Monday, January 30, 2012

One Year Ago Today: Almost Stuck!

The day was dark with rain and snow, but we headed out anyway, thinking that we could visit the museum in the small town of Cherry Creek in eastern Nevada. We made our first stop on the side of the road to check out this large antelope herd. Antelope can often be spotted between McGill and old Schellbourne Station.
Cherry Creek, the town, is located on the eastern range front of the Cherry Creek Range, where Cherry Creek, the creek, comes out of a small gap in the mountains. Structurally, Cherry Creek looks like it's situated where the north Egan Range runs into the Cherry Creek Range, but the northern end of the Egan Range as named is located in Egan Canyon, the next gap to the south (MSRMaps location showing the regional Basin and Range structure).

That's State Route 489 (above) cutting across Steptoe Valley toward Cherry Creek. The parallel white lines along the road in the center of the valley are patches of snow; standing water can be seen south of the paved road. This possibly intermittent lake or wetlands has recently appeared to be contiguous with Goshute Lake several miles to the north. (This year's so far extra-dry winter might have changed the extent of the southern wetlands.)
This is most of the small community of Cherry Creek. The museum wasn't open, the light was flat and dark, and we didn't spend much time looking around.
It could be a nice place to live, if you like beautiful scenery, out-of-the-way places, and long drives to market.
We hightailed it back to the center of the valley, where we decided to drive south along the historic Nevada Northern Railway to check out a boxcar or other railroad-related artifact we could see off in the distance. The road was well graveled and dry to begin with; the yellow line in the Google Earth image above shows our traverse from the paved road southward.
We made it about 600 or 700 yards before deciding not to go any farther. At this point, the road was turning into a watery mudhole, with no end in sight. In fact, we'd already driven breathlessly and unwittingly through mud we initially couldn't see the end of, and we had come to this short semi-dry spot. The rail, just off to the left in those prickly bushes, prevented any turnaround options, so I decided to back out.
Backing out meant going through a long stretch I shouldn't have driven through in the first place, but had started into before I could stop, then kept going through while hoping for a break in the mud and a turnaround spot. You can see the closest mud hole easily, a second, even larger hole beyond that, and a hidden muddy spot between the two more obvious holes.
Looking at this after driving backwards through it, makes it look pretty tame, but the truck kept getting pulled sideways into the deeper parts of my own tracks, while I tried to stay to the side on the dryer ground right next to the bushes. Consequently, we experienced a bit of fishtailing, and my dual tracks look like a mess of incompetent driving.
Backing up even farther, the road looked good as we went in, just slightly muddy.

Mud is a deceptive thing to try to drive through. Often, one can see a weakly muddy road ambling off in the distance, and this light mud goes on far enough ahead that one can easily get started into what turns suddenly, or gradually, into heavy-duty, very slippery, or deep mud. Getting out and walking an unfamiliar road is recommended, but one usually only walks so far ahead before deciding that the coast is clear: let's go ahead and drive! Incipient or weak mud might suck you in (so to speak), then suddenly, just around the corner: OMG! You're suddenly stuck if you stop, maybe not stuck if you keep going, or maybe staggeringly stuck far from solid ground if you keep going.

If stuck in winter, waiting until the big freeze early in the morning can be one way of getting out. Sometimes a longer waiting period (say months until spring or summer) is required, along with heavy equipment (a D-8 or D-9 dozer). With all the large bushes along our road, we would have been able to build a road under and behind my truck; this procedure often requires multiple jackings-up of the truck (jacking-ups?).

We weren't far from a routinely traveled road, so if badly stuck we could have walked out (in miserable weather) and hoped that whoever we flagged down could have rustled up a dozer: mechanized extraction is easier, though more costly, than building a road by hand. Overall, my getting stuck preferences include better weather (not too hot, not too cold), and I much prefer to be paid to get stuck and unstuck — rather than to be doing it on my own time — a preference come to by many years of off-roading as part of my job.
After backing through the mud, I finally reached a wide point in the road and turned the truck back to the north. An old pump house from the historic Cherry Creek Station is mostly hidden behind the truck; the remains of the water tower can be seen to the right.
We didn't spend much time looking at the base of the water tower at Cherry Creek Station. Maybe we'll go back someday, preferably when the sun is out!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Can You Believe We Are Still Doing This?!

No, not blogging...

...attending the annual Consultants and Independents Hospitality Suite at the Northwest Mining Convention. Apparently the first one was in 1986. Yes, those are 26 X's. Count 'em. A couple independent or consulting geologists started this bash back in 1986, to show that you didn't have to be big to throw a great party. Previously, the big parties had always been thrown every year by the famous, now defunct, S&D.

