Travels With Oso con Migo
Odyssey In America
OAE On The Road Again — The Dregs of Summer
I am noticing the difference day to day that the sun is later and
later, lower and lower. So far the mornings are still warm enough for
the most part. Just tilting the PV array east and west is no longer
sufficient to harvest maximum energy from the sun. Now I should like to
tilt them to the south as well however the mounting brackets do not
accommodate that direction; time to turn the bus sideways. Or just get
on the road.
On thursday last I went to town and made pies with several of the
motherly matrons of the town for the Pie Town Pie Eating Festival. Must
have rolled out an hundred and fifty crusts. Met a couple of Sues and
one Turtle--Sue is the name of one of my sisters so that stands out for
me--one of these is the local chiropractor and for a break between
rolling dough she would massage shoulders and arms for the other
rollers and fillers. Turtle is a most unusual name for a Human so I
told her about how the Turtle is my totem.
I was the only male in the party but for one old husband who spent most
of his time reading a book between moving pies out to the local
churches for baking. I told the women assembled that I was a Red Hat
Lady in disguise--a bearded Red Hat Lady. Wearing my Official Chef's
Chapeau and matching apron and doing a fair passable job of rolling
dough and crimping edges brought about the comment from one woman that
I must be a Master Baker. I looked up feigning surprise and said: Who
me? Better than what a Master Fisherman might be called.
Perhaps more than one of them caught the pun but it was Sue the
Chiropractor who said: When you are a Master Fisherman you don't have
to bait your own hook.
Later when sitting for her ministrations she allowed as how my braided
Turk's head bracelet was interrupting my Chi and creating a magnetic
disturbance in that hand. She said I had to cut it off--the bracelet
that is, not the hand--and that I should wear silver or copper. I said:
But that's where I keep my Tan Line!--and pulled it aside a bit to show
her--Most times this is all I have on.
She was fast: What? No bikini line?
None, I said.
Then I went home with three leftover lumps of pie dough. Friday was
Baking Day at The Cat Drag'd Inn. A banana bread warmed the oven for
the apple pie that followed. The bread was for local use. The pie was
for the Pie Baking Contest. On Saturday morning at the Fire House when
they asked me if my pie was for the Fruit or Nut category I said: Both;
it is a male apple pie. The joke was lost on them; they took my wit to
mean that the pie was made by a male.
But the bombshell was that in order to reclaim my pie after the
judging--and more importantly, my fine Pyrex pie dish--I was obliged to
buy it back! Fifteen Dollars! This has got to be the most expensive pie
I've ever made.
A Sunday Walkabout
Started out more or less due south. Somewhen a mile or so along the
trail Bill called that they were going for a ride to one of the lots
just ahead of me so I made an effort to get as close to them as I
could, to see them but not be seen by them. We crossed paths a couple
of times as I circled around and then headed west along the line of the
south fence to the summit of the dike. From that corner I walked along
the ridge of the dike northwestward. Very interesting geological
formation this dike is. This is where I should have taken more time to
observe the land but I was concerned about the exposure and the
weather. There were a few people around so a certain effort was
expended in avoiding them. On to the lot 2/4 boundary where I turned
northeast to follow that line "home".
Six miles in two and a half hours? That's what the GPS says. I agree
with the mileage however the time seems way short. I would say more
like four hours from what I recall of my leaving and arriving time but
perhaps I paid not enough attention. The other numbers: avg spd, total
miles, elapsed time, all check out. Perhaps I will go round again in
the other direction and take more time.
Cool and wet this morning. 46f at dawn has got to be the lowest
temperature so far of my stay here. The dregs of Summer are cooling. We
had 0.92" of moderate-heavy rain mixed with small hail yesterday
afternoon. Once the precipitation ceased the thunderous drumming on the
roof of The...Inn was
replaced by the distant roar of water racing through a nearby arroyo.
We went to look. At least Class II maybe Class III rapids. I could have
had quite a run with my kayak. Denali's Perch was under water.
Today is going to be a cleaning up after day. The mud is like glue all
over sneakers and sandals and as soon as the day warms will bake into
adobe ruts in the road. The humming birds are going through a pint of
nectar a day... One picture we have shows 13 of them in a cloud around
the feeder; sometimes two and three sharing one floret of the feeder.
Some look like Ruby Throats but they should all be away north and east.
Others are Calliope, Rufus, Broad Tailed, Black-chinned, maybe Anna's.
Quite a circus and often hard to identify they move so fast.
