Saline Valley, Another shitty week in Paradise: November 2009
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In reality, things turned out the same, entered the valley in spectacular late afternoon, long shadows, ridges in sun, no incidents, Inyo co. road crew has been hard at work, and the track is smooth. Quick snooze at the North pass, one person goes by, no one on the road through Whiporwill canyons narrows, and out onto the interminably huge fans, nothing on them to give you scale, just a jumble of boulders, gravel and sand, sloping 20 miles to the patch of white that is the dry lake bed of Saline valley. It is called that because of the salt beds in the ancient Pleistocene lake beds. A mining operation in the late 1800's tried to make it profitable, constructing a tramway to haul the product to the high ridge of the inyos, then down to Keeler next to Owens dry lake. The railroad then transported salt to Tonopah, past Benton until it was not profitable, the rr museum at Laws has all the old engines "Slim Princess" and other artifacts of this age of extraction..
To Willow Creek camp with dashed expectations, no sign of Dave, and it looks like no one has been here for a while, brown grass, overgrown paths, oh well, I didn't think he would last here, victim of owners vacillations. A beautiful backhoe is under the trees, and cooking equipment and a funny duck doll lying around. I spent 5 days here in 98 with a field class, their ghosts haunting the buildings and lawn. Steve blew up 2 55 gallon barrels full of Prel, ammonium nitrate and fertilizer, and we felt the concussion wave 1/2 mile away. The same load that blew up the Federal building in Oklahoma City.
On slowly, taking my time, being careful of tires, mindful that I only have one spare, forgot my front rack with 2nd spare. Across the Bat road in the gathering dusk, mindful of the full moonrise impending. It does not disappoint, rising fast over the sawtooth profile of Dry Mountain, more pictures taken, then setting again as I get to the bat monument. I stop and get out to run around and watch it as it rises and sets on the rugged high ridge of Dry mountain. Great fun, we played this game in the Grand Canyon, with great results.
Up the long fan with banked turns, traveling faster now, to the springs, very quiet, i don't recognize any vehicles, or hear any familiar voices, so i roam up the road to my ridge perch and set about setting up camp. mostly throwing everything out of the camper, popping the top and snuggling in for a well-deserved rest.
Drumming and thumping accompany my nap, keeping my mind busy, gotta get out the earplugs, but I drift off anyway. To wake to the full moon shining in my face, moonburn, always with a tshirt handy to cover the eyes.
Mustering a last bit of energy, head for the upper springs, the scene of many great times, but no one there, camps scattered about, one with 2 huge dogs that greet me vociferously. After a low-temp soak, time to head for the barn, checking out camps, mostly quiet, in bed early, daylight savings puts a cloak on the landscape twirly (like a pigs tail).
The dark jagged mountain profiles frame the void and its patch of white the lake, clearly visible in the moonlight. The silence is deafening, not a sound. Then a low rumbling, here come the F-18s playing cat and mouse in the dark, flaming afterburners marking the location of the huge chunks of organized metal screaming through the night.
Morning dawns as the sun tops the ridge to the southeast, one of Dry Mountains many tentacles reaching out to the basin. Slowly rising, set up camp, shade tarp, PV panel to charge the batteries, then time to soak it all in, 360 degrees mountains, the Inyo front 10 miles to the west rising like a picket fence, with the huge recumbent fold in middle ending at McEvoy canyon, gotta do another hike up there this time, many years have passed since the last time.
Time to check out the local population, down to the Lower springs, converse with a knowlegable dude with a great 4 wheel camper, and here is May, with her little dog also looking for information. We tour the setup, this guy is real handy and the interior has megaspace for storage, something my camper sorely lacks. I hear a familiar voice, a thick Maine accent, it has to be Pete, and it is, old friends from times past here. He has driven out across the country, through a blizzard in Denver, with his van loaded with firewood, which was almost confiscated in Benton at the Bug Station. We remake aquatences, with a bouncy lady flitting around, Evelyn, a friend from Maine who met him out here in benton.
More exploration is in order, down Gringo gulch to no avail, hailed by a couple in a tent camper deep in the arrroweed, Charley and Jane who live on the road, and at 2 cabins, one near Tombstone az and another in Olympia washington. we spin long tales of our lives, they are going to get more food tmw, so i ask them to pick up another bottle of wine for me, red of course. I purposefully came with 1 bottle, so i wouldn't drink to a stupor as is my wont.
Back to the crystal pool after a refreshing shower and soak and more people met, off to camp, nap, then a sojurn to the palm spring which is now very hot and watch the sunset on the mts. 360 degrees. Meet the Bishop crew, Frank and LIsa, Heidi and a couple others playing croquet with great glee and shouts.
After conciousness lowering and a glass of wine, head down to Petes camp with promise of partying with the mainiacs. No one home, leave my offering of smoked salmon on the table and my chair certain they will be back. I hear raucous laughter and Maine accent from the sunrise pool, and burst in upon a scene, 10 people in various states of rest in water, at the edge of the pool stories flying and great people. Pete and crew head back to his van, and i stay and am entertained and entertain the rest, folks i havn't met, but of like mind. We get on the trail of Bear attacks, and i tell Cynthia's story of playing dead with her head in the Bears mouth, and losing her arms on a mountaintop in Alaska. She was dropped by a helicopter between a mother and her cubs, major mistake.
Back to Pete's van, unleash the smoked salmon, pay back the Germans, who were pissed at me in Benton for pushing their dog away from me, oh well, all is copescetic and the bouncy lady Evelyn is pushing food on everyone, they discover the salmon and she serves it on saltines, wheat thins and ritz crackers on a sort of taste test with a great performance, chatter chatter she's on something. The fire is lit and wood piled on, way dark now but the glow of the moon gives everything a silver sheen.
Pete and Just Bob play guitars and sing great old songs from rock n roll days, and Bouncy girl talks a blue streak about her life and how glad she is to be here and on and on and on. She is a mother, 2 young kids and has been away for the first time for 3 weeks.
I get tired, its only 8 pm, but I'm off to bed, after a great evening of talk and play, snuggle into my sleeping bag after a long last look at the silver scene of mountains, valleys and ridges of the most beautiful place on earth.
Lazy morning, wake slowly, set up the spare inverter, the main system is not charging up for some reason and i don't have the dvm to check it, another thing forgotten. Write on the blog, then crank up the T guide geology chapter and work hard on that for a while. The sun comes around to the view side (both are view sides now) and i move to the upstream side in a big shadow and continue to whale away at text. Finally read the abstracts about the Nevadaplano and integrate that concept into the text as the prep for the development of present topography.
Burger lunch, then a snooze, its still only 2 pm, so i venture out to the spring, find Just Bob playing guitar and we play and sing for a while, great guitar with new strings, a Hohner, $79 made in
china. Party with him and May for a while, her little dog scurrying around like a rat underfoot. I get a signal from my phone, and check it out, a message from Cathy, but i can't get a signal.
Out to the taildragger strip to call, and am intercepted by Jim in a similar rig, 4 wheel camper and Tundra pickup, we exchange pleasantrys, checking out his rig, and he realizes he met me at one of the Mono hotsprings some years ago, even remembers my name. We think about the day and a hike tmw, and i try to raise Cathy, get her voice mail, get cut off, not a good place for cell phone reception. Back to the Crystal pool, cruise in, to objection of one of the guardians, not showered, a major crime, but there are 3 women monopolizing the shower. The conversation doesn't pan out, so i repair to the sunrise pool, and find a more interesting crowd, talk of predator drones, the war, and bear stories,
Back to Just Bob's and dinner is served, i insinuate myself into the event and we talk about tmw and the hike to the river bed. We devour dinner, chicken and vege stir fry, good gomps. I gotta shit, so I borrow jbs headlamp and head for the shitter, now very dark, the moon not up yet. Emerging from the shit cave, i see two riders approaching (and the wind began to howl), its Charlie and Jan, back from their sojourn to town. They have my wine, a 1.5 liter bottle of cab/shiraz, ok, we hang at their camp, watch the moon rise through the clouds, now 2 days past full. we get 2 moonrises as it flashes through a gap in the clouds, is covered then appears again above. Great show.
