Red Hat Day, 9 November, 2011School kids arrived by the busload to harry the hard-hatted Union Pacific guards as 844 rolled to her Whistle Stop at Deming New Mexico.
"Mañana Land" didn't apply to this venture. The stop was all business. Excursion passengers debarked for a little walkabout, train crew greased connecting rods, conductors showed their watches whilst the Centennial engine wheezed and snorted on the main line westbound track.
Two train crew next to the 6' drivers apply grease to connecting rod bearings. The grease is hard black sticks held in the left hand of the kneeling man. The other guy operates an air-powered grease gun whilst the first man stuffs the sticks into the gun as if feeding ammo to a machine gun.
Conductor says No More Questions, time to go. All Aboard! I never did get to learn if there is a sleeper car or a dining car. 844 is burning used motor oil: 12 gallons per mile, to boil 100 gallons of water. There are two tenders to carry water cos there is little water available along the way.
Lordsburg, Tucson, and points west. Orange hardhats and orange vests keep the crowd away from the rails as 844 gets going. My red hat was only just orange enough to get me close.
Heeere Kitty-Kitty-KittyArrived Tonopah tuesday after finding a down and out hitchhiker at Eloy Flying-J. Gave him a ride to 67th Ave FJ and kept on going, stopping only to visit Sara(h) La Gata's vet in Buckeye. She got her annual check up and shot--gets better attention in that regard than I. When I stopped the bus and opened the door at La Casa Blanca she promptly ran off with nary an over the shoulder scowl.
The Cat Came BackSara(h) didn't come home that night. She's never stayed out over night. Wenzday I went to the food bank to reestablish that routine. Sara(h) was not seen all day. I'm still holding out hope. Perhaps she is hiding and recovering from her inoculation. Perhaps she doesn't want to be here any more than me?
Wenzday night no Sara(h).
Then at 03h48 thursday morning something is pulling my hair! Sara(h)! The prodigal cat returns!
I asked her, Where did you go? She said, Out.
I asked her, What did you do? She said, Nothing.
Countdown: T-4Today I will go to the Food Bank to fetch a turkey and assorted related items. No telling as yet what will be the plan for any celebration. The turkey will be dressed for dinner, that is about all I can say; the condition of the rest of the participants will depend somewhat on the weather as we will fest outside.
Countdown: T-1Food Bank again. This is the usual Wenzday excursion: Red hat and shopping list. Four hours fixing things for the Thrift Store and I receive a big box of grub. Falling quickly into the comfortable rut of familiar surroundings.
T-0: Thanksgiving DayMostly clear at dawn. Temperature at The Cat Drag'd Inn was 43. The weather clowns promised a warm enough day however by mid morning the sky is thickly overcast. Looks as tho more than the turkey will have to be dressed for dinner. Thanksgiving Dinner here was Me, Mike, Daniel & three cats at the round table in the North End with a dinner comprised entirely of food bank offerings. Bill allowed as how he would have rather been with us but that he felt it was in his political best interests to be at the RV park. He did however make a point of asking for a plate of leftovers. The day started out warm enough that we figured the turkey would be the only participant dressed for dinner but as time and a half passed the sky became cloudy and the temperature dropped and preparations dragged along just enough that the turkey was the only one not dressed.
Cleaning Up AfterLife as a paying guest at LCB is little different compared to that as a work-camper. Except for the cash flow.
Strange goings on in Tonopah. Try as I might to avoid involvement everything happening around me invites speculation and gossip. In other news (read, gossip): "The State" closed the bar at Tonopah Joe's. Pulled their license. Seems the bar was selling liquor they'd purchased at Wal-Mart. I don't know why that makes any difference. The restaurant has been leased by the Korean owner to some Greek family. Over the past few days about the only food available there has been pancakes and pizza. I'm uninformed about what is going on. Now the entire restaurant is closed and the power is turned off.
The radiator in my bus developed a slow leak at some point over the last few days/weeks. Not enough to piss out glycol, just a seep, only an accidental inspection discovered the wet spot: A crack in the forward end cap. Removed to repair and found other problems--a serious case of fin rot will require the core to be replaced. I hope a thousand dollars will be all I have to spend... One new nineteen inch piece of hose cost TWO DOLLARS A FOOT!
