Travels With Oso con Migo

Odyssey In America

OAE On The Road Again — ennui-ui-ui-ui-ui all the way home?

Nude Sunbathers Ahead

Greetings Virtual Travellers:

Scott's Last Expedition To Be Commemorated

A Basket of TacoCatI've been to that Cape Evans Hut, seen that box. Standing there, looking at all that stuff, is quite moving. But more so after the fact, inside a nice warm galley with a mug of hot tea, than whilst one is shivering in the cold and wind. One has to wonder how they managed even to get that far. I suppose somehow that drive, that "pluck" as some call the trait (gutsiness: the trait of showing courage and determination in spite of possible loss or injury), ignorance might be another word, all that might explain how I go on with some of the projects hereaboutss in the face of such adversity.

Anyhow... I used to have a first edition (in two volumes) of Scott's Last Expedition, his journal, and an early edition of Cherry-Garrard's book The Worst Journey in the World which was sort of a counterpoint book written by the man Scott left in carge back at Cape Evans and who led the rescue expedition. 

Hard to imagine doing some of the work of the past few days here in this nice warm desert under those conditions. In those early days when one's dogs broke down you shot them and fed them to the remaining teams. Part of why Scott lost the race--and he knew aforehand he was racing against Amundsen--was because ponies are vegetarians.

How do you wash your bricks? This is the way we wash our bricks, wash our bricks, wash our bricks; this is the way...

ennui-ui-ui-ui-ui all the way home

But where is home. I thought I knew that home was where I park it, now I am less sure of that.

Perhaps that is why I spend so much time driving in circles? About to hit the road here. Feeling quite useless and sorry both for my Self and for others that I will be spending all this fuel/money to travel, alone again, naturally.
Palm Canyon near Mile99
Go--not knowing where
Go--not knowing where;
Bring--not knowing what;
The path is long,
The way unknown;
The hero knows not how to arrive there by himself.
                     --Russian Fairy Tale

Finally The Cat Drag'd Out of La Casa Blanca on saturday last (2011iv9). Headed east just for a short day to visit Sue and Tom at Lone Butte over the weekend. I don't see where is the Butte that stands alone.

Starting in the rain and driving out of the rain and then in again; half an inch of rain in some places along the way and green is the colour of the day. This section of the Lone Butte carpark is posted for big trucks and Residence Vehicles; there are at least ten of the latter berthed, and a few trucks, hereabouts.

Presently I am reading Running With Scissors; when I get around to writing my book I think I might use the title Driving With Scissors.

A Little Shakedown Cruise

Managed to sideswipe something and broke off the left side lollypop from truck tailgate. Bumpy road somewhere broke the mantle in the galley gas light--first time I've ever had a mantle break.

Also had interesting GPS signal loss in the same place coming in and going out. Actually, in two places, both the same. And now just reading about some new FCC frequency assignments for high powered WiFi Rural Service that GPS users fear will have precisely that effect on held devices.

Along the way, where Vulture Mine Road meets us93, diesel was posted at 4$59! Man that hurts.

Looking at leaving monday now.

TxTing is mutually assured distraction


People with a portable data device in each hand and a callous on each thumb. That group of people with a lot of connectivity; the wired
set. One who believes F2F is an anachronism; passé.

"...he was casting sidelong glances at his iPhone while we talked.
I’m not even sure he knew he was doing it. It’s not just conferences
full of inforati where this happens. In places all over America
(theaters, sports arenas, apartments), people gather in groups only
to disperse into lone pursuits between themselves and their phones."
--DAVID CARR, New York Times, April 15, 2011

On The Road Again, Finally

Never, at the beginning of a trip, have I felt this way before. And, for that matter, I am not so sure I know just how to describe "this way". Not fear nor anxiety so much as dread and frustration. Usually I welcome the opportunity for adventure; the unknown is not really unknown after studying maps and making arrangements; the trip becomes the accomplishment of a goal, the fulfillment of a plan. This time, after long and thoughtful study and planning, I am at a loss; I am travelling because I don't know what else to do. I want desperately to be in all these other places but for the first time I dread the going. Would I be better off spending all this fuel money on rent for place and electric for two air conditioners and just sitting still for the Summer?

So! Here we are at Mile99, me and TacoCat. Only 82 miles from Tonopah, parked right where The Cat was Drag'd Inn during January Quartzfest. Now the place is nearly empty. So far away and far apart I can just discern, beyond the trees and cacti only one at a time, five rigs are scattered about. I will sit here in the quiet for a day or so and think and write.

What can I write about frustration without being frustrated over my lack of words or my lack of resolve to use such words as might help unload my burden. What difference will writing those words really make other than to alienate? Does it matter? Does it really matter? This "matter" I think is what I must set aside.

