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Author Topic: WINDS OF MARCH  (Read 2300 times)
boxcarOkie
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« on: March 12, 2011, 07:54:56 PM »

9:00 A.M. ... This morning finds me with a cup of coffee staring out the windshield, thinking about Cody, Wyoming, and the great American West.  The shop reverberates to the tune of the Detroit and I wait for the air buzzer to shut down, so that I might leave.  My pig iron pony is chomping at the bit and he is ready to roll.


The American Economy and my spending habits may have relegated me to a life of quiet desperation here lately, but it cannot close the borders of my mind.  Today I have time to contemplate the finer things, and dream big, which I seem to be pretty good at.  I don’t have a pressing agenda, and there is nothing on my plate, just me and this old bus.

In my mind, there are trips yet untold.  

In my mind, I can go all I want, and it doesn't cost one thin dime to head on down that road.  The diesel is free, the roads are good and mostly empty, ... I am the captain of my ship.  Everything coming together for a short period of time, the buzzer stops and I head out the front gate to our rural country road that leads to the highway.



I am truly a fortunate pilgrim.  On the average I make 10-12 trips per year, not all are of considerable miles, some are like today, one hundred miles perhaps a little more, depending on my mood.  It is not good to let a bus sit, just like all of us, we sit, we get tired, we get lazy, things that used to work, shut down.  So every now and then, we slink out to the open road for a short respite from the daily grind.

Every month or so, I take Daddy’s Hobby out and stretch his legs, lube up his joints and put down a hundred or so miles.  Fifty miles out and fifty back to the shop is usually the drill.  Today I am driving north on Highway Seventy-Four, up that old torn, well driven, rutted two lane highway which harbors those old white wheat elevators in Crescent, Oklahoma.


How they stand like ships upon the plain. I am remembering how it was, when I was ten years old, back then I thought they were truly the biggest things I had ever seen.  That was before, Chicago & San Francisco, Aircraft Carriers and Viet Nam.  All the mysteries of life, a young heart yearned to discover. Stealing off and skinny-dippin down at the Cimarron River, if mama ever knew, the lickin I would have received.  

Special days and times, now so precious to me.

Old tin roof, leaves in the gutter. Yellow jackets on the watermelon, honey-suckle in the air, Daddy turning on the sprinkler, letting us run thru it in our underwear.  Falling asleep in my Grandpa's chair, to the sound of his grandfather clock ticking on his wall.  Angel Food Cake on the counter and a silver fork in my hand.  

Learning to drive in a wheat-field full of stubble, shifting gears and using a clutch. Ice cold Grapettes at the Co-Op at the north end of town, beside the railroad depot, now long gone.  Fried chicken dinners, ice tea, and fresh picked strawberries for lunch.
 
Riding an old popper, a John Deere to city folks.  Keeping an eye on the furrow and plowing straight and narrow, long after the sun has set and into the night. Burning drip-gas in the old pickup, laying a strip of rubber on the asphalt. Secretly stealing a kiss from Mary Dawson in the balcony on Saturday night.

The noise of an old Santa Fe freight rattling thru town, the sound the train whistle made late in the night. Years later, after decades of time, it would be my hand on that whistle cord, making a living out on the branch line. It would be me riding thru town in the late hours with a string of empties and a little red hack on the end.

Working Oklahoma hot summers, in air so thick you could almost walk on it, long barefoot days that seemed to go on and on forever, seemingly to never end. Perhaps I am remembering this all wrong, but, life seemed to be better way back then.

Early morning … the Detroit purrs like a big kitten and sings my song.
 

Brand new CD in the tuner, cruise set at sixty-five, my kind of music and my little slice of time.  Big boy in the smart aleck lane, rushes past and gives me a friendly wave, another high-miler eastbound and on his way.  


The old hoopie she sways a little in the wind, and then gently comes back towards the center-line again.  We have come a long ways down the beaten path this old bus and me.  Almost noon, me and the big dog, trying to work it all out all alone.  

One more short day on the road, only to end much too soon.

I suppose bus people need a place like Quartzite, Az, or Cody, Wyo or Palmento Cove, secret hideaways for bus nuts.  Perhaps I am developing the mental mindset of an “Old Tymer”(sp) and do not know it.  Life has it seasons, it has it reasons, we are all but unwilling participants in The Grand Ride of A Lifetime.


Often the boredom of wintertime drives a man crazy.  It almost has a tendency to warp the soul.  So does being squeezed geographically, politically and culturally between these ever so fun Hillbillies in the north and Texas-Mexicans in the south, on a liminal border where one culture haphazardly blends with the other, twenty four hours per day.  This might be why we yearn for a new place, sights, sounds and people.


