Travels With Oso con Migo
Odyssey In America
OAE On The Road Again — Summer Sojourn on The Continental Divide
Now, from this perspective...
...a few weeks after my previous letter was posted, it is more amazing
how quickly we--the phone and I--are back to business as usual. The
phone rings, I answer. La-de-da. But the phone company is still screwy.
Between my service provider, Unicel (originally of Maine, now somewhat
expanded into New England and New York--but not yet nation-wide), their
roaming partner, AT&T (whom I've identified by devious means as the
tower locally I'm actually connected to), and the hardware provider,
Motorola (who in itself has two divisions--Marketing &
Support--which, for a company whose business is communications, don't
really communicate well with each other), I am riding quite a carousel.
Memorial Day (Observed...)
Last night was one of those rare occasions I listened to my
premonitions. I went to step out in the dark and thought to /look/ at
my sandals with a light before slipping them on. There, just waiting
for a nibble of my big toe, was a big fat black Latrodectus mactans
with her red hourglass ticking away the seconds.
In all the cold and windy rain in between tornadoes elsewhere we
accumulated 0.03" of "rain" in the gauge over about thirty hours. Not
enough to ever wet the ground. I never observed two drops hit the same
spot, at least not before the first one had evaporated.
Memorable Daze (For Real)
A busy week draws to a close and I want to tell you all about it:
Camilla and Bill have been in quite a rush (by the way, speaking of
rush, have you seen the movie August
Rush? Great storey.) Anyhow, they've been in a great rush to get
out of here. Very hasty over the past week, making all sorts of
marginal decisions but not really mistakes. They had already made one
trip over to Wind Horse. Took over Camilla's camper and the Carry Van;
returned in the Carry Van van a few days later. The second trip was to
take over all the heavy equipment and big toys: Ten-wheel dump truck
and tandem axle trailer loaded with backhoe and ditchwitch. In the
trailer was a fifty-eight foot radio tower consisting of three nested
twenty foot sections, several half-length telephone poles, a 100#
propane bottle, other things too numerous to mention. Bill would drive
that rig. Camilla would drive the big camper--Aguila--towing the 4WD
The day before they were to depart, Monday I think it was, Bill and I
were looking at something on the ground, sorting RF adaptors for cable
extensions when I looked under Aguila for one that rolled away. Staring
back at me was a gaping hole in the tread of the right front tyre.
Closer inspection revealed that a portion of the tread over about a
foot of circumference was broken away and you could see the steel belts
of the underlayment. That meant that both front tyres had to be
replaced. On the trailer, whilst we were loading it, a chronic flat
tyre begged replacement as well as another with tread issues. Four
tyres and they weren't on the road yet.
Reloading the trailer after the tyres were replaced went along ok for a
while. It was like putting together a jigsaw puzzle with pieces that
kept changing shape. Trying to get the tractor and the ditchwitch on
there at the same time with no parts hanging out over the side and the
loading ramps folded up took several tries. The hardest part is that
the ditchwitch has no brakes. One of those penny-wise-pound-foolish
decisions a few months ago was to remove the brake assembly rather than
properly replace it. I'd "fixed" it several times but the parts were
just too worn and Bill decided he didn't want the expense of "repair".
So of course once the machine was rolling down the loading ramps there
was no stopping it. WHAM! right into the corner of the house. Twice
that happened before he finally came up with the idea of moving the
trailer further away to afford more roll-out.
Finally after several tries we had to realise that the loading ramps
were not going to fold up all the way with the witch in the way. The
ramps would have to be lashed up agains the witch's plow, standing near
vertical instead of laying flat. That decision meant that the taillight
assemblies had to be relocated--another delay.
The tower was originally scheduled to go on the trailer by sliding it
up under the tractor and the witch but the angles and the wheels were
all in the way so it would have to go in the truck loaded heavy end
forward, top end hanging out over the "tailgate" if that's what you
call that part of a dump body that opens from the bottom. Neither one
of us noticed that the top end of the tower was sticking out too close
to the muffler sticking up from the top of the tractor.
Phew! It was really a struggle to get them off campus by tuesday
evening. Dark when they finally pulled away. And not more than an hour
or two later when we heard on the radio that the tower had knocked the
muffler off the tractor. Oh well.
