Thursday, November 6, 2014

Utah November 2014

We left the house at 7:00 AM and arrived at the motel in Elko, Nevada at 6:30 PM. It was a lot of driving but Doris’s Toyota Four Runner is easy to drive.
It was the first time I could enjoy the scenery on highway 299. Doris was driving that stretch. It is not an easy drive, there are a lot of curves between Eureka and Redding.
In Elko we had dinner at the Basque Restaurant in the Star Hotel. Doris told me that we have to wait at least 45 minutes to be seated. When we got to the restaurant we were told the wait was two hours. We signed up and walked around town for thirty minutes and then came back. We had to wait only another thirty minutes.
The dinner is served family style. They bring the soup in a big bowl and then the salad. After a while they bring the side dishes and the meat. We both have enough food for another meal for tomorrow.

We left Elko at 9:30 AM after stopping at K Mart. Doris had suggested that I buy house shoes since I had forgotten to pack them.
We stopped also in Wendover to buy groceries. This was the last town on our journey. From then on it was only desert and sage brush. The first thirty five miles we were still on asphalt, they next thirty five miles were dirt and gravel roads. My low Saturn would have been in trouble.
We saw a lot of sheep grazing on the meadows. Dogs were watching them. The sheep are brought here in the spring, in large trucks, and now they are transported back to a warmer region.

Down in the valley we could see the Salt Lake Desert and the Dugway Proving Ground. Doris’s father had found a bomb on his property.
When we arrived at Doris’s property we were greeted by the workers and John, their boss.
Doris’s father had owned the mill which processes Tungsten ore from the mines nearby. Then Doris, after her father’s death, bought the mill from her mother.  The price of tungsten went too low to make a profit on the operation, and the mill was shut down.
Since China stopped exporting tungsten the price went up and Doris leases the mill to a company. John, the owner of the company, and his partners are trying to increase the production of the mill, and are investing a lot of money. They had a large steel building erected and installed new equipment.
John could not wait to show Doris the changes he made since her last visit in June. He also showed us a video of the work in progress.

Since it was getting dark we were eager to check the refrigerator and unload the car. The workers had cut off the electricity to her house and Doris was afraid she had left food in the refrigerator. We were lucky; she had only bottles and jars left behind.
Since she had installed new double pane windows there was not much dust in the house. The wind in the desert blows the fine sand through windows and doors. We had to do some cleaning though.
I started a fire in the wood burning stove. 

Doris tried to turn on the oven. She had forgotten which buttons to push. I played with it for a while and by accident did turn it on.

Doris has a small log cabin on the property. It is a guest room.

The inside is modern.

Doris took me on a drive through her memory lane. We drove to Callao where she went to grade school and where some of her relatives live. High School she attended in Provo. She went to a boarding school. Between ten and fifteen houses are still occupied, the rest are slowly falling down.

The Historic Lincoln Highway came by here. 

 So did the Pony Express. 

We stopped at the Boyd Station of the Pony Express. Doris’s great grandfather Boyd was the first inhabitant in the valley and was growing alfalfa for the pony express station.

We also drove to the Fish Spring National Wildlife Refuge. Doris had some good times there as a child.
We drove on a lot of dirt roads. 

On the way home we stopped in Callao and visited the cousin of Doris. He and his wife had just moved back from Salt Lake City to spend his retirement years here. They live now in his and Doris’s great aunt’s  house.
We came back to the mill where we are, at night, the only people in a fifteen mile radius. We have no cell phone service and no TV. Doris called the telephone company a couple days ago to turn on her land line telephone.

In the morning I walked around the property. Doris father’s  mill is on a hill and the ore entered at the top of the hill and was processed by gravity through the ore crusher. 

The new system will use a giant crusher, which crushes the ore to one half inch size. By conveyer belt the ore moves on to another crusher which brings it down to 3/8 of an inch.

From there the ore goes on a belt into the building where it will get crushed to small pieces in large, round machines, and fed on several vibrating, with water filled, tables. 

A lot of water will be used. The water goes in a reservoir, where the heavy dirt particles go to the bottom and the water can be reused again. John was working on enlarging the reservoir.

The trucks are ready for transporting ore from the mine to the mill.

I walked some more in the cool, fresh air.

Doris took me for another ride in the valley. We stopped at a little park where she used to camp with her family. A little creek meanders through the park.

