It Fits!

Despite some internet chatter and misgivings this awesome, semi-old, Marine Corps OK3CS bayonet from the Afghan/Iraq Theater fits my Mossberg 590 just fine. Locks on very tight in fact. WOOT!
USMC Combat Bayonet
“From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli…” Too bad our recent escapade in Tripoli turned out so disastrously, the Current Administration is a one-man wrecking ball – our soldiers and sailors and corpsmen and airmen (and women each-too) deserve so much better.
UPDATE: the Marine bayonet is a bit longer (8-inch blade with a 1-7/8″ serrated section vs. 7-inch blade) and a bit stronger than the Army M9 unit, so good.

Rainy-day redneck gold-mining reminiscencesez

Back to Colorado, back to “The Hole”…
…And then there was the trail, two-miles nearly straight down into the canyon, through trees and thickets that only a horse could navigate. We loaded the animals and got in the saddle, and over a few days rode the dredge and compressor and the rest of the equipment down into the canyon to the Claim on the Creek. The claim itself was a 100-something foot stretch of creek, and in the middle was “The Hole.” A 15-foot waterfall entered at one end of a 60-foot granite circle with sheer walls, and the water that flowed out the other end was just an ankle-deep, shallow trickle.
There HAD to be a whole mess of gold down there at bedrock – and there probably still is. We worked it for a while but most of the work involved me moving large rocks underwater in an effort to get to bottom bedrock. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than smart because I was mainly stupid. It was incredibly dangerous down there, because in order to get down to the bottom layer of rock-stuff I had to wear a lead weight-belt and the sheer-walls meant there was nothing to hold onto in the Hole except the dredge-and-pump floating on two inner-tubes. As large rocks were moved aside to make a deeper hole and reach the bottom, the hole I was creating threatened to cave-in and trap me.
…And then it began to rain for a week straight. The days were dark and cold in in the mountains, but beautiful and majestic – and full of danger. We kept a camp-fire alighted under a fir-tree with branches that repelled the water. We needed the fire to stay warm after each excursion. Once in a fit of sheer exhaustion as I returned to the surface I stupidly spit-out the hookah-tube that was feeding me fresh air, and gulped-in a lung-full of freezing, brackish, creek-water – and I sank back under the water, taken down by the lead belt. With a great deal of frantic determination I coughed and thrashed and kicked and fought my way back to the surface. Releasing the weight-belt I grabbed onto the dredge’s inner-tube for floatation and nearly tipped the whole apparatus into the drink. I clung to the side of the machine gasping and listened to the steady thunka-thunka of the little motor and I realized that I had nearly drowned right there. And I still had to go down and retrieve the weight belt.
That ended the exploration of The Hole itself, and we turned our attention to the inlet and outflow portions of the creek to verify the status of the claim. Working the upper reaches above the fall we found and recovered a consistent volume of small flakes and colors, like what we had found in the Trinity Alps. Working the lower outflow section where the creek was only inches deep we found almost nothing. Stuff was going in, but was not coming out, but the means to get at it was more than our equipment could handle. We needed a Cat and a crane and a much bigger suction-device – just really big stuff that we couldn’t get down on horses. We needed to grow the operation and divert the creek.
So we dried-off and took a trip into town for a day-off and some recreation, and to figure out what to do next. We ducked out of the rain into The Bar where we began talking with the sassy, cute and buxom black-haired bartenderess, and drinking with the local Sheriff who happened to be a friend of Jim’s, on just what happened to be his (the Sheriff’s) Birthday, and we joined-in with the whole bar singing his birthday song, repeatedly as rounds were poured, “Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother.” It was indeed his 34th-somethign Birthday and quite a memorable event.

It was also there that we found out that in the middle of the Summer, while we were quietly working away down in the canyon, that the Colorado Law on placer mining and stuff had changed, and we were not actually supposed to be there. Seriously not. In fact there were fines and levees and punishments that could be applicable. We had talked and conversed with the Forest Service rangers a couple times, one a very cute blond who we enticed with beer and whiskey… Fortunately the claim was a distant and quiet operation, remote and hard to reach too – and with a light foot-print on the land, so we just as quietly packed-up and departed. Jim for Padcuha, Kentucky to see his mom – where he dropped me off and I continued my hitchhike journey north to the wilds of mid-Ohio and a visit with friends from Overseas-School where they annual Reunion was held. And that was the last time I spent with horses.
Up against the wall, hippy!!

