Travels With Oso con Migo

Odyssey In America

OAE On The Road Again — Summer Camp on The Road

Nude Sunbathers Ahead

Greetings Virtual Travellers:

2008 Summer Camp on The Road all Aboard The Cat Drag'd Inn.

From Tonopah AridZona to Wind Horse near Lehew New Mexico via Yellowstone National Park.

Thursday, 03 July, 2008, Camp Two Flat

We are presently at Camp Two Flat a mile or so north of  i40x185, west of Flagstaff AridZona. Present plan is to stay here for Thursday and go into Flag for the afternoon/evening of the 4th. After fireworks we will continue on to elsewhere. Pleasantly cool here after the heat of the deserts of Tonopah. Downright chilly for that matter; this morning was 44f on the shady thermometer at dawn.

We left Tonopah in good time on Tuesday and did three geocaches in the first ten miles up the Vulture Mine Road. Then on to Congress and the Escapees North Ranch camp for the night. Only 37 miles? Good enough to find all the things I didn't stow properly. Bus mostly performed well.

Wenzday early start to get up the big hill. Four thousand feet of elevation up to Prescott and Watson lake. No camping on Wenzday, No canoe rentals on Wenzday. No doctors open. Blew about two pounds of desert dust out of the main air cleaner and found a spare at the auto parts just in case. Last time I bought one cost 40$. Sixty dollars this time. Damn! that hurts.

So, on to Camp Two Flats. 164 miles. Visited the Lava Tube Cave. Cold in there. Ice on the rocks even. Ms.Denali and I are having trouble adjusting to water and electric rationing after so long in the abundance of Tonopah. We are going to lay over a day here to effect minor repairs and learn about housekeeping.

Friday, 04 July, 2008; Independence Day?

Independent of ... We each have our entanglements and our struggles to be free of them. Today's big decision for me is this: By my best measure I have 40 gallons of fuel aboard. The Cat Drag's about 7 miles per gallon, 8 at best; I saw a 9 once. From Camp Two Flat, via Flag, Jacob Lake, Kanab, to the far side of Richfield UTah where is the first of the Flying-J Fuel Stops along the Way, is 363 miles. Even at best 40 gallons is insufficient fuel. But my measure might be off... So my choices are:

Drag it out. We might make it. After all the climbing up to this plateau perhaps the Way is downhill from here. I can always call AAA and have them bring more fuel to make the last little bit.

Or: I could take on a few gallons ahead of time at a local competing truck stop thus forfeiting whatever discount or shower points might accrue from purchase at Flying-J. Its that club thing you know. Frequent Fueler Card.

Or: I could start today's leg into UTah with a 140 mile loop to the east of Flagstaff, to Winslow—of "Standin' on the Corner" fame—to the nearest Flying-J. Fuel and water there, propane too, and an opportunity for some WiFi time to catch up on all the spam no doubt clogging my mailbox.

The last option makes about the most sense. We could also do laundry and showers whilst standing on the corner.

Speaking of spam: Yesterday at the end of the second truck-trip into Flag we went to the library for a fix. Denali was quite put out that her Very Important Game site would not play music. This is a Library, Denali; no music. Well what did we come here for? So you my dear could read and write some email. And suddenly the thirty minutes was all gone.

We went into Flag in the first place to get parts for repair of an antenna mount on Little Truck. Plastic parts had to be replaced with metal, sheet metal screws had to be replaced with hex bolts and matching nuts. It was that matching part that proved to be the issue. Bad enough the big box "hardware" store on the corner doesn't have stainless hardware. They don't seem to have the sense, staff, intelligence, to separate the 1/4-20 nuts from the 1/4-28 nuts. The little drawers are not even labeled so. Just says 1/4" nuts-zinc. Period. All the bolts were 1/4-20 so it did not occur to me there might be a problem with the nuts. I just grab'd the ei8ht I wanted. My Bad. Never trust a hardware store that sells mixed nuts.

Back at Camp Two Flat it took me several tries to get the 1/4-28 nut to thread on to the 1/4-20 bolt before I finally stopped to look at the situation. Oh Well. Nothing better to do today than drive back into town. We wanted to go to the Library anyhow.

Saturday, 05 July, 2008, The Day After at Flagstaff.

I'm always confusing my Self, and probly some of you Gentle Readers, with the dating of storeys in this journal, so let me say this about that and see if I can stick with it: The day/date group at the start of a column is the date of composition. I write mostly in the wee hours of dawn, sitting with coffee, of events transpired since the previous session. Mostly I write every day but however some days I just get up and drive. So here is what happened.

Yesterday started late despite my best efforts to the contrary. Just as well. By the time Tom—of our Two Flat neighbors Sue and Tom—and I finished visiting it was two hours past when I'd wanted to depart. And the toad still waited to be hitched. Tom had convinced me to break with the Frequent Fueler Club thing, the four hour, 170 mile out of the way loop was not worth it. A combination of the latter two of my options was the result. We fuelled at the Bellemont Pilot, bought a couple hours WiFi Time at the BigMacatorium, sat through an exciting thunderstorm—rain and hail, the carpark awash—and then took showers. All activities that needed to be done. Except the laundry, that will pile up further.
a 1956 Chevy School bus
With all that out of the way the rest of the day was overcast and cool for the short drive into Flagstaff. Laura would meet us at the Sam's Club for pizza and fireworks. Parked next to The Cat Drag'd Inn was a 1956 Chevy school bus. The original short-body frame had been reworked onto an off-road forklift chassis. Tyres five feet tall, 4WD and four wheel steering. The contraption, Bad To The Bone, was about twenty feet long and could turn a circle within that radius. Cost 97,000$ to build and gets a half a mile to the gallon.

The Kool Bus is a charity fund raising gimmick sponsored by at five dollars for a ride—round in circles and figure-ei8hts in the carpark—of about five minutes duration. I don't see how they can make any money considering the cost of fuel and the cost of hauling the machine and its entourage from venue to venue around the country. A big tractor-trailer tool shed and garage truck, a big Class-A motor home pulling a flatbed trailer for the Kool Bus, and a 5th-wheel pulled by a big pickup make up the parade. The Kool Bus is so tall on its five-foot tyres that the crew has to change them for smaller wheels in order to park it on the flatbed so it will fit under bridges.

Denali turned on the charm and managed to get us invited aboard along with a couple of paying customers for a spin about the lot. Good show lady. The ride was a fun, neck-snapping lurch-about. We presented the driver with one of my famous handmade Haiku Poem Prayer Towels in return for his kindness.

