Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Bad water line needs a fixing.


Bad water line needs a fixing.

I live in a very old, 1915 built home with an equally archaic water line, old galvanized iron pipe that crumbles to the touch due to corrosion, I have had a water leak for last three weeks, and upon my consultation with Marraccini Plumbing and USA Dig today.

I have learned that it will be around $1,000. They have the dig (and pipe replacement) scheduled for this Thursday, or whenever they can send someone. I realize three days is short notice, but barring that unlikely outcome, I could really use reimbursement by the end of this month (October), so I can stay on track to pay my heating bill through the winter.


Anything helps, thank you, and god bless.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Press Release for Counterstrike: Heaven Sent


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Visit counterstrike-heaven-sent-book.com for contact details, book photos, and author bio.

June 27, 2017 Eugene, OR

Twice bereaved poor small town boy with Asperger's becomes literary hero

Travis L Salisbury, Author of Counterstrike: Heaven Sent, an epic spy thriller/romance novel, has spent the past year, editing and perfecting his late mother, Janet C Smyth's story, in the face of her tragic loss from Ovarian Cancer in December of 2014, fulfilling the promise he made to his mother on her deathbed, to execute her story.

Included with the novel is the Author's biography and documentary chronicling the events surrounding his mother, the original Author's illness and death, and his personal struggles in self-publishing. Author will pledge 10% of all current and future book proceeds to a Cancer and Malpractice charity. For people who love books, or are thinking of writing, the story behind the production of Counterstrike: Heaven Sent should provide a good inspirational and motivational read.

“What's happening is not what I expected to be doing with my life.” - Kate Greenwood, from chapter 11 of Counterstrike: Heaven Sent.

“Move over Bluebloods, 24, Blacklist, and Criminal Minds and make room for Counterstrike! Counterstrike is a well-written and well-researched novel that is very difficult to put into just one genre as it is a mix of genres. I personally found the plot line and the characters to be well developed.” - Sefina Hawke for Readers’ Favorite

“Counterstrike: Heaven Sent by Travis L. Salisbury is an epic novel full of action, romance, thrills and intrigue. It was finished by the original author’s son after his mother, Janet C. Smyth, passed away. Travis completed the novel and published it to honour his mother’s years of writing the story and that is part of what makes it special. I give Travis credit, he finished an amazing novel. It is a tribute to a special lady and a wonderful read for everyone who loves a good fairy tale.” - Lisa Fox, Top Book Reviewers

“Make the most of every day, your meter's always running” - Author Quote at GoodReads Site

Born Eugene, OR, Feb 7, 1980. Parents Jeffrey Salisbury and Janet Smyth (d. 2014) Divorced 1982. Grew up as a poor kid in Coos Bay, OR. Two years community college. Had previous employment as a caretaker for Grandfather Norman and Mother Janet, for 14 years, thought I'd give a stab at copy editing.

The Editor had the honored and cherished privilege of closely assisting the Author, Mother Janet with copy editing for four years before her passing in 2014. The Editor has now had more than plenty of opportunity to become acquainted with the story of Counterstrike: Heaven Sent.

counterstrike-heaven-sent-book.com




(Counterstrike on Youtube)

#counterstrikeheavensent

#themisadventuresofjanandtravis

-ENDS-

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

THE MISADVENTURES OF JAN AND TRAVIS

INTRO: I transcribed this old journal from when Mother Janet went into the hospital with her terminal cancer back in September 2014, having started it as a letter back to my Eugene family to let them know what was going on with Mother Janet, but when it became clear how far the Cancer had spread, and how low (and ultimately zero) her chances of a successful treatment were, I had to override my default “Grandpa Slowpoke” mode of doing things, and get to the point in a fifty cent postcard and a one page letter, as opposed to a fifty some odd page journal, because as it turned out, Mother Janet didn't have that kind of time left, passing just 10 short weeks after her Stage IV diagnosis, on December 03, 2014. My family thanks me for that postcard.

THE MISADVENTURES OF JAN AND TRAVIS

Dear Uncle, Grandmother, And Eugene Family 09-18-14

I am sorry, I am slow in writing this letter. We had a hard time finding a place and getting settled, it took us 10 days to close escrow on the house, so we didn't get moved in until August 22.

Then, Mom set up the back porch/laundry room area so we could bring home Lynx and Bodie, our two tomcats we took in four years ago, and last year, respectively. However, in the process of spending two to three days sanding and painting in the laundry room, she wore herself out a good spell and has not been the same ever since (weak, tired, in pain).

I would have helped her out with that project, but we'd had a horrible fight the day before (over my mentally shutting down and being non-communicative, a problem I'm sure Grandmother is familiar with), and therefore didn't want my help with that project and wore herself out. I guess I wouldn't have been much help anyway, because after that fight, I spent a day and a half bedridden with a horrible depression, unlike any I'd seen since four years ago, when we became homeless, or twelve years ago, when my best friend, Bruce Dean committed suicide. This most recent episode almost had me considering it myself, a place I haven't been in fourteen years, I even considered checking myself into the psych ward at South Lyon Medical Center here in Yerington, but thought better of it as I got better. I've since upped my dosage of St. Jahn's Wort from two 150 mg pills a day to three, and am doing better again. Mom started me on it last December, but more on that later.

Which brings us to our current problem. Last October, in 2013, Mom and I first got the papers from Stebbins & Coffey informing us that Grandpa Norm's California property had been sold, but as you probably already know, we didn't receive that money until this July 11, apart from the $20,000 that was fronted to us in April. More on that later. Back up a bit. In August of 2013, while still enrolled in my Oregon Health Plan and Food Stamps, I saw my inept doctor, Dr. Basil Pittenger at North Bend Medical Center (In Coos Bay) for the last time. Back in May of 2013, worried about my weight, 312 pounds and high blood pressure, my inept doctor switched me from Celexa, which was pretty effective at controlling my depression, albeit with gross side effects, to Efexor, which not only didn't help me lose weight, but my depression, mood swings, temper tantrums, all that got worse, so I lovingly dubbed it “Inefexor”, since the junk didn't work. During that time, Dr. Pittenger had me seeing an in-house therapist, and we clicked and made good progress, but unfortunately she became ill and I couldn't see her anymore, I'll always be grateful to her.

Okay, fast forward to November of 2013, the starter on grandpa's old minivan went out, leaving us stranded in Charleston, which is 10 miles from downtown Coos Bay and 5 miles from Empire, where the nearest grocery store was. This forced us to use the CCAT/Loop Bus to get around. We existed that way until April of this year, 2014, in December, my prescription for “Inefexor” expired and Mom had me go cold turkey (no meds) for two weeks, and big surprise, I felt better with nothing at all, than the “Inefexor”, although it's still better with the St. Jahn's, which is herbal, not synthetic, with little to no side effects. The only drawback is, it takes time to work, so I didn't get fully stabilized until February of 2014. It's not the “quick fix” that so many synthetic meds promise, but the wait is worth it. Anyway, about the bus rides, the nearest stop to our trailer in Barview was a half mile, and the one nearest to the grocery store was also half a mile, so we had to pack 40-50 pounds of groceries in each direction, wrecking both of Mom's shoulders, marking the beginning of her pain.

Okay, so we're up to April of 2014 now. Within a week of getting the front money, we get a notice from EL Edwards, our landlord (they suck) reminding us our lease was up for renewal in June and we would be inspected within a couple weeks. Since we knew we would flunk it (dead vehicle in driveway, two cats we weren't supposed to have, boxes upon boxes packed for storage, which we'd started back in October of 2013, we declined the inspection, which automatically voids your lease when you're on Section 8 housing.

So this leaves us with two months to get ourselves, the dead vehicle, two cats, and what would turn out to be two 10x13 storage units worth of stuff out of there. Mom figured it would take too long to get the van fixed for us to get “out” in time, so she bought two $2,500 vehicles, a 93' Ford F-250 pickup, and a 94' Geo Metro. Okay, at the same time, we were each getting about $2,000 of long overdue dental work done, since Oregon Health Plan does not cover dental stuff, at least the basic plan doesn't. And we were also trying to arrange vaccination and boarding for two cats (I'm sure you remember the irate phone call from Howliday Inn in Winchester Bay).

So toward the end of May 2014, we had the trailer about 80% empty, but we now had three dead vehicles in the driveway, the nice Geo needing about as much repair as it had cost to buy. Big problem, huh? Well, through divine intervention we were saved. Mom was somehow able to charge the battery on the Ford ( a diesel by the way) and we got the rest of the stuff out. However, we still had the van problem. Luckily, God willing, through our nearby neighbors, we were introduced to Ian, a mechanic-for-hire that lived in the neighborhood, who for, $100 for the starter and $100 for the labor, gladly got it rolling again so it could go in the shop (the Geo was already in the shop at this point).

However, there was still another problem. Because we didn't get Lynx in to get vaccinated in time, the boarding house wouldn't take him until June 10, even though we had to be out of the trailer on  the 1st. So we checked into Captain John's Motel in Charleston for 10 days, which was one of only two pet friendly motels in town. Bodie was already boarded at Riverview Kennel in Bandon at this point. Our Innkeeper was what Mom called an “Asian Dragon Lady”, but she was agreeable enough to check us in with Lynx, even though she preferred dogs, since we promised (and mostly kept to) keep him in the bathroom, so he wouldn't mess up the curtains or the bedding, and only let him out briefly, under close watch.

Our other guests were mostly quiet and respectful, but during most of what turned out to be 12 days, right next to us, we had this dysfunctional drunk, stoned couple who screamed, fought like cats and dogs, and thumped the walls (which I used to do during my temper outbursts before I got medicated, but for the grace of God, there go I). In spite of all that blatant racket, we had no hard proof that any actual domestic violence was going on, so we declined to call the police, or involve the motel lady, since we were grateful she let us keep the cat. Eventually, they checked out the day before we left, thank God. On a separate note, my dead friend Bruce's Mom, Vicki had worked at that motel when we were kids (mid 90's), so she probably saw her share of that garbage too.

During our stay at Captain John's, Mom took the Geo to her friend Kara Brown's place in Oakland, OR (about 13 miles north of Roseburg) and dropped off the plants she'd ordered, and came up to see you guys about cat cages. We then checked into the City Center Motel in North Bend for about three days.

The day before we checked in at City Center, Mom got violently ill (bad diarrhea), and the day after, I got violently ill (“rapid-fire” constipation). At the time, I thought nothing of it, since Mom had put us on the gluten-free diet, and had explained that we “might be sick for a bit” while we were “detoxing” from gluten. By the way, I know beyond a doubt that I am most likely gluten sensitive, because during the previous two weeks, my arms, legs, and neck were covered in hives. I looked like a junkie with track marks, even though I had not touched a drug in many years (never liked needles anyway). That was pretty solid proof that me and gluten were a bad fit. I think it was probably that way for Mom too, who said she felt a “lump” in her gut after eating a cookie.

How Mother convinced me to give up gluten was by reading me several expose books about how the food industry pushes processed foods that are chock full of genetically altered, gluten stuffed wheat. I learned that gluten sensitivity, which may affect up to 40% (and growing) of the American Population, contributes to obesity, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, (I think I was heading in that direction, I noticed about 12 years earlier, when I began having weight issues, I had a tendency to quickly crash to low blood sugar, when not eating consistently every four hours, also known as hypoglycemia, or pre-diabetes), autism (I think as an Asperger's Person, I may well have that in some form or another, Asperger's, ADHD, High Functioning Autism, Non-Verbal Learning Disorder, that is “Not Getting It” Socially, Basic Autism and Schizophrenia, all seem to be inter-related from the intel I've been able to gather, but please don't just take my word for it, consult with professional sources), and certain cancers. The real clincher for me was the remote, but not non-existent possibility that prolonged excess gluten exposure can lead to breast enlargement in males, OUCH!

During our brief stop at City Center, we said our goodbyes to our AA friends at the nearby Alano Club, and Mom got the minivan out of the shop and put the Geo into vehicle storage along with the Ford. We then checked out of what would be our last motel for a month. Of the $20,000 we'd had in April of 2014, we now only had about $800 left by July 13, 2014. Between one “necessary” expense and another, and trying to “go it alone” with “no help, none whatsoever”. Just “No.” You Just Don't Do That, Yet Somehow, We Did Anyway. We had nowhere else left to go at this point, since about $500 of that was earmarked to board the cats at Lone Pine Pet Resort in Roseburg, since nobody in the Coos County area was willing to board them for more than a week at a time, sad but true. Divine Intervention, again.

Mom and I had a few interesting adventures on our way Southeastward to Nevada (Where I must go at once to take care of Mother's Property). At Nesika County Park, I got accused of murdering a girl that wasn't even dead. I later met my “supposed victim”, who had been separated from her dog on the trail and gotten lost. The funny thing is, my “accuser” was a paroled sex offender who was having possessiveness issues with his favorite bartendress at Coach House. He would later be turned in for alcohol, of all things, by his child neglecting white trash buddies from Georgia, just to get the heat off of their backs. Drinking while on parole/probation is a great big “no-no” by the way. So much for loyalty between criminals, huh?

The friendly neighborhood mechanic Ian, had told us he had been a park host at Nesika County Park on the East Millicoma River, when we told him the fact that we would soon run out of money. He referred us to his friend Steven, who was the new park host, and told us to say “Ian sent us”, and Steven would let us stay for free if we ran out of money. Thankfully it never came to that, but we did pay late a couple of times, it came out to $300 for 30 days, at $10 a day. We also still had our food stamps, which would expire next month (No point in renewing if you're moving out of state, right?) We used those to buy simple, not much cooking necessary, gluten-free foods, in town once a week, while topping off the gas tank, getting flashlight batteries, and catching an AA meeting. We had a lot of rice cakes, corn chips, granola bars, and various fruits and veggies, with the occasional bit of meat. I know it sounds really boring, but it actually wasn't all that bad.

Anyway, Nesika County Park turned out to be a colorful hangout of hippies, rednecks, mud truckers, outdoor enthusiasts, and the occasional tweakers (methamphetamine users, “It's Not The Drugs”, as Uncle would say). 27 year old “chubby” Steven and his smallish 52 year old girlfriend Connie, were themselves pot users, him recreational, her medicinal, but they understood our own sobriety walk in AA, having had met a few members in their travels, and therefore, made an effort to keep some of the rowdier campers from trying to push their stuff on us.

Me and Mom ended up sort of playing “relationship counselor” (also known as Dr Phil) to Connie, since their rather unusual, but still friendly relationship was starting to show cracks. Steven had undiagnosed mental health issues (sound familiar?), probably bipolar, and Connie had some guilt and abandonment issues (sound familiar?), since her husband of nearly 30 years had left her for another man, and her other male friend (platonic, we thought) died of alcoholism, and she wasn't able to be physically present for him. We advised that Steven get help for his mental problem (something I cannot do for myself very well) and take care of his ear infection (mold, lots of mold in that campground), and that Connie forgive herself for not “saving” her friend (I cannot forgive myself for “allowing” Mother to silently die from cancer right next to me, as we slept), and to stop blaming herself for being deceived about her husband's homosexuality. Connie thanked us blissfully for being patient enough to listen and talk with her.

During our month long stay at Nesika, we had a couple more misadventures. During the first week, a shaven headed tattooed camper named Elmer came to stay. Well, not but two days later, Elmer was chatting with this gal Mariah (who was married to someone else, thankfully not present at the campground at the time, or things would have been much, much uglier). Well, a couple hours later, Mariah loaned Elmer her book, and hiked a ways upriver. Well, two more hours went by, and Mariah didn't turn up, but her little terrier dog did. Elmer being paranoid and temperamental, of course, assumed the worst, glanced ragefully in my direction, and barked “You know something you autistic freak! I swear, if you did anything to her, I'll rip you a new one!!!” At this point, Steven the park host intervened, and said “Chill dude, or leave the park!” Steven grew up in tha' hoods of St Louis, MO and knew how to lay down the law when need be. Angels in disguise.

Soon, this “woman that I'd done something to” appeared on the scene, and profusely apologized for “causing such a stir”. It turned out that her dog came back to the campground, while she had been looking for the dog in the opposite direction on the river trail. Long story shorter, it turned out that Mariah had been Elmer's bartender at the Coach House in Eastside, and that somehow “made her his”, in spite of her being married. Anyway, Elmer then apologized for blowing his top, which I gracefully accepted, however, I couldn't quite bring myself to fully trust him (or his even rougher associates) after that particular debacle, and it turned out I had good reason not to. Elmer was a convicted sex offender out on parole. He was staying at the park so he could drink and smoke pot (both big “no-no's” for parolees), since he knew that his goose would be instantly cooked if he did that stuff in town.

Over the next three weeks, he had this pattern of “displaying” himself (his swim trunks stayed on, but he always acted as if they could “just suddenly slip off at anytime, without warning”) to the teenage girls in bikinis, while casually following the 40-60 Something MILF's around and pestering them. It ended when Elmer's white trash buddies who'd arrived from Georgia (Flying a Rebel Confederate Flag and always telling the kids to “Lock and Load”, Triple K Ranch, Anyone?) a week into our stay, and got in trouble with Social Services for reckless child endangerment and/or abandonment (The kids' mother had abandoned them at the campground, while the schnockered stepdad allowed them to horseplay on the back of their pickup truck, which was dangerously stacked up about 10 feet high with loosely tied cargo) had decided to turn him in to save their own hides (no honor among thieves or white trash). This was maybe about a week or so before we left the campground, so we had to endure about roughly three and a half weeks total of his crazy antics.

The other misadventure was also about a week or so before we left the campground. We had decided to hike the trail at Golden and Silver Falls State Park. However, the road to the park was closed about three miles out, so we then ended up hiking about three miles in both directions, going to and coming from our minivan where we had parked it, in addition to the roughly one mile long main falls trail, for a grand total of eight miles walked on that muggy summer day up Glenn Creek. Whew, we were beat, Mother maybe more so than expected. This had worn Mother out quite a good spell, and thus she had developed a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection). Connie, the other park host, had been an airline stewardess and a registered nurse in a previous life, and recommended this stuff called Cystex, which was supposed to kill the UTI, while turning the pee orange. Well, it worked for awhile anyway.

On the day before we left the campground, after we had received the estate money a couple days before, we had decided to do a “farewell tour” of Coos Bay by first driving 10 miles up the West Fork of the Millicoma River that morning, hiked about three miles total around the Empire Lakes at John Topits Park in Coos Bay, then spent the rest of the day hiking about five miles total of the complex trail network at the South Slough National Marine Estuary near Charleston, then closed out the evening, before returning to our camp up the Millicoma by visiting a couple of obscure roads in the Barview-Charleston area that we had never really visited before. Needless to say, this action packed busy day, had also sucked the life out of Mother (literally), and our journey had only just begun.

Our next big adventure was in Roseburg, OR, Mother Janet's Hometown. We had went there to seek mechanical assistance in fixing the soon-to-fail water pump on our minivan. Sadly, after a couple days of desperately searching around the Greater Roseburg Area, the thing loudly went “POP!” on a blazing hot 103 or 104 degree day in Central Douglas County, with thick wall-to-wall traffic there on Garden Valley Boulevard. I was strongly expecting to buy it then and there, but The Lord still had other plans for us, at least for that particular day. So we got stranded for a week, specifically eight days, the first two in Sutherlin, OR up to the north a bit, and the other six in the heart of Downtown Roseburg, and had ourselves a couple more wild and crazy adventures while waiting upon Mr “Crazy Fixer-Upper” Dan at The Mobile Tune to work his mechanical magic on our busted water pump.

“Crazy Fixer-Upper” Dan also left us with one everlasting eternal pearl of wisdom, which was, “In tha future, if yo'rs back is ever up ta tha wall, an ya tink ya might need halp with somethin', don't a bother askin' anyone, anyone at all, unless yo're at least nine-tay to nine-tay fiv parcent sures dat de're honest an are givin' ya tha straight stuff, otherwise, you's jes wastin' yo're time an settin' yo're salf up ta git screwed, good and proper like.” It was most definitely relieving to find an honest mechanic with all of those grease monkey bullshitzters out there with their hand in your pocket. In short, I think Crazy Dan was telling us, we can't trust no one but ourselves. Sage wisdom for all travelers.

On July 14, 2014 we departed for Roseburg, OR with three objectives: find a mechanic for our failing water pump, visit our cats at the boarding house, and visit Kara Brown. First, we needed a shower because we stank like roadkill death, because our only bathing option had been mucky river water in the East Fork Millicoma. First, we hit an AA meeting in Roseburg, still stinking like roadkill, half the people there also did because it was so flipping hot for Douglas County (100+ degrees). Then we went to the Roseburg Laundromat on West Harvard Avenue (one of three or four main streets in Roseburg, along with Northeast/Southeast Stephens, the Stewart Parkway, Garden Valley Boulevard, and the Diamond Lake Highway out east, also known as State Route 138) to do some washing of clothes.

There, while wearing my leather vest with no shirt under it, my long hair and beard, and two missing teeth, all that was missing was tattoos (which I now bear on my shoulders, in honor of Mother Janet and Clan Smyth), and a red hot blazing (you're going to educated progressive hell, boy) cigarette dangling from my mouth, basically resembling a rough biker dude, minus the Harley Fat Boy, I was approached by two very square looking Mormon Missionaries from 1957 who asked me if “I'd found Jesus yet?” I told them that I'd found him a long time ago, 24 years earlier, at age 10, and bid them farewell and good night. I was too polite to mention the fact that I had been able to find Him without the need of Bishops, Moroni, or that Special Underwear.

After we finished with our wash, we had looked high and low for a place to eat, but it was now 10 pm, meaning downtown Roseburg had pretty much shut down for the night, and most of the nearby eateries were now closed, so we tossed our laundry in the old Plymouth Minivan, and started cruising up NE Stephens (The old Hwy 99 that runs North-South through the middle of Roseburg), not finding much of anything. We then tried approaching the little town of Winchester, but the little Wilbur Road was closed off for construction, so we were forced into a Northwestward Detour over to Rogers Road, which we followed about 10 miles or so into Sutherlin.

