Sunday, September 18, 2005

I see people wanted dead or alive

Last night was spent at the campgrounds at the Calico Ghost Town. We pulled into the campground around 4PM, drove through the 250 or so sites a couple of times before picking "the best one". We had lots to choose from. There were quite a few people there, but most were RV's and it was no where near capacity. So I pulled out the tarp to start setting up camp.

Well somewhere in the literature about this area it neglected to state that it was natures wind tunnel. To further compound the problem, our "perfect" spot created a natural bowl shape and magnified the force and speed of the wind by about 100 orders of magnitude. It really came whipping through there. It was insane. I could not get the tarp down to save my life. I tried using these large rocks that littered the campground, the same size of stones you would use to create a small fire pit. This didn't work. All I have done now is created a 10x20 sling-shot the allowed the wind to toss these three and four pound rocks around like marshmallows. Now its is both windy and an occupational hazard. I continue to try while Ainsley and Christy are off to pay. I did succeed at one point in creating a tunnel with the tarp that would have been a great testing ground for Boeing. They could have tested just about any wing configuration under this thing and gotten credible results. I finally gave up and waited for my girls to come back. I was going to need help.

We eventually got the site up and running when the ranger came by to have us pay. He noted our license plate and then reminded us that we are in the desert. O.K. That means that there are snakes here and once the sun goes down they come out. Awesome. Now most people now that I have a fear of snakes, quite an unhealthy one at that. So this news didn't go over to well with me. The rangers advised us to build a big fire and that would keep them away. You asked for it. We built a raging fire (see below). It would have done the people at Morro Point proud. While attempting to eat dinner huddled next to this inferno I heard a noise. A rustling in the nearby bushes. Our flash light was rendered almost useless by the darkness of the night. We tried and tried to pinpoint the noise and then...then, Christy was able to zero in on it. She told me to pick up Ainsley and then I saw it too. A small mouse was scampering about. No big deal. Although my brain doesn't work that way. I know that snakes like to eat mice, so they must be near by. The wind was still blowing so there were lots of noises, everyone of them I was sure was a huge snake coming to end my days.

We proceeded to dump a few liters of water on the great fire of 2005 and head to bed...at 8 o'clock. We zipped up that tent tighter than it has ever been zipped before. I do believe we load tested the seams beyond anything the manufacture could have imagined. The wind continued throughout the night, gusting to levels I can only imagine were in the 4 digits. There were a few times when the bottom of the tent (fully staked into the ground) literally starting to lift off the ground. Neither Christy nor I slept all that well. The noise was too much for her by sheer volume. The noise was too much for me by sheer possibility of what it could be. My mind raced all night and when I did sleep I conjured up some real whoppers in the dream department.

We spent a couple of hours this morning touring (photos) the actual ghost town. It was pretty cool. There was a small train trip that took you through parts of the old mining town. The area were the mine opening is, where the houses once stood and the site of "China Town". Apparently there were 40+ Chinese people that live in Calico during the silver rush there and they alone constituted "China Town". We watched a gun fight between a bandit and the sheriff and drank real sasparilla soda.

See the photos of the fire and Ainsley's attempt to make the smoke go away here

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