Off next for pizza and then out to Mormon "Lake". I guess this place is a sort of resort community. Mostly a marsh, bog, mud hole of cattle. But thoroughly, maximally populated with campers of every stripe. A rodeo at one end of town, horses and campers tucked in between the trees all along main street, playground, RV park, buffalo herd and petting zoo, a saloon and restaurant. Most fascinating. And the only fireworks anywhere within 50-100 miles of Flagstaff. Everywhere else had cancelled due to the tinder-dry forest. It was a fine show except that the concession was sold out of cotton candy. No matter, its not real anyhow—pre-made, non-stick, comes in a plastic bag not on a paper cone... The rockets' red glare and the bombs bursting in air brought cheers from the crowd and groans from the buffalo. Memories of Fourths Past flooded me: On the Esplanade with Arthur Fiedler and the Pops, at the Glen House in Pinkham Notch, turning steaks with mittened hands on the grill in the Dark Antarctic Night of McMurdo. This time was so different and yet so much the same.

So here we are on this morning of the day after. I have a bag of trash, picked up in the woods around Camp Two Flat, yet to get rid of and then we head north into the Territory of UTah.

Sunday, 06 July, 2008, Jacob Lake, North Rim, Last Stop in AridZona.

Anything but arid up here at 7,900'MSL; 57f this dawn, the RH meter is up to 50% after spending all the past Winter around 20-30%, the Weather Stick has uncurled a bit. The Cat is presently Drag'd Inn to a campground construction site at the junction of US89a and SR67 and parked next to a 1954 Flexible, green and silver.

The road to here had its ups and downs yesterday. Mostly Ups after the grand Down from Flagstaff into Marble Canyon to cross the Colorado River at Navaho Bridge. Very impressive. How far is it from the bridge down to the river? Very far; see way down there those people on the sandbar? We found a book of dinosaur pop-ups at the Visitor Center: Encyclopedia Prehistorica, Sabuda & Reinhart, ISBN:0763622281. Stunning art. Some of the dinosaurs fairly well leap off the pages as you turn them.
along the kaibab trail
From Navaho Bridge US89a is one long two-lane climb, in one end of a thunderstorm and out the other, to Jacob Lake. We left the bus here and went by toad to North Rim, another thousand feet up and right at the edge of the great chasm. This is the kind of place that would take weeks to explore but the expense is waaay beyond my budget. Twenty-five dollars just for admission! There are some perks to being an Elder of the Tribe, my Golden Age Passport sure is handy. In the afternoon we had a walk to Bright Angel Point (reminds me of Goofer Point on Mount Washington where all the goofers go to point) and a short hike partway down the Kaibab Trail. Climbing a canyon is the reverse of climbing a mountain, a lesson that somehow does not come easy at first. The altitude was stressful for such exertion on short notice so we didn't get all that far. But the colours are beautiful, the shapes boggle the mind trying to take it all in, and the edges induce vertigo. I don't have a problem working at the top of a hundred foot radio tower but looking over the edge of almost anything brings me to flights of fancy and the alarum in my head says Step Away From The Edge—Step Away From The Edge. At Bright Angel Point you are surrounded by edge; there is no stepping away. We saw an eagle and cliff swallows, we found fossils, we found trees growing out of cracks in rock, we found footprints of burros—and other spoor as well for that matter. The North Rim will be on my list to revisit someday for a longer period.

Monday, 07 July, 2008, Nephi Flying-J, Second Stop in UTah.

Mostly all downhill Sunday after taking leave of Duffy and his Flexible. The miles went spinning past, the colours and the terrain kept changing, and all the different things began to merge into one vast panorama, one amalgam of experience; I'm not sure where I am or what day it is already. We moved along through the rain.
No Boy Scouts at This Hot Spring
If the crossing into UTah had not been an uphill section, meant loosing the momentum of the climb, we would have stopped to get on queue for pictures: "Entering Beautiful UTah". Certainly is that. We found our way by toad to a hot spring in a vast flat valley between north-south ranges of mountains, on a side road off a secondary road, somewhat removed from the interstate. The meadow was fenced to define a gravel carpark, to keep the cattle out and the Boy Scouts in. "Anyone caught with their pants down will be persecuted and prosecuted" the sign welcomed. Why are we here? For the challenge. We managed about fifteen minutes of diligent soaking before a second pickup was observed approaching and when it slowed to turn into the carpark "Plan B" was put in gear. Before the people had their feet on the ground we were grudgingly covered from neck to knee in our "soaking-shirts". But that was not enough it seems. When the family of three arrived at poolside we exclaimed: “Come on in; the water's fine!” The man replied by way of greeting: "Are you decent? We have a little girl here." “So have I”, I replied… and what means decent? We have more skin covered than your little girl (who looked big enough to be ten) in her skimpy halter top and butt-cheek showing bikini. I didn't say that last part but the thought was on the tip of my tongue. Mother and father were stalling, hedging, making words between themselves about coming back later. Clearly they were uncomfortable in company of people who were so obviously naked under their clothes. So we left.
es car go?
North a ways and the small town of Scipio reminded me to dig out The Thief Lord for Denali to read. We had watched August Rush a few nights back and both novels are linked by threads of Oliver Twist. So, here we are on a sunny Monday morning in Nephi, a small town named after one of the main people described in the Book of Mormon. On to Salt Lake City after I do the dishes.

Tuesday, 08 July, 2008, North Salt Lake City Flying-J

Showers inside today! Monday that is, at the Flying-J. Wally-World campgrounds should have showers, eh? Only about a hundred miles of driving, with grocery shopping along the way, and then a visit to The Great Salt Lake. The water has receded considerable from what I recall of my last visit here quite a few years ago. Lots of dead birds laying about in the mud. The Great Salt Lake State Park Boathouse—at least I think that's what it is as indicated on the map—is closed but at least the outside showers are functional so we were able to wash off the salt and sand. The place looks like a bastion of Turkish culture with the towers and minarets. Or perhaps I mean to say the place looks like some sort of soft-freeze ice cream palace with the chocolate swirl tops on the four corners. Either way it is a building in a state of disrepair. Car park closed and the water at least a quarter-mile receded from the evident shoreline. Where has all the water gone?
Trinkets galore but nothing to wear with this outfit.
Now, today, is Tuesday morning and we are leaving the bus here and toading downtown to find a museum, looking for answers.

Later Tuesday at McCammon Idaho. Not too many miles but lots of places been to. After the usual late start from North SLC we headed in town to look for a geocache on the stairs. We found a bunch of snails there too. After the geocache it was a short couple of blocks to Temple Square and the Museum of the Mormon Church History and Art. Two hours on the parking meter went by too fast and soon we were back to The Cat Drag’d Inn and on our way to Promontory and the Golden Spike National Historical Site. Another geocache along the way, The Snake Farm, became Denali's first on her own find.