We then drove all the way to the west end of Sutherlin over by the I-5 freeway and found The Apple Peddler, a quaint charming all-night diner. We both got Steak, Eggs, and Hashbrowns, skipping toast, since we were now officially on the gluten-free diet (which I need to get back to after being off of it for a year, it makes me feel more weak, sick, depressed, and less able) and followed up with a dessert of yummy caramel coated apple slices.

My Mom spent awhile chatting with the waitress Rosie, who happened to be about my Mom's age. Mom was telling her all about the rough trip we'd had so far, and she was telling us about how at her late age, she was still working, fighting for disability, and battling cancer all at once. We were like “Whoa!” (only not so much for me now) On that note, we were lucky to land the last room at the nearby Relax Inn, for only $45. It had turned out the Oregon Linemen's Convention (covers power, cable, and phone installers) had chosen those particular days and the particular small town of Sutherlin, OR, population about 7,100 at the time, to gather, and had booked up all the motel rooms.

So the next day, Mom took me to breakfast at the Del Rey Cafe down in Winchester, that we  had been forced to bypass the night before (She'd went there before about a month earlier when dropping off her plants at Kara Brown's place). We ordered Gluten-Free Pancakes, Eggs, Hashbrowns, and Gluten-Free Toast (Which Mom was largely unimpressed with, probably losing her sense of taste), made by a flamingly gay chef (Alton Brown Anyone?) who resembled the late Robin Williams (God rest his soul), who was grumbling about gluten this and gluten that, he was in a rather tight fit of pique that morning. Mom said the pancakes were pretty darn good, but the toast kind of lousy, and I sort of agreed.

Later that day, we went to Oakland to visit Jan's old high school friend, Kara Brown. Jan told her of “our great adventure” in “just trying to get out of Coos Bay”, including our month long camp out, necessitated by our lack of funds for motels. Kara, who had worked her family's farm until her late 20's, the late 1970's, when her father died, and her avaricious brother Kevin, used legal maneuvers to force her to sell and split the equity proceeds, said she hadn't been camping since then, which would be over 35 years, longer than I'd been alive at that point, and truthfully hadn't really missed it all that much.

Meanwhile, Charlie Brown (Yup, that's his name, just like the fabled Peanuts character, even has the smooth noggin head to go with it), was shamelessly soaking up his “personal” air conditioner while watching Bill O'Reilly on Fox News (Yes, now known as “not a very nice guy” anymore, but how are people who aren't on the Internet supposed to know these things?) I know my politics are a bit more conservative (at least then) but even I think he's a bit of an excessive blowhard, I liked Glenn Beck better myself. I also met their kids, Corrine (5 years younger than me, 29) and Clinton (8 years younger than me, 26 probably) for the first time, though Jan had shown me their “little kid” pictures back when I was a teenager in the late 1990's. Kara and Charlie didn't get together until she was about 35, thus the age gap between her kids, and me and Brother Connor.

Corrine, who is another autistic, but somewhere else on the spectrum (she is more of the mile-a- minute kind of talker, I am a bit more slow and ponderous, often to the quick irritation of impatient extroverts), was going on about the joys of juggling a part-time accounting job, along with her classes at Umpqua Community College, dealing with psychotic egotistical “Don't You Dare Contradict Me, Ever” professors (been there, done that), and dealing with the stigmatic label of being a disabled person. She, just like me, had previously applied for SSI, been denied, then had to get “special” people to pull “special” strings to help place her in her “special” job. Her little mile-a-minute spiel went on for a full two hours, of course. Of course, I'm writing a huge letter as usual.

Meanwhile, Clinton, who bears a rather strong likeness to dashing Italian-American indie film and TV veteran, Jeremy Sisto (has the curly brown hair and craggy features) disappeared into what had been his old room to play on his XBOX. I would have loved to have sat down and played with him, or at least watched, having been an old gamer myself (I spent much of my time with Mother playing games for her), but we had to get out to visit the Lone Pine Cat Shelter out on Rifle Range Road in Roseburg by 6 pm, when they closed up for the evening. It was at least a half hour drive from Oakland, and it was now 5:15 pm, so away with us.

On our way out of Kara Brown's Place, Mother Janet chewed me out for being a “self-aggrandizing phony”, for having told Kara that I was “concerned about Mother Janet's Health, and not to push herself too hard with our moving efforts”. I was simply paraphrasing the same words I had told to Mother Janet about a day or two earlier, before Kara was in the picture. However, the issue, Mother Janet asserted, was not the “truthfulness or veracity of my words”, but my “willingness to put my own actions and efforts behind them”. Meaning, Mother Janet still had many packed up years, if not decades of resentment against me for being utterly amoral and selfish, and piggybacking my personal upkeep and well being off of the “fruits of her labor”, and “taking her for granted”, and “not giving proper credit where it was due”. Long story short, if you are unwilling to work on yourself, then that is the textbook definition of classic laziness, and you are being a thief of the person's time who ends up doing your work for you. And someone always does, no exceptions.

We made it out to Lone Pine Pet Resort at about 5:45 pm. Their automatic gate opened, and we were greeted by a tall, slim, 20-something girl with a pleasant smile and reddish auburn hair. She then showed us to our two cats, Bodie and Lynx. Bodie, who was still a bit smallish when I had last seen him about six weeks earlier, had gone up from 10 to 12 pounds, had gained a distinctive “Mroaw!” to his Siamese-y voice, and was now crawling all over me, as he had done when he was a smaller kitten six months before. He had been the biggest of his litter of five, and the first to wean off of the milk we had fed them with the eye dropper, and onto the dry crunchy food. Lynx however, was being his usual aloof anti-social self, hunkering down like a big fat fluffy turtle in his box, although he did let you pet him.

With that errand taken care of, we returned to Relax Inn in Sutherlin for a second night, got a different room for $45, as the crowd from the Oregon Linemen's Convention had died down and shrunk to about half of what it had been the night before, so we had a much greater choice in rooms. We would have stayed in Oakland, but it is a little hamlet of a town of about 800 people, which is devoid of any motels or traveler's lodgings, although they do have their own mechanic (the important thing for such a little place). We then caught an AA Meeting at this beautiful little church at the west edge of Sutherlin, overlooking a sunset over the reddish clay hills that the Roseburg area is known for and some lightly saturated marshland.

After the meeting, I met this 40-something gal who seemed rather anxious and kind of down-and-out (I know the feeling). She said she had been meeting with rather steep difficulty in obtaining unemployment benefits after being forced to walk off her job when her employer had “cornered and attacked” her (code for sexual harassment?). I gave her a few bucks, knowing full and well they were going for a pack of smokes, our common non-inebriating, least immediately socially harmful vice, and wished her well, I do believe in charity after all. I am not one of these judgmental yuppie snobs that flat out refuse to help people in need because “they might go waste it on something stupid” or “enabling them”. You can only act when presented with an opportunity to give at a time when you are financially able, no strings attached, whatsoever. That is how giving ought to be done.

We then grabbed dinner at the nearby Sutherlin Taco Bell (what Uncle calls “Taco Hell”), taking care not to order items wrapped in flour tortillas (which comprise about 3/4 of their menu), which “Taco Hell” is notorious for. Thomas, a blondish 40-something 6'6'' 400 pound restaurant manager, was rather busy grabbing other things, right before our very eyes, mainly female customers and employees, without their permission, of course. He seemed way too “friendly” with Mom, in spite of their 20 year age gap, poured her coffee up close and personal like, and slid his flabby disgusting Play-Doh arm around her, right in front of me. I really strongly desired to pop the sick lard butt motherfucker (no pun intended) in his oily pustulent nose, in spite of our 4 inch and 150 pound gap in size, but I had to take a deep breath and normalize my skyrocket high blood pressure and elect not to send us both to jail, since we were in Roseburg for the purpose of getting our van fixed so we could move, and being incarcerated for assault alongside a bunch of tweakers, wife beaters (plenty to be found in Central Douglas County), and skinheads would not accomplish that objective.

All of this was going on while his lard butt Mom and Sister were blithely and sloppily eating away at their flour tortilla items, which easily amounted to over three times the amount of food that me and Mom got. Tells you something about the addictive properties of gluten, which Big Tobacco pales in comparison to. Their lard butts by the way, were so big that they had to completely suck in their guts in order to fit behind the table. That's quite a sacrifice for your addiction. Thomas did eventually take his arm off when Mom squirmed. We also witnessed an incident of him “caressing” yet another female employee behind the counter.

Then, as we were finishing our drinks, I witnessed a rowdy middle school aged boy, violently pounding upon his late grade school aged little sister, followed by his large, beefy, but not really fat, probably sophomore in high school aged brother, roughly intervening on the little sister's behalf and shoving him away, and them comforting the little sister and wiping her tears away. I then looked right over at Mom, and said, “That little turd.” Mom replied “Latchkey kids, their parents are probably most likely down at the tavern right now getting hammered, and they handed the kids a $20 bill and told them to buzz off and go play in the freeway.” With all of that sordid and tragic affair said and done, we gathered up the food wrappers and drink containers from our table, tossed them in the trash can and went on out the door. As we were piling into the minivan on our way back to the motel, I then asked Mom, “You don't suppose that Thomas fellow is the sexual harasser that we heard about earlier?” Mom said “Maybe.” We then returned to the “Relax Inn” for what would be our second, and by far most “relaxing” sleep we would have for at least the next week.

(Also noting it's not good for siblings or blood relatives to be fighting in the first place, but at least the older brother was ethical enough to intervene against the middle brother's bullying, rather than joining in on it, which people of more dubious morality, or less intelligent and sensitive, however you want to interpret that, like I was at that age, might have been tempted to do, in order to win “social points” with the bully, better to be on the “winning” side and all that rot, even if the “winning” side was morally dead wrong and just plain unethical to boot, what Brother Connor calls “StarScream Syndrome”, in reference to the old Hasler Made TransFormers Animated Series back from the 1980's, whereby “minor league” and mostly irrelevant bad guys, in a bad moment of moral weakness, feel tempted to throw in with the bullies and the “bad crowd” in order to better “fit in” and “be popular”, even though it is a very bad and evil sort of fitting in, with completely amoral and conscience devoid jerks that aren't really inclined to accept them in the first place, but being desperate for friends, and feeling the social pressure to fit in and be popular, even if only with “bad people”, they cave and fold like a cheap suit, part of the sinister social dynamic of teen bullying, which I never want to be any part of again, I am not the same young man as I was as an “ethically challenged” and morally ambiguous teenage troublemaker back in the early 1990's).

The next day, we set out on our original mission objective of locating a mechanic in the greater Roseburg area to get our poor beat up old minivan fixed up and in better condition for interstate travel, which is something that people who have enough disposable income to afford a newer vehicle never have to think of very much, their minds are usually more on budgeting for gas, food, and motel fare, but something that seldom ever gets talked about in middle class society is how difficult it is for people who are used to living poor (Me, with raised hand) to travel very far beyond wherever their hometown is, how we effectively came to be more or less stranded in Coos Bay, OR for the last four years since me and Mother Janet became homeless at the beginning of 2010. You just simply cannot afford to think about traveling or long trips out of town if you're desperately trying hard to stay in your place and not be evicted for lack of rent funds.

I say this extra little bit, not shame poor people for “making bad socially irresponsible choices”, but to better illustrate the fact that the few choices that people do have, are even more limited, this is something me and Father have gone around a bit, he says “Lots Of Choices”, I say “Not So Much”. You can be at a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Store, 31 Flavors And All, but at the end of the day, no matter which of the 31 you pick, the universal fact is that that you end up with either Ice Cream, Sherbert, or Frozen Yogurt. It's sort of like being forced to pick (mostly) among Democrats and Republicans on every election cycle. Neither “choice” is very good, and what few organized Third Parties there are always get drowned out by the Mainstream Media and the Partisan Noise Machine, so nobody who has it together enough to vote knows about them, and people just choose “Democrat” or “Republican” because that's what their parents before them, and their parents before them trained them to do, and they get stuck in a mental rut and nothing ever flipping changes. Okay, off the soapbox.

Back to mechanics. First, we tried Swarm's, in the little town of Green, population 7,500, slightly to the south of Roseburg on the old Highway 99, and to the east of the other nearby town of Winston, population 5,500 at the end of State Route 42 that goes to coastal town of Bandon in Coos County, a reputedly Christian owned and operated large scale mechanic's operation. We were really hoping for a 2 to 3 day fix at most, so as to avoid lingering in Central Douglas County any longer than we absolutely had to, so as not to waste our precious few dollars on extra motel fare. It was now around July 16, 2014 and the helpful person at Swarm's regretfully informed us that they had such a big backlog of mechanic jobs (a very common thing for Roseburg, I guess) that they wouldn't even be able to look at our van until July 29, which was about a week too long for us. We then said “Thanks, anyway” and left that place.

Next, we tried this nice looking nerdy mechanic dude over in Winston, on Highway 42, whose somewhat smaller, apparently solo one man operation was in a tiny shop that was across the street from a closed and shuttered Figaro's Pizza Store (I get it, Red State area, no economic growth or progress, everything shut down and falling into decay for lack of money to fix things and keep them open for business) that looked as though it had been shut down at least a year or more, due of course to the Bad National Economy that began with the Housing Bubble Burst in 2007 and the more destructive Stock Market Crash of 2008, which ruined the fortunes of many scores of families, including yours truly.

Since the employees of Figaro's Pizza were no longer around to cuss the guy out for it, he had his personal backlog of fixer-upper vehicles parked in their lot, about 10 or 12 of them, seeing as how no one else worth mentioning was making use of the lot, because his own small lot around his shop already had a personal backlog of about 6 or 8 fixer-upper vehicles. The guy took a long admiring look at Mother's Minivan, which had originally been Grandpa Norman's back in the late 1990's before Grandma Jean died from basically drinking herself to death (Cancer Involved Death) in 1999, at age 73, and had passed it onto Mother Janet, since he was now saddled with his own 99' Ford Ranger Pickup (a good truck if you like Fords), along with what had been Grandma Jean's early 90's models Cadillac and Buick, and his own weird little funky German made NSU Spyder Convertible, dating back to about the late 70's or early 80's, somewhere in that general time period. Grandpa Norman had foolishly splurged on that thing around the time Grandma Jean died, thinking he could quickly and easily bamboozle a “younger, hotter, more socially agreeable” replacement wife into marrying him at his late age of 76. Typical dirty old man thinking, but then again, after 50 years of being Grandma Jean's psychologically harried “Prisoner Of War”, who could blame him?

When the nerdy young fellow was done sizing up the minivan, he quizzed us on “just how many miles” the poor old nag had under her belt, and we said “about 160,000”, his jaw hitting the ground, and hot, steaming crap loading his pants *just kidding on the crap part* He then also asked about the grungy looking gray streaks on the sides of the van, and we confessed, “Yes, we were from Coos Bay on the coast, and it was most likely that damned Aspergillus (Black) Mold” and he was like, “Oh.” He then said that “He really did wish he could work on our vehicle, but that he still had a backlog of about 10 days of mechanic jobs, about 15 vehicles worth”, which judging both his cluttered personal lot and the Figaro's lot, definitely wasn't “Joshing” (no offense to people named Joshua) us. He was friendly enough to recommend 5-Star Auto, closer to Downtown Roseburg, to us, but also warned they could possibly be a bit more expensive on account of the faster turnaround time. As for the Black Mold, that was most likely the same stuff that had caused our park host, Steven's Ear Infection, back at Nesika County Park on the East Fork Millicoma.

So are you now getting the idea that a whole of wayward traveler's such as ourselves, seem to break down for whatever reason, in Roseburg, OR, Mother Janet's Old Hometown? Mom had decided to try some mechanic shops in Downtown Roseburg, but along the way, had wanted to show me the “outlying boonie” areas of Lookingglass and Melrose, out at the western fringes of the Greater Roseburg Area, where she and Kara had grown up back in the 1960's, and how now it had become so built up and fancy during the economic boom period of the late 1980's/early 1990's (lots of free flowing timber dollars had rolled into Roseburg, as had rolled into Coos Bay, where we were living, about 5-10 years earlier, but Coos Bay, always being “behind” the economic learning curve of the larger towns on the I-5 Corridor, was already slipping into decline at this point) that “poor common folk” such as us and Kara's family could no longer really afford to live there anymore, at least not as easily as it had been to settle there in the 1960's and 1970's. Thus forcing most people into the harsh position of either earning more or spending less, and if there are no jobs or social support systems available, that usually means spending less. Such is the price of “so-called” progress.

We then followed Harvard Avenue, going eastward toward the Stewart Parkway, where we turned Northeast. On one side, was a sprawl of somewhat fancy apartment buildings complete with basketball and tennis courts, and on the other side, was a humongous, monolithic, White House Style VA (Veteran's Administration) Hospital, accompanied by a fancy 5-star golf course (Our taxpayer dollars hard at work, go figure), a second privately owned golf course, and the nearby VA Cemetery, which holds the tombs of probably at least 2,000 of our finest, bravest men and women in uniform, who either “made the ultimate sacrifice”, or otherwise went before us. The VA Hospital is also where quite a good deal of our alcoholic veterans get sent for detox and treatment, but sadly, few if any seem to be able to come out of there emotionally and spiritually grounded enough to keep sober and stay out for anything more than a few months at a time, so mostly it seems to serve as a “30 day spin-dry”. Such is the way of advanced alcoholism. So basically, if you want a quick slice of Roseburg history and culture in a nutshell, take a drive down the Stewart Parkway.

Okay, so then we pull up toward Garden Valley Boulevard, which is against a beautiful backdrop of dry hills dotted with Madrona Trees. I look over to the Walgreen's Store on the right hand side of the intersection with Stewart Parkway, and saw that the temperature on their digital sign read “103 degrees” and I thought to myself “Oh my fucking God, this is Hell On Earth Day!” By the way, no place here in Northern Nevada got past 98 or 99 degrees this summer, at least in the short time we've been here (Correction: we later learned that in early June, as we were running out of money, and had to ditch our motel for the campground, that Carson City, NV had reached a record shattering 115 degrees for one afternoon) and a few degrees here or there makes all the difference in the world at the upper (and lower) end of things, maybe more so on the upper. Too much heat will kill you outright, but when it's cold, up to a certain point, there are still certain things you can do to keep warm and alive.

Then the unthinkable and inconceivable happened. CRACK! GROAN! POP! That was without a doubt, the dreaded sound of our water pump going out. I saw that the temperature gauge was sitting smack on “H” for “Hot”. Then we saw the Wells Fargo Bank off to the left. Divine Providence yet again. However, to get there, we had to complete our originally planned turn leftward through the intersection of Stewart Parkway and Garden Valley Boulevard. It was now late afternoon, about 4 pm,  Garden Valley Boulevard now completely packed in with impatient pushy type “A” (for Asshole), typical of Roseburg, or any other medium to large sized freeway town. Needless to say, this was a bit of a “system shock” to Mother Janet's scaredy-cat conservative driving style from the slower going, much less populated coast area, which was not a good fit for the “aggressive populous progressives” that are more used to getting their own way that populate all the Western Valley towns in Oregon.

Mother then made the uncharacteristically quick and decisive (score points to type “A” people who are deciders and makers of things, can you say ego, rather than naively passive-aggressive, which “decidedly” infuriates people who are type “A”) fateful decision to pull us quickly through the intersection. Until that specific point, I had never previously been so scared in my life (or for it), and I've had people pull knives and guns on me before, and have other men who were less smart, but more aggressive than me, offer to “make me gay”. I then closed my eyes, and said to myself “Dear Lord, if you're going to take me now, please do it quick.” Mother spotted an opening in the left lane, after limping along westward with a busted radiator for about a block, and went for it, wheeling us into the next lot over from the Wells Fargo Bank. Thankfully, it was not yet our time to die today.

However, we also got to go to lots of AA meetings and eat plenty of Chinese and Mexican food, very yummy, and a good deal of it gluten-free. Mom and I went gluten-free before we left town, namely to help me with obesity, blood pressure, and autism. I think it also helped her feel somewhat less bloated and stopped up all the time. By the way, I have now dropped about 40 pounds from my all-time high of 312 pounds back in March of 2013, and my terrible blood pressure and arthritis have greatly improved. I highly recommend Chi's Chinese Restaurant on NE Stephens St in Roseburg, and there's this good Mexican Place (I forgot the name) not but two blocks away from the “Hole In The Ground Club”.

The writer of this material must also note that he and his mother had a horrible fight upon heading back to our motel from the Denny's near Downtown Roseburg, shortly before we went to cross the Umpqua River Bridge near I-5, no less.

Apparently, Mother Janet had taken exception to me being a “Grand Poo-Bah” who was “inherently selfish and greedy, and wanted to eat up all the food, and not do any of the paying for it, all the while not giving any thanks, or credit for the one who did pay for it.” Needless to say, the writer of this material was instantly infuriated and outraged, at these very truthful and accurate allegations, and told Mother Janet to “Fuck Off, And Leave Me Alone!”. To which was met, “What Did You Say To Me?!?”. I then replied, “Look, I'm sorry for being a pig, and I'm sorry for not giving credit where it was due.” To which Mother replied, “All right, you seem to have acknowledged your shortcoming and seem to be sincere (a very BIG deal for Mother, if you're not honest with her, she gets mad VERY quickly). Okay, let's put this debacle behind us, and cross the bridge that's in front of us.” to which I said, “Alright.”

