Travels With Oso con Migo
Odyssey In America
OAE On The Road Again — A Letter From TeXas
Happy Mother's Day!
On the road finally. Not more than about 70 miles this first day and
then a stop to fix up all the little things I've forgotten after too
long sitting still. At least this time I remembered to put away the
sugar bowl. But I forgot the hacksaw. The
Cat Drag'd Inn has been parked too
long and there are things not working all over the place. But the only
way I can find them is to drive.
Stayed over two nights at Wild Horse Casino visiting other kindred
souls. Fixed a few things there and went shopping for bifocal safety
glasses and a replacement hacksaw--buying a new one is less cost, and
faster, than having the old sent ahead in the mail. Now in Globe
waiting for the NAPA to open in the morning so I can get parts for the
air dryer. Waiting on that and one of the Ham radios gave up the ghost.
Started up computer to look for advice and the monitor stopped working.
Actually it went intermittent just as I found a WiFI hot spot. That was
an easy one, the AC cord plug was falling out of its socket. I have
three of the same kind of radio and all of them have something wrong.
I'm robbing parts from one to keep another going.
Hot day climbing hills. Didn't help that the compressor was working
overtime cos the air dryer was malfunctioning. Hard to say what's
worse--like clothes: parts wear out from use or they dry out and rot
from lack of use. Where is the middle ground? At least the temperature
is a little cooler here. 95f this afternoon instead of 105f like in the
city. Down to 76f now this evening.
Second Day--Changing Times
Last night was well spent parked in front of the Globe NAPA. Nice
bright flat carpark, no hassles. Got the check valve functional by
installing an old previously used one but no spare yet other than the
stuck one I removed from the system. Maybe I can clean up this stuck
one and save it for next time.
I'm at the Lordsburg NM Flying-J now. Already fading for a lack of
solar insolation; I suppose that is just another one of the downsides
to this business of travelling in a clothes minded world. Bumpy ride
over U.S.70 between the AZ/NM border and Lordsburg. 95f with a little
One thing about eastbound travel; whenever one crosses a time zone
boundary G&T time comes an hour earlier. And the alarum cat goes
off an hour earlier too.
Stopped at Bylas rest area some miles back to leave off a bag o' trash.
One good turn deserves another and on the walk to the dumpster I
managed to pick up enough trash to fill another bag.
This Flying-J was opened only two years ago, the carpark is large,
mostly flat, and clean, with seven RV slips and lots of room for
manoeuvring. Located at i10x24.
Today I stayed at home and polished silver. I also did some other house
cleaning but the silver was the big job. There are sixty-six pieces
plus six napkin rings and that two part oval dish and cover that I
found in a yard sale last time I was in Center Conway. The yard of
special silver cloth Camilla gave was sufficient to make a fitted
insert for my silverware tray and three small sacks for napkin rings,
the dish and cover, and the place setting I carry in my pack with the
chopsticks. Neat stuff that cloth. Some left over too. The silver
really looks nice against that cloth. Next job will be to polish Sammy
Oh! I just remembered. I'll have to get the polish out again. I forgot
my silver hawk and turtle pins.
What is the name of the spaces defined by the partitions in the
silverware tray? R.S.V.P.
Deming, New Mexico
Five days and 370 miles since the beginning of this odyssey. Pretty
good for me. i10 from Lordsburg to Deming is in the best condition of
any part of this highway that I can remember. Smooth and quiet except
for a few lumpy bridges. Tail wind all the way. Now on the east side of
the Continental Divide, 4,000'MSL; I'd like to think the road was down
hill all the way to the east coast but I know that will not be the
case. Mostly perhaps; but next week The Cat will have to struggle up a
big hill in TeXas to get to Pine Spring Campground and Guadalupe, the
TeXas High Point.
For now I'm waiting here; the weather is nice, low 90s. The part for
the air dryer has to come from Denverdenver Land and Mike is forwarding
mail from Tonopah; I think I'll look for some New Mexico Merlot at the
winery down the street and exercise my hundred dollar passport with a
visit to The Pink Store south of the border in Palomas.
