A Panda Monium?

Travels With Oso con Migo

Odyssey In America

OAE Off and On and Off The Road Again — A Panda Monium?

Nude Sunbathers Ahead

2021 Autumnal Equinox— Greetings Virtual Travellers and Pen Friends:
Where's Hazel? Pet Hazel. Hazel needs her dreadlocks trimmed.
Pituophis catenifer, Sonoran Gopher SnakeA cautionary note: There are a number of photos in this letter that have little to do with the text; they are included solely to make the letter longer. Sometimes if you can find the Alternate Text you might be provided with a caption. There also might be some redundancies in a few paragraphs. Just think of them as reruns, like on PBS.

NOAA starts the Monsoon Season on June 15th. Weather patterns change: prevailing wind moves from southwest to southeast, cloudiness and humidity increase, likelihood of rain goes from nil to some, daily thunderstorms add to the excitement. Everywhere hereabouts except in Tonopah.

Scorpion in Jane's Spider PlantSummer Solstice Letter Posted

One marker of the Monsoon Season is the prevailing wind shifts to the south east and when that gets going my big awning is at risk. The awning is important to keep the starboard side of the bus shaded from the hot morning sun. I dream often about "upgrading" to one of tho$e motori$ed awning$ that $elf-furl when the wind exceeds about ten miles per hour. What usually happens, as during last night and the night before, is the wind will wake me at oh-dark-30 and I'll be out there furling the awning with the southeast wind trying to fly a 100 sq/ft kite. Drifting and blowing lawn furniture engenders the remark DBLF in the daily weather report.

“...being ‘self-partnered’...”

Let’s hope this is not too late. Not much to go on other than that phrase, this looks like a good read.

Ham Radio Field Day Exercise

Twelve images over the course of six days transmitted from the ISS. As the orbit precesses I typically see three to six passes a day where Tonopah is within the radio footprint of the space station. During each pass there may be time for one to three images depending upon elevation above the horizon, antenna pattern, interference, equipment priorities on the ISS. For instance during this recent set the Ham Radios were off during the spacewalk. K1oiQ/NU7DE collected some 70 images. Many dups of course, another many from the beginning or end of a pass were partials, some had dropouts or noise bursts. Out of all that there were 11 of the 12 very Excellent copies. Number 7 of the set had to be reconstructed from two Good images. The most fun image was Number 1 commemorating SuitSat-1 RS0RS.RS0RS SuitSat ISS Image

From: Slawek SQ3OOK,  Award Manager
Subject: ARISS SSTV Award
To: ajo K1OIQ

Hello K1OIQ,

This time the SSTV images series is dedicated to radioamateur astronauts and cosmonauts and their activities on board of the Space Shuttle, Mir Space station and International Space Station. The ARISS SSTV Award presents  three special people: Musa Manarov U2MIR - Russian cosmonaut who launched amateur radio equipment on board of the Mir space station...; Sergey Krikalyov U5MIR - Russian cosmonaut, launched an amateur radio station on board of the ISS...; American Owen Garriott W5LFL who was the first astronaut and amateur radio operator to take with him on the space shuttle Columbia (STS-9 mission in 1983) amateur radio equipment and conducted radio communications with radio amateurs on Earth.

Astronaut Owen GarriotMr Garriot was instrumental in creating the SAREX program (Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment later called Space Amateur Radio Experiment). In 1992, while at Palmer Station I chatted with Ham/Astronauts on Shuttle Mission STS-45.

2021vii8 On Your Mark...

Main engine starts and builds air. APU starts and makes watts. Lights check OK. Transferring old fuel to main tank. All good so far without any connexion to the internet of things.

2021vii10 On Your Other Mark...

