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Exiting president rambles on about everything except dirt biking

posted Dec 13, 2012, 9:27 AM by Tony Burgess   [ updated Jan 1, 2013, 8:09 PM ]

12-12-12                                                            Kelley's

Every winter storm in Mammoth is welcome.  Cold freezing storms, wind numbing fingers and toes, hot springs not hot enough.  The horror.

Years ago at a travel management meeting, a local environmentalist told me, “Take care of your family first.”   The words haunt me.  What was implied?  Setting a hierarchy doesn’t work.  Many can benefit by reaching out and giving – taking care of others first.  I’m sure that first responders live different than most.  But what do I know?

Living too much of the easy life spoils kids.  I came up with a grand idea to kick off our spring break with a couple days of hard work and follow it up with camping.  (we usually camp in the desert and live it up) A checklist formed:

-          Shack repair

-          Billboard repair

-          Gut mobile home

-          Pack supplies: Jacks, ladder, dumpster, power tools, guns, and grease (for trailer bearings).

We ended up suffering through three days of intense heat outside of Inyokern, handling all sorts of nasty tasks like pulling up carpet, burning a mountain of teddy bears, and sifting through garbage and dead rats.  The air in our abandoned mobile home was drier than a popcorn fart.  Kids took it in stride, I endured filthy hot sleep.

Doesn't look bad here...

One last hug before fire pit.

So what happened?  We worked more than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest.  Then, all loaded up and ready to retreat to the Kern Plateau for cooler temps our truck motor seized four miles up 9 Mile Canyon.  I showed the family, work hard and get stranded.  Our truck is still out there.

Is living the easy life the wrong choice?  Should we be doing/giving more for years of privilege?  Side effects are obvious – mental states weaken.

After a long weekend in OC we came back to another Mono flip-flop.  Brian Muir is now officially the new Tax Collector.  The old tax collector, Rose, is now his assistant.  Called to check-up and verify and was told that this happened 4 years ago at a public election – what a crock of shit.  Then the clerk turned the questions back at me, “Why do you want to know?”  “Oh, I like to pay attention to detail” I responded.  Getting a little paranoid north county?

Travel Management – there will likely be no fixes to Travel Management (TM) and if there are they will go unpublicized.  Our club efforts go ignored.  Many citizens have been arriving at a common conclusion: If efforts to improve TM fall on deaf ears then the system is broke and one needs to reflect and choose appropriate action.  This summer I saw one previous well used road behind Shady Rest Park closed (TM) by a very large Jeffery pine trunk.  It was a bad closure.  A week later the trunk was gone and left in its place was sawdust.  Wooders had grabbed it in an illegal action that resulted in a win-win for everyone.  Talk about a paradox.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Inyo fire fighter contemplates TM.  There were a few spot fires this season on the forest, lightning caused.  As a small blaze turned larger, fire crews weren’t able to get in because access was closed and barricaded.  Permission was granted to drive around the closures but not all the vehicles could do it so chainsaws had to be fired up to remove the blockades.  Meanwhile the fire grows to several acres when it could have been suppressed at a couple.  Is ten acres of extra forest loss worth it?  The newly re-opened road is now blown-out and is scheduled to go back off limits.  All sorts of brush was smashed creating more of an impact if the road had remained open.   Good roads through our front country are a public asset, agenda driven closures cost us all in the end.  Think about it.

What’s cheaper than dirt cheap?  Dirty cheap!  Pristine Mono Lake land sells for $33.75 per acre on November 6, 2012.  I did what I could to raise local property values but in the end money talked and I balked.  Picture this: 160 acres (½ mile x ½ mile) out behind Mono Lake entirely surrounded by BLM lands.  Pros included lots of space to stretch out, major transmission lines nearby for alternative energy installations, views of the lake and sierra escarpment, hot spring(s), and, plenty of wind.  No neighbors is a plus too for those who have a hard time getting along with others.  The only con was a dedicated access route – but who’s asking?  One sand wash had good potential.  My opposing bidder snagged it for $5,400 cash, after my computer froze.  Plan to follow up in a year with the new buyer.

$33.75 per acre here.

Learned how to drink beer (again) in Reno.  After a long wine binge, bread sodas were supposed to be a thing of the past, but Blue Moon is everywhere, and it tastes so good out of the tap – especially with the little slice of orange.  One time the buffet in the Grand Sierra Resort gave me a wristband to wear and I could have as much beer as I could drink.  They’ve since discontinued the program to my chagrin.  So thanks a lot GSR for rekindling a beer addiction and promptly ending the AYCD special.  I don’t really give them all the credit, it (beer addiction) was just hiding under the surface of yet another comp’d Reno trip.

Eastside locals pay attention – the GSR player card offers up free nights.  These email promotions also include free gambling money, food comps, 2 for 1 resort credit, free video gaming and bowling for the kids, etc.  Not that anyone needs that.  The Eastside is home, but the siren call to the city can be answered once in a while to remind us of what we deliberately left.  Nothing beats coming home after a vacation abroad.