It had to happen sooner or later that someone I knew first hand would
get killed in this stupid "war" of greed and culture. One of the five
killed by that soldier who went Berserk
in Baghdad was Dr Matthew
Houseal with whom I worked at Palmer Station. Google "Matthew
Houseal Bagdad" and see the storey of the soldier who went berserker at
a psych clinic at "Liberty". I worked with Dr Matt Houseal at Palmer
Station during one of my several tours there. His family, and Matt's
funeral, will be in Amarillo, only about 500 miles thataway, so
there looks to be a slight detour in my route between Deming and Pecos.
Other than that sad news Deming would be a nice place to stay for a few
more days. I'll skip again getting my teeth cleaned in Palomas and
shopping at The Pink Store
there where they make one hell of a Margarita. As soon as the part on
order, and prepaid, for the air dryer arrives at the NAPA store The Cat
will Drag out of here for Amarillo.
2009v17 Deming New Mexico
So here I am, at the start of a second getting ready to depart Deming.
I'm loosing track of days already. Was it two ago I tried to do this?
Got almost all the way out to the street and stopped to suck up a bit
of connectivity from the La Quinta next door--those words look
familiar; I may have written this once already, at least thought about
it--and one last check of new mail and Fred had written to tell me that
the service was postponed. Twice already it had been postponed as the
dear was late in arriving home.
So I returned to my #12 slip and reconnected to power and cranked up my
telly antenna and went back to the day room where someone had started a
jigsaw puzzle on a table too small. I think that was friday. Saturday I
set out to not go to The Pink Store and instead spent some hours with
rag and polish making Sammy The Samovar all bright and shiny. Then just
in the nick of time remembering that I should drive up town to check
for mail from Mike. Bills and letters.
G&T time and more puzzling at the clubhouse; there went saturday.
For a while I thought we might get a thunderstorm, there was one
lurking to the north and the humidity went up enough to make some of my
cupboards' doors sticky but aside from being windy--max'd out at 36 on
my gust-o-meter--there was no weather to write of here.
Here we are at Sunday dawn; time to hitch up and head out.
Tucumcari on Monday Morning
Stopping for breky and mail. Rough road over parts of the past few
hundred miles. Long section of i40 being resurfaced; the lanes are
narrow, edges close. No cell service since last night sometime back at
Vaughn New Mexico; seems to me that along this i40 corridor should be
one of those "more bars in more places". I'll have to check the
coverage map again.
Last night, just at sunset, U.S.54 northbound from Las Cruces to
Vaughn--I was trying to make it all the way here when I ran out of
day--the road became infested with deer just about when I was getting
tired. Seemed like a good idea to look for a wide spot and then there
was one already populated by another RV and several trucks. Sara(h)
liked the place too, there was some dirt to play in and track inside.
During the last hour or so on the road as the shadows lengthened the
temperature dropped, 85f to 65f when The...Inn drag'd into her stopping
spot. Looks like a good time to close all the windows and add a blanket
to my bed. By morning the temperature in the yard was down to 46f.
Along i10mm136, just west of Las Cruces, in
the rest area there, look for a neat sculpture
of a road runner made of found junk, recycled shoes, computer
cast-offs, and about fifty feet from beak to tail. See the links
for the rest of the storey.
Dr.Matt Houseal's Funeral
Quite a funeral I just came from in Canyon TeXas. Fifty motorcycle VFW
honour guard, eleven motorcycle guard of Canyon police, 21 gun salute
by the U.S.Army, bagpiper and bugler. The motorcade from church to
cemetery must have been at least a mile long with traffic stopped all
along the way. Many folks out of their cars saluting as we passed.
The service commenced with the tolling of a replica Liberty Bell
mounted on a flatbed trailer. Saint Ann's Catholic Church was near full
with celebrants, many in uniform. Matt's siblings and children gathered
from as far away as Beijing where one of his daughters teaches English.
"The family suggests memorials be to a benefit fund established for
Dr.Houseal's minor children, in care of Amarillo National Bank, 410
S.Taylor St., Amarillo TX 79101." is printed on the Memorium Card.
At Llano East Cemetary, the gravesite, directly beneath the flight path
of Tradewind Airport, was chosen to honour Matt's love of flying. A
warm breeze kept flags snapping as family, friends, and honour guards
assembled for a last service under clear skies. The casket flag was
folded and presented to his wife and children and a reception line of
hugs and handshakes brought the proceedings to a close.
