So Much To Say, So Little Room.
I canna believe my last epistle was back before the Summer Solstice! Here we are at Autumnal Equinox and I've not even made a note since then. Lot of catch-up to do. So much remembering to do.
Summer SolsticeFrom the hot tub here the Solstice Sun rises about one solar disk diameter north of the penultimate power pole. Over the next few weeks she passes behind that pole, dances through the piñon pines and moves southward at an ever increasing speed, headed for her Equinox Rendezvous with The Teeth of The Dike.
The days are getting warmer and Monsoon is commence-able. The Cat [has] Drag'd Inn just in time for Amateur Radio Field Day so the first task, beyond a good morning soak in the hot tub, is to string out an aerial and erect other antennae (the monsoon is busy erecting clouds...). Field Day Operations for NU7DE consisted mostly of typing RTTY contacts and replying to such comments as "Are you really?"
My big project this Summer is to build a Labyrinth. 1thousand-2hundred nicely rounded river rocks collected from little piles around the yard are moved by wheelbarrow to one large pile at the start of the Entry Path. Then, by arm load and basket, to the site where I have laid out a plan for one stone at a time to be placed in eight circles. Labyrinths were constructed in the ancient Mediterranean world--the most famous is the Cretan labyrinth within the intricacies of which lurked the dreadful Minotaur of legendary fame. [Mysterious Britain 1974-1979, ISBN 0586081577, Thank you.] This labyrinth in Pie Town would have no Minotaur, a glass turtle will stand guard. The ingress will be aligned more or less to the south, to coincide with the passage of Canopus behind the nub of Allegra.
Summer Camp(s)--Looking for AdventureOne of the events I have missed in previous years, due to my usual late July arrival in Pie Town, is the several summer camp groups which come for one-night-stands at Nita's Caravanserai. Two vans and a chuck wagon bring in variously 10-30 kids and leaders and a crate of apples. Nita makes pies and the campers provide supper and breky. Fun for me to break out my Official Sierra Cup and tin plate which have not seen the light of day since the 50-Miler back in the '70's.
This Summer Camp spends a week or so travelling around visiting places of historical interest, rock climbing, camping of course, and cleaning up after. Here they stay barely twenty hours but in that time, this time, the kids beat down the path to the labyrinth and moved hundreds of stones to the outer circles. I also had opportunity to show one group how to make an oil lamp from an orange.
Hiking In The HillsTwo miles east, just at the base of the hill which comprises the center of Pie Town, more or less parallel to Double Bar Road and the CDT, lays The Dike. There are several such dikes hereabouts, remnants of some long ago geologic activity, and on the west flank of this one is a particularly imposing outcrop of red sandstone. One of the local activities is to carve one's name in this sandstone and then return every few years to recarve, to make up for the mass weathering which eventually erases your mark.
Hiking here also includes walking the fence-line to see that no outlaw bovines have been successful in their efforts to expand their range into greener pastures. The deer have no problem with fences, they just jump over. We are going to be in real trouble if the cows ever learn how to jump. One nice by product of the monsoon is the heightened humidity. From day to day some mornings will be warm and calm and positively dripping with moisture, just the right conditions for giant bubbles. In a clean bucket: twelve cups of water, a cup of dish soap, and a few kids for chasers on the side. Not in the bucket. Just the slightest hint of a breeze is helpful.
Continental Divide TrailFrom Banff (way north of Pie Town) to Columbus (south of Deming) some 150 (+/- 50) and bicyclists travel 2000 miles north and or south along the Great Divide every Summer. In Pie Town there is the Toaster House hostel the storey of which would be an entire page by itself. Most interesting of all the trekkers through this Summer is this guy on a really high tech unicycle.
Working With SolarFifteen miles south on the Double Bar Road--which eventually becomes Green's Gap Road--is an enclave consisting of two families who live off the grid. Two solar arrays of about a thousand watts each power their homesteads. One array took a lightning hit a while back which knocked out half the panels and damaged several others. Wind damage from the same storm ripped two other panels from their array at the solar powered well. Meanwhile, over at the other homestead, part of their array was moved a few years ago and never reinstalled correctly. Plenty of work to keep me in pie money for the Summer.
