Travels With Oso con Migo

Odyssey In America

OAE Off The Road Again -- Winter Solstice to Spring Equinox Nude Sunbathers Ahead

Greetings Virtual Travellers:
On the Road--Off the Road. It's a sort of a circular thing: On & Off. Off & On.

But first, before I paste in the current news I must ask of you, in all seriousness: In my previous letter "The End of Summer" which photograph was obscene? Was it the rattlesnake in the grass? Or the field of cacti wearing cups? Two copies of that letter were returned--marked "Obscene Photographs"--by censors somewhere along the line. And mind you, all the genitilia, even the butts and the men's breasts, were covered with "Band-Aids" in the snailmail edition. So it must have been the snake in the grass. Or maybe it was Denali's big open mouth.

Winter Solstice: Carolyn writes from Nawlins:

"Day by day things are getting better here.   I recently heard a Chinese
blessing:  "May you live in interesting times."  Yes, indeed, it may be
difficult, but it is certainly interesting.  Although 70% of the city is
still uninhabitable, I am seeing more FEMA trailers and blue roofs, which
means more people are coming back.  My two favorite radio stations
(including NPR) have returned from exile in Baton Rouge and Atlanta  Each
little thing that happens is a ray of hope.

"On Saturday I went to Tipitina’s to see Arlo Guthrie and Friends,
including Willie Nelson.  (Yes, I thought about you when I saw Willie.)
Arlo and friends spent two weeks traveling down from Chicago on The City
of New Orleans, doing benefit concerts.  Their last concert was here and
they were joined by Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Willie Nelson.  They put on
quite a show, four hours long and full of beautiful moments, topped off by
Willie, Arlo and the entire audience singing “The City of New Orleans”,
then all the musicians getting on stage and all of us singing “Will The
Circle Be Unbroken”.  It was transcendent.

"Music is the pulse of this city.  We’d be dead without it.  Someone told
me that New Orleanians don’t dance because we’re happy, we dance because
we know it will make us feel better.  I’ve come to realize that New
Orleans is in a constant state of celebration and mourning, and mourning
always turns into celebration.  Historically, people here have been
through a lot and the bottom line is, if you’re alive there’s reason to
celebrate.  And here we are, alive and in New Orleans!

"I’ve decided to ride in the Krewe of Muses (600 women strong) parade
during Mardi Gras, just to celebrate this place.  I hear it’s quite an
experience, and now more than ever I am here to participate."

Stuffsacks out to dry.
I'm still thinking about what to do. Not stuff sacks. I think I burned out on those finally two years ago. It is easy enough to loose touch with the whole "Christmas" thing out here in the desert. A few folks cling to some decorative lights and there is usually a potluck or two but without the bustle of the city and the kids and the hype of all that crass commercialism there is little enough--certainly no snow--to set this part of the year off from any other part. Without paying close attention it will not be until perhaps Febter that one might notice the days getting longer and realise that Spring is soon upon us.

I'm not sure how I really feel about all that. It is a loss I know. I miss the singing and the spirit of the cold and snow, I miss racing down The Carriage Road on a blade sled. I often revisit in my mind's eye the decorated floor lamp at the Observatory and the boy from Scouts--truth to tell he was a young man by then--trudging up the East Fields that Christmas Eve with a Dwarf Spruce in hand that he'd cut from the top of Lion's Head. But the hype and the salted roads I can do without. The traffic is just as bad here and so I avoid going into the city as much as I can. Winter Solstice is a much more sensible holy day.

2006 Gregorian New Year

Burned Insulation in the Engine Room.Left over from last letter but only now finally all wrapped up: Had a neat fire in the engine room of The Cat Drag'd Inn. These pictures are of the view down through the turbo access hatch under my bed. One shows the burned insulation and the other shows the gap in the exhaust pipe where the clamp failed. 