We ended up in Border, a town at the Utah-Nevada border, where we got gasoline and ate lunch. In Nevada most restaurants have a casino with slot machines. When we walked through the casino Doris said: “Let’s put five dollars in”. I usually do not throw my money away but this time I put a five dollar bill in the machine. The machine rejected my money. I had four dollar bills and put them in. When I had almost lost my money I won a few quarters. I finally had only one quarter left. I pushed the button and won 120 quarters. If I would have played with three quarters I would have won 360 coins. I took all the quarters and that will be laundry and parking money.
Doris thought we should continue and head for Great Basin National Park. We drove the 25 miles and unfortunately were not able to get a ticket for the 3:00 PM tour of the Lehman Caves. On weekends the tours fill up fast.
When we arrived back at the mill it was dark and John and his crew were checking out the truck loads of ore they had brought down the mountains from Doris’s mine.
They used ultra violet lights on the ore, the tungsten in the ore looked like gold under the light. John acted like a youngster who had found his favorite toy. It appears the ore has a high content of tungsten.

Today was a working day. We did some house cleaning in the house and in the log cabin.
Then we did some weeding in the yard.
We waited for John to take us up to Doris’s mine. Doris did not feel like driving her SUV up the mountains since she did not know the condition of the dirt road after the heavy rain. Some parts of the road were washed out.
John and his crew were busy; he came to the house at 9:00 PM to talk to us. They put in long hours. We have to wait until our next trip out here. Tomorrow they are going home for a week.

Today it was windy and cool. The beautiful weather we had in the last few days may disappear. I am not complaining since I have not used the winter clothing I brought.
We climbed on the roof of the house and covered the swamp cooler. This is the first item of the winterizing of the house process.
Doris had her sister and her cousin and his wife over for dinner. Doris is a very good cook. She likes sauces and gravies with her meals.

John found this bomb near the mill. Some time ago Doris’s dad found a similar weapon on the property.
The Air Force personal, at the proofing grounds, did not believe him.

Since we are here we had no low flying planes over the house.
This morning Doris and I walked, on her property, to the fence of the Dugway Proofing Grounds. She says this sign is on her property. She has sixty acres.

Her property is in a valley next to the mountains. The new, large building is visible for miles.

While we were walking we saw a cloud of dust on the highway. There is not much traffic out here and Doris was waiting whether the vehicle would make a turn into her road, and it did. We had to hurry back. I had closed the gate last evening but left the padlock in the open position.
Doris guessed that it would be her cousin Dennis. It was her cousin. He opened the gate and came to the house.  Doris took him on a tour of the new, in progress, tungsten mill.  Doris has a lot of relatives in the valley. Most of them are cattle ranchers.

On the property is a skeleton of a Ford Mustang. The car belonged to the brother of Doris. Doris’s mother wanted to go to town one day and when she started the car it burst into flames.
When her parents moved to town and nobody was at the property people came and stripped the car. The engine, transmission and other parts of value are gone. 

We came here to winterize the house and the cabin. Today was the day we planned on doing it. We should have done it yesterday.
We got up this morning and Doris put the sheets from the bed and all the towels in the washing machine. The machine stopped at the rinse cycle. There was no more water. Doris tried to fill up a bucket with water and rinse the laundry. No water came out of the faucet. All the lines were  frozen.
She had left an outside faucet on all night to water one of the surviving trees. That hose was frozen solid. 
The sun is not shining and it is cold outside. Doris thinks positive and we emptied the refrigerator and freezer and put everything in the cooler and we put it in the car.
We also put all our clothing in the car. The car is ready to go. Now we have to wait for the pipes to thaw out so we can drain the water from the water heaters and toilets and pipes.
As long as we have electricity we are doing fine. We have enough fire wood. By Saturday we have to be back in Eureka. There was no way the weather would improve, but we got all the work done with the help of a hair dryer. I was heating up the outside exposed pipes.
One outside faucet, low on the ground gave us some water to fill the washing machine and complete the spin cycle.
We shut off the intake valves of the toilets, flushed them and poured antifreeze in the toilet and tank.
We disconnected the hoses for the washing machine and poured a gallon of antifreeze in the tub. The main water valve was closed and all the faucets were left open.
At 1:00 PM we took off for home.  We stopped at Winnemucca, Nevada for the night.

At a fine Mexican restaurant we enjoyed a wonderful dinner.

When we woke up in the morning the cars in the motel parking lot were covered with snow.
It was a beautiful sight but it was cold. We left at 7:00 AM.
When we came near Reno it started to rain and continued until we were past Sacramento, California.
For a few hours we had good weather and when we came near the coast we encountered a light mist.
We arrived in Eureka at 6:00 PM.

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