Monday, November 9, 2009

Hiatus from the default world

Saline Valley, Another shitty week in Paradise: November 2009

more pictures on Picasaweb site:

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

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Benton crags-wonderment

Rock grotto-Benton Crags
more pix on picasawebsite

Another blowy day, steady at 30 mph, i coccooned in working on projects, and the time flew. But i hadda get outta dodge, check the mail, see if the people at the cafe are still there, doing their cafe thing. Pulled out about 3, returned ann's new yorker which somehow got put in my box, they just cant get it right down at the po. then out on the road again, on a quest, for who knows what? first the line of aspens up toward the pass on the Benton crossing rd. Few leaves left, but those are glowing in the sun framed in pinons and adding an ethereal note to the landscape. I unleash the nikon d90 on them and get some fine results and collect some to send to judy.

I check out the cliffs east of the road on the way up, and recall there is a road from the top that might lead there. My fantasy is to do a hike from top to bottom thru the granite bosses, cut by fractures which erode out to selective paths, some blocked by pinons, but there always is a way through. It looks spectacular, like the Alabama hills, rounded bosses of granite sliced by furrows of fractures and light aplite dikes.

Out the track above find the road ends just above the maze of boulders. I am drawn to such places, they always harbor surprises, and beautiful sculptures. Head into the puckerbrush, sage and sand with a dusting of fresh snow. I focus on a dike, that reflects the fractures in the bedrock, and snap a few megapixels. It looks like a dropoff down the gully, so i peer over the top and look down 100 feet, not the right path. Scrutinizing the rocks, always on the outlook for petros, i see one, but its modern "HC" in fresh granite. Looking more closely there are other marks, faint but true, in the enigmatic shape of the local petros, by indians long ago. wow, if i can get down there, maybe there will be more, but ill have to find another way.

Breaking out of the gully, I try another route, again a major dropoff, guarded by a spire of granite and snap the scene, glass mt behind it, really cool, i can see this as another in a quiver of local hikes i can treat friends to. Back out and another path opens, a narrow slot between granite cliffs, but it goes, down into the next valley, through some tough trees, and along a snowy slope and into the bottom of the gully. I turn upstream, petro wards, and find a sculpture garden with arching grottos, carved by pleistocene torrents rotating rocks in cavities forming major potholes. This is very cool, I enter the grotto and admire the work of water. It still goes up into another grotto, and there on the wall is a fantastic display of petros, rivers, animals, paths, etched into the back wall. I try some flash pictures, and it looks like i got something , but its dark in there and there are rocks in front of the scene, so not a good place to be ansel adams. tricky light. oh well. i come back several times, try to get up into the shelf across the pond, but chicken out, no one knows im up here and it would be weeks before they found my truck if i couldn't get out on my own. Careful, careful, i keep saying, wishing i had my hiking sticks and helmet.

Back down the gully to the open meadow, and great vistas to glass mt and the valley over precipitous drops, another knickpoint, must be gorgeous with runoff from big rain or snowmelt. Getting late, and colder, i have on gloves, sweater, shell and merrills, not the best footwear, but i am careful. Return in my steps and take in the petros again, the place robert had taken kailen and friends, and ran into some indians having a ceremony, no one here now. Following footsteps in the snow, and back to the truck, a feeling of accomplishment, and joy at being here in paradise of the east sierra, with wonderment at every turn.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bob Dylan rides again Review of the Greek concert

Bob Dylan at the Greek 10/10/09

Newport, RI, folk festival, 1963

The two forms exploded out of the crowd, grabbed the doorlatch on my 47 chevy and breathlessly piled in chanting “we gotta go see Dylan”. Margie and Louise, bedecked in Woody Guthrie denim folk attire are on the warpath, we careen through the crowd to the big field and somehow shoehorn into a parking place and we are off at a run to the workshop tent.

OK, Dylan, I’d heard some echos of this new guru through folk circles, even had the first album, and had started singing his early songs. We’d even scoured Washington square for the dude to no avail one dark misty night in NYC, and here we were.

We made a grand entrance..high on our energy, working our way through the crowd, and theres this guy, I check him out. And he checks me out, scraggly beard, tousled hair---check. Stained workshirt with 1/2 smoked pack of Galoises in the pocket ----check. Battered levis, cowboy boots----check. Guitar over one shoulder—check. I look at him and say “whats with the bullwhip?”. He touches the coiled serpent on his shoulder, smiles and says “joanie and I are blowing minds doing bullwhip tricks around the pool at the motel”. “Cool, Bob sounds like fun”. And off we go.

We are blown away, the poetry most of all, and the style…gravelly voice, great guitar in all modes, and unassuming air. “Baby let me follow you down”, “Don’t think twice” “House of the rising sun”, all done in a howling style, immediately adopted by all folkies around. And the world had changed for folk music.

Newport RI folk festival 1965

The multitudes are gathered to hear the famous guru of folk, Dylan is now a superstar, with a mane of hair, followed by a wave of marmidons crossing the field to the workshop. You have to force your way into the crowd and fight for a space, and the poetry flows and the music bites hard into the words, the guitar sings for us all to hear.

We gear up for the evening concert, a big crowd in the football field, packed in to do homage to the new god of folk. But, there is a setup for a rock band, unheard of at Newport, and finally they come out, Paul Butterfield, band and Dylan with a very poor rendition of some songs, out of tune, feedback screeching, people outraged, a wave of booing running through the crowd. I’ve been talking to Pete Seeger, who was seated in front of me with his mom, Ruth Crawford, and he is outraged, jumps up and heads back for the stage. I hear later that he was going to pull the plug on the performance with an axe. Butterfield and Dylan screech some more, and finally quit. Bob comes out and does one song to mollify the crowd, still with boos echoing, and finally bows out, no apology, just an experiment in a new genre that the folkies weren’t ready for.

This set the pattern for his career, and each time we heard a new set of tunes and a new band (most notably The Band), a new page was written in the bible of Dylan. Nashville Skyline with some great country ballads, Slow Train Comin, songs of his Christian phase, Time out of Mind with some uptempo ballads. He continued the poetry, and the captivating presence in concert.

So when we heard about the Greek Theater concert October 10, it was time, I stalked the ticketmaster website and scored 2 tickets in the first public minutes, and was off to the music event of the year.

The Greek was packed, we got there at 5 and stood in line for good seats, which we got no problem, center up 10 rows behind the mixers, huge electronic affairs, studded with computer screens. We prepped for cold, and bundled up, with low back chairs, blankets and partied. The house beer and wine was lousey, so we had a little reserve and mellowed out, watching the people. I wore an Uncle Sam top hat so our late friends could find us. We got an early taste of the band during the sound test from the parking lot, and they were solid, with punching bass lines rumbling our chests

On time, they came on and introduced Dylan as an icon of

American music and master of many styles and genres. A shout went up from the crowd as he entered the stage, dressed in black hat, double breasted black jacket and red scarf, launching into the solid big beat reverberating around the amphitheater.

The playlist was eclectic, (see Bob Dylan website for list and other reviews) with versions of Mama you been on my mind and the Lonesome death of Hattie Carroll with very creative arrangements; interfaces with Highway 61 revisited during which I cried with happiness, Thunder on the mountain and old classics Like a Rolling Stone and finishing with All along the Watchtower. All done in the same style, big beat, up tempo, Dylan,s voice was gravelly and low as always, and occasional snippets of words came out, but I knew most of them and sang along. The faithful in the mosh pit were packed in, and well-behaved, and let out a collective spine chilling scream every time a favorite line came on. The crowd in general was mellow, I thought we were going to have some loud people behind us, but they mellowed out as soon as the music started.

The best part for me was to watch Dylan sing with his body, small movements and twitches, sometimes arms raised, leaning into the music, emphasizing the words with his body, Pushing into the lines sent chills up and down my spine. You can see him playing with the words.

“Oh God said to Abraham, "Kill me a son"

Abe says, "Man, you must be puttin' me on"

God say, "No." Abe say, "What?"

God say, "You can do what you want Abe, but

The next time you see me comin' you better run"

Well Abe says, "Where do you want this killin' done?"

God says, "Out on Highway 61."

This says it for the poetry, It has always been a creative tour de force, and he can spout out rhymes with amazing words like a fountain. There is a clip in Pennebakers film where he is given 5 words and makes up poetry for 10 minutes, and incredible feat.

The band was solid, Charlie Sexton on lead guitar is top notch and the pedal steel, standup bass, and drums equally talented. They did make a lot of noise, but that’s what its all about in the new Dylan mode. The tour continues across the country, first to LA, then Las Vegas and ends up in Boston Its worth flying to.

for west county gazette 10/23/09


On the blog again

Twearly, like a pigs tail
Benton 10/27

woke at 3am to a thumping noise; outside at the source, i found the cover to the breaker box thumping in a north wind. very cold, front coming in, secured the lid and back to bed. phone rings at 7 am, like a pigs tail-twearly (too early), not for this neck of the woods, people are up and about 630-7. its Win, my neighbor, telling me to batten down the hatches for the incoming storm, the radio says 3-6" in the valleys, gotta run around now and drain the irrigation system, empty water outta the hoses, and a dozen other things before it gets nasty.....and so it goes.

Clouds over the mts, a quick trip to the cafe for coffee, i forgot it back in soco, gulp it down, wreathed in down jacked, crocheyd hat and 2 different gloves, un leash the load from the pickup, camping equipment piled higher and deeper in the office trailer. Enter the cafe, the door opens for me and its Jackie, smiling, i quip "the doorman, oops the door person" she laughs,the skin cracking around her mouth, great lady. She's off into the storm, coffee served by smiling indian waitress, $1.62 for a big one. I emerge to the vision of a blue puff ball, totally wrapped up, helmet, on a pink bike, its Katy, smiling and laughing to see me, one of my favorite recalcitrant kids here, doesn't do her homework even after i impressed on her that that was her most important job in life.

A silver sliver of light focused by the clouds in front of the sun breaking over the east ridge bathes the hills to the west, accentuating the moonscape of granite boulders, gravelly slopes. the mts behind dark and ominous, roiling around Glass mt, a taste of things to come. (twss).

Contemplate the day ahead of rest, gotta exercise or die, work on the tuol. guidebook and catch up with friends scattered like chaff up and down the eastside. This is a frame of mind, all very aware that nature is in control out here, in spite of long periods of sweet times, do anything any day, now we enter the time of conflict, man vs. nature, creative solutions to life-threatening, or at least uncomfortable events."people out here have to be resourceful" was Judy's observation. I've got 2 chords of wood, hard and soft for warmth and a flick of the switch activates the propane furnace, so i'm set, just some details like the irrigation system, drags from my reverie watching the mts go by, sun on the trees at the top of the vast fan of M. canyon, my viewscape. Lights were coming outta there last night, late, who was up there? an annual trip to the waterfall has to be planned and executed. Ill call some friends to see who might be up for it. Walt Hoffmann retired ranger, or Dancingbears? or even D? too many thoughts, not enough action, gotta get to it. Dylan on the radio spurs me on.

Into the driving snow flurries, comin down over the fan, drain the irrigation, empty the hoses, check the heater in the pump house, gotta check again. Look over Wins handiwork, neatly stacked cord of fir, awaiting their deaths in a blaze of glory. Raked and shoveled area to drain away from the house, trees still kickin some bursting at the seams from the rabbit fence looking like hourglasses. Cover the outside furniture, load the dump run, and so it goes. Ill post this, if you dont wanna hear it lemme know.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

fun and games at burning man 2009


photos on


Its different out here on the playa. it was cool this morning and still, but windy and dusty yesterday on the way in and setting up camp in a crowded corner. we had total of 3 flats on the way in , 2 punctures which i plugged on the spot, and one trailer tire shredded at the gate to the event. i had picked up moondancer, another geezer to give him aride to his camp, and he helped change the tire. cathy, as is her wont, primped and put on her tutu and brought an out rageous cat in the hat hat which i promptly ripped off.

good times with canyon last night, we partied with her desert guardians group, then piled on board a salmon fishing boat mounted on a truck chassis, climbed up about 100' above the ground and toured the site at night. the man is beautiful, with free form waves or mountains around the base and 100' of neon above that perched on a double helix. brightly lit and outrageously decorated art cars, trucks, an articulated bus from england cruised with us. walked back from the temple with canyon, past the man again and over to more fire sculptures, with a line 200 feet long of propane nozzels spouting fire bursts all computer controlled.