UPDATE: the OTHER song that was my Summer of ’77 redneck-roots theme-song, because: Colorado!

About those high-topped Cowboy Boots…

I went to work in the Summer of ’77 between semesters on a fluke job when I ran into a guy on my hitchhiking escape from Hateful Town. It was the Jimmy Carter era of gas-lines and general hopelessness, and there were no jobs (not even mowing-lawns) for an unconnected, intermediate college Serf-in-Training, even (or especially) at the Brain-Factory of Big-Universitytown. Being without wheels because no-money, I hit the road with my thumb-out to go see a palace that a few good friends (ok, ONE guy – but he was right) said was rather special.
I made my way (slowly) Northwards and circuitously via Eureka, up the coast then inland to the NorCal Trinity Alps: destination Thompson Peak. I camped rough off the side of the road one night in the middle of an Indian Reservation, after declining a ride with a very drunken but amorous local woman. At the trail-head of Hobo Gulch I met Jim, an itinerant Econ Professor from SUNY by way of a Visiting Professorship UC Santa Barbara. He was scruffy and holding the reins of a mule when he asked me if I was headed anywhere in particular and, “Did I want to try my hand at gold-mining?” For the princely 1-tenth of 1% of the found-gold, or $10-a-day.
Apparently his team of UCSB muscle-bound Aquamen had fled the quiet, tall, Mountains to return to the rambunctious Surf-Scene, when I showed up as an answer to his prayers. He had a pile of equipment and cans of food. Corned-beef hash mainly, and the mule and a donkey needed loading, so I learned to tie a “diamond hitch” or a “trucker’s hitch” to secure the load – from a time when a wagon was a “truck” and when you didn’t have a truck you tied it on an animal. Among the equipment was also some dive-stuff, and got to learn how to use scuba gear attached to a hookah-rig. I would also learn how really goddam cold snow-melt water can be despite a wet-suit, and how to glue-up patches on an aged wet-suit that needed a few more layers of neoprene.
Up there at the camp I met Old George who had traveled on the last clipper ship to go around the Cape Horn on its way to California, and who had started an Investors Advice newsletter back before Forbes Magazine. We were there to excavate by dredge-and-sluicebox a 100-foot section of “his” river as a bit of necessary improvements to his Homestead Claim, in order for the Forestry Service to recognize another 7-year lease.
I have a book on my shelf about the early Naval demolition and exploration teams that were established in WWII to reconnoiter beaches and landing spots, they were the precursors to the UDT and later SEALS and it’s called “The Water is Never Cold”. Yeh right, they didn’t swim in Alpine lakes or lay in a freezing creek with a vacuum-cleaner type contraption, sucking-up bits of sand and gravel in the elusive hunt for Gold. We had to time our exposure or risk hypothermia. I’d spend just half-an-hour in freezing water while Jim drank beer, and then get out and stand over the camp-fire shivering for an HOUR trying to warm-up again. Gold drives men to do crazy things and ignore pain and reality and endure lots of hardships – AND it makes men deal with horses and other domesticated critters. We found a lot of tiny flakes and “colors” that were captured and collected in the shag-rung at the end of the sluice-box, but the hunt for gold was not the real purpose of our work, it was to help Old George keep his claim in the mountains he loved. Anyhow, what else was I going to do that summer…?
A month later I hitched down through So-Cal and out to Colorado, and met-up with Jim again outside Silverton on Lime Creek for a “REAL” shot at gold – and had to work with horses. Horses have individual character and personalities. His expensive big black semi-thoroughbred horse had been stabled with some ne’er-do-well’s who lived in a trailer on ranch-land, and he suspected it wasn’t the same horse that he had dropped off a few months earlier. He believed that they had sold his good horse to make some ready cash, and switched it with another of *mostly* the same color. This was before chips and implants or even tattoos and not everything seemed to match. They said it had just gotten wilder over the winter – and it was – and catching it every morning to saddle it was a chore left to me. There was a white mare also, who was fat and docile and wouldn’t do a damn thing unless she felt like it, and would often stop and move off-trail and begin to eat anything in sight. The big thoroughbred was more sure-footed and often tried to brush me out of the saddle by riding under low branches, or turn quickly on the steep hillside so I would tip-out into space. I learned how to ride that summer, and so once upon a time I spent some semi-serious time as a bit of a cowboy, and I think I’ve earned these boots.

