Sunday, November 09, 2014
SHORT STORIES FROM THE ROAD
CATCHING UP WITH MYSELF. I write from the infamous Slabs near Niland California. I last reported from the remotes of California. I've made my way to Quartzsite, Az and traded in two defective solar panels for 2 good ones. (Sure enough Koyocera honored its 25 year warranty---I've had them about 15 years. The lightening strike only 10 feet away at the Grand Canyon might have got those two and I never noticed) I discovered that I can function quite well with only one of my 3 operational. Then I went to Yuma for dental work---had a minor operation to prepare for a third implanted tooth. Now I will go back to cover happenings I think are worth sharing.
I begin with this lovely US Army ring found on a side road near Mono Lake, Ca. It looks like some lady was wearing it around her neck on a beaded necklace. I would like to return it to its owner. Call me at 602-402-9511--and tell me what's written inside and I'll send it to you.
My summer companion through Nevada, Idaho and Montana rendezvoused with me briefly at Mono Lake. We found this great free campsite high on a mountain road.
The road seemed pointless till we stopped this truck and got the explanation. Turns out that buried under that mountain road is a large water pipeline---the upper part of the California aqueduct taking water from Lee Vining creek to Los Angeles. He showed us where the pipe was inserted through a mountain to get at the precious water.
This was the most expensive gas during my entire summer trip: Bridgeport, Ca.
The story of this unusual lake and its critical role as nursery for gulls and "filling station" for migrating ducks and geese is worth knowing. A protracted legal battle saved it from extinction.
Its waters once topped the tufa formations behind me.
That's me at Lone Pine Visitor center showing the 10 ft size of the pipe that transports the natural water of the Owens Valley to Los Angeles. Now Las Vegas has decided to do a similar thing---transport via pipeline the water from Northern Nevada to their thirsty city.
My next adventure was to go explore a mysterious dark forest out in the middle of a vast dry lake.
This is the road to it.
And there it is. I spotted it some days ago from the exit of Burro Schmidt tunnel.
On the way out I stopped to investigate this abandoned cabin with its assorted structures like this fine table. It's obvious that the builder had a get-away-from it all dream. But they never used it. The cabin was never completed. Very often I see this sort of thing---most often incomplete and unused. I guess energy flags and the dream dies.
This railroad prevents driving out there. So I go find another way in.
It's a long way around but I eventually found a crossing and drove back. This was as close as I could drive to it.
Walked the rest of the way. A dead cat--the mystery thickens.
Finally I penetrate the forest down this spooky road.
To this odd thing at its center. I have no clue.
And here's another mystery. What is this thing? It's a ball of something alive---some kind of an anomaly. I let it be.
This house foundation is about all that remains of a once thriving town named Saltdale. By the weirdest of coincidences I happen to know the person born in that house about 40 years ago. Hi Mary--does it stir memories to see it?
On the far western edge of this dry lake is the unlikeliest of communities named Cantil. It's like living in the Sahara desert---houses are nearly covered by the sand. I stopped and asked a resident why (in heavens name) people would live here? He gave me a beer and took a long time to tell me he didn't know-----said his uncle left him the house and he needed to live some place. He begged me to stay the night. I declined.
About 20 miles South is California City--a place listed in the encyclopedia of forlorn places.
So I went there and spent the night in a vacant lot.
Turns out, it's not so forlorn any more----this is part of a huge golf course surrounded by fine homes.
Now I will end with the titilating story I promised. This picture adorns the wall of a small town museum which shall remain unnamed. Long years ago I visited and was totally smitten with a docent there. As we chatted my heart raced--dear God how I lusted for that woman. Nevertheless, I controlled myself and left. But I called back later and confessed my feelings. Amazingly she felt the same. So eventually we met in a distant town for a night of pleasure---then went our separate ways--for she was engaged to another.
So recently I was in that town again and stopped at the museum out of sentimentality. Damned if she wasn't still there---this time wearing her wedding ring. I said nothing--just walked about--debating whether to reveal myself. There was a guy there---might have been her husband. I kept silent and eventually started to leave. At the door a friendly voice said: "Thanks for stopping by Mr. Vining."
I glanced back at the impishly smiling lady who held one finger on the register where I signed in. I guess I will never know if she recognized me or routinely acknowledges the guest. I smiled back and said: "my pleasure"
PREVIEW OF COMING CONFESSIONS: My family says of me that I have wasted my life---and It may be true. So what the hell---I might as well tell some shocking truths about how I have wasted it.
At a minimum you may find it interesting. I will begin soon to report 19 things I have done that you will find hard to believe. Each, however, could be proved if absolutely necessary. For a teaser, I will tell you that I once wrestled a bear.