Sitting In The Counting House Enumerating Pennies (20 April)

Tim and his Suburu at Mile99Yesterday was a nice little walkabout day. Went off to refind two nearby geocaches--one was there, the other missing--and along my way met Tim who lives in a small hatchback from ORegon presently parked half a mile west of me. His little car is packed to the gunwales with stuff. On the right front corner he has a small windmill, on the roof three PV panels = 135watts, a cluster of weather instruments, and a television antenna pointed northeast. Three computers but no ham radio, no fridge, no email, no cellphone. I never thought to ask what he does for a potty. A minimalist to be sure.

Now that I have had some time to think: Diesel is over four dollars a gallon so my worst case calculations use five; The...Inn averages 7.5 miles per gallon so figure seven; five dollars for seven miles comes out to $0.71/mile. Budgeting $500 a month for fuel means 700 miles/month; let's call that 200 miles/week. So, at this rate, I can drive a day and sit a week. Plus or minus, give or take, the 1300 miles of the first leg of this journey will take six weeks. There are some other expenses to consider. I won't be spending 50-70 dollars a month on electric but I may be spending more on propane--more for refridgeration/less for heating. I'll be spending less on comestibles as I try to live off the several cases of tinned foods from the foodbank. Perhaps I'll be able to drive a little more.

Tucked away in various nooks are stashes of coin and small bills: 68$ in wallet, 90$ in boozebox, 6$ in mailbag, 5$ in tipjar, 92$ in rolled coin, 100$ in postage stamps, 10$ in laundryquarters, 650$ in lapdesk reserve (which includes two $100 Traveller Cheques leftover from my first tour to McMurdo. They are the reserve-reserve). There is $1400 in checking at this time and as long as SSI lasts an income of a thousand a month. If I cut way back on sending postcards and encourage Sara(h) La Gata to catch more mice we just might make ends meet.

Happy Saint George's Day

April 23rd is the Feast Day of Saint George. Take a dragon to lunch.

                 |  @___oo
       /\  /\   / (__,,,,|   * * * *  Gardyloo  
  /\  ) /^\) ^\/ _)
 <  > )   /^\/   _)
  ||  )   _ /  / _)
  | \ )/\/ ||  | )_)              Celebrate Saint George's Day
   \_____  |(,,) )__)                      23rd April
          /    \)___)\
      ___(      )___) )___
         _(_______;;; __;;;

Finally really moving tho not all that far yet. Have to get connected and fueled. Diesel is 4$26 a gallon in Ehrenberg and that includes a six cent a gallon penalty for using credit card.

Departed Mile99 this morning. Only two hams left in Quartzsite now; Elmer is turning off the local repeater, there will be no use for it until next Winter. Most all the shops are closed and many are not even there. But the good news is that there are seventeen new DTV stations on the air and receivable at Mile99. In January there were only two transmitting from Yuma available part time. Five networks including PBS; CBS twice! Now I can watch Jeopardy from two different markets.

Parker, Wally's Caravanserai, 2011iv25

Another short drive yesterday, but tiring in a strong cross-wind on a rough, narrow, no-shoulder road. Phew! State Road 95 from Quartzsite to Parker is in the throes of some modification. So far The Cat has Drag'd 184 miles since departing Tonopah however not all of them were miles away from Tonopah. As the crow flies: 90 miles, as the pavement wends: 103 miles, so The Cat must have gone round in a lot of circles looking for a place to park.

Now the direction is set and a goal is stated: Be in Fernley between 7th and 12th May. 594 miles in 13 days. That's a bit over budget; I'll have to make it up later. Another goal is going to be the bicentennial in Astoria 21st May. 'The oldest city west of the rockies', Little Jon writes from his window overlooking the Columbia River Maritime Museum and Forts Clatsop and Stevens. Getting there in time for the party may necessitate a fortnight of sitting still after. Hmmm: That comes out to 700 miles in 8-10 days--cutting it close.

27th April; Pah's Rump, 42 at Dawn!

Had to turn on three heaters! Was like Winter in Tonopah. Today I am at the Pair-A-Dice SKP park in Pahrump Nevada, home of Art Bell among others. What a lot of rules! They have a manager person in a Follow Me cart to lead visitors to their slip and wave arms this way and that so you park within inches of markers. Ready to stop level or not! The rest of what I might write has been censored by the Will Rogers Rule.

Between here and last night in a car park on the outskirts of Las Vegas, SR160 rises from 3000' to 5000' and then drops back to about 2500'. The 3208 did well on that climb and the exhaust brake did well on the descent. Good thing I waited until the cool of the morning to make the climb as the temperature in the previous afternoon was over 90 and that would have made overheating much more likely.
Rice Shoe Fence
I have to write about my short side-trip visit to the Ghost Town of Rice and the Shoe Fence there.  ...there, that takes care of that.