July 10 WX WarningWX Warning on my alarum ridden oblong this evening. Conditions had been nice outside all day, albeit too hot as usual, so I hadn’t thought to furl the big awning. I was settled in with a sack of food bank popcorn to ingest my MDR of tellyviewing when the WX alert radio commenced to blather on about 4-inch mesquite trees being broken and blown about in the East Valley. That’s the better part of an hundred miles to the east of The Cat Drag’d Inn so I reached for another fistfull of popcorn. Just then the bus lurched as if hit by a strong crosswind.  A 121Sqft kite was trying to take the bus for a sail. I canna describe without a lot of hand-waving the machinations undertaken to ground the awning. No serious damage that three hours of hammer and saw wouldn’t fix.121 Square Foot Awning Sail

Nine Days Later

Still in Tonopah suffering from chronic procrastination. My totem animal reminds me: “If you want to get anywhere you have to stick your neck out”. Right now I need to do a dump and fill and pack a few more things. Projected departure now: Thursday afternoon or Friday morning.

Do i have Alzheimers? An article in a recent BBC News discusses how studying changes in the driving habits of over-65s could reveal the start of the disease:

Specifically, those with preclinical Alzheimer's tended to drive more slowly, make abrupt changes, travel less at night, and logged fewer miles overall, for example. They also visited a smaller variety of destinations when driving, sticking to slightly more confined routes. Describes a lot of commuters...

Might I be slowly transitioning from nomad to nester? Morphing from Desert Rat to Snowbird? Michael writes: “You're already pretty much more of a seasonal nester than a true nomad.” What’s in a name? Tiny fine distinctions between nomad and migrant. What a difference a label makes? Migrating implies seasonal periodicity while nomadic implies wandering opportunistically. My mantra says “Does it really matter?”

It doesn’t really matter. It really doesn’t matter. Please, someone diagramme those for me? Done! Thank you Stack Exchange.

Her Master's VoiceWhat does a Buddhist Bamboo Eater use for an aid to meditation?

Get Set!

I could have left today but the threat of rain and flooding gave me cause to pause the countdown.


No. Wait. There is mail waiting. Important mail. And more rain.

21vii23 Friday Try That Again

After nearly two years of sitting in the desert of Eastern Tonopah (Thank you very much Paul) I have finally cleared the roots growing out of my tyres and put away the sugar bowl to see if I can remember how to drive The Cat Drag'd Inn.

Several days of torment and packing followed a month of procrastination and delays not of my own doing. Just this morning for instance I found all the wind yesterday loosened a length of the metal roofing of the Tin Shed. Six feet of rusty sheet steel flapping in the breeze. I have to fix that.

TinyTruck is packed with more stuff than I need but not all that I want.

Air up the tyres, wash the windows, TV antenna down, awnings furled, shore power disconnected and power cords stowed, and roll out the yard.

Two miles down the road stop to check the load, have lunch, and find I forgot to secure the Spice Rack...

Now The Cat is Drag'd Inn to Sonoran Desert RV Park in Gila Bend. A short first day but long enough to get started and find out the situation is worse. I actually had the bus in gear when I noticed the shore power cord was still connected to the RV pedestal.

24 July—The Fridge Failed Wine
                  Aerobics...And Repeat

Saturday started out just dandy; on the road south to Tucson early. In and out of rain. Then the Nagrivator went to sleep and the APRS monitor shut down; I pulled off i10 to check the load, reboot, and ultimately have a cup of tea. Eventually found that the 120vac inverter was off; alarum condition “Overload”. Reset. Restart. Reboot. On down the road until the whole scenario repeated.

Well! That adventure didn't last too long.

The drive from Sonoran Desert RV Park in Gila Bend to find old ham radio friend Virginia in Tucson was all on i10 but for the last few miles of surface streets on the north side of Tucson. In and out of rain kept the temperature down. Along the way I began to realise there was an electrical problem as the 120vac inverter would cut off leaving the Nagrivator without power and the fridge not cooling.

A Comic Interlude?

Tasting Megan's Mead at Nita's in Pie Town. Photo
              by Nita.Somewhen along in here I needed a four-inch funnel and could not find the one I knew I had somewhere amongst all the stuff in the port-forward bellybox. Basha’s didn’t have one. Two stores later I ended up at the Maricopa Wal-Mart where the Greeter sent me to Automotive. Their funnels were red and narrow and long with a rim shaped like _/ for pouring oil into your motor (or using as a urinal). No. I want a flat top 4-inch funnel, no backstop. So I was sent to Garden Center. They had black funnels, more or less the same shape as Automotive’s. Useful for getting fertilizer or insecticide into an applicator. Nope. I want a flat top 4-inch funnel. On the way to Housewares another clerk was a Whirling Dervish of suggestions as I been-there-done-that each one. In Canning Supplies I found a blue 5-inch funnel for getting chunky preserves into a canning jar. Then finally to Housewares where a Finder had to get down on their knees to reach way back behind some unrelated things to bring fourth—Viola!—the last one. A flat top 4-inch funnel. White.

