Sunday, September 14, 2008

Travelling Oroville Villain

The closest I'd ever been to a methtown was hearing D*Pow talk about Kalamazoo, MI, but after a week near Oroville, CA, I can surmise that it's meth's kinda town. If I wasn't travelling and had my own computer, you would certainly see the above picture improved by hack-level additions of "Here be methheads fucking in the campground bathrooms" and the whole of Lake Oroville turned a red, toiling mess of chemical confoundary. Anyway, it's hard to do this place justice, but let me introduce you to some of Oroville's finest:

Vietnam Vet Guy
Rolled into our campsite around 7 on Saturday night, out for his "daily walk". Luckily, he bothered my coworker Matt (studying for the GRE) and not myself (sipping a beer, doing a crossword). He was crinkling his empty Busch Light can like a madman, seemingly trying to breath new life into it. Next thing we know, we learned all about Asian volcanoes, debris from Lassen Peak's last eruption, and how "the service" taught him how to be safe in a fire: "Just take a deep breath and run in". Likely the same advice given to the troops in 'Nam for navigating hookers. Guy left after he saw a truck slowly driving through the campsite, he proceeded to talk to that guy for about 15 minutes.

Meth Master Bathroom Groovers
A second batch of co-workers showed up late Sunday night, and Allison ventured to the bathroom. Unfortunately for her, what was labeled a bathroom was actuall a public-sex venue, and naked meth master came running out after her after she accidentally barged in.

Allison: (backs away)
Allison: What the fuck?
MM: Well, Iiiiii'm sorry (sarcasm dripping like mouthsores)
Allison: I accept your apology, learn how to use a lock (walks away).

The next morning, before I heard about this exchange, I was a little disgusted by the socks under the sink and the cig rubbed out on the floor. Now it makes perfect sense.

Meth Master #2
Guy had some shitty terriers tied to a tree, and told us jokingly to watch out for one of them, "he's a real terror!" By terror, he must have meant that it was going to bark all fucking night long and keep me from getting more than 2 hours of sleep. I know, bad owners, not bad dogs....but still, fuck 'em. Guy told Matt that he and his ol' lady were going into town later, with "my buddy Jim and his girl, we're just going to jump around, ya know, jump around town." Guy had some real fidgety hands, no devil's playground here.

Meanwhile, I was down at Miner's Ranch Saloon to catch Monday Night Football featuring God's Team, The Pack. Here I met....

Lynchian Old Person Folk Band
These guys weren't on the pipe, but definitely on the old. They consisted of two men and one woman, all over 70, playing mandolin, slide guitar, and vocals. You can imagine what people who can't hear sound like when playing an instrument like a slide guitar. Still, I give 'em props for rocking at that age, I hope I'm doing something remotely creative at that point.

I liked her style, she kept my drinks filled and gave me a basket of peanuts. She eventually grabbed a handful for herself, and the regulars said something about it, to which she replied "can't a woman eat her nuts in peace?" As expected, the reply of "I'd like to see that!" and "HAR HAR HAR" rang out. She mentioned how excited she was to go see Kid Rock on Saturday...twice. Then she played some Kid on the jukebox, I was pretty excited to have that fucking Cowboy song in my head for a day. I should have asked her if she had any Joe C...."3 feet tall, with a 10 foot dick!"

Reglar 'Merican
Lots of drunk talk from this guy to another pair of regulars, the highlight was when he said "California hands out felonies like Halloween candy!" to the agreement of the other pair. He'd only been in California "a couple months" before he got his, but it was all the fault of "that goddam bitch ex-wife a mine....but you guys have heard that story enough already." I should have piped up that I'd love to hear it, but didn't. I can only imagine the trumped-up charges that were involved, and I'll bet it was her loss to lose such a star. He kept saying he was just going to have one more, cause he had to go home and cook dinner for his dad....."sausage, bacon, biscuits, eggs, Texas Toast". "Oh yaaaa, my dad always liked breakfast too".

TieDye Meth Master
This guy was a real force, he tore up the joint with a quickness. First he bitched about the headlight on his motorcycle probably goddam ground fucking cops man one time gave him a ticket for riding his bike home from the bar.
Barwench: So, you talking to your brother yet?
TDMM: Yeah....if I see him (in a foreboding tone)
Barwench: You talking to your uncle yet?
TDMM: Yeah....if I see him (in a foreboding tone)

My man drank 2 screwdrivers, played a game of pool against another guy, and shot the balls around by himself, all in 15 minutes. Then he left, which prompted Barwench to comment "he's on something". Yeah.....LIFE!

Old Pill Master
OPM: (walks in w/ cane, leaves backpack by bathroom, comes out of bathroom, searches for backpack for 10 minutes, asks Barwench the time)
Barwench: 8 pm.
OPM: Give me a screwdriver.
Barwench: (pours drink that is 99% OJ, 1% vodka, gives it to OPM. Mentions out of earshot that he) "takes too many pills.....mixes em up!"

