The Total Solar Eclipse of a Lifetime

Travels With Oso con Migo

Odyssey In America

OAE On The Road Again — The Total Solar Eclipse of a Lifetime

Nude Sunbathers Ahead

2017 Septober [for the Autumnal Equinox] — Greetings Virtual Travellers:
Where's Hazel? Pet Hazel. Scratch Hazel behind her ears.

Picking up where my last letter left off...

     Shopping at Costco the other day. At checkout the clerk examined my card and said: “There was someone else here from Pie Town yesterday.” There are only a few people in Pie Town who would drive that far to shop so I asked them “What did they look like?” “Well,” they said, “They was kinda tall, silvery hair, bought a lot of liquor.” That description fits a lot of my friends, I thought, I'd better check around, I might be missing out on a party.  (Thanks for the plagiary Kathy)
     I wonder if all the coast and geodetic survey charts and topographic maps are going to be updated as fast as the sea level rises in the next few years. Will Mount Washington shrink to six thousand two hundred and 87... 86... 85... feet?
     My mother used to say: "I'll make you a wish sandwich."backdoor and frontdoor
     "A sandwish?", I responded, only the first time she offered.
     "What's that?" I asked looking up at her eagerly. "You wish in one hand," she said, "and shit in the other, and see which one gets full first."

Monday August 7, On The Road Again

     Headed for the eclipse. Convoy of two: Spencer in the Arctic Fox had the back door. Wishing for clear skies. Not withstanding my Annual Migratory excursions between Tonopah and Pie Town I've not been on a road trip adventure outside of these two states since my 2011 visit to Astoria ORegon. On the road by mid-day: Pie Town, Quemado, almost to Grants. Now in La Ventana Natural Arch Rest Area at the north end of The Narrows on Hwy 117. Off to a good beginning. After extra rememberings the only thing I forgot was to fill my ice cube bag. I'll pay for that faux pas with warm G&Ts until I find an ice cube store.La Ventana

Tuesday 8th, Off The Road Again.

     After a great overnight at La Ventana, watching the full moon rise over the arch, and the stars and the cars... We got under way late morning headed east. Somewhere in the vicinity of i40[Scenic View] the foot throttle linkage failed and I coasted into this paved wide spot for a pit stop. You can see in the picture where the weld holding the nut being positioned by the screwdriver had failed. I thought about going off to look for a shop Foot Throttle Failurewhere I might get it rewelded but finally figured out how to rebuild the linkage my Self. Tailgate down, extension cords extended, that vise on the bumper at the ready, and making use of material and tools I've been hauling around lo these many years, I fashioned two “L” brackets as seen in picture two. The remains of the broken weld were cut and ground away and the new brackets riveted in place. Pedal in situ, hinge pin connected, the linkage works great! On the Road Again.Foot Throttle Repair
     Now writing from Ojo Caliente where I'm getting soaked. An  upscale resort where everyone is way overdressed but the water is great. A fitting and relaxing end to a 218 mile 12 hour day. Onwards next to Alamosa.

Friday 11th, Fire in the Engine Room!

     The Ghost of Wolf Creek Pass strikes again. Fortunately the self-extinguishing materials did their job. Two evenings and one whole day visiting OAE Fred (Palmer & SPOLE) and his delightful Char and her sister and grandson. The last two were there only for one supper but so far they were the high point of the trip—Wolf Creek Pass notwithstanding.
     We got off to an early start this morning to get up the big hill before the day warmed overmuch. Wolf Creek from the east side is a much nicer climb and the Clatterpillar 3208 hummed right along in high range. Hot for sure but not too hot for the motor. Just too hot for too long. Smoke became evident after a while; Hurricane Hazel, the smoke detector cat, was not at all happy with these developments.
     Actually, at first it was hard to tell the steam from the radiator water spray from the smoke from the smoldering foam insulation. Stopping at the top of the pass cleared up that mystery. Next week I will install a sprinkler system. Spencer came alongside with his outside shower and we were able to cool the firewall and make the smoke go away.
     But then I couldn't get started. The extreme heat had melted the plastic liner of the foot throttle linkage cable and glued the inner control cable to the outer sheath.  We futzed around with the problem for a few minutes in the cold and intermittent rain. (Wait... was that a snowflake over there?) Lets just push her over the edge and coast to the bottom. I'll fix it there.
     Once moving the bus found the road all down hill. 7% grade sometimes. Very scary at first. Very scary at second too. I won't even begin to write about third and fourth. But the gears worked and the engine brake worked and we eventually arrived at a nice paved flat spot just inside the city limits of Pagosa Springs. Coasted to a stop, no need for a throttle.
     I cut off the melted section of throttle cable—a couple feet long—and found the rest of the cable worked fine. Tools and parts and peaches and tea later and I've rigged a bypass that works better than the original method. So now we are miles and miles closer to Driggs at the Wally World Caravanserai in Cortez.

