Thursday, November 11, 2010

Going where we aren’t wanted

When we were wandering around the Wyoming range looking for Jensen’s ranch we eventually headed up a trail and found ourselves looking at an R-CALF gate sign.  It turns out that Jim is an R-CALF director but of course at O-Dark 30 I didn’t know that and I instantly had visions of this  lonely lost Canuck wandering uninvited into an R-CALF yard and getting told where to go and how fast to get there.  Or worse.  It might have turned into “whatever happened to Bob?”

I never met Jim but I’m sure he’s a decent well-intentioned guy.  R-CALF on the other hand has been a major trade irritant and sometime embarrassment to USDA.  During the BSE nonsense R-CALF was able to convince some old half asleep judge in Montana to pass repeated injunctions to prevent Canadian cattle from entering the US, in complete defiance of the science-based measures that USDA and Ag Canada had agreed to.  That’s all behind us now because once the US started looking to see if they had any BSE in their herd not surprisingly it turned out that they did.  It would have been pretty bloody surprising if it had turned out any other way since we have had a North American cattle industry since the cowboys started chasing cattle and Indians across the range. 

We left Jim’s ranch around 4:00 on Monday.  We had intended to stay until Tuesday morning but one of the ranch hands suggested that we should bug out early because the weather was about to go to hell.  The forecast didn’t actually look that bad but he said it was going to get really windy and we didn’t want to stay around to see if he was right or not. 

We got to Cody that night and got a fairly early start out of Cody on Wednesday morning.  About half an hour out of Billings I noticed a truck behind me flashing his lights at me.  That’s never good.  As I started to slow down he passed me and pulled in ahead of us.  Before we got out his wife ran back to tell us we had a flat tire on the trucklet.  If only it had been so simple. 

Once again we discovered a busted front axle complete with the same sick looking mess dragging underneath the front of the truck.  Almost exactly one year after our incident in Oregon we had exactly the same failure, on the other side of the truck.  I have no idea what is causing the problem.  We pulled the truck for 4 years with no problem but this past year has been a nightmare.  Both sides of the front end were rebuilt within the last year so there is no excuse for a bearing failure this soon but that is exactly what happened.  The shop that we towed it to in Billings has suggested that perhaps the alignment is not being correctly set up for towing.  That is possible I guess but it still doesn’t explain why we were able to tow with no problems for the first 4 years.  Whatever the cause we left the truck in Billings and came on to Seattle without it.

Along the way we had a great visit with Skip and Maria in Helena.  Skip and I got to know each other through a bus-related online forum and we had met briefly a few years ago.  On Tuesday night we parked in their yard and had a great visit with the two of them, one of their daughters and two grand-daughters.  They also have a serious amount of livestock, most of which we met.  George hasn’t quite recovered from the smell of strange cats and dogs on my clothing.  I tried to trade him for a better cat but Skip wanted too much difference so we are still stuck with him.

Yesterday we made it to exit 106 on I-90 in Washington.  We spent the night in a Love’s truck stop and then came on into Seattle this morning.  We parked on a Wallyworld lot and tracked down a rental car.  It turned out that Enterprise had an office about a mile from where we were parked so we walked over and picked up the car.  Then we got moved up to our Thousand Trails campground at La Conner and settled into the exact same spot we were in last winter.

Of course when we were this close to the boats we couldn’t resist trying to look at one.  Neither of us really thought that anybody would be open on Remembrance Day but we drove into Anacortes anyway.  We have two 43 foot Defevers lined up out here that are the main purpose of this trip.  We have a “short-list” with roughly 40 boats on it that we would look at but of those boats only about 25 are in the Pacific Northwest.  Of those about half are Defevers in various lengths.  We think the 43 foot Defever is the shortest boat that I can stand up in.  Much as we’d both like the extra space in something a little longer we think that in the long term we will appreciate not paying moorage for the longer boat and not having to maintain a longer boat.

We got lucky – the brokerage office was open.  Actually it seemed like a lot of businesses down here were open today.  We had a good look at “Koala” despite not having taken along a flashlight or icepick.  Both of those are important tools for boat shoppers.  The flashlight for obvious reasons – there are a lot of dark corners onboard.  The icepick is important to check for rotten wood.  Today I was able to identify rot without the icepick.  Defevers are known to have problems with leaky portholes and this one was no exception.  The three portholes that you can see at the extreme aft of the photo above have leaked into the master stateroom.  It wouldn’t be a big task to fix the leaks.  The rot would take a bit more work.   This particular boat has obviously been neglected but the price clearly reflects that.

Tomorrow we go to look at a stabilized 43 foot that appears in the photos to be very well maintained.  Pictures can lie as we discovered when we went out to Vancouver earlier this fall.  Stay tuned.

No comments: