Sunday, November 22, 2009

THREE DAYS OF DESERT SOLITAIRE

"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.

1 comment:

bb said...

Randy,

Enjoy your blog. Thanks for the effort. A quick question about your solar, what type of mounts did you use (I'm interested in tilting solar mounts like you apparently have).