I don't know how far they drove that night in this madcap haste to get
to Pie Town but by wenzday morning they were in Show Low unloading the
trailer in a WallyWorld carpark in order to replace a blown trailer
tyre and fix a broken spring. That all cost another day of patchwork
repair and reloading. Not to mention a few more dollars for tyres. Bill
finally said that the tyres he bought for the trailer before
leaving here were not new after all. They wrote from Wind Horse friday
that they had arrived thursday night. All well after quite an adventure.
In the meantime I had a busy wenzday at the Food Bank where I volunteer
four hours a week to evaluate and sometimes fix donated appliances and
help sweep floors. Lots of other tasks as well. Fun place watching and
helping as the indigent and elderly, the canaille of community come to
receive boxes of food donated by the big markets of the area.
Besides the usual castoff sound systems and ugly lamps to clean and
evaluate this time there was a crisis to control. The kitchen coffee
maker plotz'd perking the first pot of the day. Oh Horror! Quick
inspection indicated that one of the thermal fuses associated with the
water heater had blown. I'm not sure why. Lots of conflicting evidence.
Needless to say there were no fuses in stock, no other coffee makers
that day I might have salvaged one from. So I twisted the wires
together and let it go with a warning. DO NOT
leave the machine unattended. We'll see if I have a place to work by
next wenzday when I will bring a new fuse to effect a proper repair.
Then there is my neighbor Michael. He's had an on-going problem with
several skin cancers on his head. One was removed last year that
required several trips to more than one surgeon. One does the cutting
out, another does the sewing up. That last excavation required a
skingraft the size of a playing card from his thigh to cover the hole
on the top of his scalp. I think an Apache would have done a better job
of it all.
This time around another cancer erupted right next to the previous. But
they said it was a different kind and so a different cancer and not a
remnent of the earlier. I think this is about the fourth but who's
counting anymore. He's also had two lymph nodes removed and is only a
short step from kidney failure. Each operation requires a hundred mile
round trip in to Phoenix. Sometimes the doctors will do the cutting and
the sewing both on one day. Other times they insist on two visits a day
or so apart. This was one of those latter situations. Both trips this
week required a "responsible adult" to pick him up after the
out-patient surgery; being the "responsible adult" I am I have
lots of time to shop around and read and knit.
Today the forecast temperature is 102f. Got to get outside and play
before it is too hot to handle the parts.
June Is Bustin' Out All Over
Summer Camp on The Road is about to get rolling. So far I have amassed
sufficient contributions to pay for the fuel to get there. Now I have
to find enough to return here. Do you know of any loose grant monies
laying around? I have one camper signed up to make the tour with me so
I am also looking for one or two other kids with a sense of wonder and
a craving for adventure who would like to travel with this Summer Camp
on The Road, this gallivant to Yellowstone National Park. See 2007 Summer Camp
on The Road for some idea of what this what might be like.
A sloth of bears sometimes scarfs a
Just Googling for: What is a group of bears called? And the answers
came rolling in: "A 'sloth' or a 'sleuth'." See for
Lists of groups of animals.
of The Cat Drag'd Inn during this Summer Camp on The Road: See
Findu.com for the latest position report and for the track history.
Summer Solstice Yet
Helen and Robert Abbott have a lot at The Ranch in Lakewood NM and a
home in Evergreen COlorado. He first wrote last week to express his
enjoyment of something I plagerised for one of the ham radio
newsletters. Apparently we worked a cube or so apart at the same time
in more than one Antarctic station. He asked questions of now that were
best answered by pointing him towards the letters on my Cat Drag'd Inn
site and his comments: "I'm enjoying the heck out of "The Cat Drag'd
Inn". These would make a good book." Any publishers out there?
Met/found a new acquaintance. Judy Shaw, a member of the Friends of Saddle Mountain, hosted
the recent meeting of FoSM at her home down the road a piece toward
Buckeye. She has been living on the property for 38 years, planted all
the tall pines and other immense trees that presently take about four
hours a day of irrigation. Lush vegetation everywhere. And pottery of
all sorts laying about. Broken pieces of huge pots, rows of mugs,
shaped and colourful pieces that can be described only as art decorate
the grounds. Interesting Human. Likes turtles.
