Sunday, July 31, 2005

A Thought On Iraq . . .

¶ . . . My purpose is generally to post up my shooting activities and excursions, but I feel the need to weigh in on Iraq. Let me preface this by saying that I always feel uneasy discussing views on military actions as I have never seen combat nor, regrettably, have I even served in the Armed Forces. This may well be the cause of my great admiration for the men and women in uniform . . .
   . . . Hearing about a “delay” in the drafting of the Iraqi Constitution yesterday caused me further consternation in the ongoing actions there. I can’t say as I am well versed on all the occurrences since the March/April 2003 ouster of Saddam Hussein; my information comes mainly from news radio and what I read at times on the Internet. Republican and conservative by nature, I nevertheless tend to eschew the talk radio circuit. That being said, I fully supported the Bush Administration’s giving the boot to Saddam, but now I have my concerns about any kind of democracy taking root in what appears to me to be rocky soil at best.
   . . . I'm dismayed at reports of Sunnis not wanting federalism or this or that terrain, Kurds wanting Kirkuk or whatever, Shi’ites an Iranian-style theocracy; the country is already Balkanized, and I hesitate to even call it a country yet. Indeed, rocky at best.
   . . . I fear that some would not really regard mine as an objective opinion, as I now have someone near and dear to me recently enlisted in military service. I also feel deeply for those that have paid the ultimate price: the losses of loved ones in the just defense of liberty. But should we continue to build a nation that seems unable and unwilling to live as free men? As we near the 2,000 count of KIA’s should we sacrifice more? I tend to think not. Would we be branded as "quitters” or “losers” if we come home? I think not nor do I give a rat’s ass one way or another! In the meantime, let's allow the officers to prosecute this action and let our warriors take the gloves off! Every time I hear or read the dreaded acronym "ROE," for "Rules of Engagement," I cringe!
   . . . God Bless all who have served.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Out Of The Frying Pan . . . Literally!!

¶ . . . But not into the fire!! Week Two of my vacation had me heading out to Vegas to rescue my Ma from the searing heat, 120 degrees in Henderson. I walked out of a casino last Monday at 10:30 PM and it was still 102 degrees!! Next morning it was off to Tahoe!! 82 high temp, 42 low, you do the math! I felt like a hero to my dear ol' Ma. We drove up via NV 266/CA 168, cutting the White Mountains, adding a couple more Nevada Historical Markers to my list,the Palmetto site pictured here. Gave my Ma a whirlwind tour of US 395, Mammoth Lakes, Tahoe, Reno, Carson City, and Virginia City/Gold Canyon. I even turned a profit in the Horizon casino in Stateline, NV!! As always, a great time.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Advertising Apropos . . .

¶ . . . I'll be back soon, but I just had to put in a mini-post about how ecstatic I am to finally see my Google Ads finally feature items that might be of interest to my fellow gunslingers and outdoor enthusiasts alike . . .

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Closure With Jiffy Lube . . .

¶ . . . Oh yeah, Jiffy Lube. As to my Yuletide dealings with these losers, I'm happy to report that they did come through with the proper recompense for the malpractice upon my vehicle, though it took a week to get my car and another two months for the reimbursement on the car rental. They did pay the full amount, not the "$20.00 a day" they told me was policy. It came out to more like $35.00. But, they did pay. Still, needless to say, I'll never take my vehicles to them or any other of their ilk. I now just drive out to Simi Valley to avail myself of the cheap Wal-Mart service there: no hard-sell, no offering to "fix" things "at a cut-rate," no other offers to use my car as an educational medium for nascent hammer mechanics.
    . . . My appreciation for righting an incompetence, but you'll not see me again!!

The Eastern Sierra . . .

¶ . . . I returned Friday morning from a quick yet wide-ranging excursion on the Sierran eastside, Tom's Place to Bridgeport/Twin Lakes. Prior to my arrival to Mammoth Lakes I journeyed up the well maintained Rock Creek road, a fine asphalt elevator to 10,000-plus feet elevation and the Little Lakes Valley Trailhead. This bears a return trip as a conversation with the ranger revealed it is a very easy day-hike to the backcountry, with evidence I had read about before of . . .mining activity! In fact, apparently, as i discovered later, Union Carbide still has a tungsten operation in the area.
    . . . The "Volcanic Auto Tour" served as the outline for Thursday's expedition. The tour guide, a small but informative pamphlet, is available at the Mammoth Lakes Visitor Center on State Highway 203.
    . . . The first stop, at the 203/US 395 junction, is the marker for Casa Diablo and is near the geothermal powerplant; it's said it supplies a third of the electrical requirement to the town of Mammoth Lakes. Continuing north, you encounter some interesting sites: Lookout Mountain (my favorite), Obsidian Dome, the Mono Craters, Panum Crater, and others. Some lightweight off-roading was required, the toughest being Lookout Mountain, but my '99 Saturn SL served well! I began early in the AM, so everywhere I went, excepting Panum Crater (a few hikers), I was alone.
    . . . "Good, by God, I'm going to Bodie!" (my preferred rendition of the famous quote!) I thought as I headed off east on the CA 270/ Bodie Rd. turn-off. It was actually quite pleasant for the middle of July, low 80's/ high 90's. I arrived at the perfect time to take in the tour of the Standard Stamp Mill, a twenty-stamper, and of course, I ate it all up. I even "got a job" as an electrician in the mill at $5.00 a day (miners got $4.00). VileBill highly recommends this side trip, whether you're a ghost town/mining buff or not. Bring water and a lunch and get the excellent self guided tour brochure at the ranger kiosk. The thirteen mile road to the townsite is paved but for the last three miles, but the "washboard attributes" have been smoothed-out since I was last there in '97. I seem to remember on a visit as a youngster the whole stretch was a washboard. Even people with trailers were up there this time. There had to be about two hundred people at the site on this visit.
    . . . Next, up to Twin Lakes, thirteen miles southwest out of Bridgeport. These are two quite large Sierran lakes, tarns I think, and are true jewels in the crown. At the upper lake you can even park next to the shore and fish from right next to your car. Another VileBill recommendation!
    . . . Though the Saturn has served me well and, continues to do so, it is a real dog on steep grades, again experienced on the next stop: Saddlebag Lake via CA 120/ Tioga Pass. Word was that the lake, at 10,000 feet plus, was still iced over; not so, but it sure was complete mosquito-ville here and at Lee Vining Creek, site of Bennettville, an old mining town. I should have hiked up to it; Ghost shows structures there, but after reading the marker I got the impression it was wiped out. Next time!!
    . . . In only a two-night stay I completed a one-day, two hundred mile-plus tour of this East Sierra area, backroads, too, and came away with some good memories and only a few mosquito bites. What John Muir called the "Range of Light" is truly God-blessed and I'm grateful for it. There's nothing like it elsewhere on this Earth. Don't miss it!!