Monday, November 19, 2012

Packwood Washington aka party town

I am posting tonight as a promise to one of my regular readers. Aaron I hope this makes you and your Dad smile when you share this while checking cattle tomorrow morning. As a warning this little life story will be a bit of a long story short but not that short. (More on this later) A few weeks ago Jack and I headed to Elma to bring home the cattle that had spent the summer eating the lush grass of western Washington. I left home at 5 a.m that morning as it is 251 miles to the pasture and was hoping if all went well I would be home that evening for Dakotas district volleyball game. The roads were good and I arrived in Elma to cloudy skies on a day when they were predicting record rain.Jack had arrived earlier and had most of the cattle corraled. We got the stragglers gathered but were missing one calf of Jacks so we took the horses around for a look as we had about an hour before the semi truck arrived. It started raining gently as we rode that glorious fall morning but our slicker dusters kept us dry and it was in the low 50's as far as temperature. Just as an fyi we didn't find the calf that was later found dead in a pit duck blind we didn't know about.

Just as the gleaming red Freightliner with its 53 foot trailer arrived the sky opened up and as we loaded cattle it flat assed poured. For a boy from the desert watching close to an inch of rain fall in an hour was as amazing as it was maddening. We got everything loaded, got the horses loaded in Jacks trailer, got the panels loaded in my trailer and we were eastbound and down! The rain was coming down hard as we drove and I was really thankful that our timing had worked out for the most part. As we headed east on US12 I was frustrated by a blue haired lady that thought the speed limit was 37 mph no matter what the real speed limit was.When the limit was 60 she drove 37, when the limit was 35, she freakin drove 37. She no sooner turned off the highway and we were back to speeding along that my pickup (Griselda) started to lose a bit of power. I told Jack by phone to just keep going and I would stop at a rest area up ahead to see what was going on. I hoped it was not serious as the rain was really crashing down. It turned out to be a record day of rain for Western Washington.

As I pulled into the rest area Griselda died and I noticed my fuel gauge was quite low despite having filled earlier in the day. I lifted the hood to find diesel everywhere but could not find the precise place it had come from. I rolled around in water and diesel under Griselda looking for the leak to no avail. A nice older gentleman finally stopped at the rest area and offered assistance. I told him I just needed someone to crank the ignition while I found the leak. He barely turned the starter and diesel sprayed everywhere. I thanked him, told him I had a cracked injector line and for him to travel on as this would need more than duct tape, baling twine and cowshit to fix (very uncommon). I called 411, got some info and then talked to a Mr. Jim Beslow in Packwood Washington about a tow to his fine city of 1330 people. He explained that as soon as he finished changing a tire on a stock trailer full of cattle he would come and tow me to town.I told him to take his time as his current customer had cattle on board and I was dead in the water but did not have any living beings besides myself on board. I was fairly calm knowing there was nothing that could be done at this point and at least the cattle and horses were still on their way home. I called Jack, told him of my predicament and called Christine to let her know that I would not be making Dakotas game that night. Then I waited, and BTW I waited without any beer or other mood soothing substances. Well wait I did have some Copenhagen.

Jim arrived, deftly hooked up my Griselda and stock trailer, removed the driveline and we were off 12 miles east to Packwood. Mr. Beslow is quite a character and has many "long story short" stories and all his stories somewhere have the phrase, "it was all f*cked up." in them. He told me that my problem with Griselda was a common one and hoped that the next morning the nearest Dodge dealer (Yakima 73 miles away) would have my part. He recommended a motel and a place to get a beer and some dinner. 

I walked next door to the Blue Spruce Saloon and Diner ordered myself a Spruce Burger and a bottle of Coors original. This was a Tuesday night and I expected very little in the way of nightlife. Boy was I wrong, the Spruce has a massive flat screen television and on Tuesday nights one of the locals brings down a Wii and many people of the town show up to bowl on the big screen. The bar also has many pictures of the past glory days of logging on the walls and was tastefully decorated for Halloween. The service was great, the burger was excellent and the 5 beers and two shots of Jagermeister made a less than perfect day much better. I had a great chat with two elk hunters that decided that since they were camped 10 miles from town that eating dinner at the Spruce made more sense than cooking for themselves in camp and that made me chuckle and also rethink future elk hunting excursions. I was also able to witness some pretty adept bowlers in the small town at the base of White Pass. Although my jeans were covered in cow shit and my jacket was reeking of diesel I never once felt anything more than welcome in this great bar.

I then made my way 4 blocks down the street to the Cowlitz River Inn where a proprietor that was jarred awake by my doorbell ringing not only set me up in a room but also gave me a nice discount because of my circumstances and was cheerful and gracious. Once in the room I reverted to my old truck driving days and remembered a lesson I had forgotten. Even when you think a trip is just a day in length ALWAYS take along at least one change of clothing. Because I had forgotten this lesson I had to wash out my clothing in the bathtub of the motel and then hang my clothes over the heater to dry. I then took a nice long hot shower and as my clothes dried I sat naked (easy female readers, control your selves) and Googled Griseldas condition on my laptop and did in fact find out she was suffering  from a common condition to her make, year and model. I just hoped that there would be parts available the next day. About the time I was thinking I would feel sorry for myself I watched the devastation of hurricane Sandy that night on the east coast and realized I am living a dream!

I am not sure what woke me up the next morning but it could have been an elk fart as there were 30 plus of them within 50 feet of my motel window the next morning. I got dressed in my mostly dry clothes, packed up my stuff and headed down to Mr. Beslows garage. I waited until the Dodge dealer opened, found out the part was on backorder but luckily a man with a flat tire being fixed in Mr. Beslows garage recommended I call Cummins Northwest in Yakima. This was a great call, they had the part, in fact they had two of them which was good because I now have one in my glove box just in case. Jack, who had followed the cows home and unloaded them and the horses the night before picked up the part, drove the 73 miles back to my destination like a good cowboy would do for a stranded friend. Thanks Jack! Mr. Beslow quickly installed the injector line and my drive line, gave me a discount on my towing bill, told Jack and I a long story short that had elements that were "all f*cked up" and like the good American that he is wished me luck in my future.  

As I drove home that Halloween day I was very proud to be an American. Despite MANY problems with this country and our government I still would not rather live in any place else on this planet. People like Mr. Jim Beslow who has ran an auto repair and towing company for over 30 years, people like Sarah who serves at the Blue Spruce Saloon and Diner, people like the nice lady that gave me a discount on my room at the Cowlitz River Inn give me a great confidence about the future of this country. I would HIGHLY recommend ALL of these businesses to anyone needing their services in the Packwood Washington area. You all made special memories for a guy that had faced a day that was "all f*cked up." and I thank you all so very much!

Today's two pictures are more in my series of circle of life. #9497W is shown with her newborn bull calf #2497W on February 7th 2012. Then she is shown again with her well raised steer calf August 27th, 2012. Watching these mother cows raise these kids is very inspiring and a huge part of why I will do what I do for a living until the day I die. Working with mother nature and knowing sometimes life's imperfections are what truly make life worth living. Remember all pictures can be viewed in full size by clicking on them. 

 Today's YouTube music selection is once again by one of my musical heroes Dwight Yoakam. Dwight twangs a guitar as well as anyone and it does not matter if he sings an uplifting twang song or a slow ballad he nails it every time. Lyrics like "Hey I may be slow, but I ain't blind" hillbilly crank bayyybayyy! The next time you are throttling down the road, with plans and thinking everything is working out just right just remember, "Things Change." This does not mean things changing are always a bad thing!