The Charlie Bravo Story

Not so Rio Grande

A fact that I sometimes forget: you lose approximately 10 degrees for every thousand feet of elevation, and we’re camped at 9000′. I won’t bore you with the math, mainly because I’m too cold to puzzle it out myself, but the answer to the equation is “cold enough”. My little propane heater gave up the ghost in the wee hours, and the temperature has plummeted as surely as the sun rises, with both dogs burrowed so deep under the quilts that they’re liable to come back up with another new virus.

We’ve only been on the road for two days, and already more has happened than I could write about in a week. Charlie had not been in a good mood, even refusing to get out of the van to investigate the palatial dwellings behind the truck stop in Texas where we camped the first night. I think that she was in a bit of a hissy about Marco coming along on what has always been just she and I. The Skittle-y One can be a bit annoying sometimes, always having to be front and center, in my lap, on my shoulders, etc, as I drive. I didn’t think that this would be an issue, as Charlie seldom sits in the front seat any more, choosing to lounge in royal repose on the cot in the back and snooze as the miles roll by. Plus, she’s getting older, and not as excitable as she once was.

Or so I thought, until we hit the headwaters to the Rio Grande way up in Colorado.

A transformation occurred. Ponce de Leon spent years looking for the Fountain of Youth, but he could have saved himself a metric ton of searching if he had started with the icy water up near San Luis. I swear that Charlie immediately dropped at least five years, flouncing and charging about like the Queen of old. Even Marco was transformed, from his usual persnickety little persona to a strutting conquistador, tossing his long hair in the wind like a micro Fabio.

Ah, the wind. The winds whipping across the high plains are always a force of nature, but they were a real booger yesterday, probably in excess of 30-50 mph. This means sand blows everywhere, and I do mean everywhere, so after two days on the road, some hygienic activity was added to the itinerary. There was a time when a dip in the river would have been the answer to my issue, but, like Charlie, I’m not as young as I once was myself, and so must be a bit more circumspect in the parceling out of my thrills. If people ever discovered the healing powers of the Rio Grande, it would put Preparation H out of business, as that icy water will cause anything that might be hanging down to immediately be sucked up.

Kind of like a facelift for your hinder parts, if you’re picking up what I’m laying down.

Anyway, mom loves gadgets, and she had found me one, basically a lithium battery powered sump pump attached via hose to a shower head. I heat water on my propane stove, pour the boiling water in a bucket then add water as to not remove my bristles like a butchered hog, and voila! a backcountry shower. This works remarkably well; we’ve even used it at the Casa during a chilly time when the thermostat on the hot water heater decided to go on strike.

But at home, there are no gale force winds whipping in from every direction. Any attempt to orient the van
to shield myself from their vicious lashing was met with abject failure, so the only solution was to “spray and pray”; lather up, start the shower then scamper around in the desert in a vain attempt to intercept any stray droplets. I had no concerns about anyone happening across this fiasco with a cellphone and the footage showing up on YouTube, because they would have been immediately struck down with a heart attack from laughing at the absurd sight before they ever had a chance to hit the “record” button.

Now to rouse Charlie and head into Chama for a breakfast burrito and huevos rancheros( green chile, please, and gobs of it) with a side of verbal abuse from my friend Fina.

It’s always a party, ain’t it, Woodrow?

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