This isn’t a paid spot for GSR, sorry if it sounds like one.  Their free gambling money is the best though.  Video keno is my game, my technique last time was as follows:  Hiking around Hilton Creek one summer evening I cracked right through a rotten log crossing.  Down I went half into the water and half into a wild rose thicket.  The palm of my hand was dotted with so many thorns, tiny ones that wouldn’t come out.  So what!  Well, fast forward to sitting in front of a keno game the thorn pattern on my hand looked like a good bet on the screen.  $167 later we whisked ourselves off to Sushi Pier! (next to Costco)

What happens when you mix in one gold mine and one very bad flu?  Gold fever!  This bad dream had me driving the Town of Mammoth Lakes Olympia (the Oly is an ice resurfacing machine – think of a Zamboni) up the closed road to the May Lundy Mine.  It actually handled the road well, but my fevered brain wondered what business I had driving on this non-motorized trail.  All night I was working on 20+ level ice surfaces on Mt. Scowden, and these rinks were primo – glassy, hard as a rock, and ready for public skate, lessons, or hockey.  My throat was so sore because between ice re-surfacing I was eating/tunneling ore.  Eating all that rock wakes a person up!  The pain was too much to handle and I crushed a Vicodin into a spoonful of organic honey for sleep.

Everyone likes to think of themselves as unique – for the most part they are right.  Millions of folk are living extraordinary lives across the country and across the globe.  However, those millions aren’t living here on the Eastside.  That is the difference.

Eating the apples and pears off our trees this fall I could taste the altitude, sunlight, and creek water.  The very essence of our micro climate was represented in a small compact package - pink, yellow, crispy, juicy, sweet, sour, apple.

Cold snap in Hilton Creek had the family watching some Disney animated film and me drinking a couple beers.  Can’t watch those movies, I’m sure that some are good, but.  It was so cold out that I wanted to try the old flip boiling water into the air and watch it transform into snow.  Did one and it worked well – difficult though to hold a pan of boiling water and a flashlight and watch the whole thing.  Well, I got the good idea that I needed more boiling water and it needed to be extra hot.  What happened next was plain stupid and I don’t recommend it to anyone.

I flung the boiling water high into the night sky.  It didn’t separate as well this time because of the extra volume and the flashlight was off course so I couldn’t see.  Next thing I know I have boiling water in my face covering my right eye entirely, excess 200 degree water landed on my back and seared right through my fleece.  Momentarily blinded, I staggered back inside, the Disney movie blaring.  Easy first degree burns all over my eye socket and face, couldn't see very well either.  Considered a trip to the ER and then the burning was almost intolerable.  Tomorrow I was conducting interviews at work and had visions of looking like the batman criminal two-face.  This was not good.

It took about two hours of cold compress and the pain went away.  Some swelling but it was passable, vision came back – dodged a bullet.  Bottom line, watching those Disney movies can keep a person safe on the couch.

What’s your house like? 

Ours is more wilderness-like than designated wilderness.  It’s hard to explain but understand that within inches of our back door are experiences that some people quest for -- Riparian aspen zone with multiple creeks branching through and 18 species of native wildflower.  Add in pools, mini waterfalls, fish, bears, deer, weasels, and one hissing badger.  And that is the short list.  Our house itself is what I like to call manufactured barn style.  Take a cheap manufactured home and combine it with one barn and you have “manufactured barn”.   Side it with T-11 and you have a finished product that is hard on the eyes.  “What the hell is that?” I have often wondered and have waited for a horse to peak out a window.

Manufactured barns are often taller than wide, ours is no different.  The seller, a bar owning lady from Carson City, called it her party house.  Her “parties” involved lots of drinking and drugs with characters of questionable background.  Hangovers and subsequent fights often spilled out into the street for quiet neighborhood observation.

She was very proud of her decorating.  Everything came from the dump out by the Green Church, fixtures, kitchen, chandelier, and the front door.  I guess that scavenging used to be appropriate activity at the Benton Crossing Landfill – today there are many signs prohibiting it. 

She was very creative and took a king size headboard (the kind with compartments) and hung it above the kitchen sink.  It’s actually very utilitarian with a trashy flair and still in use today.  “Look close”, she told my wife’s brother with a twinkle in her eye.  “I had some good times and made these notches”.  The notches were her nighttime conquests with different men – there are maybe 5 on one side, 7 on the other.

Anyhow she had bats in the belfry, so did the house.  The house bats ate right through the ceiling drywall and roosted inside the house.  At first I thought it was rodent crap and we were in for a serious Hanta Virus exposure.  But no, if you look close bat poop looks more like a cooked Basmati rather than short grain that deer mice excrete.  Lying in bed we could hear the bats running around, the previous owner fixed the bat problem and walled them in like Fortunato in Cask of Amontillado.  Once in a while a black turd would somehow make its way inside of the ceiling light fixture and slide down coming to rest at the bottom of the globe.  That winter after the bats left, we sealed all the outside holes and put up some bat houses next to the holes.  It worked but the bat houses had to be re-located later another year later to trees because they just generated too much noise, stink, and ticks.  No fun waking up with a bat tick stuck on the middles of ones back that you just can’t reach, although it’s as plain as day in a mirror.

Of course the house was expensive, everything during the real estate bubble was.  But an acceptable deal was passed, partly because a local realtor had tried “to scam” her.  She celebrated and got banned from Tom’s Place for life, we moved in and started cleaning up.  Coming home from work the creek is the first thing I hear as the car door shuts.

Backyard Lupin.
Click photo for all the detail.