Monday, December 14, 2009

In Port in Ft. Bragg

Part 3: Noses Run; Water Does Not

Nov. 5, 1970 Fri.
After breakfast, two fellows by the name of Allen and John came by from the Albion Ridge Ranch, which I guess must be down around where we thought Felix jumped ship. They too spoke of engines and left saying they would return with more information.
When we left to find Brian and his truck, we discovered roads (or perhaps ruts is more accurate) far too impassible for Oatus's bulk. When we finally located his truck, there was no one home so we followed a path down to the bottom of a ravine and up the other side where we found an abandoned chicken ranch to explore.
Later in the afternoon another of Granny's many friends dropped by to use Everett's truck to haul a load of trash to the dump. Butch was his name and at the moment he is a candle maker by trade.
By way of another trade, we learned of another engine that was being housed at present in an old 1952 Plymouth that was quietly returning to the soil on his property. If we worked fast we might be able to rescue it before it disappeared altogether. We made a date for tomorrow.

Nov. 6, Sat.
Man, the weather has been low and wet lately! For some reason, my own system has been closely approximating the conditions of my sign, which is Air (I'm a Gemini); for some reason all the air in the area is heavily congested. Wheeze~!
Late in the morning Butch came by; we loaded tools, batteries, and Nigel the dog, and sputtered off to visit the old Plymouth.
The land is truly good here; Autumn has nipped into these hills quite nicely. Butch's property is blessed with an old Gravenstein apple orchard and I happily munched on a few while wandering about in the rain.
We were too late to help the old engine (which offered no response at all) so Butch built a fire out back and began melting candle wax in a big cauldron. We drank tea, ate fruit, helped put wicks in 140 quarter-sized candles, and departed with a glow.
Chris and I got back to the Red Shanty just in time to go take a sauna with Everett, Berta, and Unkie, a great relief for us Trucknics! We've been growing progressively smellier for a week now. This is the only way to get clean in Fort Bragg at the moment since the whole town is on water hours. I thought I left this sort of thing behind when I got out of the Navy!
Perhaps the people who operate the sauna also run the local water system. Theirs is the only place in town that has water and the whole town is lined up to bathe on a weekly schedule, at $1.50 a pop! What a sweet deal! Everett, Berta and Unkie's time slot is on Saturday, from 7:30 to 8:00 p.m.; not only did they get us admitted as their guests, they also paid our way!
I think they wanted to be sure that we wouldn't miss out on an opportunity to clean up and in their kind, tactful way, decided to go ahead and foot the bill in case we didn't happen to have the gate fee. Since we have no way of knowing how long we will be their guests, this probably amounted to an investment in their peace of mind and was therefore well worth the money! As I noted earlier, we've been growing progressively smellier for a week now.

Nov. 7 Sun.
Today we thought to recuperate some. My raging head cold has opened a branch office in Chris's head and he awoke this morning snuffling, spewing and snorting. We got a fire going and kept to our bunks, attending to our individual afflictions.
Not for long though! Granny came out and enlisted our aid in picking up an old freezer over at somebody's house. We ended up doing it mostly by ourselves and with effort and resolve managed to drag the damned thing back to the Shanty in one piece; then it was back to the truck to chase continuing drips in the roof; also the nose.
Because it's Sunday and telephone rates are low, I called my folks to let them know we are in port for repairs. That's the news for today.

Part 4: Wild Turkey and the Supreme Being

Nov. 8, 1970 Mon.
Chris has undertaken to clean and repair an ancient Underwood typewriter of Granny's and I to paint that rusty old freezer that we trucked over here yesterday.
Still nothing in the engineering department! John drove in this morning from Albion Ridge and reported that for all his searching, he was unable to locate anything that would meet Oatus's needs.
Chris called a friend of his in Indiana last night; as a result, today there are two checks over at Western Union totaling $166!! This evening I called Lou Hightower in Seattle to tell him we would be berthed here in Fort Bragg for awhile. He said that he had received a check for $97, made out to me from the Navy and forwarded to him by dear Mrs. Rogers back in Forest Knolls. Lou reassured me that our future berth is awaiting our arrival and rang off, promising to post the check in the morning. Bless him! Now we can pay the Salmis back for the sauna!

Nov. 10, Wed.
Well, absolutely no engines to be had in this area to meet any of our specifications so jolly well fix we must our present old flathead 6 banger! This means pulling the head and tapping the one stripped hole plus drilling the broken bolt out of the other one. While Chris is doing this, I will be putting up new siding and rendering the existing Wardroom window operable, watertight, and pretty. We received the check today so we're pretty fat for a change!

Nov. 11, Thurs.
It's good to be working on old Oatus again! The siding I installed today was a 4' x 8' piece of exterior plywood that has been taking up quite a bit of space while in storage below decks. The extra room now available is groovish!
After cursing and coaxing the two busted bolts out and replacing the blown head gasket,Chris said that we could probably be ready to get underway by tomorrow night if we wished. Road fever is setting in again!
Not that we are eager to leave our new friends, you understand; especially when it's so obvious that they are so concerned for our well-being. For example, tonight Everett decided to convince us of the power of the Supreme Being! Imagine our dismay as we realized that he felt we were dangerously unenlightened concerning this holy entity!
With great zeal, plus a half bottle of Wild Turkey, he took us out into the front yard to instruct us and demonstrate to us the power of the Supreme Being by having Him part the clouds and banish the rain from the skies. The time for our redemption and salvation had come and Everett had decided to be the Instrument of our conversion!
Lucky us! We stood our there freezing our butts off for nearly an hour while Everett pleaded with the Supreme Being and implored Him to part the clouds so that we might be inspired to believe!
This was not our idea of inspiration but finally a brief hole appeared in the thick cloud cover and gave us a quick glimpse of the full moon and a few glittering stars. Thankfully, this was satisfactory to Everett and we were then able to conclude our little weather tryst.

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