|The Beast, full of himself at Haviland Lake|
"You're a typical American boy,
From a typical American home.
You were born with a couple of breaks,
Couldn't leave well enough alone..."
--- Amazing Rhythm Aces
"The Man with a Plan". Sounds masterful, doesn't it? I always wanted to be one of those guys. The problem is, my plans are not exactly plans. They lack detail, for one thing. They keep changing, for another. Bob's plans require a certain latitude and forebearance. Bob's plans require a serene belief in serendipity.
Or even Providence.
Take travel, for instance. I once got so used to travel that it wasn't travel at all, but more like life. I'd like to recover that conviction, if I can, and in aid of that I'm trying various things with the Daze and the Beast. Including sitting still, here at Haviland Lake after two days of rain.
Now there's the real test of a full time travel plan. What happens when you have to stop? Do you get jittery? Break out in hives? Go up in smoke? Or are you still "at home"?
When I had a truck and a fifth wheel, the world made all kinds of sense. There was a psychological symmetry to the situation. I had a "house", with wheels, and when it stopped I "lived" in that particular place. I often got in the truck and traveled out from that place, but then I came back "home". "Home" was a series of base camps from which I explored multitudinous back yards and neighborhoods.
Okay, life was just a timeshare, but that's true even when you carry a mortgage.
But there's something deeply wrong with the idea of motorhomes.
You lose symmetry. Your house and your car are the same thing. When you are moving, no thanks to Newton, you tend to keep moving, because you have no "place" to return to. But when you stop, say to think about that, you can't rest. You are then "on the street", because though you may have a place, you have no car to travel out from that place. And if you do leave, you lose your place.
It is no real news to the Homeless that Law is asymmetrical, though they don't give a fig for Newton. Note that it makes no difference how much money you spent on the rig, it's still just basically weird. "My God," as Jennifer the Blogger sez, "I'm living in my car."
Man, this stuff is unsettling. I feel like Linda Blair. It makes my head go round and round. Which is why, in lieu of an exorcism, so many people with motorhomes soon come to buy a car to drag behind their car. It seems redundant. Hell, it IS redundant. But it's better than being homeless. And it makes your otherwise random acts resemble a plan.
I am no exception, save that I drag a Beast. And sometimes the Beast drags me. Today the Beast decided to drag me up a mountain.
The Beast just loped along at 60 to 80 per, as its Maker intended. Wahoo. Everything was fine until Silverton peaked through the pines.
Then, while I went into a BBQ place to fuel up on pulled pork, the Beast got to talking to a tough looking Taxi.
Next thing I knew, we were on our way to a little place called Animas Forks, at the end of a GRAVEL ROAD! Now the Beast doesn't do gravel, as a rule. But if he rides flat, and avoids lean like Jack Sprat's wife, he can handle it. But it slows him down and crimps his style. Worse than gravel is DEEP SOFT DIRT, which came next. Soft dirt is slippery stuff, and the Beast is a leetle topheavy for slippery stuff. And his tires are hard, and have narrow tread. But even that was okay until we got to the BOULDERS IN THE ROAD, where rain had actually washed away the roadbed, the up and down over which sometimes scraped his frame. The Beast just can't quite go slow enough for this stuff.
After a while, the Beast stopped for a breather by the Animas River.
I wanted to turn back, but the Beast was excited. It was JUST A LITTLE FURTHER, boss. So off we went again. And then there it was, just below Engineer Pass. An old mining town from another time, all leaning clapboard buildings and tailing piles.
All that vibration was too much for me. I had to go pee. When I came back, the Beast was eyeing the switchback up into the Pass. "No way," I told him. "But Boss, it's mostly like what we just went over, only zigzagging!"
I thought about when my brother had been with me up there in the Pass, going over into Lake City, and how great it would be to call him from on top. He once confided soberly that Engineer Pass was where he wanted his ashes scattered, as though I were going to be around to tend to that chore. It doesn't look like much down here, where the mountains hem you in. But up there, whole ranges of peaks sweep away from your feet. Just...right...up...there.
I wavered. I could always tell Mike this was all his fault. I was merely checking out plans for his disposal. And then we went.
We only got about 300 yards up the first switchback when I knew what was different about the road along here. It was STEEP. Like at a 45 degree angle. I decided to turn back. Which was exactly when the Beast found another soft spot and threw me down the mountain. Bob's aging body went ballistic, and landed on some sharp rocks, but fortunately the Joe Rocket jacket has "ballistic" inserts which did a pretty good job of taking up the shock. And I had my helmet on.
When I got up, the Beast was laying on his left side, taking up most of the road. Fortunately, his motor died, or he might have dug himself a hole, or skittered over the edge. I tried to lift him up against the angle of the mountain. And then I tried again. And again. Finally I got him upright.
But then I realized I could do no more. I was holding on to the handlebar brake with my left hand, straining like Sysiphus just to keep him vertical against the pull of the mountain. My boots were slipping on the downhill gravel. It was like a slow strenuous treadmill walk uphill to nowhere. There was no way I could mount. And no way I could keep him balanced without mounting.
Right at that moment, here came a jeep around the corner, and a guy leaned out and asked "Do you need help?"
Did I? Naw, this is the way I get my exercise. But I actually said, through gritted teeth: "Yeah, it weighs 600 pounds."
I got him to hold the uphill handlebar while I got on. Some chrome yellow dirt bikes with agressive knobbies passed by while we were doing this. They lost traction in the same place, though they didn't go over. For some reason this made me feel better. Then I turned Beast down the hill, and very very slowly, with Gravity as my Co-Pilot, brakes working off and on together, I inched my way wobbling and skidding to the bottom of the hill.
The Beast was untalkative on the way back to Silverton. I was okay, but he had a dent low on the left side of his gas tank. I tried to persuade him to consider it something like the motorcycle equivalent of a dueling scar. It made him romantic and mysterious. He was not convinced.
But it was on the streets of Silverton, where I stopped for a homeopathic beer, that I discovered the real casualty of our folly. All but forgotten, Mini-Me had been riding in the left saddle bag. And the Beast had crushed her. Actually the computer part of her personality was still operating okay, but her looks were gone. Half the screen was rendered as a sort of collaboration between Miro and Jackson Pollack, where the metal back had broken through and shorted out the screen. Lovely, really, in its own way. The other half was responding to Windows, and actually attempted to show a whole screen of info in half the horizontal size. I didn't know it could do that. Eventually it quit trying.
Valiant effort, noble automaton! But no cigar.
|Mini-Me becomes a half-wit.|
|Tell me this road isn't made for motorcycles.|
|Tiny Ouray, the "Switzerland of America".|
O Mini-me! Alas, poor lass, we hardly knew ye! Next morning the Beast was contrite, and offered to do the laundry by way of amends. But it's all short wages. Mini-me is still a half-wit.
This whole trip started out in the spirit of a test. I thought I was testing out the Beast and the Daze, but found out that testing goes both ways. In any case, when faced with a particular proposition along the way, I took it as a chance to explore possibilities, rather than simply consider whether it was sensible.
I wanted to know what I could do with the equipment I had, whether it was comfortable or not. And I found out.
The thing is, though... I've got a pretty sweet deal here. Maybe I ought to just relax and enjoy it, rather than test it to destruction. And thanks to a sporting Providence, I may still have that chance.
Bob, who needs a new plan.