May 11, 1999
|It is colder today and the forecast
says it will drop into the teens tonight. There is supposed to
be a warming trend tomorrow through Friday, Whoo Hooo! Looks
like I'll take the day off from riding and stick around here.
I got up early and walked around the property some. With my stomach
yelling at me for its morning feeding, I went and knocked on Gene's
door. Although the restaurant/general store was only 1.5 miles
away, I really didn't want to bike in this cold at all. Gene
came to the door and said he'd be ready in about ten minutes.
Arriving at the store, we encounter Kirk and Justin working inside. Both of them appear to be ummm...18-23 years old. I ordered two pancakes and toast which were devoured as soon as I got them. After I finished eating, Kirk, Justin, and I, discussed my ride. They were both pretty cool and I tried to convince them to do it someday too. Then Beau showed up and we talked some before Gene was ready to head back.
This time Gene was driving a tractor back to inn. He was going to use it to move the large, round, bales of hay to feed the horses. I rode on the fender and Geezzz was it cold!! When we got back, I helped Gene attach this giant 3-pronged fork to the bucket on the tractor. Our first attempt was unsuccessful in getting it attached correctly. Will, the maintenance man, helped us get it attached and was really cool as we all worked together. Then we saw a feeder rolling down the hill towards the stream. Apparently, at some point it was left on its side and the wind must have caught it just right to send it rolling. I took off running to stop it but it hit the water way before I could get there. By the time I walked back, Gene had already stabbed the fork into one of those giant bales of hay. He drove it over by one of the feeders and I stood the feeder on its side so he could put the hay on the ground. Then I laid the feeder down around the hay. We moved the two bales of hay that way and then we were ready to take the tractor back. Gene was very awkward in trying to manevuer the tractor and appeared unfamiliar with how the controls worked.
Prior to finishing, I had several encounters with Will. He appeared to be trying to do too many things at once. It seemed to me that his mind was always going in 20 different directions which affected his communication abilities, especially giving instructions. I noticed him lose so many things in a short period of time, constantly saying "now where did I put the...". There is indeed a lot of work that needs to be done, but it appeared to be too much for one maintenance guy. Will went on to complain about Gene and how Gene left his notebook sitting on the ground behind the barn. That was only a minor thing he complained about, but I reassured Will that Gene seemed a bit new to this environment and would probably catch on pretty soon. He mumbled something after that, not sure what it was.
Will told Gene to drive the tractor back and he'd meet him at the store. After my first tractor ride, I decided I'd ride back with Will in a nice warm truck. As it turned out, he didn't leave right away. Instead he tried to fix the trailer behind the truck. It was full of dirt and he couldn't get the dump to lift all the way up. The battery on the trailer was dead so he attempted to patch two cables for the trailers hydraulic lift into the truck's towing harness. He was unsuccessful and it seemed to frustrate him. At that point the lift was about half way up so he tried driving really fast and then slamming on the brakes. This went on several times, going backwards and forwards. But the dirt was thick mud that wouldn't move. I asked if there was a shovel so we could just scoop it out. We both began shoveling but Will became impatient and went back to driving fast and slamming on the brakes. This time he drove farther to gain more speed, but still no luck. So he drove around back, to the barn, and put the battery charger on the trailer battery.
Then, as he walked away, he asked if I would clean up the piles. A good example of his unclear instructions. He knew what he wanted done but didn't relay the info to me very well. I saw piles of old wood pieces and small piles of old hay...So I asked, "what piles?" Then I had to ask where to put them. He seemed frustrated that I couldn't read his mind and do what he wanted.
Will then told me he had to make some phone calls and said, "I'll meet you back here". After shoveling the piles of hay and debris into the trailer, I waited about 20 minutes for him to return. He hadn't come back so I walked to my room to use the bathroom. When I finished I saw the truck being driven into the pasture. I walked into the pasture just as he finished dumping the contents of the trailer. As he drove towards me, I smiled and gave him a "thumbs up", congratulating him on his success. "Are you riding back?" He asked in a quick, rough, voice. Apparently upset that I wasn't there waiting for him when he returned. I hopped in the truck and he sped off the property and onto the road. As I started to speak, he turned the volume on the radio all the way up to drown out what I was saying. Man, that really upset me! Here I was being nice in offering to help and the maintenance man was treating me like crap! I was forced to ride with a man driving dangerously fast, 80mph, through hilly curves. Good thing it was a short ride to the store. He pulled up front, turned the music down, and said "You and Gene can go work on whatever today. I don't care what you do." What a shock! At first he had been nice, but he turned so quickly. I knew someone that had sudden and extreme mood swings; he had Bipolar Personality Disorder (BPD). This seemed like the same sort of thing.