Thank You For Smoking is
the title of a satiric novel by Christopher Buckley; have you read it?
Pretty good storey.
I'm making a list as I go along now of all the WWWebsites I have to
visit and catch up with. A ton of books, a dozen at least really, to
log at BookCrossing and then set free, two web page updates to upload,
Amtrak and AMEX to see if I can convert Bonus Miles to rail travel, a
collection of Shakespear's Sonnets, and help for my flatbed scanner.
I'll spend a day sitting at the Flying-J in Winslow. Maybe I'll even
leave Wind Horse a day or so earlier than initially planned just to be
sure I have enough time before other appointments in Flagstaff and
Williams come due.
The days here are cooling now and being more windy. Still lots of
cloudiness but no thunderstorms albeit a shower once in a while; no
serious rain in the past week. 39f my lowest dawn temperature, a few
days ago, prompted me to close the heavy curtain at the front of the
Leaving Day, Wenzday26sep
Looks like about 36f here this morning. Too early to be sure at this
writing, the hour is still way before dawn. Yesterday, when the
temperature here outside was 33f the temperature at La Casa Blanca in
AridZona was 65f; warmer on the outside there than on the inside here.
Time to move. A fortnight back I was filling the hummerfeeder twice a
day and there were clouds of birds around it, two and three jockeying
for position at each plastic flower; now there is only occasionally one
bird and I've not added nectar for several days. The hummers have more
sense than the ajo; time to move.
2007sep27 South Narrows
This was my Getting Out of Here List: Check Tyre Air, 94psi in each of
six tyres on The...Inn, 35psi in each of four tyres on TinyTruck; Wash
Windows so I can see where I'm going--actually did this last but
thought of it early; Fit Tow Bar onto TinyTruck; Remove & Recover
Long Wire Aerial after last schedule contact with Mike; PV Array Down
& Secure--and remember to check the panels after the worst
washboard part of the road (I forgot that part. When I came off the
washboard onto the pavement it was such a rush to go smooth that I just
went; got to check the panels before I depart South Narrows this
morning.); Move one more Load of Wood for the hot tub boiler--this task
was actually done quite a bit earlier...; Take Leftover Pipes to the
stockpile; Fetch Propane Bottle to carry back to Tonopah for CyB--this
task was done during the return trip from the woodpile; Pack TinyTruck:
kayak, two propane bottles, glass trunk, dump trunk, spares trunk,
table; Fill Water Tank; Set Up Short Wire Aerial, an articulated wire
stretched from the fantail of the bus to a pole on the tailgate of the
truck for on the road 80m comms.
Finally ready? What did I forget? Creep ever so slowly out the first
quarter mile, across the gully, over the culvert--half an inch
clearance under the APU as The...Inn's wheelbase bridged that mound of
new gravel. The sugar bowl fell from its perch atop of the coffee
grinder as the bus lurched through that first gully. Half a cup of
sugar all over the floor. Too bad Ms Sara(h) La Gata has not a sweet
tooth. But everything else went well. So far. I made it the twenty
miles of gravel--mostly freshly graded but for the last two miles--and
then another ten miles of smooth pavement to South Narrows. Enough for
a first day. Time for a walk.
At Play In The Fields of The Lava
Some time ago one of our gentle readers wrote: Not another picture of a
peeled ajo! You see one peeled ajo and you've seen all of them. I guess
one could say that a peeled ajo has lost its appeal, eh? But then, more
recently another gentle reader wrote: Except for the rattlesnake, the
last Pen Friends Letter had pictures only of inanimate objects. So! No
pictures of the Lava Beds. I was busy taking a nap.
Actually I did have two walks. The first was up the Rim Trail. Straight
up through a gully behind the picnic shelter at my parking-not-camping
place and then north along the rim about half the way, and back,
returning via another gully to The
Cat Drag'd Inn and a nice tepid sun shower. In this second gully
there is a deep overhang, a cave eroded by wind and water into the
sandstone, where there is a dry laid wall of worked sandstone blocks.
There was no porridge on the fire so it must have been long ago that
someone lived here. Sure enough, nearby is a sign attesting to the
cultural and historical significance and admonishing present-day
visitors not to do any of the things all the evidence suggests are
being done despite the sign.
My second walk was to the street, into the fields
of Pahoehoe. The sight of these waves of lava must have been quite
something when the stuff was hot and flowing. One could wander around
in there all day looking into collapsed bubbles. And so I did. Most of
the day anyhow.
