Destruction Aftermath, Book 4
Copyright© 2011 by radio_guy
The next day, we got to know the Morrison folks' lifestyle. There were a couple of funny looks over Jim's wives but they got over it quickly. Mary and Louise were such nice ladies and loved people. Soon, the ladies of Morrison were gathering around them for advice and enjoyable conversation.
Terry had Amos and Jerry prepare for a trip to Oklahoma City for the next day. All three were cheered when Janice and Bennie volunteered to go also. They would know something of what was being sought and were used to entering new and potentially hostile places.
All four of them would have horses and Amos' wife, Joan, would drive a one horse cart. We waited for the time to call that evening.
Jack called with Michael and Ben in attendance. They had researched our archives where Shirley, Janice, and others had downloaded a fair amount of everything. Power generating equipment for smaller scale situations was high on that list. At supper, Janice had remembered and told of filing that information away including wind turbines and more thinking that it was useless to clutter a hard drive with junk. We all had a good laugh. Preservation was ready with much information. We copied for an hour using five different people. There was a shopping list with preferences and alternatives. There were instructions on assembly and start-up operation. I told Janice and Bennie that, tomorrow while they were chasing parts, that they should try to find radios and antennas as well. We had enough radios but more never hurt. Morrison people were spread out more than Preservation folk and needed the information and warning support that the radios could provide.
The next morning, they left and Jen and I began to teach lessons in radio to the men and women of Morrison. There were a few outlying families that would need a visit but that would wait for electricity. All totaled, it would be an almost two week delay in our trip. We may run out of time before we can cross the Rockies. I shared my worries with Jen at night. I had read the same books as she. The ones that told of early snow storms and blizzards high in the Rockies passes.
The shopping, or looting, expedition to Oklahoma City went well. They found a shop that sold wind turbines and cleaned it out. We sent another wagon from Morrison because of the load for turbines and wind mill parts. The excitement increased further when a call for a third wagon was sent because of the store of batteries that was found. What had been planned for one day took three days because of the good luck in finding items on the shopping list. Terry had people picking up other items of use. The city was deserted and looked like it had been abandoned shortly after the Day. It was a mystery to me why there were so few people in this particular area. That issue remains to this day.
Finally, after three days of systematic looting or shopping however you might define it, everyone was back for a celebratory dinner. We had been sorting parts and other items as they came in and had enough equipment for four full wind generator stations with battery banks. Each station was capable of generating and storing enough power for two houses for four days without wind as long as there was no air conditioners running. After a bit of discussion, some of it rancorous, Terry decided that the four stations would be parceled out by lot. The area was divided into fourths and people from each fourth would be eligible for a power station. The winner from each fourth would have their closest neighbor as their partner in the station. We had enough wind mills and turbines for four more stations without batteries. Those stations would also support two houses electrical needs. Therefore, each fourth could have four winners. This was considered fair by all and the Preservation people would oversee the lottery and drawing. Terry did not participate in the lottery which pretty much ended any questions about fairness.
After the drawing in which only one of Terry's chief lieutenants was a winner, we made plans to install the stations. It was not difficult, just time consuming. We had also scrounged parts for a number of hand or foot cranked generators which would allow every household to have a radio if they wanted it. Terry did plan to take advantage of that. He would also have a neighbor who would have full power and a complete rig. Amos was one of his chief assistants. Terry warned him that he would be at his place often for radio time.
We taught installers and completed one installation complete with radios. Before we left, there were three full stations in Morrison including Amos' station. People were talking and liking that ability. We readied our wagons and left after two weeks in Morrison. We retraced our route to US 412 and headed north leaving new friends who would have a better chance to make it in the future.
Our trip to Wichita was without incident and we saw no one further during the six day trip.
From Wichita, we continued north to Salina for four days where we turned west for Denver. At over four hundred miles, it was now our longest leg. We stopped for the night and went over the map looking for way points for our trip. There really weren't any sizable cities on the way that would easily mark our progress. We noted a few towns; Colby, Kanorado which was on the state line, Vona, Limon where the interstate took a northern jog, and Strasburg which led into Denver. We were in for over a month of slow travel and summer was waning. It was the end of July and we had a month of travel just to get to Denver.
At least the road was quiet though long. The Great Plains are not scenic like the north Georgia mountains or the lakes in my home area. However, there is something mesmerizing about that much flat land stretching in every direction. The volunteer crops were still doing well though prairie grass was making inroads. We were able to harvest some crops and take a few wild cattle along the way.
We stopped on in Denver where I-270 went north from I-70 which we had been following. I was concerned as the nights were getting colder. We needed to stop and go over our gear so Jim and I decided to take a couple of days to think things through and talk to Dad back at Preservation.
Our original mapped route took us north in a great half circle to Salt Lake City. The three of us were talking about it over the radio when Dad said, "Jim, isn't that the route you tried first that was wiped out?"
Jim said, "Yes, now that you mention it, that's the place. We can't go that way. I think we should look southerly. I don't think a trip to Cheyenne in the fall is a good idea."
"Also," I added, "the folk we're looking for went south not north. Why not look where they might have gone rather than where they were?"
Jim said, "That makes sense, Jack. It's already cold at night. We don't want to go north."
Dad said, "Okay, look at the alternatives and let's talk further."
Jim and I developed a route on a southern circle through Grand Junction and then Provo. I didn't think we would have to go that far north. On top of that, it was marginally shorter. However, when we checked it out with a topographical map, it was going to be steeper. We talked it over with Dad. Then we talked it over with the rest of our group. It worried me and I held to my thought that we were too far north for the time of year. The problem was any other choice further south really was long and almost guaranteed we would be in the mountains in the winter. To me, that had to be avoided. I was willing to go south and wait for the next spring if necessary. Jen vetoed that idea unless it was totally necessary.
So, we left Denver on August thirtieth headed eventually to Salt Lake City. Our path took us through the suburban town of Applewood toward Frisco. We immediately started going up and down. It wasn't steep yet but was a portent of things to come. It should have taken three and a half days to Frisco but instead it took five. We had gotten lax about travel from being on the level plains. Our next point was Copper Mountain just seven miles further on. It took a full day for that. My worry level increased as we had trouble keeping to our average.
We also had trouble maintaining contact with Preservation if we were down in a valley. We had to stop at ridge tops for contacts. Dad kept us updated on the weather as best as he could though he mostly could warn of storms seen from space. We had nothing about temperatures west of us. It was dropping down into the thirties every night. Vail took three days of arduous travel. The mountain tops were snow capped already.
That night, Dad warned of a front pushing through from the northwest. Reluctantly, we decided to stay in Vail tightly buttoned up. It was a good decision. We bedded the horses and pulled the wagons under cover. We found a pair of nice chalets with plenty of room and big fireplaces where we slept. We woke up in the morning to four inches of snow by my measurement.