Always the thump thump of techno bass gone mad in the background, generaters powering everything. my solar is doing well, so i have all the ions i need fo run my little stereo and charge my computer and run led lights.

had the shitz last night, used my portapottti for the first time. oops cathy and pete just came in, jabbering jabbering, so ill sign off, and write later when i get time. and maybe even put some pix up on picasaweb. love t

things gettin hotter, 98
today, and we are fortunate to have canyon's trailer with ac to hang
out in. i did an ice run this morning, 5 10 lb blox, carried handily
in my old ladys grocery cart, a fold up number, bot at flea mkt in
mina for 5 bucks. wednesday, almost 1/2 way through, my hair is stiff,
and needs washing, tonite, hopefully. problem is what to do with grey
water. silver bob usted to bring a 55 gal drum for that, but he isnt
here this year. i surruptitiously dump our gray on the road, where the
water truck comes by and obliterates any trace of the very uncool

i cant see missing a year of this show, its incredible, the
outpouring of passion and hedonism and artistic talent. we go on an
art tour with the artists tmw morn, hopefull on a big art car bus, or
ride our bikes behind and listen to the narrative on a huge pa system.

great roam last night with cathy on foot, several bar/night clubs are
going full tilt boogie, including one next to our camp. loud thump
thump music. went to a concert in a huge dome with electric bass and
violin playing melodic and strangely woven tunes with a popping drum
machine behind. then to a structure with towers and a set of tracking
lazers on top, so when you walked or danced the lazers would follow
you and play different notes on a big stereo system, all controlled by
a guy at a computer.

moon cast an incandescent glow over the playa, punctuated by green lazers sweeping the dusty air and more art cars belching flame, and blaring techno (one had big rock candy mt on), with crowds of people waving and shouting their glee at being free to party their asses off. We (c and cyn) walked out onto the playa after a party with the earth guardians crowd (eg from now on) and gave the man a through going over, revelling in sweeping free forms of towers built from 2x4s . clouds did a warm air night, people stripped down to the bare essentials. we visited the temple already with many names and keepsakes, pictures, poems etc adorning the jigsaw cut walls, climbed up 3 stories to the top and watched a wedding happen, champagne open, cheers all around. I wonder if its for the duration of the event???

c and cyn head for a monster art car, an articulated bus with platform top spilling over with people, they can only fit 150 on the bus, and im feeling fat legged, so i head to my bike stashed at the man, loc by gps, and tottle on home, stopping at some great installations, a bank of light bulbs 10 feet thick, with 4 colors in each bulb and patterns all controlled by computer. people lying on the ground looking up from underneath.

quiet at camp, the disco is closed for the night, last night they went till midnight.

c wakes up at 9 am, ready to prep for the art tour, it takes an hour to do this, and i putter, fix things, find my sunglasses, charge my camera batts, and off we go, hot, windy, big crowd at the art tour place, so i opt out, hang in the jazz tent for a while, then to cyn, who has been barfing all night long with a migrane. we may not do the black rock tonight after all.

cyn recovered slowly and it is on, we hang with the eg crowd, c goes with the art tour, i do a psa (public service ann.) for the radio, and hand at center camp, big crowd packed in, bumping into each other, many performances in the center ring and at 3 stages.

we snooze, cathy bouncing in and out from various adventures. fire up cyns tundra and drive the dusty, crowded streets to our camp, organize and load up for the night at the black rock playacita. we return to the fashion show, one guy has wings of steel slats that pop open using a co2 cartridge, some outrageous costumes, cyn is in a long prarie dress and pilgrim hat, printed save the earth all over. a true devotee of the earth.

now for the safari onto the playa, we have the radio, the correct forms and our tickets, and we are out of the madding crowd, into the open at last, cyn cruising 40 mph across a perfectly flat white landscape. totally nuts, totally different perspective. we follow a track well beaten up the playa for 15 miles, then branch off to the right toward the black rock, totally visible for 20 miles. It looms up as we approach, and wind our way through the dunes into tthe shelf and there is water (140 deg hot), and an old wagon skeleton, part of the applegate trail. Another burner is there, guarding the hot spring for desert guardians, as part of their role as support for BLM. Talk and talk, a van arrives to take her home, and drops off tracy, another volunteer. she is off in a corner sobbing, very depressed, but canyon cheers her up, and we pile in to the playacita, a perfectly round 1 km playa in the hills above the black rock. we set up camp on the shore, and commence partying, watching the full moon up over the desert mts is spectacular, roaming around the vast flatness of the playa is great , with occasional views of a person for scale. i set up the fire launcher and start popping off fireworks, some mortors hundreds of feet up, and the ball of fire from the launcher gives an apocolyptic effect. we soon fade out, blessed with the silence, no thump thump of bass, no people crowding around, and perfect temperatures.

