James Herman Buehner

My photo
Lubec, Maine
Jimmy likes compost and maritime history. Building stuff improves his humor and and he has found that dirt on his knees encourages the lettuce and garlic growing in his garden. Peanut butter and garlic toast and strong French Roast revive his spirits most mornings.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Clear Creek At Last

 Gothenburg, our Pony Implode Station.We limped to North Platte for a tire and wheel.

 Our furrow at the Gothenburg exit.
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October 27

We decided on an early start in the morning to make Buffalo before dark. From our campsite at the edge of  the Missouri River at Nebraska City, we tumbled into the black at 3:30 AM and headed north on State Highway 72. Hours into the interstate darkness and as we were nearing Gothenburg, the site of an historic Pony Express station, I had been thinking the morning sun would never catch us. As  dawn was appearing in the mirror, we shuddered on a whoosh of wind, the bow wave of a semi we were passing at seventy miles an hour.

Suddenly, the Duramax shifted into third and in the dragging confusion of air I canceled the cruise and we fell back. Sliding into the travel lane I blinked as I thought I saw snowflakes scurrying behind in Wandah’s wake.  I saw sparks and knew the rim was quickly losing circumference. Again, like in California last year, I had destroyed our port tire. This time,  perhaps because of the shockwave of wind, it didn't take a passing motorist to point first to a smoking tire and then to their eyes. The wheel, grinding smaller on the pavement, cut a furrow in the soft roadside grass at the exit.  Renee clawed  away the turf to place first one jack then another under the frame. We removed the chewed rim, which revealed the full extent of the damage to the head interior and frame. The exploding tire had stormed its way into Wandah’s vitals.  Looking up into a gaping hole,  I could see the toilet shrouded in blackened rubber dust. Just below at the axle the 30 amp electrical wire looked like lobster gear warped around a propellor shaft. With patient cutting Renee pried away the cable with a screwdriver. Wandah’s brake lines were dripping fluid. We still had truck brakes, of course, but could we go on without any lights for Wandah?

Renee was in despair. I cleared away the splintered wood and sharp sheet metal and bolted on the spare. We agreed to limp into the Gothenburg Pony Express station for a fresh horse and as Renee started the engine, I suggested we try the blinker.  I was beside myself with joy. She works, they work. A miracle.  Not minutes before,  Renee was ready to abandon ship. With blinkers and running lights, Wandah, wounded as she was, could thrash on into the notoriously vicious head and cross winds and the bowels of Wyoming. With renewed Hope I could look forward to parking Wandah in the shadow of Ned’s  Redwoods as we resurrected a new hillside hideaway.  We could, with a new wheel and spare, press on to the soothing sounds of Clear Creek and the magnificent Big Horns in our backyard.

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