Sunday, December 29, 2013

Working Out Working Through the Winter...

Finally dealt with the electrical gremlin in the truck... I hope... and it didn't cost a dime. With nothing changed, and no total failures to reveal the bad parts I made another small search for phantom loads and found zilch. The alternator continues to produce volts and amps... just like it should... So... I finally surrendered to the simplest fix and replaced the pair of batteries.

Should have just done that passing through back in October. The good thing about buying good batteries or batteries from a good place, I guess, is if they do go bad there's a good warranty. Costco warrantied the batts 100%. All it cost was the time and diesel to run over there.

With the fresh batteries in place the only remaining "symptom"... just an oddly long runtime of the fuel pre-heat grid just stopped. So, apparently, procrastination paid off this time... sort of.

On the "future" front... still whittling on that. The next few months are going to be a task. We're here in Denver and the rig lays in a yard down in Wickenburg. Lots of different bits in play. If it were simple, it'd been long settled.

Our lil' store in Fort Collins is still in the black but lame and requiring some dedicated effort.  If it turns up its toes... game over. So, Heidi is staying here while I run back to the rig.

The possibility of draggin' the rig back here early to spend the summer is there... but... wintering in Colorado... in a worn old rig...

I've spent winters in rigs in this north country... It only works for winter lovers. This buster... is NOT... a winter lover. Been there done that. I've chopped ice to water cows and horses at 15 below. I've fought the drifts to get to the highway...  after fighting hours in the cold to get machinery started.

I've fought the biting cold to feed and pushed herds through near blizzards. Winter holds no mystery or attraction.

All the chores of summer take on a special "patina"... when you're sloggin' through snow drifts, cold and cabin fever after a week of storm...

Pile on there the beating "normal" living inflicts on wandering souls and I'm in deep kimchi. The thought of goin' back to sellin' hardware to the scuttling serfs of soh-sigh-uh-tee... rots my liver.

It's always been a problem. I don't fit normal. Never have. Goin' along to get along in a world that has an active distaste for "different", bunch quitters like me is a bloody chore. It's been a full time job with plenty of overtime since I was big enough to pull on my own boots. Truth is it has always turned my stomach and turns it now.

I used to be able, to some degree, to bow my head, smile and nod... and just move along. Kinda Cowboy Up and get it done. Oh, I kicked and rebelled... but in the end... toed the line like a good lil' cowboy.

That was a stupid thing to do. Might's well just buckled a collar 'round my neck and barked like a dog.

Thing is, the bucket that held that ability to smile and nod and toe that line has been drained. No telling where that boot toe is goin'... if somebody grabs my collar and starts pointin' at some damned line.

I'll brush up in some desert hole until March I guess, bangin' on the keyboard. I've plenty of my own work to get done, and that seems to have promise...

Just Get back to the rig. Pull my belt up another notch. Drop expenses and mileage to just about nuthin'... and work. Get through the skinny time of winter with two or three months of sleepin' and workin'... and see what the spring holds.

The road ain't run and it's a new year comin'.

Just workin' along

Monday, December 23, 2013

From the Desert to the Front Range

About a 14 hour run in 21 hours... 16 hours on the road... and 'bout five hours trying to catch some sleep. Two hours just south of Santa Fe and another three just below Pueblo.

Fine accommodations too... though at 20 degrees or so... you tend to leave the rig idling.

It rained good and hard the night before I pulled out. I lay there in the dark thinking; "Grrrrrrreat... I'm parked in the Arizona desert clay... maybe 400 yards from clear pavement. This could be fun."

So unable to sleep any longer I was up around 4 after working into the evening to finish my leather "Project"... to get the rig ready to pull out...

Long about 9:30 with the truck in four by... and sliding and wallowing around in the greasy muddy "road" I waddled that quarter mile dragging something close to twenty thousand pounds through the muck and mire of the trail...

With no real issue (but a couple of held breaths) made it to the highway for the quick ten mile run into the yard in Wickenburg where I left the rig... then dieseled up, coffeed up and turned the windshield north for Denver...

*Chasing the storm*

The storm had pretty much passed but even though I was running slow at only maybe 60 mph it was likely I'd catch it. Turned off Hwy 60 onto 74 to make the run across to hit I-17.

Snow was on the schedule for Flagstaff... and the fog just a ways south of Munds Park promised that'd be an accurate prediction...

Was slowed down to 40 just a bit farther when it thickened. I figured this would be a long slow run... but... it just didnt' turn out to be much of a thing...

Yeah it snowed... but not near enough to get much of my attention... and that Old Slow Dodge just kep' on rollin'...

I can't say I was surprised by the traffic... but I remember lots of runs across middle of nowhere northern New Mexico, in past runs, where I was purt near the only vehicle in sight... not any more. One steady line of traffic stretching back over the horizon.

I rolled through the afternoon and early evening chewing on the last of whatever edible was in the refrigerator before I shut it down. Washed down with a few cups of truck stop coffee that diesel rumbled and we kept closing the distance.

