|It was the last gas-n-service stop in the middle of nowhere. Our load was still putting the pressure on the truck's back springs and the tarp cover was mostly still there. 4 hours worth of freeway winds had paid a heavy toll on what was left of the tattered corners and edges and a trained eye could make out bits and pieces of our precious cargo but still not make sense of the whole. Giddy with excitement and speculations after hitting our last exit, we hushed quickly as an badged-overalled elderly man came forth from the station's garage and offered to fill up the Ford. I honestly couldn't tell at this point in his life if his hard limp followed him or if he painfully followed its path and rule, but he had a kindness in his eyes that insisted our gift of compliance. Before we could birth our yes, he removed an old faded red handkerchief from his back pocket, and using it as a barrier for his black grease stained fingers, opened the truck's gas cap. Something kept us from resuming our talks of the possible adventures to come and we patiently waited in an odd reverence for the service currently being gifted to us in the hot afternoon sun.
Just before the seemingly endless time passed complete, as we waited for that pump shut-off to click, the old man began to speak. His voice was soft and he never raised his eyes to meet ours, only gazed out as if something unseen to us was slowly forming out to his right. He softly put his free left hand on the tarp, almost in a caress, and spoke as if in a daze, "After it all starts moving at you faster, right at the beginning of the big downhill, you'll arrive with all your feelings on the strong desire to back-off and to see what plays out on its own. That's the time, that's the very moment you lay into with all she's got. Push through against all your senses and everything thrown at you from there on out." He looked down at his twisted leg right as the Ford's tank finally had its fill and the pump clicked, shotgunning in that silence, loud enough to hush an audience of thousands. With his gaze still downward, he went on again, "Push through that and you're home free. You won't make the mistake I did." He closed the tank's latch with his hankered hand finally looking up and straight at me into my wide headlight eyes. Without looking back to the truck, he patted the tarp shielding our hidden homemade rail cart and gave the last of his own fill, "She'll hold. You'll fly," and turned away. I may have caught the beginning of a dampness forming in his faded eyes during that last moment held by his reminiscing and our reverent silence, but before I could be sure, he had begun his long belabored walk back into the dark of his garage.
We got as close as we could to our drop off point. It was a far cry from where I had wanted to put in, but the loud threats of the private road's owner kept us from making it any further. We knew we'd have some trials and we brought as many tools as we thought we would need and could store. After some dry runs, spring adjustments, an impromptu body lift, and some other finagling, we were as close as we could get with what we had. It was time.
The design came from Steve and I's mind and the parts came from whatever we could find. Wheels were from a weight bench, most of the hardware came from my magic bucket of bolts, pedals and springs were invented from scooters and trampoline springs. It was what we wanted it to be. We had only given her one test which resulted in us setting of a flashing traffic crossing somewhere in town and a broken part that helped us figure out a design flaw and then re-engineer.
Worst case scenario was that we pack on ourselves what we could and hike until we felt like stopping. In fact that was the original plan for this trip and then like all Michael ideas, it snowballed past mountain bikes, full moon schedules, then picked up ridiculous speed with the suggestion of doing the trip wearing post apocalyptic outfits (what you don't have one yet?), and finally ended up somewhere long past the idea of making a simple rail cart.
But here we were with all those ideas crudely tied together like the straps holding our mutilated school chairs and gear to our wooden shelving platform. We began our journey slow. 10mph feels like 45 that low to the ground with nothing to hold on to, much less a steering wheel. Where we were forced to put in at kept us quite near the moisture of the creek and ultimately that was what turned our wheels around. She ran great and would have take off if we had had the pedal deep in all 3.5 horses. We busted though the unforeseen brush along the rails pretty well and as a 1000lb cart on weight wheels should but one large creosote bush wouldn't have us pass. We had decelerated to check on things and hit her at too low a speed.
It was already getting late and Steve and I decided even though she was totally fine after her derailment, we didn't want to risk anything further down the line on this trip. We already had ideas for bettering her for the return and were ecstatic that she ran so well just on the firs real world test. We flipped the cart around and drove back to the truck, loaded what we wanted on to our backs like we knew could happen, and restarted our journey down the abandoned line. As we had hunched, as soon as the tracks strayed from the wash, the bushes went away and the rails were clear. There would be some sand fill and rock to contend with further in but we had packed a hoe and shovel for that. Next time, we'll fly.
Camped near the first set of cars, out of sight from all the nudist colony swingers.
**Disclaimer: After the big bush, it got very wienery.
Hiked to the second set of cars. Oh come on, how can riding a bike naked in the desert with 7 other alikes be fun or safe?
Brother-in-law rode his bike down to the trestle. The post apocalptics stayed back and for the rest of the trip never stopped asking him about his new friends.
A group of 8 18 dudes, upon hiking back from the trestle, took refuge from the heat in the train car it looked like Noel and I were living in. They sat at the opposite end of the passenger car and wouldn't look at us at all. At one point I strode through them and they parted like I was a train tunnel full of naked dudes. I kept wanting to break the awkward silence by shouting, Get out of our home, or Now we fight, or even just walk up and ask What time does the train depart.
The whole thing was awesome. From the hours spent garage engineering, to the in the field figuring and fixes, and hot hiking, it was just a great time.
The plan was supposed to happen the week before for the full moon, but when we loaded up and showed up to pick up Steve, he was sick as a dog and no matter how much he insisted we go, we couldn't leave him behind.
Oh you want to know what the pumpkin we were wearing. I think I had the idea when I read on the HAZ forum that hiking in pajamas was illegal or something. But no, it was really because I needed a creative project to obsess over while Noel is getting her masters degree, and collecting junk from friends and then trying to make something out of it is crazy fun. Also, we like exploring abandoned areas and photography in and around them so it made sense to take that a step further and add the modeling aspect into the equation. Plus I've got a good angry face.
Oh and you'll want this snippet of the video we took: https://youtu.be/Y- ... xaNM
I really wish we had just opened her up for all she was worth but you know, first time and all and no one wanted to think about carrying it back to camp if the worst happened.
|May he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;|
May he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;
Armchair Crisis Design