Saturday's Fixit AdventuresCDI at Church Rock

     Had a generally great drive from Cortez west on u.s.491 (which used to be known as u.s.666 until someone complained—the Devil made them do it) then north on u.s.191 and west on u.s6 (the same u.s.6 that starts way back in Provincetown) up until around Price. We'd been losing altitude since Cortez—a couple thousand feet at least—and now were climbing again, narrow twisty roads, few wide spots, sometimes not much of a shoulder. Just getting to begin the climb to Soldier's Summit and the Nagrivator shut down.
     Not a big deal in and of itself. Mr Magellan was doing ok and Spencer was close behind with his GPS. But I noted there was no ac on the wind vane and the auxiliary defroster fans did not come on when I tested them. Just what I needed, a primary ac failure. So we pulled off the road and I commenced to check. The inverter was on; the fridge was on; so the inverter was ok. I wriggled some plugs and suddenly everything was ok. Nagrivator rebooted ok. So i pulled out onto the road again and then noted I had no chassis battery charge. 30 amp load from fans and lights and no charge; the battery is not going to be very happy about that. Had to drive about ten miles before I found another wide spot.
     There I poked and prodded and measured and got wet when a thumper opened up. Decided I'd have to deal with whatever was wrong later. Rain and cold on the outside and in the engine room everything was too hot to handle so I set the big dual battery switch at the APU to BOTH so the house battery was connected to the chassis battery and went on up the hill and down the other side to this place Tie Fork Rest Area on u.s.6, about ei8ht miles west of Soldier's Summit and had supper whilst awaiting the rain to stop and the motor to cool.
     I observed that the alternator was charging the house battery so that part was ok.  And the chassis battery would crank the motor so all that wiring was ok. And there was voltage on the battery isolator where I expected to find it. So that left the finger pointing at the chassis battery diode but that tested ok too. hmmm... then in the course of poking further found that the 7/16th nut/bolt that ties the diode to the battery wire and the sense wire was loose. Great! hah! the proverbial "loose connection" was actually real! That assembly is on a Plexiglas bar/insulator and my guess is that the plexi has softened in the blast of hot air from the radiator fans and thus pulled back from the hardware and cable ends. Charges all OK after the lose nut tightened. Phew! All set for tomorrow.

Sunday—May the Force Be With YouHazel-Rah at Driggs

     Would you believe it? Aside from getting turned around twice in SLC (stupid meaningless Detour Sign in the wrong lane and/or no longer valid—streets changing faster than the Nagrivator can keep track of them...) we had a day of nothing breaking. I almost feel disappointed. Or left out.
     Along the way we took a side trip to look for Ogden Hot Springs up a narrow twisty road into Ogden Canyon, east of Ogden Utah. But there was a chain(link fence) across the path with a No Trespassing sign. Oh Well...
     Now in Idaho at the Welcome Center after 200 miles of i15 and a fillup of 108 gallons of Diesel (first fuel since 23 June). I think the traverse of SLC on i15 was more harrowing than the descent of Wolf Creek Pass. Looks like we might should may make Driggs tomorrow.
     Where is Driggs , anyway?  Driggs is: at N-12 on the AAA chart; a little west of Alta WY; in Teton County IDaho, on ID33 between Tetonia and Victor; about two thumbs and a pinky north east of Idaho Falls.

Monday—Stupidity At An All-time High!

     No diagnostics in this bus but for my Fluke DVM, two screwdrivers, and a hammer. Fluke came in handy when the diagnostics reported the starter button was not working and the starter would not start the Clatterpillar. The motor started OK from the rear remote start switch so I concentrated my efforts in the front. Eventually, further diagnostics read out from the Fluke indicated an open 5a fuse. The Fluke even pinpointed the fuse location to the top left corner on the Ignition Block. However the readout stops short of telling me why the fuse blew. Sufficient to the day is that a new fuse rectified the situation.
     That fuse failed on the third restart, when I was on a fuel island in Rexburg. This time the replacement blew right away. So I put in a larger size. And that caused a fuse further upstream to blow so I put in a larger one there too. Not good practice I know but... I had to get off that fuel island or be towed.
     So, now I are here in Driggs and have a week to sit still and troubleshoot. If at first you don't succeed try a bigger hammer. As long as I can keep my feet out of the way. Start mileage was 30803. End mileage is 32023. How cool is that?

