Visiting Mike and Karen... OAE's from Palmer a long time ago. Mike remodels the interiors of bottles and living, dining, kitchen rooms, Karen builds gardens. Together they built a two car garagemahal but have managed to inter so much other "stuff", in a near perfect application of Parkinson's Law, that both of their cars and the lawn mower reside in the driveway.
Fort Worden is a state park in the northeast corner of the Olympic Peninsula where the main attraction is the battery of big gun emplacements and the catacombs of concrete tunnels and rooms constructed for the defense of Seattle in World War Two. Its a great place to play: biking and walking along trails and beach to explore, open fields for kite flying, tall grass, wildlife... I'd originally intended to stay there early on in this tour--reservations are hard to get and are awarded on a sort of lottery based upon posting your application within a window of dates and leaving it up to the postal system to decide the winners. I never heard back from the park's reservations and changed my plans but eventually my cheque cleared my bank so I knew too late I'd won. Now it was time to visit and see about a refund.
I've been to this park before on day trips; the last time was in June 1993 I think, at the outset of that year's cross country motorcycle ride, but there is no mention of it in my letter from that time. And now there is little I can add that is not covered in the park's WWWeb page except to say that while the campgrounds are fairly modern--one right on the beach, between the coast guard lighthouse station and the cliffs, the other atop the cliffs between the buildings of the fort and the fortress itself--the battery is raw, jagged, exciting, some might say hazardous. The weapons have all been removed and the great steel doors are all rusted or welded open but beyond that the catacombs are just the way they were. The concrete bunkers stand in stark angular contrast to the surrounding and encroaching forest. I hope the park never has enough money to sterilise and stultify the pristine condition that make this park unique and so different from the usual namby-pamby.
The folks who operate the reservations system are also cut from the same cloth, or perhaps cast from the same concrete. Not a moment of hesitation or recrimination, not a sentence of double-speak; the clerk who waited on me was polite and quick to offer a full refund. Maybe I'll win their lottery again and learn about it soon enough so I'll be able to go back there again some day, to stay longer and explore further.
Marci makes hands. She's an artist who creates her own applause so to speak. Walter writes WWWeb pages and both of them have other jobs as well but the hands are the most fascinating. She starts by making a mold of moulage of a live hand. Then, while the hand is still within the moulage, she covers it with plaster to add strength to preserve the shape of the mold when the hand is removed which it can be after the plaster has set. Its like taking off a sweaty latex glove. Once the hand is out of the way she pours hot wax in its place and the whole thing is set aside to cool.
My location is somewhat southwest of Portland Oregon on top of a grand hill next to the absolutely best shower since summer camp a hundred years ago. Out of doors, on a wood deck, with a large sunflower shower head--it fairly rains large drops of hot water down upon you. Decadent, delightful. Out in the sun, under the stars. What a shower. I'm visiting with Rusty and Heather who are building a sailboat in a barn on top of this hill. Its a long ways to the sea.
I share "bathrooms" with other families all the time in my Sojourn In America although for the most part I at least get to use my own toilet. (I'd sooner use a tree--Help Keep New Hampster Green--and then I don't have to dump the tank quite so often.) But lest I get carried away with toitology again let me return quickly to the dream.
In an early quest for The American Dream, perhaps before it was even defined as such, members of the Astor Overland Expedition crossed The Blue Mountains near here. They were travelling in January, afoot, in bitter cold, through waist-deep snow, and were the first Caucasians in this area. Later wagon trains of settlers bound from Saint Louis to Astoria camped at Emigrant Springs; these woods were the first trees they had seen since entering the great plains.
I am here in Emigrant Springs State Park Campground, its July, an hundred 'n'umpteen years later; I'm travelling in the other direction, from Astoria towards Saint Louis (but I don't think I'll continue that way, I'm branching off for Saint Paul). The bitter and the cold have been replaced by salubrious weather, even the mosquitos are not waist deep; and, of course, the trail has been paved.
