Sunday, August 1, 2010

Left the smell of cowshit behind us

We’ve been everywhere man.  Last time I posted we were in northwest Nebraska.  Since then we’ve been back to Miles City, Montana and then back to Nebraska and now we’re back in Montana.  That’s what happens when you are playing catchup and trying to keep two customers happy with limited resources.  For some reason it became ridiculously difficult to move 3 pallets of stuff from Nebraska up here to Miles City.  I have my opinions about why that was but that’s all they are, opinions.  Eventually I kind of lost it and called a hotshot company in Omaha.  Within in 6 hours of that call they had a 1-ton van in Olsens’ yard loading the wayward equipment for immediate transport back to Montana.  That’s an expensive way to move equipment but those guys are good. 

For those of you that don’t know, hotshotters are an oilfield phenomenon.  They live for emergency equipment moves.  We used to use them occasionally to move differential guts from Edmonton to Nipawin.  Our floater trucks regularly ate differentials.  When you put tires on a truck that are 3x the diameter that the manufacturer designed the differential to handle and then put a deep reduction box behind an Allison transmission ahead of the differential it’s only a matter of time until something breaks.  “Something” was pretty well always the diff.  I recall one time when we had to winch the floater off the lowbed because the diff was so badly lunched that the truck wouldn’t even roll on the incline of the lowbed.  That time the noises coming out of the diff sounded like somebody stepping on broken glass only much louder (and more expensive).  In those situations I would get on the phone to Edmonton Gear, give them the serial number and my credit card number and they in turn would call a hotshot truck.  About 10 hours later some goof would arrive in Nipawin, usually in the middle of the night.  By that time we would have the diff torn apart and washed out waiting for the new guts.  By morning we could usually be back in the field.

The hotshotter moved the equipment up to Miles City.  Those pallets were getting pretty tired of making that trip because they were here once before but the trucker/idiot couldn’t figure out that the labels on them saying “USDA, Miles City” meant that he should unload them at USDA in Miles City.  Instead he unloaded the other two pallets that said “Olsen Ranch, Nebraska”.  On the other hand there had to be a forklift operator from USDA involved in that transaction as well so clearly there was more than enough stupid to go around.

We left Nebraska Tuesday morning and decided to take a leisurely trip through the Black Hills because at that point the hotshotter was still on his way to Olsen’s.  Somewhere north of Hot Springs we saw a sign that said “Crazy Horse – 2.5 miles”.  We hadn’t really planned to go to Crazy Horse but when we were that close it seemed silly not to stop.  We briefly wondered if it might be miles and miles off the road and the 2.5 mile thing might just be to the junction where we needed to turn but those doubts were quickly dispelled by the sight of an Indian head looming on the face of a mountain in the near distance. 

As with Rushmore, our expectations were very low.  I figured the reason it wasn’t finished was because it was an Indian project working on Indian time.  Not so.  It turns out the real story of Crazy Horse is actually the story of a crazy Polish immigrant, Korczak Ziółkowski.  Like Gutzon Borglum who he worked under on Mount Rushmore, Ziółkowski was driven to carve a monument that would endure long after he was gone from the earth.  Unlike Borglum, Ziółkowski managed to infect most of his family with his insanity.  His wife and several of his numerous children are carrying on his work under a not for profit association that derives some of its revenue from tourists who stop to view the work in progress.  At the rate they’re going I won’t live long enough to see the completed work and there’s a strong chance the boys won’t either but it’s definitely worth stopping in to see.

I won’t bore you with the details of the story – and I don’t remember them all anyway – but evidently Crazy Horse is famous for a quote something to the effect of “my lands are where my people lie buried.”  So the outstretched arm is supposed to represent him pointing to the horizon where his land lies before him. 

It turns out the Playboy logo is the outline of where the horse’s head will end up.  Just for reference, the little tiny circle that you can just barely see within the larger bunny head is actually roughly the same diameter as the bus is long.  This thing is freakin’ huge!

We won’t bother coming by here in the immediate future but it will be fun to come back in about 10 years to see what has changed.

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