July 15/23 long, long drawn out heat wave

It’s not that 103 F. is so terrible but that it’s going on now for more than a week, hitting 103 every day.

I recall in gruesome detail coming back from our ride at Fort Clark last year in June and it was 108 F. on the return trip. Evelyn had left early Sunday morning, and April and June and I left later. The place looked scalded.

Fort Clark is near the Rio Grande and we were heading back up into the Hill Country, which meant pulling hills — April and June were in her trailer, a living-quarters 22-foot trailer with two horses, which meant she was pulling about, I guess, at least 9,000 pounds, and I had just my small trailer with Jackson in it, so the trailer is rated at 3,000 lbs. and Jackson weighs about 1200, so say four thousand. So when we started up the grades, my temperature gauge started ominously climbing above 210, slowly, slowly, and the outside temperature stated 108 F. This made me extremely nervous. So I slowed down and it dropped back to normal but then I couldn’t get up the hills.

I noticed April, behind me, was dropping farther and farther behind so I knew she was having the same trouble. The trouble was that if you stopped to let the engine cool down and stop overheating, there wasn’t any cooling down! I thought if April stops totally I can at least take one of their horses –Indira or June’s horse Missy — in my trailer and try to get up the hills with two horses. To get out in that heat and unload and then reload a horse made me about pass out just thinking about it.

What I did was, when I topped a hill at about 40 mph., I shifted to neutral and coasted down. With 4000 lbs pushing me I sometimes got up to 75-80 mph which got me partially up the next hill and the temperature gauge down to 210 again. When I topped the next grade, I could see April farther and farther behind. I knew she was having trouble.

Here’s the relative sizes of the trailers. First picture is Evelyn’s 22-foot (same size as April’s) when we were in New Mexico. Only picture of it I have.

And that’s my little trailer.

So at any rate, we basically crawled home, coasting down hills and creeping up the ensuing hill coming at us, creeping up, getting every yard out of the coast that we could before shifting back into gear. And so we made it home, without blowing any engines, nursing our vehicles and loads like they were fussy babies, mile by mile.

That was 108 F., 103 doesn’t seem so bad except that it’s going on for weeks. I am trying to book a flight to Veracruz for August, going to visit the wonderful Contreras family and my friend Elvia, who like me is a book fiend, and the town Coatepec is at 3,000 feet and cool!