I have an Edmund Rice in my tree, he's my eighth great grandfather. G-g-g-g-g-g-g-great grandfather Rice we use to call him. Her line branches off back there with Edmund's children, in the late 1600's, and she recognised the Tolman name that appears in my pedigree list between me and G-g-g-g-g-g-g-great grandfather Rice. So what relationship do I have with her and the rest of the Idaricians? I am looking forward to her letter.
In the meantime I've received a note (from someone who shall remain anonymous just in case you mightn't think as highly of her as me) that I want to share with you partly cos I don't receive nearly enough of this sort of support and partly its a great idea, I think: "Here's a couple of miles for you. I'll be a sponsor for a day. You're a magical person and you inspire me to re-remember what's truly important. I thank you for that."
And I thank you for that! Thank you very much my kindly munificent benefactor sponsor of a day, now I am a day further along my Way.
The hot spring tubs are not much here. Hot enough, much more so than Chena--you can regulate the temperature your self, and cleaner too, but dismal each in its own little cinder block cubical with only a tiny window high up where one cannot see anything save a small patch of sky and there is no cool breeze to offset the hot water. The camp ground is nice enough tho--tall trees one can drive under, so rare in an RV camp, shade every site, and just about everywhere is grass and soil or clean, swept cement walkways. Over all this is a place worth a return visit.
I came into town in the first place to look for a post office--they are always easier to find in the smallest town--in this town cos I always send a card to Paul Eden from any Eden I find along my Way. I'd been suspicious of the cooling fans for a few days since the engine had been running so hot of late and I'd been meaning to look at them. So now I did and found one pair not running. A crimp connector in a 20amp circuit had failed, overheated the number ten size wire enough to crystallize it and melted some insulation and burned the connector away from the fan controller. Potential fire for sure but it all failed before actually burning. Anyhow: no fan = overheat situation. Fortunately the VFD had their lawn sprinklers going.
In the course of getting out tools and parts to repair the bad crimp connector and rebuild the connexion to the fan controller I went to the bellybox to retrieve an extension cord. Oh-My-God! its raining glycol all over everything! Fortunately my mechanic back in Conway had the foresight to install a pair of ball valves to isolate the glycol heating loop just for this eventuality. So, presently I had a duffel line of stuff along each side of the bus, one along the sidewalk, the other along the street side enclosed by my caution- yellow extension cord. You'd'a thought with this sort of main street circus I'd attract an audience but only two of the 333 populants of Eden came by during the process.
Apparently a clamp where the hose changes to pipe under the forward galley bench seat, where an auxiliary heater would be, had let go. A totally impossible place to get to without tearing out the seat. More asinine engineering if there every was any.
Well... I fixed the fan and made good use of the sprinklers to wash glycol off everything in the bellybox and then had lunch before getting on my way. I think I need to have more of an indication that the fans are running. Now there is a light that tells me the controller has turned them on but that does not tell me they are actually running. I think I need some sort of air actuated switch to tell they are moving air. Next week.
Still no travellers to travel with; a lot of "i wish i could but" letters, however still just me and Oso con Migo. I have had a couple of short riders but no long term yet. I've seen a few along the way that for one reason or another I've not picked up. One, a week or so ago, was on a get-on ramp when I passed by but he could not get across the ramp, the traffic was too heavy and there was a barrier that I could not get across. Another just a couple days ago, on my way here from Boise, was walking up the get-on ramp with a big black collie-sheep dog, he and the dog wearing packs--I don't want a dog in here. But I may change my mind if I get desperate enough.
Then there was another guy hitching, again at the bottom of the get- on ramp, and when I stopped and honked he turned for a moment and looked but then turned back and ignored me.
And the one I did finally connect with, an old gentleman with a fine beard, was headed towards Butte while I was headed towards Bozeman at the next exit so it was not worth him getting on for that half mile. But he did ask if I had a water bottle to spare and I was able to happily oblige him that--with water even.
One short-rider told me a storey about his home in Mexico and how he finally moved out after it had been caught in the cross-fire of local factions once too often. When we came to his get-off ramp he knock- knocked on the "Admission 25› Per Person" sign: --Do I owe you anything? No, I said, that's only for people who don't tell me storeys.