Coming down the long hill from Payson with the exhaust brake on puts a lot of back-pressure on that clamped joint. I suppose it has been working loose since the last time I fixed it by the side of the road in Ten Sleep most of two years ago. Good thing the vinyl foam insulation is fire retardant and self-extinguishing; all I had to put up with was the noxious fumes. I've had that pipe welded this time.
Gap in the Exhaust Pipe.
We're back to catching dogs. Been about six months I think since the last wave and these we are now seeing look about that old. They are free ranging and free with their piss and shit as well. Caught the first one over the holiday but being a holiday and all the dogcatcher was unavailable so Bill let it go rather than put up with its incessant barking right under his window. I slept right through--told him to shoot the dog, or take it far down the road as he does with the pocket gophers. But then yesterday we caught it again. There were two that seemed to travel together and it looks like we caught the same one both times. Anyhow, the dogcatcher came and loaded it into his truck while the dog's mate looked on from the other side of the fence. Bill and the DC chased the dog and it headed off to the neighbor's fenced yard with the open gate where they seem to breed. So the DC went in his truck across the street and picked up four more. The neighborhood is quiet again.

Denali Lathering Up in the Mud Bath.Denali and Tamara came for a too short visit. We had a good soak and then a nice mud bath. The mud was very refreshing and I have to give thought to building a nice big wallow. Perhaps I could go next door wearing mud and they wouldn't notice my lack of clothes.

Twelfth Night Eve

Went for a walk today. First time I've been out back there since about June.

From the ridge that extends south from Indian Eye one can look down and southeast to see a large pile of trash.

Someone drove a long ways through gullies and over the desert vegetation in a 4wd truck to leave off this load of refuse. Mostly looks like 2x4 framing scraps but some of the wood has nails in it. There are four computers, a monitor, two printers, and one porcelain commode. I was able to salvage two hard drives. On one of them I found a resumé for Damon Garry Motts so I wrote: I found your name on a hard drive at the bottom of a half a ton of garbage in the Saddle Mountain Outback near Tonopah and just wanted to know if you knew anything about it... But the postal service office returned my letter marked FWDG ORDER EXPIRED. No work for Office Obie this week.
Half A Ton of Garbage Near Indian Eye.
I followed the track out more or less to the northeast for a while before turing west to return to my truck. Looks like the dumper came in from the powerline road.  I can't get my little truck in there and there is too much of a load for one trip in it anyhow. Do you know anyone with a big 4wd pickup?

The picture here is a view of the pile against a backdrop of the ridge extending south from Indian Eye. The computers are in the foreground, the commode in the background. Just to the right of the commode is a rectangle of ground cleared smooth of the small surface rock as if a tent were set there. Some mother's children...

2006january12, Hattie Caraway Elected to The Senate in 1932

Must be Thursday now. I went shopping yesterday. The most I can say, the best I will say, is that I survived yet another excursion into the pollution ridden city of Phoenix. Not a bad day until I broke my best pair of Antarctic prescription sunglasses. I could see it coming--and it has happened just this way before--and somehow I seem to be powerless to change the course of events. In the carpark of some grocery I removed the glasses from my face and set them in the well under the  tranny shifter. Right then flashes in my mind, I can see it, hear it, happen, the glasses will break there. And I ignore the premonition, the vision, and go shopping. When I return, load the bags of purchases, bent upon getting out of the carpark and on to the next item on my list, shift into second gear, and crunch, just like in the vision. After I glued the frame back together, and last thing before heading out to Tonopah--I had four tubs of ice cream in the cooler--I went up the street to a "vision center":

--Can you put my lenses into new frames?

--Yes, do you have the prescription?

--No, I have the lenses; can you put my lenses into new frames?

--Yes step this way please.

Blah-blah-blah later she is about to pop the lens out to measure it and see what they have available.

--No! Wait. First, you have not told me how long this is going to take and how much it is going to cost.

--Well, if we have something that fits it will just take a little while this afternoon. Our frames start at ninety-five dollars.

--NINETY-FIVE dollars? Forget it! I can buy a lot of glue for that.

Friday The 13th slip'd past unnoticed.