Now I am writing from Lubbock, on my way south to sort of pick up where
I left off.
Going to Saint Ann's for this funeral was quite interesting to say the
least. I realise several things: I have not been to a Catholic church
in many years and lots of things about the service were different to
what I remember. This was almost like the Congregational services I
recall with all the singing of hymns. And some of the songs in the
hymnal are right out of the last time I ran Scouts Own at
I also realise I have yet to fully come to terms with the death of my
father. I was in Antarctica then, at Palmer my first or second time
(1989), and of course I could not get to that funeral but I've never
even been to his grave.
For what it was worth this was an easy funeral to get to. I was in the
neighborhood so to speak. But it already saddens me that I am in no
position to attend all the rest of the funerals that I just know are
lining up to demand my time and attendance. And in addition to that,
one of the other people here, in thinking about how far one must travel
and how much notice to give, wondered how he would find out if I died
and where and when. I need to make a list of contacts to be able to
notify everyone. But then, as I told this guy, if I make such a list
and he receives a call as a result thereof, then he damn-well better
show up for the party.
This was a trying time. I feel especially sorry for all the kids who
have lost a father and an uncle.
Sometimes it--this so called "war"--is a hard subject to discuss,
especially when close to home, with friends, and "next of kin" but from
a detached point of view this affair is not a War; war must be
declared, not eased into. War must be declared, collectively, only by
Congress, not unilaterally by any president. So I object to the use of
the word "war" to describe this affair--same was true of Korea and Viet
Nam--and I feel that anyone who goes there does so as a volunteer, an
employee, just as if they were working for pay and benefits at any
other company. All the people who die on America's highways should get
as much coverage as those who die from meddling in the affairs of a
foreign country. America has no business over there. The whole thing is
about profit and greed and ego and jihad.
One of the talking heads on the telly a few days ago was wailing about
the stress under which this all volunteer army operates with there
being insufficient personnel to cover all the bases, give everyone a
chance at rotation, and blah-blah-blah. That sort of comment moves the
discussion one tiny step closer to reinstating the draft and that draft
is the only thing that is different between now and Viet Nam. I think
the military knows full well it will have the Second American
Revolution on its hands if there is a return to the draft.
So while I feel very sorry for Matt's children and his wife, and I
would feel that way if he had been killed in an auto accident commuting
to work, I cannot get caught up in the pathos of the hero coming home
on his shield. In some respects I would like to see the draft return
just to see if conscription would put an end to this foolishness. But
then again, there's nothing like a good war to stimulate the
Abilene, Abilene, ...
I must be in TeXas; I saw a dead armadillo on the road to here this
and hundreds of giant windmills. Wind farms of
windmills between Lubbock and Abilene.
Rain in Waco
Many miles from Abilene to Waco. One or two rest areas, leave off some
mail in a post office so small there was only one letterbox and no
carpark, and a stop on a nice clean paved slab to change the air dryer
check valve again. And then after a nice shower at the Waco Flying-J I
set out for Livingston only to turn right around and come back. The
odo/speedometer is not working. Spent the afternoon building a
workaround using a handheld GPS to record accumulated miles. The
navigating GPS already provides road speed so between the two I should
manage to get to home port garage for repairs. But now the day is lost,
past time for supper, so I'll end up staying here for the night.
Sunday Morning Comin' Down
A bit of a thumper here at the Waco Flying-J last night, some light
showers, nothing wicked, enough to get Sara(h) to hide under the bed.
Now there is broken Ac and Sc, looks clear above that. Local Ham radio
repeater in/near Waco is retransmitting NASA Select Audio of the
Shuttle mission reentry and we are all gearing up for a possible
sighting of the craft burning a hole through the air on her way to
landing at KSC in FLorida.
Back roads bonanza, 42 geocaches in 205 miles, Waco to Livingston! What
will they think of next? I always wondered what Service Roads were all
about. But there is not much room for parking The Cat Drag'd Inn along a service
road between the yellow line to port and the wild flowers to starboard.