Miles and miles later we are, just at sunset, berthed at the McCammon Flying-J to do laundry and have a light supper.
Where East Meets West

Thursday, 10 July, 2008, IDaho Falls Wally World Caravanserai

Right in front of our very eyes two vehicles collided! At the Famous IDaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot a white SUV entering Main Street met nose to nose with a small red pickup travelling west. The pickup rode up over the bonnet of the SUV, totally airborne, rolled, and returned from flight to land on its roof, spinning around and sliding across the intersection. Wow! Six bystanders were seen to do the cellphone salute at the same time. Eventually the person in the pickup was extricated and walked away from the wreck. I wondered if the "accident karma" of having observed all this would count in my favour and add to the trouble-free miles ahead. Denali was interviewed by the local constabulary. This could rank as the Most Exciting Day, so far at least.
A most dreadful occurance...
Let's see... What else happened Wenzday? We didn't depart McCammon until almost lunch time. So many projects and lists to do and keep track of. Good thing I'm not in too much of a hurry. Having access and playing this geocache game along the way is one of those double-edged sword things. And if it isn't one project then there is another. The gear shifter pedestal is loose and the bolts too rusty to tighten. The nightlights along the companionway need greater protection from marauding dinosaur feet. And then there is some I Saved The World With Math game-cum-learning aid that refuses to load and run on this computer. Oh yes... some very important grocery and nuts&bolts shopping.

Altogether only ei8hty miles and four caches—two found and two with insufficient parking for The Cat Drag’d Inn—from McCammon to IDaho Falls Wenzday. And we have yet to find the Falls.

Saturday, 12 July, 2008, Lake YNP, Betty's Camp

Let's see... The last entry was Thursday(10) writing about Wenzday(9). Today is Saturday(12) writing about Friday(11) writing about Thursday(10). First I suppose I should try to remember...

IDaho Falls. Lawn sprinklers ran all night so the ground alongside was all wet at dawn. Off to the usual late start to find the falls and head north. The motor didn't have a chance to warm before we were out walking around the Rotary Park: bridges and tunnels, bike paths, down along the river, viewing Idaho Falls from above and below. Further along, north out of town, U.S.20 on the way to the first cache of the day, we passed a hitchhiker. Big backpack, small bundle under one arm, sign in the other "Going to Montana", big hat, travellers' clothing. We passed him up but the occasion engendered some discussion about hitchhikers, runaways, workers, where they are going and why. One does not see many hitchhikers on the road these days.
Ospreys collecting tolls at the bridge.
The first cache was "Birds of Prey" at the Osprey Bridge, a fairly easy find but the real attraction is the huge osprey nest atop the ironwork of the old bridge. "These Osprey return every year to nest on the bridge. They usually arrive in early April...within three to five days of one another. ...Osprey usually partner for life but only come together for the five months it takes to raise their chicks." (—from the cache notes of GC12BJ4). We could see the big bird was on the nest and a quick picture later showed two chicks.

The second cache of the day, a few miles north of the first, was "Why Not..." in a wide spot in U.S.20 just south of Ashton. A south-bound coach wearing SKP decals pulled in whilst we were poking about in the tall grass and after we had returned to The Cat Drag’d Inn a gentleman with three grandkids in tow knocked on our door. Denali and I went out to chat and visit. The man's wife and another child joined the group. They were on the road from New Jersey, via YNP, headed for Grand Canyon, the reverse of the way we had come. The grandfather related how when he started out the door of their coach to come visit us his youngest—looked to be about four or five—exclaimed "We can't go talk to them, they're STRANGERS!" The grandfather said, "No, they are in the same Escapees club as us so they're family”.

North of Ashton our hitchhiker was walking along again. —There he is again! He must have got a ride and passed us up whilst we were caching about on the secondary roads. This time we stopped, put his big pack in the toad, and carried him along towards Montana. It was an opportunity to exchange new storeys for old and the miles went by quickly.

Our last cache of the day was in West Yellowstone, we left off our ski-bum hitchhiker, and did some last minute shopping. Still nearly sixty miles to Lake and Betty's camp; our immediate goal was to get there in time for the supper she was preparing but there was lots of things to see in this the oldest of America's National Parks.

Two hours and lots of traffic jams and scary turns later we were into camp right on time.
An American Buffalo a.k.a Bison.

Saturday, 12 July, 2008, Lake, YNP, Betty's Camp

Early enough Friday morning Betty was at the door for coffee and chat. We had a big day to plan. No rest for the road-weary but at least she would do the driving today. After all, she's a professional tour leader now. Last year Betty drove the Glacier Park Red Bus, this year she is driving the Yellowstone Park Yellow Bus. She works a day or two on and then a day or two off so we would fit our schedules together for the next several days. Betty drove us to all the best views back along the way we'd come yesterday: LeHardys Rapids, Mud Volcano, Artist Point, Dunraven Pass, Tower Fall, Petrified Tree, and then return by Washburn Snow Field (Snow in July! Who would have thought?) and the Ice Cream Store.

Black Bear Road Block.Along the road from Fishing Bridge to Canyon Village, somewhat in order of appearance, we saw: Pelicans, Cutthroat Trout, Bison, Canada Geese, Bison, Osprey, Elk, One Black Bear, and more Bison. Everywhere an animal was close enough to the road a traffic jam would develop. Tourists! Arrrgh! Also along the way we stopped at the Canyon Visitor Center and learned about the volcanic history of the Yellowstone area. The caldera comprises more square miles than the state of Rhode Island and is to this day an active hot volcano evidenced by the boiling mud pots, geysers, and nearly continuous minor earth tremors. Now, at this writing early Saturday morning, the dawn temperature is 32f, there is frost on the grass, and the furnace is cranking out AridZona style hot air.

Monday, 14 July, 2008, Betty's Camp at Lake, YNP

The heat is on again. 37f this dawn as I prepare to commence to ready The Cat Drag’d Inn for departure on Tuesday. Today, Monday, Betty will take Denali to see Old Faithful and some other sights. Yesterday? Sunday was a day off from almost everything. Sat around and read, cleaned, laundry, projects, wrote some letters...
Snow in July? Who would've thought...
Denali is working at learning to ride a bike a couple of inches too big for her legs. Learning to start and stop would be more to the point. She can ride it well and good once someone helps her kick off. Yesterday she spent an hour or so enlisting passers-by to hold the saddle and give her a push. A hundred yards along the camp road she'd gracefully crash into the grass, pick up the bike and accost someone for a push-off back this way.
Together we spent some time working on her Junior Ranger Project and with wrench and hammer tightened the rusty bolts holding the bus's shifter pedestal in place.