However, the 16th was very nearly a kettle of worms. Hasty shopping, hasty packing, lots of loose ends getting ready for Quartzsite. At least this time the The Cat Drag'd Inn cranked and fired off when I called for it. That was one good sign in a morass of conflicting signals. To make a long storey short, writing from this distance of miles and hours, suffice it to say that this time the sugar bowl did not topple from its perch and spill its contents on the rug, and all the paper that escaped from the bed of the little truck is biodegradeable and will soon disappear amongst all the other litter along the road.

In the end I was too late to have breky with The Too Crazy Ladies, Beth and Red at Black Rock in Brenda. That gave me time to catch up with the rest of Tuesday and so here we are in Blythe, an hour later than the same time in Tonopah, tucked into a corner of the fairgrounds, amidst one of those spring-up-overnight communities of people who gather for noteworthy events.

Red Hat Day at Blythe, Locked Out of My Own Bus

Two Owls at Blythe.At first I thought Sara(h) figured out how to lock the door from the inside. That would be pretty unnerving for me cos it would imply that she could also un-lock the door when we were driving. Or worse--when there was a big ugly dog out there. Not likely on second thought, that she would reason one from the other. I used to know a cat named DFC (a.k.a. Inge), at the Mount Washington Observatory, who had figured out how to open the front door by jumping up and hanging by her claws from the latchstring. The wind would blow open the door and out she would go. She never learnt to close the door behind herself, nor to open it to get in, and would frequently be found ages later, crusted with frost, sitting on a snowbank outside the office window waiting to be noticed. Thus her nickname of DFC.

Then I discovered Sara(h) was outside with me. We were both out at the end of our ropes. That fact didn't absolve her completely from the possibility of having locked the door and then come out, all innocent looking. No, especially not with that smug look of self-satisfaction over her shoulder as she bounded in through her special cat door. So there I was, standing outside, facing The Second Adventure of the Day. The first was fortunately out of the oven by now for it would really be a disaster if the Bungleberry Pie was still baking and I was locked out.

I won't tell you how I finally gained ingress, that might compromise the absolute security of The Cat Drag'd Inn. Suffice it to say that I eventually found that Sara(h) had nothing to do with it. More likely Betty did it. The last time she left, after borrowing my wilted lettuce for the potluck salad, the door latch mechanism broke when she shut the door. Do you know, do you have any idea what a door latch mechanism costs these days? Almost more than I make in a week! At least I didn't have to go all the way in to Quartzsite to get one.

Betty said later it is a typical male characteristic to blame someone else. She said the latch probly broke when I came out a moment later with the slightly squishy bell pepper she had forgotten.

Friday at The Fair Ground: Lost Highway & The Dry Branch Fire Squad...

...are just two of the several bands that played opening day of this Blythe Bluegrass Festival. This is the 19th year the affair has been here; only a few folks, including the announcer, have been here for all of them. You can tell next year is going to be a humdinger! The cover of this year's programme is already calling attention to it.

On the home front, I am still puttzing around with the flat tyre on my bicycle. Time for a new inner tube I'm afraid. Patches on top of patches hekd together with glue that isn't gluey enough just does not seem to work. My Chicken Curra-Torchie went over well at the potluck on Thursday. I knew it would so I set some aside for supper today. There was a lot of rice remaining however so that became rice pudding today.

The Monday After.

And it is also amazing to think of the convoluted course these words will take in their journey to get across the lot from my house to your house. And the way they will change form from ideas to letters, from 100110001 to beepity bleep, sweeping through the ether and the wires, here to Austin to Chicago and Who knows where else before wriggling through the connexion to your cellphone and finally becoming letters on your screen, letters to ideas.
The Footprint of a Giant.

Mile99 and the Ham Radio Flea Market

Arrived ok after a short drive from Blythe. On the way here I stopped in at the public dump station in Blythe, just to try it out. Already there was a long line so I gave up on the idea of dumping, what the hell, with a 60 gallon tank only a quarter full I really didn't need to go. But I did take on a few gallons of water and that took more than half an hour.

East to the Flying J where another long line had RV's and cars backed up to the top of the exit ramp. Trucks were rumbling along on the wrong side of the road to get to their fuel island and everyone coming out was diving for the verge. I waited for a little while and then sorted out that if I turned into the hotel park I could get round the back way. I didn't need fuel anyhow, just wanted a shower. That plan worked ok, there was no line for showers.