I was a bit disturbed by this particular fight, even worse than the one we'd had a couple days before, since until the time we had hit the road, we had been getting along well before that. Suffice to say, this was a stark example of how the author's short sighted, impatient, and selfish behavior often passively causes other people to be mad at him (whether they are self-honest enough to admit that fact or not), then I “counterpunch” them with my own hyped-up disproportionate retaliatory strike, and either provoke the other person into wanting to kick my ass, or run away from me. In either case, I come off as a total tyrant, bully, and an asshole, and nobody wants to be my friend, and everyone hates me, and then I hate them right back for their own defiance and impudence. It's a vicious cycle. But now I understand, people can't bring themselves to like me, because they can't bring themselves to trust me, because of my selfish streak, mean temper, and lack of empathy, feeling, or regard for the boundaries (and rights) of others. I am my own worst enemy.

Yes, Roseburg AA is great! There's not a real huge choice in meetings for a town of it's size (about population 21,000 for Roseburg itself, 7,100 for Sutherlin, and 5,500 for Winston), but the people here seemed very honest, dedicated, and community minded, much like the rest of the good folks we have met here in Roseburg.

Which now brings me to the “other folks” of Roseburg, the sick people without any recovery program. By the way, I heard about the “revolving door of addicts” at Douglas County Jail, we would later find this to be true. One night, we came back to our cheap, trashy, roach motel at the south end of Roseburg (juxtaposed between a pot shop, an occult witch shop, several bars, and a dusty old pornography store on Hwy 99 on the way to Green), the Travel Inn, and settled into our room, after an exhausting two mile walk in both directions from Downtown Roseburg in punishing 100 degree heat, and not but five minutes later, we heard screaming and yelling, followed by “POP!” and “CRACK!” I thought there were actual real guns going off, and I promptly told Mom to kill the lights and hit the floor. Another five minutes then passed, and we heard our “other” little Asian Dragon Lady Innkeeper (not unlike the one we'd had at Captain John's back in Coos Bay, but maybe just a bit older and wiser), fiercely cussing up a blue storm at our skeezy and ratty little tweaker neighbors.

We bolstered up our courage and dared to venture outside. The Dragon Lady then asked us what happened, and we told her that he had only been back for a short time and heard what we thought had been gunshots. What had actually happened was this sleazy disgusting looking little whitebread pimp/meth dealer dude, who quite frankly, looked like a reject from Hee-Haw, had a nasty and bitter falling out (nothing I haven't had a few of myself) with his female conquest of the night, and had thrown her out of the motel room and locked her out from her stuff.

She, being somewhat spun on meth, and understandably upset, had punched out the window with her bare unprotected arms (worse than unprotected sex in most cases, in terms of short term survival), and had slashed up her arm pretty badly (Can you say Cherry Falls?). She was, of course, staggering around all over the place profusely dripping blood, while arguing with the Dragon Lady (a pointless exercise in futility) and giving her statement to a group of five Roseburg Policemen, led by a smallish young blonde fellow who greatly resembled the Ricky Schroeder character from NYPD Blue.

At this point, the poor young lady had spilled nearly a gallon of blood on the Travel Inn parking lot while idiotically arguing with people who weren't listening (the textbook classic case of insanity) and was starting to become physically weak and falter in her stance. Mom sharply spoke up (something she could do, when she had to) and encouraged strongly for the young lady to keep the cut arm elevated and maintain pressure on the tourniquet. Mom also encouraged strongly for the nearest Roseburg Police Officer who wasn't directly involved in the investigation, to summon the Fire-Paramedics, which arrived 15 minutes later (surprised the poor little flower hadn't wilted and keeled over at that point).

They carted young “Bloody Alice” off to Mercy Hospital in Roseburg, where she would likely be arrested upon receiving medical treatment for her cuts, which were simply messy, probably ordered to spend a couple days in jail, and make reparations for the window. And what happens with Hee-Haw dude? The Dragon Lady Innkeeper has RPD kick him out of there, since in spite of his general ass-holi-ness, they still technically had nothing they could arrest him for, even though he was an obvious pimping dealing lowlife. Stupid craphead was right back in there the next day getting spun with his inbred buddies. Whoever said life was fair? If you want fair, they have one of those in your County every summer. Next case, please.

A couple nights later, we were coming back from another meeting at The Hole In The Ground Club, and to change things up in our routine a bit, we followed the nearby Pine Street home instead of the usual Stephens, since that involves passing three bars, a tattoo parlor, and one of those semi-legal head shops. We passed a wide variety of older houses, some big, some small, some plain looking, some stylish, some well kept, some falling down rat traps, dating from about 1915 to 1945. As we were nearing our motel at the south end of Roseburg, we saw a terrified looking young man sprint, like a deer in a thunderstorm, out of a two story duplex, and pile into his white sports car and speed off. Then we heard a different man shouting loudly at a sobbing woman “If I (anything that starts with “If I” is seldom if ever good, this is your “oh, crap” moment) ever see you with him again, I'm gonna give you a bullet you fucking bitch!”

We determined that the voice had come from the upstairs of the building. Without thinking twice or hesitating, or regard for her own personal safety, Mother approached the house. I shuddered in my boots for a second, typical spineless dickless little girl I was, but quickly decided that I was no good son if I allowed my mother to march into certain danger alone, so I followed her anyway. Much to our disappointment, the front door was locked. We then tried the next door neighbor, who said that he knew “there was something hinky going on” in the next house over, but didn't want to get involved out of concern for the well being of his young son.

Since we had no cell phone, having just come into an inheritance from four years of “living on the edge” abject dirt poverty, the man suggested that we try the nearby J & J Market, a convenience store that was directly around the block from us, and slightly diagonal and across from our motel on SE Stephens St/Highway 99. So we went over there, I nervously wait outside puffing a cigarette (us nervous nellies do like our nicotine, it is an effective stress buster, but unfortunately you get 7,000 known toxins and 70 scientifically proven carcinogens on every puff, a bad trade of short term comfort for long term sickness, but who said life was fair?) while Mom got Charlie, the good-natured 50-something Chinese Shopkeeper to dial Roseburg Police on our behalf.

So we anxiously waited in the parking lot behind the J & J Market for another five minutes. We were soon met by a different young officer of the RPD (Starting to sound like the plot of Resident Evil), who so far as we could tell, had not been one of the five that had been sent to the “Bloody Alice, Broken Window” scene at our motel a couple nights earlier. He basically asked us “What The Hell Was Going On?” but not quite in that exact tone, so we filled him in on what had transpired in the duplex house we were now looking at the backside of, from the back parking lot of J & J Market. He and his men, three other squad cars, then decided to do a full patrol sweep of the house, scanning for any threats (are you threatening me, heh-heh, I am Cornholio, I need Tee-Pee for my, oh nevermind), then announced themselves on the bullhorn “ROSEBURG POLICE!!!”

After another nerve racking silence of about five minutes (what is it about five minutes anyway, maybe a good random estimate of the average person's boredom threshold and patience level, sort of low in some certain people I know) the light in the upstairs duplex finally turned on, and the woman opened the door up for the coppers to come in. They then spent approximately the next 15-20 minutes conversing with the woman.

Apparently, the abusing scumbag had fled the scene during the time we were going to the J & J Market to summon help, perhaps one of those things that it would be pointless to feel guilty or stupid for not having had a cell phone, since the crazed man was going to do what he was going to do, regardless of anything we did or didn't do. Also, she was still too spooked to file any charges, so legally speaking, RPD's hands were again tied and there was nothing they could do. I guess they gave her a business card for Domestic Violence Support Services and agreed to “keep her place under surveillance” for the next two weeks or something like that. Oh well, we tried, really gave it our best, at least we saved her life for one night, and that's all any human being is capable of doing.

The next day, our minivan was finally fixed up and ready to go, so we packed up our things from the motel room, a lot of them, and got ready to go, bidding the Dragon Lady a fond farewell. She had noted “I was a good son”, being of a similar age to Mother, and having a son about a few years younger than I, who although not a complete and utter miscreant, was still a bit of a do-nothing and a neer-do-well. Suffice to say, the “adults” in our lives always seem to be making harsh and unfair demands of us, but in most cases, such as Mother's and the Dragon Lady's, they are tough on us because they don't want to see us fail and suffer in the same ways that they did. Then we went out the Lone Pine Pet Resort out on Rifle Range Road and collected our big, smelly, fussy, screaming tomcats, Bodie (1 year old Black-Siamese Mix) and Lynx (5 year old Persian-Tabby Mix) and finally said “Hasta La Vista” to the Greater Roseburg Area, after having been stuck there for eight days.

We then drove out eastward on State Highway 138, the Diamond Lake Highway, passing through the little town of Glide, after about 10-12 miles, followed by Steamboat, which was little more than a fly fisherman's haven and tourist trap spot, after about another 15-20 miles, seeing the beauty that is the North Fork Umpqua River, complete with tight turns, fast rapids, and churning mini waterfalls. As we were climbing, then descending through the Cascade Range, we actually passed right through, not around, several small rainstorms, though we didn't begrudge the rain much, our filthy (and moldy) minivan sure needed washing anyway, since Roseburg, OR is like many small towns in the American West, a hot, dusty railroad town.

After we had passed the turnoffs to Diamond Lake, and then the “National Park Famous” Crater Lake (I think I've only been to it maybe once or twice in my life, but I think I went during the dead heat of summer, when the skies were literally crystal azure blue, not a cloud anywhere, and when you go on a day like that, it scared the total fucking shit out of me, since you can see clear down to the 2,148 foot bottom, and unfortunately, I've had a few personal near-misses with drowning, as well as being prone to drowning nightmares, having been raised by a tsunami-phobic mother, and having endured 1-2 months of living with a badly leaking ceiling in my room, shortly before the State forced us out of my Grandfather Norman's House back in the fall of 2009. It is the deepest lake in the United States, and tenth deepest in the world.), roughly 85 miles total, eastward from Roseburg, we pulled off and took a break.

There, we saw endless stands of Ponderosa Pines, sitting atop that reddish clay-rich dirt that dominates much of the Southern Oregon Landscape, and along both sides of Highway 138, were these  little bands of purple colored volcanic rocks, and I thought to myself, “Weird, Amazing!” It then occurred to me that nature is God's Gift to us and it's our Divine Directive not to abuse it. We then got back into the minivan and continued the last 15 miles or so, up to the junction where State Highway 138 terminates at the junction with the US Highway 97 that connects Klamath Falls with the Bend-Redmond-Prineville area and the little pass through truck stop of Biggs Junction on I-84 and the Columbia River in the north (I believe me and Father overnighted there back when I was fifteen, in 1995), then turning our vehicle southward.

We headed southward, while passing rolling hills covered in more Ponderosa Pines, sagebrush, and other dune grass, which then flattened out into a semi-desert with Ponderosa Pines still scattered about. We then passed the turn off to the little town of Chiloquin (population 724) and the bright flashy Kla-Mo-Ya Casino (Glad I don't gamble, as policy, a horrible addiction, played a major role in the divorce with Mother's Second Husband, Michael Edward Williams) and soon, we were passing the Upper Klamath Lake, a nationally designated bird sanctuary area, which does seem much like the Red Sea in The Bible, given it's immense size and general brackiness, or saltiness.

On the left side of the road from the lake was a series of barren, round topped mountains, which fenced in patches of low lying mucky farmland with hay and alfalfa fields. Of course, at this point it was getting dark, and the mosquitoes and gnats were out in full force. By the time we finally reached Klamath Falls, our poor old freshly rain washed minivan was now completely and utterly plastered in little dead bug carcasses.

We now begun navigating our way through the winding Northwestern Reaches of Klamath Falls Proper, population 21,000, trying to find the “Downtown” of the place, not an easy task for any traveler, as the physical area of the town takes up one with a population of about three times that figure, splitting outward into several forks, being constrained between a mountain range and the much larger Upper Klamath Lake in the north, and the smaller Lower Klamath Lake, the famous for hiking, Klamath Falls Falls (Yes that's a double word, but this one is excepted) leading into the Klamath River in the south, more rolling hills with Ponderosa Pines in the west, and desert-like marshland to the east, also adjoining with it's still, as of 2017, unincorporated sister township of Altamont, OR, population 19,000 (Altamont residents take their mail under Klamath Falls Addresses), to the northeast of Klamath Falls Proper, thus bringing the total population of Klamath-Altamont to 40,000 total. Ah, now I get it, you get two towns for the price of one, much like Minden-Gardnerville, NV. See, you learn something new everyday, I was confused about that one for the longest time. That's why the place “seems” bigger than it actually is, is that there's two towns. Here is a fascinating article on the Klamath-Altamont controversy from 2004: http://www.heraldandnews.com/news/top_stories/klamath-falls-population-doubles/article_aff23b8a-63b4-5af1-8a93-bcb7e7cbe96a.html

So yes, back on topic, and to the point, I both personally and professionally struggle with this particular shortcoming, we were winding our way through the Northwestern “Arm” of Klamath Falls, also known as K-Falls, trying to join up the US Highway 97 that we were on with the Oregon State Route 140, going east, and seeking out the famed Black Bear Diner (if you happen to be near one, you gotta go, it's awesome), where we had eaten seven years before in 2007, presently trying to fill our lurching empty stomach pit in 2014. We ordered up another round of steak, eggs, and hashbrowns, as well as a strawberry milkshake for me. On a somewhat disturbing side note, Mother told me that the “Food was really awesome”, but added that “she wasn't able to taste it very well”. That did seem kind of odd to me, but hey, we were on great adventure and a roll to boot.

We then temporarily doubled back westward for a mile on Highway 140 to seek out an “all-night” gas station, since it was after 10 pm, and we were the “last customers” at Black Bear for the evening, and located a Chevron on the south side of 140, where we got tanked up, and found a nice young man to use Windex and a Wiper to strip all those god awful disgusting mosquito and gnat carcasses from our windshield. We then got back on 140, and followed eastward until we were about 2 miles out from the eastern edge of Klamath Falls Proper. There, we turned south onto Oregon State Route 39, which only remains that way for 15 miles, until it crosses the state line, and becomes California State Route 139, passing the unincorporated township of Henley and the incorporated town of Merrill, population 832, an agricultural hamlet famous for their yearly Potato Festival.

Having now crossed into California, we quickly came upon the little town of Tulelake, or Tule Lake, population 1,010. It is notable for having a local duck feather pillow stuffing business, a little bitty motel, the Ellis Inn and a darker bit of history, the area played host to two internment camps during the FDR Administration in World War II, one camp was for the housing of German and Italian POW's, the other, which will stick in the eye of Liberals and the Politically Correct, was for the Internment of Japanese-American citizens, as public Japanese hysteria, especially in the Western States, was off the charts, and the people who had the ear of the policymakers felt “it was best to separate the general population from the people we were at war with”. Anyway, yes, a very harsh, horrible, immoral, and despicable policy, I wasn't around then, but from a “Military-National Security” perspective, I do understand exactly why that horrible and unpopular policy was done, even if the writer of this material doesn't necessarily personally agree with it. So that's all on Tulelake, CA.

We continued Southeastward through more desert-like marshland along Highway 139 until we reached the sleepy little town of Canby, CA (We also have one of those in Oregon, up near Portland), population 315, elevation 4,314, basically a “Post Office-Junction” stop where California State Route 139 bends Southwestward and meets up with California State Route 299 going eastward to the bigger (but still a “small red state place” by Eugene, OR standards) of Alturas, CA, population 2,615, elevation 4,370, seventeen miles away.

The Modoc County Area in Northeastern California is quite something to look at in the daytime, but of course we were doing this at night (trying to reach a certain location in Northern Nevada by morning), so we weren't seeing much, just our memories of the same trip we took in that area seven years ago in 2007, which had consisted of a hodgepodge of marshland, Ponderosa Pine forest, and high desert scrubland. There was also a nationally designated bird sanctuary in this area as well. At this time, about 2 am in the morning, the typically quiet sleepy town of Alturas, CA was even deader than usual. Not even a bar or tavern was open at this wee hour. Bad news if you're an active alcoholic in dire need of a quick drinky-poo.

If boredom makes you jump out of your skin, don't come to Alturas, CA (or anyplace like it) at 2 in the morning, go the nice Downtown of a proper “big place” like Eugene or Reno, and get yourself accosted by predatory, morally and ethically unbound street denizens (who dare to wear the “title” of human beings) looking to mug, rape, and knife in the shadows instead. That'll fix up your boredom problem right quick, I guarantee it. That is one plus side of living in the “small place” red state, is statistically being far less likely to be preyed upon by other humans (who are angry, impulsive, unpredictable, and emotional creatures), should the need ever arise to depart your lodgings after business hours, though in these high altitude places that are isolated, you may (though still statistically very improbable at best) have to contend with bears and cougars, so you might want to invoke your Second Amendment Right to bear (get it, bear) arms, provided you are able to physically and mentally do so responsibly. Just saying, you know?

We turned south onto US Highway 395 (Which connects Northeastern California and Central-Eastern Oregon with the Reno-Carson City Area of Western Nevada, it's a storied and interesting road to say the least) and began the lonely 105 mile (no gas stations whatsoever, zero, none, zilch, good we tanked up at K-Falls for this very reason). It was a mix of desert, dry pasture land, and pine/juniper forest, dotted with tiny towns, more like villages, with populations of less than 100 people (Now that's hella small by Eugene, OR standards). Much of Northern California is like this, the 18 million “Cool People” of their 36 million residents all live in or near Los Angeles.

About 40 miles into this, we took a break. Realizing we were now at 5,000 feet elevation (much bigly thinner atmosphere here) on US Highway 395, I saw a great big flowing display of beautiful stars (Where Mother Janet and Clan Smyth await me to join them). They flowed together just as if someone had painted it upon my bedroom ceiling, I don't know if you recall that weird crazy florescent glow-in-the-dark paint when you were a kid, but it was just like that. I was again, just like a kid in a candy store at 34 years of age.

After passing about 3 or 4 more nameless and largely forgettable (like my old book title) sub-100 people “small places” along US Highway 395, we started down some hills and winding curves, and off to the east, we saw a couple of very large high-tech futuristic looking buildings with a lot of bright night lights around them. My best guess is that building was a very large power station that served the entire US Highway 395 area that ran from Alturas to Susanville. We also passed turnoffs to an Army National Guard base and the semi-notorious High Desert State Prison, formerly known as Johnsonville State Prison.

Upon reaching Susanville, CA, population, 15,543, elevation, 4,186, Mother Janet and I had yet another fight, about the third one in a week. With my ultra-conservative mentality (and formerly politics), I persuaded Mother Janet (not any easy chore, as she is very immovable by manipulation or emotional needling herself, you can't even sell the woman a toothpick or a paper clip, not an open customer) to divert off of our present course on 395 by about 15 miles, as I was very concerned about our rather low gas level of a couple needles below an eighth of a tank, rather than her plan of forcing her way ahead to Reno, NV and tanking up there.

By her own admission (as well as my own personal tastes), she didn't like “big cities”, and wasn't “confident in her own ability to quickly locate a filling station in Reno, and get back on the road before “getting trapped in the city”. Yet she still wanted to push ahead anyway. Seemed like a bit of a reckless call to me, but the actual source of this fight was the fact that by the time we had wasted half an hour to forty-five minutes diverting to Susanville, and finding an all-night self-serve station, I was unable to get their flipping bank card reader to work after a ten minute struggle.

We pressed onward to Milford, CA (No MILF jokes please) population 167, elevation 4,222, where we did find a Union 76 station, with a working card reader, and we tanked up. Mother Janet was less mad at me, and we were temporarily both happier. Milford was about 20 miles Southeastward from Susanville, so yes we would have made it if we'd stayed the course, but I was fearful and afraid and had no way of knowing that in advance. Still, 60 miles from Susanville to Reno on less than an eighth of a tank still seemed like a “horrible and unreasonable” risk to me.

We then soon crossed into Bordertown, NV, basically what the name is, a tiny border town that is a bit of a truck stop place, with a small casino, convenience store, and a gas station. I get it, Nevada, bright flashy lights, gambling, exciting right? Not with Mother's dark personal history on the subject, which for her sake, I also shared her dim assessment on gambling. Where we did disagree was the matter of legality. I was for, she was against. Not because I love gambling, I personally despise how it's basically a back door tax on the poor and the desperate, and destroys many families, I don't think some of the operators are the best of people, but the horrible alternative is to keep it illegal and underground in the black market, where various organized crime syndicates without fail, will always move to fill that void. Nature abhors a power vacuum.

Having (wisely) before reaching Reno, NV, having found a filling station beforehand, we were then able to give Reno, and I-80 that partially merges with US Highway 395, a nice smooth sailing quick pass through in less than half an hour, thus skillfully avoiding the “big city trap”. It was awesome. We quickly saw the Wal-Mart and strip mall (not strip club, they have those there too) areas fade away to the bright flashy nonsense that makes up the Downtown, then before we knew it, we were sailing on out of the boring industrial and residential area of Sparks, and we were “outta” Washoe Valley.

Then we saw the sunrise break over the Humboldt River (which is the defining feature for the vast majority of I-80 in Nevada) as we pressed onward to Fernley, NV, which was where we needed to pitch the minivan southward onto the “Alternative” Nevada State Route 95 for our destination, a boarding house for our poor screaming, smelly tomcats. Here, we collected yet another steak and egg type meal at Wigwam Casino (yes Mother Janet and I hate casinos, but they're the only reliable source for decent traveler food when you're in a hurry). This time we had a polite disagreement on the food quality, which wasn't the best, I'll admit. I said a little bit “crummy”, she said “awful, disgusting”. I was seriously beginning to wonder about her losing her sense of taste, because we had used to be all about the food, that was a central part of what had forever bound us as a Mother-Son Team.

