Hear them; Leaves. Sounding like rain. Rustling like wind.
Hear them; Leaves. Sounding like rain. Rustling like wind.
I’ve been disturbed by questions I can’t answer.
I drove through Gettysburg, PA. It is a quaint town in the small, New England’ish genre. However, it is a famous name, unlike many of it’s neighbors.
Because a lot of violence was visited upon it.
And a president made a short, but inspiring speech afterwards.
Here is the ending of that speech:
“that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Why would soldiers of the South die for a cause (slavery) that they were not the beneficiaries of?
Is it hypocrisy for the North, who won their freedom by revolting against their current government, declare that others don’t have that same freedom?
Did freedom prevail?
Was that the best way to end slavery in the United States?
Is our government “of the people, by the people, for the people”?
What will men in power do to retain their privilege?
Would you (or I) act differently?
Hopeful or hopeless, you decide.
I’m in Shenandoah National Park. I’ve decided to take a loop hike; 7.7 miles, 2313 elevation change, with the last leg of 3.1 miles along the Appalachian Trail. The last leg is relatively flat, the starting legs are not. It is down to Doyle River Falls and then keep going and loop back up the next canyon to Jones Run Falls and then back to the top where the Appalachian trail will take me back to my car.
As I’ve mentioned before, this part of the country has been having a bit of a dry spell. The water isn’t flowing much which make the falls not up to their potential. Further, I still haven’t caught up with the fall weather, yet this country is pretty spectacular.
Two incidents made for a very memorable hike. As I got to the bottom of Doyles and was about to turn up to Jones Run I saw a bear, just a black one. He was startled and took off before I could snap a picture. What I quickly discovered is he made the turn and was heading up the stream to Jones Run Falls. These canyons are narrow and steep so he was ahead of me and since the trail ran right beside the stream I couldn’t pass him.
So, what would you have done? I was again without buds, bells or bear spray. Of course I took out my camera and followed him.
He kept looking back at me, I’d stop. It was also interesting to hear the echoing down the canyon as he was turning over rocks, sometimes big ones, in the stream. At one point he came up on the trail and I couldn’t tell if he meant to keep going up or come back down, towards me. So, I picked up a big stick and whacked it on a rock. Yes, big scary me. The stick broke. He turned uptrail and I let him get ahead of me. I could tell he was back in the stream by the rock echos. Walking slowly and not hearing him for awhile I came upon another hiker coming down the trail with his dog. I asked if he had seen the bear and he said yes, saying it had left the stream and gone up the side of the canyon.
So, it was back to full steam ahead, up, up, up. Shortly I encountered a lady coming down the trail. We exchanged good mornings (as most hikers are friendly) and she stopped me with a question on how the falls were. I admitted there were better times to be viewing them and asked if she was from around here, nope just visiting. I then mentioned I had just seen a bear upon which I could see conflict pass across her face. She sorta wanted to see one but sorta didn’t. Anyway, wishing her a good hike I headed up and she headed down. About 2 hours later, while on the Appalachian Trail part and heading back to my car, I see her again. Remember, this was a loop hike and obviously she was up to doing it also, just in the opposite direction. I greeted he again and told he I was wondering where she was visiting from. Oklahoma, here on a business conference. She had a camera around her neck that I asked if it was film, because of the retro look. No, it was a new mirrorless that she liked because of the analog controls. I mentioned I also took photos and she stepped closer as I pulled out my camera from my fanny pack. “Oh, that’s a big one.” I swear, that’s what she said. I mumbled something about how I had arrived at this rig but I should have said, with a smile, “hmmm, think I’m compensating for something?”. I showed her a picture of the bear she had just missed. And then we parted. Shortly I had the thought that what I should have done is asked her if I found myself passing through her town, could I stop by and she show me the pictures she took today. I would then give her my contact info (including this blog site) and ask her to contact me if she was so inclined. Then we would have parted.
Hopeful or hopeless?
I have good news and bad news.
It cost me roughly $2,000 to get my car fixed, but fixed it is and my journey will restart in the morning.