The shuttle ended this mission by landing at Edwards and Waco had
cloudy skies; on the road late morning with a GPS counting the miles. I
found nine caches in 130 miles before running out of day at a nice new
rest area along i45 north of Huntsville. The last cache of this day is
along a nature trail around a pond within the rest area; this place
could be a destination in and of itself. Signs indicate they are
supposed to have wifi here but I think it does not reach all the way to
the far back of the carpark; Ms La Gata at least appreciates the wild
flowered verge here and perhaps in the morning The Cat will be Drag'd
Inn closer to sniff out the wifi.
Caching Inn Along the Way
Huntsville Guardian. There is a storey to tell here. In chapters
perhaps. Firstly, this town should be renamed "Hillsville"; there
is not hardly a flat spot anywhere long enough to park a bus. Good
exercise walking around to all the caches anyhow. I did find a flat
spot in the carpark on the far side beyond the smoothie place and GPS'd
over to the Guardian. Interesting sculpture says I to my Self setting
down my GPS and forgetting all about the cache, the pose reminds me of
of Marathon of which I have a copy. I'll have to take a picture of
Returning with camera in hand moments later I found there were
several locations where the photographer could stand to include
himself in the picture. After several snaps I returned to the bus and
relocated up the street to the only other flat spot in town--which
didn't have any No Parking signs--at Mr. Happy's cache. Some more
minutes passed whilst I shuffled papers, downed some Gatorade, and
looked for my GPS in all that mess, before it dawned on me what you
have no doubt already deduced. ...and they tell me it gets worse when
we're older--I can hardly wait...
Needless to say I worked a hasty retreat to library lane and not caring
much about blocking traffic just parked in the street. My GPS was
still there, guarded by the Guardian and the angel between his
feet. Phew! Thanks to the Guardian! And thanks to the angels.
Now, as I write this, looking at the pictures and thinking further,
there is something to be said for the possibility that the Huntsville
Guardian might be a representation of Saint Christopher carrying the
child on his shoulder.
"As long as one carries a child on his shoulder he travels under the
mantel of innocence." --The
Patrick's Ferry I found more trash than cache. My log entry: Man! Talk
about trash! I picked up some but it got to be a bit overwhelming. What
is it about some people that they can carry all this junk in with them
but cannot seem to take the rubbish home? Anyhow, thanks for the cache
and the opportunity to stop and be disgusted.
Then it occurred to me, just as I was about to sing the praises of the
TeXas Highway Department: The real reason why they have all these
beautiful wildflowers growing on the verges of many of their byways...
It's NOT really to beautify the roads. That effect is what some folks
might call collateral damage. The real reason is not to save fuel for
mowers. Nor the mower machines nor the people who are out of a job for
not mowing. The REAL reason TeXas plants flowers along its highways is
to HIDE THE TRASH!
So, in order to give the flowers more purpose, so they will feel useful
going about their appointed task, I will no longer pick up the rubbish
along TeXas highways. I might even have to do my part to add to the
A Week Living at Livingston
Rainbow's End Residence Vehicle Park is the headquarters of the
Escapees RV Club and the home of the only assisted living campground.
Nice flat grassy camping, good place to set for a spell and fix a few
things. Went for a walk in the Big Sandy and along the road there
was such a pile of garbage one was obliged to veer around it. Oh Well.
Let me profile this as I collect the detritus of a TeXas family for
family it is. Disposable diapers, at least a week’s worth; an empty
tube of Crest; more than a case of Corona and several bottles of cheap
wine; a dozen Ramen noodle wrappers; one little kid’s sneaker; assorted
wrappers and containers for various prepared meals, soft drinks,
bottled water. Three 13 gallon garbage bags I filled. I wonder if the
baby is a boy or a girl. I wonder if the parent buys Crest cos of the
price or the adverts or if their parent was one of those “Crest
Kids” as I was back in grammar school. Then there is the one
sneaker—where is the other one? Does this kid have only one foot? The
Corona tells me the beer drinker has at least a bit of good taste but
that is offset by the cheap wine. But in all this mess I did not find
an envelope with a name and address on it so I’ll never know for sure.
Be Well, Do Good, Send Money, 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 © 2009, A.J.Oxton, The
Cat Drag'd Inn , Tonopah AridZona 85354-0313.