I don't know which of these characters was the most depressing, but I gotta say it made the people watching interesting. I really should have brought my camera to the bar, next time I'll know.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Last hurrah in the Sierra Nevada

Leaving for the mountains again for two weeks tomorrow, should be my last field work for the project I've been on for a year and a half. I'll miss being paid to explore the mountains, no doubt.

Last time up I wrangled ol' Matterhorn Peak, which left me sore for 3 days.

Here's a pic from below:

And atop, with Kris:

There was a drop of several thousand feet on one side of the summit, gave me that roller coaster stomach feeling:

I'm hoping to climb White Mountain next Friday, should be a nice long solo hike to let my brain think about the important things in life......

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Guaranteed to Satisfy

I'm off to the mountains for 2 weeks, and I'll be damned if I'm not going to sneak some mountain biking time in between the field work. Mammoth Lakes may be a yuppie resort clowntown, but they got some dirt there.

Sounds like there is a heat wave rolling into Central California tomorrow, and for that there's only one known cure......

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Bored on a Thursday

A rare sighting this morning, a boombox stroller rolling up my quiet street! If you could see this lily-white near-retirement community I live in, you'd be as surprised as I was. Perhaps if I work from home more often, and keep a camera at the ready, I'll be able to capture my Eardley Ave. favorites:
  • The elderly asian couple who walk their dog, the man always is walking at least 20 feet behind the lady (w/ dog), and they always cross the street over to my side at the same place. Heads down, please.
  • The urban hiker, a 50 or 60 year old gent who rolls around in fully backpacking gear, with an apparently full backpack. Good style, guy.
Fires are ragin' down here, this picture doesn't do them justice, but the Big Sur complex is slowly making its make up the coast and toward the lab.

Monday, June 23, 2008

4/4 time signatures are for simpletons

About a week and a half ago, my old chum Prog Rock Rob came down to visit from Oakland. PRR and I met as budding geology students at UW-Madison, and it went downhill quickly from there. What better way to spend a 3-day weekend than to pick up where we left off: drinking too much, making dumb jokes, and singing dumb songs for 3 days?

Friday we went snorkeling down by the lab, and despite some cloudiness we were able to peep on some good stuff. That evening I was eager to show Rob just how terrible the nightlife was here (actually we just wanted to play darts at a bar within walking distance), so after some beers and some grilled food we headed down to (ugh) Cannery Row. Our barhopping was the expected overpriced disappointment, but we did happen to catch a cover band who's leader looked suspiciously like Meatloaf!?
The final song they played was "Whole Lotta Love", and my man Loaf tore the shit out of it. "WOOOOOOMANN! YOU......NEEEEEED.........!!!!" I really wanted to ask him if he did all of his own stunts in "Black Dog", but I couldn't fight through the groupie(s).

Saturday found Rob and I hiking toward Pine Valley in the underused Ventana Wilderness Area. A fine destination, with a view of the fires near Arroyo Seco and a waterfall with swimming hole a mile from camp. Saturday evening found us making friends with a bottle of Maker's Mark, which eventually led to the consumption of some dehydrated gigglers. I really hope we were camped far enough from anyone that they couldn't hear us, or that at the least they had come to the wilderness to hear two idiots sing an hour-and-a-half medley of "Strokin'" and "Poopship Destroyer" at 4 in the morning. I'm sure Dr. C.C. and them Ween boys woulda been proud.

After a late morning hike to the falls, and a freezing cold swim to scare the toxins away, we finally hiked back out to the Progmobile. I'd post some pictures, but they are all on Rob's camera, and by now he's probably written over them with the new King Crimson album.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Have you seen me?

Short, drunk man seeks 5 mm thread tapper that he bought a month ago. Never used, particularly not used for the one job he had in mind, rethreading the barrel-adjuster threads in his trusty rear der. on his cross bike.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Bombay the Wrong Way

I'm still in the process of recovering from a hard push to Arroyo Seco over Memorial Day weekend. After ~ 12 hours at home after being in Santa Cruz all week, I kept after it and rode with Katie up Carmel Valley Road to Arroyo Seco on Sat. It's only about 55 miles, but attaching the BOB trailer to my road bike geared with a double was about how I expected...a lot of grinding on the granny gear. Unfortunately, it wasn't until I got there that I noticed the real reason I was going so damn slow....
This was my third time at Arroyo Seco, and I keep appreciating it more each time. It was a little bit of a zoo, but most of the people had left by Sunday night. We had a crew of about 22 that came down from San Francisco, lots of midwesterners doing midwesterner things (slamming beers and eating sausages). Even learned some new slang from a couple of Brits, "Won't you do me a lemon and pass me that....." is the new "Can you do me a favor and pass me that...".

