Almost Heaven, whatever.

I'm having this love affair with West Virginia. I just love driving through the state. In fact, the Appalacians, in general, make for a great drive. Just recently, I had a wonderful drive from North Carolina up through the western end of Virginia into West Virginia and then into Ohio.

At Ravenswood, WV, I left the Interstate, a rare treat, and headed to Columbus on US33. I went across this cool steel bridge as a lazy tug nudged a half dozen coal barges downstream. With its wake on a funky angle, I watched the tug work the barges around a curve. Southeast Ohio is just more West Virginia that happens to be north of the river. The drive through the Hocking River Valley is one of my new favorites. Along the way, I saw a sign for the Fur Peace Ranch. Fur Peace is a play on "a fur piece down the road." The ranch was started by Jorma Kaukonen and his wife as a "ranch that grows guitar players." Jorma and his famous friends put on guitar camps throughout the summer. Jorma was a founding member of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna. He is a Piedmont fingerstyle acoustic blues guitar master. One day, I'm going to go to camp there.

I went up into Ohio for a delivery past Columbus. from there I picked up and headed right back down through the Virginias to North Carolina. This time I couldn't avoid the Interstate. Crossing the river north of where I did before, it was getting late and I needed to stop for the night.

I got off the hishway at the romantically named Mineral Wells, WV. Sometimes, coming off that solitary black ribbon of highway onto an exit can be information overload. There was two hotels, a McDonalds, two convenience stores, a four wheeler gas station, a Federal Express terminal, two truckstops, a strip bar, a BBQ joint, an adult bookstore, and a bar. Somehow, I drove past the poorly marked service road and missed both truckstops. Now, I was on a narrow WV State Highway. Ever the optimist, I just knew there would soon be a place to turn around.

Around the curve, I saw a large crane shovel. I slowed to turn around, but the lot it sat in was lumpy loose gravel. Not wanting to get stuck, I kept rolling.

There were a couple small businesses. Perhaps, I could swing into the edge of their parking areas and do a "U" turn. The Five O'Clock traffic was all around me. I didn't want to tie them up. Drivers can get a ticket for too much of a traffic delay.

Now there's a sign telling me the bridge ahead can only handle trucks and buses one at a time! Just across the bridge, a stop sign and another strip bar. At the stop sign, two WV highways split. One looks narrow and residential. I took the other one. Leaving the stop sign, there is a tight curve. Shifting gears and watching my tailer come around and trying to decide if I can get behind the bar to go back the other way I came. And I'm watching the four wheelers buzz around me like gnats. I might have made it behind the bar, but I'd rolled too far before deciding. I'm on a hill that curves off to the right. There is barely any shoulder here for the rock outcroppings but I stop to assess my options. Cars are going into the other lane to get around me. Where did all this traffic come from? When a Harley Dude and his wife go into opposing traffic and around me, I know I've just got to move.

::This has been a special preview version of the Sailorbum Blog. ::

Read the rest HERE.

Baby, why you been gone so long?

My truck is a "condo." Beside being my Home-Sweet-Truck, it has an extra bunk for team driving. The roof line of the sleeper is higher and there are a couple windows where the cab roof angles up to the sleeper height. Last night, in Minnesota, I was in the bunk watching a nice storm pass. The sky was purplish grey. The lightning would flash splashing a bright yellow on the clouds nearby; like goldleaf. The truck and trailer shook in the gusts while the rain came down in sheets.

I've been avoiding work on a couple creative projects lately. Like the cloud lightning, my brain flashes energetically but nothing is touching the ground. My schedule has been a little crazy as well. That promotes my procrastination. I'm working on a real long post. It'll get posted as a preview with a link to the rest. Be well, do good work [stolen from Garrison Keillor].


West Virginia Early Morning Springtime

Driving through North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio today spring was deafening. The wildflowers were singing everywhere. The buds on the trees were chiming in. The Dogwoods on the edges of the valleys were shouting to be heard. The backbeat was a glazed brick silo, some ramshackle plank sided outbuildings and old barns. Grey, weatherworn wood falling off frames topped with old metal roofs. Every roof was the wine dark burgundy of decades long rust. Cows and goats walked on grass so proud to be back from the long winter that it just shouted green; glowing as if lit from below.

Last weekend, I was driving through Kentucky and Tennesee. All I could hear was the sproing-oing sound of spring springing. The mountains were sprinkled with bursts of color, like a fireworks display. Trees were popping their buds. There were neon green trees and burnt yellow. Trying to read the bark, they were both maples, I think. And a golden brown I think was oak. Near the Kentucky Tennessee border, a bright purplish pink was everywhere. It covered shrubby little saplings and gnarled trunks alike, sumac maybe.

During the week last week, Dad rode with me to Bay City to uncover the boat. We talked about the grey green drab of pre-spring that we passed. Michigan is just behind these lower states, but it's coming! "In A Mist" seemed to weather the winter fine. It was good to walk around her dragging my fingers along the curve of her hull.

Dad helped as I restrung a tarp over her aft half. I had two tarps from stem to stern, covering her decks for the winter. The forward tarp came off for ventilation. Keeping the air moving is important to keep the mildew down. I left the huge tarp over the Main Cabin hatch and the cockpit. These two areas are where I'm getting some water leaking in.

I organized a little down below and pumped the bilge. There was water passed the knuckle on my index finger; maybe 2". That was not as bad as it could have been. It was clean clear water so I don't think I have any rot going on; just a leak, or leaks, somewhere. I'm sure the cockpit coamings are leaking. They need rebed. Then there is all manner of deck hardware from stanchion bases and blocks, to pad eyes and winches that could be leaking.

I have been visualizing the cabin as I drive around. It was good to take a moment in the cabin and reacquaint myself with her proportions. The pilot berth is higher and nearer the center of the main cabin than I thought. This will become a pantry of sorts, I think.

I can't decide if I think there is less work than I thought; probably not. The cockpit floor will be replaced, the holding tank replumbed, and some wiring done. I am looking forward to spending a some quality time in Bay City this summer.