Travels With Oso con Migo

Odyssey In America

OAE On The Road Again — I'm not really late yet, but getting there.

Nude Sunbathers Ahead

Greetings Virtual Travellers and Pen Friends:

Late of Tonopah

I'm not really late yet, but getting there.

Almost was today. And maybe still could have been for a while. Ran out of water at the morning flush. That was the first delay.

The main engine started Ok and built air. Aside from the leaks that usually seal up after a while all that part was ok.

The Auxiliary Power Unit tho was not doing so well. Cranked ok and fired up but would not run. As long as I held in the Low Oil Pressure bypass she would run but not on her own. Well... To make a three hour storey only take a minute I eventually found a screw holding a fat transistor in the controller had gone rusty. Brightened up the circuit board trace and the transistor case and replaced the screw and the APU runs just fine. The manufacturer should have used a brass screw.

After that the day went downhill. A few other issues... lunch and a nap tired me out so I needed a second nap.

A few more things packed... Changed propane to the onboard tanks Never did get to check the running light that flickers off and on.

Maybe sunday? More like monday...

Fridgging Around, 11 May

I didn't get anywhere today. Windy in the yard just packing. Tested PV system and fridge went into alarum mode on inverter. Done that before. Last time I think was 2012, at least that is the last time I made a note.

But this time the alarum did not reset. Fridge does not like inverter.

Round and round with trouble shooting...

If I ignore the alarum the fridge works ok. Works fine on shore power and on propane. Problem only on inverter.

Troubleshooting flow chart says measure this and test that. Logic concludes board is at fault. Oh well. I just sold a radio so I guess that income goes right out again. But purchase will wait for Pie Town otherwise I will be here another week waiting on delivery.

Always something...Last efoto of Seratu

12 May, On The Road Again, Finally!

Truck is packed. Built air, checked tyre pressure. Seratu escapes at the next to last moment. She does not much care for the motor running. Sara(h) La Gata used to run in when I started the engine, Seratu runs out. Shut down and wait; there is more to do anyhow and eventually she returns. This time I will be more careful.

Finally on the road. Call Phyllis—her turn to feed Paul's cats. Call Mike to meet at the post office and give him my key, he will watch my mail until I have a box at Pie Town. Propane not available at Tonopah, had to backtrack to Wintersburg and then finally-finally northbound up Vulture Mine Road to Convalescent Canyon to meet Sue and Tom. First night out is always an adventure of picking up the pieces and remembering to tie down or clean up after.

13 May, Tuesday at North Ranch.

Yesterday was a good visit with Sue and Tom. Seratu is making the transition to indoor plumbing. Windy cool night prompted me to wake and close windows. Short walk this morning and then a short drive to the North Ranch SKP Park/Camp in Congress. Good high speed WiFi here, working much better than last year.

Tomorrow at first light The Cat Drag's Up the Yarnell Hill.

14 May Prescott WallyWorld

Now in Prescott after the arduous climb up the Yarnell Hill to the top of the Mogollon Rim. Gained three thousand feet MSL this morning climbing through the Valley of the Skulls to Prescott. Time to rest a few days and let my ears adjust.

Had a nice visit with Beth-Ann and Shashi at North Ranch in Congress and a dandy lunch in Skull Valley. The Skull Valley Diner is not really a diner, at least not in my book—they have no meatloaf on their menu. But they are a dandy cafe in case you happen to be on the road to Prescott.

Then a second lunch with Jerry at his aerie overlooking north Prescott. A B-17 flew over to mark the occasion.

On to Kevin's house now.

20 May Ash Fork

Writing from Ash Fork. Fifty miles and some shopping after leaving The Granite Dells, The Cat Drag'd Inn to this little wide spot on old Rte 66 to make a banana bread for A.C. Just in the nick of time too. The wind has been blowing harder as the day went on. 20-30 mph, gusts to 40 crosswind. Not too good an idea to take i40 up the hill to Williams so I'll stay here for the night.

In Chino Valley I stopped at an Ace Hardware to find some clamps to hold the lollypop reflectors on the tailgate of the truck. The clamps allow me to extend/retract the lollies when towing/driving. Without them I canna see the the truck in the mirrors. With them I know she is still there and can back up in a straight line between two 18-wheelers in a truckstop.