I don't have a full set of the mugs. Darn it!

The NWMA holds its convention the first week of December every year, and already has the announcement up for the 2012 meeting. The meeting site location alternates between Reno and Spokane. The next one will be in Spokane.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Finally Some Snow... and Icicles!


It's been a pretty bleak winter as far as snow and precip goes, with an early largish snow dump in early October, followed by... a lot of nothing other than some few and far between minimal snow showers and some minor snow in early to mid December. We've had cold mornings off and on, nothing unusual there, but we've had way more sun and unusually warm days compared to the previous four winters that MOH and I have spent here at our little house in the hinterland of eastern Nevada. This winter, we've had highs in the 50s to upper 70s in October, highs mostly in the 40s and 50s in November, highs mostly in the 30s to upper 50s in December and January, with four days in a row above 60°F right after New Year's day. So far, we've only had one high in the 20s, on December 5th, and no highs in the teens or lower. We have had a few scattered lows below 0°F, but nothing approaching our usual number of sub-zero nights. Consequently, what little snow we have gotten has not stuck around. Lowlands have been completely dry, midlands even to 7000 feet have been dry, and uplands have been largely snow free, at least below 9000 feet or higher. Elm beetles actually made a comeback last week; they must have thought it was spring. Hopefully not.

A couple days ago, it snowed! Six inches fell one day, two inches the next, and at least another inch fell the third day. Now, we're back in melting mode, creating what seem like the first icicles of the year, though maybe we had some back in October.
More icicles, including one making a fish-hook-like shape.

We don't have the usual ice field on the north side of our little house; instead, we have dry soil and gravel beneath a few inches of snow. Maybe we'll get a little more precip in the next day or two (hopefully not as freezing rain).

Alaska! Send us your snow!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Yes, We Met in SeaTac

"I'm by the ak ticket counters. See you there!" This text message was awaiting me while I was still on the plane — the return flight from my Xmas trip to Alaska — immediately after landing in Seattle. Excitement much? Yes!

"Not quite at the N gates, so will be a few minutes!" Darn, the plane hadn't yet pulled into one of the North Terminal gates, so I was in an immobile plane, stuck with all the other passengers, waiting. Finally a gate opened up and we pulled in. Then, there was the long trek to the interterminal train, the ride on the train, a hike through the main terminal because I got off at the first stop, and a walk out past security to the old main part of the terminal, to the ticket counter. I was practically running!

And there she was: Dana Hunter of En Tequila Es Verdad! I recognized her right away.
I was starving, having not bought any breakfast on the plane, so we went to the first little bar-diner, ordered lunch with wine and beer. And we talked. And talked. After a while we moved to another little bar-diner, a darker one, and that's when we took each other's picture. The second place was dark, so my photos, except for this first one, turned out a little blurry.
Dana, who was going to have to drive away from the airport, had switched to coke. I stuck with the Alaskan Amber, which seemed rather sweet after drinking mostly Alaskan IPA while in Alaska. The amber is proof of my presence at the blogger meetup (as are the pictures I took).
Too bad we didn't get pictures at the first place we stopped, but we were too busy talking — about sci-fi, geology, blogging & writing, cats & chickens, work, life, and pennyroyal tea. Maybe we'll get more time at our next meetup, which will hopefully be a geology field trip.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Geographic Center

While returning from a recent recon trip out in the middle of nowhere, driving back to Highway 50 on another endless Nevada dirt road — in this case the Monitor Valley Road, AKA the Old Belmont or Belmont Road — MOH and I came across this sign marking the approximate location of the Geographic Center of Nevada.
I say approximate because several different lat-lon locations can be found here and there on the web, with two USGS locations being about 0.75 to 1.5 miles northeast of the sign.
The sign is at the junction of the Monitor Valley Road and a side road going east into Wallace Canyon in the Monitor Range.
Points on Google Earth: Geographic Center (the sign), USGS 1 (located in 1962, and USGS 2 (located in 2003); click to enlarge.

The Monitor Valley or Belmont Road cuts northeastward across the Google Earth view, with the dirt road to Wallace Canyon heading east (right) from the point marking the location of Geographic Center of Nevada sign. Highway 50 is off in the distance to the north, cutting east-west beyond low hills of the northern Monitor and Toquima Ranges.

