It was a busy summer, and now with fall here, I'm once again about to go back for another work stint, which for me will involve working about 18 days in a row, depending on a few unknowns. Last month, for various reasons, I wasn't looking forward to going back to work after my days off; this month I'm merely a bit tired.
In the middle of my typically long work stints, if I feel I've gotten into a bit of a rut, I will often have to renew myself, usually by refocusing my mind, sometimes by something as simple as a hot bath (no hot springs are currently handy). A little burnout or rut development here and there is normal. What has been somewhat atypical this summer is the intensity of our days off, my 10 or so, MOH's 7. I usually spend about one day (sometimes two if I'm lucky) getting ready for days off by catching up on home paperwork and chores, by getting laundry done, and by running a few errands. Then, off we go. The where is usually a great place, and although the where sometimes involves chores of other kinds, the where always involves some needed relaxation. This summer has included two major trips, Alaska and a camping expedition to Wheeler Peak; these trips have been rewarding, enjoyable, relaxing, and offtimes intense. The comings and goings related to these trips — and to smaller trips like one earlier this summer and one earlier this month — always involve getting ready, and the return always involves unwinding from the trip and getting ready to go back to work, often with more paperwork and chores, more laundry, and more errands, giving the whole several days a symmetry of sorts.
These last four months have felt time or event crowded to me, with every day off for both of us seemingly scheduled in advance. Oh yes, we have had time to stop in Middlegate, time to ride our mountain bikes, time to hike to the Pony Express Station (maybe twice!), time to stand in the river and fish, and time to stare deeply into several campfires. We've been fortunate in these things, and in having opportunities for travel, even when some of our travel has been done to accomplish chores and repairs of various kinds. We have also been fortunate in having two jobs, and two cars in which to get to those jobs. Our jobs start at different times of the day; we sometimes pass each other on the road, one coming home from work while the other is going. We wave at each other or flash our lights.
The other week, my truck broke down in front of our little house, fully blocking one of the roads. After trying a few things and getting out the shop manual — hurriedly, because we didn't know what we were going to do if we couldn't get the thing started and dusk was threatening — we determined that the fuel pump, located inside the gas tank, was kaput. I called the emergency number of the place that usually works on my truck; the owner recommended a towing service. I called them, they recommended another outfit. That guy came over immediately, pulled my truck onto his tow truck while neighbors watched, and hauled my malfunctioning truck off to the auto shop. He dropped the truck and keys there (after hours), and delivered the towing bill to my insurance agent the next day. Two days later (a colleague drove me to work and back while I was sans truck) I had my truck back. Yes, it was the fuel pump.
A few days or a couple weeks later, while out camping miles from anywhere but Baker, a town of minimal services — card-reader gas station, a couple motels, a place to get showers, a place that sells firewood for camping, and an operating cafe-bar with small general store of the mini-mart variety — the other car, our Prius, broke down in a way that left it somewhat driveable, driveable only because of its strange hybrid system. We finally determined, after replacing most of the coolant, that the "fan" belt to the water pump had broken or come off. The Prius is not an easy car to work on without a full lift, and it has very tight spaces around most of the parts that one might want to work on, including the belt. We were able to coast it down to Baker without it overheating, and with me driving another vehicle loaned to us by our campmate-SIL. We pulled the Prius into the card-reader gas station, drove the other vehicle over to the cafe-bar. Baker has no cell service. No place near Baker has any usable cell service whatsoever, although I got sniffs on the mountain above 8500 feet. We were able to use the landline at the bar to call the number of my auto shop (which I had on my not completely useless cell phone), and were able to find that they were probably the only place for hours that could work on a Prius. So we called the same towing company, met the tow truck by the Prius a couple hours later, and had the car dropped at the auto shop. We drove SIL's vehicle back to camp.
Now we have a whole campfull of gear, ours and SIL's, and one vehicle, when it took two fully loaded vehicles to get the gear and the three of us to camp. We left with SIL the next day, the day she was planning on leaving anyway, picked up my truck at our little house, drove back to camp, and stayed an extra day! The luxury of having an extra day! And the luxury and good fortune of having the vehicles to pull this thing off! (We weren't as overscheduled as I thought, it turned out.)
We stayed overnight, packed up camp the next morning, drove in and unpacked, then picked the Prius up at the shop. Yes, it was only the one belt, the one running the water pump.
It has seemed like a bit of a marathon summer, perhaps fall will be more steady-as-she-goes.