Back to jbs camp, people are winding down, but pete is about to unleash some flaming drinks, promise of a show, but I'm off to camp, fire off some roman candles and settle in for the long winters night. The thump of bass at the party across the way with flashing lights looks interesting, but i put in the earplugs and bliss out.
Another day...... write as i watch the mountains come out of their slumber with knife sharp ridges and deep furrow canyons. Amazing that Canyon hiked the whole ridge with group from ds last spring, iron woman, now nursing an arm broken in pursuit of extreme hiking. In and out of canyons for water camps for 9 days on catwalking the highest ridge around, facing Mt Whitney to the west, the Owens valley and down to
Saline on the east.
Puttering, graduallly getting things together for the hike, my heavy Limmer boots, pack with water bladder and suck tube, fix the hiking sticks, some snacks, mentally going over the various routes we can take to the river bed. Down to JBs camp before 9, Jim is there, but he has to get ready, I leave my guitar for string replacement, and kick back. Jim comes by, and a lady, Jude with a big Akita dog, she's interested too. So its coming together, on valley time, herding cats for the big event, they scatter to the 4 winds, and i ready my rig and start heading over to Jim's camper. Here comes Jude, dogless, thank god, but with an empty leash in her hand. The object of her affections has taken off after a coyote, and shes in a tizzy about her getting eaten. She disappears again in search of her Dora, another dog person running her life around her charge.
Rhea, the little German lady comes down naked and hands me a sheet on a Mediteranian deli in Vegas, with all kinds of great stuff, havta check that out next time I'm down there. Maybe with Judy if she visits her family there again.
We agree that cats are being herded, and I'm ready to take off when Jude reappears with dog and we are assembled. Past the other germans, also naked, with a ham radio antenna huge, and have another bantering conversation. Germans love it here, cause all they know weather wise is cold and damp, this is heaven to them.
Across the interminable fan, rough footing, glad for my platform boots, and into the wash, down and around the foot of the lava flows and a long stroll up the granite wash, rougher near the top and there are the river cobbles, we rejoice and marvel at the find, actually found many years ago by Ranger Tim, and explored several times by us on field trips. The perfectly rounded cobbles stand in stark contrast to the modern angular blocks of dark basalt and light granite. An ancient river bed, stretching up the gully with foriegn rock types, from a far away, possible Precambrian source. We reach a perch, watch some F 18s fly below us through the valley and up over the springs. One seems to be headed to the granite slope above for sheer destruction, but at the last second pulls up, guided by terrain sensing radar and blasts over the top of the ridge. These guys are having some fun, getting ready for Afghanistan, blasting the Taliban.
We rest and snack, and Jim and JB head up the gully toward the top of a knoll. I rest more and Jude and I talk of our lives, she a single mom, 62, living in Calaveras county, doing jewlery at vending events, travelling a lot. Her daughter grown, living in Truckee, divorced from a ski patrol/ avalanche guy, an extreme athelete, doing whatever she needs to get by. Jude with a MA in psychology, but not using it, semi retired and enjoying it with Dora, her dog.
There are high cirrus clouds building and soon the wind starts up, buffeting us on the ridges, dust kicking up on the lakebed. I hope i secured camp enough so nothing gets destroyed. Bungies on the tarp lines should save the shade structure, an old Mitch trick. The guys return and we pick out some of the best rounded rocks for display at camp, and start the return trek. We try the upper route, but Jude has bad feet and heads down another gulley, which loops around to our ascending path. Its a long trek back, but eventually we emerge from the wash and can see the lower springs. Back to JB's camp and rest and drink water, rehydrate. the wind swishing the trees above and a roar like a jet coming from the tall palms . The Park service wants to eliminate all non-native species, and if so these palms would come down, shit, i cant believe they would do that, that would be impossible, oh well, rumours have always bounced around and disappeared many times about closing the springs, or the Bat road, so you would have to hike in 8 miles to the springs. Fortunately they all dissipate one by one, but with big brother watching us, we are a thorn in the side of the park, definatly non-conforming to the park service picture of a pristine, untouched paradise. We don't need this, a fight would ensue and maybe civil disobedience.