up with the hot sun, masked by clouds for a while, red sunrise, coffee, hb eggs, and puttering, i play guitar, tracy has a mandolin type instrumnet, and we plink a little. cathy washes her hair, and we pile into the monster truck and are off for the main event. back into the thick of things, everything is dusty now, pepole are dusty. c reviews the sched, and the little black dress (lbd) party is at 5 at spankys wine bar, so we aim for that, cowering , in the ac, until it goes off. oh well. tmw my talk and the man burns.

back to camp and snooze after a cruise on the blm covered wagon art car, with a painted nude, 2 guitarists doing doobie bros and niel young songs. we head home and dark falls, over sleep, 930, and head out to the spaceship launch on the playa. interminable wait, we cruise tthe art cars, watch naked fire dancers, and finally things start happening, a round of ground white explosions segue into huge rocket display with fire coming out of the bottom of the rocket ship, then suddenly a set of blasts from a row of sources with billiowing red, yellow and pink clouds the concussion wave hitting our chests like a sledgehammer. back to cyn camp to get our bikes, then back home to crash, the thump thump thump of the techno beat.

red sun, and coffee, great basin bakery bread, and prep for deep playa. to the temple, post dianes poem, don and lars holbeck passed. deeper we find a garden with columnar joints, and huge ss tables, then to the nest, a eagles nest with comfortable pads. back via the 10 oclock rave domes, pallets made into towers. putter at camp, have long talk with abalone al, and his crew, then prep for the talk. snooze and then off with cathy to the eg pavilion , set up, then people start arrivng, packing in to hear me and my geology presentation. cathy and canyon help with demos of volcanos and subduction. great fun talk, 240 people bilbo counted, and many questions, up to the balcony for a safety meeting, and guiness, and views of the playa fading into fog of blowing dust. a mournful cry of a foghorn echos across the playa. then to canyons for lowering conciousness, more costumes bilbo and darlene, a friend from grass valley. more blowing dust out there, but stilll visibility is good, so we'll do the burn.

lotsa wind yesterday, the burn was late and spectacular, I'll post a description to you soon. breaking camp, plan to leave 5 am after the temple burn which will be watched from a lift truck in our camp complete with balcony, couches, a bar (always a bar). cathy left early, lotsa stuff, i organized the trailer and stuff and all i have to do is throw it in and head out in the morning.

The burn started with a windstorm, packed into cyn's trailer, raging fun, crackling conversation. whoops and shouts, cathy and cyn changing costumes, dancing to classic tunes, wine bottles, champagne popping. we mount the platform and look out into the dark, nothing visible, but the rangers radio is announcing the start of the procession, the fire twirlers will be soon behind. finally we motorvate after interminable costume changes and gathering together of equipment. finally we enter the fray, people on bikes, on foot, art cars, scooters segues, you name it. now a huge wheeled vehicle 50' high roaming along all decorated with flashing lights, neon, video etc.

The density of people increases exponentially as we enter the perimeter, a line of nose to tail art cars 2 miles long, blaring techno, belching fire, people hangng on to platforms for a view above the playa. c and c and i play tag hard to find, several separations, i have them lead and follow, they hold hands to stay togetehr. the twirlers are twirling and a huge flaming dragon enters the mass of seething dancers, with flaming wings flapping. now we look for a spot, the girls want to be up front, and i settle down on my tripod chair to watch the show.

