other. Over all the showings were well
received; most of the boats sank but the Butterfly got away safely.
Later in the day, after taking a well earned nap... (Oh yes, I've been
meaning to tell Paul that taking naps is an onerous task that cannot be
entrusted to just anyone you know; someone has to take naps, otherwise
they will all just pile up in the corner and rot. The garage is messy
enough without naps rotting in the corner.) ...so after my nap we got
the newly painted bumper installed on the prow of The Cat Drag'd Inn. Now she looks
spiffy and road worthy again tho there are a few other projects to take
care of before departure.
End of Another Month and a New Beginning
Well. I have decided not to work at the race track. There is something
not right about it. An ill wind blows through the idea so I have
decided not to go for the interview. I feel as though I am stepping
back from some ill defined edge but canna really grasp it. Perhaps it
is that the last time I worked there was the happening of "9-11".
Perhaps it is that they are doing background checks and while I should
have no trouble checking out all right I am still in some way
protesting that idea. I guess there are a lot of reasons. Perhaps I
don't really need the money as much as I want it. I don't know. Scary.
In any case I feel better for having made the decision.
Some rain here but not what I would call lots. Just enough to be raw
and make outside work difficult. I have managed a few tasks anyhow
without getting too wet. Added new bright directional lights down low
so they will stick in the eye of people driving short autos to give
future right-passing wenches a better target. Next task is to pull off
the wheels and check brake linings and bearings. And to go for a walk.
Aside from or in addition to the earlier comment of "one healthy man"
the first of the lab reports from that blood testing has arrived. (All
these new words I have to learn how to spell...)
My cholesterol results indicate a risk factor of 4.0--on a scale of
5.0--which is fair enough considering that the average in the U.S. is
4.4. Total of 193 is good tho I guess I could do better at reducing
total fat intake. But NO SKIM MILK!
Perhaps I can find Skim Bacon. And take more walks.
2006aug31thursday, sunny and warm enough
Today I had a very nice walk. About six miles. Half of it uphill and
most of the rest downhill. The White Ledge Trail is mostly just as I
remember it from the last time several years ago. Before Caches anyhow.
Now there is one at the top of the ledge. Makes the rerun all the more
interesting. Along the way I commenced to make the latest batch of
Abenaki Weather Sticks. For this project one must find a certain tree
with branches of the proper size and shape. The branches are then
stripped of their bark and trained to indicate the trend of the
weather. In the current vernacular good weather is warm, dry, sunny
&c whilst bad weather is cold, wet, raw, cloudy. Good is Up. Bad is
Down. Training them to behave properly is only slightly easier than
training a cat to heel.
Another day later... Sleeper nails are big nails, eightpenny size, with
a slightly wider than usual head upon which the last two digits of the
year they were set are embossed. They are hammered into sleepers to
indicate the year the sleeper was laid.
As a souvenir of a particular year they can be
made useful as coat or hat hooks. I have one 41 and one 43, bunches of
47, 48 and other years: 52-55, 56, 59, 60-64, 72. Got to go look along
the rails of this abandoned track in the other direction from here and
see if there are any different ones.
We finally have the front end of the bus reassembled. The wheels are on
and go round and round, the steering steers and the brakes... Ooops...
The brakes still need to be adjusted. Phew! And I had just done that
when I did the lube before we started taking apart the wheels. But to
inspect the bearings one must pull the wheels and to do that one must
first back off the brakes a whole lot. We cleaned the bearings and put
them back with a new lubrication system but in the course of that
discovered a serious problem with the spring/axel U-bolt clamps. That
sidetracked all attention and the brakes never got readjusted.
Oh Well... A.D.D. strikes again...
Anyhow. Yesterday I took the day off and went to visit Phil's Woods
with the Naturists New Hampshire club to whom I have been paying dues
for a long while. Then there was one hellacious thunderstorm after I
was on the road "home" in the late afternoon. Must have been inches and
inches of rain in a few minutes along the road. Screwed up the grade
crossing lights and the traffic lights a certain intersection where
they are interconnected. Traffic bollixed for a while, rain pelting.
Finally the bravest among the frustrated drivers ventured across the
tracks and showed everyone else the way.
But here, at The Cat Drag'd Inn, Sara(h) La Gata took it all in stride
and had the presence of mind to nap under the open roof vent so my bed
did not get the least bit wet. Of course this far out on the skirts of
the storm there was only a barely wetting hundredth of an inch of
precip and the vent was open only a little but I didn't tell her that
and gave her an extra dollop of her favourite milk instead.
Soon perhaps will be the day I release my Travel Bug. The woods are
lovely, dark and deep and I have promises to keep and miles to go... A
Travel Bug, for the Muggles among my loyal readers, is any sort of
geegaw that is made useful and trackable by the addition of numbered
dogtags. Travel Bugs are part of the Geocaching Game and are logged and
followed on that website. Here we have a Going Away Party. All the
siblings and cousins and friends of other species are studying the map
and having a bit of nibble and nip.