Wet on Wet

Another drencher is coming (UPDATE: upons uns right now) and Folsom Lake is up seven feet in the last week, and from 17% capacity last January to %37 now. Yay water!

Lake Oroville now stands at 32 percent of capacity, while Lake Shasta is at just 31 percent. California will need a lot more rain and snow to break the drought.
But the recent rain has improved prospects for gold panners, said Brad Sankus, who was mining Sunday along the South Fork of the American River near the Salmon Falls Bridge.
“It’s fantastic,” Sankus said. “It’s really moving stuff around. That’s what we need for gold panning.”

Gold? Yes, GOLD!
(**UPDATE: Wettest December in seven years to-date, on record. We’re doin’ good.)
In this Obamaconomy every bit helps… Reminds me of the Carter Era but without the weird and gaudy vehicles of AMC: the Gremlin and Hornet, and the terrarium Pacer. AMC was an exquisitely American company conglomerated from refrigerators and vehicular obsolescence, an automobile company formed by the 1954 merger of Nash-Kelvinator Corporation and Hudson Motor Car Company. They gave us the staid Rambler, and later the rakish Javelin, the blimpish Matador, and the hot-rod AMX. What do we have now by comparison? All those $3,000 Corollas that started coming in on the wave of Japanese Import-Invasion are settled in land-fills by now.

My dad bought a 6-cylinder Rambler station wagon with his meager Pastor’s salary in ’62, and we drove it down to Ensenada (which I barely remember, being only 4 or so) and then all the way across-country (when I was 5) to a Baptist Mission conference in Green Bay Wisconsin. Along the way I saw the Badlands of South Dakota and the faces on Mt. Rushmore – and other sights like the green Sinclair Dinosaur gas-stations. I remember Mom driving through the night in Nevada as we kids slept in back, and the sound of sprinting jackrabbits, drawn to the light like moths, hitting the undercarriage. *thump* *thump-thump* You don’t stop for jackrabbits. We drove through a torrential Mid-West thunderstorm in Nebraska and saw a lightning bolt flash to the ground in the middle of a farmer’s field, halfway between us in the car on the wet road and a small farmhouse. A plume of smoke arose as the crash of thunder filled the station wagon. Dad said something about, “Probably a small blob of glass out there,” and drove on at the recommended 65mph speed-limit. I learned that 60mph was, “a mile a minute” and both my timekeeping and math skills advanced. We stopped at gas-stations with 10-¢ soda pop-dispenser, one where the bottles lay in a column of chilled air behind a tall, thin, glass-door, held back by metal yokes. You had to read the cap to choose between Coke, 7-Up, Root-Beer and Dr. Pepper, and then forcibly yank-out the soda you wanted after you heard the sound of the coin-drop. There were some weird flavors and mysterious brands back then too. On hot days and without a dime, sometimes we just opened the thin door and stood in the chill breeze of the machine.

My favorite was 7-Up, but a few years later when we were overseas there was only Coke and Fanta Orange. There was no root-beer except what might be made by local soda-pop entrepreneurs. Locals made soda from tap-water and local flavors, colored with fluorescent dyes and bottled with bottle-caps. Hand-bottling technology hasn’t changed since the Gold Rush days and you just need fizzy water, a lever, and the expensive part: caps. Sometimes the local pop-caps were picked-up off the ground re-used since that was an expensive bit of formed metal. At small shops selling “Coke” you also had to check and see if the bottles were re-used and that the cap was un-bent, because in a miserably poor country and an effort to save money and make a bit more, people would simply mix up their own batch of fizzy-brown stuff for sale. There were no sanitation or hygienic standards as such, or health inspectors – except for the Big Ugly-American Company Coca-Cola that also made Fanta. Drinking anything bottled besides that stuff could set-back your Typhoid-Cholera booster shot a ways and have you lying down puking your guts into a basket in between running to the bathroom with convulsive diarrhea. Also no using the ice or drinking iced-beverages – you didn’t know where that water came from, and in a miserably poor country with incredibly polite and friendly people, none of them wanted to offend you, so you would always be assured and re-assured by vendors and servers that everything was “pukka and top-notch.” Good times. (Various UPDATES.)