it begins with a spectacular fireworks display, with accompaning blasts , then the man starts spouting sparks from his hands, and soon the whole statue is on fire, now the understructure starts up, people throwing flares into the wooden columns, shoots of flame starting up,then the whole display is enveloped in a monster white billowing explosion the concussion almost knocking us over, leaving the wood flaming, consuming the whole base, that we hung out in and admired as art in the desert. the mans head falls off to a great cheer, but it has a superstructure of steel, and it isnt going anywhere. the vortexes start whirling off downwind. I am tired, but determined to watch the fall of the man, but it isn't happening, so i wend my way past some art cars, one with 3 stories and huge video screen, and a wall of sound, more huge speakers and a gut fluttering bass line.

quiet on the playa, stroll over toward the lightbulb cube and stare at that for a while, great patterns of lights with bulbs changing color constantly.

back to snug nest, just drifting and i hear cathy, "you wimp, its only midnight, get up and party with us" ok, the ladys are back with another bottle of shiraz open, i drink water, enuf for the night. visit some clubs, and now finally they leave me alone to repair.

On 9/6/09, terry wright wrote:
> lotsa wind yesterday, the burn was late and spectacular, ill post a
> description to you soon. breaking camp, plan to leave5 am after the
> temple burn which will be watched from a lift truck in our camp
> complete with balcony, couches, a bar (always a bar). cathy left
> early, lotsa stuff, i organized the trailer and stuff and all i have
> to do is throw it in and head out in the morning.

sunday was busy with helping cathy pack and off early, then packing most of the camp myself, the plan to leave at 5 am with too tall sherry, fun fun debbie, pete and tahoe bob. segue over to canyons, tri the internet to no avail, snooze party visit watch the teardown of camp all going into 2 huge containers to be unearthed next year. the wind blows off and and on, we mosy out to central camp, it is crowded, no good music, a n amazing group of individuals and costumes and performance art. now a stroll out onto the playa picked up by an art car for a ride to the man, then back to eg, and fond farewells to cyn, her camp in tatters.

oh i forgot about spankys wine bar saturday afternoon, this was a hot
spot with all kinds of people coming and going on the esplanade. 50
cases of wine in various states of disrepair sitting in the hot sun,
cooled with ice. the name comes from the spankometer, a contraption
where you pulldown your pants, bare butt, to be spanked by a board
that repeatedly thwapped your butt. great sport. good music too, no
techno, a few knopflers, joanie, jazz. great costumes and great
performances with dancing, on the bar and a crowd gathering to
celebrate life.
also deep playa on sat morning early cool, to the temple to post
dianes poem then a great garden with columnar joints and huge rock
tables, and the eagles next high above the playa, snugging in pillows
and watching the world go by.

back to sunday....back to camp and finish packing up, all i gotta do
is turn the key and drive outta there, most stuff in a heap on the
trailer covered with playa dust, gotta find a leaf blower to clean up.
we have a low keytime on the lift truck balcony couch watching the
temple burn, then turn in, sleep soundly until the neighbors fire up
the stereo thump thump. finally at 1 am they calm down, i sleep till
4 30, and make coffee, secure the camper pop top, find the rrear
taillight is out, and not fixable, and finally sherry and i roar off
into the sunrise. a slow procession tot he gate, and out onthe road
smooth sailing to nixon, where i try to get gas to no avail, they are
out. oh well, fume it to the wigwam in fernley, no sign of sherry, a
few other burners are there, 2 recognize me from the talk at bman, and
im tearing into steak and eggs when sherry pulls in, looking hasseled,
nailed for speeding in nixon and pissed. we have a good conversation
about life and plans, she is 15 miles from her house in silver city,
almost home, i contemplate my 3 hour drive to benton and am ready to
hit the road. call heather to relay message i have emerged from the
playa, and debbie and pete pull up, we visit for a short time then im
off on the road again, snoozing several time to stay awake, sail past
mina to montgomery pass, the bug station , the po store and home. to
sleep perchance to dream.

things are low key in benton now, im gonna lie low, maybe do some fishing, clean up the gear after bman and visit around. my friend from tulsa arrives in reno on the 16th and we do the millpond music fest. that weekend, and im back for dr appts on the 24th. ill be around a week, but plan a southland odyssey to a weekend party in lancaster, then to santa barbara to visit cathy in her mansion about to be foreclosed upon, then gunkholing up the coast to a ranch on big sur and friends in monterey and santa cruz, then to the dylan/willie concert at the greek, then home for a while. oh well sieze the moment...

rage on.