What happened is the belt tensioner on the timing belt broke. Which is surprising given that it was replaced roughly 5,000 miles ago, just before I started this trip. But here is where I made a mistake. I had a local (recommended) mechanic do the work instead of taking it to the dealership. The dealership was not convenient and I knew they would charge roughly twice as much, so I know why I made this mistake. However, I knew I was going on this trip so if anything were to go wrong the local mechanic would not be available, but with the dealership I would have a warranty that would be honored all over the country. Turns out things went wrong. Now I have that bigger warranty.
Now for the good news. It could have been worse.
On a modern engine, when the timing belt slips or breaks, your engine is toast.
When my tensioner broke, nobody can understand why the belt didn’t slip, but it didn’t.
So, which is it? Am I having a run of bad luck or am I the luckiest guy in the world? When I lost my clutch, it was a simple hose change, of which there was one in town. When I lost 4 lug nuts on the rear wheel, one held. When the belt tensioner broke, the belt didn’t slip.
I’m being given the chance to see the world as I want to see it.
I’m very lucky.
I just got the news. The most important part for getting my car running again won’t be in till Monday. So, that gives me some time for reflection.
Why am I doing this drive?
And will it help my on-line dating?
You may have noticed in past writings the notion that experiences are better when shared. There are, of course, some activities that just can’t be done alone. But I even speculated that scenes were better when viewed with others.
I no longer believe that is true. I have seen what is for me the prettiest thing in nature.This is Grand Prismatic Springs in Yellowstone. I am blown away in love with it. And unfortunately, my camera setups are not ideal for capturing it. My big camera can’t get far enough away and elevated and my phone is better for closeups, which you don’t get the stunning effect of this place up close.
Never the less, it is a stunning sight and in no way diminished because I was alone. I believe I am able to gain insight from this and it is not to use a metaphor like you can’t be too close or something like that. No, I believe that what I took for enhancement because of company was rather that I was being drawn to the present, a state of mind that I’ve been trying to reach more recently, a state of mind that I hardly even knew how to spell before.
I think I’m really begin to get it. Take these mechanical breakdowns I’ve been having. I can distinctly remember in the past the level of stress that would appear at even the hint of a mechanical problem. “OMG, am I going to break down? Can I afford the repair bill? Will I be late?” Truthfully I can declare that none of that has occurred on this trip. Life will be and my worrying about it will not improve the situation.
I arrived in Charlotte late, with innumerable mosquito bites and a very loud knocking coming from the engine. I’m calm and collected.
Arranging an appointment, I drive my (loud) car this morning to the dealership.
The first thing he says is I’ll need a new engine. I tell him I hope not and head out to get breakfast. When I get back, I’m relieved to hear the engine is fine. There is an engine cover that is not. One that had been involved in some preventative maintenance I had done before heading out on this drive. I’m told it will be two days to get parts, these things usually don’t break.
As I wait to hear how many things have to be redone I just shake my head.
Life is complicated, however it is our choice on how annoyed to be.
I’m not doing much in Charlotte except visit. They are experiencing a heat wave and I find it miserable out there. Can’t wait for the snow to start.
It works. The parts arrive. Danny arrives, has the right tools and gets the job done. I leave Roy about 5pm, having left Danny some drinking money and heartfelt thanks.
Being somewhat wiser than I was years ago I stop in 10 miles to check the tightness of the lug nuts. Some are loose. I tighten them up and drive another 10 miles. This goes on for several more iterations, which makes driving a 1000 miles go by real slow. Eventually I screw my courage up to stopping after 20 miles. Then 30. Then 50. Then 100. Then I make it to New Orleans.
Upon arrival I was welcomed most vociferously by the local … mosquitoes. It is 7pm, 92 degrees and 90 percent humidity. Not my kind of weather. But one thing this trip is reinforcing is that there are all kinds of people and they all do not have to like or do the same thing. Viva la difference.
Saturday I head over to party. As I’m driving along one of the canals, I swear, I watch as an alligator snaps up an egret. Debating quickly on whether I should stop or whether I should not get out in this weather, I lost, turned around, grabbed my camera and went after a picture.
The party was great. Lots of their friends and relatives and one strange dude that drove all the way from Washington.
Tomorrow, I head out towards Charlotte, North Carolina to a brother that is actually looking forwards to me visiting. On the road again.