Kirk Hill is the name of the B&B and the hill out back that is part of the Montana State University Foothills Area. A couple of miles of barefoot quality trail that loops around and over the hill and connects with the Gallatin National Forest.
So if you're out this way, take 19th street south out of Bozeman, about six miles or until you come to a the only right angle curve to the west in an otherwise straight south road. The B&B and trailhead are on the east of that corner.
Unemployment is the real endowment for the arts.
Besides penguins at Palmer they have horses and dogs and llamas at their ranch on the end of Camp Creek Road in the Camp Creek Valley. Carlito is a cria with a hearing problem so they are attempting to teach him llama llanguage with signs so he can be a pack animal for when they go horse camping.
Peter took one look at my list and produced six titles he could have in the store in two days. Fine, I said, there's a couple of folks in town I'll be having dinner with so that should work just fine. Then he gave me a URL where I could search for the out of print editions.
"And so in time the rowboat and I became one and the same--like the archer and his bow or the artist and his paint. What I learned wasn't mastery over the elements; it was mastery over myself, which is what conquest is ultimately all about. We take our children to Little League so they can learn the supposed benefits of teamwork and competition, by which we mean domination of others in sport as well as in life. But in life, real life, we aren't pitted against one another; we are pitted against ourselves, and our victories are almost always the ones we forge alone. If we want to teach our children self-reliance, then we shouldn't take them to the diamond or gridiron. We should take them down to a river, a lake or a bay and let them learn to row a little boat."
I've read only up through the third chapter but already I'd recommend this little book to everyone, especially the teachers and parents with young children--let them learn to row a little boat.
Elizabeth wintered in McMurdo with me once--by then she was a grandmother and had just completed building herself a log house (not a log cabin mind you) in Alta--I adopted her as an "Other Mother" and we broke bread together often. --Yes, she writes, I was 62 and a grandmother of 5 (also mother of 5) when I went to the ice. And you can most definitely say that because I'm really proud of it -- and proud of me.
After dinner we looked at the album of pictures and things from her trip to Prague, Budapest, Holland: "Twenty-two hours of sitting up in planes and airports takes its toll. I exchanged money into korunas (crowns or K ) and found the Expres pension, who were expecting me. It was clean, cozy and right downtown. My room overlooked an atrium and was shaded by a huge chestnut tree."
In this community of once open range now divided into a chequerboard of grain fields, grazing pasture, housing development, there are divisions of people trying to zone out of existence the farmers and cattle ranchers who've not yet sold out to the developers. People come in and buy a house next to a cow and then complain that the cow smells and the mooing keeps them awake. Once they are rid of the farm they'll complain about the traffic and crime at the mall...
But the view is grand from his front yard where I'm parked headed north northeast in this broad, high valley between Teton and Targhee. The sun rises over the eastern mountains at a comfortable late morning hour and warms the bus through her big front window. Tony makes coffee in his French Press and we sit on his couch and swop storeys about the Ice and take turns with his phoneline to check our morning email.