We reached Silver Springs, NV after following “Alternative” Nevada State Route 95 for about 15 miles or so, having passed the Quik Stop convenience store and Fernley High School's Football Stadium, and seeing a lot of the high desert beauty of Nevada at it's finest, rolling hills, open space, whirling sagebrush, a lot less gray clouds in the sky. Definitely a stark reversal from the endless pollen-allergy chokeout that is Western Oregon, speaking as a highly allergic, and sensitive fair skinned person.

Which brings me to the topic of sun safety, and Skin Cancer, also known as Melanoma, which took the life of my Grandfather Ralph Salisbury's esteemed pupil and famed TV screenplay engineer of A-Team, Renegade, and Silk Stalkings fame, Stephen J. Cannell (1941-2010). Mother Janet was also very quick to drub this lesson into me as well. If you're in Nevada (or any other high altitude place) where there's extra Ultraviolet Ray Exposure, you wear hats, sunglasses, long sleeve lightweight shirts,  and plenty of at least 30 SPF (Preferably 50 SPF), even in, and especially summertime. Because Skin Cancer is a one hit, one size fits all, affair. It's an equal opportunity offender that will barbecue pretty much anybody and everybody, regardless of race, skin type, or family history of Cancer.

We finally, finally, landed in Yerington, NV, at about 7 am, some 7 years after Mother Janet and I had visited here, “fallen in love” with the place, and made plans to move here “someday”, when we were done with caring for my Grandfather Norman, who by 2007, had been either directly in our care or a nursing home for two years, due to Alzheimer's, Diabetes, and Parkinson's, so therefore, between 2007 and 2014, we had either been caring for him (Norman passed in 2011) or waiting on his complex, controversial, and politically charged Estate in California to Settle from 2010 forward, after the State of Oregon booted us out of his house we had been living (with his permission, but nothing in writing, and legally ruled “incompetent” from being in a nursing home, so we had no relative or tenant rights to stay there, according to the Conservators assigned to his Estate), waiting on the colossally slow Estate Proceedings (That involved Oregon and California) to settle, meanwhile being mired in deep abject poverty and unable to travel much beyond our town and still be able to stay in our Public Housing.

Mother began by pulling off near the edge of town and finding a “bush to water”. Mother had to deal with this “leak” problem about 3-4 times during our run down California 139/US 395. Bladder Trouble, we'll just leave it at that, but it is a problem a lot of ladies my Mom's age (64) are stuck with, so naturally, I could not and did not think anything material or relevant of it.

Then we tried parking Bodie and Lynx (poor little things were completely fit to be tied after being stuck in a, thankfully not hot, car for 12 hours, we had to just grab them and go, and not meander about it) at the first “Pet Hotel”, we were sadly turned away, as it was run by a militant feminist “pet nazi” who absolutely under no circumstance would board our unfixed male cats, even though their individual kennels were distinctly compartmentalized, self-contained, and secure.

Thankfully, there was a smaller, more desperate for business “Pet Hotel” in town, that had plenty of secure space available, to separate our “feisty boys” from any females that might be there. Luckily, for our sake, it presently seemed to be mostly for dogs anyway. Yes, the whole Introvert=Cat Person/Extrovert=Dog Person seems to be the score of it, kind of old and tiring. You see, cats are “takers” of love, and Introverts want the chance to give some love, from being tired of Extrovert bullies kicking them around and taking them for granted all day. Extroverts, on the other hand, are often needy and emotionally insecure themselves, and feel a hot burning need for constant public approval, adulation, and to be the constant center of attention, and dogs are a lot better for that purpose, since they are “givers” of love, and make the Extrovert feel like “It's all about them”, which sadly, I once saw that same sound byte applied in a Casino Advertisement.

I suppose you might tell I'm a little biased against Extroverts, as they seem to have far less of an ethical problem with lying for purely selfish purposes, maybe a harsh and unfair accusation on my part, but Mother Janet got plumb tired of having the men in her life openly lie to her and flip her the bird while doing so, “Nanner, nanner, I can lie whenever I want, it's protected by my First Amendment Rights, make me tell the truth, you weak and stupid whelp”, and since I was the “last man” in her life, she sure as hell wouldn't have it from me.

I think her fierce determination to not yield on this matter has paid off to date, as I was a horrible, bordering pathological case as a teenager, bad behaviors=need for cover-up, yet still a rank amateur at actually being able to fool “and make them believe” as Adolf Hitler was able to. Hitler and Josef Stalin were kind of Introverts, there were some other political despots of the Extrovert type, such as Benito Mussolini. I suppose in their defense, Extroverts often fear being deceived and backstabbed by Introverts because of their more quiet, calm, and deliberate nature, so “if they're quiet and thinking, it must mean they're planning to screw me, right?” many befuddled Extroverts think. Would be nice if the two halves of the brain and the two halves of the American Political Apparatus meshed more peaceably. To each their own.

Well, enough of that pointless, distracting pop psychology/intellectual tangent that has no factual relevance with my story, on with the journey. After parking the cats, we spent about 2-3 days parked at the Copper Inn in Yerington, but had to leave, because it was now July 23, 2014, and Yerington's famed Night In The Country Music Festival was to be held that weekend, and Copper and both of the other Yerington Motels were booked solid. We decided to pass the weekend by doing a whirlwind tour of Eastern and Northern Nevada, to properly get a “real life, not pictures on the Internet feel for the place” before choosing on a town and a property to settle on. This was supposed to be for the rest of our lives, so we had to think and deliberate carefully.

We began by setting our sights upon Fallon, NV, the site of the fabled Top Gun Naval Air Station. I of course, foolishly started singing the dumb old “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin, from the classic 1986 film with Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, and Val Kilmer (now 31 years ago, time sure does fly, no pun intended). Mother of course, playfully slugged at my shoulder, and threatened to call me “Mr. Cruise” if I didn't lay off, so I zipped it, since to me, going through the rest of my time on this Earth labeled as a poster boy for Dianetics, was a fate worse than Death. I then crushed out my cigarette and took a lap from my Gatorade (Warning: System Toxicity Critical=Cancer=Die Early And Slowly). I was living proof that even at coming on 16 years clean & sober, human beings really are attracted to things that are bad for them. It is The Devil's World as Mother Janet says, a sentiment that even atheist and agnostic types might find some common ground on.

We collected our breakfast at the “Taco Hell” on US Highway 50, sort of erroneously dubbed “The Loneliest Highway In America”, but it's not really, then sailing on eastward out of Fallon. We actually did end up wrestling with at least a moderate amount of traffic on some parts of it. Our goal had been to do something productive while waiting on The Night Of The Country Festival back in Yerington to pass, by doing a proper tour of the state, to be 100% sure we wanted to settle in the Lake Lahontan/Mason Valley area of Western Nevada. You know, the scientific approach, weigh your options, factor in facts and information, eliminate the possibilities, then decide, don't rush full on into a purely emotional based decision without doing your homework, also known as lapping up the dipshit kool-aid (something the author of this material did shamelessly for the longest time, without any rhyme, reason, or ethical consideration).

We came upon Austin, NV, after about 80 miles of first going through the “flat”, which is rather less flat than the imagination and Popular Hollywood Stereotypes of Nevada would tell you that it is (confirmation bias=low information voters), then winding up through some hills and curves. We passed the old Stoke's Castle Hotel, up on the right, sort of overlooking Austin, built by Anson Phelps Stokes (1838-1913), in the year 1897, who was a banker and railroad and mining developer, that had built it as a summer home for his family, modeling it on what he had seen and idolized in the Roman Campagna in Italy.

Unfortunately, for all his troubles, the castle only saw a couple summers of use by his family, before they sought greener economic pastures elsewhere (a common human habit, you go where the money and jobs are, or end up freezing and starving) and it was left abandoned for 58 years, until rebought by Stoke's family cousin, Molly Maggee Knudsen in 1956. “The Castle” was eventually listed on the National Register Of Historic Places in 2003. It is currently held by HW Trapnell of Dunsmuir, CA (A small railroad town near Lake Shasta in Northern, CA, that me and Mother Janet had passed by in the Amtrak train during one of our trips in 2007) and Austin, NV. Enough on history, for now.

Austin, NV actually seemed to be surprisingly active, for a bitty town of about 200 people. They actually had a Post Office, a Tavern, a couple of convenience stores, and this will surprise you, two motels, and the beloved Toiyabe Cafe, named for the Toiyabe Mountain Range that Austin, NV sits in. Of course, you could make the case that the current uptick of human activity in Austin, NV was on account of a traveling caravan of bicyclists, perhaps some of which had made use of the local motels, as well as a couple of passing “hordes” of Vietnam Veteran Bikers (on Harley Motorbikes). We now set course for Eureka, NV.

The first 20 of the 60 total miles of the stretch from Austin to Eureka was a rather big sweeping curve turning southward, down winding hills dotted with sagebrush and juniper. Then the next 30 miles, leading into the final 10 miles going to Eureka, was mostly flat and straight, going on a slight rise elevation wise, and angling a bit Northeastward on the map, followed by a sharp turn and dip southward, going into Eureka itself. During that 30 mile straight stretch, Mother Janet found herself pulling off onto the shoulder frequently, to allow aggressive tailgaters (folks with type “A”, for “Asshole”, entitlement issues from California maybe?) to pass, rather than making the more socially popular, but likely foolish move of trying to placate their fragile egos by going faster. That is why the author of this material is very unexcited and fearful of driving at present writing, in spite of little kids thinking “he's a big fat loser”, in spite of intense pressure from family to “get a license already” after being “without” for 20 years (at this late age of 37).

Eureka, NV is what you call a clever “tourist trap” of a town of about 600 people (as of 2010, though is now estimated to be closer to 1,000), being the only town of any real size in the 200 total miles between Fallon and Ely on US Highway 50. It's got an old fashioned style brick Post Office and a lot of old-timey, old-west kind of storefronts. Once upon a time, during the 1880's, it had been a bustling mining mecca of about 10,000 people (which is closer to the size of town I'm from, Coos Bay, OR) but as was typical of a mining town, once the ore was gone, so were the jobs and the people, don't you just really love modern industrialized society? I think on some terms, American Humans still are a bit of a hunter-gatherer society (which preceded the Agricultural Age), only they hunt and gather dollar bills and paper paychecks, since there's no more buffalo meat to hunt or wild berries to gather. Eureka, also at a rather high elevation of 6,485 feet, has summers that are often in the 80's during the day, and the 40's at night, as a result of high elevation. It is also quite the popular spot for local campers and fly fishermen, as well as the “jump off” point for both the Ruby Valley and Monitor Valley Scenic Highways. We then set forth for Ely, NV, about another 60 miles eastward from Eureka.

We rolled on southward out of the strange little bottle neck valley that Eureka sits in, then started a somewhat squiggly, but still generally straight rise back up some hills of that fabled orange-y yellow Nevada dirt, dotted in more pines and junipers. As we cleared the rise in the mountains and began descending in an almost straight shot toward Ely, Mother Janet and I decided to take about a 10-15 minute side junket to the little town of Ruth, NV, for another history lesson.

Ruth, NV, with a present day population of 440, began in 1903 as a settlement for the workers of the White Pine Copper Mining Company. Three years later, in 1906, the Northern Nevada Railway project was launched, thus driving a spike in local copper production at Ruth. Six years later in 1912, a bad explosion in the mine took the lives of ten people. Some would say “boo hoo, what an awful tragedy” while others would say “suck it up buttercup, mining's a big risk, but the rewards are great”. The author of this material does not wish to insensitively denigrate the memory of the people who were killed, or their families, if he has not already done so, but he was merely trying to illustrate the simple and abject fact, however insensitive it might be, that throughout human history, that economic insecurity has been a hard driving force in a lot of wild reckless risk taking behavior, all in the name of acquiring more Benjamins to better keep a roof over one's head and food in their families bellies, under most dire and desperate circumstances.

More on the subject of mining labor being abused by, and having bargaining rights stripped by company management, Ruth became the site of a hotly contested labor dispute, in 1919, when no fewer than 150 miners walked off the job in demand of better wages. Such nerve of those men, didn't they know to mind their manners and their tongue, and know their place in society, and always obey company management without question? Kidding. The author of this material has not much love for these predatory vulture capitalists that always do far more to wreck the communities that they claim to build up, than what they initially promise to investors and stockholders when scrounging for start-up funds. The peak of Ruth's population was about at 2,300 people in 1928, the year the Great Depression (the old one, not the new one of 2008) began. In 1933, after the Great Depression officially ended, Nevada Consolidated Copper Company (which had previously gobbled up White Pine Coppper Company) was then bought out by Kennecott Copper Corporation. The mines in Ruth would slug on at a slow tick, never really being completely closed, but not really being profitable enough to support the community for the next 22 years. This hellish economic limbo finally ended in 1955, when the settlement houses were bought up by the John W Galbreath Company, who then turned around and sold the company houses to the miners that had been renting them.

In turn, apparently they actually had moved these rather small houses (it can be done, but is generally very difficult, sometimes dangerous, and always expensive) two miles to the north to make way for the expansion of the Deep Ruth Mine, which would remain open at a moderately sustainable pace until closing it's doors in 1978, thus leading to the decline of the town itself, and the closure of their grade school in 1986 (I recall getting displaced to a different school as a kindergartener for that same reason, back in 1986, a little town called Lakeside, OR, that was starting to backslide on their timber industry). BHP Nevada Railroad would then attempt to re-open the mine for three short years, starting in 1996, but being forced to fold in 1999. It was then taken over by the Quadra FNX Mining Corporation in 2004, and remains open to this day. On a couple of interesting side notes, Ruth, NV was the inspiration for Stephen King's novel Desperation, and was known to have been dosed with a small amount of rads in the 1950's, during the Atomic Weapons Testing Program, run from the 1950's-1990's by the Atomic Energy Commission (Under management by US Department Of Energy), at the Area 51 test site down in Nye County, everything from about 1962 to 1963 forced underground because of public outcry over worker risk and safety.

With that history lesson over, we pressed forth into Ely, NV in search of a late lunch and some more supplies for the road. After getting some lunch at a Chinese restaurant, we collected some supplies at this crummy little discount department store, where I had this crazy nazi shopkeeper lady actually accuse me of trying to steal a batch of old (15-20 years old) and overpriced ($10 each) DVD's. She actually physically kept following around my shopping cart like a hound dog, and would not stop until I handed them over to her for her personal safekeeping at the check stand. Such hostile paranoia. I suppose because I never smile, don't make eye contact, never initiate small talk, don't shave or shower (not because I enjoy being filthy, but because I am too far out of it mentally to remember to care for myself in that way), and have a rotten scummy attitude, I suppose people in general are inclined to be scared of, and not like or trust me very much, automatically assume the worst, and treat me as a liar and a criminal, even my own family, if only I could bring myself to care emotionally, but hard to do if you suffer from depression and/or lack of ethics and empathy. If only I could care.

Moving along, we tanked up at a Union 76 Station (much needed after a 200 mile straight run with no fill-ups) and set course for the Utah bordertown of Baker, NV and Garrison, UT, with the goal of previewing, but not doing a full visit of, the new Great Basin National Park near the Nevada-Utah State Border. Anyhow, we really did sort of want to see Great Basin National Park, but didn't feel we could afford the time or the energy, as we were trying to stay on track for getting back to our spot we were planning on moving to back in Western Nevada. However, we did follow Nevada State Route 487 along the backside of Wheeler Peak, the central defining feature of the park, and got ourselves a good gist and scope of what was there, without having to commit ourselves for an all day trip, with 2 hours driving in and out each way, which was the kind of big time waste we were trying to avoid. We stopped at Baker, NV to drink some Powerade (yes, I know, very good for us, I think it was making us sick, too much magnesium, potassium, and chemical dyes), and check our map.

Mother Janet then took a bold risk, at least for her, and ventured into Utah, also known as Deseret or Mormonland, having been somewhat wary of LDS Fundamentalist types, as back in 1984, when she was at the tail end of visiting sci-fi conventions in the Southwest, and still trying to get herself published (a very hard thing to do in her day, and the day of Roger Zelazny back in the 1960's), she had a couple of those LDS Fundamentalist types follow her all the way home to Lakeside, OR from a convention in Denver, CO, some 1,350 miles apart (that's some dedication, about 21 hours, or 2-3 days total drive time, just to expand their harem by 1), with the dark and sinister objective of abducting her for their little cult, even with a 4 year old me and 10 year old Brother Connor there. Suffice to say, Mother Janet was somewhat unfairly suspicious of Mormons after that, as was the author of this material. For what it was worth, we didn't care about fair or accurate, so much as protecting ourselves and covering our behinds. If that needlessly hurt, offended, irritated, or made to be angry, I am sorry. To all the good men and women of the LDS, who are not part of the fundamentalist cult, I am sorry, I apologize for the both of us, from the bottom of my heart.

Anyway, the original purpose of cutting into Utah was so that we could take a slightly different route to get back to the US Highway 93 that ran through Ely, where we had previously come from, try to mix things up a bit. So we continued following Nevada State Route 487 Southeastward from Baker, about 6 miles over the Utah State Line where it becomes Utah State Route 21 temporarily before entering Garrison, UT. We then turned northward onto Utah State Route 159, taking note of distant mountains and bright green, fresh sagebrush, going about 6 miles back north again to the combined US Highway 50 and US Highway 6 Route (Highway 6 winds it's way clear down to Tonopah, NV, about 170 miles Southwest from Ely, a drive intended to be two and a half hours, that Mother Janet and I once did in slightly over an hour, about half that time, in pursuit of an AA meeting in Ely that had been canceled due to lack of interest, or basically the whole town relapsing, back in 2007, disappointing, to put in all that effort for nothing, yet somehow, that effort kept us sober, that's what counts), then we turned westward back onto the US 50-6 and back into Nevada. It was now a bit after 5 pm, but the air was starting to get a bit hazy, due to some planned Forest Service slash burns and other unplanned fires, as well as Nevada's famed Dust Devils, which are basically micro tornadoes that are full of desert sand and dust. We then followed the US Route 50-6 back in a Northwestward arc around Windy Peak and the tiny community of Osceola (not to be mixed up with the one in Florida), and rejoined the US Highway 93, going south, at Major's Place, a little before 6 pm, with about two more hours of daylight to go.

Our goal for that evening was the town of Pioche, NV, a quaint little mountain foothill “straight off of a postcard” historical village of about 1,000 residents. We had just wanted to see it before it got totally dark, we had no designs on staying there, as we did not expect to be able to find quick or affordable lodgings there, being a bit of an isolated little “tourist trap” of a town. Pioche, NV was about 70 miles south of Major's Place on US Highway 93, about 90 miles total south from Ely, so we had roughly about two hours to reasonably cover 70 miles before darkness set in.

We negotiated those 70 miles southward with the sun breaking away on the mountains to the west and green sagebrush filled open rangeland to the east. It was nothing short of a fabulous Nevada Sunsetter scene, worthy of many stylish Saloon decorating Old West paintings, perhaps would both be more artful and socially tasteful than sallow faced pimpled bordello prostitutes and scarred up vicious looking battle hardened gunslingers and outlaws, which is what you usually get in one of those Old West saloons (although I'll admit that maybe I'm unfairly reverse culturally stereotyped, coming from a family of educated progressives from the Midwest, who care little for primitive Western and Southern people who aren't educated, cultured, or civilly respectful, also known as stinking white savages in Red Republican war paint).

Moving along, here's a quick history refresher on Pioche, Nevada. Pioche, which sits at an elevation of 6,060 feet, began in 1864, as the American Civil War was nearing it's climax, when local white settlers here had tried in vain to make use of the natural mountain backdrop to establish a silver mining industry here, but their efforts were beset by the local Native American peoples (go figure, you go trying to use someone else's land for selfish imperialistic colonial purposes, without either asking permission or offering any sort of financial compensation, and the Natives get kind of restless and pissed off, go figure), so the settlers were forced to withdraw for four years until 1868, when the US Army intervened and drove them off. “Economic Progress, Get It? Always Forward, Never Back, Even If It's Right On The Backs Of The Weak, Unprotected, And Underprivileged.” Capital Abhors Labor For It's Very Existence. It Cannot Personally Stand It, But Needs It For It's Own Survival, Thus Is “Forced” Into An Abusive “Love-Hate” Relationship With It. Companies Matter. People, Not So Much. If You Can Simply Bring Yourself To Disregard People As Policy, You Can Go Big Places In The Corporate World.

Anyhow, in 1869, when the Army finally “properly pacified” the town for the poor white capitalists, it was dubbed Pioche for the name of it's number one private benefactor, Francois Louis Alfred Pioche (Born 1818 in Paris, Died Unknown), a French born, former San Francisco, CA resident who was an investor and land speculator. Pioche was highly rumored to be in a homosexual relationship with his business partner, LL Robinson, at a time when the hysteria and open hostility toward “mortally sinful men of a certain sexual persuasion” could quickly and easily be met with a zealously religious and murdering lynch mob, or also a witch trial followed by burning of “gays as kindling” along with the “witches” tied at the stake, though this practice had been much more common during the actual Salem Witch Trial Days, some 150 years earlier in the late 1600's. Apparently, that's all gay men were worth in that particular social context, was “not even worth the rope and stake” of tying a “real witch”. So the history of Pioche's Death and Personal Life, seem to have been lost. There lies a man who was good at securing his Privacy, not out of personal choice, but necessity for his own survival. (Not-So-Secret Update: In spite of owning several high end properties in the San Francisco Bay Area, Francois LA Pioche committed suicide by gun in 1872 when he realized he had overextended his credit beyond the point of no return and had no means of paying it off, a lesson to be learned about the reckless borrowing on modern day credit cards).

Pioche had also earned a well deserved reputation as one of the bloodiest, if not the bloodiest town of the Old West, as there were no less than 72 confirmed killings by gunshot until the first “natural death” was recorded (an alcohol induced liver cancer perhaps?). The legend was then forever cemented in history by the creation of the Boot Hill Cemetery, also a town in the Wild Arms 3 Video Game by Sony (2002), which Mother Janet and I were playing recently. It's remoteness and isolation in a long narrow mountain valley in Far Eastern Nevada made Pioche both an easy target for Native American raiding parties and a ready playground for local outlaws and redneck ruffians to freely run amok with little interference from law enforcement. Much like some parts of Nevada presently still are.

