Nov. 18, 1970, Thursday
It's 06:15. No matter. Dark as it is, it's already obvious that it's going to be one of those Golden Autumn Days. Later on, a few shafts of thin sunlight peeked through the clump of alder trees on our east side and burst through the port windows. It's the kind of light that's so fresh and bright that it totally illuminates everything about the object it falls upon, or through.
In this case, at 07:45, it is blindingly evident that the windows must be washed; as the daylight improved, we were also able to notice that several tires were going flat. So, the first thing we did today was to rumble off to Trinidad for refills; then we pulled into a rest stop off Highway 101 to finish hassling with the brakes.
Yesterday it was the Hydraulics (brakes; water pump); today it's the Pneumatics (air pressure; tires). Oatus has plenty of Earth in his sign but most of it is on him, this of course being due to truckin'. Much of the Earth in him has been removed by us since we departed Marin, this being due to mechanical necessity, with more to come anticipated. The Fire portion of his personality (ignition; combustion) has already become familiar to us, also with more to come anticipated.
When Chris pulled the port axle and found half of it dry and covered with rust, we decided to tear into the rear end also. We got the fill plug out and found the anemic remains of what was once 90-weight differential oil, now reduced to the consistency of chocolate milk.
~ And precious little of it, too! More things to do.
The day's efforts showed these results:
1.One of the pistons in the port forward brake cylinder is frozen up, so we have only half a brake there; same is true for the starboard side.
The rear end leaks oil. Somebody filled the original drain with a plug and tapped in a hole for the existing one right next to it. The plug is not a good one and neither is the gasket between it and the inspection plate.
But at least we have brakes again! These little discrepancies we learned about today will become additions to our growing list of Things We Must Keep An Eye On.
Nov. 19, 1970 Friday – The only thing we waited around for this morning was the coffee water to boil. Off and away at 08:15 with only 60 miles left of California to put under our wheels.
At last we arrived in fabled Orick! It's referred to as “fabled” only because it has been the next point on the map for several days now. I thought we'd never get here!
Our story: It is November, 1970. Chris and Rick, intrepid hippie adventurers and Vietnam war veterans, are traveling from Marin County, California, to Seattle, Washington, in Oatus, a 1946 Dodge flatbed truck with a house they have built on the back, and the Family Dog, a VW Beetle. They left Marin on November 4, and now, fifteen days out, they have made it to Orick, California, a distance of some 372 miles, give or take. They have finally arrived in fabled Orick, which has been the next dot on the map for several days, and we come in as Rick goes into a store to purchase a pack of smokes.
November 19, 1970, Friday
This was a fuel stop also. The old man in the store said he was sorry but he would have to see some identification before he would sell me a pack of Camels.
“We keep our eyes open 'round here,” he intoned, peering up at me over his spectacles and the old brass cash register. “Ain't gonna git caught, y'see.”
“Who's going to try to catch you?” I asked.
He glanced quickly at me, sideways. “Nobody, I said. Ain't gonna git caught 'cause we keep our eyes open 'round here!”
He rang up the paper towels and struggled for a moment trying to read the price label on the coffee which was written in grease pencil on the top, bold and black.
But when he reached for the breakfast rolls, he went off like a bomb!
“Oh, my,” he said, and began squeezing the package all over, “Oh, my! These are old! These are hard as a rock! This won't do, won't do at all!”
Professional criticism I'd say. They had been left over for a day or two but they looked okay to me.
However, it wouldn't do, as he had said earlier. He took me back to the roll department for an adequate exchange. Unfortunately, there were none. The main deciding factor in my picking that package was that it was the only one there. I was able to assure him that it really was OK but only after he insisted on knocking price down to 30 cents.
“We keep our eyes open 'round here, d' y' see?” he said, mellow at last. I said that I did.
“Ain't gonna git caught!” Then he smiled an old smile and winked, as if to say he knew all the time that I wasn't one of those people.
Here's an old man who, after a lifetime of apparently honest work, is still in the harness and still honest! In the process, he's developed the attitude of an escaped convict who's on the lam in a hostile environment. In order to cover his trail he's adopted a personal commitment to total honesty, motivated by his fear of getting caught.
After a lifetime of existence in the good ol' U.S.A., why should an old man have to feel that being “at large,” so to speak, is an acceptable price to pay for his continued freedom? Furthermore, why should a young man find himself compelled to interpret the scene as such anyway??
Considering the murders at Kent State University last May, the old man' attitude begins to seem both prudent and wise. I'm fearful of thinking that this might be one of the possible answers to the above rhetorical questions.
If so, here's another: what's the point of even having a society at all if you're going to permit murder to be an acceptable part of its structure?
Getting underway again, these thoughts were tumbling around inside my head, setting off alarms concerning the nature of our own perilous situation. Good thing, too! As we neared the borders of this uncertain land, we were laid siege to and ultimately captured by the black and white Copgoblins. There are bands of these folk prowling every corner of the land, fanatically challenging evil wherever it may or may not exist.
Whether or not there is evil in Oatus is, of course, a matter of opinion.