Temperatures hereabouts have been hot enough to fire pottery without
need of a kiln it seems. 111f most of yesterday, perhaps higher when I
was not watching. It seems the latest pasttime here is to sit under the
a/c and watch the temperature rise so's to catch the high. Beats
watching the paint dry on the side of the LaST building which has also
been keeping me out of mischief so far. I'm getting up at 03h30-04h30
in order to be out with brush in hand at the crack of twilight. I can
get in a couple of hours slathering stain before the sun comes over the
bamboo wall and renders further work moot. The paint, tho it claims to
be an oil stain, has components of latex and cleans up with water;
sweat dripping into the can tends to thin it and cause streaking.
Bill writes from Wind Horse a list of tribulations: The muffler fell
off the dumptruck, tractor needs service, ditch witch won't move; he
concludes by saying: Wish you were here. I wish I were anywhere but
here; it is time to hit the road. There is a rat in the bellybox and I
have recently read that if a cat eats a poisoned rodent then the cat
too becomes poisoned. Denali flies in on 28th June. I hope to be
northbound shortly thereafter.
Summer Solstice Brings Summer Cold
How can there be cold in all this heat? The past week has been over
100f every day; I've observed 116f. Nights rarely have gone below 80f.
But with all that I have a cold; at least I hope it is a cold. Living
out here in the sticks is not unlike Antarctica in the respect that one
rarely comes in contact with a germ, I'm out of practice; I've not been
sick with a sore throat for so long that my lozenges have an expiry
date of 06/06.
Who recommended Bach's Mass in
B-Minor? Thank you! Great stuff. I don't know how those kids
could sit still so long without having to pee or fidget. I don't
believe I heard one single cough from the audience in the entire 113
My share of the sop to take our minds off all the war spending came in.
Good idea! I'm going off to the nearest tyre store to stimulate the
economy. Been about five years since the little truck had new sneakers.
The old ones are wearing thin.
I'm recovering nicely, albeit too slow for my happiness, from a nasty
48 hour fever/flu/cold. It was like falling off a ladder. I've been on
a step-ladder painting the LaST building earlier and on wenzday last, a
week ago that is, when I returned from the food bank my head felt like
it was still atop the wobbly ladder. The next morning, thursday I never
really got much beyond crawling out of bed before I was napping on the
floor. By afternoon my temperature was 102f and I was bathing my
forehead with ice water and considering the ramifications of calling
for serious help. Mike kept the ice bucket full. Both a/c's ran all
night and I slept in a pool of sweat. Saturday I felt much better.
There is still some lingering congestion and sinus draining. Dry cough.
Nasty bug. Upon reflection I think I should contract with a cold at
least once a year just to stay in shape. My throat lozenge supply has a
06/06 expiration date and the Robitussin on the shelf was as thick as
maple syrup from lack of use. Now I have a lot of catch up to do to get
the bus ready for Ms.Denali's arrival on Sunday.
Field Day - 2Pi Day -
Me too! Moving confidently from one crisis to the next. Yesterday at
almost-too-late o'clock Denali's primary pickup person called to say
she would be unable after all to meet the kid's flight late this
afternoon. That set off a mad scramble to find a substitute. Then with
the big annual Ham Radio Field Day test getting organised one after
another equipment issues surface as we dust off unused programmes--or
can't find them at all. And, just to complicate matters, being 2Pi Day,
I have started the
morning off in good style by overheating my galley with a 425f oven
baking a Rhubarb-Raisin Pie.
Down on the ground, one of Camilla's transplanted mints is still having
a problem getting settled in its new digs. Something is eating at the
roots of several plants and we have put several tubs full of water into
the ground down these little tunnels. Amazing that water from the fire
hose wide open just disappears down the hole. Several hundred gallons.
There must be a whole city of streets and alleys under there.
Thursday, 07 August, 2008, Lehew New
Ok. I'm at Wind Horse now. After getting stuck twice. Summer Camp is
over. This time of year is not the best time to be moving a heavy bus
along these roads. The surface is far too soft and slick from all the
monsoon rain. Denali has been relocated to her next caretaker. Ms.La
Gata seems to actually be looking for her. Running up and down sniffing
in all the places the kid used to occupy. I'm busy cleaning up after.
And catching up with mail.
Monday, 11 August, 2008
More of the same. Seems quite a let-down to not have some big and
exciting activity or destination to write about. Mundane things,
important but ordinary, have been keeping me busy. The main task for
yesterday was that of moving the water line from last year's campsite
to this location, connecting same to the bus, and fixing the inevitable
Typical morning temperatures here at 7,500'MSL on the Continential
Divide are 50-55f these days. 70-80f seems to be the rule by afternoon,
with towering cumulus developing into scattered thumpers. Sara(h) does
not like the thunder; she can sense it or hear it from afar and will
slink across the deck, ears back, tail down, to hide in one of her
several "safe holes".
