Back up north at last
At last, Five O’Clock Somewhere is habitable again. It started in early January when the propane tank ran out, and then one of a series of especially severe winter storms hit before the propane company people could do the strongly recommended safety inspection before turning the gas back on.
But a continued series of disastrous weather systems meant that the propane guys were running around dealing with emergencies involving people who live here year-round and were therefore a much higher priority than those of us whose houses up here are just vacation places.
By the time a propane company guy had time to get to our place, the water heater had frozen and burst. Because of the way the water pipes are run into the house, he had to shut off the water pump. So the house was without water, without propane, without heat, without cooking, and therefore uninhabitable.
We’ve been on financial austerity lately, so we had to save up to pay for the tank-full of propane that we weren’t able to use, and then save up more so we could pay the propane-company guy to get and install a new water heater. (At least that will cost less than the water heater we had to buy a couple of years ago for the house in Albuquerque – that one had to have special safety features so it could be installed in the garage.)
This week, at last, we got the water heater installed and working, and the gas and water turned on. So finally, we can get back to enjoying the place.
It’s been a long time since Dulce’s been on a road trip – she was up here with us at New Year’s, just before disaster struck, and she hasn’t been traveling since. Instead, she’s been left home alone as we humans have gone on our trips, sometimes all in the same direction, and sometimes Gerald going one way and the parental units going the other. Before Tres died, that wasn’t such a bad thing, but now, when she’s had to spend time alone, she is frantic to see us return.
On the other hand, we weren’t exactly looking forward to traveling with Dulce, since she has always made her presence known in the car. She meows. And meows. And meows. And meows. And meows. We tried getting some tranquilizers from the vet, but we discovered she is a “talkative drunk” – when under the influence, she gets even more vocal. Worse, Tres, who had originally been a quiet traveler, decided that Dulce’s way was the best way, and he became an on-the-road yowler, too.
So we were worried that the journey north would be, at the least, unpleasantly noisy.
Surprise! Dulce voiced her discontent for about 15 minutes, and then she was relatively quiet for most of the journey – she occasionally would speak up, but generally not all that loudly.
We stopped in Española for some fast food, and as we returned to the vehicle, we heard on the radio that Highway 84, the most direct route to Five-O’Clock Somewhere, was blocked because of an accident near Abiquiu. We faced a decision – go the short way and hope the accident would be cleared up by the time we got there and we could get through, or go the longer way and hope the cat wouldn’t lose patience with the journey.
We chose the long way, which also was the scenic route, up Highway 285 to Tres Piedras, and then east on Highway 64 to rejoin Highway 84 at Tierra Amarilla. That proved to be the right choice for multiple reasons. Dulce continued to be a relatively happy traveler – my guess is that the weekends home alone were unpleasant for her, and even being cooped up in her carrier in a moving vehicle was preferable, if it meant she was with her humans rather than being alone. Also, that stretch of Highway 64 is some of the most wonderfully scenic road anywhere, and in the golden late-afternoon sun, the views were glorious. And, when we got back to Highway 84, there were law-enforcement vehicles blocking travel southward, indicating that the accident still had that highway closed – if we’d chosen that route, we’d have still been stuck in traffic 40 miles south.
So now we’re here, and it’s good to be back, although there’s a lot to be cleaned up, like the Christmas stuff that we were planning to put away the weekend after New Year’s that is still scattered about the living room. And there were a bunch of messages on the answering machine from the satellite company asking us to pay for service that we weren’t using since the house was uninhabitable – messages that we didn’t get since we weren’t here. I’m hoping that we can convince the satellite company to remove those charges. Since we’re on financial austerity, I don’t know that we’re going to continue satellite service anyway – it’s far better than cable, but still, it’s a luxury to have all of those entertainment channels. When the cable company in Albuquerque got too expensive ($40 a month), we cut the cable – and now the suckers who didn’t cut it are paying $100 a month for basic service, more for premium channels.
I have discovered that I don’t need anything more than the broadcast channels. I do want to get the news, both local and national. There is a prime-time drama that I follow that gives me food for thought. There is a daytime drama that I follow that is my guilty pleasure. There are often worthwhile programs on public television that I enjoy. Sure, cable or satellite could give me more, but I don’t need it. The cable company contacts me on a regular basis to try to get me to sign up again, but I’m not about to spend $100 a month on something that doesn’t give me anything meaningful.
The problem is that, up here at Five O’Clock Somewhere, we don’t get any broadcast signals, so if we want to get the news, the only way is satellite. And, at least according to the publicly available information from the satellite company, we can’t get our local broadcast stations unless we also subscribe to a package of other channels. At least that package costs less than half what the cable companies charge, but still, that’s more than we can afford right now.
Oh, and for those of you well-meaning folks who are about to suggest we get video over Internet – what we have out here is an extremely slow dial-up connection that gets up to 24K on a good day. That means this evening’s six-o’clock news would be done downloading about the middle of next week – if everything goes well – and in the meantime, the telephone line would be busy, and nobody could contact us, since we don’t have a cell phone signal here either.
Meanwhile, Dulce is in bliss. She is in the place she loves best, and she has all of her humans to wait upon her every whim. For her, at least, the return here has no downside whatsoever.