So, I luck out. The clutch problem is the simplest of the possibilities, a leaking hydraulic line. There is even a replacement part in town. Colin, the mechanic squeezes me in (remember, no appointment) and I’m back on the road by 3pm. I cut across cool little mountain roads, even dirt at times and come out on the high plains of New Mexico. The sun is nearly setting as I come across a beautiful gorge cut out by the Canadian river. I race through hoping to find the right scenery, but fail. On the other side I keep looking back at the way the sunset is shaping up. Finally I stop to capture the moment. When I start up again I immediately feel something wrong with the car. I pull over, get out and OMG, my back rear wheel has four (out of 5) missing lug nuts. And by missing I mean not only are the nuts gone, but the studs they screw on to are broken off. There is one nut, barely holding the wheel on.
I jack the car up and tighten that one nut, wishing that the studs hadn’t broken. If they were still there then I could have stolen one nut from each wheel and been in pretty decent shape. But no. The next town on the map is ROY, NM, but I don’t know how far away I am. Do I walk, call for a tow, try to drive? Pulling out my phone I see I have no reception. But I did back where I just had my last photo shoot. Where I’m parked the road is rising towards Roy, so I start walking in that direction, figuring that I’ll get reception back when I get to the top of the rise. About half way up the hill I flag down a passing truck. He informs me Roy is just 4 miles from here and the road is in good shape. Thanking him I go back to my car and decide to drive to town. Stopping occasionally to check the wheel and not going over 10mph I arrive in Roy.
It is 8pm, dark and gone to bed. I literally walk down the middle of the main drag scoping out what my possibilities might be in the morning. Up at 7 I start walking around. The only thing open is a funky coffee shop run by Claudia. I begin to explain my problem when she interrupts and said aren’t I the guy who walked 4 miles to town. News travels fast in small towns. After explaining the situation and correcting the story, btw with the couple of locals that were in drinking coffee we got the story to be that no, I hadn’t walked into town. Instead I had picked up that corner of my car and pushed it into town. After all, my car was sitting just over there.
Anyway, she calls Justin to get advice, seems he’s the practical one in town. But Justin is about to leave for Colorado, but he suggests, if need be, we could probably figure a way to get towed to the next town that might have parts, because there was no way parts were to be found in Roy, not for a Subaru. At 8 I walked over to Rick’s gas station to ask if I got the parts could he install them. He said he wasn’t really a mechanic and would not be comfortable doing that. However, he was pretty sure Danny could do it after work. He’d track Danny down and ask. So I went back to Claudia’s. One of the locals, Marlin, said he was taking his uncle in to a doctor’s appointment today in Sante Fe and he would be happy to pick the parts up for me and be back by 4-4:30. I said great. Justin stopped in to see how the situation was doing. In a couple of hours Marlin called and said he had the parts. Then Rick stopped in and said Danny would do the work for me.
Isn’t it great when a plan works out. These people have been super stellar. Now I just have to wait and if all goes well I’ll hit the road this evening. Because I do have a wedding reception to get to outside New Orleans by Saturday.
Here I sit in a very cute coffee shop in Taos, NM waiting for a call.
The call to tell me the state of my car.
There I was on a very high pass between Pagosa Springs and Taos looking over the vastness of New Mexico.
When I got back into the car the clutch pedal went to the floorboard, but did nothing. I got to drive the next 47 miles with no help from my clutch. Up and down hills; fast and slow; stop signs, stop lights and traffic. Yes, I’m that good.
I hit Taos in the early afternoon and then hit the internet. I found a shop who said they couldn’t crack my hood until the 30th. I then left a message at a Subaru specialty shop and sat. In not too long Colin called me back and I told him some of my story, traveling from coast to coast, and broke down in Taos. He said he would fit me in, having sympathy for traveling souls, but not until the morning. He was just closing up and heading out to a Peter Frampton concert in Albuquerque. So, I dropped off the car this morning and now I wait.
This poem started in Washington. However, by the time I realized it was forming I was in Idaho and so I never took pictures of the original inspiration. I finally got some acceptable ones in Utah. Enjoy:
Title: Derelicts Derelicts everywhere. More maintenance? Early intervention? By the time they’re falling down, it’s too late. Pride? Utility? Missing? Other things missing. Big gaps. Are they really obsolete? No use? Not salvageable? Not worth it.