I need a change of pace, a new locale, something to stimulate and at the same time amuse me.  If and when those fossil fuels eventually run out, and I am still alive, I may have to move to some place and start a new life.  The Gobi Desert strikes me as interesting, not a whole lot of traffic, don’t have to dress to stir and amaze.  No Circuit City-Best Buy mail out circulars in the mailbox every other day.
 
That might work.

Open up some little unadorned watering hole beside the trail, name it “Smitty’s”” or something catchy like that.  Give it a nostalgic Doggy-Diner flair.  Serve up some home-made distilled brew, with the consistency of Blue Velvet aftershave, perhaps a distinct odor of Pine Tar.  Decorate the place with reindeer antlers and serve up warm Yak Milk for the non drinkers, those who do not care to imbibe.


Checking the mirrors, I slip the old bus into reverse and back it so every cautiously into the shop, to sit but another thirty days or so.  Almost as quickly as the morning starts, the jaunt is over, and it is back to the shop.  So it goes ….. First your money and then your clothes … Just as well, I am too old and it is too cold.  Presently it is 43* at the airport, which is really silly, because I don’t know anyone who lives at the airport!  I wonder, it is hot in the Gobi?

Let us hope so.

I have fed the beast a sumptious meal but one more time.  Plugging the power chord of Daddy’s Hobby into the wall, I walk over and hit the light switch, the overhead door starts rattling and cranking, like a huge snake it uncoils and it heads slowly down to the shop floor ... One more short run logged into some obscure record book ... much too short ... but on some days you take what it is that you can get.  

Walking into the kitchen I fetch a cup of coffee, toss it in the mircrowave.  The wife smiles, she knows where I have been and she knows that I have once more blown the cobwebs out of my head, life is good, things make sense again.  

Sitting down at the kitchen table, the warmth of the cup feels good in my hands and I stare out the window, and contemplate this day.   All those days, now part of my faded past, a treasure in my minds eye. If life was a classroom and love was just a lesson, I would like to have to stay there, until I finally got it right.
 
Saturday morning  ... The winds of March ... Rollin’ north on Highway Seventy-four.  There's a blacktop road, with a faded yellow center-line.  It can take you back to the place, but it can't take you back in time.

Life is short ... Enjoy the ride.

Don Smith
aka:BCO



« Last Edit: March 12, 2011, 07:58:09 PM by boxcarOkie » Logged

ruthi
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« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2011, 08:11:00 PM »

Well written.  Grin  You tell a good tale! Thanks!
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Mixed up Dina, ready for the road as of 12/25/2010
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FIRST RALLY ATTENDED: BUSSIN 2011!
happycamperbrat
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« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2011, 08:23:45 PM »

Really BCO, are you a professional writer? your stories are GREAT!! I always enjoy your writings, even if I dont always agree with them. But 99.99% I do agree with!
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« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2011, 05:24:28 AM »

Awesome,thanks for the trip. 10-4 on the cobweb removal.
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we love our buses!!! NE Pa or LI NY, or somewhere in between!
boxcarOkie
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« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2011, 07:17:10 AM »

Ruthi:  “Well written.    You tell a good tale! Thanks!”

Thanks, we try to make it interesting and correct.
BCO

HappyCamperBrat:  “Really BCO, are you a professional writer? your stories are GREAT!! I always enjoy your writings, even if I dont always agree with them. But 99.99% I do agree with!”

Nope, consider myself a “freelance hack” and that is about it.  I have had limited success at being published here and there, but I don’t consider myself a professional in any sense of the word.  Started writing in the 80’s (Union Paper) and did that for awhile, then moved on to the internet and my web-page from there.  Here lately I have been incorporating photo’s (with the stories I write here) to help spice it up some and trying to make it more readable.

Happy that you enjoyed the piece, thank you for your comments.

BCO

DModedave:  Awesome, thanks for the trip. 10-4 on the cobweb removal.

Not a whole lot to look forward to these days, lot of bad news floating around and certainly times are hard for some people.  It is nice to be able to just get out and get away, even for just a short while.  Thank you for your thoughts on the subject.