Anyhow... These clamps come in plastic and nylon and black and white and various sizes. And therein lies the crunch. Remember that Mars Lander that crashed because NASA used a mixture of Metric and English measurements? Same thing in the plastic clamp industry. The 3/8" black nylon clamps I have been using are the best. But not all hardware stores carry them. Some places have a 3/8" black plastic clamp that is just enough smaller to bind on the rods. Also, the plastic deteriorates faster than the nylon, gets brittle, breaks... Round and round with the stock in this store. They have two brands of 3/8" black clamps in the same box! Despite both being labelled 3/8" they are just a smidgen different. About the same amount of difference that made the Mars Lander crash.

In the wide spot by the road in Ash Fork I baked one of my famous Male Banana Breads for A.C. who came down out of the hills to have tea and bread. YUM!

The several days with Kevin and his kids in the Granite Dells was good for all concerned. Three lunches with Jerry, a hike in the Dells, a few fence mendings, one shower (thank you Kevin--I needed that) and a bit of shopping at the penultimate Fry's made for an enjoyable few days. Kevin has a 50mb connexion to the outside world, I gave his wire a good workout.

North through Chino Valley (Kay is long gone on her Summer Adventure), through Paulden, slow going, the two lane Hwy 89 is being widened in several places. Diesel at Ash Fork is 4$09.

The wind, presently 15-15 with gusts over 30, is forecast to diminish over night so tomorrow morning should be good for the dash up the long hill to Williams.Trash
              collected at Camp Kaibab

21-22 May, Ka1bab

Nice day here on arrival yesterday. Except for the wind. Which I suppose to give full credit, did keep away the smoke from the Oak Creek Canyon fire, even tho I felt obliged to wear a warm woolly jumper. Settled in, propane on, wire up, telly aerial up and found PBS; Seratu out checking the lay of the land.

WX forecast for continued windy, cooler, and perhaps maybe a chance of cloudy and shower. Just maybe. By the time I went to bed last night the temperature was already 38f. Drug out the thick down comforter.

This morning dawn was at 24f and the low was 23f. Smoky-foggy but clear overhead. Visibility two miles at best. Can smell the smoke a little. No wind so far. No connectivity via T-mo either so this won't go out until later.

Friday 23 May

In all the years I have camped in this particular spot in the Kaibab National Forest today is the first time I have ever been visited by a Ranger. Actually only a “ranger” if you get my meaning. “Welcome to the [fill in which] National Forest” the ticket that is not a ticket begins. This is a receipt for my arrival in case  there is any question that I have over-stayed my welcome. I've already been here two nights, I said. Well then, said the ranger, you get two nights extra. It is also more importantly “Notice of Stage One Fire Restrictions: No open fires of any sort.” Good thing Seratu still comes in to use her litter box.

Red Hat Day 28 May Kaibab Forest

Three hikes so far and five bags of trash collected. I should send a picture of all the trash but the butterfly is far more interesting. The weather had turned nice for a while, clear calm mornings, breezy partly cloudy afternoons. Smoke from the “Slide Fire” is being held off by wind from the west. Today is starting out partly cloudy but the forecast is good, albeit breezy.
AridZona State Butterfly
I've found that I can get fair connectivity between about 01h00 and oh-dark-30. Big drink of water at bedtime to assure waking and then two naps later to catch up.

During my walk yesterday I found a few patches of /Iris missouriensis/ and a large butterfly that sort of looks like a Monarch but seemed too yellow and had a lot of blue on its aft wing panels. After an exhaustive search by Mike we find Papilio multicaudata is the AridZona State Butterfly! (Thanks Mike for the search and for fixing up my efoto.) 

Then there was a squirrel with ears long enough to fit a rabbit. I'm sure it was a squirrel, its tail was long and flowing like a squirrel and it climbed a tree as I approached.  This morning there were two deer browsing about a quarter-mile to the north of camp.

June Day!