Tuesday, 15 July, 2008, Hitching Up, Heading Out

Dump and Fill was the order of the day for Monday. Betty and Denali were off doing "girl things" and being good tourists at the Geyser Basin and the Junior Ranger Test. Denali passed with extra applause; Betty's not a Junior anymore.

This morning I have my World Famous Male Banana Bread in the oven, Sara(h) La Gata is at the end of her string, and there is only a short list of Things To Do before departure towards Mount Rushmore. This has been a fun visit to YNP. Last time though here had to have been six or seven years ago with Ian in tow, west bound NH to WA & OR. OAE Doug, who leads photo tours here in the Summer and drives a snow-coach Winters, came to dinner at Betty's last night and we all had a grand time comparing notes and remembering others from the Antarctic Programme.

The bread is out of the oven and Betty has stopped by for a slice. Goodbyes are said; this has been a nice five days off the road, now it is time to get this show on the road again.

Wednesday, 16 July, 2008, Alongside the Road to...

Flimsy guardrails and steep mountain highways comprised most of Tuesday morning. Departure from YNP got off on the wrong turn at the first intersection. Too busy loading "On The Road Again" to the CD player to notice the sign. Had to go a few miles out before finding a wide enough turnaround. The road from the East Gate of YNP down towards Cody WYoming is steep and windy and twisty-turny, cut into the side of a cliff straight up on north side, straight down on the south. Some of the outside curves are "guarded" by wooden posts connected by steel rails and in many places showed striking evidence of contact with fast moving heavy objects. In one such hundred foot section the posts were sheared off at grade and the steel rails lay like discarded pretzels. Imagining who went over the edge was a sobering thought.

Then, almost suddenly, we were down the mountain, from the rim of the caldera, having descended over two thousand feet, out onto the relative flats west of Cody. In town at the Buffalo Bill five-in-one museum complex we spent four or five hours wandering around soaking up the sights and sounds and antagonising the Do-Not-Touch guards.

Denali's mom sent her a Care Package with of all things her very own cell phone. Just what every ei8ht-year-old cannot live without—a music box game-playing slave collar. What is this society doing to its children? Why do I let this stupidity bother me as much as it does? This morning she is practicing "ring tones". OUTSIDE WITH THAT THING before I smash it! She fails to appreciate why I don't like popcorn and ringtones. It is not that I don't like popcorn my dear, I like popcorn very much, in fact I love popcorn; I just don't like popcorn in my bed. Nor do I like cookies in my bed any more than I like Legos in my bed. When I eat popcorn I don't spill it. And if one should jump out of my hand I am quick to retrieve it. You are not. You leave it laying there, along with the Goldfish and the Legos. Are all ei8ht-year-olds like this? Or only the intelligent and spacey ones.

Now, this Wenzday mid-morning at Thermopolis, we have pulled in to Wyoming Gardens Campground. Last time I stayed here it was known as Grandview RV Park. Denali is off to play with the boy who lives here. Soaking and dinosaurs will wait until later this afternoon. In the meantime we have also removed ourselves from Winter sleeping conditions back again to Summer so I can put away the two wool blankets we had need of during the past week.

Saturday, 19 July, 2008, Gillette WYoming

Camped next to the Powder River last night, in a place called Juniper Draw, after coming down from Powder River Pass at 9,666'MSL. A lot of ups and downs over the past few days. We used to sing about the Powder River around the fire in Scouts: Powder River ...its a mile wide, ...its an inch deep, ...runs uphill all the way... Powder River!

Around the fire last night a local Wyomin' cowboy, a Tennessee tourist farmer and a California immigrant were swopping spit and passing bottles. The Tennesean passed around a new bottle of Jack Daniels. I don't particularly care for the stuff but had a nip to be sociable. When the bottle got back to the farmer he threw it up in the air, pulled a rabbit gun out of nowhere, and shot it. The fire flared up as the alcohol rained down. Hey! the cowboy exclaimed, there was still some good whisky in that bottle. Not to worry, the farmer allowed, plenty more where that came from. I got a case of it in my camper and they still make it back in Tennessee; I never drink from the same bottle twice.

Not to be outdone the California immigrant decorked a bottle of Napa Valley Chablis and passed it around. Now I like Chablis but was careful not to pull on the bottle so long as to look greedy. When the bottle got round to the immigrant he threw it up in the air and before it had time to reach apogee he'd pulled out a new Walther SP22 and shot it. These guys are good I thought as droplets of Chablis sizzled on the coals. Hey! said farmer, they's not as much kick as my Jack Daniels but there was still some left in there. No matter, said the Californian, plenty more where that came from; I brought a truckload in the moving van and they still make it back in Napa Valley; I never drink twice from the same bottle.

I sat back as all eyes turned to the cowboy. This here is still pretty raw, he said drawing forth a new bottle of Wyoming Whiskey from a start-up company in Kirby. And rare too I might add as they only just built the distillery; go easy on it. He passed the bottle around. Fire in the belly it tasted! When the bottle returned to him he put the cap on it, drew an antique Colt six-shooter, and shot the Californian.

Whoa! shouted the Tennesean, you just murdered that guy. Well, drawled the cowboy, there's plenty more of 'em where he came from, they still make 'em out there in Napa Valley, and I never drink twice with the same Californian.

 Time for me to go soak my head again. Two days in Thermo-polis (hot-city) comprised a couple of soaks in the state park soaking area and a few hours visiting the WYoming Dinosaur Center. Betty came down from YNP to visit and eat-over. Denali spent most of her time with a local boy at the campground and I did a few small housekeeping and maintenance tasks. The Cat Drag’d Inn is running well. We also managed to find five geocaches in town.
First WebCam Cache. Thanks Mike!
Along the road from Thermopolis to Gillette there were several more geocaches. One was a webcam in Worland. Two other caches were in the small town of Ten Sleep. Why Ten Sleep? According to native legend explained on a plaque across from Dirty Sally's soda fountain in the middle of town this particular place is ten sleeps from several other early population centers. Several years ago me'n'Ian spent a night in the wide spot on the west edge of town when the exhaust pipe blew off the turbo and we had to wait for it to cool enough to handle the plumbing. This time through was sort of like a homecoming. Good to see Dirty Sally's soda fountain is still there.