I repair to the windy hilltop and secure the flapping flag and tarp, and roll in for a winters nap. Still blowing very hard, I fire up the stove and warm up the stewoop, with the smell of smoked turkey permeating the air. I spoon out a pot and carry it down to the lower springs, i enter the sanctuary from the wind and suddenly am hit by a whirlwind, a small lady shouting "Terry, Terry, where have you been?" "Elizabeth, hows things in Gerlach??" "Im having a blast, married a local, and doing all kinds of projects out there, living the bfe life in the Black Rock country". She is an old friend, camp host for Lee 4 years ago during the winter of great snows, we were trapped in the valley for weeks, food running low, both passes closed, people freaking out. I made my way out the Lippencott road easily and almost ran out of gas in an ice storm on the way to Goldfield. Inched over Goldfield summit propelled by the starter motor, not good for the machine, but it did the trick and i coasted in to gas.
The fire is going strong, and various people gather. Pete and JB arrive, then depart to find a new friend with pizza. I end up in the sunrise pool with a goodly crowd, pete got short circuited there, and Evelyn the talkative one, Elizabeth and JB. We have a jolly old time talking about the valley, experiences, yarn spins off to another yarn. A true storytelling fest.
Back to the fire, I offer up the stewoop, and it is devoured with great relish, ooos and ahhhhs, on how the flavors of mape, mango chipotle, smoked turkey and all massaged the taste buds. Another guy with a long handled sandwich cooker gives out samples of his wares. I fetch the guitar and sing some songs, longing to do pancho and lefty once again, and i do. fairly well. my favorite grand canyon tune, born on the river almost 30 years ago.
I don't see any major action going on, everyone wiped out from drinking all day (they had to start early), 4 lobotomy bock beers for lunch. Evelyn is effusive in her praise of my stewoop, saved her life, she was very hungry. Back at JB's camp, i deposit my guitar and chair, and take my leave for the night. All is quiet at the formerly raucous camp across from me, so i settle in, enjoying a good read of yet another LeCarre book, wonderful writer. Slide off into sleep as the wind dies, puffs rattling the camper occasionally, but looking forward to another sterling day in the desert.
Bluebird day, no clouds, perfectly clear air, no w-word, and the vista is incredible. The front of the Inyos is a sheer wall, 10 miles distant, and by now I've explored with my eyes every ravine, canyon, ridge of the 30 mile some length of the range. The dark furrows of gullys accentuated by deep shadow, the diorite and marble swirls miles long mute evidence of orogenies past. I write, watch the world go by and a small bird, a local. grazing for seeds and dropped food bits 3 feet from me. I am just finishing up when i hear the scuffle of footsteps and there is Jude, on a mission to me, "Blueberry pancakes are happenin' at JBs camp, c'mon down". we banter a bit and I gather my goods, a plate and fork and the mape, and we are off across the white hills down to the center of action at the lower springs. The usual suspects are gathered, and Just Bob has ammassed a pile of hotcakes, along with a plate of perfectly done bacon. We sit and visit, and talk about the desert, Pete comes by but he has already eaten, and hunkers down under the big top sun shade that May has set up.
The jets come by for a flashing visit, huge decibles, blocking ears. Patty is there from the bishop people's camp and she waves a towel and flashes her breasts, and Jude follows suit. They love to buzz the camp because women can't reisist showing off, and we can see the helmets of the pilots as they wheel sideways past, a hurtling mass of 20 tons of metal and technology, going faster than sound 200 feet above our heads. Story goes that they have a pilots room in Miramar, where most of these planes come from, walls covered with pictures of naked ladies taken over the springs. what power, I think as I kick back and listen to the rumble and scream of the death machines.