On an interesting side note, US Highway 93 was routed around the edge of Pioche, with Nevada State Route 321 now being the main corridor, maybe perhaps to discourage local outlaws and redneck ruffians going rip roaring drunk and too fast on 93 from tearing up the town. “Yee-Haw! Vroom, Vroom, Vroom!”. Why? Because they can. Also, former US Republican President Herbert Hoover (for which the Las Vegas Dam is named) overnighted at the historic (but no longer in business as a hotel) Mountain View Hotel, while serving as President in 1930. Just as former US Republican President And General Ulysses S Grant once decamped at Grant's Pass (Or Grant's Ass, Oh By The Way, Does Anybody Know Trump's Gastroenterologist That Gave Him A Glowing Review, In Spite Of A Steady Diet Of Taco Bowls, Burgers, And Pizzas?) Oregon during the Civil War while visiting the Western Union Army Detachment, thus giving a name for that funky spot on I-5 that suddenly and violently bends eastward on the Rogue River (and yes, a LOT of people have died crashing their cars there). On a final note, Pioche is also the County Seat of Lincoln County.

So as darkness now faded over Pioche, we came upon Panaca, NV, population 960, elevation 4,729, or rather the turnoff to it on Nevada State Route 319. Panaca, NV had originally began in 1864, the same year that Nevada gained statehood. It was originally a Mormon Settlement that had been part of Washington County in Utah, before the 1866 Congress had redistricted (now known as gerrymandering) Panaca into Nevada territory, so as to better draw a straight line on their border. Panaca comes from the Paiute Tribe word “pan-nuk-ker”, which is money, wealth, and metals. William Hamblin, the local LDS Missionary assigned to the Paiute Tribe there in Lincoln County, staked and claimed the nearby Pannacker Ledge as a silver mine.

Unlike the silver mine at Pioche, this one was not a war zone, or a hotly and violently contested claim like so many others were, as the relatively nascent Mormon Church under Brigham Young, was very shrewd both politically and business wise, and unlike regular dumb greedy white settlers, they were quick to figure out that if they used their religion to pacify the local Native tribes, rather than making war with them, they could forge a strategic alliance with them, and use them judiciously to form solid defensive lines against outsiders and competing business interests.

In older times, Panaca operated a Coke Oven to supply charcoal for the ore smelters in nearby Buillionville, which dried up and died, like so many other Old West Ghost Towns that were based solely around mining, but in modern times they are basically an agricultural town. It is also notable that they are a dry town (no alcohol sales allowed, much like a certain small religious town near Salem in Oregon, called Monmouth, though their city council finally voted down 148 long years of prohibition in 2002, business reasons I guess, there will always be a certain segment of the population that will kick and fuss without their liquor, same goes for the evil cancer causing brown weed known as tobacco) and they and Boulder City, near Las Vegas, are the only two towns in all of Nevada that have a legal moratorium on gambling, in spite of it being the State of Nevada's modern central industry. No sin will be legally sanctioned in this town, however one might argue, whatever happens behind closed doors is nobody's business (so long as it doesn't involve minors or parties that haven't consented, including, but not limited to livestock).

Moving along, we sought out Caliente, NV, population 1,141, elevation 4,406, about 10 miles south from there, to hopefully quickly acquire lodgings for the evening, so that we could get a decently early start the next day, as we were planning on dipping about another 45 miles Southwest, before turning around and doubling back toward Ely on a different route, you know, in the name of variety and mixing things up.

We rolled in a little after 8 pm, and found the Mull's Midway Motel, which was about down to their last two rooms (lucky us), as them and the other two motels in Caliente, the Shady Motel, and the Rainbow Canyon Motel were well booked up in advance of a hot air balloon festival being held in Mesquite, NV that weekend, even though Mesquite was 140 miles, or about a two and a half hour drive away down on I-15. It should be duly noted that Country Music and Hot Air Balloons are a very big fucking deal in Nevada, and don't you forget it.

The layout of our motel room at Mull's Midway Motel seemed a little odd, as they usually have both beds together in one spot, for the sake of building economics and convenience, but in this one, Mom's bed was up toward the front door, then there was a little storage cabinet followed up by a little kitchenette area (with it's own small TV), then past that was my bed, in a separate room, which then led to a walk-in closet, and then the bathroom, with my sleeping area having it's own cabinet and small TV set. Now was that an odd and funky layout or what?

As the town was the kind of place that shuts right down along with the sun, all the restaurants were shut, but we were still hungry. Luckily, Mom was able to locate a convenience store/deli type place that was open a bit later into the evening, and brought me back a basket of fried chicken, shrimp and french fries (yes high cholesterol recipe for heart attack city). Then I watched a little bit of Fox News (just before they completely lost their fucking minds with the rise of Trumpism), indulged in some nice ripe pesticide laced menthol cigarettes, out in the car of course, I was a responsible smoker, though a lot of them are lazy, selfish, rebellious, defiant and don't seem to care much about other people (ignorant of sensitivities in others, may I please step on your toes a little harder till they crack?), and crashed. Was I awful and politically incorrect or what? Or maybe just a stupid, undisciplined hedonistic pig who likes things that are bad for him. If only the latter, welcome to about 80% of the rest of America.

Anyhow, the next morning we got our usual “Old West” traveler's fare, steak and eggs at the Knotty Pine Restaurant, one of about three or four local options for eateries, including that other place down the street where Mother Janet had found me that tasty cholesterol trap the night before. We saw a young, working class father depositing some quarters in the slot machine behind us (better get used to it, the klink-klink, boom-boom, flash-flash, and bling-bling are commonplace in Nevada restaurants and convenience stores), hopefully not all of the family's rent or heating money. After we filled our personal “tanks” (I think I again ordered a milkshake or sundae type item, breakfast of champions, sure beats a Bloody Mary, and much less likely to get you arrested), we tanked up the minivan at the nearby Sinclair Station, as well as getting replacement sunglasses for the ones we accidentally wrecked the day before (a lot of shit gets lost and/or broken while traveling, when pressed for time, caution and prudence are often sacrificed for expediency, no matter how careful we might be while living at home).

A few quick notes of history on Caliente before leaving, it was named that word, which is Spanish for the nearby Caliente (Hot) Hot Springs. At the height of the Roaring 1920's (Three one term Republican Presidents in a row, including Hoover Dam's own Herbert Hoover), when their train depot was built in 1923, the town's population had grown to over 5,000 residents, but had collapsed clear back to about 970 by 1940, followed by their all-time low of 792 by 1950, the year Mother Janet was born. The train depot no longer serves trains, but is now used to house some Government Offices and a Historical Museum, the seat of Lincoln County being back in Pioche (Boot Hill) to the north.

On a bit more of a controversial note, yes, I just love being the turd in the punch bowl, “Well, I'll Just Say”, Caliente is home to a Youth Detention Center, which according to the NV.GOV site, is used just as much for correction and rehabilitation as for incarceration, where inmates practice journaling (a too awesome skill) and cognitive modification therapy before being released, as opposed to punching license plates, peeling potatoes, making bricks, or some other humility building boring tedious shit work. Also, Caliente was an epicenter of scandal involving the disturbing and immensely perverse case involving Warren Jeffs (of the notorious old Mormon Jeffs family) and the FLDS (Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints) Church when the case broke the news waves back in 2005. The former Hot Springs Motel, which of course was owned and operated by local FLDS Members, was the site of several forced, as in NOT consensual, “he saw, so he begat, and therefore claimed” marriages between older men and underaged (pre-teen in some cases) girls.

The case was effectively “slam dunked” in 2011, when sickened jurors heard audiotape of Jeffs consummating (raping) his 12 year old bride, as well as forcibly fondling a couple of Mormon Altar Boys in the bathroom. He was ultimately charged, tried and convicted on sex abuse charges in Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and also Texas, where an FLDS enclave containing more child brides was raided by Law Enforcement, sentenced to 20 years plus (not to) Life Imprisonment, as well as receiving charges for using his leadership role as president of the FLDS to embezzle large sums of cash and high ticket gifts from his followers, and then persuading his poorer and more cash-strapped followers to engage in Food Stamp and Welfare Fraud, to replace what he stole from them, all because it was “God's Will” to steal Government Benefits in the name of The Church. It's crooked, deceitful, greedy, short sighted crap like this that unfairly gives all Red State people a bad name with the Liberals and Democrat Elites that live in the coastal states.

Moving right on along, with new sunglasses, bottles of Powerade, and a full gas tank in hand, we set course for Alamo, NV, about 40 miles Southwest from Caliente on US Highway 93. Alamo, NV, population 1,080, elevation 3,449. Alamo is also the Spanish Word for the Poplar Tree, which is known to be present in the area. Alamo, NV, not to be confused with the more historically and pop culture popular site in Texas where legendary pioneer and statesman Davy Crockett (1788-1838) fell in battle at age 50. What a glorious and honorable way for it to all end, sure beats Cancer with a stick.

The author of this material grew up with rednecks who also sought to end him in this fashion for being a sissy boy wuss. Why? Because he made them very mad and annoyed by simply existing. Where I grew up, when I grew up, if you were a young lad, if someone or something annoyed you, pissed you off, or otherwise made you feel bad, you were automatically entitled to beat it up and throw it away, regardless of the law, rules, or social consequences. Nature, and humanity, apparently, abhor weakness, regardless of the reason. Survival of only the fittest and strongest, smart ain't got nothing to do with it. Lord Of The Flies, Buzz, Buzz.

As for Alamo itself, basically a ranching community, spread kind of sparsely across the Pahranagat Valley. The elevation here, being about 2,500 whole feet lower, makes it a bit drier and hotter here, more typical of the Las Vegas/Mesquite/Littlefield, AZ/St George, UT run we took on the I-15 during our Great Southwest Adventure of 2001, where we hit California (the Sierra Part), Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico, and returned by way of Wyoming (passed Grand Teton National Park), a tiny Southwest corner of Montana (which was basically all Yellowstone National Park), and Idaho, making sure to ditch I-84 before reaching Boise, as Mother Janet simply DID NOT like big cities, nor does the author of this material. It has it's own Sinclair Gas Station, complete with the cute little turtle on the sign. Somewhat reminds me a bit of Myrtle Point, OR, where the author of this material spent about six months as a six year old in 1986, while Mother Janet served as assistant editor at the Myrtle Point Herald.

After passing that Sinclair Station by a mile or so, we found a spot with an amply wide shoulder to pull off, and reversed course back northward, passing back through Ash Springs and Crystal Springs again (minor nothingburger, by Eugene, OR standards, ghost towns). We then turned northward onto Nevada State Route 318, bypassing the famed “Extraterrestrial Highway”, also known as Nevada State Route 375, heading Southwest to Rachel (Yes, the fabled little hamlet of Area 51 fame, which was also the fictional backdrop of the Blacksite Area 51 game by Midway, that the author played back in 2007, on XBOX 360), Warm Springs, and Tonopah. If we hadn't had prior plans to go north, it would have made sense to return to Yerington this way, but we did, have prior plans, and we did not, go back that way, that was. Maybe next time, assuming there will be a next time. It is foolish and arrogant to assume something as abstract and distant as that. We live in a nuclear age, a whole world can be undone with a button push.

We pressed northward on Nevada State Route 318, passing through Hiko, NV, population 120, elevation 3,869, about 6 miles north from the Crystal Springs junction with Nevada State Route 375 and US Highway 93. Hiko is a small agrarian community, nestled in the Tonopah Basin, which is a transitional area between the Mojave Desert and Great Basin Regions, which once upon a time, during it's silver mining heyday of the 1860's, had been the County Seat of Lincoln County, before being replaced by Pioche, it's present day seat, in 1871, oddly the the year before Francois LA Pioche killed himself for financial reasons. Not much remains of the old town, other than it's original cemetery, the old ore processing mill, and a derelict brick building that had been their General Store.

We then proceeded about 80 long, desolate miles northward on Nevada State Route 318, it was good that we had tanked up on gas in Caliente that morning, for that reason, this actually seemed to us, way more “desolate” than “America's Loneliest” US Highway 50 was. After weaving through some low-slung, rocky, and tumbleweed filled canyons after passing Hiko earlier, as well as spending about 15-20 minutes stuck behind some slow moving semi-trucks and Winnebagos (this much waiting would kill Uncle, but in my experience, about eighty percent of life is waiting, and the other twenty percent action, not the other way around, those who cannot wait are just fit to be tied), the terrain started to open up again, and after a series of alternating drops and rises, we eventually crossed from Lincoln County back into White Pine County, the County with Ely in it, where we had been the day before.

About halfway through this 80 mile jog, we stopped at the Wayne E Kirch Wildlife Management Area, near Shingle Peak to the east, which lucky for us, just so happened to have restrooms, as we were starting to be in need at that point. Since it seemed to be “the only place with a restroom” in that whole 80 mile stretch, we had to wait our turn, in spite of there being three or four different sets of restrooms. As we waited our turn, I indulged in some more Powerade and Menthol Cigarettes (Shame, Shame) and watched a passing assortment of young couples, families with kids, and grubby looking truckers (I “are” a grubby person too, not judging), as well as taking note of a scary and vicious looking Rattlesnake Warning Sign, taking care to not go sticking my hands into wastebaskets or around corners for hoots and giggles, as well as seeing an actual real Nevada Dust Devil (small dirt tornado) brewing on the western horizon.

After negotiating the second stretch of 40 miles, where the tumbleweed canyons had finally given way to rolling high desert hills of pinion pine and juniper, we came upon Lund, NV, population 280, elevation 5,580, about 10 miles south from the junction with US Highway 6, which merges with US Highway 50 going into Utah. Lund was named for Anthon H Lund (1844-1921), a Danish Immigrant who came to the US when he was 12, with his maternal grandmother, as his mother had died when he was young, and his father was previously occupied in a War in Germany, somehow ended up being adopted and raised by the Latter Day Saints Church, and went from being a simple telegraph operator for Brigham Young in Salt Lake City, to becoming a high level Priest and Councilor in the Church.

Much to his credit, Anthon Lund was one of the few high level Mormon men to keep a singular, monogamous wife, at a time when polygamy (the controversial, and now illegal practice of taking multiple, or also known as plural wives) was the norm and official Church policy. The land that comprises the town of Lund was granted to the Church by the US Government in exchange for their property seizures in the 1887 Edmunds-Tucker Act, which sought to ban the practice of polygamy and reclaim some lands that had been taken either by fraud, or open warfare with the US Army, during the territory skirmishes that had happened during the early expansionist phase of the Church under Brigham Young, some 20 years earlier. The Latter Day Saints Church still maintains a full Ward (a community unit) in Lund, as of present writing.

After driving slowly (and carefully) through the tiny hamlet of Lund, obeying their posted 25 mile per hour traffic limit, as Mother Janet still retained a touch of her old “Mormonphobia” from her incident of nearly being abducted by a couple of Fundamentalist Mormon Missionaries back in Lakeside in 1984, and did not wish for us to be stopped or accosted by any “Weird Fundamentalist” Mormon Policemen, we put Lund into our rear view mirror and did not look back.

We made way to return to Ely, NV, following Nevada State Route 318 the last 10 miles from Lund, and merging eastward onto US Highway 6, winding our way up and down some more rolling high desert hills of pinion pine and juniper, and passing a couple of old sun faded billboards for the local brothels in Ely. We dropped into Ely long enough to eat, and we tanked up at a Union 76 Station, then got back onto US Highway 93, going northward to McGill, NV, about 10 miles north of Ely.

McGill, NV, population 1,148, elevation 6,204, began as a cattle ranch, in the Steptoe Valley, established by John Cowger who acquired water rights there in 1872. In 1886, Cowger was bought out by land speculators William Lyons and William McGill, and in 1891, a Post Office was built there, the place now known as McGill Ranch. In 1906, the regional copper mining company, Nevada Consolidated Copper and the local copper mining company, Cumberland and Ely Mining Corporation formed a strategic partnership to make use of the local water source as a coolant for their planned smelter operation, thus forming the Steptoe Valley Smelting and Mining Company.

That year, about 9 miles of aqueducts were built to pipe water from Duck Creek into the smelter, and the smelter construction was completed in 1908. The town was initially called “Smelter” for the smelter operation, before taking the name McGill, for the McGill Ranch that it had been built on. Copper Production in McGill went into full boom mode starting in 1910, when the town grew from about 1,000 residents, up to 2,000, then from 2,000 to about 3,000 in 1920. In 1932, with Copper Production beginning to lag a bit and lose steam, the Steptoe Valley Smelting and Mining Company operation was bought out by Kennecott Utah Mining Corporation, along with the rest of Nevada Consolidated Copper that had owned it.

The population and Copper Production would mostly hold steady at a small trickle for the next 50 years, until 1983, when the bottom fell out of the copper market and ore quality also took a sharp nosedive, Kennecott Utah Mining Corporation made the tactical decision to both close and demolish the mine, so as to not waste any more company time or resources in continuing to work a mine that had long since played out. As the Kennecott Mine was largely the main employer in McGill, about two-thirds of the 3,000 packed up and left when their jobs were gone, bringing McGill's population back to it's present level, and thus returning it back to it's more agricultural roots.

With McGill, and another chunk of history behind us, we continued northward up US Highway 93. The area here was much like the mountain ringed, sagebrush filled rangeland we had traversed on our way down to Pioche, the night before, but being further north, there was somewhat less dirt and more greenery and in spite of being August, some rather small foggy unmelted snow caps in the mountains there. On the west side of US Highway 93, was Northern Nevada's fabled Ruby Mountain Range, something Mother Janet and I had seen briefly from the other direction in Elko, back on our 2007 visit.

Cherry Creek, NV population 72, elevation 6,130, about 30 miles north of McGill, in Steptoe Valley, on US Highway 93, for all intents and purposes, could presently be classified as a Ghost Town though it was being kept as a State Park when we stopped briefly to visit, as a bit of a “make-up exercise” for not visiting the Great Basin National Park the day before. It sits on White Pine County Road 21, which had formerly been Nevada State Route 489, and formerly Nevada State Route 35, until about 1993, when the State abdicated maintenance jurisdiction of the road to White Pine County. Cherry Creek is about 8 miles west from US Highway 93.

The reason I even stop to mention Cherry Creek, NV, is that as small as it might be today, it had once been something much larger and greater 150 years ago. Cherry Creek is nestled into the foothills of the Cherry Creek Range to the west and faces the Schell Creek Range to the east, which are the defining borders of the long, narrow Steptoe Valley. The old Pony Express route used to run through Egan Canyon, a few miles south of Cherry Creek. In the early 1860's, early settlers found the area to be ripe with multiple gold and silver deposits. The community was officially founded in 1872, when two prospectors from the nearby Egan Canyon, staked claim to the “Tea Cup” Deposits, which were rich with both gold and silver, the population grew to 400 residents by the next year. However, by the next year after that, 1874, a lot of the original claims from just two years before were already beginning to dry up, and a lot of the mines and ore processing mills went with them, though the town managed to slog along on life support for about six years, until hitting it's second, and very humongous boom in the year 1880.

By 1882, having located several million dollar's worth gold and silver deposits, the population of the town had mysteriously exploded to 7,800 residents, which was nearly twenty times it's original figure of 400, although historical and census records kept at the time (this was also about the time the Government began it's modern day practice of census taking and population tracking) had suggested about 6,000, or about three-fourths of that number were temporary transient (not a nice word, but that's what they were) mine workers that had come in from out-of-state, not local people. Even so, a rather sizable coterie of side businesses, including no fewer than 20 saloons, several restaurants, a livery stable, a blacksmith's shop, a Wells Fargo Telegraph Station, and a stagecoach line running west to Toana over in Elko County, had cropped up in the wake of this new big mining boom.

However in 1883, just one short year later, the town once again hit a major hardship with a second and more momentous economic crash. This new momentous economic crash proved to be a swift and decisive death blow to both the town's population levels and it's core economic resources, which had been mining and little else, all the previously mentioned side businesses had been solely dependent on there being mining activity in the area, so naturally, when the mining went, so did the side businesses, as the miners were basically their only customers. The second, and most decisive collapse of Cherry Creek was capped off in 1888, when a fire had broken out and gutted most of the downtown area and it's businesses.

By the time the next Census was taken in 1890, the town's population was logged at being a mere 350 residents, actually 50 heads less than what had been Cherry Creek's starting figure in 1872, just 18 years before. The reason I even stop to mention, what are otherwise boring population figures for Cherry Creek, is to best illustrate the typical “boom and bust” cycle of mining towns, how the populations of those places are even more ethereal and volatile than other forms of resource extraction based economy, such as timber, fishing, and agriculture, with fossil fuels running maybe a close second to mining, as far as being a “here today, gone tomorrow” flash in the pan type of industry.

Rebuilding efforts in Cherry Creek were again slowed by two more minor fires in the business district in 1901 and 1904. However, the next year in 1905, Cherry Creek once again was spurred by a bit of renewal and regrowth, when new gold and silver deposits were discovered, but they were very small and few between, and only at best comparable to the little boom of 1872, as opposed to the much bigger one that came in 1880. Cherry Creek would patiently slug along at a snail's pace for about another 40 years until the post World War II years of the late 1940's, maintaining a few hundred residents, and very small, but steady ore production.