Back to Gillette

My wife reminded me that during this period of heavy precipitation it is not entirely necessary to run the Electro Face-Buzzer across the screen, and I could switch back to the close-shave routine. Also because (and perhaps mainly) I was spending just as much dilly-dally time trying to buzz the nubs as I was in-shower shaving and wasting water – so, Time or Water? Either is precious, but I’ll run out of time before I run out of water. But mainly She ran out of patience, hurry-up!

Nothing to see here…

Moving right along…the gray and damp are persistent relieved somewhat by rolling cumulus clouds. This AM at around 6:00 the big diesels rolled up at the small house down the hill, and the occupants of six other cars emerged to peel-off the roof. Re-roofing asphalt shingles is an ambitious project in this weather and one that might leave the residents a bit chilly tonight even with sheets of TYVEK vapor barrier and fresh roofing felt in place underneath a tarp. However there is a “For Rent” sign on the house and the Big Guy with the diesel Dodge, while rather young seems to be the resident/owner running the show. I wish them well even thorough the early noise and truck clatter is a bit of a nuisance.

In other news Muslim madmen killed some 130-some children at a grade-school in what was once their safe-haven, because they claim local Police and Army have been insufficiently impressed with their willingness to be utterly barbaric and insane, and have even targeted the raving lunatics… It’s a sad day all around because the kids didn’t have a chance with either set of parents or the frothing cretins who set upon them in an orgy of hatred and bloodthirsty deathlust. I hope the insanity has reached a fever pitch and the former safe-haven now becomes a cannibal death-wallow for the Islamist savages.

When I was a callow youth I spent a lot of time in the darkroom. Seriously, a LOT – to the point I lost my swim-team/water-polo constant tan, and .later even as a callow post-grad I worked in the Biz making big negatives and slapping artwork together. It’s dark in the darkroom, and lonely. There were things of sheer lust besides fair maidens, and Tam had the temerity to remind me of such desperate wishes I had in those bygone days of 80’s pop-music and insufficient income: I wanted a silver ‘Blad. (I already had a black ’67 Nikon F.) Now I am just Bald instead. Oh well, can’t juggle so many things at once anymore, either.

Stormy Weather

5:20AM We awoke to the sound of the wind blowing pretty hard up the ridge-line in the dark. UPDATE: 20-to-30mph from the SW. She went to make coffee while I lay listening to the trees groaning and limbs whipping. After a moment I got up and went to the door. A few house-lights were visible across the ravine, beyond the golf course. I opened the slider and was met with a fresh gust of wind, but no rain. The deck was strewn with pine-needles, heaped against the Christmas-light cord and underneath the small table. The larger table with the umbrella furled-fast is held fast to the deck-rail by a C-clamp and didn’t move. This was just the blast that preceded the wetness, the “atmospheric river.” Thud the rocker turned contractor/house-builder/mason/renovator, over in Scouserland, UK related to me that their academically-trained (in vocabulary at least) Environmental Fabulists are now calling the age-old winds off the Irish Sea, “Explosive Cyclogenesis” – all in keeping with making the rabbits run and the hamsters turn the wheel.
UPDATE: Now we’re gettin’ the rain. Doesn’t seem so bad…
UPDATE FRIDAY: They’re calling it the biggest storm in six years. We got three inches already since Thursday and the Sierras are now caked in snow. Once dry-as-a-bone Folsom lake is up five-feet since Thanksgiving. Glad I drive a truck not a car! Gas at Costco was $2.639 yesterday.

Rain Prep

I’m going to finally have to get up on a (short) ladder and check the gutters along the deck-side. We have an atmospheric river of moisture pointed at us, a phalanx of atmospheric 14″ artillery-guns if you will, and The Big Guy in the Sky pulled the trigger and launched the Pineapple Express.

A NOAA weather graphic shows an atmospheric river streaming across the Pacific to the central California coast.

A NOAA weather graphic shows an atmospheric river streaming across the Pacific to the central California coast.