Sunday, 20 July, 2008, Gillette Wyoming

Devils Tower on Saturday. Interesting that in the Official Map and Guide there is no apostrophe in the name "Devils Tower". There are various American Indian names associated with the formation which have to do with bears—Mateo Teepee, which translates to Bear Lodge—however, according to the National Park Service brochure "Devils Tower derives from: Colonel Dodge is generally credited with giving the formation its present name. In his book, entitled The Black Hills, published in 1876, he called it "Devils Tower," explaining "The Indians call this shaft The Bad God’s Tower, a name adopted with proper modification, by our surveyors”.
The Tower of The Devil.
From Gillette where we left Sara(h) to guard The Cat Drag’d Inn, this first national monument is an hour's drive in the little truck. The final approach along a winding, hilly, two-lane road evokes scenes from Close Encounters... until finally there it is and here we are. The igneous intrusion stands tall and profound and the most astounding thing I can think about is how much material has eroded from the surface to expose this magmatic structure. The other thing of interest in this monument is that the "roughhewn log museum ... visitor center" was built by the CCC during the Great Depression.

I listened to a ranger at Devils Tower talk about climbing technique and hardware. Constantly tripping over "he/she". Every sentence he\she said describing the climber's activities had to be gender neutral: He\she has to put a chock into the crack in the rock and then he\she has to test it to be sure the protection is going to hold his\her weight before he\she trusts it with his\her life.

My pet peeve. Why cannot we say "they" and "them" and "their"?

Pizza for supper, showers, laundry, and a bit of a movie in the truckers' lounge of the Gillette Flying-J truck stop made up the rest of the day and a late night to bed. I'm sure we will be off to a late start to Mount Rushmore to learn where that name derives.

Monday, 21 July, 2008, Newcastle WYoming

The main thing hereabouts, the visible industry, seems to be coal and oil, not including tourism. On the return from Devils Tower we'd stopped at a kind of open air museum, a collection of mining artifacts set about on a sward dotted with cement pads. Some things had signs: Please Don't Climb on the Equipment. Most however had inviting ladders. A giant shovel was big enough to scoop up two of my bus. A "dump truck" big enough to carry four of my bus in its gondola bins with tyres 10-12 feet tall. A diesel locomotive retired from service with BNSF after two million miles.
Parking for Two Buses
We passed a vast open pit coal mine with a power plant built only a conveyor belt away on the other side of the highway. Trains that look to be a mile long, two or three locomotives in the front and another one or two pushing, carry coal to and fro, hither and yon, on tracks beside the road. Along the road to Newcastle, a short drive and a couple of caches from Gillette, the rolling hills are dotted with oil wells—some pumps working, some not. In downtown Newcastle there is a refinery. Regular is only 4$01.

We pulled in at the Newcastle Volunteer Fire Department yard, across from the Weston County Fairgrounds, after the usual late start—one last dose of high speed connectivity at the Flying-J—just in time for lunch. The main target was yet another cache, a memorial to a fallen fire fighter, however the stop turned into a stay. A small playground beckoned—one had to be careful to tell apart the teeter-totter from the nearby oil well pumps—and this open almost-flat spot looked to be as good a place as any to leave The Cat Drag’d Inn whilst we dashed to the side of the main route in toad for a visit to Mount Rushmore and Jewell Cave. A firefighter on the scene confirmed my request to park there and our conversation stretched over the subjects of travel, ham radio, and model airplanes.

Finally, off to Mount Rushmore in time enough to wander about the museum and the Presidential Trail and get in a nap on the warm granite balustrade overlooking the Grand View Terrace. I didn't remember the vast three tiered parking garage from last time I was here with Ian several years ago but the gate keeper assured me he's been collecting entrance fees right there for at least ten years. Ten dollars to park the truck; good thing we didn't bring the bus: Fifty dollars to park a bus! The sight of these sixty-foot faces—Washington, Jefferson Roosevelt, Lincoln—is inspiring still although some of the rhetoric of the Lighting Ceremony sounds hollow and trite at the end of long day.

Tuesday, 22 July, 2008, Orin WYoming, Who'll Stop the Rain?

Other observations I've been mulling over from Rushmore: I've been there before but had never walked the Presidential Trail. Along the path are small signs denoting which station of the Audio Tour you are at. Audio is available in English, German, Lakota, and Spanish. The languages I heard most spoken by tourists on the terrace were French and Japanese.

The evening programme consists of a monologue by a Park Ranger—and this one even had a pretty good singing voice—followed by a film presentation of American History and Political Bombast which culminates in the Lighting Ceremony and Retirement of the Colours. Some scraggly Boy Scout troop who was to participate in the Retirement spent a while of the pre-show warmup time parading to and fro and around the stage trying to remember left from right and what a straight line means. From our aerie atop the terrace we watched the seats of the amphitheater fill. The terrace was a babel of languages. All of this was something for me to watch with a detached eye, different from, separate from the event itself.

Towards the end of the presentation, full dark now, the thousands of kilowatts of big lights are about to illuminate Borglum's massive sculpture, and it occurred to me that the audience has a new look. In addition to the winking of strobe flashes, as if a meadow filled with fireflies, this was something I'd never seen before. Every third or fourth person had a steady phosphorescence about their head, like the glowworm Lampyris noctiluca. Or a glowing fungus on the floor of a dark forest.
The Sacrificial Rock
After Rushmore and the long late-night drive back to the bus in Newcastle we struggled to get up early enough Monday morning to be close to the front of the queue for reservations at Jewell Cave. Guided tours are the only way to experience this cave, now reputed to be the second longest in the world at 143 miles mapped, and we had missed out the day before. In front of the Visitor Center there is a cement block "tunnel" which simulates part of the Spelunker's Tour known as The Miseries. One must be at least sixteen years old and able to squeeze through this opening eight and a half inches in height; such a dichotomous combination of qualities is not found in too many of our population; spelunking is a game only for the svelte. However our tour, the Scenic Tour, involved staying upright, a mile, and some 700 steps, most of the walking was on aluminium stairways and ramps, and concrete treadway. Tho many of the formations are similar this cave is unique for its history and size. Exiting the elevator, in the first large room of this cave, our ranger points out the fragility of the formations; Do Not Touch ANYTHING! Except of course the handrails. At the top of the first stairway we are shown The Sacrificial Rock. Get it out of your system right here. Exploration is ongoing.
Open Range of WYoming
On the road again. South through the "open range" of WYoming. Fences, railroads, small towns, and "no overnight parking" rest areas made up most of the scenery once we left Newcastle. Trains carrying coal to the power plant near Newcastle rumble along seemingly about twenty minutes apart. One hundred thirty-seven gondola cars, four to six locomotives. A thunderstorm blocks our way near Keeline. Strong gusty cross winds and torrential rain engender pulling off the road to a wide spot which quickly becomes a lake with water lapping at the sidewalls of several other trucks and cars. We proceed to make supper and watch Wallace & Grommit.

The next few days will be time to make up some miles. We have a third of this Summer Camp remaining, a thousand miles to Wind Horse and ten days to meet our ETA. We might have to hole up somewhere to wait for the new fiscal month as fuel is over budget.