I'm in midmorning nap mode, and lie back in the recliner, letting the bustle of camp break over me like waves caressing the shore. My mind turns to the guitar, and JB fishes out a set of new Martin strings, top notch and I set about the task of replacing my thumpy worn out set. Low energy and short on patience, I solve several problems including a broken new string in the process. It finally comes together, I tune them up and play a bit to make sure it still works. Great sharp sound from the bass strings to support my melody lines, much better.
Now what to do, I hear voices in the bushes and make out Jude and Jim having a long conversation. I push my way past the mesquite trees and there they are, Jude in all her naked glory, well preserved in her early 60s, we talk more, and Jim and I plot an attack on my recalcitrant solar charging system. It seems to be working, but wont hold a charge. He brings over a DVM to loan, and Ill check the system out with that. He can't decide whether to leave today or tomorrow, no storms comin' so why not stay?. Its great to be at one with the environment, to have that as a major player in logistics, so unlike the default world.
I ask Jude about her jewelry and she brings out a cornucopia of glass beaded pendants and earrings to feast on. I pick out a set for Judy, and remind myself that her bday is right after thanks, and we will be at the band b at starved rock. Right for a present of beauty, as befits her and our relationship. Jude will make them up for me and ill send her a check when i get back to Benton.
The sun is high now, not much going on, so I retreat to my hilltop, praising the absence of w-word, settle into nap mode, more jets blasting by, people yelling at them as if they could hear. Sun lower, I check out the solar, and can't find anything wrong. Jim comes by and he performs some magic with the DVM, with the verdict that my old battery is shot, and draining the current from the new battery. We disconnect the old one, things seem to perk up, but now there's very little sunlight left, not enough time to fully charge the system. Oh well, there's always tomorrow left to charge.
To the upper spring for a sunset soak, visiting the Bishop camp, they are feasting on thanksgiving turkey with all the trimmings. I help myself to the proffered guacamole, and we talk about the desert, the valley, life on the east side of the Sierra, and all that that involves. Resourcefulness, community bond, a fierce environment, death on the hoof. A 73 year old man went missing a week ago while climbing Whitney, found after a 4 day hunt dead in a ravine, no word on the cause, but this kind of thing happens all the time out here.
Off to the upper, 2 guys talking about family and houses and repairs, not desert talk, I witness the sun setting over the Inyos, shadows spread like dark fingers up and eventually extinguishing the light on Dry mountain, and gone, the end of another day. Enough family talk, not a word to me, so i emerge from the Wizard pool and get set for the evenings entertainment, whatever serendipity brings to the plate.
It is truly a moveable feast here, akin to Hemingways experiences in Paris in the 30s. There is always a new party to go to, long conversations to be had, and friends to be made. Charlie and Jane are precious, their storytelling abilities and unusual experiences a stimulation for the mind. Just Bob's gracious hospitality, Pete's constant hi octane fun, just skimming the surface of the depth of experience here.
I load up and head off to the lower springs, in the bag more smoked salmon, bowl and fork, bottle of wine gettin lower, in my hand the stool with back rest, ready for anything. Pete and Evelyn and the new guy with the big dog are cooking up some pork tenderloin and settling in. A party is in the making at the camp across from me, with a hot bass player and several guitars, I'll hear that happening, so I head down, finding no one at JBs camp, a bunch of unknowns at the crystal pool, so I set off for Charlie and Janes tent trailer down in the arroweed to see whats shakin' them. They are cocooned up playing gin, but always ready for a visit, and i set up inside the tent trailer and we exchange stories of our lives. Charlie built a bunch of spec houses on the sly , made a pile of money so they bought a boat and sailed with 3 teenagers off to Mexico, Panama Canal, through the Caribbean and to Florida. Finally out of money, all went to work for cash per day to buy groceries, and survived for a year that way. Jane got a job in a yogurt shop when the oldest son looking for a job, found the propieter wanted a middle aged housewife. He allowed as how his mom was looking for a job too, and she was hired on the spot.
