Thursday, February 21, 2013

Rural Living (Dino's Adventure Getting Home)

Photo by Megan (iphone camera) on her way home Thursday

 Dispatch from Dino about his day on Wednesday:

I had an errand in Mariposa, and since it was dry, went to Eastman Lake to remove two Kestrel nest boxes temporarily for a construction project. Since it was still dry after that, I completed another task at Hensley Lake. I thought a town trip was warranted, since I was close, so off to Madera I went. It just started to sprinkle as I was heading to Madera. When I was in Evan's Feed at about 16:00 hours, I could really hear the rain, and the gutters on the streets were full. I left Madera at 18:00 hours, and with the rain and darkness, drove like an old man at 50 mph.

Pulling the grade just past the Raymond church, I noticed that the road cuts were more white than I'm used to seeing. At the Road 600/415 split, snow was sticking to the road. I proceeded up Road 600 and finally hit a curve where I was slipping a bit, so engaged 4WD. At the high point just past the old stage stop, there were a bunch of cars stopped. Some pickup had spun out and blocked traffic. A 4WD towed him out and down towards Raymond, but the half dozen cars that had stopped were stuck. 3 inches of snow were on the ground. At least the stuck cars could get a cell signal, and the ones I talked to had called their husbands or friends to come get them. I found out this morning that the highway into Oakhurst was closed at Deadwood summit, so a few of those cars had tried a detour via Raymond and up Road 600.

Going down Road 810 was another matter. This is a one-lane dirt road dropping 1000 feet. The #$*! automatic with 3:1 first gear hardly held me to a slow speed, but would require more brakes than I'd like to stop. A few bushes were encroaching upon the roadway with the snow, but there was plenty of room to get by. At one sharp corner on the dirt, there was a larger oak in part of the road that covered the tracks of the previous vehicle. Not a good sign, I was thinking. At the paved 10% grade I had to put the Lemon in low range to hold me back on compression, and before the cattle guard, there was a live oak across the road. Damn!

I was not thrilled about backing up the 10 % grade with the ice and snow before I could turn around, and who knows what troubles I'd find on Road 600 back to Raymond and up Bailey Flats Road. I had my nest box installer's tool bag with me, which had a 10-inch folding pruning saw. Working on the trees, I kept hearing trees and limbs falling around me. A reassuring sound to some, no doubt. One hour later, I was back on my way with soaked gloves and numb fingers.

A few hundred feet later, there was a car in the middle of the one lane road, and another live oak down across the road in front of the car. No one was in the locked car. I used some Nixon presidential language about then! My tow chains were at the house where I've been using them to pick up and move moss rocks for a wall I'm building. Besides, this isn't Montana where you need to keep all types of supplies in your vehicle because the weather can change suddenly.  I had some 1-1/2 inch tie-down straps, and was able to use them to drag the vehicle over the ice and snow to where I could push it off the road so I could get by. (I was nice, it was pushed off on the uphill side)

Another hour and I was on the road again. On Bessie Jacobs Road, there are a few trees I'll have to prune back so I can get by with the trailer on Thursday.  On one of the notoriously steeper hills, I lost traction in the clay and was all over the road. I'll have to get a more aggressive tire for the Lemon for winter use. (I was telling Megan earlier she could go with a less aggressive tire for the Toyota, but this storm showed me to stay with what she has.)

End result was 47 miles in 3hours 50 minutes.

Thursday, I cut up parts of seven trees on our road, including two that fell after I had passed by Wednesday night. Since I had the saws in the Ford, I cleared the trees off the remainder of the road that passes through our land, and took one path I have through another parcel, and cut my way through a total of thirty limbs until the sun was setting, and I had to backtrack home. Maybe this weekend I can finish the trail, and see what is across the fences. When it is all said and done, this sure beats living in the city!

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