Thankful? Not sure I can count that high. Tho at the same time there are more things that I am not thankful for even tho I should be sort of negatively thankful that those situations are not worse or that I am grateful to be not any more directly involved or directly responsible for. Did that make any sense?
I am thankful for your letters and continued friendship. I am thankful that my little truck did not cost me any more than it did to rebuild the motor and that it was indeed rebuildable. I am thankful that I can still walk circles around some of the younger people I hike with tho I met my match a little at the Double-Dee Ranch project at 9,000'MSL in WYoming. I suppose I should be thankful that fuel prices have not yet reached five dollars a gallon but on the other hand I find it outrageous that a half gallon of OJ has only 59oz now. How long before we find there are only ten eggs in a dozen?
As far as the radiator is concerned... Desperate times call for desperate measures and this is certainly an emergency. I'll have to dig twice as far into my reserve-emergency-reserves for cash to cover that expense; there is only half as much money in that sack as there was a year ago and for that fiscal mismanagement on the part of my banker I am assuredly NOT thankful. Sitting still at a Wal-Mart for three weeks was another desperate time this past Summer; I am thankful for the manager who allowed me to stay that long.
I am also thankful, just in this past day, that I have discovered that AT&T, in all their complex convolutions of "Plans" has one for "Seniors". Sort of like the Senior Section of the menu at most sit-down slow-food restaurants. Smaller portions, fewer choices, less cost. That last is the best part.
RIFFRAFF & DILLIGAFFOnce upon a long ago I was scenic-riding the mosey-roads of New Hampster and a BIG dump truck hove into the view of my rear-looking mirror. Emblazoned across the heavy chrome bumper, about the level of my saddle bags, in that font usually reserved for ECNALUBMA, I saw in my mirror a big bold DILLIGAFF. Suddenly SNAFU came to mind so I moved over to let him pass.
Rabbit-RabbitMust be December. Yesterday was another fine day at the food bank. From among the donated things and stuff I clean and fix up for the Thrift Store I scored a fairly nice, not too old, functional flat screen LCD monitor that was not saleable. Plus the usual box of yummy food stuffs made for a profitable day there.
Five State Lava Flow Endangers Catographer would have been the headline were soy wax any hotter. Could this event be a precursor, an early warning of The End Times? When the hot wax burst forth from Mount Saint Candle and engulfed Kansas and parts of four other states Sara(h) La Gata was napping along the Appalachian Trail. Had the pyrowaxstic flow not run out of heat where it did I suppose we would have to give her a medal for saving Louisana from yet another flood. She was reportedly unfazed by her brush with hair loss: What, me worry?
Cellulites & HeaviesI've yet to learn SMS; don't want to be known as a "Texter", besides which text costs twenty cents a message and little of what can be said in 160 characters can be worth that much. So as this and that pile on and times and circumstance change I have been casting about for some better way to move email. Asking questions mostly leads to stone walls of ignorance and misinformation. I've been with AT&T from back in the pulse dial days; when AT&T was the phone company; when service mattered, as when USPS was the Post Office and served every community no matter how small.
Now it would seem that all AT&T is interested in is profit and more profit. But even given that profit motive they could pay more attention to detail and fairness and service.
Detail: Considering their database and what they can know about me AT&T should have offered me their Senior Plan at least several years ago. Instead I had to learn about that option only as an after thought by a well meaning "cashier" (Stacy at least deserves the title of Consultant). The Senior Plan is not to be found in their brochure, nor on their website, and any of several previous cashiers at other AT&T stores never mentioned the possibility. I suppose there is the possibility AT&T invented their Senior Plan only the day before I came in; and the possibility also exists that Stacy mentioned the plan only when she realised that I might walk to T-Mobile when I wasn't satisfied with the plans AT&T wants me to have. (In that case "Cashier" might be too good a title.)