USGS 1: the 1962 USGS point for the center of Nevada is at N39° 19' 11.7" and W116° 38' 13.3".

USGS 2: the 2003 USGS point for the center of Nevada is at N39° 19' 48.0" and W116° 37' 56.0".

The sign on the side of the Monitor Valley or Belmont Road is at N39° 18' 44.5" and W116° 38' 52.9".

The two USGS points are marked on the ground with rebar and a notice, and a point about half way in between is marked with orange cones, as shown here and here. To arrive at the site, you can drive Highway 50 east from Austin, NV, for about 26 miles, until you come to a sign for "Belmont Road." Turn right on that wide dirt road, and go south. About 14 miles of driving will bring you to the sign and the fairly main side road to Wallace Canyon. A half mile before that, a smaller dirt road cuts east toward the Monitor Range; that road will bring you closer to the actual geographic center, with the 1962 location being about half a mile east of the main road and about 500 feet north of the side road. The 2003 location is about 3900 feet northeast of that.

It was quite cold while MOH and I were there — we thought it might have been 10°F or lower about an hour earlier — and the sun was going down. We didn't try to find the actual center of Nevada; we instead took pictures of each other standing in front of the sign and called it good enough.
Geographic center of Nevada on Google Earth; click to enlarge. All three points show up as one at this scale.
After getting back in the truck, we rolled north, making it to Highway 50 just as the sun was setting.

Read More:
Nevada's Geographic Center at Backyard Traveler by Rich Moreno

Journey to Nevada's Center at Nevada Landmarks

The Geographic Center of Nevada at

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

LFD is Going Dark on January 18th

Looking for Detachment will be going dark tomorrow, January 18th, in solidarity with Reddit, Boing Boing, Wikipedia, and other sites protesting the SOPA and PIPA bills. Read more on my Stop Censorship Header | Stop SOPA post.

I will be doing this (provided it actually works) by changing my Blogger template in the following way. Just before the tag, which currently looks like this:
I will be adding this script:

       window.location = "";

The template will then look like this:
I'm doing this rather than replacing my template with the blackout template, for simplicity's sake. I'll simply erase that bit of code from my template at the end of the protest. At LFD, this blackout will run for 24 hours beginning 05:00 UTC on Wednesday, January 18 (12:00 am January 18 EST or 9:00 pm January 17 PST), running until 0:50 UTC on Thursday, January 19 (12:00 am January 19 EST or 9:00 pm January 18 PST).

Thanks to Sara J Chipps (although I'm redirecting to a different URL), App, who created the SOPA blackout template, Robert David Graham at Errata Security, and Jae Kim at Future of Social Network.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Soak at Spencer Hot Springs

It was just a week ago. MOH and I were heading home from holidays travels, and we had stopped in Austin, NV, making it there for Serbian Xmas. We had driven my truck over the mountain into Big Smoky Valley, down old Highway 8A, and across the valley on the Northumberland Mine road where we were looking for a long lost spot from a 1978 adventure. After roughing it over various relatively unused and poorly maintained dirt roads, we crossed the valley to get back on 8A, headed north, and crossed the valley again to have a soak at Spencer Hot Springs.
We ended up at the main hot spring, the one with the large pool, interior sitting stones that form a circle, and exterior deck. You can see a couple of the large sitting stones below water level on the right side of the pool; these form a nearly complete circle, although they are partly caved in on the far side. They get reset every now and then. You can also see the edge of a dark metal contraption just on the far left of the photo.
This metal framework has been put in place sometime in the last year and a half, to keep people (and dogs) out of the very hot source pool that has formed around the pipe that taps the hot water. It's quite ugly, and makes the springs look a bit smaller, blocking what view there is to the south.
Yes, the water is hot. That's rather the point, isn't it?
It's likely that the 165 written on the pipe indicates the temperature in Fahrenheit of water coming out of the well. Various temperatures have been reported for the main spring: 144°F was reported in 1917; a higher temperature of 162°F was reported in 1974 (two sources from Garside and Schilling, 1979).

Temperature of the geothermal reservoir at Spencer was estimated at 216°F in 1981 by the Nevada Department of Energy, and at 253°F in 1974 by Mariner and others (the latter also in Garside and Schilling, 1979).
Water from the source well flows through a pipe into the main soaking pond.
Temperature of the soaking pond can be regulated with this valve. While we were there, the water was bearably hot, hot enough for us to feel comfortable after getting out into the chilling and persistent wind.
After our fairly short soak, we took the main dirt road from the spring northwestward toward the site of the old Frontier and the junction of old 8A with Highway 50, thence over Bob Scott and Austin Summits back to Austin.