May has for the past few years been a travelling month. This annual migration between estivation and hibernation almost feels like a commute. This year, so far, little different than last. After The Second Last Supper, The Cat Drag'd Out of Tonopah amid delays and procrastinates mid-day 12 May and subsequently parked one night each at Vulture Pass and North Ranch before settling in at The Granite Dells for a week. Next stop north was Ash Fork where serious cross-winds and too-warm afternoon temperatures made travel east along i40 somewhat problematical. May 21st dawned clear and cool and calm for the run up the long grade to Williams and camp in the Kaibab National Forest where we (the cat in the front, the cat in the back, and me) enjoyed the very same site as the past several years. Now, on this The First of June we are ready for On The Road Again.

Monday, 2nd June, at USN Obs near FLG

Owen, who I first met at Q'site two years ago, was passing through here on his way from Hither to Yon when I arrived Sunday afternoon so I wriggled The Cat Drag'd Inn to a spot between the ponderosa next to his antique Airstream. We had a good visit, breaking bread, imbibing ale, swopping storeys of travels and travails. Now, this morning, he is off to his next assignation. Shortly after he departed a buxom toothless harridan arrived with "vested service dog" to take up residence in the oak grove.

Perdia Joy's dog was de-vested and allowed to run free as she established her camo tent under the oaks. Seratu spotted this black shaggy four legged intruder on her turf and went out to stalk the dog. Eventually the canine realised his faux paw and turned to play. Seratu stood her ground, hackles raised, as the dog, later to be known as Buddy sat, laid, rolled over.

The crone came over and introduced her Self as The Wicked Witch of the North Woods returned after three years away and was delighted to learn that thumping her staff on the ground that morning still worked to assure that her home was tidy and vacant.

Meanwhile Buddy, now at her side, had committed the mortal sin of getting between Seratu and her front door. The cat came back, the dog danced and wagged, the cat hissed, and all the while Perdida Joy exclaimed what a kind and gentle companion he was. Finally I ended the face-off by scooping Seratu into The...Inn and continued conversation with my silver spangled new neighbor.

Red Hat Wenzday—writing from Meteor Crater Camp

Yesterday started out just fine—I'd been out early with TinyTruck for grocery and other shopping—and then quickly turned into a 300$ day when at the last walk-around the left rear outer tyre was found to be flat before I got on the road from the USNO camp. Nice thing about dualies that one can drive on a single, slowly, for a few miles, to a tyre shop. If you can find a tyre shop within a few miles.

First task was to find a truck tyre shop within a few miles. Mr.Megellan was no help listing only the likes of “Discount Tire” and “Big-O”. AAA was no help either but I suspect the problem there was with the language barrier more than anything else. I think their operators don't comprehend “truck”, or even “RV” for that matter. (I've had this sort of problem before...) Finally called the local Discount shop and they were able to connect me with Northern Arizona Tire, about seven miles east on i40 at Butler Ave. Good truck shop, good job.

This left rear outer was flat a year ago (or was it two...) when a creosote bush stabbed through the sidewall. The shop in Tonopah was able to effect repair and now it was that patch which was leaking. Hard to patch a patch and some shops simply will not try to repair sidewall damage. Too much risk. Best course of action at this point was replacement with a used tyre and we found one of the same size and brand with about the same tread.  

So, here we are On The Road Again, with all the more reason to head for Home Port Garage in New Hampshire for a complete set of new tyres. The ones on the bus now date from 2001. Maybe next year.

Barringer Meteor Crater

You have to go up before you go down...I think I have crossed over some tragic threshold. (Do I really want to admit this? To my Self even?) Maybe only one toe over the line but I feel as tho I am wasting my time, and money, in such touristy pursuits. Used to be places like this were fun and educational but now all they evoke is a been-there-done-that sort of emotion.

50,000 years ago... hurtling at 26,000 miles an hour... nickle-iron... 150 feet across... several hundred-thousand tons... If the Washington Monument were placed on the floor of the crater then the two little red lights at the apex would stare out at you standing on the crater's rim.

The meteor crater is too vast for any lens I have. Closeups of rocks are all I have. See .... and then click on Images if necessary, just under the search frame.

Have you been to visit this place? Been a while since I was here last, with a gaggle of Scouts in the previous century. Some things have changed. There's now a Subway in the gift shop. An astronaut “Wall of Fame” that will leave you confused and wondering.  Did the designer just pull names out of a hat?

I have a card good for a 20% discount at the Meteor Crater RV camp /or/ a cookie at the Subway free with any sandwich purchase (only one to a family...) Let me know if you are headed this way and I will mail you the card.

