Saturday, February 29, 2020

Injury, Trail Work, Illness, Weather, and Car Trouble

For the past two months, I haven't so much been slacking on writing, as on doing.

"Avid readers" will remember the wood I jammed through my arm a while back.

Turns out that bit you can see wasn't the half of it. There was more up inside. They cut my arm open at urgent care, but couldn't get anything out, so they had to send me home with an inch long, open, bleeding, leaking gash, which eventually spit out several bits of wood.

The wound, then, stopped bleeding and weeping, and closed up nicely. But, it feels like there's still more wood in there. So, I may have to do it all again some day.

While I was at it, I got a tetanus shot and a flu shot, since they were offering.

A few days later I met Debbie at her parents' farm.

We picked up Bandit and Smoke and met Nancy at the Bull Mountain Lot.

Debbie and I loaded tools onto the horses and rode them out to the new trail on Jones Creek Ridge, where we did endless amounts of lopping - finishing work on the new trail.

While I was out there working, Rob came riding by. Once again, a hundred miles from home, I randomly run into friends.

Riding out and back was wonderful. It'd been a long time since I'd been on a horse, and Bandit's a really easy-going horse. He likes to trot, but I like it when he trots, whether he's supposed to or not.

That was the last good day.

Immediately afterwards, I fell ill. Flu-level ill, though it probably wasn't the flu, considering I'd just gotten the shot. I was sick with that for a month. Literally a month. Early February, I came down with a string of 3 secondary infections too. I'd be getting well, then bam, another one. Fortunately they were short lived, but it was mid-February before I was well again.

The only saving grace was that it rained, non-stop, the entire time. I think there were 1 or 2 dry days in all of January, and it was about the same for the first 3 weeks of February. So, it's not like I missed a lot of riding, but in conditions like that, I'd usually go hiking, and I didn't get to do any of that. I could feel the atrophy, and eventually see it in the mirror.

Terrible. But it wasn't over. Not by a long shot.

Driving home one day, my truck started tapping. A few blocks later, I could barely get it into a parking spot at a local gas station. Billy towed me home. The next day I tore it all apart, and discovered that the timing chain had jumped. I spent the next two days trying to get the timing cover off, eventually admitted defeat trying to get the alternator loose, and had it towed to the most reputable local shop I know of. They wanted $4000 to replace the motor and couldn't promise me it wouldn't be $2000 more once they got it out. Nobody else would touch it. Long story short, I ended up towing it to my Dad's shop in Texas on a U-Haul automotive transport, which they would only rent to me if I pulled it with a U-Haul cube van. The thirteen hours it took to get to Dallas, pulling a trailer with an empty cube van, were some of the most miserable I've ever driven. They fixed it though, in short order, and I got to spend good time with my folks. It turned out that one if the chain guides had randomly exploded and let the chain get pretty slack. I thought it had jumped a few degrees around the intake cam, but it turned out that it had jumped waaaay around the exhaust cam.

Back in Atlanta, I struggled for a week to catch up on work. Then my power steering started screaming at me, and the belt started slipping. I figured one of the hoses was leaking. Nope. The timing cover was leaking. A day later, I'd gotten the power steering pump off and tried to patch it from the outside with TA-31. No luck. I just kept pushing the leak further and further up to the valve cover, where I could no longer apply goop precisely enough to stop it. So, after two days of screwing around with it, I just put it back together, and tomorrow I'm heading back to Dallas with a can of brake cleaner, and a prayer that my belt stays in place.

On the upside, I'll get to see my folks again. My Dad has a new bike. I'm bringing mine. We'll probably get some riding in. With a little luck, we'll be able to do a local overnight.

On the downside, I'm so behind on work that gainful employment is at legitimate risk. And, if that wasn't bad enough, I started working on my taxes and discovered what depreciation recapture is. Hell of a thing to just find out about.

And, I didn't even mention the two crowns that I'm halfway through getting, the intense tooth pain, and root canals I'll likely need. Or, the 14 crowns that it turns out that Kathryn needs. Or the two scholarship days at local universities, right in the middle of trying to get my truck working again. Or any of the other random stuff that I'm sure I'm forgetting.

I managed 2 rides, total from December 25th to February 29th, and it'll be a few more days still before the next one, assuming the weather holds out.

When it rains, it pours, and it's been raining, almost non-stop, for nearly two months now. I hope it stops soon.

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