Thursday, 24 July, 2008, Denver Flying-J

Already I don't remember much of Tuesday and Wenzday. Phew! Lots of things but they all run together. We did a few caches, played the tourist game, lunched in rest areas, drove and drove across the vast wheat-land of southeast WYoming. One cache, in Chugwater, brought us to a functional antique soda fountain. Another must see, just as the one in Ten Sleep, and with the same sort of place name. Chugwater deserves some explanation; the soda fountain is the place to find it. The business has been there for the better part of a hundred years, first as a pharmacy, and has changed hands many times. On the wall next to the big mirror behind the fountain counter there is a ten point elk trophy. His name is "Winslow" or something like that. A town ordinance prohibits any future owner from removing the trophy from its place overlooking the fountain.

According to local native legend the "Indians used to drive buffalo over the chalk bluffs surrounding the valley [of Ghugwater Creek]. The buffalo made a chugging sound when they fall. Indians called the area Water at the Place Where the Buffalo Chug." White settlers absorbed and modified the name to Chugwater. (—from one of the cards on sale at the Chugwater Soda Fountain.)

Cellphone functionality. Another interesting observation but this one I have yet to sus out. From the west gate of YNP almost all the way to Denver my fancy new digital cellphone has been somewhat less than reliable. "No Service" was the status message most often displayed. Sometimes I would see "Emergency Calls Only" or "Roaming". Once in a while, within a half mile or so of no particular downtown smalltown I would see the name of one or another small local provider. Needless to say Denali had a rather frustrating time with her little pay as you go call home machine. AT&T is not well represented in WYoming.
Making Hammonds Candy Canes
Mostly the roads in WYoming were very excellent. Wide and smooth, easy to drive, except for a very few miles where there were narrow curves and no shoulders. Across the border into ColOrado and the pavement goes to hell quickly. The closer we got to Denver the worse the surface conditions. Dishes rattling, Sara(h) clinging to the carpet with all claws extended, milk in the fridge churning itself to butter.

Today we are off to a candy factory and NCAR. Tomorrow to Colorado Springs.

Friday, 25 July, 2008, Denverdenver Land

 We're at this truckstop a little east of downtown Denver. All around me are parked bob-tail tractors with drivers living in them whilst they wait for trailer-loads to haul somewhere. They sit for hours uncounted, sometimes days, with their motors running so the drivers might sleep in air-conditioned comfort. Such an incredible waste of diesel I want to scream! And the jet fighters flying round and round overhead. Practicing no doubt. They use as much fuel in their practicing as I use in a year. And to what end? So they can be well prepared to go and terrorise some third world country? What's the point of screaming?

One other truckstop nearby has even gone so far as to provide a parking area defined by some sort of exhaust scavenging system. Each truck parks and is then connected to its stacks by some large hose not unlike that for a clothes dryer. I need to learn more about the systems functionality.

Sometimes I look at all this and my problems become insignificant. But at the same time I feel so helpless in the face of government stupidity that it makes my efforts to improve the world look useless. What's the point?

There I go, whinging again. Stop that! Stop it right now!

We had a good visit to the Hammond's Candy Factory yesterday. Preceded by the grand crisis of Denali being unable to find her wallet with a week's new allowance therein. Sooner or later it had to happen. I suppose every kid has to loose a wallet before they learn the discipline of keeping track of one.
Every Kids Dream come True!
Hammond's Candies makes everything by hand. All the mixing, cooking, pulling, and shaping—except for a unique device dating from the late 1800's that shapes ribbon candy, and even that is hand cranked—is accomplished by skilled candy makers rather than machines. Buckets of samples at the start of the tour and of course there is a retail store at the end of the tour. We watched candy canes being made. The layers of candy material, filling and wrapping, shaped into a large armload called a pig, the size of a two-year-old kid, is first rolled into a shape about like a barber pole. The mix is hot at this point, to keep it flexible, and the workers wear cotton gloves. Then it is stretched and rolled, pulled into the proper diameter, cut to length, crooked and laid out on a canvas covered table to cool.

I bought a candy cane at the store on the way out. Also found some yummy ginger hard candy. Not sugared ginger. Not that incredibly hot "Ting Ting Jahe" from Indonesia. When I asked just how hot this product was the clerk allowed it was pretty hot but then opened a package to let me sample one.

Also went to NCAR, The National Center for Atmospheric Research. Great museum and visitor center. They have captured a lightning bolt in a bottle and you can watch its constant struggle to get free. There is also a tiny nascent tornado in a cage. And the CRAY computer.

Saturday, 26 July, 2008, Back to Fort Collins

We were here just a few days ago visiting Old Scout Bobby at his place of work. Old Antarctic Explorer Mitch lives just up the street but I'd yet to make contact with him so we met for lunch yesterday at Raytheon Polar Operations in Englewood. Standing in the lobby chatting about old times on The Ice at the several stations various other OAE's walked by: Rick, Andy, Val, Ken. Their faces all fit what I remembered but hair lines and body shapes didn't match. Lots of hugs and handshakes later Mitch took me and D to lunch and further chit-chat. When he invited us to lunch on the patio at his home today there was only a moment's hesitation on my part.

Dee will not be home at Colorado Springs until Sunday. Joe, in Greeley, has not been able to get away from work to catch up to us as he did last year. By going north back to Fort Collins for the night we get to meet Mitch's wife and two month-old baby as well as lunch again with other OAE's. A side benefit is the chance to catch up with Joe and still get to Colorado Springs to visit with Dee after she gets home. Another side is that the family next door has two kids, Zachariah and Daisey near Denali's age, and one spare bike more her size than the one we have been carrying around for three weeks. Sara(h) likes the grassy yard and trees to climb and has met two dogs to help her with the trees. Me? Besides visiting with Mitch I found an unlocked WiFi in the cul-de-sac and in the front yard there is a huge rhubarb bush. Got to make a Pie! YUM!

Monday, 28 July, 2008Dee’s Camp at COlorado Springs

You know you might... a redneck if your RV is pulled by three mules... Headline: Missouri couple takes three-month trip in mule-drawn covered wagon:  …might be the way to go with fuel prices as they are. Probly take more'n three mules to haul this bus around, more like twenty. And I'd have to change her name to The Mule Drag'd Inn.

Sunday morning cakers and sausage by Mitch sent us on our way south again. Denverdenver Land has got to be the only city on this tour we've gone through more than once. That is aside from going round and round in circles, like a dog, looking for a place to park. Two geocaches and a lunch later The Cat Drag'd Inn, hot and panting, to Dee's camp near Peterson AFB and she was ready with several pints of B&J's for desert. It must be up hill all the way from Denverdenver Land's Mile High City to ColoSprings. The altimeter now reads about 6,500'MSL. Laundry next.