There are three flights of stairs from the carpark to the rim. Five if you count the short one between RV parking and car parking, and then the one up to the revolving front door.
astronaut training camp
Certain people with the proper credentials can have a photo taken at the bottom of the crater near where the astronauts trained.

D-Day, Seventy[?] Years Ago... Winslow AridZona

Why it seems like only yesterday that my father was welding warships at the Navy Yard in Quincy and I was carrying ration stamps to the grocer across the street. ...Well, maybe the day before yesterday.

“The Corner” is still here in Winslow but post cards are 49 cents each at the Standing On The Corner Gift Shop with no hope of a group rate. That is just getting to be toooo much for the budget of The Postcard of The Month Club. What with postage up as well, and then there there is the cost of mailing labels and the ink to print them. Sending a card to all the pen friends on that dislist is getting to be more than the subscription rates can handle.

Across the street at the Arizona 66 Trading Company post cards are 50 cents each but the proprietor was more than willing to let me have three for a dollar. So I bought thirty. Maybe I can mail them postage due...

Hot and noisy at the Flying Pilot in Winslow. Freight trains on the BNSF main line past the Posada Hotel are muffled by the reefers and APUs of the 18-wheelers surrounding The Cat Drag'd Inn.  After two nights The Inn Drag'd on up the hill to Show Low. The Cat is running hot. The tranny is running hot too. Not sure there might be something wrong besides ambient temperature and a tail wind. Perhaps time to change the oil filters.

Sunday Dawn on Trish's Hill

But first this news. Arrived friday at the Show Low Town Hall to park dry camp and wait for saturday. Gathering of ham radio aficionados to buy and sell mathoms and swop eyeballs. Parked under stately shade trees next to a lush lawn. Bought some junk, met some friends, and after a nap on to Concho and up the hill.

Eleven or so miles east from Show Low and still 19 miles short of Concho, this place, at an elevation of 6600 feet, is just over the county line into Apache Territory.

Perhaps too early to say “MIA” but the third thing Seratu did after the motor was off and she'd helped me erect the long wire aerial was to go out for a walk. That was yesterday afternoon.

She's never before stayed out all night.

Too bad. An institution is dying out.

I remember The Shack when it was a place near South Station in Boston where one could find bins of capacitors and resistors and buy one of this and one of that and the man who helped really knew his stuff.

Radio Shack brought this present situation on themselves when they started packaging components and hiring ignorants to pedal junk made off-shore. They went further down the tubes when they pushed the electronics to a back seat and moved to become a phone store. May be a sad situation now but I have little sympathy for the company. Their attitude and that of their creditors is akin to that of the entire communications industry in this country: The "phone company" and the post office are no longer service oriented. Profit is the goal. Even the mint is getting in on the game with all the collectible coinage. But we still have wasteful paper dollars.

Many other countries have better faster internet service, lower infant mortality rates, better health care and greater longevity; I put all these disparate criteria in the same box. Too much greed on the part of the corporate war mongers who put short term gain first and too much stupidity on the part of a gullible American public.
ME0W on 40m phone

Which Hazel?

Que Sera Seratu? Sad to say I have stopped looking. Perhaps she just did not like travelling all that much. Which Hazel? That is for me to know and you to find out. In the meantime: This ei8ht-month-old Hazel has a microchip and a barcode but no apron. Starting at such an early age perhaps I can keep her an indoor cat but if that doesn't work then at least we can RFID the coyote scat. A charcoal grey feline in a dark narrow companionway may turn out to be a mistake on someone's part; she'll learn after a while or she'll end up with another kink in her tail.

Which Hazel?: Hazel-rah, Hurricane Hazel, a tree, a nut, a maid, a witch...  I chose Seratu for her colour and that she seemed to be the undercat in the cell at the 7th Street Gaol shelter. But all along she seemed to be ill. Ill fitted here and now and physically ill despite being a good eater and a lively companion. Oh Well. I chose this grey cat primarily for her age. At ei8ht months she stands a good chance of adapting to life on the road. Hazel-rah (reincarnate?) is off to a good start. We remain only to see if she will travel well.

Her favourite band is 40m—ME0W calling CQ. What did you expect: A Cat's Whisker? I'm hungry—where's the Ham?