Escalante Trail--El Malpais
Quite a hike! Starting at the west end at 10h00 I hiked east across the
McCarty Lava Field to The Cat Drag'd Inn and Ms Sara(h)
La Gata arriving there at 14h10. Properly attired in hat and boots,
alone again naturally--it is hard to find anyone adventurous enough for
living on the edge--had the entire trail all to my Self. Zuni and Acoma
peoples wearing sandals of agave leaves traversed this area between
their respective pueblos for trade and ceremonial purposes; it was hard
for me to imagine anyone walking on these sharp rocks in anything less
durable than vibram soled boots. Along the
trail are lava bubble domes, and all manner of small caves and
piled stone walls that were used as shelters. Besides the vast swells
of Pahoehoe there are occasional bursts of ah-ah. There is also some
called "oh-oh" as opposed to ah-ah. That's where you step on one end of
a block and it tips or wriggles just enough to make you say oh-oh! I
should have taken longer, there is so much to explore. Have to do it
again next year.
On the road [again]
A woman's car gets a flat tire on I-40 westbound my third day away from
Wind Horse. So she eases it over onto the shoulder of the road. She
carefully steps out of the car and opens the trunk, takes out two
cardboard men, unfolds them and stands them at the rear of the vehicle
facing oncoming traffic. The lifelike cardboard men are in trench
coats exposing their nude bodies to approaching drivers.
Not surprisingly, the traffic became snarled and backed up. I pulled in
ahead of her and walked back. It wasn't very long after a police car
pulled up behind her. The Officer, clearly enraged, approaches her
yelling, "What is going on here?"
"My car broke down, Officer" says the woman, calmly.
"Well, what the heck are these obscene cardboard pictures doing here by
the road?!" asks the Officer.
"Oh, those are my emergency flashers!"
Hard Rock Shopping
Gentle readers, what can I say? I'm sure we all know the feelings
evoked when one store does not carry every thing on the list. Not even
Wal-Mart has it all under one roof. Not even when there is a Home Depot
next door. Radio Shack is less and less a radio store. Albertson's is
on the skids. The best hardware store in Grants--unfortunately, the
only hardware store in Grants--now wants me to check my shopping bag at
the door; doubly unfortunate that if they don't trust me then I don't
trust them. I took my shopping elsewhere. All in all Saturday I drove
69 miles in ten hours of shopping (at Wal-Mart, Diamond-G, Milan
Market, Albertson's, La Montañita Co-op, Home Depot) and still
could not find any of Mrs.Fannings B&B Pickles or any brands of
sweet pickled watermelon rind or any fresh baked proper, or improper,
French Bread. I did find some respectable bacon and some high-fat
"My last attempt to send a letter had been returned for insufficient
postage however pasting on more stamps put the letter over the limit,
bumping my epistle to into the next weight category."
Precisely the same thing happens to some of my letters when I attempt
to utilise many of the antique postage stamps I've been hoarding
against the ravages of inflation. Alas! these historical cellos have
been ravaged themselves. Too many of them, depicting commemorative
occasions long forgotten, will not bring in face value from a
philatelic dealer and will cost me more than they are worth as a
collectable to find a collector. So I am obliged perforce to spend them
as common postage; an act of defiance I suppose in some respects.
Receiving such a decorated envelope must bring delight to the recipient
while only consternation to the postal clerk who must sum the values
with a mechanical contrivance--whether or not they can add in their
addled heads--and postmark by hand. An act of desperation in other
respects since I must save every penny of postage to purchase more wine.
A 24 Hour Internet Truck Stop
Nice drive from Winslow to FLG alongside the railway; the trains are
busy. Two little sprinkles, not even showers, from the mostly cloudy
sky but sufficient sun to keep the computer humming until I had used up
all my 24 hours. Good enough WWWeb fix, I'm all caught up.
The Librarian does not care much for busy truck stops so she was quite
to finally arrive at Sam's Club where at least there is a small verge
of gravelly shrubs for her ministrations in between her shelving and
catalogue duties in the library. I had a few little projects
Found some neat waterproof AGC-sized fuse holders (NAPA 782-3101) to
add to the new wires running between battery shunt and amp meter. Sams
has a nice clean smooth carpark so installation of the fuses went well.
Another project was to install a reading light in the reading room
which also serves to illuminate the stained glass window installed
there last Spring.