Fairness: Having two different Coverage Maps/Service Areas based upon their concepts of PrePay or PostPay is patently discriminatory and penalises those customers who cannot abide the scrutiny of Credit Check or the commitment of contract. The whole idea of different service areas seems to me to be just plain stupid and wasteful. AT&T (and all the other cellular providers as well) could simplify their offerings, streamline their presentations, by offering one set of plans, one set of options, and all customers get the same coverage regardless of pre or post pay.
Service: Service is in two parts. Over the counter and over the air. I've already mentioned the counter part. But let me add that too many of the cashiers in all the stores I have visited in my quest for service seem to be ignorant of the possibilities or perhaps trained to maximise profit. Are they perhaps paid by commission?
Over the air: As I travel around, state to state, hither and yon, I experience many holes in AT&T coverage where my phone indicates that a carrier is out there but which I am not allowed to make use of. "Emergency Only" means to me there is a carrier out there not yet partnered with AT&T. What is taking so long? Of the time this year from April to November, seven months, I was without service for the better part of four of those months. Most of New Mexico and WYoming in particular are vast wastelands as far as AT&T is concerned. What sugars off is that I now have the Senior Plan with Unlimited Data for the same cost as my previous plan without any data. What's the difference? The main thing is 200 minutes and no roll-over as opposed to 400 minutes plus roll-over.
My plan was to depart here thursday after wenzday at the food bank. And I might have made it. Except for delaying tactics of the fuel pump in Tiny Truck. And the nice weather that made staying inside wrapped around a steaming bowl of chicken soup far more enticing than laying outside on a soggy cardboard creeper. So thursday passed. At least I managed to pack truck and stow PVs. But gave up on dump and vacuum and shower and...
Another thing that happened wenzday was to discover that the Food Bank has a Christmas-End-of-the-Year Party on Friday. There was a Sign-Up sheet on the fridge where the volunteers were putting their names and what-they-would-bring for the s'moresgasboard. I wrote "ajo" and "friend" and thot I'd make a pickle pie as a surprise.
So now my list for friday has pie at the top of dump and shower and vacuum and move the spider's web off the steering wheel and leave for the Food Bank by 11h30. Bill had written a few days ago that my "staying an extra day or two was all-right with [him], that would give [me] some extra time to pack." And, it goes without saying, an extra few days to fix one of his radios rather than taking it along with me to fix later. I will likely take Bill up on his sort of invitation to stay yet another extra day and wait until saturday.
Oh yes: Saturday is a roadside cleanup with FoSM.
Now I'm writing all this and the pie is not yet in the oven.
Happy Solstice!Now camped in Ajo AridZona. Recent Winter rains have engendered a fresh Spring-like green in the desert; there are a few muddy spots on some of the roads. The place where The Cat Drag'd Inn is firm and well drained, surrounded by Opuntia fulgida, Cercidium microphyllum, and a forest of Carnegiea gigantea. I decorated the nearest jumping cholla with seasonal accoutrement and baked a couple of pies for Solstice/Christmas Dinner.
Extraordinary moonrise this morning. At 05h30 out the front window I observed a grey bulbous protuberance atop the ridge a few miles away. A couple of retakes later realised this was not the ghost of the Great Pumpkin but the earthshine almost-new moon rising. Then a bright ear appeared on each side of the orb as the cusp of the crescent came into view followed gradually over the next few moments by the grin of the lower limb.
Solstice! The desert is the best place to observe the solar orb come to a screeching halt on his Way south. For a day he sits there as if unsure about which way to go next before inexorably turning north. The days are getting longer now, the time is soon upon us to move along. But first, some peanut butter moosekies to bake in Betty's solar oven, replace the fuel pump in TinyTruck, a shower, a walk, pick up some trash, and of course, packing and cleaning up after.
Next Summer I'd like to do another of this kind of tour; perhaps a month of easy driving from AridZona to FLorida to MainE and back. If you are looking for adventure, if you want to mosey along the "blue highways", write me and we'll see what we can arrange.
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 © 2012, A.J.Oxton, The Cat Drag'd Inn , Tonopah AridZona 85354-0313.