It is I, not Sara(h), who is now
near the end of my string. All sorts
of problems. Getting closer to the edge. But not too concerned, at
least that's what I keep telling my Self. It doesn't really matter
anyhow, anymore. Where does that leave me? I used to believe I was of
the former set. Now I want to be in the latter but the nobility won't
leave me be. Last night I finished Catcher
In The Rye. Some parts I remember from when I don't know;
perhaps only discussions or exerpts. I doubt I've read it all before
this time. One quote stands out: "The mark of the immature man is that
he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is
that he wants to live humbly for one." The quote is attributed to one
Wilhelm Stekel, a medical doctor and psychologist...Austrian. Now
rereading Does It Matter by
Alan Watts and Awakening The Buddha
Within by Lama Surya Das. Both good depression medicine.
4th September the coldest morning so far. 39f on my shaded under the
bus thermometer at dawn, 41f on the side skin thermometer. Precip from
yesterday's raining puddles afternoon/evening: 0.30. Nice rattlesnake
in the road.
2008sep13, Pie Town Pie Festival
caught the rat in my aft bellybox yesterday morning. Caught her
once a few days ago in one of the neck-breaker rat traps but she is so
big she was able to wriggle out of it; probly got her around the skull
instead of her neck. This time I used a live-trap. Big rat! Measuring
from the photos she is six inches from nose-tip to tail-root. I've
relocated her a few miles away to Tres Lagunas.
The Pie Festival was bigger than last year. On thursday last I helped
again to roll out a couple hundred pie crusts. The festival on the town
common is almost like a fair with all the vendors and animals. This
year I made a rhubarb pie but did not enter the competition: I want the
whole thing for my self. And I don't want to have to buy back my pie
dish as I did last year. Met some new folks to add to my dinner list,
had some interesting conversations.
Today is sunday. The coldest morning so far: 35f at dawn on the
outside, 48f on the inside; time to start the furnace. Time to adjourn
to Tonopah pretty soon.
Wednesday, 17 September, 2008
I'm not sure if it is a matter of unadmitted boredom or some sort of
escape mechanism at work but of late I have been watching one old movie
after another. Also been rereading many of my old storeys. (Interesting
how dated some of them already are.) I should be doing some vehicle and
computer maintenance to prepare for departure but I'm having a hard
time getting motivated to that end. As my self-imposed deadline
approaches life will get more frenetic. And now there are all these new
movies... Friend Dick is supposed to be sending several movies for me
to watch/copy as well. He has hundreds of which I have not been able to
find on NetFlix.
Phew! I'd better get my act together if I am going to get anywhere
before Winter sets in here. Regarding my outside sun-shower: I can tell
when I have been too long in one place: There is grass growing in the
Zeitgeist Movie Links
links for Zeitgeist for streaming the full movie: http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com/
Want to download the Mpeg4 AVI and burn your own DVD there is a link
Zeitgeist is releasing an "Addendum" video on October 3rd.
Met a guy riding by on the York Ranch Road out here. Yesterday was his
53rd day from starting on the Continental Divide Trail at the Canadian
border. He figures he has about a week to go to the Mexican border. His
bike weighed about 60 pounds loaded. Best of all: He appeared to be at
least my age, quite an inspiration.
Some news good and some not so good here. I've wrenched my back a
couple of times in the past few days. Once was... what, two weeks ago
already? And it has just been feeling good when I did it again this
morning in a different place. Gonna end up in an assisted living
campground if I keep this up. Not a good thing.
Equinox Yet? Monsoon Over Yet?
I notice from one package that arrived the other day that the postal
"service" has finally caught on to the people who are taking the "free"
USPS Priority Mail box mailers and turning them inside out for parcel
post or media mail use. Clearly yet another a federal crime I am sure.
boxes are printed "Priority Mail" on the inside. Bah! Foiled again.
The hummingbirds have left Wind Horse, migrating to warmer climes no
doubt. Time for me to get on the road too.
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
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Copyright © 2007, A.J.Oxton, The
Cat Drag'd Inn , Tonopah AridZona 85354-0313.