BCO
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« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2011, 07:22:48 AM »

Very nice!!!
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Flatspot
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« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2011, 07:54:25 AM »

Aw man now you gave me a craving for a Grapette soda. Nothing better on a hot day to quench the thirst. You know how to take a guy back in time. I’m on the quest for a soda. Thanks for giving me a reason to take a drive. Now if I could just find my keys….
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Zuzax, New Mexico (Exit 178 I-40) 12mi East of Albuquerque

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luvrbus
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« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2011, 08:00:15 AM »

 Grin
« Last Edit: March 13, 2011, 08:08:31 AM by luvrbus » Logged

Life is short drink the good wine first
Mike in GA
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« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2011, 09:01:14 AM »

Superb essay. In my past career in creative services I have paid professional writers many a good dollar for much poorer quality. Keep up the good work!
      Being a cannibal I plan to send a link to this beautiful mood piece to several sleepy bus nuts and RVers, reminding them how important it is to keep that big rig rolling once a month. "Pick out an upcoming rally and sign up!"
      Once again - inspiring! Thanks for sharing with us.
Mike in GA
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« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2011, 10:57:20 AM »

The BCO gets one thinking about the simpler times and things past.
I keyed on Grapette. That took me back. I was maybe 13-14 years young and Fall/Spring weekends consisted of leaving on a Friday after school and making a roughly 60 mile trip to Camp for the weekend.
Hummingbird Music Camp is located in the Jemez Mountains of Northern New Mexico. The trip consisted of meeting the camp bus, a 1947 Chevrolet powered Ward bodied scoolie, at a School or Church parking lot. As memory serves it was a 38 passenger bus. It had the back seats on both sides taken out so that bed rolls, personal effects and supplies could occupy that space. The rest of the bus seats were occupied with eager bodied youth that were off for a weekend adventure. My place was in the entry door well. I occupied that space for several reasons, to keep the bi-fold door shut, watch the passangers to see if they needed anything. Most of all was to watch how the bus was operated so that I could drive it someday.
The driver, who just happened to be the camp owner, would ask me if everything was ‘ready’ and if it was, off we would go.
North out of Albuquerque on US highway 422 to Bernalillo and US highway 44, across the Rio Grande and up to the top of hill. Now the ‘top of the hill’ was a 6-7 mile pull out of the Rio Grande valley. The little bus had all of 216 cubes under the hood. We would have to stop at a 4-way just east of the river, 1st, 2nd….3rd ……… 4th , up to speed across the river and up the hill. 4th to 3rd for a brief time and then to 2nd. Now another reason for my location in the stair well, I got to hold the shifter there in 2nd. For that job I got to sit on the 5 gallon jerry can. We’d grind up the hill at break neck speed, bugs slamming into the back of the bus, had to be the windshield was always bug free. Up, up, up to the top of the hill where the jerry can was no longer a seat. Throw the bus in neutral, grab the emergency brake and set it, open the door with the former seat in hand to douse the radiator and cool the engine. This had to be done with a degree of skill in such that the driver would race the engine and you had to put enough water to cool the engine but not so much as to drown it and kill it. Then there had to be enough water left over to refill the radiator. It was a science and we were a team… or at least I believed so.
Back in the bus and on down the back side of the hill to the Jemez River valley at Zia Pueblo. On to San Yisidro to NM State Road 4. Up the river valley past Jemez Pueblo and the Kiska Store. The Kiska Store occupied a prominent place on the highway frontage roughly midway through the Pueblo. It had the gas pumps out front. The name of the store was painted on the front and approaching it from the south you could see the Orange Crush sign on the side and from the North you could see the Grapette sign on the other side.
Any other town they would have named the store ‘Smitty’s’
However we were on a mission to get the ‘kids’ to camp. I would yearn for the taste of the sweet nectar of Grapette. It could be a toss up for Orange Crush but Grapette usually won out and there was some regret when it didn’t. Besides a purple tongue looks cooler than an orange one any day.

We’d deposit passengers, bedrolls and personal effects and get busy with tasks at hand however on rare occasion we’d pull a double header with a return trip to Albuquerque to do it all over again. For that occasion I willingly went to work in preparation because I knew my reward would be a stop at the Kiska store for a Grapette.
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Zuzax, New Mexico (Exit 178 I-40) 12mi East of Albuquerque

1956 PD4104 6-71T
1988 Eagle 15 CC Conversion
1983 Mack W Utility Bed Service Truck (road assistance in New Mexico)
boxcarOkie
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« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2011, 04:02:05 PM »

Flatspot:  Aw man now you gave me a craving for a Grapette soda. Nothing better on a hot day to quench the thirst. You know how to take a guy back in time. I’m on the quest for a soda. Thanks for giving me a reason to take a drive. Now if I could just find my keys…. It could be a toss up for Orange Crush but Grapette usually won out and there was some regret when it didn’t. Besides a purple tongue looks cooler than an orange one any day.