Eastbound again with advice from more than one person not to take the west exit into Quartzsite at Love's. Go to the east exit and come back along the service road to the lights at 95. Good plan. Traffic was backed up from the west exit all the way out to the i10 eastbound travel lane. The bottleneck is at Love's and the eastbound service road was moving along for about half the distance to the Main Event where it came to a stop.

The Very Well Hidden Footprint Cache.But the eastbound east exit off ramp was clear and there was no backup on the westbound service road until about halfway back to the intersection there. The light let me through just as I approached and it was clear sailing south on 95. The traffic coming north on 95 was backed up all the way to mile 101!

So I'm settled in at the Mile99 Ham Radio Gathering and already have sold three dollars of junk items on my table.

The Year of the Red Fire Dog

I've been invited to participate in Medicare. It must be some sort of Coming Of (Golden) Age Rite of Passage not unlike Registering for The Draft. So I have to return to my home doctor for a medical examination. It is all very complicated. Far more so than need be that's for sure.

More stuff sold, more stuff bought, a banana bread made, three caches captured, and a tiff with the Red Hat Ladies.

World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) is an international event in which participants plan, meet and ride together en masse on human-powered transport (the vast majority on bicycles, and fewer on skateboards, roller blades, roller skates) to "protest oil dependency and celebrate the power and individuality of our bodies".

The dress code motto is "Bare As You Dare". Full and partial (especially topfree) nudity is encouraged, but not mandatory, on all rides. Requiring partial cover-up is strictly forbidden and is a distinguishing feature of WNBR versus other cycling events.


The wild flowers are poking up and opening. All the more spectacular here in the desert where there has been no rain since last October. I went for a little hike yesterday out to the Solitude Geocache and was amazed and delighted to see the yellow daisy kind of flowers on the salt bush and the tiny purple bouquets in clusters and ropes. I don't know where they find the water they need for that sort of show. Finding this cache kept me on pins and needles right up to the end. Really nice day for a walk.
The Magic Arch.

Saint Valentine to Saint Washington

And let us not forget Saint Lincoln. Otherwise it was a week of cooler than normal weather. Mostly to partly cloudy and over just the past two days nasty with fever-sweats-chills. Sort of like the Valley Fever of a couple years ago revisited. The fever broke Saturday night but all day Sunday I could barely get out of bed. Even chasing down Sara(h) and the two packrats she brought in for lunch was an arduous nauseating chore. Fortunately, I'm tough, even when I'm too sick to do email.

2006febter24Friday Well-Well

Sorry to have thrown such a scare into everyone. But then I am so happy to have friends to share with and so happy that it was/is not worse, I hope you do not mind. This fever has been going on for nearly a week and the intense abdominal discomfort of a couple of days ago threw quite a scare into me. This morning my temperature was 99.7, down somewhat from the 100's and 101 over the past few days but still unsettling.

Magic Arch Cache.Yesterday I betook my Self to the 135$-a-visit clinic that I last attended a year ago with that urinary track infection. This nagging fever had gone on long enough and it was time to get a fifth opinion. The waiting room was crowded and the queue just to triage was over an hour long so after completing the arduous paperwork I went shopping.

There are a lot of sick folks out there and whilst there is not the plethora of doctors and clinics like there is supermarkets--in point of fact there is a shortage of doctors like there is a shortage of teachers but nobody in this society seems able to grasp the root cause of the problem--NextCare in order to encourage a loyal customer base has a "Frequent Sicko's Membership Plan Discount Card". You've got to be kidding! Nope. There it is. For a fifty dollar annual fee you get about 20% discounted from the office visit. In defence of NextCare I must say that this plan is only for people who have no insurance.

Back from shopping just as it was my turn at triage. The medico put a little clip on the end of my finger and a temperature probe under my tongue. The clip is an oxygen sensor. Measures O2 in the blood. Amazing! 98%. That's good. Pulse, functional; BP ok; breathing and ambulatory. And my temperature was 97.4! Ninety-SEVEN point four. Some sort of rebound from being so high for the past five days? I'm not going to get my money's worth out of this visit, I can see that.