I found Gene inside and then talked to Justin and Kirk. Will came back and sat at a table discussing something with Gene. Beau showed up and I hung out to talk with him, Justin, and Kirk. Ends up that Beau has been to several places that I've biked through. He lived near Belle Glade and agreed with my description of the place. He also lived near Jonesboro and said it was a worse place than I had described. Nevertheless, Those are two places NOT to bike through. After Will left, Gene and I walked outside. He showed me the old covered wagon and the stagecoaches. Then we went into the large restaurant out back that's currently under major re-construction. The restaurant and bar will be moved out of the front building when this one is done. Most of the floor space will then be used as a general store and the bar will be used for gourmet coffees and pastries.
After I ate a bowl of chicken noodle soup for lunch, Gene and I went back to visit the horses. As we went up to each horse Gene discussed their differences. He told me about the hierarchy within the group. Laddie is the best looking horse and he's also at the top of the ranking. Gene showed me a technique to calm a horse as he stuck his fingers between the horses upper lip and teeth. Uh....no thanks! Those teeth look too big for me to put my fingers anywhere near them! But Gene was very good with the horses and seemed to possess a natural ability with them. We petted most of them and I thought it was so awesome to be standing in a field of such beautiful and graceful animals. There were 18 of them, all just hangin' out eating the grass. This is something I could do every day.
We walked back to the Inn and I went to my room to use the bathroom, a big job this time :-) A few moments later Gene came to my door, "here's a souvenir for you", he said as he handed me a belt buckle that says "Nemo Ranch" on it. Wow, that was really nice of him. Unfortunately, I had nothing to give in return except my thanks. Then I took a nap and woke to the sound of Will talking to Gene. I heard him say that he was leaving for a couple of days and would return on Thursday.
It had been snowing a little off and on all day. Not much and at times you could barely see it. I remember thinking, "Well, at least it's warm enough to snow". About an hour after Will had left, Gene and I headed to the store. Grilled chicken sandwich for me mmm mmm! We sat and talked about when he was in Alaska and about some of the small isolated towns. Gene lived in Eagle which is pretty isolated, especially in the winter. I told him about how much I enjoyed McCarthy. He went on to tell me how some guy there got cabin fever in the winter and went around shooting everybody. Apparently he killed about half the town before he was stopped. Geeez, I'll have rethink my desire to live in a small town in Alaska. He also told me about a stranger that showed up in Manley Hot Springs. He never spoke to anyone. It was a small town and most were nervous about the guy. Soon after, people in town began disappearing they called the State Police to fly in. When the helicopter flew over a river near town, he was spotted chopping up a body. Gunfire was exchanged and one officer was killed before they finally got him. Man, that is sick! I hope I never encounter anyone like that! I'll have to keep my bear mace ready!!
When the conversation went from Alaska to him moving to Colorado, Gene seemed a bit uncomfortable. He just left Colorado because of all the memories of his wife and daughter that were killed in an auto accident. With all he was telling me, things didn't click correctly. I thought I was mistaken on some things he had already told me about. But the time he was in Alaska and the time in Colorado and the age of his daughter. His daughter would've been with him when he lived in Alaska. So to clarify things a little I asked about the reason why he left Alaska and wondered if it was his wife and daughter that wanted to move to Colorado. He just got real quite and looked at me first puzzled and then his expression got a sad look to it, but he was eerily quite for a few seconds. The silence was broken when Gene told me he had to leave and would be back in a little while. I felt bad about bringing up his wife and daughter. But if it was 4 years ago when this happened, then he should be able to talk about it. I know others that do and it is healthy to discuss these things. I still felt a little weird about that and something didn't seem right. Gene appears to be a sincere, kind-hearted man, but something seems not quite right.
An hour and a half passed and still no sign of Gene. He was coming right back to get me, what happened to him? Now it is a bit weirder, I'm just sitting here at this table and read everyone of those free newspapers and the back issues.
I decided that this would be a great opportunity for me to walk back with the setting sun. The valley wall to the east was lit up against the ethereal sky. Different colors played on the rock surface making it an incredible view. I wanted to photograph this brilliant display of nature but, without my camera, I had to settle for burning the image into my brain. As I walked I began to see myself on the inside looking out onto a three dimensional movie screen. It was a very nice walk, even if it was also very cold. At times I forgot about the temperature as I walked in awe.
Today - 0 miles
*Update - It was later discovered that Gene was a con-artist wanted in 30 states and never had a wife or daughter. He used those devices to prevent people from questioning too much about him or his past.
Will turned out to be on medications for his psych problems which ended up getting out of control. On the day he was asked to leave, he refused to leave the property and the state police had to come remove him.