...would have been a headline ten years ago. In 1988 249 different fires burned about 793,880 acres, 36% of the park. But the severe drought of that year, which contributed to the ravagement of the fires, probly had a greater impact on the large mammals. Grasses were less productive and what hadn't burned was all dried out affecting the amount and quality of forage the undulates needed to survive the coming winter. But the large die-off of hoofed mammals that resulted during the winter of 88-89 resulted in a lot of carcasses that provided much needed food for bears, coyotes, eagles and other animals. --excerpts from 10 Years After
Norris Campground is located near a mile by trail from the Norris Geyser Basin, the hottest and most active thermal basin in the park. You have to get here early to find a site and there is no overflow areas and no overnight parking permitted in picnic areas or wide spots on the roads. The center of the earth is close to the ground in the Norris Basin. What a place for a hot springs resort or a geothermal powerplant. Good thing this place is a National Park or somebody would be developing it. The elevation at Norris is 7,500 feet and the boiling point of water at this altitude is 199f. The geysers and hot springs range from 191f to 203f. Below ground the hottest temperature here was measured at 459f 1,087 feet down. Norris is a geologically active zone and earthquakes can rearrange the basement plumbing so the nature of the steam vents and timing of the geysers changes from time to time. Sulfur and cyanobacteria add colour to the hot water--green, blue, yellow--whilst purple and red are often the result of nattily attired tourists having broken through the thin crumbly calcareous crust around and between the steam vents. Some of the hot springs are quite simply boiling sulfuric acid, strong enough to dissolve hiking boots. Echinus Geyser is not as reliable as Old Faithful nor is it as easy to get to; nor is it anywhere near as crowded. Eruptions take place at intervals of thirty minutes to an hour or so, or whenever a sufficient audience has gathered. The quiet simmering surface quickly comes to a rolling boil, steam billows and jets of hot sulfurous water shoot upwards only to fall short of scalding the tourists standing behind the walkway rails. Then the pool is empty and the boil returns to a simmer; the audience murmurs approval and disperses. As they leave, people approaching, who've just missed the show ask: How long to the next eruption?
Elk and bison are more likely to be seen along the roads and in the camps than bears and we are told not to bother trying to outrun a bear, or a bison. Bear experts (those who've survived anyhow) recommend you stand still if approached by a bear. If the bear stops then you should back away slowly. Mostly you should wear a bear bell and not hike after dark. Avoid climbing trees. When I visited Yellowstone the first time, in 1967, with the Scouts in that old yellow van, it was new then, the van, Yellowstone was already old, there were bears, black bears, along side the roads. Subsequent to our misadventure of getting out of the van and stalking near to the bears for close-up photos we learned about people, the day before or the day after, who'd been mauled by bears in a different area of the park. Today one does not see bears along side the road--you can see their scat around the camps but more likely you will see a bison or an elk--and only rarely does a tourist get mauled. Are there as many bears around now as then? Probly more according to one park ranger I spoke with. There are more grizzlies anyhow; but they are all in the back country and in the hills. The park policy "A fed bear is a dead bear" along with the admonition Carry In Carry Out has cleaned up most of the garbage (you still see filter tip cigarette butts in the camp sites) and the bear proof trash containers are emptied twice a day. The more prominent signs now speak of bisons goring tourists.
Life is too short for fake maple syrup, orange juice from concentrate, store bought salsa....
The RFP for the new Antarctic Programme support contract is at search on "antarctic*" using simple search. The site has help files explaining the structure of the announcement etc.
U.S.12 East of Miles City--What's a mile wide, an inch deep, and runs up hill all the way?
BANG! Thud! Rattle-rattle-rattle-tug-pull.... panic stop. The left front tyre blew out a half a mile west of mile-marker 82 on I94 east bound. That's about fifteen miles west of Forsyth but who knows where the nearest tow truck will have to come from. The tread peeled off from the casing and there is a break in the sidewall. Scraps of tread and steel belts litter the highway. This looks like a job for Road Americaaa!
Later... And then later still... The nearest tow truck is back in Billings, ETA two and a half hours. An eighteen wheeler has stopped but he has used his spare--no matter, his wheels are bigger than mine and neither of us has a jack. But thank you for stopping. --That must have been some scary stop, he said waving his hand back towards the wavy skid marks. Ayuh, I allowed, first time in nearly four hundred thousand miles I've had a front go out like that. Then the highway patrol stopped: --How are you doing? Mmmm... I dunno... how well can I be doing with a blow out on the left front. I'm calming down somewhat and I've called for help. --Well that's about all I could do for you anyhow so I guess you're all set.
When I think that just a few miles back I was doing 75 down a long fast hill in the left lane. As it was I was just topping the next hill, going 40 in the right lane and it was all I could do to recover. Quite a surprise to be sitting at the wheel, almost relaxing, coasting along, and then have such an explosion rattle the windows and pull the bus across one lane. Good thing there was nobody in the way. Perhaps I will send slivers of the tread to all my supporters...
