I find myself back in the Temperate Zone where “the rocks don’t melt and the air doesn’t freeze” (from “Earthlight” by Arthur C. Clarke). The temperature has risen above freezing for the first time since I left the Texas Panhandle on December 8th.
One of eight drive tires threw a piece of retread somewhere in Oregon or Idaho on Saturday. I have to report these things and they did want me to have it replaced. But, they left the time and place up to me. Loves is known for its tire service and there is this one, conveniently near Denver and by a strange coincidence, right next to a Supermarket where I can replenish the Ship’s Galley. See how that works out?
I am suffering from a sort of sensory overload after the journey through the Northwest. I was also exhausted physically and this long break (now more than 20 hours) has been much appreciated. I have a persistent pain in my right shoulder that must come from shifting, since there is only a burning ache in the left shoulder. I have slept away yesterday afternoon and the night, with only a few trips across the snow-turned-slush to the facilities. This is when pedestrian activities become hazardous. The slush melts first to reveal the black ice that was there before. The path to the restroom is also punctuated with small diesel spills (still liquid and slicker than the legendary Owl-droppings) that spread considerably.
The APU heater is still totally inadequate and I am forced to idle the engine every few hours to maintain sane temperatures in the sleeper. That has worked out until now, when I see the low fuel light burning constantly. Overnight, the fuel level has dwindled to below the “Empty” mark and I am typing with gloves on and not idling until I can drive over to the pumps and get twenty gallons that I need for the trip to the Company-mandated fuel stop near the delivery.
So why, you may ask. have I not done so already? I have to log fuel stops as “on duty”. That means I would start the 14 hour clock and limit my drive time for after the delivery, when a new load assignment comes around.
This is where over-regulation leaves me: shivering in my truck just a hundred feet from more fuel of which I am not allowed to partake.
The time has come to start the countdown for departure. I don’t know what path the drive will take, but I almost certainly will be far from Colorado tonight. God help me, I do love it so!
Above: I did not capture this image from a Paramount movie trailer. It was a road photo opportunity in Washington State.
At the Receiver Staging Area in Denver, Colorado, December 20, 2016 1400 CST
The temperature is now 60° F – Looxury! (see 2 min. 11 sec). Like just about every other Houstonian, I face really cold weather with the “layered look” – you keep putting on sweaters and light jackets and sweat pants until the you feel better. I am removing a layer of clothes.
Sitting in a Door at the Receiver in Denver, Colorado, December 20, 2016 2000 CST
After hours waiting for the unloading, the warehouseman comes out and tells me to pull out and park until called.
Above: How snow accumulates on a rest area picnic table
Towers like this in Wyoming are the cores of volcanoes that are exposed when the rest of the structure is eroded away. You may remember Devil’s Tower from the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. It is not far from here.
Around every bend is another stunning vista.
Pilot Travel Center Interstate 70 exit 276A, Denver Colorado December 22, 2016 10:40
I had spent nine hours in the Receiver’s Distribution Center (DC) when they finally called to give me the paperwork. By then it was after midnight. I had no load assignment and the chances of finding a parking space anywhere is about zero. So, after being held at the receiver for so long, it is ironic that the best course of action is to stay put and go to sleep. The DC staff is skeletal and only a few other trucks are in the doors or the parking across from same. Facilities are nearby and if they want me out they would come an tell me.
At about 6:00 local I moved the truck here to the Pilot. Since there was no load assignment forthcoming, I took the opportunity to make a 34 hour break. This is the same truck stop where I based the Most Excellent Day in Denver .
Another lesson learned in the Walkabout is that one does not just wander off into the world at random – there must be a Destination. It need not be mandatory or even significant and it can be changed at any moment to some other destination. You may think it odd that this rule comes out of a Walkabout, since wandering off would seem to be the very definition of “Walkabout”. But, the “Walker” is supposed to learn new insights and so forth, so I reckon that redefining “Walkabout” is fair game.
I am a Geophysicist – albeit an inactive one. Many of the people I worked with in those years studied at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. Checking with the Denver Transit (RTD) Website, I find that Golden is the final stop on the W train line that leaves from Union Station and goes West. Now, the Campus will be pretty much shut down for the holidays, but I find there is a Geology Museum on campus that will still be open.
And there we have our destination.
The journey starts at the bus stop across the road. The 44 bus takes me to the Light Rail Station
Take the “A” Train My ride pulls in at the 40th & Colorado Boulevard Station
From there, I transfer downtown at Union Station where the guts of the transit hub are underground. The ancient Station now houses a big food court and shopping center.
Union Station Emeritus
On a siding at Union Station, Warren Buffet’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad is busy moving coal to the utilities that keep your lights on while the windmills are becalmed and the Solar plants experience a thing called “nighttime”. For a Learned Discussion on this subject, please see my article “Changing Energy Use in the United States”.
This is the W train out of Union Station, bound for Golden.
Arriving in Golden
A mine ore cart welcomes visitors
There are a great many fascinating specimens of minerals and ores. I will show a few examples, but this is again something that needs to be experience in person to fully appreciate.
Well, here we are in Golden Colorado and you might expect to see examples of gold nuggets. These are rare crystalline pieces, some with elaborate natural wire formations. I have zoomed in on a few examples to show detail.
This elaborate pitcher is made of 72 troy ounces of “11 once silver” (11 parts silver to one of copper) from the Last Chance Mine in Creed Camp, Colorado
These are Carbide Lamps, used by miners. Water drips onto Calcium Carbonate, generating Acetylene gas (C2H2) which burns with a bright white light. Such lamps were also used in the Early 20th Century for domestic and public lighting. The early Model T Fords had Carbide Headlamps. There were some interactions of these lamps with Coalbed Methane in mines. You can imagine the results.
Granitic Gold ore from the Independence Mine
Iron Pyrite is know as “Fools Gold” for its color. But, as you see, its crystal forms are quite different from anything seen in genuine Gold.
The Museum also has some fossils. These Trilobites date to the Ordovician Period (488 to 444 Million years ago)
After the Museum, I went looking for a place to have coffee and charge my phone/camera. I found a food court called “The Periodic Table” in the Student Union. This being the Holiday Break, the place was deserted and the shops closed. So, I had my bottled water and road snacks, which I had wisely brought along while I charged the iPhone from one of the outlets placed about everywhere. You see some under the bench seat in the foreground. These are Students after all – armed with every battery-operated gadget their parents can buy.
From the Doors of the Student Union.
The School has a Unique Geological Setting, as Well.
Upon returning to the Pilot, I found the truck waiting patiently. I did some house cleaning, took care of some Insurance matters (an hour and a half on the phone) for my invalid step-mother and grabbed a shower. At 18:30 I left for Kansas, there to take on a load of meat bound for Brooklyn, NY and Hackensack, New Jersey.
Over the Road,