It's not just a motorhome - it's a car you can go to the bathroom in! —Homer Simpson

Tuesday, 29 July, 2008, still in ColoSprings

This place is as bad a black hole as YNP when it comes to communications with the outside world. Occasionally I can hear another station calling plaintively in the wilderness but they are as much unable to make connexions with a WinLink host as is my station. No WiFi at this campground either. So you won't read any of this until way after it is old news.

Yesterday Denali brought in a boy. —Look what followed me home! Can I keep him? He stayed to play games, eat ice cream, watch a movie, but in the end his mother came looking to drag him off to church. Laundry, vacuuming, cat box, visiting with Dee, reading and writing.

Saturday, 02 August, 2008, Alamosa with Char & her OAE Fred.

We have been here two nights and I am negligent by not writing. But then getting the mail to move has been problematical so what's the point. And we are near the end of this adventure; almost close enough to make one long dash to the finish.

Am I tired of driving? Or tired of writing about it? I'm not sure I know. Tired of spending money on driving, that's for sure! "Starving for Miles" has been the Motto of our Summer Camp—every shopping trip has engendered decisions such as how many miles is that food item worth. Our itinerary is factored around such terms as "miles per admission fee" and “no overnight parking”. It didn't help any that Denali misplaced her wallet with a week's allowance—we've not declared it totally lost since it could still be hiding under some pile of camper clutter. (What she needs here is a money-grubbing dog.)

On the other side of the coin this tour would not have been possible with out the help of the several contributors along the Way. We, Denali and I, are deeply indebted to them. Without the meals and showers, parking on streets and long extension cords, and the outright major fuel contributors we would still be wandering the woods around Flagstaff. It is regretful that there were not a couple more campers along to share this adventure but then I'd not have been able to impose such a party of exploration on so many friends along the Way. Always a rock and a hard place. As it says in the song: You don't always get what you want but you get what you need.
At Dakota Last Year.
Thank you friends and fellow travellers for your help. Thank you.

So! Back to Alamosa. What else have I not written of? Dakota Hot Spring! A most delightful place on U.S.50 just west of Penrose COlorado. A large pool fed with warm water from an artesian well kept us busy playing in the sun all the day after we left Dee in Colorado Springs. Time out for meals and picking up the ever present trash kept us from looking too much like prunes and our all-over tans got a good boost after so many days touristing in a textiled world.

From Dakota Hot Spring, south and west, through Muleshoe and over the North La Veta Pass to Alamosa. With grocery shopping in Walsenburg and several rest stops to let the motor cool down we were too late to visit Great Sand Dunes National Park. But that turned out just as well: Fred had pizza waiting for supper and it would not do to let that go cold.

Zapata FallsFriday we unhooked the little truck, used up half a roll of paper towels to clean her windows, and made a side trip to the dunes with the bonus—a side trip to the side trip—of visiting Zapata Falls; we never would have made it up that hill with the bus. The road to the falls goes zigging and zagging up the west slopes of California Peak until it reaches South Zapata Creek. The water, crashing down through cracks in the bedrock over thousands of years, has worn a corkscrew passage of fascinating proportion; words are of little use to describe the numbing cold water, the rounded boulders, the spray. One must walk through the cold river to get to see the waterfall.

On to Great Sand Dunes National Park. This is another place that needs to be on my return and stay longer list. The few hours remaining to our day after driving from Alamosa and visiting the Visitor Center were simply insufficient to get much beyond the wash of Medano Creek. The wet sand of the creek was too attractive to pass up; outstanding castle-building qualities. Besides on such a warm Summer day one must start walking early in the morning; all too soon the sand is hotter than pavement.

Sunday, 03 August, 2008, Alamosa Extra

Such an incredible sand box!On the way to or from the Great Sand Dunes the other day I noticed the little truck making a new noise: A wheel-cyclic swishing or grinding. And of late the hand brake has not held tight as it used to. Sounds like cause sufficient to make full use of Fred's garage and capabilities. Saturday, whilst Char and Denali were off doing errands, Fred backed his Harley and Nash Metropolitan out of the garage so we had lots of room; we pulled the rear wheels first and found the return spring broken in the left side. The self-adjuster lever had escaped its position and was rolling around on the bottom of the drum, bits of spring too. The shoe is scored but useable. And of course four auto parts stores had no replacement spring for such an old truck so we fashioned a reasonable fix from a generic throttle return spring that should at least hold the brakes together enough for a while. Another project to add to the list of things to do when The Cat Drags Inn to the big city.
Body Surfing on the Sand Dunes!
That project engendered need of a shower and another round of swopping storeys, not to mention another fine meal on the deck out back. Denali, vegetarian that she is, under Char's tutelage, is turning into a rather competent cook of carnivoral meals. So far, despite sampling my banana bread with "nut meats" and enjoying Char's "mince meat" biscuits—made up with butter brickle ice cream—she is steadfast in not touching nor tasting anything that used to have legs or fins. Now on this Sunday morning we are ready to head south to ABQ. Well, almost ready. Breky first.

Monday, 04 August, 2008, ABQ FJ

Arrived at ABQ Flying-J with fuel to spare Thank You! Good trip down the hill except for an emergency stop to deal with a sudden propane leak. The first stage of the APU regulator failed, probly at the high pressure diaphragm, spilling gas with a screech that sounded like brakes and wheel bearings going out at the same time. Something else to fix...

Thunderstorms in the neighborhood bring rain in the evening to cool the air and take the place of a shower on the walk back from supper at the truckstop restaurant. Last leg today. Grants for shopping and parts, then on to Wind Horse.
At The Amphitheater

Tuesday, 05 August, 2008, Lava Falls, What a Way...

What a Way to end the trip! Monday turned out to be a Three Hundred Dollar Day in Grants New Mexico. Replacing the blown out propane regulator was 67$. Groceries, Diesel, Petrol, Propane, that little spring for the little truck's brake, and a quarter for a gumball for Denali accounted for the rest.

Did I mention our Last Supper? Sunday night we decided to dine out. I guess we could have lived for almost a week for the cost of letting someone else cook and serve overly breaded fish & chips and a thick crust pizza. At least the pizza has stretch'd into breky this morning.

With all that time spent keeping the local businesses in the black the mostly sunny day wore on into a rainy afternoon and Bill reported the gravel road into Wind Horse too much of a slippery hazard to risk negotiating with The Cat Drag'd Inn. Very likely he would end up dragging her out of a ditch. So we stopped at this wide spot in El Malpais National Monument for a second Last Supper. Leftover pizza of course.