Fixing SurprisesOfficial Beer of the
                  Eclipse Expedition

     But the problem turned out to be elsewhere. Didn't have to take apart my bed and go through the firewall. Tracing the wires from the Start Buttons (the person who wired this bus kept no notes at all, compounded by the person who rewired it keeping notes in some sort of shorthand...): from driver's start button up stream to the bridge battery-bus and down stream to the starter, I found the #16 red wire going out through a hole in the deck by the shifter pedestal and aft through a conduit along the frame rail. So not a firewall problem at all. That red wire went to the coil terminal of a solenoid on the frame rail next to the starter. A similar white wire came from the rear start button to that same point.
     With both wires off the starter solenoid coil terminal they measured open circuit with my Fluke. The coil terminal however was flaky. Sometimes measuring a proper 4 Ohms but at other wriggles measuring 2 or even zero Ohms. The terminal did not seem to be loose but the measurements were erratic. I replaced the solenoid. So far, after four starts, no blown fuses. So I took apart the solenoid and could find nothing wrong. Cleaned the contacts and reassembled. Coil resistance looks good now (consistently at 3.8 Ohms) but I have no idea what I did. I'll keep it as a spare to replace the previously repaired spare that is now in service.
     Parked in a grassy yard at the end of a smooth gravel road. Cloudy and drippy the day we arrived, just partly cloudy the next day, clear with a Green Flash sunrise over the Tetons this morning.

Countdown in Progress

      Hype and Hoo-Ha! Been there done that got the tee shirt. Really tho, an entire generation has come of age without knowing the profound experience of a Total Eclipse of The Sun. Too bad many of them are going to see this celestial wonder on the telly. Or their stupid phones. With instant replay and colour commentary. Especially for those of you who will not see this eclipse in person the post office issued a special postage stamp. The ink is temperature sensitive. Press your warm thumb on the shadow and after a few seconds the moon will appear. Well Done Post Office!

The Day Before Armageddon

     Major power failure here as we were just getting into the second movie of a double feature and I started up the hot air popper. Seems to me I have used that tool before with no problem but last night the inverter went off line. DC lights were OK and the battery looked OK. With torch in one hand and DVM in the other I went about opening battery bay and inverter bay and found the inverter with a blinking green light crying with an incessant beep-beep-beep. I'd never in all these years experienced this condition so I had to rummage through the bus file and find "The Book".  Eventually found the Trouble Chart. The inverter was ill with a "seriously low battery" alarum. That is a hard failure which requires manual reset procedure. Today I suppose I should at least do a battery load test but I don't want to get into tearing down the system for fear of what I might find.

The Eclipse of A Lifetime!My photo of the Corona - Little Jon's video

     I stayed up all night keeping the clouds swept away, wore out two besoms which I will have to replace before next eclipse, but there was little I could do about the smoke and haze.
     The first thing of note was the drop in temperature. At that hour in the morning the day had warmed to  73f from the 42f observed at dawn but as the moon encroached more and more the temperature slid  downwards. By about 70% obscured, daylight was noticeably dimmer, shadows were sharper, output  from the PV array on The Cat Drag'd Inn was down from the 20-30 amps normal at that time of day to  only 15 amps, and the air was cold enough to run inside for a warm woolly jumper.
     We had laid out on the grass a fine white wool blanket, frayed around the edges but not too moth-eaten and just at the moment of totality were able for a fleeting instant to see the fabled shadow bands. The temperature was down by ten degrees by then. The sky was dark, at least one planet was visible, my camera wanted to turn on its flash. Hurricane Hazel curled up for a nap--but that was nothing unusual so I doubt we can attribute her behaviour to the lack of sun.
     And then moments later, The Diamond Ring heralded the end of totality, the return to viewing devices, and hopefully to warmth. But the temperature dropped another two degrees before turning up again. Lowest observed was 60f. Think about that. How fast the air cooled! Wouldn't take but a few hours for the earth to freeze if the sun were to go out altogether.
     After that rather spectacular eclipse in Driggs I spent three hours to drive the twenty miles from Rexburg to IDaho Falls where u.s.20 turns west. Traffic was bumper to bumper. Once I got on 20 west I was able to get up some speed and made it to EBR-1 with minutes to spare. Now on to current events and another meltdown of the diode/alternator/charge feed wire and subsequent roadside repair.