Grapette wins it hands down.  Long hot summers, waiting in line to dump the wheat truck, fetching an ice cold one out of the #3 washtub full of ice at the Co-Op ... now that was life.  When I was a kid, I must have drank an ocean of them (Grapettes) but sadly they are no longer available.  For health reasons I have discontinued all diet sodas and soft drinks period.  I now drink Snapple Diet and an occassional wine cooler or something like that.  Thanks for your reply.
BCO

LuvRbus:  Wow!  A smiley face from Clifford, I am on a roll!

That “Life isn't about how you survived the storm .. It's about how you danced in the rain” quote, I have that on a sign in my shop.

BCO

Mike in GA:  Superb essay. In my past career in creative services I have paid professional writers many a good dollar for much poorer quality. Keep up the good work!  Being a cannibal I plan to send a link to this beautiful mood piece to several sleepy bus nuts and RVers, reminding them how important it is to keep that big rig rolling once a month. "Pick out an upcoming rally and sign up!"  Once again - inspiring! Thanks for sharing with us.

Sending our very best is the least we can do.  We are glad that you liked it, it was a memory jogger for me let me tell you.  It gives me immense pleasure to know that it is being read by so many and that it is being enjoyed, that kind of makes the time and the effort worthwhile.  You can find more at my web-page, link is below.  We attended TBR last fall and may make it again this year, we will be in Cody, Wyoming this summer, those are the only two that we are attending right now. 

Thank you for your well written comment.

BCO
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« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2011, 05:45:49 PM »

Thanks,Boxcar,and Flatspot.
drank a lot of the grape myself,rode a lot of Buses back when.
Thanks Matt
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« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2011, 07:14:23 PM »

Once again I had the bus in the shop this weekend to continue my project of the remodeling of the interior. However  again I am bitten by the time change that seems to occur earlier and earlier every year. I must admit that the fall adjustment is more to my likening but the spring forward change does forebode a warmer climate on the horizon. I actually had planned on going to the horse races today but we had a freezing rain and light snow all day so I just headed to the warm shop and some relaxation. A good day. Hopefully they have enough money to feed the horses until next week when I show up to offer my assistance!  A great read again Don!!
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Seven Heaven.... I pray a lot every time I head down the road!!
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« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2011, 07:29:21 PM »

Very nice read indeed!!  So well written I put some flame in the 6v92 today.  Just went for a ride and ler her roll.  Thank you boxcarok
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boxcarOkie
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« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2011, 01:34:16 AM »

Thanks,Boxcar,and Flatspot.
drank a lot of the grape myself,rode a lot of Buses back when.
Thanks Matt

I can still remember the number of the Hound that I rode from California to Oklahoma, #5548, funny how things get ingrained in a person.  Rode a lot of them in the service too.

BCO
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boxcarOkie
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« Reply #15 on: March 14, 2011, 01:39:46 AM »

Once again I had the bus in the shop this weekend to continue my project of the remodeling of the interior. However  again I am bitten by the time change that seems to occur earlier and earlier every year. I must admit that the fall adjustment is more to my likening but the spring forward change does forebode a warmer climate on the horizon. I actually had planned on going to the horse races today but we had a freezing rain and light snow all day so I just headed to the warm shop and some relaxation. A good day. Hopefully they have enough money to feed the horses until next week when I show up to offer my assistance!  A great read again Don!!
 

Thanks Scott, I appreciate it.  A friend of mine in New Mexico sent me an email that his "trees were having sex and that he had sneezed about 512 times that day" that is spring for you.  It is starting to warm up and things are getting better down here, but you are still north of us, and have to wait a little while eh?

BCO
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boxcarOkie
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« Reply #16 on: March 14, 2011, 01:44:49 AM »

Very nice read indeed!!  So well written I put some flame in the 6v92 today.  Just went for a ride and ler her roll.  Thank you boxcarok

Now that's the ticket!  I am not capable of writing thought provoking technical articles and all that jazz and believe me, I am "low maint." definitely not high tech.  But I sincerely believe that these machines we maintain and own, are designed with one purpose and that is to be used.  Contrary to popular opinion, they were not born to be relic's that sit around the shop and collect dust and the trash of man. 

I take mine out, as the story suggested, once a month for a short jaunt and my wrench turner (Mechanic) agrees with me that it is a good idea.  Albeit, not a cheap idea anymore, but I think it does some beneficial good, not only for the bus but for the operator.

Thank you for your reply,

BCO
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