June xvii Tuesday at Saint Johns

VERY windy these past few days. On 14th June the Gust-O-Metre recorded 50mph and The Cat was Drag'ing anchor to stay on her levelling blocks. Monday was a moving day. Ei8hty miles from Trish's Hill via the scenic route to Jim's Pad south of Saint Johns at the junction of highways 180 and 191. Along the way I detoured south of Show Low so Hurricane Hazel-rah could visit the vet to have her incision examined and check the kink in her tail. But upon arrival at the clinic Hazel-rah was hiding. She's yet to learn to come when called. (Or, I've yet to learn which vocalisation will bring her out.) I was beginning to have visions of driving all the way twenty-some miles back to the top of the hill to retrace door-openings.

 Took me half an hour to find her. I realised the whereabouts of Hazel-rah when in the beam of my torch those two glowing yellow orbs blinked. She'd located a hidy-hole neither Sara(h) nor Seratu had ever been to and only a certain application of purrsuasive mechanics and cat-yummy cajoleries brought her out from under the Hoky carpet sweeper and spare wash basin behind the rain locker-cum-cereal shed. Hurricane Hazel's whirlwind character comes to the fore when she's faced with incarceration in one of those cardboard kitty-carriers (“Cats Are Angles With Whiskers”) so I dropped her into a Maine Public Radio canvas reusable shopping bag and moseyed across the carpark.

Karen the Clinician was on duty at the desk when I told my storey about adopting this cat in the bag. I'd written the director about having her road-tested before we left town, and Here we are, I said, and held up the shopping bag. “Is she dead?!, Karen queried, holding hands to face in surprise and concern. “Is the cat dead?” No, the cat is quite alive; prob'ly napping.

In other news: I've finally repaired the leaking transmission cooler hydraulic hose. Easier than I thought; should have done this job years ago. The inch and a quarter wrench required to do the job cost more than the new hydraulic fitting. Well, at least I'll have it for next time.

2014viii21 A Japanese Morning in August

Well... at least the sun rose and the hot tub was hot.

The alarum cat went off at three-thirty. The moon must have faked her out.

I managed to beat her off for about twenty-five minutes but then had to pee anyhow. 47f outside. 57f inside. Almost started the furnace.

Grinder ran out of coffee beans but sufficient to get started.

Brushing her tummy, which she usually appreciates, and Hurricane Hazel punctured a vein on the back of my hand. Old Facefull Geyser there for a moment. The flow stopped quickly tho not before leaving a few blobs of blood in the middle of Missouri. The scene was rather funny when HH, with a look of fear in her eye, frantically pawing the heartland as if to bury the evidence.

Took my mind off being cold.

Then this computer failed to start. No power. Mains Switch on ok but no response from the ON button. Power supply light was on in the rear. Mains Switch off then on again and she started right up without my pressing the ON button.
A snake in the road...
For all of a few seconds.

Then shut down again.

Ah-Ha! The ON button was somehow stuck down. I pried it up and all was well again. Something else to fix.

After I dump the slops bucket, clean the catbox, wash the dishes, and chase away this rattler...

Perhaps I'll take an early nap.

At least the sun is up. Even if not warm enough.

2014 Autumnal Equinox, Pie Town on The Continental Divide

Telephone service out here in the wild west is spotty at best. All the hoo-haa adverts about tablets and iphones and G4 is just so much BS as to be pathetic. Some of them work if you are within the downtown area of not all cities. Some of them work if you are within the Interstate corridor, especially near a truckstop. But between hither and yon? Forget it. In some places picture-phones won't even take pictures let alone send text.

Look at the coverage maps of the various carriers and see the vast area devoid of colour. This is the great 3% that none of them serve. Cows and cacti don't use mobile phones.

One particular stretch of U.S.60 in west central New Mexico has no AT&T or T-Mobile service for over a hundred miles, which just happens to include Pie Town in Catron County. Verizon works if you stand on the X in front of the Post Office or at the picnic table in the side yard of the Toaster House Hostel. But Cartoon County also has no stoplights, you can count all the stopsigns on two hands, and there are more cows than People and Humans combined. Also no OTA or cable television service.