23 August - IDaho needs more Passing Lanes. The Devil at Arco Sub Park

     The 21st and 22th I drove sometimes 10-15 miles of hilly curvy two lane blacktop with often not even a passing zone never mind a passing lane. And no wide spots where I could pull over and let all the cars and trucks pass me. OTOH only a fool would be driving 60-70 on those roads. There were a lot of fools on the road the past couple days. In Arco ID at a fuel stop/pit stop I met a family who are just starting the conversion of their old bus.
     Picked up Nita in Boise and now we are on the road to Bishop. Yesterday was really hot drivingCDI Basquing with hills to climb and that was when the primary charge wire from the diode isolator to the chassis battery failed again. Drove about twelve miles at a 50a load before finding a wide spot, where The Cat Drag'd Inn and fit, to effect repair. This time I rebuilt the connexion so there is no meltable plastic involved. Then on to Jordan Valley and a grassy city park with a large bell to ring just in time for a good night's sleep.Basque Sign
     Now writing from Basque ORgon, a tiny island of connectivity in a vast radio desert. But then again, as with mobile service in Pie Town, sheep don't have cell phones. I'm sure the service is only for this “Population 10” road camp. Onwards.

24-26 Aug...There's a hot spring just down the road apiece.

     On a last minute spurn of the moment we headed east instead of south. I suppose I could blame the conflict of instructions between Ms Money-Penny of the Delorme GPS and Mr Magellan (in drag), not to mention the AAA paper maps... Off to look for a couple of hot springs, one I'd not been to and one I'd been to several times and is a special favourite.
NoWhere NV [Nita Photo]     At Nowhere NeVada is Reese Hot Spring. Found more by good luck than good management, a mostly rocky cauldron within a "cow proof fence" is found a bit of a shelf surrounding a bottomless hole to the centre of the Earth filled with clean hot water. One mis-step on the slippery tufa and you're in a lobster pot. A little on the hot side for a hot afternoon soak, still a welcome reward for all we went through to find the place. I've written the editor of the hot spring guide book to correct the instructions.Reese River HS
     Onwards and upwards through Austin (NeVada) and down the other side to Spencer Hot Spring. My favourite. I will have to come back again. And stay longer. Spencer is not a place for a one night soak. Too good for that. Deserves several days to explore.

Spencer HS [Nita Photo]     Now we are at Fallon visiting Sandy and Gordon (thank you very much for supper and a shower) and their quarter slot machine and air compressor and becoming reacquainted with the Sounds of the City: Honk! Honk! oohwee-oohweee-oohweee... Beep-Beep. Cock-a-doodle-dooo. Onwards to Falloff? Well, at least as far as Bishop and a few more hot springs.

The Bishopric of Bishop

     Where I am camping in this huge paved carpark the sprinklers turned on at oh-dark-thirty last night. 'Rain' thudding against The Cat Drag'd Inn spooked Hurricane Hazel-Rah and brought me running up the companionway to close windows. A few hours later I am dreaming about playing in the surf and awaken to find my face wet from real rain coming in through the roof vent.
     Writing from Bishop in the carpark at VONS. Work all done here; time to get on the road again. Hurricane Hazel is anxious to return to her ministerial responsibilities amongst the avian communities in Tonopah and I need to do a laundry.Spencer Hot Spring
     Today I picked up two bags of trash at Keough Hot Ditch, a few miles south of Bishop, and had a grand soak in a nice sandy-bottomed pool there. Very special place, worthy of a special trip just to go there again--not to mention visiting friends in Bishop.
     My astronomer friend Little Jon made a 4 1/2 minute video of our eclipse experience. He and Jane were in ORgon, Nita was on the west side of Idaho whilst Spencer (not to be confused with the hot spring of the same name in Austin) and Paul were with me and Tony on the east side in Driggs. We all saw the same sun, minutes apart, but Jon got the best pictures.

