Travels With Oso con Migo

Odyssey In America

OAE On The Road Again -- Ides of August to Autumnal Equinox

Nude Sunbathers Ahead

Greetings Virtual Travellers:

The Ides of August and Somewhen Later

Fruit Flies Like A BananaNow 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 recognised me.
The Straightned & Painted Bumper In Place
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 just 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 control.

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 BumpersTere Te Vaka

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 invention.

The Butterfly QueenWhile I explained some about the history of studying string figures (Jayne 1906 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.) 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 enoughThe View Atop White Ledge

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.

There's A Troublemaker In Every ClassAs 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.
Machkeu Tulpe Going Away Party
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 Released Into The Wild"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.

Wenzday again...

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 drive.

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:

In Born 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. I 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 missed out.

That hike was on a saturday and then on monday a week later...Middle Sister Trail Junction

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 and apologise.

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.

Middle Sister Trail SignThe 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:

you passers-by
who share my journey,
you move and change,
I move and am the same;
you move and are gone,
I move and remain.
                      --The River

Does anyone know what "The River" means? Is it a book? A poem?

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.