Archive for the 'Whimsy' Category

How to Make Millions from a Secret Creek

said on September 19th, 2010 filed under: Country Property, Water Wells, Septic Systems, Sewers, Electric Power, Whimsy

There is a nondescript little creek that meanders along the perimeter of Sierra College in Placer County, California.  How much water flows throught that creek?  How much money is that water worth?

About ten years ago I was a member of a team that measured “Secret Creek” to answer those questions.  Using a graphing technique we constructed a cross section drawing of the creek.  The cross section we chose as representative of the creek was about 12 feet wide and no more than 1.71 feet deep.  The creek averaged about a foot and a half deep.  You can wade across it without getting your knees wet.  Like I said, nondescript.  It just burbled along, minding its own business, not raging rapids, just sort of . . . well . . . creek-like.

Measuring Secret Creek

Using several analytic steps I’m not going to bore you with, we determined that the volume of the creek was about 25 cubic feet per second.

Prepare to be amazed!

volume of flow per hour in cubic feet = 90, 144 cubic feet

volume of flow per hour in gallons = 674,277 gallons

volume of flow per day in gallons = 16,182,648 gallons

volume of flow per year in gallons = 5,906,666,520 gallons (look at that number again) 

From that little pissant creek?  How much is it worth?

volume of flow per year in acre-feet = 18,142 acre-feet per year

value of 1 year flow ($200/acre-feet) = $3,628,400.

S0, friends, if you have a little creek on your property, you will be a millionaire 3 times over in just a year.

(Oh, I forgot to mention one thing.  You have to get that water to the buyer.)

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It Never Snows at Lake of the Pines

said on September 16th, 2010 filed under: Lake of the Pines, Whimsy

Old Misc Cannon Stuff 1379

Well, almost never.  At 1500 feet of elevation, we Pinespeeps like to claim that we live “below the snow line.”  Oops.

Old Misc Cannon Stuff 1380

These photos are from the winter of 2008.  Granted, this snow fall was unusual for us, but for about a week we needed 4 wheel drive to get out of the driveway.

Old Misc Cannon Stuff 1384

The house sparrows complained, “Baby, it’s cold outside!”

Old Misc Cannon Stuff 1386

Snow or no snow, everybody has got to eat.

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Fitness Goals. Hop Till You Drop

said on September 12th, 2010 filed under: Running and Hiking trails, Success Stories, Whimsy

Yuba Run with Dharma

Embudito Canyon, New Mexico.  I’m enjoying one of those perfect runs in the hills above Albuquerque.  It’s a sparkling autumn morning.  Ahead, one cotton tailed bunny, then another, then another, hop out of the path.  No fear of me, no hurry.  “Lippety lippety, lippety lippety” as Bea Potter captured the moment in “Peter Rabbit.”

The run feels so good.  I’m scooting along, laughing at the rabbits, and I’m trying to be serious, but it’s hard.  “Lippety lippety.”  I’m trying to formulate, to really think about my long range physical fitness goals so I can write this post.  Damn it, rabbits, stop being so cute!  Can’t you see I’m trying to meditate on deep truths?  Bunnies.

Bang!  It occurs to me that this perfect moment, this lovely run is, itself, exactly the fitness goal I’m trying to express: to lope comfortably down the path, in the morning sun, all by myself (except for the bunnies), joyfully, for the rest of my life.  Yes, that’s continue reading…

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Luke Sandwalker–Letters from Southern Afghanistan–Part 2

said on July 31st, 2010 filed under: Whimsy

Corporal Robert “Luke” Jenkins, USMC, is the Alpha Company war correspondent for his unit currently deployed somewhere in southern Afghanistan.  These are his letters to the families of his fellow Marines.  Luke is our son.