In this YouTube video from June 2010, by davidsquall351, you can see the way the main hot spring looked prior to the metal contraption being placed over the source well. You can also hear the gurgling of the water, and the braying of wild burros. The local burro herd make an appearance in the latter half of the video.

The burro herd typically has one mule or horse tagging along with it. We didn't see them while we were there last week, but do see them fairly routinely. Pictures of a couple of them are included in this trip report. They roam at least as far the north as Highway 50, which is only four miles away. We've seen them at least six miles from the springs.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Stop Censorship Header | Stop SOPA Links


A few links about SOPA and PIPA:

STOP SOPA, SAVE THE INTERNET - Boing Boing, 11Nov2011

Good Idea, Poor Follow-Through: Congress' Mistakes with SOPA - ACLU, 16Nov2011

Sandia Labs: SOPA will 'negatively impact' U.S. cybersecurity - CNET, 17Nov2011

Free Speech Takes a Beating - ACLU, 18Nov2011

What Can the Average Person Do to Stop SOPA? - Forbes, 18Nov2011

Stop #SOPA: Using the Internet to Save the Internet - The Huffington Post, 28Nov2011

How SOPA will hurt the free web and Wikipedia - Wikimedia blog, 13Dec2011

Stop SOPA - Dave Schumaker, 13Dec2011

Urge Congress to Stop SOPA! - ACLU, 14Dec2011

SOPA Fixes Isolate Opponents, especially Google - Forbes 14Dec2011

Dear Congress, It's No Longer OK To Not Know How The Internet Works - Motherboard, 16Dec2011

How SOPA Could Ruin My Life - Forbes, 16Dec2011

Why SOPA Could Kill the Open Education Resource Movement - GOOD, 16Dec2011

Stop Online Piracy Act Debate Highlights Congress' Ignorance - Truthout, 29Dec2011

Let's support Internet Blackout Day - Ontario Geofish, 4Jan2012

Latest revision of the bill shows that SOPA doesn't affect US (domestic) websites... - Reddit, 5Jan2012 (?)

With Congress on break, SOPA fight continues - CNN Tech, 6Jan2012

SOPA sponsor Rep. Lamar Smith to SOPA opponents: You don’t matter - Digital Trends, 6Jan2012

Eight Top Internet Firms Back Alternative To SOPA - ReadWriteWeb, 7Jan2012

What kind of country messes with Internet Freedoms? - Greg Laden's Blog, 7Jan2012

Congressman drops support for SOPA - Boing Boing, 9Jan2012

'Internet Censorship'? Would Websites Go Dark Battling Hollywood? - ABC, 9Jan2012

Stopped they must be; on this all depends. - Blog.Reddit, 10Jan2012

Lockdown: The coming war on general-purpose computing - Boing Boing, 10Jan2012 (?)

Help Stop SOPA/PIPA - WordPress, 10Jan2012

The Internet Strikes Back: Reddit Going Full Blackout to Protest SOPA Betabeat, 11Jan2012

Reddit's SOPA Blackout Admirable, But Google and Facebook Must Follow - Forbes, 11Jan2012

SOPA foes warn: Not much time left to act - CNET, 11Jan2012

SOPA fight in 'last rounds,' says senator at CES - Computerworld, 11Jan2012

If Facebook Won't Stop SOPA, We Can Do It For Them - Forbes, 12Jan2012

SOPA: Anonymous To Protest Anti-Piracy Bill On January 18 - The Huffington Post, 12Jan2012

SOPA: The gloves come off - Fortune Tech, CNNMoney, 12Jan2012

SOPA – yeah, not a good idea - Compound Eye at SciAm, 13Jan2012

Combating Online Piracy while Protecting an Open and Innovative Internet - The White House, 14Jan2012

Obama Administration responds to We the People petitions on SOPA and online piracy - The White House Blog, 14Jan2012

Obama administration joins the ranks of SOPA skeptics - Ars Technica, 14Jan2012

UPDATED: SOPA is DYING; its evil Senate twin, PIPA, lives on - Boing Boing, 16Jan2012

SOPA Dead (for now) But PIPA is Not - Greg Laden's Blog, 16Jan2012

In Protest Of Anti-Piracy Bill, Wikipedia To Go Dark - NPR, 16Jan2012

Wikipedia Going Dark to Protest SOPA - Mashable, 16Jan2012

It's Baaaaaaaaack: Lamar Smith Says SOPA Markup To Resume In February - Techdirt, 17Jan2012

