Saturday, March 17, 2012

Always be ready for shit to happen...

...because it will happen to thee.

Yesterday a little bit of it happened to me. Could have been worse, but it would have been a little better had I been better prepared.

I knew it was going to be a busy day, by my standards. I didn't know how busy, and I didn't get back till going on evening which is why there was so little posting yesterday.

First, being Friday, it was shit-shoveling day.

The weather's supposed to get bad, and indeed this morning there's not much sun and the gusting morning wind says "bad weather coming." So since I don't know when it'll get nice again, I thought I'd better go ahead and pay Landlady her firewood tithe. Long story.

If I were the sort to name manure piles - which I'm not - I'd call this one "Joel's Hill." Nobody's added a single fork-full to that pile but me. I'm getting kind of proud of it.

This is Spirit, a mare so pregnant she might not even be pregnant anymore as I type this. Supposedly, on the trail she's "awesome." In her corral, she's got the personality of a friendly cinder block. Or at least one that's not actively hostile. Not unpleasant, just not very interested in palaver. Clean it up and go thy way, shit-shoveler.

This is Visioness, my sweetheart. She'd be a lapdog, if you let her. I take these pictures because she's been sold and will soon be gone. I'm gonna miss her.

And this is Comet. He's almost a year old now, and definitely goes through phases. Right now, he's my little buddy. Up till a few weeks ago he was so exuberant about it he could be dangerous to be near. Lately he's been more tractable. He doesn't know it, but he's about to become a gelding and maybe that's a good thing.

Okay! I put the boys in Gitmo, delivered the wood, shoveled the shit. I went home and worked on another paying gig for a few hours, and now I've got to go visit the neighbors. S&T live a few miles away, up the ridge and across the plateau. They built a house on the top of a little mesa, and I really wish I could show it to you. It's so gorgeous, it's like this secret treasure out in the middle of frickin' nowhere.

This afternoon I've got business with them. They wanted me to look at this old Honda ATV that's got problems. It turns out they had other things in mind as well, all of them good (for me.)

Here's a tiny bit of the view from their front yard. This place is amazing, and if I tried to describe what they had to do before they could stick two boards together on top of that mesa, you'd laugh and call me a liar.

Well, we looked over the ATV - nothing will fix that poor thing short of an overhaul that'd probably cost more than the faded old thing is worth. Then he had a bunch of scrounged 2X4s he'd expressed an interest in letting me take off his hands. And then, he wanted to discuss another gig.

This one's going to be a bugger, but first he had to show me where it is. T is on the board of the local property owner's association, a phrase which out here doesn't have the Nazi-like connotations it does elsewhere. Mostly it's a thankless job that involves having people yell at you about the condition of what we laughingly call the "roads."

We got in his Jeep, an old steed even more battered than Landlady's, and we drove out into the desert. We drove and we drove. Nine miles we drove, over and around and through and then up, till we got to the top of West Mesa.

The road from the bottom of West Mesa to the top is quite steep, and extremely rocky. In the very best weather only a capable 4X4 can get up there, and you'll worry about your tires ever inch of the climb. People own property up there, heaven knows why, and they've been complaining about the rocks.

You know how you get rocks off a road here? Not with a grader blade, that just digs up more rocks. No. You stoop over, pick up a rock, pitch it to the side. Repeat.

I can do that. I won't like it, but I can do that. It'll pay about fifty bucks to pick up all the tire-breakers from the bottom of West Mesa to the top. Hey, it's a gig. And the scenery's nice.

None of this trip had been on my already busy schedule, but I'm flexible. Actually all the work I'd planned was done, and this was just a pleasant little jaunt. Until T's Jeep broke down.

Some problem with fuel pressure, I'm guessing. T thinks it's the fuel pump, and he could be right. Personally, given the symptoms, I think it was the pick-up filter under the pump but I can't know for sure. All I know is we were stranded a good way from home. Neither of us had planned the trip in advance, and neither of us were prepared for the stranding. Neither of us had a phone with us, for example.

My phone, my water, my rifle, my tow strap were all safely in Landlady's Jeep. Which was miles away.

Sometimes, if you let it sit, a pump that's acting up that way will go ahead and start the engine and let it run a little ways. And that's how we limped the Jeep most of the way back to his place. It took a long time. Finally, about two miles from his place, it refused to go another inch.

We got out and started walking, and that's when we finally ran into a bit of luck. After not seeing another soul for hours, we weren't ten minutes down the road when one of T's neighbors came by and gave us a lift to his barn. Then at last my tow strap came in handy. We got his Jeep safely home and said our goodbyes.

The boys had been in Gitmo far longer than I'd planned, and were probably thinking they'd been abandoned forever. They can be drama queens about that. So I re-hitched the trailer half-full of lovely linear lumber and headed back across the plateau.

I love this drive.


LJH said...

Mt. Joel/Horseshit Peak - love it.

Y'know, I love my mountain - the ponderosa pines, pinons, oaks & aspens; the green meadows and year-round creeks and yes, even the ass-deep snow. But the high desert has an almost equal pull for me. I could live there and love it. Thanks for those awesome pics.

MamaLiberty said...

I don't ride with other people much, but when I do I'm always tempted to take my car bag. So far I have not done so... and so far have not needed it. I'm always carrying my gun, of course, so don't worry about that. Water would be my big concern out where you are.

Matt said...

Great pictures Joel. I just spent two days up in that lovely High Desert. Two days in the wind and dust cleaning trash off my parents property. I was lucky and conned a good friend into helping me. Headed south before the weather broke. Stay warm.