Dear Friends and Family,

             The lives of the Marines of alpha company have been in constant change.  The nature of the combat engineer MOS with its myriad of skill sets and comparatively different talents from the Marines’ civilian occupations have proven to be advantageous to our mission of general support.  “Semper Gumby (always flexible),” is the prevailing state of mind.  The engineers have spent continue reading…

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Luke Sandwalker–Letters from Southern Afghanistan–Part 1

said on July 30th, 2010 filed under: Whimsy

Corporal Robert “Luke” Jenkins, USMC, is the Alpha Company war correspondent for his unit currently deployed somewhere in southern Afghanistan.  These are his letters to the families of his fellow Marines.  Luke is our son.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Corporal Robert "Luke" Jenkins

Corporal Robert "Luke" Jenkins

 

 

 

 

Friends and Family of Alpha Company:

            At the behest of the Commanding Officer and First Sergeant, this letter was prepared to help you stay apprised of the activities of Alpha Company. While the staff cannot promise full disclosure of every aspect of our experience in the coming year, the letter will strive to convey a general overview of training, living conditions, and some detail on the types of missions that your Marines execute.  Your Marines should fill in the specifics and anecdotes as they see fit.  The purpose of this newsletter is to help you, the families, maintain as much contact with your Marines as possible, and maybe give you something to ask when you get the chance to talk to them.  The CO and the First Sergeant would like to thank you for your love and support thus far.

            It is important to note at this time that we are no longer a member of 6th ESB (Engineer Support Battalion), but have been officially attached to 9th ESB, 3rd MLG (Marine Logistics Group).  Part of this training period is to allow time for different units to integrate and continue reading…

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Spenceville Dogs (revised February 2013)

said on July 28th, 2010 filed under: Fun Things to Do Outdoors, Running and Hiking trails, Whimsy

Spenceville Wildlife Refuge is a divine expanse of golden-haired hills where ancient oaks erupt like massive mushrooms. The Refuge is adjacent to Beale Air Force Base in the lower Sierra foothills. I like to run there, but only when I’m nearby on business, because the Refuge takes some getting to, and I feel guilty spending so much gasoline driving all the way out Waldo Road, my jump off point. Not guilty enough, however, to prevent me from enjoying, a few times each year, its grace and beauty.

If you want to run the Spenceville trails, you have to know when to go. At dangerous times of the year, from September 1 to January 31, the Refuge is intensely hunted. Deer, turkey, water fowl, and pigs. During the Fall it sounds like Omaha Beach on D Day. Better you should go running there when it calms down in the Spring. The paintball crowd also likes to stage their own brand of mayhem out among the oaks. They’re kind of lazy, and kind of drunk, so they mostly stay within a mile of their vehicles. I am through their war zone in less than 10 minutes. They hide their smirks from me, and I don’t let them see how I roll my eyes at them. Then, paintballers eat my dust, the Refuge is all mine.

Well, it’s mine  . . . and the cows. There are a gazillion free-range, pasture grazed, grass-fed cows wandering around everywhere. I think the local ranchers traded trail easements for grazing rights throughout the preserve. It seems to work. The cows ignore me even when I say nice things to them.

Today I parked out at the end of Waldo Road, by the old bridge, and began my run about four o’clock. It had been one of those irksome, arrhythmic work days, and, baby, I wanted some time alone. Solitude, quietude, and anonymity; three of the attributes I need for a contented life.

Solitude, quietude, and anonymity.

There were two other cars parked near the bridge, but I soon intercepted both parties on their way back in. The second group, a young couple, were chaperoned by a dignified short-haired pointer. We were happy to make each other’s acquaintance, me and the dog, I mean. Very polite he was. Maybe I should get a short-haired pointer? Just a thought. Leaving the dog and his people behind, I turned on the afterburner and began to feel the buzz that rises in me when I know I am finally running alone and in the wilderness. The Refuge belonged to me, to me alone. Oh yes, and the cows. Lots and lots of cows.

After a mile along the service road that winds through the hills, I turned through a cattle gate and entered an area of sun-lit, cattle-daubed pastures. Another mile, and I followed the path as it broke left and wandered upward into scrub forest and rock outcroppings. Before too long, I could hear the distant roar of the Falls. On maps they are usually labeled “Feather Falls,” but the old timers still call them “Fairy Falls,” and they are referring to the little forest spirit fairies, not some other kind. The Falls, by any name, are one of the secret treasures of the Sierra Foothills. They ain’t Moseoatunya, the Smoke That Thunders, but they’re still dramatic enough to catch you by surprise.

 

Fairy Falls is one of my favorite places on this earth.