170903 - Dirty Socks to Newberry and Beyond

Dirty Sock Tepid Spring     Another Ah-Ha! Moment occurred today. Two of them actually. 2,554 miles to the other end of i40 the sign proclaimed as The Cat Drag'd Inn across the “00” at the point where i40 branched away to the right from i15 in Barstow CA. It occurred to me that I could not recall ever before crossing “Mile Zero” of an Interstate Highway. A few miles further on I turned off i40 at Daggett and followed “Historic 66” east to Newberry to camp at Newberry Mountain RV Park. Recommended by my Escapees Discount Camping Guide and just in the nick of time. The heat was oppressive (105f at the thermometer bulb behind the front bumper) and the air was dry and my patience was wearing thin. Too damned hot to be wearing clothes; I'd been driving au naturel (that's just a PC way of implying nude) all day except for a couple of “No Shirt No Shoes...” stops. This camp was going to require at the least a dashiki (...the demanding signs never say anything about trousers...) or my XXLL Cool Space polo shirt.
     The second Ah-Ha! came up in the first quarter-mile of “Hist 66”. I've been on other sections of Old Route 66 where short lengths of pavement exist between i40 exits. There is one section that bypasses over 70 miles of i40 between Seligman and Kingman AridZona that I have driven in both directions. Another section is in Adrian, west of Amarillo TeXas. Adrian is on Route 66, half way between Chicago and Los Angeles. "When you're here you're halfway there."
     I realised that, as with some of my hiking on the AT and the CDT, I have been doing Historic 66 in little pieces, in no particular order, by happenstance, or detour, a few miles here—a few miles there. This little strip of two-lane is magical. All sorts of sights to see and places to visit; a new view presented around every bend. Trains and cows (one train had 5 engines then 90 cars followed by three engines and 45 cars with two more engines pushing), derelict dwellings and paved paths in the desert, and bridge weight limits of “3 Tons” with no place to turn around. Some parts of this road are so bad that The Cat Drags Along at limping speed.  Other parts, newly paved, you zip right fast. The part east of Amboy is closed—they are replacing the bridge.Historic Rt
              66, Amboy CA
     But before I got that far I found a side road, no more than a driveway, snaking off to the south.

     Too late in the day to walk to the crater; the temperature was 105f in the shade. I was running the APU to power the a/c. Burning propane, using heat to make cold. The info signs advised hiking only in the Winter. So I decided to stay the night and hike in the morning at second light.

September Fiveth, Hiking Amboy Crater

     Nice hike. Attired just as Colin Fletcher taught me (sun hat, sturdy foot gear, plenty of water) I followed the trail out and around and up and down and up and up, to the rim of the crater where I could see the Bee Line Trail return path. Then, driving again, following Historic 66 east from Amboy, I came to the bridge replacement project and the detour north to i40. Good thing that bridge was out else I never would have discovered the East Amboy Dolomite Quarry and a further detailed report about the dust on TinyTruck.

Important Aside

     Certain city governments think that by making “overnight camping” at Wal-Mart illegal we who live on the road in Residence Vehicles will flock to the campgrounds of their constituents and spend dollars for a space to eat and sleep—not to mention full hook-ups, pool, laundry, rec room, and playground (in some cases off limits to unaccompanied adults)—when we would rather spend that money on groceries at Wal-Mart and thank them for their courtesy. Kingman AridZona must be that sort of city. Remind me to avoid spending any money there. Kingman is not the first city where I have run into that rule, Venice Florida was another. And another near the eastern end of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Campgrounds are Ok when you want hook-ups, pool, laundry, rec room, and playground; I've spent thirty dollars a night twice this past week just to have access to grid power for my two a/c units. Beats paying to pour propane through the APU to achieve the same chilly feeling (which I did do for one night). However, when all the Residence Vehicle driver wants is a quick get-off-the-road for supper and sleep little else along the road beats a Wal-Mart caravansary. They are usually less noisy and smelly than the truckstop at the next exit. I mean, that's why we live in self-contained vehicles, eh. Often, the next wide spot in the road is easier to get to than a constituent's campground.

An Ignominious Ending – 5-8 September

     But normal is running out. Now for the bad news... Main radiator in the bus has another leak. Bad leak. This is gonna mean a new radiator. Prob'ly happened in the dark tuesday just before my arrival at North Ranch in Congress AZ. First indication was a sudden drop in coolant pressure but no puddle was evident next morning. That didn't happen until thursday morning as I am hitching up to leave for the last leg to Tonopah. Now I'm not going anywhere. At least for another day.
     I attempted another quick fix with JBWeld, same process as on the first two leaks in Show Low at the start of this Eclipse Expedition. After the JBWeld had time to set I commenced to refill the radiator and immediately found another hole. This one in a place I could not reach. Time to call AAA for a tow. This is gonna be an ax-pensive repair. Couldn't have happened at a better time.CDI on Hook
     This must be Summer. Even my repairs are in rerun. Repair Rerun Specials! The Cat Drag'd Inn has been towed only twice in my time of living aboard. First time was 22 May 1998, Friday, Springfield Oregon, The Cat Gets Drag'd In.  The second was in late April 2002 on Wolf Creek Pass  ...yes, the same Wolf Creek Pass. Now we are three.
     The AAA tow truck is waiting.

Gardyloo, Hugs, Love, ajo  (and Hazel who is tirelessly ministering to the indigenous alar natives. Except at the moment she is seriously involved in a sleep apnea study..)

New Year's Resolutions Censored

Be Well, Do Good, and Please Write.child pointing

Love, ajo

I 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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