Cherry Creek has been in steady decline in the seventy years since, though it still once in a blue moon will continue to stir the interest of the local mining companies, but it is now clear at this point in time that ore production will most likely not again reach 1880's levels in my lifetime. It's total production level since 1872 is estimated to be around $20 million dollars, but the bulk of that activity occurred around the two big boom years of 1872 and 1880, with the minor “trickle down” (I hate trickle down economics) starting in 1905. Up until as recently as 2010, the old Barrel Saloon remained open as the “local watering hole”, however it too had to adjust with the slowing times, and finally folded after having been around for about 130 years. A museum, an old single room schoolhouse, and the long shuttered Cherry Creek Barrel Saloon are still open for tourism (so far as I know in 2014), and maintained by the Nevada State Park System.

Now moving along toward Currie, NV. We went about 15 miles Northeast from the Cherry Creek turnoff on the main US Highway 93, until reaching our first junction, where we stayed with the  main US Highway 93, going Northwest, bypassing the alternative US Highway 93 that was a more direct route to the ghost town of Cobre and West Wendover on the Utah border off to the Northeast. From there, we went 12 miles north to Currie, in which time, the terrain became a lot more wide open after having left the Steptoe Valley at the junction.

As for Currie, there's not a whole lot to say about it, other than that it presently holds about 20 total residents, two of it's former residents who now live in Utah, happen to own the little rundown downtown area, and are looking to sell, but it's somewhat of a “closed deal”, and you won't find it on Zillow or Trulia. Though the town sure seems dead, and probably should be classified a ghost town like Cobre (Spanish for Copper) on the Alt 93, it still has a Northern Nevada Railway Depot (and highway crossing, with signals and crossbars), Currie Elementary School, in operation by Elko County School District, a Nevada Department Of Transportation building and the Lear Ranch.

Currie was named for a rancher by the name of Joseph Currie, who built his ranch there in 1885. The big heyday of Currie, and the ghost town of Cobre on the Alt 93, was from about 1906 to 1941 when the rail line served roughly 4.6 million passengers, when the McGill-Ely area copper mining operation first hit pay dirt in 1906. However, when Kennecott Utah shuttered and demolished the Ely mine in 1983, the McGill smelter went with it, then service to Cobre, whose Post Office had shut after 50 years of service in 1956 stopped, then service to Currie was terminated, literally the next day. Suffice to say, mining seems to be a very big fucking deal in Nevada, at least the northern part of it. Without it, nothing else much seems to be able to go.

Moving along, we passed the first turnoff going west, then took the second one, the first being Nevada State Route 229, which turned south and joined up with Nevada State Route 767, which led to Ruby Valley and Shanty Town, the second one that we took west, being Nevada State Route 232, then we managed to spot the famous Hole In The Mountain natural landmark in the Ruby Mountains from   Nevada State Route 232, about 3 miles out from it. Hole In The Mountain is a spot at 11,311 feet in the East Humboldt Range, near the Elko-Wells area, where there is what appears to be a hollowed out “window” or hole in the actual mountain peak. Supposedly, it can also be seen from about 10-12 miles away from the I-80 Freeway in the north, but not recommended to attempt while driving unless one wants to meet with a fiery wreck at a high Freeway speed (75 miles per hour in Nevada).

We then followed Nevada State Route 232 back to US Highway 93, passing the Ruby Mountain Brewing Company (an item perhaps of interest to Willamette Valley area Microbrew Fanatics, but of zero interest to me and Mother Janet, as we had many years of recovery behind us) and Chimney Rock, before crossing the railroad tracks again and following the final 6 miles into Wells, NV, where we once again encountered serious car trouble upon entering. There was a loud groaning sound in the steering column on the dashboard, and suddenly without warning, we had no more Power Steering, and a big long stretch of I-80 Freeway ahead of us in order to get back to the Yerington/Silver Springs/Fallon area, where our property we wanted to buy awaited us.

Mother Janet and I made the quick and dicey decision to press on to Elko, NV, after tanking up at a gas station in Wells, as they were a busy little truck stop town of only 1,000 people, whereas Elko had about 16,000, this was one of those times we figured it would pay to “go where there was people”, even though we had spent the better part of 14 years living as anti-social hermits in near total isolation, and went against our default nature. We had also figured that if we tried getting our thing fixed in little dibby Wells, that we could well end up waiting a week or longer on our fix, due to the bad combination of it both being a tiny town and a busy truck stop whose mechanic services probably served scores of commercial truckers each week, so we sort of figured we most likely wouldn't even be able to get our minivan looked at for several days at least, which was the same problem we had run into back in Roseburg, OR.

Gritting our teeth, and turning westward onto the I-80 Freeway, with a refilled gasoline tank and a now busted and empty power steering fluid tank and the wimpy worthless steering wheel to go with it, we pushed the last 60 miles onto Elko, NV, with the sun starting to dip toward the western horizon, it was now 6 pm. As we nervously tried to keep the car running straight on the freeway, we took in the nothing short of fabulous sights we had remembered before on our 2007 trip, the wide open Humboldt River Valley with the Ruby Mountains to the south, strangely ripe little bits of green river-fed grass to accompany the sagebrush and tumbleweed, along with loose scatterings of pinion pines. For Nevada, it sure as heck reminded us a lot of Western Oregon with that big display of greenery. The High Desert (and frosty snowy winters that go with it) is sure a far cry from the Low Desert of the Mojave, which is how most popular stereotypes and Hollywood Myths view the desert. Let me tell you right now, it isn't all like that. We passed Alazon, Deeth, Halleck, Elburz, Osino and Ryndon as we completed our hairy power steering-less course to Elko.

We sought out an exit on the west side of town, hoping to land us near the downtown area (and near the Alano Club so we could catch some meetings while we were stuck) without having to do too much extra driving, so that we could park the car as soon as possible, for the sake of our and other people's safety. We entered in on the very western edge of Elko, passing a McDonald's and a Taco Bell, and the beginnings of their Industrial Area. We passed by a couple motels that appeared to be either overbooked or overpriced ($99 a night) before finding one that was just about right downtown near the Elko Post Office and Library, the Centre Motel, run by a kind friendly Indian (East Indian, not Native American) proprietor for $72 a night, which was about $20 more than we would have liked, but certainly better than $99, and less “Nevada Tacky” looking than the Thunderbird next door, which had a pool that we didn't really care about, since we weren't big swimmers anyway.

After settling into our room, which oddly was a corner room on the lower floor, backed right into a hill, so we surmised being that well sheltered, the room would be well insulated from the heat in the summer, and would keep warm in the winter, but of course might be difficult to escape from in the event of a fire. Luckily, Travis was a good and respectful motel guest and took his Menthol Cigarettes either out to the car (before it got put in the shop) or the parking lot, which was plenty roomy, so long as it wasn't overbooked, we sought out some dinner before making our agenda for the next day. We went to the Stockman's Casino And Restaurant (Now owned and run by the Ramada Hotel Chain), about 2-3 blocks from Centre Motel, and loaded up on a Caesar Steak Salad. Once again Mother Janet bellyached and complained (which wasn't usually her style, she was more often the “suck it up buttercup” and “quit your whining” type) about lousy casino food, and this time I sort of agreed with her. The bits of steak seemed kind of old, stale and recycled, as did the baked potato that came with the salad. Of course, that didn't stop us from going back twice more during the four days we were stranded there, as it was relatively cheap for restaurant food and very close by to our motel and convenient.

We then returned to our room at Centre Motel, and crashed for the night. We got up at about 10 am and went and got our second meal at the Stockman, the usual Steak & Eggs, which were less than impressive, as expected, then walked past the Library and Post Office, and sought out the Alano Club, about 6-8 blocks Southeast from there, skirting past the ill-reputed “Brothel Block”, near the railroad tracks and the river, which had about 3-4 working brothels there, largely featuring “young, fresh-faced Asian girls”, sorta makes one wonder a bit about their “street legal” status when the establishment makes such a big deal about them being “young”, along with a small roach looking motel that we surmised the “girls”, however old they were, used to entertain the clients. There are plenty of years in your life to indulge in that sort of thing, they don't all have to be between 18 and 21. Anyway, we went about 4 more blocks past that to the east to find the Alano Club, our noon meeting, and much needed spiritual nourishment.

After the meeting, which was good and refreshing, we wandered yet another 3-4 blocks east from there to find a nice good natured mechanic, who lucky for us said he could probably get us up and running in 3 days for about $400, which was a boon for us, since we were hoping to not be stranded for too much longer than that, we went back to Centre Motel, by way of Roy's Market, which was something of a hybrid between a convenience store and a full supermarket, collecting some more bottles of Powerade and some Ice Cream Bars, then Mother Janet left me at the room with the TV and the magazines we had been hauling around with us, after we emptied our junk from the minivan, so we'd have access to it while it was in the shop, and she took it away.

We had a few bizarre, crazy, and interesting encounters during our time in Elko. On our first night, on the main drag, Idaho Street, we saw some crazy, possibly drunk or gacked out on meth dude that was blasting loud head banger music from loudspeakers that were attached to his motorcycle, so loudly that it “raped” our ears, it was that bad. Then the next night, on our way back to Centre Motel from our meeting, we witnessed a rather ill tempered (oh no, I don't know anyone like that) redneck driver in some classy old Cadillac or T-Bird, wasn't done “Texas Style” with the Longhorn Cattle Skull on the hood, but could have just as easily been done that way, who viciously tried to run the driver in front of them off the road because they were impatient and mad at them for stopping to let us cross the street. A little chill went through our blood, as we later realized, if the good natured “Slowpoke” hadn't intervened on our behalf, she vicious psycho redneck would have been the one in front, with nothing stopping them from running us down, simply because we pissed them off by slowing them down.

We had also witnessed a couple of rather bad fights nearly break out among the AA crowd there in Elko. In one instance, a couple of “Big Wheel Spiritual Guru” types (AA does have those), got into a yelling and dick wagging match, which eventually dissipated and lost energy. In another, a sleazy young con man, who still reeked of alcohol, and had been inappropriately pushing himself at the ladies, got in the face of, and tried picking a fight with another young fellow, who was emotionally hurting, and sore from his divorce with his longtime wife, and being somewhat quick tempered himself, he very nearly took the bait, and struck the drunk little scam artist shitbag, but luckily he had a more cool headed friend on hand, to hold him back from striking the dude, who in my opinion, probably deserved to be hit, he was being a total disrespectful, irritating, annoying jackass, but legally speaking, once you hit somebody, provoked or not, unless they hit you first, it becomes assault, and you run the risk of going to jail. I am not a lawyer, but that is my best “street smart” read on physical encounters with aggressors.

Then on the last day before we left, after we had our minivan fixed up, and back on the road, we also had another big chest thumping “I'll fuck you up, f_gg_t.” type of psycho redneck (complete with Triple “K” Ranch and Confederate Rebel Flags) rip right out of a bank parking lot, and nearly clobber us head on (head ons can be very bad, even at low speeds, if the electric spark in your headlights or car battery ignite the gasoline, if your gas tank gets ruptured), with his big 3/4 ton Silver Dodge Ram Pickup. How my poor old 64 year old mother and I became “f_gg_ts” that needed to be run over, is way beyond me, but I surmise that's about where his crazy cuckoo mind was at.

We also had a couple of bizarre and awkward social encounters during our stay there. We had met one young couple from Salt Lake City, we surmised, probably Mormon, though we did not know for a fact; not everybody from Utah or Idaho is Mormon, but at least the slight majority probably are, since it is where the religion finally took hold and spread, once the Mormon Pilgrims came westward on their two step journey from New York, then Illinois, in the early days with founder Joseph Smith. Anyway, they were rather quick to explain to us that “ELKO” stood for “EVIL LAND KEEP OUT”, and were trying to resettle up in Twin Falls, ID with the young lady's folks, since they were somewhat fearful for their safety, and were fed up with the “greed, political corruption, and rampant crime” that had overrun Elko, NV.

We also had a nice fellow, maybe about 5-10 years younger, who took us out to lunch at The Coffee Cup, which is a nice homey little family style cafe, where he fed us a bit of the back story on why Elko had become so hostile and crazy in the last seven years, since we had visited before, when we had left there with the rather pleasant, relaxing, and charming perspective on the place, having romanticized the splendidly beautiful Ruby Mountains and Humboldt River Valley. Just comes to show, and you can quote me on this “Looks are often deceiving, and no matter how much intel on a town you gather from library books or the Internet, the only way you ever really know a town is to put your own personal boots on the ground and spend some time there.”

Anyway, “foolish, ignorant, non-cultured, non-politically correct” Travis made a bad verbal faux pas with this gentleman, when he referred to a couple of Mormon Missionaries as “Mormons” causing the poor fellow to wince, tighten up, and become a bit uncomfortable. Apparently, Travis did not know that they usually prefer to simply be called “LDS”, rather than Mormon, just as some Democrats (perhaps maybe the more honest ones with integrity) would rather be called “Progressive”, than “Liberal”, since there are some unfortunate social contexts, in which calling a spade a spade, or shit sandwich a shit sandwich might not be the best social strategy, honesty without compassion is brutality, but on the other hand, the Author's Mother was very vehement and rigid on people “not lying or being phonies”, or “sugarcoating a critical truth” under the guise of political correctness, politeness, or sparing one's tender ego (this applies to the ladies as much as men, they have egos too). Hopefully, Travis learned his lesson from this scathing embarrassment and will keep his mouth shut and let others lead the conversation when he is engaged in social contexts that are unfamiliar to him. But he won't stop being honest solely on account of your feelings, either.

So yes, on our way out of Elko, Mother Janet and I had a tasty Lamb Chop dinner at the Star Basque Restaurant in Downtown Elko. Mother Janet was rather fascinated by Basque (French-Spanish People of Andorra, in Southern Europe), as her grandfather, on her father's side, Harold Pinot Smyth (1900-1959, died of a heart attack shoveling six feet of snow, during a Seattle winter, at demanding wife Ruth's behest) had been Basque. We enjoyed the meal, and it was a very educational and emotionally enriching experience for us. We also paid a visit to the Northeastern Nevada Historical Museum at the east end of Elko, where we took in a lot of the old Cowboy and Miner exhibits, and the like, and Travis loaded up on a couple pounds of volcanic rock samples from their gift shop. We were grateful to have had this particular experience, as back in our 2007 trip, we had really wanted to visit the Humboldt County Museum over in Winnemucca, NV, about 120 miles to the west of Elko on I-80, but we had been shut out due to bad timing. We then took our minivan back to Centre Motel, for one last night's stay, and rounded up our things from the room as we had done back in Roseburg, OR. I also later read in Elko's Newspaper, that there had been a violent stabbing incident in the Stockman's Casino, just one day after we had eaten there, chilling. So far as the Author knows, that victim hadn't died at press time, but he did not follow up on that case. Moving onward, forward, and finally, finally out of Elko, NV, after four too-long stressful days. Next place please.

We began our much awaited exodus of Elko, by following Nevada State Route 535, which is basically just the westernmost portion of Idaho St in Downtown Elko, that comes off of the I-80 Freeway, east to South Fifth Street, then following it south over the bridge and the security fence along the Humboldt River and over the Humboldt River, onto Nevada State Route 227, the Lamioille Highway, and into Spring Creek, NV, population 12,361, elevation 5,659.

Spring Creek, NV began back in the 1970's, not 1870's, by oil baron CV Wood of McCullough Oil Company, it and the town of Datyon near Silver Springs on US Highway 50, are both relatively new “bedroom communities” that grew from older towns as the entire State Of Nevada became more developed with the big Casino Industry Boom that began in the late 1950's/early 1960's, yes back when the Mafia, The Democratic Party Of Nevada, and good old Frank Sinatra and the famed “Rat Pack” ran the Nevada Gambling Scene. It sits in a relatively flat open valley area between the Elko Hills to the Northwest and the Ruby Mountains to the Southeast. To the Southwest is Huntington Valley and the South Fork of the Humboldt River, directly to the north is the Main Branch of the Humboldt River.

The community was originally developed in three distinct, yet interconnected sections. The western section, at the base of Elko Hills, is comprised of Spring Creek Post Office, a shopping center plaza, or just call it strip mall, and we're good, and a supermarket. The combined grade school/middle school/high school campus, grades 1-12 (the school campus in Silver Springs on US Highway 50, seemed to have about this same approximate arrangement from what I observed there, all the schools literally facing and within a stone's throw of one another) is about one mile east from there.

The central section of the community is about yet another mile east from where the main school campuses are is comprised of a park and an artificial marina style lake, the Spring Creek Marina, and an 18-hole golf course, with a clubhouse. Near to that, is an outdoor sports complex, and a second grade school (the town doubled in size from 5,000 to 10,000 residents between 1990 and 2000, probably necessitating a need for a second grade school). The southern section of the community appears from what I can tell, to be a mostly residential kind of area built largely around an indoor sports complex, known as “The Horse Palace”, and is more or less fitted flush with the foothills of the Ruby Mountains.

Desiring to avoid the traffic hassle and busy social hoopla of Downtown Spring Creek, Mother Janet elected to bypass the downtown area, Mother Janet, by definition, was a hermit, as am I, and simply did not like crowds, big cities, or busy places, too much extra drama, distraction, and chaos, it's safe to say we aren't Extroverts. More simply put, private, not public people, but I am willing to temporarily suspend my shyness and Introversion to share my story with you in writing, so please consider the great bargain I offer you today.

Anyway, Mom did the “End Around”, (which more Extrovert type people denounce as “chickenshit” and “cowardly”) rather than the Direct Approach and sailed about 4 miles past the Nevada State Route 227/228 Junction in the western section of Spring Creek, and meandered Southeast onto Pleasant Valley Road, which skirts the southern edge of the southern section of Spring Creek and charts a direct path around the Ruby Mountain Foothills, complete with all the curves and squiggles. We neatly came out at the eastern edge of the central section of Spring Creek, and turned east onto Nevada State Route 227, then going another mile and a half to Lamoille, NV.

Lamoille, NV, population 105, elevation 5,889, is basically considered the official “gateway to the Ruby Mountains”. Mother Janet and I had, of course, long since decided against settling here, as the property prices, we felt were too far out of our range, since the only place we had seen available when we looked, commanded a price tag in excess of $300,000, which was about three times beyond what we could reasonably afford on Grandpa Norm's inheritance. Perhaps the National Forest Service Scenic Byway, leading into the famed Helicopter Ski Lift tourist trap area artificially skewed the value well beyond our reach, which tends to happen in popular ski places, such as Sisters OR, Grass Valley CA, Lake Tahoe, CA, Aspen and Telluride, CO (I do recall some stuck up snobby lady thumbing her nose at my plaid shorts I was wearing there back on our 2001 trip, it is quite amazing what an excess of income and wealth can do to some people's attitudes, spoil them faster than a wet, soggy, slug ridden compost heap, something Mother Janet was familiar with as an avid gardener, what the fuck was the big deal anyway, they were just plaid shorts, albeit with some tiny paint stains on them, perhaps because they were old and cheap, and didn't have the “fresh store bought” new short look to them. Needless to say that person kind of ruined Telluride for me, if there were any nice people there, I sure didn't meet them that day.)

A fast history briefer on Lamoille, NV. Apparently, a group of passing immigrants on the great California Trail, originating in the Nebraska area of the Great Plains, and ending in California, had found the grass on the main trail, better known as the Fort Hall Route, which more directly followed the concourse of the Humboldt river, to have been overgrazed by previous travelers, and didn't have enough grass to feed their wagon pulling oxen, so they turned a bit south, and found a parallel side trail, also used by the local Shoshone Indian Tribe, beginning at the Starr Valley near Wells and Deeth to the east, skirted the base of both the small East Humboldt Range (Where Hole In The Mountain Is), and the Ruby Mountains to the south of them, curving Southwest. These Immigrants found a large grassy valley, the Lamoille Valley, spanning from Elko Mountain and the Elko Hills in the Northwest, to the East Humboldt Range and the Ruby Mountains, in the east and south.

In the year 1865, the same year US Republican President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, and the Civil War came to an end, two of these Immigrants, John Walker and Thomas Waterman, having made a long arduous trek clear from the Northeastern United States, landed here and rested their oxen, and being rather travel weary (it happens even to the best of us, life on the road is both physically and mentally draining for a human being), decided to make a go of staying here. Waterman dubbed the place “Lamoille”, as an homage to his native Vermont. Walker built the old Cottonwood Hotel, the General Store and Blacksmithy in 1868, the settlement itself taking the temporary nickname “The Crossroads”.

The pair would continue operating “The Crossroads” as a resting area, wagon fixing station (think 1860's mechanic shop), and supply depot for the remainder of their natural lives (so far as the Author knows). Later, the old Cottonwood gave way to the 20-room Lamoille Hotel, and a Milk Creamery, Flour Mill, and Saloon/Dance Hall were built here, but over time, these buildings also fell to rack and ruin, and were lost in the pages of history. All that remains of the old town is the fabled Church of the Crossroads, which was built in 1907, and remains in service today. In the present tense, there are local US Post Office services, and Pine Lodge Dinner House, and O'Carroll's Bar And Grill, to refuel your tummy if you're in Lamoille and starving. That's about it for Lamoille, a very beautiful pristine natural place, very reminiscent of a Swiss Hamlet in the Alps of Europe, but literally “too rich for our poor Coos Bay blood”.

Mother Janet and I, having had a fast historical and cultural refresher on Lamoille, then retraced our steps, back along Pleasant Valley Road, coming out on Nevada State Route 228, about 2 miles south of the official city line of Spring Creek. We turned left, or south, from our current position, and set course for Jiggs, NV, roughly 17 miles south from our position, at the far end of Nevada State Route 228. It was now about 2 pm.

Along the way, we passed the South Fork Humboldt Reservoir State Park off to the right, a beautiful large man made reservoir (about 20 times the size of Spring Creek Marina, back in town, which we'd skipped in the interest of keeping a good pace) and local water sports (no piss jokes please) recreation area, which somewhat reminded me of Floras Lake, near Port Orford, OR, back on the South Oregon Coast where we had come from, which that spot, back there, had been a popular destination for windsurfers.

