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Here you will find random bits of me

Friday, March 16, 2012

run for the border and back: part one


getting out of carson city/carson valley was a long time coming, but we were eventually on the road and heading toward socal by 9:30ish… +/-.

favorable weather accompanied us for the duration of day 1 as we traveled through the eastern sierra and points south. we did encounter a little snow near the road while we were in the higher elevations on highway 395 – near june lake and mammoth – but none on the pavement.

we stopped briefly overlooking mono lake (pron: mow-no lake) to dig the view and so i could grab a geocache and we were back on the road.

mono lake

our next stop would be in bishop where we had lunch at meadow farms mahogany smoked meats on the north side of town. do yourself a favor and stop here for lunch or to buy about 10 pounds of their wonderful bacon; the best i have ever eaten! i had a triple-decker sandwich on toasted sourdough with a tall stack of smoked roast beef and bacon with lettuce, tomato and horseradish mayonnaise. it has a name, but i’ll be damned if i can remember it; something like the western, or cowboy, or rodeo or something like that. fred had another named sandwich that comes with black forest ham, capicola ham and salami. i’m uncertain as to what veggies and condiments came on it. since my sandwich was so thick, i disassembled it and ate the bacon separately, which made me want to order a pound of cooked bacon just to snack on as we continued our trip south. we ate only half of our sandwiches – and all my bacon – and wrapped up the rest for later. this is a must stop if you are traveling through the owens valley! they do ship their smoked meats.

our next stop would be near the southern end of the owens valley at coso jct. to hit the rest area – to rest, of course – and so i could find my second geocache of the trip. five minutes later and we were back on the road.

we stopped for gas in inyokern, where i unwrapped and ate the leftovers of my sandwich from mahogany smoked meats. have i told you just how good that sandwich was?

the mojave desert.

my, how this place has changed since i lived in socal. it is non-stop houses and businesses from adelanto to interstate 15. it used to be just open desert and no cross streets, except for the occasional dirt road. there must be close to a dozen signals and a seemingly endless stream of traffic getting out of my old home-away-from-home.

this makes me hate southern california even more than i already do.

over and down the cajon pass (“hello, naked people!”), to where i-215 splits from the i-15 and onto the fabled san bernardino freeway; sing it johnny “guitar” watson and/or adrian belew: “we’ll spend the rest of our lives in san ber’dino.”

as we passed through banning and beaumont, we were greeted by the one-day-past-full moonrise and a myriad of inefficient yet heartwarming (at least to liberals that don’t mind spending tax dollars on boondoggles) windmills. yep: the green-scam continues, dear friends.

the temperature in indio as we passed through registered 74 degrees in the truck’s mirror, but cooled a bit as we continued to drive to the south. when we stopped in brawley to get gas, the girl at the convenience store counter was complaining about how cold it was: 62 degrees at about 9pm.

we stayed in the hotel dismal next to i-8 where i had a restless full moon night of sleep.


after a quick breakfast, we were headed west on i-8 passed ocotillo and barrel and (that damned) cholla cacti and into the mountains that extend almost to san diego toward the little hamlet of boulevard, california where we stayed in the bunkhouse of the boulevard empire ranch, a lovely property with lots of trees, a few horses, a pond with ducks, unseen fish and turtles, 4000+ foot landing field, 1000 yard gun range and lots of birds of various species and songs.

boulevard empire ranch caretaker's house

stables at the ranch

after checking in with gordie, the caretaker (i want his job), we unloaded our luggage and headed east a few short miles to the very little, formerly resort town of jacumba (pron: hah-coom-bah) and the even smaller airport which parallels the mexican border, a mere 100 yards south of the runway, where we would hook up with members of the associated glider clubs of southern california, one of which earliest members was a person by the name of charles lindbergh. perhaps you’ve heard of him.

me and fred at the border fence.
yeah, it's pretty tall.

one of the agcsc’s current members is an inventor and interesting character by the name of roman wrosz, who designed and built a winch-tow system to launch gliders that uses a very lightweight synthetic rope called "spectra" instead of the very heavy wire cable that has been used for decades; it takes four or five guys to lift a 2000 foot spool of the wire cable, but one person can carry 5000 feet of the new stuff. since there is much less weight hanging off the glider and being wound up on the drum of the winch, it provides much faster and more efficient launches. roman’s winch is powered by a 650 horsepower diesel engine. between the engine’s output and the light weight of the cable, a glider can be launched to 2000 feet above the deck in about 30 seconds… and let me tell you: it is one thrilling takeoff… more on that later.

roman wrosz with his amazing winch

the reason we are here is so fred can attend the clinic being presented by the agcsc on how to operate, and launch from, the winch. my original plan was to drop fred off at the clinic and head out into the desert to explore for a few days. by the time we got there, however, i decided that if they needed an extra hand or two, i would offer mine as a ground crew member.

they did and mine were used.

roman demonstrating how to repair a broken cable.
more on broken cables in part 3.

actually, i didn’t do much of anything on friday except sit in with the oral lesson. most of it involved things i would not have to know to do what i would be doing on saturday and sunday, but my curious nature found it all quite interesting, albeit a long presentation.

trying to slip through the fence to avoid taxes

my "work" began just prior to sunset when bud robinson, president of the agcsc, assigned me to duty on the grill roasting russets, yams and ears of corn as he cut generous slices of rib eyes from a boneless prime rib roast, which we all grilled ourselves.

after a delicious dinner, which always seems to taste better in the desert, we headed back to the ranch for showers and eventually made our way to our respective beds after some "hanger flying" (racers know this as “bench racing”; others may know it as bullshitting.) with alasdar mullarney and chuck coyne, who were sleeping in the room next to us.

the bunkhouse

the hot tub, bunkhouse and main house

the pond

to be continued…

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