Floating the OLD NAG’s Teeth from the Last Grand Adventure
We accidentally picked up a stow-away stock dog right outside of Glenns Ferry, Idaho. It was a Queensland shepherd, and he knew that a wagon ride leads to adventure! (The dog’s owner had a covered wagon of his own and takes part in the annual ‘Glenns Ferry Three Island Crossing’ an historical re-enactment done with stock and wagons.)
I noticed the dog sitting in the yard of a farm house and as he was being quiet and well behaved I thought no more about him until we were a mile or so further along. Then, I suddenly realized that he was walking alongside the wagon. I ordered him to go home. He stopped walking and made as if to go back.
We progressed another mile before I caught him sneaking along through the weeds that bordered the road. I stopped the team, climbed down, and commanded him to “sit” and “stay.” I saw that he was obeying so I climbed aboard again and got the team moving. He obediently stayed where he was.
I’d stand up and look back over the canvas top now and again to check on him. The last time I looked behind us, he was just a black dot, still sitting beside the road. I believed that I had solved the problem.
Two hours later, I had to climb off to check a tire and there was the dog. He was sitting quietly on the trailer thung of the wagon, trying to hide!
When he saw that he was discovered he whined, wagged his stumpy tail and begged to stay. I was taken with the dog, and would have been glad to keep him, but I sent him home with the next pick-up truck that came along. It was good that I did return him; because the next car that stopped was his owner! It would have been hard to explain why his dog was riding on our wagon!
It rained the day Mother Teresa died. We were in Buhl, Idaho spending our last dollar on a vanilla ice cream cone to share when we heard the news.
That evening Lloyd Warr, from Burley, Idaho came to find us and brought us fresh vegetables from his garden. I explained to Lloyd that I had just purchased a new batch of ‘pony’ shoes and that I was shoeing all six burros about every two-hundred miles. He told me to hold off on shoeing and offered to cork the shoes for me. I knew that the process was expensive. Each shoe must be shaped to the foot of each of that animals four feet then a brass alloy with a hard as diamonds substance would be melted on to the shoe. The brass would adhere to the shoe holding the carbide to the shoe in so doing extending the life of the shoe I explained that I was penniless at the moment.
He wasn’t the least bit daunted. He took those two dozen steel shoes from me and took them back to Burley where he must have spent most of the night corking them to prolong their life!
When he brought twenty-four ‘golden’ shoes (colored by the brass matrix and the acetylene torch) back the next day we thanked him profusely. It was a very generous gift indeed!
Those ‘golden’ shoes lasted the rest of the journey. They had to be reset several times as the burros hoofs grew out and needed trimming, but… Lloyd saved me a great deal of hard labor!
Carol decided to close a metal staple with her teeth later in the week, and when she bit down she notched and split a front tooth. She couldn’t see it, (we didn’t have a mirror at the time) and wasn’t very concerned; but the tooth promised to keep splitting; so I took charge of the situation.
I held my wife up against the back door of the sheepherder wagon with my left forearm, pulled her tongue out the side of her mouth with my left hand, and filed her teeth with a file, just as I would float the back teeth of an old horse. At least that is how she tells it.
Carol squirmed, cried, and fussed all the while she was appreciating my labor of love.
Afterward she was spitting enamel and iron filings for a while and her tongue was hanging out the side of her mouth in a funny way for days; but the crack didn’t split any further and she quickly forgave me.
It had rained the evening we met up with Lloyd and I perceived that summer was over. It was time to imitate the birds and move south. However, I had decided that I didn’t want to go back home to Death Valley. No, not just yet. I wanted more adventure!
The question was: Where could we go to avoid winter?
Southern Arizona is probably the first answer to come to your mind. It was my answer too. And, I knew just the place. I had been hearing about Quartzsite, ‘a prospector’s paradise,’ for years and thought that I’d go down there and have a look around!
We turned our tails to the north and began to hurry south to avoid winter. The burros knew that cold weather wasn’t far behind us and they upped their pace to two and a half miles an hour as we set out to cross Nevada from north to south!
Our first taste of winter was just as we were crossing from Idaho into Nevada on Route 93. We entered Jackpot, Nevada on September 9 and almost immediately it began to rain. It came in the form of heavy downpours and hail that continued every afternoon and evening for four days. We didn’t try to travel during that time. I saw lightening strike a tower of a casino across the street from the Covered Wagon Motel where we were parked. We watched hail the size of quarters float down the gutters in steady streams of rainwater every afternoon!
While we were in town we were guest of one of the large casinos to a diner and a show. The band that was playing was a Beatles look a like group. And there was a promise of a steak dinner. I was hopeful that it would not bother me as much as the last show we attend at Death Valley Junction. This time it was poor little Christmas Carol: the steak was good and so was the band: the band was also loud which caused my companion to tell me that she was going back to the wagon. That was in the middle of the first song. So much for culture and the finer things in life.
Our second taste of winter was when we awoke in Clover Valley on the twenty-first of September to see snow on all the mountains around us and the third and final touch of winter for us that season was when we were buried in two inches of cold, wet snow on October 11, just south of Lund, Nevada…
But, I’m getting ahead of myself!
Let’s back track a mite. You remember that I told you about Lloyd Warr’s gift of corked burro shoes, and that I had admitted to being flat broke…
I put my hands to work replacing all the worn out burro shoes with the new golden ones and at the same time put my mind to work on the problem of finances. The two activities came together beautifully! I had twenty-four used burro shoes, with the toes and heels worn away and they were very picturesque!