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!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Hopeful for Some Speed

They're gone now, but Sierra Telephone was here over the last few weeks digging an underground phone line to our neighbor's new house site.  Since they needed to come through our place to get there, Dino suggested the best way to go through.  It was interesting watching the progress.

Of course I was thrilled to have the opportunity to take pictures of the equipment.  There were four (five?) machines of various types, plus a trailer.  I'm sure Dino knows what all of it was. 

Now that all the work is done, supposedly we may be able to get DSL here.  Finding a replacement for our current very cantankerous satellite connection would be excellent, and I've got a call into the phone company now to find out if we can get it. 
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