Destruction Aftermath, Book 3
Copyright© 2011 by radio_guy
We left England with the feeling that the group would manage and, with the radios, would stay in touch with Dad and Mom from Preservation. We sailed southerly from the Englaish coast planning landfall on the French coast and then coasting to Spain. My dad and Jen's dad wanted to try to find their radio friend though they hadn't heard from Juan in Madrid in many years.
We went to twenty meters and talked to Dad and Jack. We had no real maps but they did. We sailed south along the coast of France past Bordeaux. The coastline curved back west and we followed it talking frequently. We docked at San Sabastian. George, Ed, and their wives would remain on the boat while the rest of us checked out the town and made plans to try for Madrid and Juan.
We scouted around the docks and then began on the town going through every building that might hold information. On the morning of the second day, we finally h it pay dirt and found a store that sold maps. We took a map of every place we could imagine including a world atlas and another describing ocean currents. They were in pretty good shape. We found a number of maps of Spain both geographical with elevations and roads. We could now make some real plans. Everyone was both happy to find that this town had no inhabitants. We found some cattle and some donkeys. Mules were not to be expected and we saw no horses. We found no pigs and that made me glad. Feral pigs were not fun. There were no dogs either which was a surprise. Cats were all over and probably responsible for the low rodent population. All in all, San Sebastian was a nice little place. There were even some volunteer crops growing. The fresh meat and few vegetables helped our diet.
We continued to scout around trying to get a feel for the area and to determine how we would make the trip. It wasn't close, being about three hundred miles each way according to our estimates from the maps. We wanted to have a radio to talk to the Rose as well as back to Preservation and to England, if possible. We would need a cart and donkey or donkeys. We would also need batteries, generator, antennas, and radios. We had left most of our equipment in America so had to try to gather that stuff for the trip, also. All in all, it would be a load and, with a speed of twenty miles a day at best, we figured it would three weeks each way with a week in Madrid. It would be almost two months on the road! Of course, that estimate did not consider any problems that might crop up either.
Dad and I argued back and forth over this because I was concerned about the time it would take while he wanted to find out about Juan if we could.
By the end of the week, we had a cart, two donkeys, a bicycle modified generator, and some industrial batteries from a boat that hadn't sunk too deeply. We had made a couple of antennas but had found no radios. We would have to take one of the ones we had leaving neither us nor the Rose with a spare. That worried me considerably. We would look as we traveled hoping to find something. Two meters was not a solution because there were no repeaters and we would lose line of sight forcing us to eighty meters for short range. We decided that we would try to use ten or twelve meters side band for our local talk but weren't sure what the conditions might be. Eighty meters should work with forty and twenty working well for longer distances.
We had a farewell dinner that evening after everything was loaded. The next morning saw us started on our way heading southwest for our first leg. It was a nice sunny day and we had set an odometer on the cart to determine our speed. It wouldn't be fast. I was beginning to think that two months might be quicker than we would go.
The donkeys weren't fast and our walking pace was quicker except for Joe. He was the only one not used to walking distances. He and Bennie took turns driving the cart. We stopped late that first day having only made about fifteen miles according to our odometer on a fairly flat road with little in the way of obstructions. I hoped we would improve as we became more travel hardened.
After supper that night, I talked with George and Dad explaining that my fears were still present though we were continuing on.
The next day saw us reach our first way point and we had made about twenty miles for the day. However, we rose early and walked late into the day before stopping.
I was unsure how long we could maintain this pace without a rest day. We continued to watch for animals and people. I sure would like to find a herd of wild horses. The time spent in breaking them for the saddle and harness would be worth it. We also watched for useable vehicles including bicycles. Tires were the real concern. Rubber didn't age well after twenty years or more.
We continued to trek on. At the end of our third day, we had just under fifteen miles on the odometer for the day. I felt that was more realistic. If we could hold to that as an average, it would be a total of twenty days traveling with a rest break which I didn't think possible.
We managed two more days averaging fifteen miles a day. We had covered eighty miles and everyone was tired. Jen was suffering because she was starting to show and the extra weight was being felt. We had to stop and we really needed to find some transportation assistance. Bennie and I had tried a couple of cars but tires were a factor. They would flatten and then dry rot in place. Our cart had wooden wheels and rode a bit rough but it keep going. We just greased the axle every day in the morning and at lunch.
We stopped for the day. Bennie and I went again to look for anything useful. We had found houses for each evening that were in acceptable shape for a night. We were coming up to a village and had made camp on the outskirts of it. We went there first hoping for some good thing to be found. We found a bicycle shop! There were fresh tires and plenty of bikes. We quickly readied two bikes and rode back to camp. Everyone was pleased and wanted to go in and get themselves a bicycle.
We finally decided to move our camp to the shop area as it was at the edge of the town square and there was a fountain there that seemed to have clean water. We put our camp together in a building next to the shop that appeared to have been a bed and breakfast type place. The beds were comfortable after we swept the rooms clean and put on clean linens.
Everyone adjourned to the bicycle shop to select bicycles. While there were some racing type bikes, we all went for the mountain bike type with wide knobby tires. There were plenty for everyone to choose and still have spares as well as parts and extra tires. We also picked four air pumps to take with us along with tire repair kits. We also found useful and useable baskets to mount on the bikes to carry goods with us as we traveled. We were all in a better mood when we left with our findings. Bennie and I decided to go out through the town some more. I still had hopes for horses. They would be quicker than the donkeys. The other possibility would be to leave the cart and everyone ride bikes to Madrid and back. I continued to be concerned about the time this trip would take at our current speed.
We talked it over at supper that evening. Jen and Janice agreed with me while Bennie, Joe, and Kim said they didn't care. We decided to cut our equipment down to a minimum and make a run for Madrid. We had Juan's address for when we got there. The biggest problem was communications and the biggest problem in that area was the batteries. We needed a way to transport batteries and our generator. The radio was small and the antenna could be rolled up since it was just wire and coax.
Another foray to the bike shop the next morning produced a catalog with a cart to attach to a bike but no cart. Bennie and I discussed building one but lacked an axle among other important parts.
Bennie and I would scout our the town and the rest would check over the square. We left looking for anything that would get the batteries and generator on wheels. We found a baby carriage that could mount separately behind a bicycle. I didn't like it but it did seem to work and would allow one of us to pull the batteries and generator. We tried to keep the rest of the load on Bennie's bike light because of that. He was the designated radio man with Jen and Kim flanking him. Jen, Joe, and I took turns riding point though we weren't as far ahead as we should as point riders.
We could now put down a good fifty miles a day. It gave us time to get there without too much time. Going slow made us a target even though the bicycles did make us more precariously balanced as we rode.
Five more days of travel got us to Madrid's outskirts without incident. We stopped there to check in with everyone for the evening and to take our bearings to determine better how to go and what we thought we might find.
I was surprised to not find any people in Spain so far. That both worried me and made my thinking about people issues better. Not having any people around meant no trouble with us as outsiders and we wouldn't have to be as alert to trouble. On the other hand, it worried me and increased my alert level because I hadn't found anyone.