Today was for laundry and shower and rebuilding the glycol overflow. The overflow has over flown and this current lashup is the latest in an ongoing experiment to provide adequate catchment. The cooling system requires somewhere between nine and eighteen gallons of hightech orange fluid and the coefficient of expansion must be at least seven to one! Seems there is always too little or to much.

Laundry and shower are easier to deal with. This park even has a clothes drying yard! Carefully obscured behind a slatted fence so we don't have to watch your undies dry, the several lines are made of some non-stretch material and have more than enough length to dry several king-sized sheets end to end. There are NO coin slots and clothespins are provided. More than makes up for the proscription against hanging out laundry at your campsite. Kudos to the "Pair-A-Dice" SKP park!

A Few Daze Later--Catching Up To Winter

Temporary Permanent Glycol CatchmentThirty-five at moonrise this saturday morning in the half-crossroads of Amargosa Valley. Friday morning, yesterday, breky with a passel of the Not-Club Radio Hams of Pahrump at the Pahrump Diner was a fine send-off. The usual storeys and news of who is going to which doctor alternated with technical subjects as the breky conversation rambles round. At table next to me one old timer of 94 years allowed as how he went to his doctor for "some of that Vi-agra stuff" and he wanted the pills cut in quarters. "I can understand what you want Viagra for...your wife dying a year ago an all, but why", his doc asked him, "do you want the pills cut in quarters?." Said the old timer: "I just need to get it up enough so's I don't piss on my slippers!"

Across the table, Jerry volunteered to help me out with some cabling I wanted to complete the wiring of my dandy new Automatic Position Reporting System. APRS has been around in the ham radio community for years and I have had the hardware sitting in a box in Cupboard "W" for almost that long. Now that APRS is all the rage, with cellphones clandestinely telling your whereabouts, I am reminded I've waited long enough.

Lead flavoured smoke wafting from my workbench cum galley table whilst soldering all the parts together dredged up all sorts of memories from long ago and far away of building radios when I could see to read the colour codes without a five-power glass. Used to be with those old parts PCBs were a hazard and the voltages necessary to make a thermionic valve function were lethal; today the greatest hazard isn't the lead smoke rotting my brain cells--no danger of that--but rather that of burning the end of my nose with the soldering iron when I'm close enough to see what I'm doing.

All the parts went together and the components tested Ok individually however I lacked two essential cables. I should have built this project back in Tonopah, before the purge, when I'd have had access to Mikey's stash of wire and things. Jerry had all the parts. And then some. A Ham's Ham if there ever was one. There were a few other hurdles to cross before my location actually appeared on the APRS servers but finally, with help from several other hams, there we were, right where we're supposed to be.

Reporting is not all that often--I don't really want everyone to know where I am every time I stop to pee--but often enough that you should be able to follow The Cat Drag'd Inn along the blue highways.

Now back to Winter: As slow as the bus is going I'm still catching up to Winter. This morning at Amargosa outside the temperature was at 35f and with the wind as she blew most of the night not much warmer inside. I've reinstalled the secondary propane space heater and lit the galley propane lamp. And dug out David's fine down comforter. Thanks David! I hope you're warm wherever you are. Now to make some nice hot porridge for breky.
Alkali Hot Spring

MayDay MayDay

From the French (venez) m'aider (come) help me! Well, I suppose on the one hand I can use all the help I can get, can't we all? But on the other? No, I'll survive, but I still can use all the help I can get. Today the bus is parked at Alkali NeVada, a place name that doesn't even rate ghost town status. An intersection of four power lines and a small, one transformer, substation, two side roads and a hot spring. The hot spring has got to be this place's raison d'être. Somewhere I read there used to be a resort here. Needs more research.

Still, it is magical the way water bubbles up out of the ground at just the right temperature in which to soak a human body. Or bodies, as the case may be. Part of this used-to-be-resort was a good sized in-ground swimming pool--not hot--which now is home to at least three species of fish. Bunches of little fish roil the surface when you toss in some cracker crumbs. Five goldfish, each look to be nearly a foot long, also came to lunch, and one even larger catfish rose out of the weedy depths to investigate the commotion. I saw a white-faced ibis feeding in the outflow pond and a lone burro came by for a drink. Two large cottonwood trees festooned with No Tresspassing signs welcome visitors and in their shade stand two trash barrels for those who will come in.

May The Fourth Be With You

Writing from Walker Lake BLM Fee Area. Half price for Seniors. Not a whole lot to write home about. Tuesday (from Alkali) to Tonopah was a good climb once returned to US95 and in the city I found a post office and a book store, two of my favourite places, across from one another, and an open WiFi in front of the firehouse. With cravings satisfied The Inn drag'd on to Luning. There used to be a railroad through town, parallel to the highway; at the corner of First & Main there would have been a grade crossing, perhaps a switchyard; a rest area now occupies that space. By late-o'clock my island of Inn was surrounded by trucks, like sharks, keeping Sara(h) on a short string. The only sleepers now are those in the cabs of the trucks; the rails are all gone, a few derelict warehouses line the abandoned right of way.