After several stops to restart the inverter I eventually found my way to the gatekeeper at Tucson Meadows who said I could have a couple hours parking at the entrance to the dog-walk half a mile from Virginia's house. Then TinyTruck wouldn't start since a wire in the starter relay circuit had jiggled loose.

Virginia is 93 and walks a mile every morning; her long term partner/husband Cliff died last year and as much as she misses him and their RV lifestyle she is mostly content where she lives now except for the lack of contact with former travellers and colleagues. We had a lot of hugs to catch up on. Dinner and wine later I was back to The Cat Drag'd Inn and on my way to The Flying Pilot Truck Stop for fuel and parking.
Sunset at Pie Town. Photo by Nita
So many things have changed in the past year and a half. Roads are in different places. Businesses have changed names and buildings. In Gila Bend Holt's Texaco Fuel, Campground, and Dinosaur Park has been bulldozed flat. There is now a Pilot Truck Stop there but no camping and no dinosaurs. In Maricopa AridZona an intersection and grade crossing has been replaced by a huge flyover but at least the Basha's still has B&J's Coffee Ice Cream. In Tuscon at i10x268 at the Pilot (Truck Stop) Travel Center there no longer has any dedicated RV parking. Time was one could fuel and then park for the night. Now if you can think and plan far enough ahead you might make a reservation for a slot in the semi-truck's parking area. Getting on towards dusk by the time I finished fueling around in the rain and resetting the ac inverter, The Cat Drag'd Inn was like a tired dog going round and round looking for a place to park. Finally paid 15$ at the nearby TTT Truck Stop to share the puddles in the rain.

25 July—Sunday rainy morning! Staying above high water in Tucson.

Destination now depends on the troubleshooting. I’d set out to go to Deming and Pie Town for a month or so, but now? I may stay here if I can find a fridge repair service. I may continue to Deming where Captain Hook might help. Or I may return to Tonopah for repair and try the whole adventure later. What a trilemma! By now I have sorted out the troubleshooting and come to the conclusion that the fridge compressor has failed. Where TinyTruck is parked behind The Cat Drag’d Inn the puddle is nearly up to her axles. With the advice of some local ham radio people and a shot of Google I found a Fry's with dry ice. A couple blocks of that kept the B&J's from melting and I made the snap decision to return to Tonopah. 175 miles and two cups of tea and I’m back in my familiar ruts where I started from about 53 hours ago. I found 1.60” of rain in the gauge I forgot to bring along and 3.7" of rain in the fire bucket in the bed of TinyTruck.

Monday Morning Coming Down

Needless to say I am quite bummed. I'm moving some food to Paul's fridge and some to an iced cooler on the couch and contacting the manufacturer of my fridge this morning. Troubles multiply exponentially! Like compound interest. All the rain has pushed me into cleaning some storage areas that have not been opened in too many years. I am finding all sorts of things I could throw away. And a few things I should have not been carrying in the first place. Need any snowshoes? If I can get my fridge repaired in a few days perhaps I will try again for Pie Town. WTF, there is only a small fortune involved. Only money as they say. And time.

For now my meals are like a progressive dinner party. Go visit one fridge for comestibles, back to my ice chest and galley for prep and main course, then a different fridge for desert. I have lost at least four pounds--I'm gonna market this idea as the Broken Fridge Diet.

The cooling unit manufacturer said they have never had a problem with the compressors however they have had failures of the widget that sits between the compressor and Fridge Controller. This device contains the starting capacitor and start winding switch. Symptoms indicate that the switch has failed and is stuck on. So when the Fridge Controller calls for cold this widget turns the compressor on but the switch fails to disconnect the start winding so the overload circuit breaker opens. They are sending a new starter device. [Repeat cartoon?]