Katie and I thought we would outsmart the hills of our initial route by heading north up the Salinas Valley on the way home, but hadn't counted on the 15-20 mile headwinds. 7 hours later, we were back in Pacific Grove to binge on food and pass out for the night.

Hopefully I'll play soccer tonight and shake some rust out of the old legs. Haven't hit the mtb trails since March, gotta make it happen this weekend.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Last week's sampling was a little crazy. Not in the protective landowners way (everyone we met in Santa Cruz was pleasant and actively interested in their watershed's health), but in a different kind of way:
Unfortunately, the fires had all of the destruction of Firestorm but none of its motorcycles launching through the skylights of burning ranger stations, spinning Howie Longs jumping out of planes, or dude's heads getting rammed through the top of a canoe and incinerated by the firestorm. I remember when that movie came out and my buddy E Kafka (a firefighter) was pissed off about how unreal it was..."That's Bullshit!!".

Anyway, sucks for the landowners, and sucks (in a much smaller way) for someone like me who's been meaning to make it to the mountain bikes trails up there. Not sure what all got burned, but sounds like some trails might have gotten torched. As they say, nature is a harsh mistress.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Back to the Front

After a long winter of staring at computer screens and bustin out GIS, I'm returning to the fieldwork side of things this week. We're going up to Santa Cruz to sample 40 sites in and around the San Lorenzo watershed, so I'll be getting wet in the streams all next week. Looking forward to being in streams, NOT looking forward to sampling in a place with such a high density of privately-owned land. Seems like everyone up there grows weed or meth, hopefully they can tell we're pinching bugs from the stream and not their stash.

Never know, my time in the field might be as entertaining and well-documented as last year......

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Big Creek, Home of the Big Jilm

Took advantage of the one time a year that Big Creek is open to the public this Saturday, had a fine day of hiking. No hollering, canned beer, or tiny bikes were involved, but a nice time nonetheless.

Took D*Pow!!'s advice and took in this film Saturday night:

This documentary hangs with the alternatively-homed residents of the New York subway system. It was a little hard to see with the bad lighting and my $20 craigslist TV, but the characters were interesting. Human ingenuity, underground tin sheds, crack-smokery etc. Having DJ Shadow playing pretty constantly is a sure way to get me to enjoy a movie.

I actually liked the special features more than the movie, as they were able to go into more details with the characters, some of whom I couldn't really keep straight since they only appeared once or twice during the movie. If I ever need to learn how to make underground hush puppies with a perfect golden crust, I'm going straight after my man Clarence.

Unfortunately, the filmmaker makes a major blunder by not acknowledging the giants whose shoulders he is standing on.....

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Get Ginned Up!

Awhile back, under the influence of some gin and tonics, I sent my main man Graham an email getting his movie-buff take on "The Darjeeling Unlimited", which I found disappointing compared to Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums. In his reply, he mentioned that he was pretty "ginned-up" for No Country for Old Men to come out, and I gotta say that his parlance struck me. I like equating drinking gin with getting excited about anything, even though gin and movies do not particularly mix if you care to remember the ending.

For example:
Blue Velvet - 5 gins, and maybe even a couple of candy-colored clowns thrown in for good measure.

Batman and Robin - 1 gin. Worst movie I've ever paid money to see.

Drop Dead Fred - NO fucking gins for you. I can't even remember why I hate this movie so much.
Anyway, today's movie:

I enjoyed Crumb, but probably wouldn't watch it again. I'm not a comic book guy but I've been to some exhibits of his, and anyone with a fondness the The Joynt in Eau Claire has to enjoy Mr. Natural. This documentary shows Crumb boppin' around, being a weirdo, and talking with his insane family. I enjoyed the art and his interactions with somewhat normal people. I liked some of his interactions with his crazy family, but after the 10th interview with his brother Charles who was on tranquilizers and never left his house I was growing a little bored. His other brother who sat on a bed of nails for hours a day and liked to get arrested for pulling down stranger's skirts was quite a gem himself. I did enjoy that the three them had no filters, they just said and drew what was on their mind no matter how sexually perverse, misogynistic, or racist it was.

I would recommend this movie if you have the slightest interest in watching an aging man talking about getting off on piggyback rides. If you're not interested in that, I can't help you.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sleaze Otter

As most of you know, I tend to bitch about the lack of fun times in Monterey. Blah blah Madison this blah blah Milwaukee that. I also have a track record of failing miserably at any biking events, with my only near win taking place at Thunder Pull (where I could use my mass to my advantage). It was never for lack of trying, but usually for lack of not having a debilitating hangover or smoking too many dirt sticks the night before.

