Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Steamboat,-40 and James A. Michener

Having never spent too much time in sub zero temperatures,I never realised just how difficult -42 can make most everyday chores that we all take for granted,like starting a truck or doing most anything else outside.
In December when I arrived in Steamboat,the cold killed the battery on the bike,well nearly killed,so I decided to invest in a new one anyway since it still had the same battery in it from when I originally bought it.

When I got back to Steamboat from visiting me Mum in Fl,it got seriously cold,down past -20 on a daily basis.Anything above zero is only pretend cold,just ask anyone in Steamboat.
So cold in fact that in order to leave the Boat and get over to see mi amigo Dom in Denver,I had to put the bike on a trailer in order to get over Rabbit Ears Pass.
I had planned to ride had I been able to put snow studs in the tires or build the bike skis that I had planned to,but I didn`t have the bike so it proved to be difficult to build them remotely.

It's an idea that the Euros have been using for a long time now,but over here most people balk at the very idea of riding in cold weather let alone snow.
See,it's legal and fun.

Anyway,back to the trailer.So on the first try at leaving Steamboat at -40 ,the tow truck died a few minutes after it started.
Diesel gels at about -10° C/14° F,turns into jello really is what it does,so you end up with a clogged fuel filter if you're lucky.If you happen to be unlucky,you end up with a clogged fuel filter and a fuel starved engine,no fluids,no motor.
So on day 2,the truck with the trailer arrived.
It was a tilt trailer,tilts down at the back to ride or drive a vehicle up,then tilts level again.
It uses hydraulic fluid to operate..............which gels in very cold weather.You can see a pattern developing here,right?.
The trailer wouldn`t tilt down,so we had to improvise on how to get the bike on the trailer.A pair of Pete's snowmobile ramps did the trick.Thanks again Pete.
I would have taken some pics,but after about ten minutes of tying the bike down on the trailer,my hands and nose were painfully cold,I felt like I had frostbite.So I jumped into the truck and stayed there `till we got over the pass.

Heading out,we took 40 over Rabbit Ears and down to I-70.From there it was a hop `n a jump to Dom's place in...,there is no town called James A. Michener,but there is a town called Centennial,and yes,the book is based on a fictional version of the town in Colorado.
If you are a reader,I highly recommend this novel,in fact most any book by Michener.Not a quick read by any means,but the research that goes into his novels is astounding and factual,so you end up learning something at the end of the book.

Michener has authored over 40 titles,most of which were sweeping sagas,most over 900 pages,and usually covering many generations and geographic locales,incorporating historical facts into the stories.He was known for the meticulous research behind his work.

As a young teenager,Michener began hitchhiking across the United States.Of those days,Michener writes in his autobiography "The World Is My Home",(Random House,1992),
"Those were the years of wonder and enchantment,...some of the best years I would know.I kept meeting American citizens of all levels who took me into their cars,their confidence and often their homes."

James Michener was adopted shortly after birth by Mabel Michener,a poverty stricken widow with two other children.The family lived in Doylestown Pennsylvania,surviving with few resources and often little to eat.According to John Hayes,author of James A. Michener: A Biography(The Bobbs-Merrill Company Inc,1994),Mabel was Michener's birth mother,but being unwed,she used the adoption story to protect them both.James Michener held to the adoption version and never discussed the subject.

As my travels start to expand in time and increase in distance,I feel a little akin to how Michener must have felt back in the 1920's,hitchhiking around the country.

When I first left Ireland for America at 16,I remember feeling similar to the way he describes his sojourns across the U.S.
When I first arrived here in `78,I bought a Greyhound Bus Pass,and with a backpack and  a guitar,went about exploring the U.S., it's people,customs,culture and scenery.
I returned to Ireland full of wonderment at the sheer size of the place,it just blew me away,it was like nothing I had ever seen.

That,for me was the beginning of the end of my days in Ireland.I couldn`t get those images out of my conciousness,I dreamed about life in Colorado,or Montana or even Arizona,I didn`t care,I just knew where I wanted to be,and also where I didn`t want to be,back in  my parochial and cloistered little town,Bray.

I lasted there until I was 25,but not before spending some time in Europe,and going back to the U.S. a few more times before I packed two suitcases,got on a plane,destination New York City.
I still feel a sense of wonderment at some of the places I pass through,its what keeps me alive really,a throwback to those days of innocent backpacking and hitchhiking around the world.

The World Is my Home.

Be Well.



Charlie6 said...

Nice posting Murph and it was a pleasure hosting you for those two days....


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Shelly said...

Great post. Loved the tribute to Michener. Makes me want to go on a long journey of my own.
Too bad......for me.
All the best to you. Miss ya and stay safe.