Sunday, November 22, 2009


"HOW WAY LEADS ON TO WAY"---Robert Frost's words in the poem THE ROAD NOT TAKEN. This day I know what he means. I find myself in Blythe, Ca with no particular urge to go anywhere. So I just drifted west on Interstate 10 open to anything that looks interesting. Stopped at a rest area to read an historical marker (Wylie's well) and noticed this derrick in the desert.
Bicycled out there and learned they are drilling for fossil water to be found at approximately 100 feet, to be used in an upcoming huge solar power plant. It will generate enough electricity for the city of Blythe--population 22,130. A nice engineer explained that curved solar mirrors will heat a pipe containing a fluid that freezes at 60 degrees farenheit but will not boil at 400 plus degrees, making it perfect for transferring collected heat to an exchanger for steam generation.

A sea of silver will soon glisten out there.
Suddenly had the urge to stay the night far back in the peaceful desert. To get there, I'd have to drive across this hundred yards of soft sand. To be stuck here is no small matter. Chose to chance it--was far easier than I supposed---the secret is to move briskly and not stop till on solid ground.
Some distance into the valley, came upon this. Settled in, raised my panels, tuned in and napped. Why in heavens name would anyone build a house out here. Decided to find out. Explored the well made structure, which included a garage.
And a hand dug, stone lined well. Someone had filled it in.
Noticed this and got curious. The internet soon informed me---it's the work of desert termites--who coat twigs and limbs with mud then eat out the wood beneath. Direct sunlight would kill them. I also learned that on average each desert acre sustains a half million of them in scatered colonies about 2 feet underground and that they are important to desert ecology. (surprisingly, my Verizon internet air card works out here)
Slept soundly---comforted by my motion detector alarm. Decide to solve the mystery of this remote house. Note that the road runs uncomfortably close by---calling to mind the classic poem: "to live in a house by the side of the road and be a friend to man." Somewhere out there is a reason for its existence.
With water, food, and cellphone I bicycle several miles out till I see this side road leading into that canyon.
Trudging all the way up there---bingo--the obvious answer to the puzzle---the house served this considerable mining operation. A big sign says keep out--but I've come too far to be deterred. Want to feel what it's like in there.
50 yards in-- curious signs---have no notion what they mean. An electrical wire and a thick steel rebar (why) stretch into its depths. About 100 yds in I ran out of courage and light.

Here's a fragment of the quartz seam they were chasing. Gold is associated with such intrusions.
After 3 nights I chose to move on--taking the scenic route to Mecca, Ca and South along the Salton sea.
Then West toward Borrego Springs stopping for 2 nights at cliffs edge to look at this.

Friday, November 13, 2009


After Vegas I chose to amble my way to Outlaw Canyon again to interview Outlaws.
Got as far as Boulder, Nv and got absorbed in a book: A SHORT HISTORY OF EVERYTHING by Bill Bryson and spent three days reading ---right here on a back lot behind a laundromat. Ah the joys of being invisible.

In "iffy" situations I bring my bike inside for the night---only a minor inconvenience.
Toured the town---looking for things that strike me--this sight did---Here is a clean, lean, elegantly dressed bag lady---even her bags are elegant and she comports herself with dignity, walked with a purposeful stride--stopped, stood tall and looked me straight in the eye. I was too intimidated to approach for the story.

Then I joined my tribe. The WINs, for 5 days camping at Boulder Beach Campground. (Seniors $5 a day) Participated in a murder mystery drama---played the part of a con man--got killed.
A terrific Bike trail runs for miles along Lake Meade
---through a series of tunnels like this all the way to Hoover Dam.
First I've seen of these---a push bike, the lady said.
Moved on to Searchlight Nevada---home of Harry Reid--leader of the US Senate--I quizzed a few people---all said they see him on occasion.
Here's the hot button issue in town----the Windmills (turbines in engineer-speak) are coming. Folks are pro and con. Someone wrote on this poster: "if you don't like them, conserve electricity. The two photos show how they will "deface" the skyline at sunset. I'm all in favor of them and think they enhance the view. The blades on these will be 225 feet long.
On to Laughlin, Nevada---down a 5 mile hill.
Colorado river---lifeline of the West. I settled with 40 others beside the Riverside Casino--stayed a few days----ho hum--Casinos are boring to us non gamblers.
So I moved on to Outlaw canyon---my name for it.
Would it be this guy living in his car----nah. not interesting enough---but light years more comfortable than a city street bum. Humble as it is this guy has a lifestyle and is in control of his life. Mission dwellers deliver themselves into the hands of religious do-gooders---sell their dignity for a bowl of soup.
Far back in the canyon, this lady lives in this truck (is she paying daily or weekly rental fees?) with 4 dogs--see her sitting in the drivers seat---too wierd to engage.
So OK here's my scoop for the past two weeks----I INTERVIEWED A REAL BANK ROBBER.
Unsurprisingly, No photos allowed--but I'm convinced of the truth of his story. Here's the gist:
1. He has robbed 3 banks--wouldn't reveal dates or location--sounded like Ca.
2. Got 10, 14, and 18 thousand dollars. (so little? hardly worth the risk)
3. Never got caught.
4. Robbing a bank is an incredible high--It begins when he makes a firm decision and begins planning--said it felt like a sweet, throbbing ache for the preceeding week.
5.Preparations include face obscuring techniques---mustache--big sunglasses and actors makeup. Also two sets of clothing--completely different--the outer easily stripped off---and two cars; one stolen.
6.He said that Banks have more money on Mondays. (Is this true?--why?)
7.Robbed branch banks---less security.
8. frightened tellers into not putting in exploding packets.
9. coated his fingerprints with clear glue. (will that really work?)
10. Does not run out of the bank--walks briskly--around the corner, gets into the car--drives to second car, shedding clothes, gets in and drives calmly onto a nearby freeway.
He had a girlfriend and I had a private moment with her. I asked if she knew about his "work?" she said yes.

In the interest of full disclosure I have to tell you that I did not meet this guy in outlaw canyon--(just too neat) and also that the canyon has another name --but I tell the story here because it fits with the theme. ( for the record, I met him at Snider Hill--some time ago---a spot boondockers know well)