Well, this weekend I not only found some old fashioned beering and biking, but I actually managed to win part of a race. But much more importantly, I am now in possession of the King of the Mountains trophy above. She's a real beaut, about 3' tall, 24 oz. of PBR nailed to her sides, a human heart, a dead fly, a laminated bacon picture, and a rubber wiener. This is rampant speculation, but I prospect this is the same heart that one Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P. referred to as "My Wicked Heart". I also suspect this is not the wiener he referred to in "Fuck Like a Beast".

The Sleaze Otter turned out to be a pretty good time. It was my first time participating in an alleycat sort of race, and I went in strong: drunk and wind-burned from a day at Sea Otter, fresh off a near-win game of cribbage, and smelling like pickled trout. I was feeling pretty nauseous and dehydrated, but fortunately I knew the turf. We barged in on a wedding party at Veteran's Park, then climbed up a miserable hill to highway 68. At this point I went ahead in our group of 5, since I know that stretch of road well. That ended up paying off, as I was the first one to cross the King of the Mountains line, which turned out to be on a downhill the way we were heading.

The best part of winning the KOM was that the satisfaction was immediate, as I was given the monstrous trophy on-the-spot. This allowed me to ride the remainder one-handed with the trophy held high in the dark canyon descents, like an Olympic torch with a cock on top for all to see. Let me tell you, the crewcuts rolling around Monterey were straight jealous.

At this point, Katie and I didn't have much interest in rolling 24 miles through the wind to the sixth checkpoint so we headed to the destination. The bowling alley had all we needed, mainly pitchers of water and more beer, along with a fire and some pool. The others in our group continued on to a bar in Marina named Mortimer's, which from all descriptions sounds like a place I need to see. They returned about an hour and a half later, then the other contesters and organizers/zombies rolled in. Prizes were given out, winners were doubted, and I disappointed "Carmel Bob" by DNFing, who claimed there was a cash prize I would have won. Carmel Bob's voice sounded suspiciously like Madison's own Joe Gower and he had the same habit of retrieving pork chops of Hamm's from his bag, but he didn't light off any bottle rockets in the bar or get kicked out so he must be a different dude.

Good times, and I'll be keeping my peeper's peeled for more ridiculous shit to add-on to the trophy during the next year it is in my possession. And of course, I'll be making vague plans of photo-shopping into Hitler's outstretched hand, getting stuck in the ground at Iwo Jima, and getting planted in the moon, but never actually do shit. You know how we do.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Who let this guy in my house?

Monterey Bars

I don't go out much in Monterey. In fact, I've been legitimately boozed at a bar here once since New Year's. Last night was a good reminder why it's more productive to sip on cheap beers at home.

We went to a place called "The Mucky Duck" to watch a friend's band play. Monterey is home to a Naval Academy and several other military programs, and the downtown area is filled with crewcuts with getting blitzed/laid on the mind. Not my scene these days, but made for some good people watching. My two favorites were:

-The band played an Etta James song with the word "fire" in the title. Everytime fire was sung, all of the drunk cadets pointed to the gas bonfire in the middle of the patio and laughed like it was some really clever shit. Me know fire! Keep in mind, it was only 8 pm.

-There was a group of two couples behind me. The dudes had degenerated into pure nonsense talk, communicating only making bubbling noises with their mouths. This was slightly amusing, but I really liked it when one of them made this move: "Hey, man, you're one of my best friends, and I gotta tell you something.........beepblleooblloopbleeepbloo (etc.)". That's the kind of nonsense I can get behind.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Smokey Longdiq does Yosemite

Today's post comes from a small friend with a big adventure streak, who might just be big enough to have his own blog someday if he keeps up his hijinx. Meet Smokey Longdiq (nee John Henry), a hard-working feller who came to us from the streets of Madison, and made his way out to California.
Got to my tent cabin at the Yosemite Bug on Thursday evening. The gracious hosts had even provided a lady of the evening, but she was looking a little atrophied.

But hey, beggars can't be choosers......

Midway up Yosemite Falls

Looking down from Upper Yosemite Falls

Half-Dome in the background

Back at the lodge, I decided I'd have a beer, but this time I'd just have one

We all know how that turned out

Apparently at some point during the night, I decided it would be a good idea to send a picture of my touch-hole to the ex- on my celly....

After 3 days of hiking, skiing, and $4 Sierra Nevada Bigfoot taps, I decided to call it a trip and pop back in the hoopty

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Death Wish

After a lot of talk, I finally watched Chaz. "The Beautiful Monster" Bronson in Death Wish last Thursday night. There were definitely some moments, but I'll take Death Hunt anyday. We were thinking that Death Wish I might have just been setting the stage for the sequels, I guess there is only one way to test that theory.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A picture is worth a thousand wizards

I think we all know who's going to win this fight.....