Monday, June 22, 2009

16 who dared: Tuolumne River 2009

16 who dared, tuolumne river 2009

Pictures at


Tuolumne 09

complex logistics, but i can handle it, 17 oops 16 (namomis dr wouldnt let her go after surgery) gathered with a mountain of gear , food, kitchen, camp lumped down the rocky putin path. overhung from great party, gathering the night before next to the river. the river is up, 22-2400 cfs and promising higher, strap down, rig to flip, and off on the raging tide. johnny and greg are on board, after tying down the load, greg is backup rower boatman in training, never done class 4, but hes a great guy and capable, just needs experience. just what i need to have him take over on the easier stretches.

good runs, lotsa room with the water, way left at nemesis, never done that before, i just follow bcs red kayak down the slot. sunderlands is huge, monster side curlers coming off the right cliff, i climb high on the left, turn and hit them head on and we plough thru, not the fate of steves trip, one of their boats is upside down in the eddy,
they looking forlorn on the shore, picking up the pieces.

Aside from a surf of ramshead hole, the rest is great fun, lunch at clavey and hike to the fossils, swim in the creek, mellow out. beer and premaid sandwiches fuel us for the clavey drop. it is steep, i hit a vshaped hole and get knocked off my seat, and lose an oar, but the paddlers keep paddlin, keeping me away from the wall, and i see dinosaur rock far away and relax, running the last drops backwards. "all upright, at the bottom of clavey, all ok."

Grays is really big, riverwide hole stops us even tho we are full steam ahead, and i land on johnnys head and crick his neck, hes ok, but that took us by surprise. On down the rio, easy runs at high water, and into camp on the sandy beaches downstream of north fork. set up camp for a day of rest and fun hiking.

Monster ravioli meal, salad, wine, beer, margaritas, 2 pies for dessert with whipped cream. oink. tom is doing his thing, has 6 burners going, 2 tables for prep, one for booze and a king size bbq for the dutch ovens. I rig a fish flag and the led solar lights and we are ready to party. Ben sings some of his great songs, i do a pancho and lefty performance on his guitar, and fade away.

coffee early, im after the fish, hook one on a fly, but he gets off. we prep for the brushy rocky hike and take off up the canyon. dings are happenin, blood shed, i have a gouge on my forearm from rowing clavey, but it stops bleeding fast, just looks bad. we enter the gorge and swim up through the pools to the upper falls, vertical walls up 50 feet on both sides. people hanging out in the sun, the water is cool, canyon goes down to get a wet suit. i hang in the jacuzzi with cathy and we revel in the beauty of it all. bash back down, taking it slowly and carefully to pizza lunch at camp and long snooze, more fishing, still no keepers, and long conversations about important things under a 20x20'tarp blowing in the wind. friends drop in, bcs wife wanda with 3 kayakers, and jeff and adam, sierra mac guides on a field day kayaking, they are going to redo the gps locations of rapids on the cherry creek run for me. i lost the original notebook. always duplicate critical field information.

dinner is an heroic bbq with 2 salmon fillets, 4 tritips, potatoes, salad choch. cake for dessert with whipped cream. more songs, im wiped and crash out, cathy comes to visit and it really hot to do more of this kind of stuff. i fade to drunken fools staggering by me on the way to camp.

great bkfst, fathers day, whoopee. biscuits, gravy, eggs, chicken sausages, more coffee, a beer or two to wash it down. now we get organized, and pack it all up, load it on the boats and off to more glory downstream. a cabin, donkey engine and mining debris occupies us for a while, then the pull of turnback creek, to no avail, the creek is dry, out onto the lake and the tow and the ride up from the bridge for the drivers late, we derig and hang on the beach at moccasin for 3 hours before they show up watching the scene, huge boats, drunk mad people, end of a day with lake people.. Tom has done the money calculation, and its 90$, man what a deal, Marty helped greatly sporting us the shuttle.

Sad farewells, cheers and good feelings all around. we did it, i did it,organized the whole thing and it came together in one coherent whole, everyone working towards the same goal. fun on the river. We run to smoke, my fav restaurant in Jamestown with Canyon and the next order is margaritas and fish tacos, then the long run to santa rosa where johnny takes off for the gfs, ready for it.

1242 words, copyright terry wright 2009