Thursday, January 12, 2012

Two Little Skunks

On the morning of our departure, we met on top of the hill and went over the checklist of supplies and equipment.  Besides exorbitant quantities of snacks and groceries, we stowed away a two-man tent with additional canvas tarps, Asa’s old gray-granite coffeepot, The cots I’d inherited from the MacCauleys, several canvas camp stools, spare tires, tubes and patch kits, a variety of lubricants and petroleum products for the machines, additional gas cans secured to the running boards, a big bottle of Zemacol for insect bites, sunburn, poison oak, and what not, bedrolls, suit cases of clothes including our freshly laundered uniforms courtesy of the 44th Indiana Infantry, a Coleman stove and lantern, a large Stanley thermos, an oak split picnic basket full of enamelware plates, cups, and utensils, fishing gear, swimsuits, and a beach umbrella!  By the time we were loaded there was barely room for me!   Mariah saw us off at the gate.  “I expect you two ol’ warriors to keep your powder dry,” she said smiling and shaking her finger at us.  “Keep level heads on your shoulders, and these chariots on all fours!”  I gave the ol’ gal a big hug, and she was still waving as we motored passed the cherry orchard and disappeared down the hill.  It’s been a lot of years since I’ve spent a night without her. Merging onto highway 50 at Blair’s Brothers lumberyard, we sped through upper town and began our assent into the Sierras.  The little Fords made real good time, as long as we tended the spark and kept an eye on the temperature.  If ya get ‘er too hot she finds ways of getting even!
   We had lunch at Strawberry, and then pulled for the summit.  The rigs overheated several times on the grade, and we pulled off at Meyers Station and purchased a couple of burlap water bags for topping off our thirsty radiators.  These we hung over the radiator caps, and filled as necessary from roadside creeks.  Late that afternoon we checked our sparks and throttles and began our descent into Lake Valley.  We both had the tops down and the windshield vents wide open, and the sensation of the breeze in my hair and the sun on my face as we sailed down the grade, was an exhilaration I’m never likely to forget.  It’s one of life’s rushes I’d highly recommend!
    We spent the first night right on the beach of Tahoe’s south shore.  The lake was high as usual; the stars brighter than ever and the night calm and characteristically cool.  There were a number of other folks tenting there on the beach, and as we first pulled in we took a good-natured ribbing from a guy driving a big Packard.  He watched amused as we pulled in, and as soon as we’d set up camp, he dropped by and shared the following congenial jab:
Two little skunks by the roadside stood, 
As a Model T Ford sped by.
The odor it left was far from good, 
And a tear stood in one skunk’s eye.
“Why do you weep?” asked his anxious friend. 
“Why do you sob and quake?”
“Because that smell,” said the other little skunk, 
“Is like mother used to make!” 

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