We emerge to watch the lightening of the sky signaling moon rise, and I head off for higher passages. Pete is still cooking, but is headed to the party by me, so i repair to the manse on wheels and kick back until the bass starts plunking and I can hear guitars following suit. I don the pimpdaddy coat and head over to the fray, a small group around the fire, with the strumming of guitars, JB, the new guy and Mike, the bass player from Mumbo Jumbo,a local rock band in Sacramento. He has a generator going, and is laying out some perfect lines. "great coat, mr pimpdaddy" i get complements all around, and im very warm. The down mountain evening breeze has kicked up and people are getting cold. Amy is being mother hen, bringing out blankets for anyone who needs them.
"Where"s Pete?" is the chorus all at once, he was eating and shoulda been here long ago. Oh well, he's on valley time, and is herding cats, the usual excuse. We watch as the ridge lightens and the moon pokes over the edge. "That moon is severely disabled" someone quips. "No, it is differently abled, gotta be pc." to laughs all around.
A car pulls in and Pete appears to cheers all around, they are old friends from the springs. Evelyn and Elizabeth are there also, along with the new guy. The group rips some good songs, the melodic bass keeping the rhythm, and mellowness starts circulating, laughter and quips flying back and forth. Pete is a sparkplug and the mood elevates. Nutterbutters from May, chocolate covered potato chips from nowhere, a growler of pale ale from Glenwood springs brewery and the final blow: Sobuku, a licorace liqueur , put in a shot glass, fired up with flame, then you put your wet hand over the top, form a seal, lift up the shotglass and drink the liquer through a small hole in your fingers, then take a straw and inhale the last fumes, which are supposed to have opium in them. A very involved process, but a major performance, and to the entertainment of all.
Thats it for me, I pack my kit, say goodbyes, and head off to the hilltop, no w-word at all, perfectly clear night, with the maimed gibbous moon shining the way. Settle in to the rhythm of guitars and bass, read a little of the LeCarre African political novel and then fade away into dreamland.
The new day dawns, softer light on the mts, heralding a high overcast, nothing serious, but blue skys to the north from whence the weather comes. Another perfect day in paradise. I write while watching the lightening of the scene, now with Pat in the foreground, another geologist from UCSB, working as an engineer in LA, great guitarist, we raged last night around the fire. He knows all my friends there, The guys from next door walk by to pleasentries, tubward bound.
I write for couple hours, this and work on the Tuolumne book text, its coming together slowly, integrating the Nevadaplano into the story, new news from the brains of the Caltech crew. A big plate of Terry's perpetual beans with eggs and I'm ready to roam. Down to Just Bob's camp, and Jude the jeweler appears with a small bag and her card in hand. I write a check for 35 smackers and my Judy has a bday present. I hang with JB and others passing through, people leaving now, a steady parade, counter the stream of people coming in, 3 or 4 of them visible at once on the bat road.
Bunch of young macho newbies at the lower, tattoos and atitudes, so I pass through and end up at Charlie and Jane's tent trailer, to long stories of their lives, building houses, now a dual relationship with Olympia Washington and Tombstone Az, with a long trip visiting places like this on the way back and forth, and a shot over to Minnesota to visit their roots. She is part owner of a farm her grandfather homesteaded in 1893, he came from Finland, which was under Russian control at the time, and he had to swear off all allegiance to the Czar in order to homestead. Some life they have. We try the LED bulb in their overhead, but it doesn't work, oh well, they can get one to fit on the web. Back to the springs, inviting Elizabeth, JB et al to a potluck at my place, and repair to the manse on the hill for a well-deserved nap.
Into host mode, heating up the TP Beans, getting out the last of the salmon and the chevre, cutting up the tomatoes, and rearrange the furniture for guests.
Charlie and Jane appear first, and we settle in, watching the wall to wall view as the light fades on the picket fence of the Inyos. Long tales of survival in Minnesota, replanting the pasture with 50k trees donated by the forest service, ice storms with all trees down and 7 days without electricity. They left Minnesota in a 52 chevy and a 2 year old and baby in diapers, drove west for greener pastures, landed in Washington building houses. I respond with flood stories, in 95 when we were flooded in, and kayaked to the store with Kailen and I got interviewed for tv about partying in the flood zone. 4 days without electricity and finally moving out of the house, leaving a drunken cici to wonder what hit her. Swinging with the punches of nature, you have to adapt, there's no way out. Some people do some don't, they move to Florida only to be hit by a hurricane.