But, cross eyed and realizing that pushin' this donkey ain't gonna get me there I drug it off the road into a vibrating, rumbling rest area in the early evening and worked myself into something that resembled a comfortable position to close my eyes for as long as they would.

Well, the thermometer was reading like 22 degrees or some such. Being as how that old truck ain't insulated, it didn't take too awful long for the heat to leak out of the cab... which required firing up that cummins under the hood after about an hour to produce some more of it.

With about two hours of coppin Z's to refresh the spirit I set off in search of another cup of bad truck stop coffee...

That got me to more diesel in Raton and another rest area by Pueblo about three in the A.M. Got three hours there alternating between walks through the brisk early morning to exercise the state's plumbing and nice cozy sleeping, curled under my coat with the diesel rumbling 'bout half the time.

Colorado Springs welcomed me with it's traffic and badly freshly rebuilt roads ;) with Sunshine sparkling on the frosted trees! ... and that got me to the end of the run... with what diesel pesos were in my pocket fully spent... and yet a half tank left in the truck!

To welcome me back... Denver graced me with a half inch or so of snow the first night which reminded me... I don't miss winter. Not even a little bit.

Chilling in Denver... Again.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Another Day... Slidin' Along in the Desert

The locals drove some cattle past the other evening... Arizona Cowdogs are just a lil' different than you see a lot of other places...

*Arizona Cowdogs come in a Variety of styles*

Take a closer look behind that horse in the center...

Ya'll better have some slow cows... if you're gonna herd 'em with a Dachshund! Must be pretty embarrassing when you have to stop the herd to wait for the dog to catch up! :)

Lot's to get done today. Need to finish up this leather and then get the rig cleaned up, packed up and hitched up ready to park in the storage yard tomorrow morning...

Hmmm... might not be a bad idea to run on in today and make sure I've still got a spot there huh?

Then... tomorrow noon or so I'll start rolling north and into Utah... headed for the front range.

A fella has three options from here; 1. Go across I-40 to the Duke city and north on I-25 over Raton Pass. 2. Cut up across the Res through Cortez, over through Pagosa Springs and climb Wolf Creek Pass or 3. Up through Utah to catch I-70 and across through Grand Junction and over the passes west of Denver.

2 is the shortest, 1 is the longest way and 3, through Utah is the midlength trip. About a hundred miles from shortest to longest... and with a rig that sails about 13 hours if you keep it legal. I used to could do the run in less than 12 hours. ;)

This one, counting maybe a catnap somewhere is likely gonna be more like 16.

I'll have to make a decision at Flagstaff... and then another just north of there if I choose against I-40 and Raton...

This camp is not so picturesque in the daylight. Nothing really to set it apart... at sunrise and sunset is when it seems to come alive... and kinda stand apart.

Daylight is burning and a lazy puncher has a lot to get done on weak ambition... so I better get after it.

Gettin' Ready to Roll

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Just Sloggin' Along...

Bleh... sometimes the trail is rough and rocky...

When we left Montana it seemed like we'd worked to be set up pretty fine for the winter. With another week of work done at Phoenix International Raceway... Things were lookin' a lot less "up against it".

Well... that's what a guy gets for thinkin'...

This and that just came along quick and nasty and put us behind where we were when we pulled into Sydney for our month of hard labor. Drained that pot as fast as we'd filled it.

Sure, without that month we'd a been sitting with our feet nailed to the ground holding a bucket full of hamburger with a big ugly Grizz licking it's chops three feet away... and some damned tree lovin' monkey hollering that we'd best not hurt him!

Just 'cuz that's a true enough thing... doesn't make getting sucker punched any more comfortable.


Here in the desert by myself for the past couple of weeks I've been trying to catch up on work that I, to be honest, have been finding excuses to not get done for too long.

The past few days, with good signal and the reality that frugality isn't the only thing you need... I've been hard at work rebuilding more of my main site. Knocked out 20 pages or so in that time. It's just amazing how much work and how long that rebuild is taking though.

With something well over 300 pages... and every one having to be rebuilt because of SBI's program upgrade, as well as google's never ending dance with it's system... it's a hellacious piece of work to get whittled out.

... and that doesn't even count the necessary rebuild for the same reasons on the Bike site... that I have to get after as well.

You'd think google's business plan is to make it as difficult as possible... for the webmasters that in the end, produce just about every nickle that it makes. Makes me grumpy.

Buuuuut... what with Obama's fine hangin' over my head, declining income from google (largely 'cause of my jacked up pages I'm hoping) It got to jabbin' me hard enough to get off the dime and dive into the work required.

I'll be caching the fiver in Wickenburg in a couple days and bobtailing the worn out ol' truck to Colorado for the coming Holiday... assuming that the lil bit in my pocket doesn't get me only part way to the front range. ;) It's likely to be a slow trip trying to squeeze all the mileage out of a gallon of diesel that's possible.

Along with the holiday we'll be trying to work out some ideas for the future... simple truth is... changes have to be made...

I just can't keep up with the work I need to do for subsistence as well as the wear and tear on the rig... the way things are... with income down a LOT, and everything in the world seeming to be climbing a pretty steep slope... the next year is gonna see some remodeling of "ways". Requirement of reality.

The trick is in finding the balance between the necessities of subsistence and the absolute requirements of the Spirit.

Simply it is what it is.

So... it's back to the keyboard for me

Friday, December 13, 2013

An Overdose of Saguaro Sunrises and Sunsets

Quiet days with leather, and words... and not so much going on to hold your interest with words on this page...

Been working through another failure of my efforts to work from an "outline" of my stories. ;) ... the damned things keep jumping off that page. They insist on following their own tales without the constraints of those "rules"...

Makes it hard for a fella that has to work with the lil' bit of what he's got left between his ears to keep track of things though!

Sometimes maybe better to just sit and look, and not try to explain all you see. You just... look and let the thoughts wander around and land where they will.

Here the sunrises drift into the sunsets and sometimes it's tough to tell the two apart...

Another week goes by...

Monday, December 9, 2013

Burros and Cowboy Mental Gyrations

You might wonder what they eat in the places they live in what some see as a bleak and forbidding desert... There's no grass to speak of here. Sage and creosote bush. Mesquite and Paloverde...

That's what makes jack asses so hard to beat... the buggers can prosper on what others would pass on by and never see...

There's a small herd here, maybe a half dozen or so. They "Grazed" by yesterday afternoon, maybe three or four hundred yards off. What they were "Grazing" on was the trees themselves. They pruned off the freshest tips of the brush and Paloverde trees... and then moved on...

It's been said that the last two critters on earth will be a coyote and a cockroach... I'm of the opinion that a burro is gonna be right in there givin' 'em a run for their money.

Well... a burro probably being ridden by a politician...

I'm well into a bad episode of A.D.D. Working on any one thing for more than a couple hours, if that, is nigh on to impossible... so I tool leather, write a few thousand words, practice up some braiding with a hank of cord I picked up, doodle, do some quick online research for a story... take the dogs for a short walk... sweep the floor, put things away that got forgot the first three times, check this and that... and then... repeat... oh, and the laundry, propane and water to deal with...

While watching burros, bikers and fighter planes...

... all with quite some little bit of spinning in kaleidoscope lit circles mixed in to keep things interesting and get some bonus exercise.

I don't know if it's actually a diagnosable case of A.D.D, advanced old timers syndrome or the consequence of of an over active imagination hobbled by an under performing wallet.

Whatever it is... it's taking some genuine conscientious effort to focus on any one thing long enough for it to show some progress!

I'm gonna go stumble aother spin through the desert for a bit and work off some more kaleidoscoping gyrations...

 It May be a different drummer... but it's MY different Drummer!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Days Roll On...

The shop finished up the truck just as promised. Picked it up Friday noon. So... Three steps forward and a couple back. Poor as we were in September... but now with a fresh transmission and clutch... which they said that clutch was about nineteen feet from coming apart itself. ;)

One lil' future warning that came out of it... there was some "Color" in the transfer case oil when they changed it. Such color generally means there's metal bits floating around in it... which means wear... so... I haven't yet run out of bits and parts to repair and replace. I don't believe you ever are.

You kinda have a choice... Huge dollars up front... to have a rig with enough fresh miles in it to keep you out of repair shops for a while (unless you get one of those occasional duds) ... or...

... no dollars in between repairs... either way a rig costs dollars. Kinda like living. There's no way to eat without working so wasting time grousing on it is just that. Wasted time.

Now... for work I'm about halfway through a big leather project that I can't publish or the wrong person might could see it. ;) but between it and the previous small project it's bringin' my tooling back up to speed.

It's an odd thing... Maybe not. I've wandered a lot of miles. Clear to Alaska... and even places far beyond the shores of these United States. But, when it's all said and done when I think the word "Home"... Arizona Far Country is the picture that floats through my head.

Home on the Range

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Desert Sunrises, Sunsets and Surprises...

If you didn't like the sunset in Arizona... wait a few hours and get up early... the sunrises are just as colorful...

There's a small dry mountain just north of camp... if you walk up around that point on its eastern slope you unexpectedly come upon the essence of life in the desert...

In generations past a small spring or a seep was found against the rock wall of the mountain. Some oft criticized rancher took it upon himself to dig it out, build up banks to hold more water, and come back on occasion to clean out silt and keep it open.

The tank provides a secure source of water in this parched desert...

It feeds its life to more than cattle. Birds, Coyotes, Rabbits, Quail, anything living within twenty miles of this tank will be visiting this spot.

There's none of these up Montana way just now... except maybe the ones Auntie Emma dried and has gathering dust on the mantle!

Even the knobby tired dirt bikers come here for their needs; The unending lust to bruise their spleens and livers on the Whopp Dee Do's must be satisfied. :)

But the question remains... which of these is  the sunrise... and which is the sunset?

Not a bad place to be stuck waiting on truck repairs... and gain some inspiration for story spinning.

Waiting out another bit of weather