Monday, January 15, 2007

Out past Oracle Junction

I left Catalina State Park in mid-afternoon after getting some gas and other things, then started scouting for a library so I could get on the net. I needed to check email and get my fix in general, but more importantly I needed to look at the directions to the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo venue, where I intended to go set up camp. Library-finding just wasn’t happening for me as I headed north through the Oro Valley. I guessed that the library in Oracle might be a good setup, even though it was a Sunday afternoon and I did not expect it to be open. Libraries that have wireless usually leave it on, so you can just sit outside and surf the net. That’s what I was hoping to do, even if it was only for half an hour or so.

I drove on into Oracle. There was quite a bit less of it than I had expected. But I did find the library. I pulled in and fired up the laptop; nobody home. So I located the post office, dropped a letter in the box, and then rolled back west to drive out on the Willow Springs Road. I had seen the intersection to that road on the way by before, and the name jogged my memory. But it had been at least a month since I read the directions to the race venue.

I pulled the trailer out onto the dirt Willow Springs Road. This was the first time ever taking the POD on dirt. I winced as we slowly drove over washboards, envisioning the chaos that would be happening back in my little home. I really had no clue how to proceed from there, just driving along hoping to get a sign.

A pickup approached with bikes on the roof. I rolled down my window and waved them over. We stopped alongside each other and I asked if he knew where the Old Pueblo venue was. He nodded then looked forward and back. We had about 30 seconds before vehicles would be arriving looking to get around us. He quickly mentioned an arch I would pass through in about 5 miles, then a road to the left that I could miss. Then about a mile back on that side road the land would open up and that place would be the venue. OK, OK, thanks, good luck, and off we go.

So I had a few specifics, and off I went. I glance at my watch and it’s after 4. Less than an hour of daylight, then would come the darkness and the COLD.

In my head was the vision of the road into the 24 Hours of Moab venue, and watching people gingerly haul travel trailers down there. How bad would this road be? I drove slowly, watching closely for washboards and potholes.

After what seemed like quite a while I came to the ranch arch. I passed through. In maybe 100 yards there was a road on the left, and it would have been easy to miss. It seemed like I better check it out.

It was rough and narrow, way worse than that road into the 24 Hours of Moab. I ran into little gullies crossing it. I got through the first one, but each was a significant barrier. The trailer rocked to and fro, and there were lots of creaks and groans. The next one was deeper. I tried to cross, but the trailer frame dug in and I almost got stuck. I backed out and decided I just better stop right there, wait until morning and figure it out from there. In case this was a “real” road I figured I better not block it, so I found a spot barely off it to set the trailer and unhooked.

The cold was setting in hard even though the sun had not yet gone down. Shivering, I got out the generator and started it up, then I buttoned up everything and grabbed what I’d need for the night from the truck.

When I went into the trailer I was greeted with a scene of recent mayhem. The 4’ tall mirror that is mounted on my bathroom door had come partially off its mounting but had (luckily) not broken. The medicine cabinet had popped open scattering it’s contents through the bathroom. One other cabinet had also popped open. The dining room table had toppled over and was resting on the dining bench. The heater ran noisily and the generator outside added some noise to the setting.

Pretty depressing, especially when you consider that I really still had no real idea what I was doing. I cooked up some food and then crashed. I slept hard. Really tired.

The next morning I took off on foot looking for signs. The folks that I had been told were staying at the venue would be a source of good information. I hiked up the road that I’d started up. At first, I found nothing that would stop me if I could get past that one gully. Then the road intersected a high-tension power line and began to run underneath it. Service road, and I found several show-stopper barriers. It was still cold, and I did not feel like getting on a bike right away, so I kept hiking looking for sign. After about half an hour I came to a real road. Dirt, but graded! I trotted back to my trailer to get a bike so I could explore a little more effectively. Foot travel is so slow!

I briefly explored a branch of the road I had been camped on, then saw a trailhead that I had passed on the way in. Aha!

I rolled up north on the Willow Springs Road and took the side road I had hiked to. Before long I found the folks who were staying there. And the venue. Woo Hoo! Adventure concluded, time to move the trailer in to my new temp home.

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