El Malpais means "the badlands" and especially hereabouts the lava flows characteristic of this area. However the land is anything but bad; a profusion of life exists when you get close to the ground. And so we did. The short walk around the Lava Falls loop brought us face to face with big fat tiger-striped spiders building their webs across most of the openings into lava tubes and broken bubbles; the twisted trunks of the ponderosa and piñon pines in the pygmy forest mimic the roots of these trees as they work their way through the cracks in the lava below the surface; pink Apache plume and purple vervain flowers show the way between the tall cairns built of lava blocks; spiney cacti remind us we maybe should be wearing boots instead of sandals; in the near distance coyotes howl their evensong and Sara(h) runs for the safety her cat door affords. Denali and I return soaked from a passing rain shower during our walk and near panic ensues when the state patrol cruiser ghost-like coasts through our camp as we are drying; a reminder that despite being so far removed from the main road, in the quiet of this wild-ness, the trappings of "civilisation" are closer than we like.

Tuesday, 05 August, 2008, After the bus was back on the road...

This morning was cool and partly sunny to begin with and we really wanted to get out for another short walk. Yesterday's walk was mostly wet and grey and there were no pictures taken. This morning we just had to go round again if only for the photo-ops. But was it worth the cost is a question that will haunt me for at least the next few hours.
At The Lava Falls, Second Morning.
Our walk was nice. Denali, much more sure-footed than yesterday, jumped over all the cracks which on our first walk had her stymied. Ballsy Girl she is getting to be after our discussion about how she should not use "I'm only a girl" as an argument for not doing risky things. We took some pictures, had a snack, and finally headed out on the road south just as the carpark was beginning to get crowded. In the end, not soon enough.

York Ranch Road is 16 miles long from SR117 south to the Wind Horse access road near Lehew. Where the road crosses the county line from Cibola to Catron the surface quality and maintenance take a serious nose dive. The smooth gravel of Cibola becomes washboard dirt and exposed ledge of Catron. I should point out that the washboard part is a variable. Sometimes the Cibola section is bad and Catron good; it all depends on how recently graded the surface is.

There is also about a thousand foot elevation gain going south, a discontinuous long pull on a steeply crowned narrow dirt road which in some sections, when two vehicles meet, would oblige at least one of them to move aside practically into the ditch. It doesn't take much water before the clay surface becomes as slippery as oil on glass and ominous dark monsoon thunderheads were building to the south. Mornings are usually clear in this monsoon season; afternoons are usually scattered moderate to heavy showers as the thunderstorms on stilts of lightning bolts pass by or overhead.
The Cat Drag'd Inn to the ditch!
Cresting the last washboard hill, barely at walking speed, less than a mile from the gate into Wind Horse, we ran into the rain. With little warning the road surface was slick. In less time than it takes to tell the storey the bus lost steerage; brakes useless, she was sliding down the hill. The little truck went off the crown and drag'd the rear of The Cat Drag’d Inn into the west-side ditch. The starboard amidships grounded on the verge, rear wheels in the drainage, the bus tilted, tilted, tilted. As if in a slow motion objects that normally sit complacently through miles of hills and curves began to fall off shelves and tip over on the floor. Then she stopped. Perched at a precarious angle, crosswise in the road, front end up so high I could later squat under to attach a tow chain, tilted so much that a tea mug would not stay in place in the galley table.

Well, to make a long storey shorter: The first thing I did was to call Bill and let him know that we were not, after all, about to drive in. A hundred feet short of the gate The Cat had Drag'd anchor, grounded on a reef, blocking all other traffic. Then I turned off the fridge; absorption refrigeration does not work well that much off-level and can be damaged if left on. The rain was pouring, lightning crashing; after setting out hazard warnings and unhitching the truck there was little else to do but have a cup of tea.

Perhaps an hour passed before the rain stopped enough for Camilla and Bill to arrive with Tracker and Tractor. In the meantime the postman came through in a small 4WD and in the best spirit of "Neither wind nor rain..." managed to slither past in the east-side drainage. Bill's ten-wheel dump truck which we thought to use to pull out the bus was also mired in its parking place so we had to extricate that first. Every step one took in the clinging mud added half an inch to the sole of your sandal before it crawled up the side and overtop. Eventually, with Tractor and Tracker pulling, the Dump Truck was freed, and eventually after that the bus drag'd out of the ditch. Phew! What a MESS!

I've yet to crawl under and inspect for damage. So far at least all systems seem functional, no fuel or air leaks, the drive train worked to move her off the road and up the drive far enough to close the gate.

What a way to end this Summer Camp! From Tonopah AridZona to Wind Horse—near Lehew—New Mexico, 2,822 miles, not including several side trips in the truck, to get stuck in the mud within a quarter mile of the end.

Thank you all for your help along the Way. Fuel donations, overnight parking, water and electric, good meals and good visits, stamps to send postcards with, and now this tow job to extricate The Cat Drag’d Inn. Thank you. Denali thanks you all. She will be handed off to another relative today; I will be a month or so cleaning up after.

Time to commence thinking about next Summer Camp on The Road.

Wednesday, 06 August, 2008, Epilogue, Wind Horse.

Some statistics: From 1st July to 6th August, 37 days, 2,822 miles, 76 miles per day on average tho mostly we did more like a couple hundred miles and then had a few days off. Tonopah AridZona to Lehew New Mexico via UTah, IDaho, WYoming, South Dakota, and COlorado.
Fuel Prices on the Way.
Fuel for the bus: 359.7 gallons. 7.8 mpg by one calculation, 8.2 mpg by another method. Cost of fuel 1651$, fifty-six cents per mile or 4$59/gallon. (Still to go: One lube/oil/filter service is due.)

Fuel for the little truck: 155$. Propane for the galley: 54$. Groceries: 285$.

Campgrounds: five places for a total of twelve nights: 253$; the rest of the nights we parked at truckstops, rest areas, one fire department, one Sam's Club, the front yards of friends or other wide spots in the road.

Educational activities/admissions: 78$ was recorded but it seems to me there were several other cash expenses. (Laundry was that way also—the quarters for washing and drying go unnoticed until none remain. We must have gone through more than twenty dollars that way.) Mostly we went to "free" museums and all National Parks admissions were covered by my Golden Age Passport.

Total recorded: 2596$. Does not include the handful of twenties I started out with. Now I've got a lot of letters to write. Thank you all again for your support and generosity. This adventure would not have been possible without your help.

Be Well, Do Good, and Please Write.

Love, ajo

front page trailerI 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 © 2007, A.J.Oxton, The Cat Drag'd Inn , Tonopah AridZona 85354-0313.