Another half-hour's wait and several more chapters of Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates and it was my turn for the doctor. No, make that my turn for the examining room. The doctor shows up after another chapter. (I should like to get to know her a bit better--tho not at the expense of 400-500 dollars an hour--she was of an interesting personality.) She commenced with the usual poking and prodding, breath in-breath out, looking into various places. And she took my temperature. 98.6. On the way up again? Ahh. No. Ahhhhh. That's better. Aside from sounding like I had a slight cold my lungs are clear. Abdominal area palpates Ok. Urine sample (40$ to pee in a little bottle. At that rate my urine is far more expensive than Grand Mariner!) shows no kidney infection. So, all in all there is no real conclusion. Perhaps the wave of stomach pain the other day was an adverse reaction to the asprin I'd been taking with nothing to eat. Perhaps I was just plain hungry after not eating for three days. We'll have to wait for it to come around again.

I was beginning to suspect my thermometer might be out of wack but I can feel when I have a temperature. There is a certain tingle on the ends of my fingers, sometimes a slight dizzyness, more than the usual amount that accompanies when my head is in a fog. By the time I finished shopping and drove all the way back out to Tonopah in the dark my fingers were atingle and my thermometer measured 99.7 when I went to bed. The next morning my temperature was 98 when I got up, it is 99 at this writing a couple hours later. But I mostly feel Ok so I'm just gonna ignore the whole thing for a while and go find some breky, watch the sunrise, get back to fixing other things. Maybe go soak my head. Or fly a kite.
On Pins and Needles.

Rick Writes:

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and
 degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling, which thinks that nothing
 is worth war, is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is
 willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal
 safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless
 made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

 - John Stuart Mill
 English economist & philosopher (1806 - 1873)

This quote may on the mark in and of itself, but this quote, like most of the other rhetoric bandied about these days, misses the point entirely in the context of the issue at hand.

It is one thing to fight, to be willing to die, for that which one passionately believes, for one's own farm, family, livelyhood, but when that passion is applied to converting the beliefs of other peoples and cultures then it is a travesty of the very freedom this quote purports to describe.

The selfrighteous indignation, the denigration of another people's way of life, the personal political vendetta, with which the present American President's campaign purports to bring democracy to another people whilst stealing it under the guise of national security from those who fought and died for it in their turn is nothing short of a bald faced lie. It is a specious cover for the industrial greed that has usurped the guiding principles of the Christian ethic upon which this country was founded.

Spring Shower...

Actually RAINED here yesterday afternoon! For all of ten minutes! Drops came down the size of desert plates. One here, one there, another across the way... One hit a small bird Sara(h) was stalking and knocked it over. But the water dried out so fast the bird was able to fly away before it drowned. The only thing the rain guage caught was a dead lizard and 0.07" of bugs.

2006march11 Another Spring Shower

Was not so cold here as I expected. Windy, blustery, cool yesterday with increasing clouds during the day. The biggest storm of the Winter was what the WxService forecast. Ninety Percent chance of precipitation. At one point there was a little "shower". By the time Camilla called it to my attention it was over. Oh! Look! there's a raindrop. And another. There dummy, see where I'm pointing. Never mind. Too late now, its all dried up.

Awnings furled and the wind blew. But I think I could have left mine out. The peak wind was 32 mph from the west. The rain drummed on my roof at times during the night. This morning is overcast with light drizzle and 0.05 in the rain gauges. Even if I add both rain gauges together it is still not hardly much considering the noise it made. The ground is damp and smells nice but there are no puddles and the wx stick has not uncurled much at all. During this day, whilst I have been editing this page, we have had another 0.25" precipitation in the form of light rain. Still not enough to make a puddle.

Almost Spring Equinox, I'd better get this into the mail.

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 © 2005, A.J.Oxton, The Cat Drag'd Inn , Tonopah AridZona 85354-0313.