Stupidity, Part 2

(For Part 1, see here.)

So I woke up In Socorro NM after the previous night’s harrowing near-miss with an empty fuel tank, and you’d better believe that before leaving Socorro I filled the tank up again (even from 7/8 full), just to be sure. Then I set off, heading west along U.S. 60.

The outside temperature in Socorro was about 25F (-4C for my Furrin Readers); cold, but I was in the southern United States, right? so I figured it would warm up as the day went on.

Wrong. As I crossed the Continental Divide (altitude about 5,000ft), the temperature was 0F (-18C) but the day was clear, with no snow falling or anything.

As I drove on, I was a little worried because with cold that extreme, a car’s parts can easily start to break — and I hadn’t seen another car (in either direction) for about half an hour. So I was a little nervous, even though all the gauges looked fine.

Then, about twenty minutes later… ice on the road.

At this point, the road was no longer the arrow-straight highway in the above picture: it had become twisty and hilly, and the shade thrown by the hills was preventing the ice from melting. I slowed down, gradually of course (I’ve driven on icy roads before), but even at 30mph, I felt the car slip occasionally — all-wheel drive doesn’t help on ice.

Now I was really worried. Had I gone off the road, and crashed into a roadside ditch (or worse, off the road into a valley) and the windshield had shattered, I would have been exposed to the elements — and at 0F, even with blankets and warm clothing, death from exposure can take only minutes — and with the paucity of traffic, there was no telling whether there’d be any chance of timely assistance.

As I’ve said, my phone had “bricked” (gone completely dead) the day before. I was, to all intents and purposes, completely alone and isolated. And the temperature fell still further, to -4F.

It was as nerve-wracking a drive as I’d ever made, and only when I was finally able to head north towards the interstate, along a straight road with lots of traffic, did my stress level start to subside.

And I never thought I’d ever say this, but I was glad when I finally got onto I-40 — ordinarily a terrible road to drive on — but on this occasion, something to be welcomed with open arms.

Two things: under such conditions, I’m never going to take a long road trip along back roads without either a companion or else an accompanying car. And if I do have to take such a trip alone, I’ll stick to the poxy interstate highways.

Dying under such circumstances is tragic. Dying unnecessarily is stupid. And I’m not a stupid man — at least, not in this regard, anymore.

Stupidity, Part 1

I could have died, twice, on my drive from Plano to Las Vegas — and both times were from my absolute and utter stupidity.

Day 1 — last Sunday — saw me leaving home at about 8am, day’s end destination TBD, looking forward to a drive through small-town America.

By late afternoon, I finally cleared West Texas. I won’t say it was a boring drive — I did hit a tumbleweed full-on somewhere outside Plainview; terrible mess, cleaning twigs and such from my front bumper and license plate — but it was when I got to New Mexico that the fun started.

Normally, I travel very carefully and with much preparation so that I don’t have to worry while on the road. This trip was a little different. Maybe my mind was still in Britishland, where no trip lasts longer than a couple of hours, and if it does, there are always villages and such where one can find gas and such — and even on the small byways, there’s traffic.

This was not the case on US Highway 60 in New Mexico. Whoa. I could drive for an hour without seeing anybody — couple of trains, but few cars and even fewer people. So when my gas gauge showed a quarter-tank, I looked at the map and saw that the next town was 30 miles away — easy, because even when my gas warning light comes on, I get 40-odd miles, as my car’s handy lil’ trip calculator showed. Except that the next town wasn’t a town, per se, but a few houses; and no gas station. Okay, the next town was only 15 miles away, so no problem, right?

By now night had fallen and the temperature had plummeted from Texas’s warm and friendly 56F to much less: about 28F with, as I was to discover, a biting wind which put the chill to about 15F.

As I got to the next town, I looked for a gas station, but nothing was visible. According to the calculator, I now had 20 miles’ gas left. Shit. There was also (surprise, surprise) no cell phone coverage along that stretch of road.

There was a motel on the east side of town, and I decided that if there was no gas station in town, I’d turn back and stay the night there, and deal with the fuel issue the next morning: in that kind of weather, sleeping in the car was right out.

Luckily, however, I turned a corner, went under a railway bridge, and there was the blessed sight of a 7-11. I dad to pop an aspirin tab, my heart was racing so fast by that point.

I stopped, filled up (nearly freezing to death in the process, because — idiot! — I had forgotten my gloves at home), and set off again. Right before I filled up, though, I checked the trip calculator one more time, and saw that I’d had 12 miles’ of gas left. Way too close for comfort.

Anyway, just as an intellectual exercise, I looked to see where the next gas station showed up — US 60 was about to join I-25 shortly, according to the map, and there had to be a gas station there, right?

Wrong. The next gas station anywhere came up a full 30 miles after I’d filled up. Without that 7-11, I would have run out of gas in the middle of Fuck Nowhere, NM. I wouldn’t even have made it to I-25.

And with no traffic to be seen anywhere, I would have had to stay in my car and wait till morning. Where I would have been found, probably as dead as a doornail and stiff as a board — even though I had a blanket and warm clothing.