Thursday Evening Fridge Compressor
                  Starter. x1.5

They sent a new one monday afternoon (warranty) which arrived today. The fridge is now cold enough that I have started moving in my comestibles. I have to wonder if the switch failed due to getting wet in all the rain. I’ve ordered a second starter switch to have a ready spare. This trip also uncovered a couple other problems. One is a leak in the roof of the head, above Hurricane Hazel-Rah’s commode. May have to add some sealant around the roof vent fan. The other is a failure of the main engine alternator charge amp-meter. Seems to be a bad wire. More critter damage? So I have a few things to do to get turned around and then reload-repack-restart. Now looking at departure in a week or so. By then I will have to do another dump & fill.

August 7th Nothing By Chance

Sammy's Penis. Twist This for a Cup of Hot WaterThis narrative could be titled A Stormy Adventure of the Open Road (with thanks and regards to Richard Bach) A week has come and gone. Fix one thing find another failed. Today Sammy’s penis was frozen. Unable to drain. I guess his action has been too long neglected. Usually you pull on his handle and he will fill your mug with hot water. R&R the mechanism adding a dose of Plumber’s Grease cured the malady. Would that mine could be fixed so easily.

In the old days Humans learned Common Sense. But Common Sense along with tree climbing and free range unstructured play is now considered Child Neglect. Most interesting is that these new rules are promulgated by the very same people who enjoyed such childhoods as they are now proscribing.

Planet Water Cycle and global warming ... very bad news …  Articles such as that one are part of my reluctance to drive anywhere. The...Inn must be making a contribution to my personal carbon footprint. But if I am going to get stuck anywhere then where should that be? Where should I go for my final destination? How long do I have to get there?

I'm sure you all have been sitting on pins and needles just groaning in anticipation of this next installment. At least I like to believe that.

The manufacturer of my fridge's cooling unit said they've never had a problem with the compressor and indeed that turned out to be the case. The problem was with the compressor starter switch. One more thing to bitch about. In the old days these these switches consisted of a couple of parts you could see and a mechanical relay that controlled power to the start winding of the motor. With a couple of hand tools one could fix the thing. Today this thing is a plastic box smaller than the original relay containing a dozen components you can't hardly see let alone replace. The mechanical relay has been replaced by a triac. You cannot burnish the points of a triac. When a triac fails you replace the triac with another triac. If you can find one. If not then you replace the entire starter. While I was waiting for the new starter widget (coming out 2nd Day Air, no charge) I disassembled the broken starter device just for the hell of it.

The triac was shorted as expected. After some diligent searching I found that I could get a new triac for $0.47 (forty-seven cents!) if I ordered at lot of 500. Eventually I found a retailer on eBay who would sell one for four dollars plus five dollars shipping and then I would have to install and test. The entire starter device was only $15 post paid plug&play.

So, the new starter arrived and worked just fine. I ordered a second for a spare. Now I'm still wondering why the first one failed. All the details make for another few paragraphs of speculation and only some further testing will result in any knowledge. Meantime on to the other problems and repairs. Let's see if we can get this bus on the road again.

Not So Fast...

TinyTruck's RF tyre has been loosing 2-3 psi a day for the past couple weeks. Finally got an appointment to have that repaired and learn there is irreparable damage to the shoulder of the tyre, where the tread becomes the sidewall. The good news is that a prorated replacement will cost me only sixteen dollars. The bad news is the replacement tyre will not be available for 5-6 days. There goes another week.

“Sometimes I think that life is just a process of collecting scars.”  --Deborah Shapiro

2021iix22 Green Flash sunrise.

One good thing about Autumn: The sun's rise moving south along the eastern horizon is finally out from behind the trees. Another: Clear sky and drying air, this could be the end of Monsoon.

2021iix27CDI at Little Vineyeard Resort

Made the drive as far as Safford AridZona yesterday, 40-some miles short of my goal. But I was tired and overheated so this WallyWorld Caravansary appeared as an oasis in the desert just in the nick of time. On to Deming Nude Mexico today. Getting started shortly.