9-11, Has anyone written about who
chose this date?
Five years ago I was directing traffic at the Loudon racetrack, it was
closer to the middle of the week I think, and people were piling in for
one of the qualifying races leading up to the main event. The event in
which we are yet embroiled today stole the show.
This year I am doing other things. Does a part of me feel some fear
that if I go there again the same thing might happen? For sure a part
of me feels that with the current fuel situation being as it is I can
not support that sort of flagrant "waste". But that is dumb cos it just
opens me up to the same sort of charges when it comes to the kind of
driving I do. Oh Well.
Yesterday I spent a few hours paddling a canoe on the Saco with several
other river lovers in teams, in sections, to pick up the trash left
behind by a Summer of stupidity. Families' worth of camping gear we
hauled off the river, left behind by people--in the worst sense of that
word--who have more money than brains. My team did four and a half
miles, Center Conway to First Bridge, in about four hours, and brought
in what amounted to 210 gallons of bottles, cans, plastic of all sorts,
clothing, sandles, and one twenty-dollar bill. One of the other teams
took nearly six hours to do the three and a half miles from Swan's
Falls to Canal Bridge. Their boats were mounded up with bags of things
and stuff to numerous and various to elucidate. Such waste.
2006sep11, Walkers Pond Cache (
GCVMYM ), Center Conway
"Machkeu Tulpe Travel Bug -- Are you a turtle?"
is released into the wild. In the language of the Lenni Lenape, Machkeu
Tulpe means Red Turtle and in various legends and allegories turtles
carry the world on their back. My motto is: If you want to get anywhere
you have to stick your neck out.
And so, to The Race. This is a race between ajo and Machkeu Tulpe to
see who can get to "Solitude Jr." (GC271A) in AridZona first. Starting
in Conway New Hampshire: ajo is driving The Cat Drag'd Inn while I am
hitchhiking by Travel Bug from cache to cache. And in the best
tradition of racing with a turtle, ajo is taking a nap and I've got a
head start. Help me keep ahead. Move me along towards AridZona. You can
see where I am with the reference number TBJJ56.
Yesterday I broke a Very Important Bolt in the drive train whilst
trying to fix an oil leak on the transmission. So much for using impact
tools. Paul says it is easy enough to drill it out. I hope so. I did
manage to find and probly fix several other leaks on the top of the
motor. Most of the valve cover bolts were not torqued as much as
specified. They are now. But before I can tell if the leaks are gone
I'll have to clean the motor.
Paul drilled out and replaced the bolt and I put everything else back
together. Now I have to get this old bus out on the road for a test
See the Tours In The Cat Drag'd Inn
page for the first draught of my proposed tour
route from NH to AZ in November. Perhaps you will want to consider
riding along for all or part of this adventure. Or perhaps you know of
an adventurous home-school student interested in seeing book-learning
come to life on the road.
For Your Reading List:
Naked Farley Mowat writes about, among other things, his
family's migration, in the early thirties and depths of The Depression,
from Ottawa to Saskatoon in a "prairie schooner" of his father's design
and construction. Complete with sleeping and dining areas, an icebox
and a galley, the fifteen foot long "Rolling Home" was pulled by an old
Ford with the top down; they did well to make 150 miles a day.
After the railroad ferry Père
Marquette carried them across Lake
Michigan they drove on from Manitowoc the next day.
"...we reached Lake Winnebago, near which we anchored for the night,
and "Rolling Home" became the recipient of considerable attention and
admiration from the inhabitants of the nearby town. I wonder now. Was
our visit the seminal factor which would one day unleash thundering
hordes of Winnebago motor-homes to prowl all over North America? I
devoutly hope we were not responsible for that."
Estivation Over - Summer's End
Well! You guys missed a great End of Summer skinnywalk. I had the whole
mountain all to my Self. The recent rains brought out all sorts of
mushrooms. Most edible of the ones I can identify were the Bear's-head
Hydnum Hydnum caput-ursi and
one of the corals Clavaria pyxidata.
didn't do any collecting this time as I was interested more in seeing
just how fast I could do this hike short of actually hurrying.
The round trip from S.R.16 to the top of White Ledge is about five
miles. This time I went up the down trail, the opposite way from last
time, just to get evened out in case I don't get to do it again soon. I
left the base at 10h20 and was comfortably ensconsed on a rock atop the
ledges, with a tomato in hand, an hour and ten minutes later. A quick
check of the nearby geocache (GCK483) and a nap in the sun took a
little while. I didn't look to see the time of my departure but I was
back at the road by 13h30. The weather was perfect and there would have
been more than enough of it to go round a larger group. Too bad you
That hike was on a saturday and then on
monday a week later...