The tyres on Tiny Truck have 40,000 some miles and are getting down to the wear-bars. Driving to and fro on the Double Bar/Green's Gap Road, fifteen miles of sharp gravel and cattle guards is taking a toll. Another flat. And then another--in through the tread, out the sidewall. Lastly, the one that tipped the scale, tread separation. Over an hundred miles to the nearest preferred tyre store in either direction became an all day trip to Show Low where Tiny Truck got four new sneakers for the price of three. The tread separation was a road hazard failure and covered by warranty. Yeah!
Well, I didn't need all that pie anyhow.
Speaking of tyres... Several miles of U.S.60 are being resurfaced by an interesting newly patented process. Four large trucks hauling trailers. Each trailer contains a 6,000 gallon propane tank and a burner as wide as a traffic lane. The driver walks alongside, steering the truck from a control panel whilst the mechanism will heat & eat the old surface, grind up the material and lay down a windrow. These trucks are followed by a spreader and two rollers as well as a few broom pushers who clean up the orts.
Pie Town Pie FestivalThe Umpteenth Annual, first weekend after Lab our Day, draws pie bakers and eaters from all round, near and far. Guests galore! Two people flew in from Sweden this year. Was that the longest distance travelled? Last year I was rolling [in] dough. This year with a drippy nose and runny eyes I did the baking instead. One hundred ei8ht pies in and out of three ovens during the course of the Thursday before. Several other folks baked a bunch more pies. Pies for selling, by the slice or by the whole, pies in three sizes for the pie-eating contest, and then there were all the pies baked by entrants to the pie baking contest. This year's grand champion was a sweet potato pie.
Cleaning Up AfterNot much to write about this subject. Cleaning Up After just is. Dead water balloons seem to be the most numerous single item for me to collect. Birds and ants have already taken care of the pie crusts.
Another Cleaning Up involved a Dead Mouse Smell emanating from under the hot tub. Been there for a while. Moth balls didn't help any--wrong animal perhaps? Then one week the Ground Fault Breaker was found to be tripped most mornings. Day by day worse and worse, more and more often, until finally it would not stay on even for a few seconds. With the cover removed from the controller we found a toasty mouse with nose on the red wire, feet on the black wire and tail on the ground bus.
Autumnal EquinoxSuch a party has not been seen hereabouts since the days of Stonehenge! Orion has been in the morning sky for several weeks now, since about early august rising out of the mists of dawn over the dike two miles east--the same dike that engenders one green flash after another as Father Sol marches south. Orion's belt points generally south towards the horizon where, in the twilight just prior to dawn, a few days before equinox, rises Canopus a first-magnitude star in the constellation Carina: the second brightest star in the heavens. Canopus is not visible at all north of N37° latitude and here, at N34° 17', he skips across the bulk of Allegra as would a flat stone across a still pond.
Last year at Autumnal Equinox on the 21st of september the sun rose behind The Teeth of the dike with a display of multiple green flashes--easily a Number Seven on Little Jon's Ritegurd Scale. Viewers in the hot tub that morning had all they could do to hang on tight to the sides and not slip beneath the steaming surface.
This year's Autumnal Equinox was forecast to occur on the 22nd. The dregs of Monsoon were leaving trails of cloudy mornings--would the sky be clear? And on which morning would Sol rise behind The Teeth? The 21st as it did last year? Or the 22nd, on the Equinox. Witnesses were assembled. The tub was especially cleaned for the occasion. Sunrise on 21st was brilliant, and just a little-finger's width to the north of The Teeth. But just because we were not sure we had our Equinox Pot Luck Breakfast anyhow.
Early on the 22nd the witnesses assembled again. Clouds danced in the sky, the tub was steaming. A column of light stood above the dike, sliding slowly southward as Sol neared the rim of the world. Magical times these are. Birds chorused, clouds parted, The Teeth sparkled as green diamonds flashed through and the sun rose in exactly the right place. Our own chorus joined that of the birds and we all trooped off for a second Equinox breky, of leftovers this time. Now I have a much better appreciation for the generations of ancient priests and wise observers who set the standing stones which yet mark the passing of the seasons.
Such a nice month September was! Pie Festival, Grandparents Day, Rosh Hashana, Autumnal Equinox. Gluttony, Elderly, Chronologically, Astronomically; a Special Day for just about everyone, eh? And Winterly too. This Observer feels the First Frost on the 14th happened more as a result of evaporative cooling than any ambient temperature below freezing. But the signs are there all over. The heat is on, the clothes are on, and Christmas Decorations are on all the big box stores.
Soon time to depart here. Sara(h) is anxious to get going, she's been practicing in Tiny Truck. Which pedal did you say was the clutch?
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.