The Cat is Drag’d Inn to Little Vineyard camp in Deming now. Several problems to work on but nothing really serious. I've been too long off the road so these things have been laying in wait.

30 August

Really bummed today. Yesterday I managed to ruin my fine copper tea kettle not paying attention to the boiling dry until the smell of burning metal brought me to my senses. So far I’ve managed to fix an antenna for a neighbour, rewire the cooling fans and alternator amp meter in this bus, have a couple of nice meals and long chats with my other old friend Captain Hook, and go a week and a half without watching any television. But ruining my copper kettle has set me back a piece.

Welcome to September

Nancy Doherty Allen, my Lady Friend of many
              years.Already the 2nd. 64f here in Deming before dawn. Had the heat on for a few minutes. Just to see if the furnace and gas log remembered how to get hot. Letter from Nancy's brother David informs me that she died of complications of life. Nancy had been living in a nursing home for the past few years after loosing a leg to amputation. I last visited her when I went east by train in 2018.

Labour Day Weekend

Long climb up the hill—Deming>Silver City>Reserve>Quemado—to Pie Town. Every thousand feet of elevation climbed the temperature declined another few degrees. Altitude ameliorates.

2021ix10 End of An Era Anchor Chain Holds
                  Me In Place

This anchor chain around my neck I purchased when I visited friends in Saint Thomas during April of 1997. Since then I have removed the necklace only twice that I can recall, for chest X-Rays. Now this end of an era. This morning the necklace fell off. If you look just west of Miami you can see how thin the metal of the clasp has worn. The hook had opened and the chain was across my shoulder instead of around my neck. I bent the hook back and filled the cavity of wear with solder but noted in the process other wear spots along the chain not quite so bad. Perhaps I'll get another few years of being chained down. Perhaps I will find a silversmith who can make proper repair.

Twenty Years Later

Where were you and doing what on September 11th 2001? I was working at NH’s Louden Speedway directing traffic at one of their car parks when one of the managers drove through exhorting us to “...turn your radio on!” Within minutes traffic dwindled to a trickle, the race cars were quiet, we were all listening in stunned silence

Forty Years Later

This year (and last year as well?) was supposed to be the 40th Pie Town Pie Festival. Blame the cancellation on Covid of course however some folks are putting on a Pie Town Reunion which has divided the town and confused the tourists.

The Ides of September

Extraordinary adventure today. Pie Town this morning was at 40f and my furnace failed. Busy with troubleshooting for several hours. Then another hour removing the furnace with shovels and rakes and other implements of distraction. In the process of which the under-the-galley-sink light failed so I was obliged to redirect my attention there. In the meantime the gas log and the overhead electric heat were working. Had to replace the switch in the light so I could see what I was doing on the furnace.

Eventually got the furnace out on my outside table. Troubleshooting guide indicated the problem was with the string of items following the wall thermostat: on/off switch, high temp cutout device, sail switch. Eventually found the high temp cutout device was open. not resettable. no idea why. At least the circuit board was not faulty. Took the opportunity to clean the blower squirrel cage of how many years of cat hair and dust. This is the furnace Allan gave me several years ago. Found a thermal cutout switch in my parts stash that sort of fits. Everything glued together and connected and working--stopped for lunch. But no nap. No rest for the weary. The whole thing went together a lot easier than apart. Makes heat. We'll see what happens in the morning. Another hour or so of cleaning up after. A new proper official Suburban thermal switch is on backorder.

CDI on YouTube Title ScreenWho sent me this link? CDI at Q’site.

34f here this Double Green Flash Almost Equinox Sunrise. Colder than atop The Rock Pile.

Panda Monium PandalaThank you for reading and writing your kind thoughts. Ride along with me.

Michael published “Vinyl Record Revival Puts New Spin on HiFi Music” on Medium.

And that bamboo question?... A pandamantra? A pandala!

New Year's Resolutions Censored
Pinochio With an Oblong
Be Well, Do Good, and Please Write.

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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Copyright © 2021, A.J.Oxton, The Cat Drag'd Inn , Tonopah AridZona 85354-0313.