THANK GOD FOR GLOBAL WARMING

Yes, I am being flippant. Still, as cold as it has been this past few weeks I have to thank God for global warming or we would most likely be fighting off the polar bears that are sure to be fleeing their native habitat.
Morning temperatures hovering just under twenty degrees and wind chill factors of ten or fifteen degrees less are January weather here. Even then it often lasts for but a day or two before a fluctuation into the range of a pleasant forty degrees.
We have had little break from cold temperatures this month and even in November we had some pretty cold days. Still, I have lived long enough now to earn the privilege of telling stories and saying I remember when …
About four years ago we had a real cold snap with morning temperatures, without factoring in wind chill, of around five degrees. By spring most plumbers were driving new trucks!
Still, the worst winter in Kingman that I recall was in the late 1970s. I was living in a little house that fronted on the pre 1953 alignment of Route 66 at the bottom of the Sacramento Valley, burned wood as the sole source of heat, and worked for a small sawmill operation at the railroad spur near McConnico.
For a full week the temperatures never got above freezing, the snow stayed on the ground for almost two weeks, and I almost froze my behind off. The house I lived in was unfinished meaning it had bare block walls without insulation and concrete floors. One morning there was as much frost on the inside of the house windows as there was on my truck windshield! To add to the fun my old truck did not have a heater or defroster as that was optional equipment at the time whenit was manufactured.
This, however, is not my coldest Arizona experience. That took place a few years later in the old railroad ghost town of Drake which is in the mountains south of Williams and Ashfork.
After being laid off from Kennecott Copper in January, I was between jobs and took the first thing that came along. For this job we, a friend and I, were in the employ of a railroad worker that had purchased one of the old houses with the stipulation it be razed. Our job was to complete the demolition and haul the materials to Kingman for reuse.
Our home for this project was a tent, the cab of my old truck, or a small unheated camper. Supplies were purchased in Paulden or Chino Valley and clean up was accomplished by using a railroad shop down the tracks a piece that had a shower. This was in late February and morning temperatures were often sitting at zero.
One morning I gathered wood for a fire, set up the Coleman stove, dug the coffee pot out of the truck and set about to making coffee. Our water for drinking and such were these little insulated water cartons from the railroad we kept in the camper.
When I went to pour the water into the coffee pot it froze solid! I suppose the metal and air were just the right temperatures for the insulated water to freeze on contact.
When it did warm up the roads became an absolute quagmire so we often chose the shortest route, about ten miles of back road to highway 89. We were living as though it were 1940!
Enhancing the illusion was our transportation choices. I started this endeavor with a nice 1976 Chevy p.u. that was good for going down the highway at sixty, looking pretty, and sucking gas. With that truck I spent more time digging out than driving.
So, on a trip into Kingman, I drank a bit in those days, I ended up trading that truck for a beautiful, completely rebuilt 1946 GMC. Hands down this is one of the best trucks ever owned for these kind of endeavors. With 17″ wheel and tires, and a couple hundred pounds of rocks in the back if I wasn’t hauling a load, I would slip it into compound low, pull out the throttle knob, and hang on to the wheel as it fish tailed down that forest service road. I never had this truck stuck.
Over the years I have paid my dues in some of those nasty places that start with “M” (Minnesota, Michigan, etc.) and much prefer the warmer climates of the desert southwest. I have been out here so long that when it dips below eighty I look for the long johns.
Still, there are occasions when I give thought to that long buried dream of experiencing the open spaces, the frontier of Alaska. I will admit that these thoughts are most prevalent on the warm days of summer, especially when I find my favorite camping spot is being plowed up for new homes or a shopping center.
Meanwhile, I guess sucking it up, finding something to enjoy in each day, and counting the days to that first glorious afternoon when the mercury rises above 100 degrees is the best option. It looks as though it will be a long winter, especially as I am counting the days till summer and winter doesn’t start for another week!

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jimhinckleysamerica

Jim Hinckley's America is a grand adventure on the back roads and two lane highways. It is an odyssey seasoned with fascinating people, and memory making discoveries. As made evident by the publication of fourteen books on subjects as diverse as diverse as Ghost Towns of the Southwest, The Illustrated History of the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company, Travel Route 66, Backroads of Arizona, and The Route 66 Encyclopedia, I enjoy sharing adventures and helping people plan for their own memory making journeys.

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