The articulated short-wire aerial is working well radio-wise and
seems to be stable; all I have to do is remember to disconnect the wire
before I back away the
truck. I found some small pulleys so raising and lowering the wire is
less of a chore when I take away the truck. It remains to rebuild the
2m magmount that blew away in the wind between Grants and Gallup; the
whip is missing and the base coil is trashed from having been dragged
under the truck's wheel. Maybe I'll just replace the entire
installation with a through the roof mount antler from spares.
Had a nice evening with Laura--pizza and scrabble. Good thing I wasn't
wearing any trousers--at least she can't say she beat the pants off me.
So now the morning low clouds in FLG are burning off and sun is up into
a clear sky over the big box store. I might get enough sun to keep me
here for the day. I still have the aerial which blew away in the wind
to fix and some trash to collect and Laura will come by again this
Having a great few days at the road rally near Perkinsville. Picked up
15 bags of trash, mostly bottles and cans. Yesterday afternoon a park
ranger came by and in one breath remarked on how clean the area was and
in the next asked what all the trash bags lined up along side The...Inn
were. He was pretty fast with the math and put two and two together
almost before I could tell him. In the race the best time on the Witty
Tom section was six minutes for 7.5 miles on this gravel road. I want
some of the driving lights those cars have for the front of The...Inn.
Oblivious to the dust and noise, Master Calvin was tying live
grasshoppers into a net woven from blades of grass; he proposed to set
this into a nearby stream to catch fish. After helping out here then I
would move along down the road for another few days and a few caches
out along the Vulture Peak Road with other like minded Humans. The Way
is all downhill from here.
"Home" again to Winter Quarters and Justin Thyme at Tonopah AridZona;
I've really missed being in hot water. Along the last few miles I found
some of my favourite Mrs.Fannings B&B pickles at the new Frye's.
YUM! Unpacked and unloaded, spread out and tied down; The Cat Drag'd Inn will sit still
until late January unless someone
comes along with a good idea for a Winter Tour.
Samhain, All Saints Day
Well, I'm settled in and spread out for the next few months. Samhain
has come and went but never really got back here on All Hallows Eve. No
goblins in the desert, they are all out on the street fearfully being
held by mothers' hands.
Is Amerika gearing up for war in Iran now? Are all you little goblins
ready to be drafted?
you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
You probably don't understand the situation.
Oh Well... I'm back in the desert again, / Out where a cactus is your
And aside from the ever increasing and disproportionately exorbitant
cost of petrol I can bury my head in the sand and wait patiently for
Enscribing Enlarged Epistles
My right shoulder froze up again. Last time was 12-13 years ago. Too
much intense concentration on video editing projects under a degree of
frustration and stress I have not experienced for too long. Out of
shape or out of practice? Olga fixed it however I simply without a
doubt M U S T
and walk and do shoulder exercises and avoid the frustration or learn
how to deal with it better. I know all that but seem to be utterly
powerless to do anything. Enslaved to the machine.
Almost Solstice, Definitely Thanksgiving
Has this much time gone by already since I began this letter? The days
are finally cooling. Long term forecast for Winter in the desert is for
cooler weather and less than normal precip. The drought worsens. Does
it really matter? Hooked up the hydroheat. Working great this morning.
Only 39 on the outside.
Sue and Toby, neighbors in the North House, hosted the repast. No
dressing for our meal; it was a nice warm afternoon. I made a couple of
pies, one apple and one pumpkin, both males.
For what is there to be Thanks Giving
I don't want to belabour the point or make a list. Such a compilation
would be terribly out of balance. Yes, I have health, and I can still
walk about, more than some of my peers and friends; but it bothers me
greatly that these disUnited States are spending billions of dollars
feeding and caring for people in other countries, waging undeclared war
on sovereign nation(s) and all the while there are so many hungry and
homeless on her own soil. I am ashamed to have a passport from such
"Each time we give up a bit of information about ourselves to the
Government, we give up some of our freedom. For the more the Government
or any institution knows about us, the more power it has over us. When
the Government knows all of our secrets, we stand naked before official
power. Stripped of our privacy, we lose our rights and privileges. The
Bill of Rights then becomes just so many words."
--United States Senator Sam Ervin, on 11 June 1974
Those who would give up Essential
to purchase a little Temporary
deserve neither Liberty
--Benjamin Franklin, c.1812
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
—Sir Isaac Newton
Back to Oso
Back to ajo
Copyright © 2007, A.J.Oxton, The
Cat Drag'd Inn , Tonopah AridZona 85354-0313.