Looks like the Cat's gonna get drug in again.
My hitcher has helped me pick up the debris from back along the highway but now he's collected his kit and walked on. He wanted to be in Bismarck by tonight--supper time is near gone past here. This guy has been hitching from San Francisco, bound for Georgia. You're a mite off course I said when he told me that. --Ya, I was startin' out on 80 but then this driver was going round in circles and I ended up on 90. And now you're on 94, I added. Well at least you're still going east. And it was right after that... BANG!
Premonition or wish fulfillment--I'd been thinking about this event earlier this morning. I walked around and looked at all my tyres, did that Thunk-Thunk thing with the big rubber mallet, looked at them again at the last rest area just a few miles ago; everything looked fine and dandy. Still a lot of tread left on the carcass too.
Its a Mile Wide! Its an Inch Deep! It runs Up Hill all the way! Powder River! Where have you heard that before?
I'm writing this in a little campground in Bowman North Dakota. Off the interstate, I've decided to take US12 across to Minneapolis, just for the change in scenery--this road is so narrow drivers wave at me when we meet. They seem to be saying Get-Over--Get-Over!
At N46ø26.2' W105ø4.3' there is a little rest area on the north side of U.S.12. It services traffic travelling in both directions. You wheel in and park in the gravel where there are no yellow lines and wonder where the water comes from to make such green grass amid all the brown pasture. At the west end of the parking area, across from the RV dumping station which is closed towards the north boundary of the area, there is a little wooden footbridge inviting. It directs your feet to a stile in the barbed wire fence. We're in cactus country again and the grass stubble is pointy so I wore my sandals for this walk. Over the fence and bear (bare?) right; it was my plan to hike back towards the east end of that hill and then round behind it and back to the gate. Ahead, beyond a little rise, there was a sign I could not read. When I got over the rise I found a fenced area containing high bushes and tall grasses; the rectangle is about twenty feet north-south by thirty feet west-east, the fence made of the same barbed wire enclosing the pasture, or at least separating the pasture from the right of way of U.S.12. Well built, braced corners, turnbuckles making it all snug. The sign, affixed to one corner post was well worn but easily readable: "EXCLOSURE"
Back in Aberdeen South Dakota The...Inn underwent Lube-Oil-Filter for the fourth time this tour. Also conducted some minor surgery to repair the mud flap torn loose by the blowout back in Montana. Next was a visit to the folks in Saint Louis Park who make the cruise control that has pulled on the throttle for most of the miles of this circumdrivebulation. As the computer controlled engine so common now in automobiles begins to insinuate itself into the big trucks and high-end motor coaches their after market device is gradually being displaced. I hope they'll have spare parts for The Cat Drag'd Inn for a long time.
Vern lives at the end of quiet clean tree-lined cul-de-sac off Minnehaha Parkway. At my turn-on to the parkway there were no signs saying no buses, no signs saying no parking, no signs saying no camping; too good to be true? There was plenty of space along side Saint James Episcopal, shaded by trees, a grassy verge between the kerb and the sidewalk, Vern's street was back a half block walk. I'll take it. I made it from that afternoon into the next with a near constant parade of traffic on foot and on wheels craning their necks to see as I went about my visit with Vern, UMN--where this page is hosted--and the opening day of the Minnesota State Fair. Then during my after lunch nap an officer from the Minneapolis Police came to call. He was very pleasant and compassionate when he explained that a neighbor had complained--Buses are not allowed on the parkway. It would be ok, he said, if I parked on a side street but I had to move off the parkway. It was a little tricky getting into Vern's cul-de-sac but well worth it--nobody walks past trying to look in my windows.
The sexton had watched this exchange between me and the officer and came over to ask if I'd been given a ticket. Then he asked if I liked tomatoes and returned shortly with a sack of vine ripened toms and fresh basil from a garden between the vestry and the lawn that the parishioners plant, he said, but never come round to pick from.
Stay Gold, bcnu, Send Money, Love, ajo
A.J.Oxton, OA, OO, OAE, k1oIq
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