About two more miles on the right, was the entrance to the Te-Moak Shoshone Indian Reservation Area, nestled against the Ruby Mountains, with the tiny community, about 50 people, of Lee, NV, founded in 1941, sitting dead center of it, about three miles off of the 228. As we were not card carrying tribal members, and had no official business there, we dared not pass. About this Lee, NV, it must not be mixed up with another Lee, NV, which is officially listed as a ghost town, near the California Border in the Mojave Region down in Nye County.

After another five miles or so, of soaking in the sights of rolling pinion pine/juniper hills, and the up-and-down road that went with it, on the left, we passed the Lee-Jiggs Campground, on the right, we had also passed the Zunino-Jiggs Reservoir Area, which also comes with a campground, this one we did not see passing in either direction, it's about one-tenth the size of the South Fork Humboldt Reservoir that we had seen earlier, and roughly twice the size of the Spring Creek Marina back in town that we'd skipped before.

As for Jiggs itself, it sits roughly 30 miles south of Elko. It had once upon a time, been a year round camping spot for Shoshone Indians that were gathering pinion pine nuts for their tribe. The process of actually naming the community, which never really grew into what could be classified as an actual town, was kind of weird. It had previously had the names, Mound Valley, Skelton (Reminiscent of the Red Skelton Comedian/Clown Fellow), and Hylton, but unfortunately, all these names for the place seemed to all being used at once, and the local residents were utterly and completely unable to decide on one of the three, so much for a Democratic Process.

As the US Post Office had plans to build a new station there on December 08, 1918, a group of area ranchers drummed up a short list of names, presumably excluding the original three, since no one was able choose among those ones, the seemingly odd, yet catchy name Jiggs came up, in reference to a currently running newspaper comic strip character who was the husband of Maggie, in the “Bringing Up Father” series. The name mysteriously somehow was able to stick, in spite of previous contentious disagreement.

Jiggs was featured in a 1965 TV Advertisement for the classically popular hippie vehicle, the Volkswagen Bus, in which the Ad showed the entire town at the time, which was 9 people, and a dog, all fitting into the bus. Nevada Governors Edward Carville and Louis R Bradley, as well as famed Cowboy Poet Bruce Douglas “Waddie” Mitchell all can truthfully claim to have once hung their hat in tiny Jiggs (which is even tinier than rhyming Biggs, OR, a truck stop on the Columbia River Gorge, which had 30 officially listed residents, when me and Father made use of their Best Western back in 1995).

Jiggs was also the fictional base of operations for the “King Fisher” series, created by Dentist and Western Novelist, Pearl Zane Grey (1872-1939). Jiggs' officially listed Census Population as of the year 2000, was listed at 2 residents. That's right, 2. Less than half a hand's count. All that remains of Jiggs today is a dusty old bar, which still seems to be in use, a long discarded single-room schoolhouse, and a State of Nevada historical marker, honoring Army Officer, Politician, and Adventurer, John C Fremont (1813-1890), who had discovered the area in 1845. Well that's it for Jiggs, time for me and Mother Janet to “Jig on outta there.”

Having spent roughly an hour in our weird junket to Jiggs, it was now about 3 pm. We went about retracing our steps back up Nevada State Route 228 and Nevada State Route 227, taking care to “skirt the edge of” Spring Creek, and not get “sucked into the center” of it once more, and followed the 227 back over the hill and across the bridge into Downtown Elko. We then followed Nevada State Route 535, also known as West Idaho Street, about 3 miles westward past the Elko Municipal Airport and back onto the I-80 freeway, managing to cover this roughly 25 miles distance in about half an hour. Then we pressed forth to Carlin, NV, about another 16 miles west, taking in some more of the famous Humboldt River Valley high desert greenery.

We exited south at Exit 282 onto Nevada State Route 221, which quickly turned westward onto Chestnut Street, also known as the old I-80 Freeway, probably before local residents probably complained of the noise and disruption level of freeway traffic and petitioned the State of Nevada to reroute it farther north and away from the town center. Anyway, we followed Chestnut to Twelfth Street, then turned south, then west onto Bush Street (Please, no President Bush Senior or Junior jokes here, I've heard them all, from the totally inane, boring, and witless, to the X-rated pornographic). With that, our fast whirlwind tour of Carlin, NV began in earnest. It is also of brief note that Mother Janet's Second Husband, Michael Edward Williams, had lived and worked here as a Gold Miner back in the 1980's during his first marriage.

Carlin, NV, population 2,368, elevation 4,905, (Nothing to do with famed and acclaimed HBO Comedian George Carlin, 1937-2008), sits roughly 20 miles west of Elko, NV, along the I-80 Freeway Corridor. The town earned it's name from Civil War General William Passmore Carlin, also dubbing the slogan “Where the train stops, and the gold rush begins.” Northwest of it sits the famed Carlin Trend, one of the richest and most productive gold mining areas of Northern Nevada, including the Barrick-Goldstrike site, which employs many people in Wells, Elko, and Carlin, along with several others, which form an oddly shaped curve, when located on a gold miner's map. The Newmont-Battle Mountain Gold Corporation, the second place competitor to Barrick also has an operation here at the Gold Quarry site.

The well known, but albeit controversial Shoshone Medicine Man, John “Rolling Thunder” Pope (1916-1997) made his home here, having come from Oklahoma, which anybody who knows anything, would know that back in the early 1800's, the US Army forcibly “resettled” the bulk of the Eastern States Native Tribes there, briefly working as a brake operator (a rather important job) for the Railroad Company, before becoming both a spiritual and legal advisor to the local Shoshone Tribes. Where the controversy comes in, is that Rolling Thunder was never able to fully verify his Cherokee Heritage from Oklahoma, but the author of this material is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, being possibly distantly removed from that Heritage himself. Seems like less of a fake Native to me than student activist Rachel Dolezal seems like a fake African-American. If I've culturally offended, I apologize for that, but that is my personal opinion.

Also, on the note of trains, the City Of San Francisco Passenger Train had a major derailment off of a bridge near Carlin on August 12, 1939, taking the lives of 24 people and rendering 121 anywhere from slightly to seriously injured. The authorities investigating the crash strongly suspected human caused sabotage, but to this day, have never been able to puzzle out the “who, how, or why” of it, and probably never will, given that it's now been close to 80 years since the incident took place. The train in question was under joint control and management by Chicago and North Western Railway, Southern Pacific (I recall seeing their trains roll by on the tracks, where me and the Smyth Family lived near Lakeside, OR, as a kid), and Union Pacific. Needless to say, a horrible and exacting toll on all the people and families involved.

With our whirlwind tour of Carlin concluded, Mother Janet and I took in the sights of the gas stations, convenience stores, and mom-and-pop type family diners that dotted the main drag along Bush Street before blowing on out of Carlin. Speaking of blowing, or perhaps I should not, we came out onto Nevada State Route 278, coming Southwest, about a mile and a half from Downtown Carlin. On the right, we passed Sharon's Bar & Brothel, which is an older, less well-used establishment, on the left, we passed the more popular and better advertised Dovetail Ranch. Then we went back north to the I-80 Freeway.

We continued westward toward the turnoff to Nevada State Route 306, about 15 miles west from Carlin, looking for some other crazy tiny little town called Beowawe, NV, it was now about 4 pm. We drove about 5 miles south on Nevada State Route 306, seeing a weird mix of floodplain type of farmland, interspersed with sandy hills dotted in sagebrush. We had dropped down about 1,000 feet in elevation, so the overall landscape was back to being somewhat more barren and less greenery than we had seen in the area around Elko.

After taking a brief rest stop, we encountered yet another farm/ranch kind of place that was kind of green, and surrounded by fencing, which further in, had some reddish looking barn buildings, you know, like a farm,but then after that, off to the west, we saw a dirt road that ran parallel with some railroad tracks. We followed this dirt road for about a mile or so, then turned back, after encountering a gate that had been placed by Union Pacific Railroad, and finding that the road literally dead ended right there, and didn't want to get our poor crummy old minivan stuck there, as those kind of vehicles are infamous for low undercarriage clearance, the only thing being worse are those dumb little low rider pickups that the “gangstas” in the cities trot around in.

Our particular minivan, having caught and scraped on Grandmother's steep and rounded driveway when we had come back to Eugene to collect some things we'd stored in her basement when the State had tossed us from my Grandpa Norm's house three years earlier in his Medical Conservatorship Proceedings, something that simply does not happen to families in Europe, because they have Single Payer Health Care there, so the Government has neither the financial incentive, nor the recourse to legally eject the relatives of a deceased person from their house, in order to balance the books with the Medical Providers, since no debt is ever created in the first place. We had also tried going up another dead end road, near the New Gold Nevada Incorporated Offices, that wound it's way up a hill, overlooking the green farmland below, which as it turned out, was being directly fed by the Humboldt River, one of those, you don't know what you're looking at until five minutes after it's gone things. Growing weary of wasting too much time on dead-ends, we returned to Nevada State Route 306, and ultimately the I-80 Freeway. It was now about 4:30 pm.

We followed the I-80 Freeway about 4 more miles west, found another exit that said Beowawe, we took it and turned south again, and saw it put us onto another, somewhat winding, curving dirt road, which followed the direct concourse of the Humboldt River Valley, here the Humboldt had diverged a bit from the the I-80 Freeway, as the terrain got rougher and bumpier, along with the drop in elevation. We passed through the nice green little valley, seeing an assortment of mobile homes, trailers, and simple “A” frame houses, appropriate for High Desert Snowfalls in the winter, some of these places with the telltale redneck survivalist razor wire fence around, with all the junked cars, TV's, laundry machines, and couches, a few may have had the mean, snappy, “have you for dinner if you so much as sneeze or fart anywhere in my direction” dogs, we elected to not investigate too closely.

After about 4 miles, we strangely, from the other side of the river, had seen that same first dead-end go nowhere road with the gate, that had previously stymied us, then we found that this other road, when followed 2 more miles, dumped us back out onto Nevada State Route 306, going back north, into Beowawe, which was in fact, what we had been looking for all along, but stupidly, apparently had grown confused, impatient, stupid, and frustrated (the human emotional condition, even for folks as intelligent as me and Mother Janet, and all our love of scouting maps), and had simply not gone far enough down Nevada State Route 306, the first time we had turned off there. Was that weird and annoying, or what?

Anyway, here comes yet another Travis refresher course on Beowawe, before we go. It turns out that the real reason we could not “find” Beowawe, is because it's not a “real town”, or even a ghost town, as it is often erroneously referred to in travel guides and Internet Map Sites, but an industrial area. As you might have previously guessed from the New Gold Nevada Incorporated Offices, that we had unknowingly passed earlier, it is another gold mining area, but also a former hotbed of Geothermal Geysers, which was more recently harnessed into a Geothermal Energy Plant, which we finally actually saw in plain sight and passed coming at Beowawe coming from the south.

“Beowawe”, is a Paiute Native American Word, for a “gate”. To a casual observer, or layman, the way the hills curve around the valley we had passed earlier, resemble a natural “gate”. The “town”, if there ever was one, was founded in 1868, when the Central Pacific Railroad built their line through there. A few miles east from there, on Pioneer Pass Road is the “Maiden's Grave”, found at the Gravelly Ford site known by immigrants on the old California Trail. A tall cross in the Beowawe Cemetery commemorates the burial of Lucinda Duncan, who perished at Gravelly Ford, in 1863, while traveling the California Trail. Central Pacific Railroad had first noticed the grave near the Humboldt River, when Union Pacific Railroad took that line over in 1906, they relocated the grave to Beowawe Cemetery up the hill from the river, so that they could properly reroute the track in that spot.

The town had hit both it's population and economic peak of 60 residents in 1881, ironically about the same time Cherry Creek, near US Highway 93 experienced a much, much grander, yet still very temporary boom, with a church, school, post office, and general store, having been built in the intervening 13 years. In 1909, with much misplaced premature optimism (don't quiz the author's opinion on positive thinkers) a simple electric power plant was built, but by seven years later, in 1916, the bread crumbs that were still remaining from the old mining boom of 40 years earlier had pretty well withered to nothing, and blew out of there with the high desert wind, along with the bulk of the few remaining residents. No gold, no money, no food, no heating oil, nothing to survive on, out of there. Such is the way of life for the Nevada Miner.

As previously noted, private corporate energy interests have now given the area a bit of a second revival, but do not find it in their best business interests to reopen the area as a civilian settlement. Beowawe now hosts both a Geothermal Power Plant and a Propane Tank Farm, perhaps used to supply propane gas energy and heating companies such as Amerigas and Bimor. In the 1930's, some 20 years after the town had effectively died out, and on the upswing of recovery from the Great Depression, some private companies began surveying the area's geyser hotbed, with photos of the geyser activity, but no serious worthwhile energy studies began in earnest until about 1959.

Flash forward about 25 years to 1986, the modern day Geothermal Plant went online, but as a result of that human activity, two of the geysers went dry and stopped producing steam on the surface, the steam has to go somewhere right, heat rises. Into the plant, clean energy, presto and voila! The Beowawe Plant does resemble somewhat the facility at Fly Geyser, about 20 miles due north of Gerlach in Washoe County of Northwest Nevada (Home of the many years old, infamous, wild and crazy, sex and drugs hedonist's gathering, known as the Burning Man Festival, held every summer), in that both were man-made geysers, but the similarity ends there. The Beowawe Plant was specifically built to be a clean energy operation, Fly Geyser, not the case. The other difference is in the water chemistry, Fly Geyser produces much more Travertine (Yay, a mineral named after me, not.) Deposits, Travertine is liquid Limestone Vapor which leaches and deposits on the surface, if Limestone is present, and the steam geyser wells aren't airtight and solidly capped, which seems to be the case at Fly Geyser. Enough of “Apples To Oranges” comparisons, and onto Battle Mountain for some grub, it's getting late, and we're starving.

We doubled back the 5 miles up to Nevada State Route 306, and returned to the westbound I-80 Freeway at once, and continued westward past the little town places of Rixies and Argenta, noting the further reduced elevation and lack of greenery, between less winter snowfall, and much less direct water feeding from the Humboldt River, with the rockier and rougher terrain, covering about 30 miles in as many minutes. We exited I-80 at Exit 233, onto Nevada State Route 304, which is Hill Top Road merged with Front Street, the main drag of Battle Mountain, and arrived at Ming's Dynasty Chinese Diner, with grumbling stomachs in tow, trying to mentally blot out a very horrific and tragic accident scene that we had seen about halfway there, where the driver of a mid-sized pickup truck had run himself under (maybe drunk and/or going too fast) the back end of a semi truck. We surmised that he most likely had become deader than a doorknob strawberry jam, as they were still using both a forklift and a winch (not wench) to pry the wreck of the pickup, whose driver side was 100 percent mashed in steering column driven through the back window, body previously removed, but still plenty of blood and little bits of skin left on the seat. Dead, Dead, Dead. Pure Carnage. Isn't life in Nevada exciting? It was now about 5:45 pm.

Battle Mountain, NV, population 3,635, elevation 4,511, even after all these years, is still officially an unincorporated township, yet still has a functioning government and is the acting County Seat of Lander County (Austin, NV, which we passed through earlier, also is part of this county, back down at it's southern end). Originally, it was the home base of the Northern Paiute and Shoshone Tribes. The area was first discovered by pioneering fur trappers back in the 1820's and 1830's. By 1845, it had developed into a stopping off point for westward bound immigrants on the California Trail. According to the local lore of the area, the name “Battle Mountain” implied exactly that, the Native Americans and the passing white settlers initially, were in very violent disagreement over who socially and legally held a valid claim to the area, and many clashes and fights erupted on this very issue. A wise man, who happened to be of Native Blood, once stated “The basic problem of a fight, is nobody ever wins.” Take that one to the bank, people.

In the year 1866, Copper Ore was found in the area, and mining activity began. In response to this, Central Pacific Railroad established a station in the area to provide logistical and infastructure for the mining activity. Four years later, in 1870, Central Pacific Railroad relocated their Argenta Station directly to Battle Mountain to better provide logistical support for the mine. From this station, the township grew, and Gold Ore was now being discovered along with the Copper Ore. The Nevada Legislature, in 1874, overrode the Governor's veto, and approved a secondary rail line to link up Battle Mountain with the town of Austin, down south. Nevada Central Railroad won the contract for this line, it's secondary purpose, being to support the transport of Silver Ore that was being mined in the Austin area. This rail line would remain in service until it's abandonment in 1938.

US Republican President US Grant made a stop here during his 1879 Western States Speaking Tour. US Democrat President Woodrow Wilson established Battle Mountain Indian Colony by Executive Order in 1917. Nevada's Red Scare Miners held a ten day strike at Battle Mountain Copper Mines in 1919. In 1979, the year before the author of this material was born, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled to establish the seat of Lander County at Battle Mountain. Chiefs Frank Temote and Frank Brady rejected the Government's offer of a payoff, under the terms of the 1863 Treaty Of Ruby Valley, on December 11, 1992. In 2008, a 6.5 magnitude earthquake hit Wells, NV. This unfortunately was able to cause severe structural damage to one of Battle Mountain's oldest historical buildings, the Lemaire Building, which required it being condemned in the interest of public safety.

In modern times, on the subject of sports, and world records, Battle Mountain hosts an annual bike race on a long, straight, flat stretch of Nevada State Route 305 just outside town. The event draws teams from all over the world as they attempt to build and pedal the fastest bicycles on earth. The event is known as the "World Human Powered Speed Challenge". On September 14, 2013, Sebastiaan Bowier from the Netherlands established himself as "the fastest man alive" by pedaling a streamlined bicycle at 83.13 mph (133.78 km/h) over a 200-meter distance. Bowier's run eclipsed the prior record of 82.8 mph (133.3 km/h) set on September 18, 2009 by Sam Whittingham. Mr. Whittingham's record run in 2009 won the .decimach prize for going one tenth the speed of sound (with adjustments for slope and elevation). In 2009, Barbara Buatois, a French woman, became the "Fastest Woman Alive" by setting the world woman's bicycle speed record at 75.69 mph (121.81 km/h). Also annually held on that same stretch of road is the "Pony Express", an open road event from Battle Mountain to Austin and back. It is the longest open road race in the country, averaging a total of 130 miles (210 km). The race consists of cars from the 1960s-era muscle cars to the most modern sports cars.

Some famous Battle Mountain residents are: Joyce Collins, jazz pianist, singer, and educator; Mary Dann and Carrie Dann, (Crescent Valley) Western Shoshone activists for cultural and spiritual rights and land rights; James H. Ledlie, Union officer in the Civil War whom Ulysses S. Grant called "the greatest coward of the war"; John Marvel, rancher and legislator; Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle, of which a portion takes place in Battle Mountain, and former gossip columnist for MSNBC.com. In local notoriety and news of the weird, are the following items of interest. In December 2001, the Washington Post published an article by Gene Weingarten titled "Why Not The Worst?" that popularly titled Battle Mountain as the "Armpit of America." The town used the unofficial title as a publicity opportunity, and hosted an annual "Armpit Festival" from 2002–2005, which was sponsored by Old Spice and awarded deodorant-themed prizes to participants. On January 2, 2009, The New York Times released an article entitled "A Nevada Town Escapes the Slump, Thanks to Gold". The article regards the national economic depression and discusses Battle Mountain's economy .A meteorite fall was reported on 22 Aug 2012 on Battle Mountain at coordinates 40.66813°N 117.18913°W. It is classified as an ordinary chondrite. Twenty-three fragments with a mass of 2.9 kg had been collected by 3 Oct 2012. "Thanks to Gold," miners were hostile towards efforts to collect fragments, but a 1.4-pound (630-gram) fragment of the Battle Mountain meteorite is currently undergoing analysis at JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) in Pasadena, CA.

History and Culture lesson over, having eaten, and choked down our Barbecue Pork Dinner with some Pepsi, in relative silence, trying hard to not puke, maybe even harder for Mother Janet, with her ever creeping nausea, over the aftermath of the pure carnage we had seen on I-80, we wasted little time and made due haste in exiting Battle Mountain, and setting course for Winemucca, hoping to reach our planned destination of Lovelock, before it got too late into the evening to get ourselves checked into a motel there. We followed West Front Street back to Exit 229, got onto I-80 westbound again and made way. It was now about 6:45 pm.

We passed through Winemucca at about 7:30 pm, having passed the “small places” of Golconda and Valmy, which were probably instrumental in the local Gold Mining History of the Winemucca Area. We saw that like Ely, they had their own billboards up for their brothels, these ones were in better condition, fresher paint, and not as heavily sun damaged, a common Nevada problem. Being nearly twice the size of Ely, probably more dollars in the collective town budget for maintenance and upkeep. Also more added incentive to maintain a “professional” appearance, being on I-80, a National Freeway, as opposed to a lesser known State or Federal Highway. Location, Location, Location. Speaking of the sun, it was now dipping on the western horizon yet again, burning daylight, and now pressing onward to Imlay, NV.

Imlay is an unincorporated town in Pershing County, Nevada, United States. It has an elementary school, a general store, a post office, and a trading post. As of the 2010 census, the population was 171. It is a nearly abandoned railroad town, named for a nearby mine or for the civil engineer who surveyed the town circa 1907. Its most notable feature is a series of strange buildings called Thunder Mountain Monument. These structures were built as a monument to Native American culture by a World War II veteran who called himself Thunder. Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know? public radio show featured Imlay as the "Town of the Week" on its December 5, 2009, show. They mentioned Thunder Mountain Monument as one of the premier draws to the area. Imlay is located in northern Pershing County, Nevada, along Interstate 80, with access from Exit 145. The town is 34 miles (55 km) west of Winnemucca and 40 miles (64 km) northeast of Lovelock. The Humboldt River flows past 2 miles (3 km) to the north, near its inlet into Rye Patch Reservoir. According to the US Census Bureau, the census-designated place of Imlay has an area of 34.5 square miles (89.4 km2), all land.

