Thursday, April 14, 2005


I staked four thousand feet of centerline for a proposed road today. Four foot lathe, fluorescent pink ribbon, pink paint. One lathe every hundred feet in tangent (straight) segments, every fifty along the curves. Grades marked to the proposed finish surface... and there's just shy of another four thousand to do tomorrow. I'll be on the ground at seven.

It was my first day out solo. My friend who recruited me into this job is gone, off to be the second crew on a dam project. Working alone sucks, especially when you have to carry a few tree's worth of wood, in addition to the GPS rover, to the top of a ridge just to get the ball rolling. I'm picking up a second man early in May. We'll be slope staking in earnest, and both of us will be ground up fine by the by...

Four thousand feet. I reckon I ended up walking four miles (heading back for wood three times, running down to the truck for water and fruit cups) and the outcome of all that was a visit to Sportsman's Warehouse for some new boots. Columbias - mesh nylon, GoreTex, non-clogging soles, low tops, and LIGHT as a feather. My Vermont Loggers are just too damned heavy and inflexible for traipsing over hills dotted with volcanic rock outcroppings. There's small chance of me having to stomp a wolverine to death in Utah, anyway. But I may seek dispensation to carry my .357 with shotshell rounds after summer really gets under way - there are mice, potguts, and rabbits thick on the ground and I found a snake skeleton under a rock ledge today.

I did say that working alone sucks. It does. I wasn't entirely alone; I had a covey pheasants worked up into a lather by breaking through the scrub oak they had bedded down in, and a herd of deer (five doe, two or three deerlets) kind of spectated from a safe distance along the middle leg of my route. Two red tail hawks, four turkey vultures (hey why are they circling ME? - time for a water break!), and the largest jack rabbit I've seen since I left Texas also made appearances through the day.

It was beautiful. Painful toward the end, but a really beautiful day to be out and working, just the same.

Tomorrow I pick up my company truck at the office at three, my phone, and maybe my laptop. Then off to the sign shop for decals and down to Orem to pick up my toolboxes.

This working gig has totally hammered my news trolling and blog commenting time. Ditto housework and chores and projects. I have to be a lot more efficient to cover even a quarter of the cyber ground I used to charge over.

Michael J. Totten is doing more than writing columns or posting these days. He's in Beirut with Spirit of America and is putting up some wonderful stuff - go here to read all about it. Donate if you can - I do, and SoA is one NGO that I trust.

Y'all have a great tomorrow, ya hear?

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