Jude and Dora move in and her perspective is insinuated on the pile of words we have created. She is on hiatus from life with her dog, a big Akita, well-behaved, but underfoot no matter what. I hear my name called and a light from the party camp across the road, "the party's over here" "no its over here" i respond, "I'll be over later to rage with you guys. The steady stream of conversation, yells and guitar sounds from the bass tells me they are having a good time.
We finish up our visit with a cheery fire and pancho and lefty, Jude singing along, she knows all these old songs. I repair to the manse, finding the electrical supply happening well or good or whatever. I snooze a bit till the thump of bass drives me partyward, donned in Pimpdaddy coat and Uncle Sam hat to great applause as i appear in the firelight. Its a reunion of the gang, Pete, JBob, pat, elizabeth, evelyn, may, Jude, Amy and a lady with a baby wrapped in a blanket. We sing, eat nutterbutters, may has an inexhaustable supply, and Jude shares hits of Jameson Irish Whiskey with me. I still soft pedaling the alcohol, sleeping better, more energy,
I'll be unstoppable if I can get my heart back in shape. All this walking around camp and hiking must help.
One by one, people fade into the darkness as the severely maimed moon breaks the ridge and is our flashlight home to the snug nest on the hill. I read a bit, but am soon enveloped in the reverie of sleep.
Up with the dawn, etching the lines of erosion on the face of the Inyos, puttering, writing, organizing for departure, not much to do thank goodness, and soon I am off up the fan for a soak at the upper after a visit with the mexican teachers, now ensconced in the hollow below California Hill. Ron and Lydia are old friends from LA, great fun people, and we catch up after several years of passing like ships in the night. They have finished their house in the northland, Shasta area, and Lydia is closing off teaching and getting ready for a life of leisure.
I hang in the Wizard pool with some Mammothites, good stories, good people. Then down to the Bishop folks camp. Frank is on top of his new camper van putting up poles from the teepee. They are headed out today, and Darla is there, my friend sans her husband Bob, they just back from a canoe trip on the Green River in Canyonlands. We catch up, then I ramble back to the camp, finish the packing and fire up the beast for the voyage ahead. All is smooth sailing, except for goodbyes to all those left behind. Off into the wildness of the Bat road, going slowly, caring for my tires, and listening to gregorian chant left over from sunday. Off at noon, on the road again, bound for glory. I take in the views, stop for lunch at the bat road jct, then to Willow Creek, still no sign of life, get some talc for my collection, and off up the long hill. Locate the jct of the Bunker Hill Mine rd on gps, and take some pix of the Lead Canyon anticline, liesurly trip out. At the North Pass the road becomes a freeway, 2 graders sitting there, pausing in thier work of smoothing the road. I step up a notch and soon am topping the hill at the Death Valley road. 4 hours from the springs, a goodly trek, enough to filter out most ordinary souls, thank god.
Down the hill and up the valley to Bishop, no Mark, so I stash his sleeping bag under a tarp on the back poarch, and head to Black Sheep, get the big emails and respond, telling Judy Ill call at 7 or so her time. Von's is milling with all kinds of people, never seen, never seen again types, I hit the road again on the last stretch to Benton. I return Win's call, he is in big brouh haha with the neighbors, he hit Larry's dog which was chasing his car. This after he killed Dolly, Harry’s cripple dog several months ago, again chasing cars. Jim and Velma and He and Larry got into a shouting match over speeding which the dog owners think is the problem and controlling your dog, Win's point which I agree with enthusiastically. The sheriff came to adjudicate, and put a speed sensor up by Harry’s place. Goolsby ranch road dog wars, a microcosm of America, where people think their dog's shit doesn't stink and they should be able to run free, irresponsible to a fault. More grist for the Dog Manifesto mill.
All is well at the ranch, no major changes, and I settle in, drink too much wine, and long talk with Judy, reaffirming our love for each other and sleep feeling rosy and at home again.
6149 words: copyright 2009 Terry Wright