Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dawn of Time

On a more cheerful note, we're in Truth or Consequences on the first day of a little touristing.

It's not much of a town, but we love it for its dusty little cluster of old auto courts huddled around several acres of hot mineral springs. The steamy water seeps up into concrete basins in faded bath houses where road-weary travelers refresh themselves as wanderers in this region have done for millennia.

During an earlier visit as I rectified my humors in the 107-degree water, it suddenly occurred to me that my bath had been warmed by heat that was absolutely primal, never cool since it got hot, however many billions of years ago that was.

My realization dazzled me and sent my mind reeling off into a series of even deeper thoughts about how vast the universe and how small a thing is man etc etc.

I was still wallowing in cosmic truths the next day when we visited the local museum and I browsed the gift shop for a book on geothermal heat. When I located one and found the page that described the phenomenon on which the town and its museum depend for their living, I drifted over to the counter to share my insights with the clerk.

"Doesn't it amaze you sometimes when you're sitting in the springs to realize that you're actually bathing in the original heat of The Big Bang," I asked him.

After a moment's reflection, he replied. "Um, yeah, are you gonna buy that?"

I was abashed and deflated, but I learned my lesson. On this trip I'm curbing my enthusiasm.

. . . But think of it, the original heat of The Big Bang!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Now What?

Well, isn't this sweet.

The trashed-out vehicle in the photo above used to be the armored Suburban of Puerto Vallarta's newly-appointed municipal police chief.

A couple of mornings ago at around 8 a.m., a pickup truck full of heavily armed barbarians tossed a grenade under it at the intersection of Basilio Badillo and Insurgentes, a place and time that might have found us at that very spot, strolling from breakfast at Freddy's Tucan toward the farmer's market where we get a lot of our produce. If we'd been in town.

The chief's SUV sailed flaming along Insurgentes for a couple of blocks before crashing into a taxi parked in front of a pharmacy where we often stop to buy a toothbrush, or nail clippers or diaper wipes.

The barbarians -- you all know the line of work they're in -- followed in their truck. They tossed another grenade or two and then peppered the chief's ride with military assault rifle rounds before fleeing. They abandoned their truck not far away, guns, grenades and all, and disappeared into the neighborhood.

Miraculously, the chief and his bodyguards walked away unhurt. But five bystanders, two of them children, were hurt by flying shrapnel.

We've always said we'd have to rethink our plans for making Vallarta our retirement home if the cartels started doing the kinds of things there that they've been doing for years in Acapulco, Michoacan, and along the border.

The loss of our south-facing view of the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and our unexpectedly keen enjoyment of Ruidoso already had us wondering what we might decide for the future.

The future has sneaked up on us. We've reached out to a broker to find out what options we might have in the current market, which was starting to perk up before this, no telling now. We go down at the end of this month. Our plan was to spend the winter. We'll have to see.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Gettin' hitched

I'm so proud of my newly completed trailer hitch.

How could that be? I don't own a trailer, and I don't want to. It's been decades since I pulled one anywhere, let alone backed one into a tight spot like the narrow gravel pad specially prepared in our yard for me to do just that.

Yes, I have zero interest in trailers, yet I've paid for a truckload of high grade gravel for a trailer pad and gone to a lot of trouble to get a shiny chrome ball connected to the frame of my car. Makes no sense. You can guess who is actually driving, as usual. Starts with P.

For years Pam has admired and coveted Airstreams, those shiny aluminum travel trailers shaped like bread loaves, widely known as "silver bullets." Now that we've moved to the wide open spaces and at least theoretically have time for leisurely tours of scenic wonders, she's determined to have one.

Her pretext for really needing a silver bullet is that our new cabin is quite small, and its second bedroom is jammed with Elizabeth's toys, and of course her crib. We installed a clever bunk bed with a futon sofa below that folds out into a double and a twin mattress up top.

But the room would be a tight squeeze even for a single visitor. For a couple, well, they would need to be special. So Pam's argument is that a little trailer would not only help us answer the call of the open road, it would serve as guest quarters.

If this were litigation, I could produce expert witnesses who would demolish her case -- close friends who say if we put them in a trailer they'll either get a hotel or they won't come at all. It doesn't seem to matter to Pam, partly because I don't have a better idea.

The only reason that we didn't have the trailer on our property before the house was even built and live there on the job site all summer micro-managing the construction crew is that new Airstreams cost a small fortune.

Pam has reconciled herself to acquiring a used one by calling it "vintage." She tirelessly trolls the hundreds of websites devoted to the vigorous after-market for trailers, particularly the ones specializing in silver bullets.

Even here the prices are eye-opening. But she's located one we could stretch for with some gnashing of teeth, an 18-foot Caravel built in 1969, now living in Jefferson, Colorado. It cleaned up nice for its photo shoot, but it's "all original", i.e. unrestored, and you know what that could mean, though its current owners say it has lived its whole life clean and dry in the mountains and is good to go in every way. They call it "Streamie" and refer to it as "she."

Alas, we're going to go have a look at it in a couple of weeks. I have the hitch in case we decide to bring it -- okay, her -- home.

You're waiting to hear why I'm proud about the hitch and maybe wondering why I have any pride at all. But having told you this much, I'm too dispirited to go on right now, so that story will have to wait until next time.