US Democrat President Franklin Delano Roosevelt paid a visit here in 1938, before his Polio illness restrained his Presidential Duties, and ultimately claimed his life in 1945, at the climax of World War II, forcing Vice President Harry Truman to fill his shoes. From the Rear Platform of his Special Train Imlay, Nevada on July 13, 1938, about 3:00 PM: “I am glad to hear the Governor call it desert -- it is desert -- it is pretty good desert. It is good to be back again in Nevada and get a chance to see things again. It seems to me they look a lot better than they did a few years ago and as you know, your Government in Washington knows that this State is on the map which is something. Some administrations didn't know it was on the map. And, I have been very glad that your State administration, from your Governor down, work so well with all of us on the other side of the continent. We have had real cooperation from the State Government. We have not had any dissention or cross words, and when all of us decided things had to be done, they have been done. You people know I am water conscious -- although not a strict prohibitionist – When I was down on the Ohio River the other day I told them I would catch bigger fish than grew in the Ohio, though I don't think I will get anything that tastes better to eat than Nevada trout -- the Senator gave me some Nevada trout for lunch -- it was delicious. It is good to see you all and I hope to get back here again some day. I hope some day to come in an automobile and stay longer and get to know you better. It is good to see you.” And that is all he spoke, before his train rolled on.

It was now a bit after 9 pm, and dark in Lovelock, NV. I think Mother Janet had to ring the doorbell at the office to summon the motel helper person at the Super 10 (no, not the national Super 8 chain), which was one of four traveler's motels in Lovelock, in addition to the old Lovelock Inn that was nearer to their downtown area that was at the opposite (southern) end of town from us. We got in (to the Inn, never mind), spent about an hour or so decompressing from a hard day's travel, we had basically covered the whole Northwestern Arc of the I-80 corridor in a single day, with four goofy weird side junkets, having originally departed from Elko about nine hours earlier, then we had a much earned and needed crash.

We also saw there was a Book Of Mormon in the nightstand, as opposed to the usual Gideon Bible (the Gideons are a Christian Society, which distribute the Good Book to motels across the US and elsewhere), clearly signifying and removing any doubt that I was in LDS Country, and should can any critical sounding noise I might otherwise make on the religion, coming from a mixed family background of various flavors of Protestantism, with some Catholics deeper in the tree, falling on both sides of the political isle, gosh, I might be something called an “American”, you think, other than to quote Mark Twain, who noted that when sleeping through one of the services he attended, that he counted the phrase “And it came to pass” about 200 times. We dragged it out of there at about 8 am the next morning, did a quick 10 minute tour of the western flank of Lovelock, passing Pershing County High School (Pershing County, taking it's name for the embattled and honored World War I General John “Black Jack” Joseph Pershing, whose wife and three daughters were tragically lost in a housefire, his six year old son Francis, the sole survivor, while he was deployed at the front in Europe in 1915), the Hospital, the Safeway Store, and the Shop-N-Go, before wheeling into their famed Cowpoke Cafe, collecting a Spanish Omelet with a side of Bacon, and exiting Lovelock (And Orenthal James Simpson's Minimum Security Prison Cell, we did NOT leave him a birthday cake with a nail file in it, in case you was asking, John Walsh and Nancy Grace) around 9:45 am.

After rolling on out of Lovelock, we were hoping (in vain) to try to catch a noon AA meeting at Fallon, but wanted to do one last weird “sidetrip”, that is not taking the most popular, main, or direct travel route, which was Mother Janet's typical way of doing things, which earned her the monikers “weird, wild, random, reckless, and unpredictable” maybe not the most popular approach for people who like plans, choices, control, and predictability, which seems to be the vast majority of people nowadays. People have a tendency to want to only put their faith in what they themselves can control, but not so much the things that they cannot. But then this presents the question, what exactly do you do with the 97% of life that you cannot control? Note that I did say 97%, and not 100%, as we are directly responsible for that last 3%, which will never go away. We only control the 3 foot circle that surrounds us, hence the magic number “3”.

Anyway, we exited Lovelock by way of Cornell Avenue, which turned into East Frontage Road, also known as the old US Highway 95 (main, not alternate), which had been “The Way” north and south before the I-80 Freeway was built, much as Mother Janet typically preferred using our old Highway 99 (The Lorraine Highway) when traveling between Coos Bay and Eugene, in spite of being born in 1950, Mother Janet was very “Old School” in her approach to life, whether it be politics, religion, “just exactly how much trust you should extend to a total stranger”, her methodology, her planning, and also how much “Intervention” should be applied to save oneself in a medical situation, or to avoid poverty. Faith based economics and medicine. Unfortunately, for Mother Janet, this drew just a lilt of skepticism, anger, confusion, and frustration from my more progressive and educated relatives, as she unwittingly demonstrated the “appearance” that she simply didn't care as if it looked like she was encouraging me and Brother Connor to “turn our brains off”, “suspend all critical thinking”, “be blindly led off of an intellectual cliff”, and “blindly lap up” all the corporate and theocratic “Red Republican Kool-Aid” being offered by Mother Janet and her parents, even though if you actually knew them as people, they really weren't all that corporate, or religious. People like labels, broad brush categorization, generalization, boxes, borders, compartments, walls, and things they can control.

We followed East Frontage Road, about 15 miles south from Lovelock, paralleling the I-80 Freeway, until reaching Miriam Road, and going through an underpass to the west, then south, where we had followed West Frontage Road, for about 1 mile, until reaching a fenced off area with “No Trespassing” sign (a VERY common sight in Nevada, they are kind of big on the old Conservative theme of “private property” here, but in this day and age of terrorism and mass shooters, if you don't know who someone is, and they refuse to say, then you are left little choice but to assume the worst of them and try to drive them out, I only know this having been at the wrong end of those exchanges a few times, being shy, introverted, or mute is not an excuse, you need to have ID on you when out in public, though I am still old enough to remember when people had more trust to give, and were far less anal retentive about it, but the comes 9-11, Al Qaeda, and now ISIS, however “real” or “not real” those threats are in terms of National Security, they are enough to keep Law Enforcement, Security Personnel, Military, and private right wing civilians highly motivated and on High Alert at all times, so one would do very well to not make them anymore agitated, afraid, or pissed off than is absolutely necessary), and then getting on I-80 Westbound from there (I-80 is more cleanly divided in this area). We then went about 3 miles westward to the Main US Highway 95 turnoff, to the south, turned there, and made use of the Fallon Rest Area, while the author of this material had more Powerade and Menthol Cigarettes, shame on that boy, he goin' to hell.

We arrived in Fallon, for the second time, at about 11:30 am, made our way to the Nugget Casino and Restaurant near downtown Fallon, about where US Highway 50 and US Highway 95 (Main) cross paths, parked the minivan on the shady side of the building, goes without saying in Nevada, as it was the typical ninety something degrees on this summer day. We waited (a common theme for Me and Mother Janet, but some may argue, and rightfully so, that only bad things happen to people who wait, because they are not decisive and aggressive in controlling their situation, thus bringing up the question of when to control, and when not to).

Unfortunately, for us, we waited about and hour, and nobody showed up to unlock the meeting door, because we were operating on bad and outdated information from our schedule, and would only learn a couple weeks later from someone in Yerington that the meeting had been moved to another building near the Cattle Yard in the middle of the residential area on the south side of town. We were screwed, yet again, on account of piss poor planning, and low information. Again, brings up the question of how much ignorance is voluntary versus involuntary. There are some people in the world who actually do want to know less, because it literally hurts their brain and makes their emotions uncomfortable to know the truth. A human brain simply does not have the storage capacity for raw information that a computer does. Do you try to fix them by “informing” them, or do you let sleeping dogs lie (a common failing of the alcoholic and the codependent, wanting to be liked by others, and not have them be mad at you by being “too honest all at once” with them?) Ethics. Truth. Honesty. Tact. Social Kindness. So much complexity, so little time.

With that time wasted, we set course for Schurz, NV. It was now about 1 pm on August 04, 2014, our whirlwind tour of Northern and Eastern Nevada, now officially coming to a close, no more fun and games, it was time to get down to the business of scouting where we were going to live, and scouting properties. Our long side adventure through the “whole” of Nevada had taken up 8 days, having left Yerington, around July 26, 2014, about three days after we had arrived, having been forced out on account of lack of motel rooms. We arrived at Schurz, around 2 pm, a small little Paiute Indian town of about 700 people, 40 miles due south of Fallon and turned west and up and over the mountains going on the Alternative US Highway 95 back to Yerington.

On the way to Schurz, we had passed the Weber Reservoir off to the west, a popular fishing and recreation spot for locals in Lyon and Mineral Counties, as well as seeing Nevada's trademark shadow cloud effect play out on the hills there, being higher elevation there than Western Oregon, the clouds were nearer to the ground itself, producing a much more instantaneous and immediate shadowing effect on the ground, than what is casually observed in Western Oregon. Back in Elko, we had also noticed that unlike Oregon, where once it rains, it's pretty much wet all day, and in some cases, for a week at a time, here in Nevada, they have quick flash in the pan style of rains, meaning, because of the aridity (dryness) it could be dumping buckets in the present tense, and you would not know it half an hour later, because the ground literally dries that quickly with that much consistent heat and aridity. Mother Janet, found this favorable for doing outdoor laundry, being a poor person, since it's very easy to burn through ten bucks you don't have doing the drying part at a laundromat.

We finally arrived back in Yerington, NV at around 3 pm. Copper Inn (the cheap place), once again had a room for us, and we made use, with plans to rest and recuperate for a day or two, catch some more AA meetings here, and make use of the wi-fi internet connection at the Lyon County Public Library and the Zillow website to start gathering intel on some properties. After those three days had passed, we drummed up a list of about 10 or 12 different places that were within our tight budget, tanked up the minivan, and began our search at Silver Springs, which was yet another place, that “wasn't really an official town”, but still a community that a large gathering of people still called home.

We had a bit of a mishap at Silver Springs on that day. After, having spent several hours, scouting properties on the eastern side of Silver Springs, which as an unincorporated town, has about 5,000 residents living there, but if the lots were more divided up, and the downtown development were more advanced than it is, you know, more Willamette Valley like, then it would easily house about 20,000-25,000 residents. All that aside, the mishap being, after having viewed about three different properties, we got ourselves stuck on the damned railroad tracks. Mother Janet, in her heavy-handedness and overeagerness, which I made no attempt whatsoever to talk her down from, I too thought it to be a worthy risk, tried to force the low clearance minivan over the tracks which were piled up with sand build up at the crossing area, and we got our front end hooked on the track, and the back end stalled out in the sand. We lacked cellphones, because we did not either believe in them or want them, the microwave emissions may cause brain tumors, and we had just come from being very, very dirt poor, and could not afford them, either. No phone, no help, no nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Just Lump It.

Since we were on our own, with nobody helping us, whatsoever, a typical situation for me and Mother Janet, we started scouting for houses that weren't all fenced off with shotgun wielding rednecks and mean snappy dogs behind them, which are a hard thing to find on the outer fringes of Silver Springs, after Mother Janet had literally ordered me out of the vehicle (could have been a drill sergeant in another lifetime), and started unloading some of our more valuable cargo, agreeing to reconvene there in about 10 minutes, if we hadn't found anybody, which we did not. Luckily, for Mother Janet, on that day, which she did not know, it was a Sunday, and the trains were not running. Also, church happened to be in session, at least it was at their First Baptist Church, the Latter Day Saints had already had their morning service and were shut up for that day.

I started walking the roughly one mile from where we were stuck, to that First Baptist Church, had a cigarette, very bad I know this very much, but I did it anyway because of emotional stress, why else do people do it? Trade years off the end of your life for a few less stressful hours today, but today is the part that matters most, but for legal and moral reasons, a choice that should not be allowed to minors. Sometimes your choices should be taken away for your own good and that of others. Freedom and Liberty do not come without responsibility, it just cannot and will not work that way. Less choices, less chaos, less confusion. Needless to say, I spent a lot of my youth “having my choices” taken away, because I was angry, mean, hated people in general, especially the fascists in my lives known as authority figures. Especially Family. You have to reach a certain age, which is later for some than others, that people have rules and laws because they are basically afraid themselves, and if they don't define a boundary or a line in the sand, it will get crossed repeatedly. The Law, which seems to be purely rational and logical on the surface of it, actually comes from human emotional nature and emotional needs.

Speaking of sand, we were still stuck. After arriving at the First Baptist Church, and standing sheepishly, speechless, and exhausted for about 5 minutes at the entryway, I popped my head into the Sanctuary and saw they were still in service, so I closed the door and waited a bit more, someone came out to me after a minute or so, and I explained that we were stuck on the tracks, and I needed to borrow a phone to get someone to get us unstuck. I waited a bit more, someone else came out with their phone, and dialed me Lyon County Sheriff's, and relayed that they had someone stuck on the tracks about a mile from the Church. I thanked them heartily, praised Jesus, and left there. As I was about halfway back to the spot where Mother Janet and our minivan were, Deputy Wright picked me up and took me back to her, he had managed to link up his vehicle with hers (high tension cable, I don't know if a winch was involved) and pull her loose from the tracks. Mother Janet was already repacking our removed cargo when Deputy Wright dropped me off. We thanked the Good Deputy, and Jesus along with him, and started dragging our sorry and badly scraped undercarriage back to Yerington, preparing ourselves for yet another annoying delay in our plans, and another repair bill.

This next repair cost us about 3 more days and about $100. We waited this one out at the (former) Victoria Rose Inn, as Copper Inn had booked up again before we set out for Silver Springs. It was for the best, as this other Inn was only about half as far from the mechanic's shop as the Copper Inn would have been, a shorter walk. We checked out of there the next day at 10 am, with plans to go scout six more properties in Fallon, stay a night there, and return to Yerington. It was now August 11, 2014. Our time in Fallon, for the third time, proved to be even rougher and more difficult than before. When we rolled in around 11 am, we were low on oil, so we had to stop at an auto shop at the outer edge of town, buy a quart, and refill. Then, Mom got pulled over for speeding 20 mph past the limit, which whenever that happened, was a traumatic and embarrassing experience for both of us, because she would try to be friendly and diplomatic with them (cops), but sometimes to the point of being overly sycophantic and apologetic, and some of the worst ones would perceive that as weakness, attack, become arrogant and angry and be total and complete dicks.

I being a young, moody, withdrawn male with lax grooming and hygiene did not build a very good case for properly sucking up and impressing them as being honest and trustworthy, their perceptions of me only seemed to confirm their fears, instead of allay them. Also, nowadays, the law enforcement apparatus has become much more decidedly right wing and militaristic, because 9-11, terror, America, and are more tuned into the alpha male bully jock mentality than ever before, meaning their natural and feral instincts (think sharks and alligators) are more tuned into thinking that people who look and act different from them are enemy combatants, as opposed to ordinary people going about their business. It would help more if I shaved, got a buzz cut, a firm crushing handshake, and a phony shitty car salesman smile. However, that person is not me and will never be, sorry Grandmother. Suffice to say, I have been told by some strangers that I come off as a creep and a psychopath because I don't communicate verbally or express facial emotions like a (normal) Extroverted Person, because I am not a normal Extroverted Person. You can argue, persuade, or be angry at that all you like, but I accept that as a static and unchanging fact, even if you cannot.

All that aside, back on the subject of being pulled over, embarrassing and terrifying as all that was, what was worse, was when we went our noon meeting, Mom spent nearly the whole thing (about 1 hour) on her back, on the floor, at the back of the room (away from where the people usually sit, maybe not wanting to be seen). I dismissed it as her old fainting stuff that she always had from the stories she had told me of her time as a kid, and being prone to fainting spells, but now in hindsight of the diagnosis, it was definitely something worse, and seems to be far less confusing now.

We checked out and returned to Yerington the next day. After about two days of nervous and tense discussions, we “decided” upon Yerington, having previously scouted three houses there, to live, as we needed to get our cats out of “kitty storage” and put them somewhere more permanent, as they had been under lock and key, ever since we departed from our Coos Bay, OR trailer, for the last time, on June 01, 2014, a total of six weeks, and needed to come to terms with the fact that they can't live that way forever. Mother Janet signed the escrow papers at Roberson Realty on August 14, 2014. By Nevada Real Estate Law, we had to wait eight days for our check to pass, and the deal to close.

We moved in on August 22, 2014, having had the first of our final three fights only a day or two later, when she got RED HOT MAD at my refusal to help her with the sanding and painting of the back laundry room floor, yes I was hot and tired, and freaked out, but that was NO EXCUSE for NOT DOING MY WORK!!! Yes, people have a right to be ANGRY if they're counting on (and trusting) you to help them, when they are in need, and you choose not to, for whatever the reason, whether it be simple laziness, fear, social anxiety or physical discomfort. I DON'T CARE WHAT YOUR REASONS ARE! If results are what matter, feelings have to be put aside, until the job is done. Period. Anyway, the purpose of sanding and painting the back laundry room floor was to make a place for our cats to get acclimated to the new house, because the floorboards were old, barren, and worn down. On a side note, we mended fences enough to visit the Lyon County Fair, which had reminded Mother Janet of the Coos County Fair, where she had entered her nature photos back in 1995.

We had our second of the final three fights, when we were preparing for a meeting, about a week ago, and she asked if I was finished using the bathroom to clean up and prepare myself. In my usual extreme silence, shyness, introversion, passive-aggression, whatever it is that's wrong with me that makes people not want to like, trust, respect, or not be mad at me, I sat in stone cold silence for 15 minutes until she finally boiled over and asked “WHAT IS YOUR FUCKING PROBLEM, SAY SOMETHING”, a fierce grilling I had also received from a “Wicked Stepmother” figure, back when I was eight years old, only minus the swear words, but about at that decibel level, when I was visiting at my Father's house as part of the custody arrangement he had with Mother Janet, back in 1988. For what it's worth, the “Wicked Stepmother” figure was trying her best to establish order and rule of law in her household, and I was passively obstructing her, but being eight years old, I possessed neither the intellectual or emotional faculties to understand that at the time. This time, however, I was 34 years old, and did possess those skills and had NO EXCUSE, Mother Janet had thoroughly annoyed me with her constant pestering with the question, and instead of complying, I simply shut down and said nothing, rather than opening my mouth and annoying her back and risking a MINOR fight, but my INACTION resulted in a MAJOR fight instead. This second really horrible fight, resulted in a brutal and crippling depression on my end, and I was literally so far down and sad, emotionally, that I was bedridden on the couch for the next two days, LITERALLY. I do have depression. THAT BAD.

The third fight came, about three or four days ago, when we were moving a heavy 300 pound wooden wishing well, from the front to the back yard, as Mother Janet had redevelopment plans for that front yard. We had to move the thing, by towing it with the minivan, and a crummy old rope, just as Deputy Wright had done for us on the railroad tracks back in Silver Springs. This last fight arose from, once again, my refusal to help. This time I had dared to argue with and contradict her on not being able to fit a plank board that was warped from weather exposure and had rounded off edges, into an open square (rectangular) slot on the little rooftop of the wishing well, which had come loose during our feeble and hasty towing operation. The next night, we had a minor disagreement, but still one worth reporting, nonetheless, this is the most fair, truthful, and accurate accounting of events that I can muster, here, about my being insincere and phony in my promises to better respect her in the future, as well as my assertions that she needed me and needed my help, since I had been of little to no help at all. She had also once said to me, about three or four years ago, that if “I were infinitely wealthy, that I would hire a helper to wipe my ass for me, because I was too bothered, inconvenienced, and impatient to do it for myself”, in other words, spoiled beyond belief.

Then, today, Mother Janet came out of her room, all sweating like a horse, and panting like a dog. Literally. Unable to move or speak, or breathe, or relax, she staggered over to her “Astronaut” Chair (modified) lawn chair, which she had bought about a couple weeks earlier, at the True Value hardware store, in hopes of getting her profuse swelling in her right leg to go down back to manageable levels, but no abatement of swelling present. She staggered over to it, very much like a reeking zombie undead person (this one's for you, Uncle), flopped into it, hard, but gingerly, in a bit of a controlled pratfall. There, she lay back, with weakened, terrified, donut glazed eyes, eyes that had only recently been fierce and sharp, as a hawk or bird of prey. Gazing and gasping. After about three hours of near complete silence, something she had only recently attacked me for, she weakly uttered “Barnett Clinic”, something one of the visiting 12-step ladies had mentioned. There we went tonight, and the doctor said “Metastatic”. What does that word mean? What is happening to my mama? She gave me, about a week ago, a junior Guardians Of The Galaxy Novel, from Scolari's Supermarket, in lieu of our plans to see the actual film in Carson City. In it, as a small boy, the Peter Quill character's Mother perishes from Cancer and all he has to remember her by is her Walkman with her 80's mix tape. Was Mother Janet trying to tell me something? I could have known. I should have known. Why can I not stop it, why, why, why?

-THE END OF MOTHER JANET AND FIFTY PAGES OF TORTURE

Post Script: My mother, Janet Claire Smyth, Original Author of Counterstrike: Heaven Sent, lost her 10 week battle with Stage IV Metastatic Ovarian Cancer, Aged 64 years, 4 months, and 29 days, passing away with 24 years, 5 months, and 29 days of continuous unbroken sobriety, save for doctor prescribed opioids that were medically necessary, and given for her pain control, once the cancer proved to be untreatable, at 9 am on the morning of December 03, 2014. For more information on the life, adventures, and passing of my mother, Janet Claire Smyth, Original Author of Counterstrike: Heaven Sent, please read her Obituary on page  , her Eulogy on page  , her op-ed piece for Myrtle Point Herald on page  , and my own essay, Why I Support Single Payer Health Care on page . Thank you for reading thus far, and God Bless You.