Van demouser

Got off late on the start of a two week collecting trip, so filled up the tank at Independence, California, on the reservation, ate a hamburger at Bishop where I ran the van through the wash-it-yourself carwash and gassed up again at Tonopah. US Highway 6 starts at Bishop, runs 3,198 miles to Provincetown, Massachusetts. First collecting stop is about 30 miles west of Ely, Nevada, but 20 miles past Tonopah, with a full moon, I spotted a side road which conveniently led to a huge cottonwood, so camped there at midnight.

                                                  US Highway 6, 3100 miles west of Providence, RI

T Cat was along as navigator. Mostly at night he sleeps on my sleeping bag, but this night he spent a fair amount of time on the floor in front. Turns out, he was hunting. In the morning I found a dead mouse on the driver’s seat, as a present. It was better than a present, since VW Vanagons are famous for being mouse motels, with their owners wondering why something suddenly doesn’t work and finding a mouse nest under the dash. This one didn’t have a chance to cause trouble.

Driving east on US 6 is up and down. This is the Basin and Range province. John McPhee once described the mountain ranges as being like an army of caterpillars all marching to the northwest. And so it’s up over a caterpillar, down and across a wide valley, up over another caterpillar until you reach the Wasatch Front, east of Salt Lake. Will abandon US 6 for US 50 at Ely, since the next planned stop is in Parachute Canyon, Colorado, where the oil companies experimented with mining oil shale in the 1980s. That’s the rock that set pioneer Mike Callahan’s cabin afire at its housewarming. Warned by the Utes that the rock would burn, he didn’t believe it and built his fireplace and chimney using oil shale. The Utes were right. Today, oil shale is more valuable in the classroom than it is to the petroleum industry.

Collected magnesite west of Ely from some prospect pits, and spent some time in the abandoned Westvaco Chlorine Products mine the next day. T Cat likes rolling in dust. Magnesite dust is white, so an orange cat becomes a light orange cat, at least temporarily. He explores while I collect and comes to a bell unless distracted by a bird. Or a bush full of birds, but that was on a different trip, and he’s being good on this one, so far. He gets one mouse in credits.

We had a visit from the ranch house dog, whom I've met before. He's the friendly sort that likes to do a lot of licking. T Cat wasn't impressed, jumped into the van. Dog spotted the cat food bowl and snacked on a handful of the stuff while the van demouser warily watched.

While I ate dinner, the van demouser was out, running around in the dark. He just jumped in and will stay in for the night; I think the whole night on the sleeping bag, this time.

April 12, 2021 by RC de Mordaigle
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