But that was nothing, compared to what happened to me the next day. I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.

Blast

Last week Doc Russia and I went off to the range for a “Welcome Home” shooting session with our handguns (to celebrate the fact that Over Here we can do such a thing as opposed to in my erstwhile host country of Britishland, where shooting and ownership of handguns is streng verboten).

As always, I took my Springfield 1911, while Doc brought, in addition to his 1911 in 10mm, a SIG-Sauer Model Something in 9mm.

Dear Readers, I got hurt. Badly hurt. Not from a gunshot wound or anything like that; but I regret to say that after 100 rounds, the heavy (230gr) .45 ACP rounds were beating up my arthritic old wrist something fierce. Worst of all, the pain was giving me an uncontrollable flinch. Even a padded shooting glove didn’t help. At that point, I quit and shot the SIG instead. And I discovered that with the Europellet, my wrist didn’t hurt at all.

Shit. Time to rethink what I’m shooting.

Before anyone gets all upset and starts hooting ‘n hollering, let me reassure you that I’m not going to dump the old 1911 warhorse yet, oh no. First, I’m going to try shooting the lighter 185gr boolets, just to see how that works out. I’ve ordered some experimental ammo from our friends at Ammo.com (see my Blog Roll for a link), and if that works then I’ll replace all my .45 ACP 230gr ammo with the lighter stuff. (“Replace” means just giving all the 230-grain stuff to Doc, of course, and ordering a couple-three thousand rounds of 185s.)

From a  self-defense perspective, I don’t think there’s much difference between the two rounds; the 185gr bullet is lighter but it arrives a little quicker than the 230gr, so anyone at the naughty end of the shot is going to be just as dead. But I will need to shoot a lot of practice 185gr rounds to make sure that I get accustomed to the lighter bullet, after over four decades of shooting the 230gr loads almost exclusively.

I don’t need this shit in my life, but needs must. As one of my friends said, “This getting old stuff isn’t for sissies.”

I just hope that the lighter .45 ACP ammo does the trick. The alternative is just too ghastly to contemplate — and I think y’all know what I mean.

Update: Patreon

More than a few people have written to me to tell that Patreon limits pledges to only $1.

That isn’t so, by the way: according to Tech Support, who investigated it when I asked, you have the option of raising the pledge amount (the $1 is just a starting-point because they don’t deal with any amounts less than a dollar).

At any time, you can go back and change the amount, so if any of you want to do that, please do.

For those who’d prefer to make annual donations, Tech Support is looking into it.

Filthy Lucre Part 2

Back when I could afford it, I used to contribute $5 a month to Michael Yon and a couple other writers because I thought that they were doing a worthwhile thing — and I support Chris Muir’s Day By Day strip because his is the very first site I visit, every single day, and as such he deserves my support.

Now, of course, I am but a poor pensioner and can’t do that anymore, which sucks. Now I’m the guy who needs to make some kind of income from my writing.

As threatened in Saturday’s post, here’s the next thing.

Several people have suggested that I set up a subscription service so that Loyal Readers could contribute towards this goal, so over in the Blog Roll on the bottom right of the page, you will see this link:

If you enjoy visiting my back porch regularly, please go there and make a contribution. I’m not asking for large sums of money; for cash flow purposes, I’d actually prefer a monthly sub of just a few dollars,  which will also make it easier on your wallets. (For those people (like me) to whom it’s important, note that it’s not through PayPal, because I think those hoplophobes have had enough of my business.)

My daily traffic is nothing like my old website’s, but it’s still high enough that if most of you help me out this way, I won’t have to become a greeter at WalMart or drive drunks home at 3 in the morning with Uber.

Among other things, your support will enable me to go to the SHOT show in Vegas for the first time, and report back on the gunny goodness I find there.

And when my regular monthly income reaches a decent level, I’ll set up a patron-only podcast (frequency TBD) as a reward for your patronage, as an adjunct to Splendid Isolation.

Please note that I have no intention of setting up a paywall on this website: the daily output of (inter alia) snarling invective, beautiful women and gun worship will continue to flow unabated for all to see.

And speaking of beautiful women, allow me to post another finalist for Nigella Lawson’s replacement: Sela Ward.

More of her to follow…

As always, I am grateful for your support.

Stupid Idea

January is a crappy month, especially in the northern hemisphere: cold, dark skies, short days, no Christmas holidays to look forward to, and (in the U.S.) the prospect of filing your tax return.

Which makes me wonder why people would want to make the month even more miserable by suggesting that this would be a good time to cut out those things which can alleviate our misery (“Veganuary”, how cute; and “Dry January”). What infamy is this? As if January isn’t shitty enough, now we have to add itching powder to the hairshirt by giving up meat and beer?

It’s only 7am as I write this, yet I feel a nagging need for steak ‘n (butter-fried) eggs, washed down with a Bloody Mary — and we’re not even halfway through the month.

I am getting so sick of people trying to change our lifestyle and behavior “for your own good” — it’s like living with Gwyneth Paltrow and Chuck Schumer in your house, with no earplugs to drown out their endless nagging do-goodery.

Leave me the fuck alone.