At the bottom of the Falls is a gorgeous deep pool, just the right size for cooling off in the summer. Both Falls and pool are fenced, so you really oughtn’t climb the fence, but if you should happen to climb the fence, and I’m not suggesting this, you would then face a rather dicey climb down the rocks, and you probably oughtn’t try that either, but if you did, just saying, if you did, and it was a hot day in July, you might find some weathered old runner down there skinny dipping. You have been warned.

Continuing along the path above the Falls, you will come to a place where you can cross the creek. You’ll recognize the crossing by the remnants of steel cables that still swoop from one embankment to another. Now, you have to make a decision. You can turn around and go back the same way you came, a round trip run of about six and a half miles, mostly down hill on the return, or you can take your shoes off, sling them around your neck and wade across the creek. When the water is high and fast in the Spring, try not to slip. If you do reach the other side, put your shoes back on, take a breath and attack the forty-five degree upslope right in front of you. Yes, it does look like something out of a movie. Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima, perhaps. If you do make it to the top, you can run around for a while until you get hopelessly lost. So, unless you take me along to show you the twists and turns to loop back to the bridge, you could be in for a long, thirsty afternoon. Maybe you should exercise the first option, and just return the way you came. Capiche?

That’s what I did today, chickened out, turned around, and headed back the way I came. Oh, don’t give me any attitude. That section of trail across the creek is tough. Someday I’ll take you out there, and we’ll see just what happens to your attitude.

When I ran down and out of the scrub and rocks, I discovered that the cows had deserted the pastures. I could hear them for a while, faintly in the distance, giving udderance to their sundown moos. (Udderance, c’mon wake up!) Now, it became profoundly silent. Even my footfall on the soft dirt trail was muted. Glorious, late sunshine still warmed the open pastures, crisscrossed with indigo gullies that foreshadowed the evening’s arrival.

There! There in a patch of sunlight, I saw him watching me.

Old Man Coyote.

About a hundred feet away, he stood, getting along in years, but still fell and fearless. Handsome old devil. He turned his back on me and trotted off, but just a few steps. He had a thought. You could almost see that thought as he stopped and cocked his head. He turned around, facing me, and sat down on his haunches, watching. This was his place, and he wasn’t planning to skedaddle for the like of me.

I kept running, watching him, watching me. The curve of my path took me closer to him, but I didn’t stop.

“Buenos Dias, Senor Coyote.”

He didn’t move, not a blink.

I was now as close to him as my path was going to take me, passing right in front of him.

“Ey, Ese! Que paso!”

Nothing.

For some reason still unknown to me, I began to play the idiot. I jumped and bounced my way down the path, yipping and barking in my best Coyotese.

Nada.

I tried a few howls.

“I am your brother the WOOOOOOOOLLLLLF!”

That got me one twitch, of one ear. Only one. Other than that twitch, he was frozen, watching me make a fool of myself. I was laughing now, laughing aloud. The distance between us slowly increased, the path reached a clump of brush, I turned a corner, and then, he was gone from sight, never having moved. He had held his ground.

I loved him for that. Loved him beyond expression in words.

A few more minutes of delirious running and I was back to the truck. Running into that coyote was the coolest thing that happened to me all week. Probably it doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, just two old dogs sniffing each other, out in the Spenceville Wildlife Refuge.

 

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Riverhill Farm in Bloom

said on July 27th, 2010 filed under: Country Property, Localism, Whimsy

Riverhill Zinnias

Zinnias and Sunflowers

Riverhill Farm, a few miles north of Nevada City, CA is my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  It’s a farm where I buy an annual share in the harvest.  I pick up my box of fresh, organic goodies every Monday.  Yesterday I noticed all the flowers in bloom at the farm and couldn’t resist taking a few photos

Riverhill Lavender

Lavender

Riverhill Roses

Roses

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12 Reasons Why the 4th of July at Lake of the Pines, CA is the Best Day of the Year

said on July 4th, 2010 filed under: Fun Things to Do Outdoors, Lake of the Pines, Neighborhood Profiles, Whimsy

At Lake of the Pines, California, 4th of July is the best, most fun day of the year.  Houses are decorated.  The population doubles.  It’s bigger than Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Halloween all rolled up in one ball of total happiness.

1.  Everybody, I mean EVERYBODY, shows up.  It lifts your patriotic spirit to see so many people having so much fun. continue reading…

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