LFD is Going Dark on January 18th - Looking for Detachment, 17Jan2012

In Protest Of SOPA And PIPA - Maitri's VatulBlog, 17Jan2012

Why SOPA is Dangerous - Mashable, 17Jan2012

Stop SOPA: What A Blacked Out Internet Looks Like - ReadWriteWeb, 18Jan2012

Which Anti-SOPA Protest Was More Effective, Wikipedia's or Google's? - The Atlantic, 18Jan2012

me too -- stop SOPA, PIPA - In the Company of Plants and Rocks, 18Jan2012

Content Blocked by SOPA/PIPA - Martian Chronicles, 18Jan2012

Blocked by SOPA/PIPA - Hudson Valley Geologist, 18Jan2012

SOPA/PIPA - GeoMika, 18Jan2012

Jean-Luc Picard on the dangers of limiting our liberties. - Emily L. Hauser—In My Head, 18Jan2012

apagón SOPA - eg,, 18Jan2012 (a list of #SOPAblackout sites)

The Day the LOLCats Died
h/t @Mashable

PIPA and SOPA Co-Sponsors Abandon Bills - Mashable, 19Jan2012

The Week That Killed SOPA: A Timeline - Mashable, 20Jan2012

MegaUpload case proves we don’t need SOPA or PIPA - GigaOM, 20Jan2012

SOPA and PIPA postponed indefinitely after protests - CNNMoney, 20Jan2012


Please note: This blog is fully copyright protected, and I am against illegal copyright infringement. I am, however, standing with the EFF and ACLU on this one.

UPDATE 15Jan2012: The banner/header no longer works as originally intended. It is attached to the page of this post, not to the entire blog, so can't be set to block out my blog header.

Last updated 22Jan2012 at 8:00 a.m. PST

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Too Much to Possibly Post About

Sometimes I get a kind of writing block that has to do with too many possibilities: too many photos, too many things I've seen and could or could have posted about, too many ideas. I've got photos of things of interest going back at least into early December (actually, even earlier than that); some of these potential posts could be quite short and sweet, and yet that doesn't make it easier for me to consider posting them. Many are no longer timely the way they would have been had I posted them within a week of the events, hikes, etc., many could be posted any time, really, whether or not time has passed.

I also have gotten into a kind of mode where I think I'm too busy to post (and I have been, for various reasons, but may not really be right at the moment), and it also seems nice just to relax and really not do much of anything.

More photos from Jarbidge,
An owl in the field,
The so-called alaskite at Devils Gate near Eureka,
Beer mug from hospitality suite at Northwest,
A blogger meet up in Seattle,
Another hike to the Pony Express Station,
Photos from a Serbian Xmas in Austin,
Northumberland caldera photos and a related post alluded to elsewhere (can I really figure out the location?),
Recent pics from Spencer Hot Springs,
A neat breccia from Devils Gate near Eureka,
Bones of a sheep in the field,
Something else seen in the field, surely,
Stop SOPA,
Miscellaneous links and posts in draft, and

...I'm pretty sure there are more.

Where to start? That is the question.

Above possibilities listed in order of posting:
Stop Censorship Header | Stop SOPA Links
A Soak at Spencer Hot Springs
Yes, We Met in SeaTac
Can You Believe We Are Still Doing This?!
West to Southwest of Center: Beers and Roads and Folds and Things
ENE of Center: Breccia at Devils Gate
Coarse-Grained Calcite in the Devils Gate Breccia
Things You Find in the Field: Skull and Bones

Last updated 15Feb2012 at 8:31 a.m. PST

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011 Top 10 Posts at LFD...

...and 20 more.

Here at LFD, the year started out with a bang, with 5 of the top 10 posts being from late December 2010 and January 2011. Three more were from April. All of the top 20 posts are listed below; for posts rated lower than #20, I've left some out in favor of others. Posts are listed in order of publication, with the Top 10 highlighted by a larger font.

Stat ratings are generally affected by the time a post has been up, so posts from later in the year have overall lower ratings. Ratings (by Google Analytics) are numbers for 2011 only.













Sunday, January 1, 2012

First Walk of the New Year

I went on my first walk of the year earlier today, out along a creek in Anchorage, AK.
That's about 24 inches of snow on the ground, although the total snowfall for the season has been much higher than that.
Photos were taken at about 10:30 Alaska time, about 15 minutes after sunrise.

And more trees.

Did I mention that it was a short walk?