There must be more than one of those Xs in the weeds under The Cat Drag'd Inn where I am parked at Nita's Cabin. Verizon Service has two to three bars on my mobil phone. T-Mobile has none. So I've discontinued the T-Mo data service sorry to say and contracted with an outfit called AutoNet to provide data service faster and for less cost. AutoNet uses Verzion and Sprint to provide seamless connectivity, wherever there is any at all, as one bounds between tall buildings, from cell to cell, through deep tunnels.

How is this new internet connexion working out? Dandy! I think I might be saving some money. At least getting more of my money's worth by not spending monthly fees for a service that does not work, not spending time and fuel travelling to wifi hot spots and pie. But then there is the dilemma of missing the social interaction with others I meet whilst patronising wifi hot spots v.s the broadening effects of sitting on my ass in front of this screen for too many hours a day.

the time has come,
the walrus said,
to pull the plug
'fore anything's said.

to hit the road,
i need a goad
to lighten my toad
and find a node,
a cool abode.

Now the the time is here again to find my way back to the warm abode. Pie Town has been cool enough for this estivation; the sunrise temperatures, the overnight lows have dropped into the upper 30fs more than once in the past weeks, the furnace has roused from its long sleep.
Fire and smoke in the fridge.

Slices of Pie—a Piepourri:

Built a Cold Frame and a Raven Feeding Perch. Took down a Wind Charger to repack the bearings and found a bird nest inside. [Should have taken a picture... The nest was behind the fan, between the whirling blades and the spinning alternator. Three light blue eggs about five-eighths of an inch long amidst a clutter of lint and down.] Helped the electrician at the Fur & Feathers Animal Shelter suss out a wiring problem. Repaired several breaks in the cow fence. Rewired a double-wide that was being divided into two offices. Moved a few truck loads of juniper firewood. Replaced the Spring Brake Control in this old bus. Replaced controller board in the fridge. [All the times the fridge has been intermittently alarming with Error Code  “AC HE” finally became fatal. Removed the faulty board and found fire and smoke where a trace of the printed circuit had burned away. Looks as though a lightning bolt got past the fuse and vapourised the copper foil. For perhaps a year the heater has been running on the carbonised fibreglass. So much for Lightning Arrestors and Surge Protectors, eh...] Still working on the rear brakes of my Little Truck. [They've been squeaking and squealing and getting out of adjustment a lot of late. When I pulled off the drums parts fell out.] And of course wrote lots of letters.

Pie Town Pie Festival Prep Time—Rolling In Dough

kids games to keep them out of the pieFancy new stove to install that for some reason couldn't have been done and tested ahead of time. Two of us working on it took several hours to get the old one out, new one in, plumbing required moving gas pipes. Install instructions did not clearly say that the stove was OEM for NG and none of the conversion parts included were labeled LP so that was at least a half hour delay reading the steps to discern which. In the end we gave up and turned on the gas. Blowtorch flames and lots of yellow were the major clews that we needed; conversion necessarily followed. In the meantime pies were piling up.

Once into the conversion process the instructions were clear and concise. I even learnt a new trick: wrap a sliver of masking tape around the end of a socket wrench and tuck it into the socket to hold a nut just so whilst lowering it into a deep well...
A monkey on the bars.
Oven working, pies baking, twelve at a load, in the new convection oven. Shifted gears to move trays of pies to and fro to other ovens in two adjacent churches. The most difficult task of the day was holding off the crotchety know-it-all grandmothers who kept insisting they had to periodically open the new oven and rotate and shuffle the pies for even browning. Not necessary with this oven my dear. This oven is magic.

Finally back to The...Inn at about 21 o'clock. Pie for supper. By the time I put away tools and forgot the weather I had all I could do to get the cat in and stay awake long enough to undress and brush teeth before bed way late at 22h.

Then there was The Pie Festival. The 34th Annual. Bigger this year than last. This year I was more of a spectator than a participant. At the Festival on saturday I stayed out around the edges, people watching, shopping for trinkets, cleaning up after, hobnobbing with guests and friends and trail-riders at The Toaster House.

Now there are dishes to do...

And a few more pies to bake.

39f here this morning. Heat on.

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 © 2014, A.J.Oxton, The Cat Drag'd Inn , Tonopah AridZona 85354-0313.