Wenzday in fits and starts through Hawthorne to Walker Lake. The town of Hawthorne is one huge Army Ammo Dump; acres and acres of bunkers of bullets strung together like beads on a string of rails. Walker Lake is one of six fresh water "Terminal Lakes" in the world. Terminal means "no outlet"; whatever water flows in stays except for that which evaporates. In ancient times this lake was huge. Even in fairly recent times this lake was considerably larger, deeper, than now. In 1882 Walker was 160' deeper than today. Irrigation has taken much water from the inflowing rivers and drought has reduced the supply. As the water level of the lake drops the dissolved solids increases, from 2500 then to 16,000 mg/L today. This increased salinity has driven several native species of fish to extinction and that has in turn resulted in fewer waterfowl. So, when, with respect to mg/L of dissolved solids, does a fresh water lake become a "dead sea"?

The Cat Drag'd Inn is parked at site #29 of this BLM Fee Area, 4016'MSL, about at the water level of the year this bus was manufactured, and 40 feet above the waterline today.
Killdeer Nest in Fernely NV

Happy Mother's Day

Rainy Mother's Day in Fernley NeVada. Reading again Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Once upon a long ago this was one of several influential books that shaped my path, I have since driven many of the roads described and I used to believe I knew something; now, in this reread I am finding a different influence: "I'm not sure of much of anything these days. Maybe that's why I talk so much." Or, as Ezra Pound put it: At 70 I realize that instead of being a lunatic, I was a moron.

Betty showed up yesterday morning and we drove around looking for better places to park for a few days other than this Wal-Mart gravel lot. She left to visit elsewhere and a couple from Dateland, whom I've been looking for, drove by. John said: "There is only one blue and yellow bus with all those antennas". We had a good visit. They were at Walker Lake the same days as me but in a different campground, and on the radio at different times. Now they are headed south again, planning to be at Williams AridZona in July--and that gives me another idea for which way I don't know where to go.

Happy Mother's Day all you whom I consider my Other Mothers. I wish I could be with you all, everywhere at once, but as my Venerable Mother used to say: "You wish in one hand and you shit in the other and see which one gets full first."

11/5/11 TacoCat Returns!

Usually she is out and in again in a few moments. Rarely gone longer than an hour. But this time, as the second hour rolled over into the third Betty and I were out beating the bushes around this nice boondocking spot between US50 and the Denver to Oakland BNSF rails. As much as I have tried to instill in Ms La Gata that she is part of the food chain the only thought running through my mind was "How many days will I wait?" No flat cats on the road to the south. Did she trade her cushy cushion for the hobo life and hop a train? To bob a tail: The cat came back.

After a long day of driving east and west on US50 looking for a way into Hard Dunes Hot Spring we gave up and had a nice pot roast dinner. The roast was from the Buckeye Food Bank as were some of the veggies. Cooking was accomplished in the crock pot by solar from the photovoltaic array.

All in all this lot next to the Fernley Black Bear Diner was a neat crossroads meeting and a good meeting place. WiFi in several locations, post office just down the street, auto parts stores, a playground around the corner, Amtrak going past twice a day in between the hourly freight trains, and a killdeer nesting in front of the bus. Trivia: The ichthyosaur is the Nevada State Fossil. Hardhats were invented during the construction of Hoover Dam in 1933. Time to move along.

Somewhere else along the road

There is a giant COW standing by the road. No place to pull off and I am not of a mind to look for a side road off the side road to turn the bus around. Mike, sitting back there in Tonopah, at the far end of a long string stretching through the ether, riding along in the virtual seat, Gooogles cow and art and wherever we are and comes up with Cow and Dragon Photos.
Hat Creek Radio Telescope
Along CAlifornia Hwy 89 in the vicinity of Dead Horse Pass between Pondosa and Bartle, snow mixed with rain. Great few days at Hat Creek, in the Bridge Campground, and a visit to the Hat Creek Radio Observatory.  But don't hurry over to visit. The place is closed, shut down, out of service, 10-2. Maybe when the next fiscal year begins someone will find the money to reopen. Bridge CG was nice except the trees are too close together or too close to the road. Large buses don't have much clearance but nobody will notice the few additional scratches or the missing turn signal lamp.

Speaking of Time Zones

... the signpost up ahead... you are about to enter... the no-light zone.

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 © 2011, A.J.Oxton, The Cat Drag'd Inn , Tonopah AridZona 85354-0313.