Most interesting hike. I started out with a goal in mind to do another
loop, up one side and down the other, but not for sure which way I
would go around. The Carter Ledge Trail begins at the White Ledge
Campground just as does the White Ledge Trail I have been on a couple
of times already. When I arrived at the trailhead there were two other
cars there. Big disappointment! And on a Monday morning yet. This place
is being taken over by the jobless ne'er-do-wells. My compatriots? One
of the cars was still ticking-warm; there was quite a pile of clothing
in the front seat and a Golden Age Passport displayed on the window.
I thought for a moment about turning around. The White Ledge trail was
already occupied by some small family, the large male had a kid in a
backpack and there was a dog larger than the kid alongside. That trail
was out. I could waste a lot of time driving to another trailhead. The
hell with it, I'll go for my walk as planned and just be extra diligent.
There were a few wet spots in the first half mile and I was able to see
the prints of at least one pair of lug-soled boots. In more than one
place, thinking I could hear voices, I stopped and listened carefully.
Couldn't be sure. And then, steaming up over a small rise in the trail,
I espy a greyish head attached to bare shoulders... What! I fumbled my
wrap into place. Usually I'm pretty quick with that but this time I had
a walking stick in hand and I was mesmerised by the sight. On second
look this person, this guy, for that was apparent by now, also had on
no trousers. I stopped fumbling; no need for the wrap now. And at the
same time the guy said: --Oh well, I guess I don't have to say Oh Shit
I never apologise, I said. And then we even recognised one another!
This was an old friend who writes a column for the local rag; we have
hiked together more than once in past years when I have been in the
Conways. Never before in all my nude hiking have I ever met another
nude hiker nude on the trail! Nor had he. We walked together for a few
miles and chatted about our various adventures of the years I have been
away. Talking like that is a dangerous thing to do in these
circumstances as the conversation takes one's attention away from the
sounds of the trail. In a steep section of switch-back ledge with no
room to duck into the woods Ed went around one corner--he was in the
lead of our nude-duo--and exclaimed: Oops! 'Cuse me! Give us a
minute... He turned back, dropping his pack as he opened it to retreive
his shorts. I had the advantage of the cover of the cornering outcrop
of rock and was much more calm and collected with my wrap this time. Ed
stepped to the outside of the corner and a middle-aged woman with two
big dogs came down from above. We were probly about three miles up a
four mile trail and she had just turned back from where the going gets
tough. For the dogs, she said. Ed had planned to turn back from about
the same place.
We went on to that broad open expanse that forms the summit of Carter
Ledge and had a second lunch. Good views all around. North all the way
back to the Moat Range and the village of Conway, east around to south
of all the small lakes in the valley, and then west to the massif of
Mount Chocorua and two of the three sisters that make up the northern
spur thereof. Ed eventually turned back from this view to return the
way we'd come whilst I went on, climbing steeply and then more steeply,
as the trail slabbed up the northern slope of the summit of the Middle
Sister. The Carter Ledge Trail meets the Middle Sister Trail about half
a mile below the Sister's summit. I stopped there for a third lunch and
a photo at the trail sign and then turned down the Middle Sister trail
that would take me back to the campground in about five miles.
The rest of the hike was uneventful by
comparison. As I got to thinking about it, the last time I was on that
Middle Sister trail had to be at in the mid '60's when I led a patrol
of Scouts up from White Ledge Camp and on to Chocorua to stay at Jim
Liberty cabin. The trail in its lower reaches now looks like nobody but
a moose has used it since. Many stretches are so overgrown I could
identify the path only by the occasional burst of faded yellow paint. A
couple of frogs, a small snake, and a covey of spruce-goose, at
different times snapped me out of my complacent reverie. Eventually I
made it out Ok. No large animals other than the prints in another wet
spot of a huge moose. I hurt in about six places. Nine miles in five
hours including perhaps an hour out for all the lunches and views so it
was more like four hours of actual walking.
I could have started earlier, but it might have been a chilly
beginning, and walked slower, there was still two hours of daylight
left at the end. Probly would have been walking slower if there had
been any sort of group all the way. And to think that I used to do 20
miles in one day... Well... on the flats anyhow.
I should tell you about one of the major projects on the bus now that
it is back together. We'd pulled the front wheels to check brake
linings and bearings and found the U-bolts on the left side loose
enough that the axle had moved in relation to the center of the spring
perhaps five degrees. The left side is where the air powered steering
assist cylinder is mounted. This cock of the axel would have made the
bus want to drift to the right and I would have been oversteering to
the left to compensate. Precisely what had been happening over the last
thousand miles or so of this journey.
We also found two serious air leaks in the process of all the
reconstructive surgery. All fixed and back together now with new
U-bolts, new tyres, and new oil-lube hubs instead of the grease pack
bearings. I only need to get out on the road and drive around the block
to settle the arrangements so we can retorque the bolts. And the air
leaks are fixed too.
And In Closing...
I found this quote laying about somewhere:
who share my journey,
you move and change,
I move and am the same;
you move and are gone,
I move and remain.
Does anyone know what "The River" means? Is it a book? A poem?
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 © 2006, A.J.Oxton, The
Cat Drag'd Inn , Tonopah AridZona 85354-0313.