For reasons that are entirely unclear to me, I take many more vacations now, than before unscheduled retirement. I returned Monday night from four days in northern California.
I had a great time: I spent a couple of days with my best friends in the tiny village of Rescue, CA west of Placerville, saw another friend on the San Francisco Peninsula and had breakfast with my grown daughter.
One of the things I try to do when I travel now is not obsess about transportation details. If I miss a plane, I know there’s always going to be another one flying to the same destination, and I really prefer to hit several destinations on one trip, touching down in one city for a couple of days and then moving along to another place.
Most of all, I try to relax and take note of the small details most of use overlook as we scoot along from Tedium to Apathy. And there is no better form of transportation for peering into the heart and soul of over flown America
My favorite train ride in all of California Berkley Sacramento California
And, the more you take the train along this route, the more details you notice.
Running alongside the river, I counted 12 dark-backed king salmon jumping in the early morning light. Given that California Sacramento River
The highlight of my train trip is arriving in Sacramento California Sacramento Sacramento River
But I had another reason for travelling to the Gold Country last week: I wanted to see some very good friends and help pick, process and crush some big red grapes they grow for their winemaking hobby as well as poke around the Gold Country.
The most important reason though was to mow an overgrown field next to their house. I view the field as an inflammatory hazard to my buddy’s family, house and neighborhood. And being a Southern Californian that’s had to evacuate a house twice as flames roared through the groves and fields around my lot, my instinctive reaction to fire hazards in October (prime “fire season” time throughout California
I‘ve been badly burned (about 50 percent of my heat body) once in my life, and I have a very healthy respect for fire. I fundamentally understand the fuel, air and heat “fire triangle” and know that by reducing any one of those elements, you can virtually eliminate the risk of a wild fire.
My buddy has a new two-cylinder Deere riding mower with a 54-inch deck that makes short shift of time it takes to cut the weeds in a big field. Less than 70 minutes after I started cutting lanes, I had knocked down most of the fuel in the field and decided I would let my buddy use his heavy duty string trimmer for the close-in cosmetic touch ups among the boulders at three corners of his field and under a small stand of live oaks at the lots edge. Besides, I didn’t want to intentionally grind rocks with his new mower (although, truthfully I discovered two rocks as I cut the field).
By the end of the day Sunday, I was dusty, dirty and happy, although every time I take a mower up in the field my buddy has a fit. I think that’s because he’s started two fires and somehow thinks a blade striking a rock axiomatically creates the sparks needed to ignite a field. So far the fire starting score in his field is: My buddy 2 for 2; Jim 0 for 7.
The God’s Truth about starting a fire when you accidentally strike a rock with the blades of your riding mower is that it doesn’t happen very often. Most often the real ignition source is the lawn tractors’ muffler, which is mounted on front underside of the mower, where it can come into contact with dry brush. It’s not uncommon for muffler hotter than 800 degrees after the engine has been in use for as little as 30 minutes.
To reduce this hazard: Set your blade height to five inches and try to mow in the mornings, when there’s still residual moisture in the air and on dried vegetation. The weeds may be straw yellow, but there’s generally enough moisture to retard explosive ignition.
Furthermore, you can do what I do: using a bungy cord, strap a couple of gallons of water in a plastic jug to the floor of the riding mower between the seat and underneath the steering wheel. With water on board, you can stay happily hydrated, and put out a fire that’s initially confined to its ignition point. The second strategy is to stay well hydrated so that you can literally (as the saying goes) ”Piss on the embers before they turn into a fire.”
What the hell, it’s a strategy that’s worked well for me once in my life.
At some point in the future, I may rent a tractor and excavate the boulders in my buddy’s field. I really do think a rock wall made of native stone is a thing of beauty. It may also help to reduce his fear of starting a fire in the field, again.
Four days is about all I want to be away from my home here in Escondido Sacramento San Francisco
Three hours later i was southbound down the Pacific coast and soon it was time to store my electronic devices, return my seat back and tray table to their original upright and locked position. Looking down at Camp Pendleton San Diego County
But the two best things were seeing my Chihuahua
I’m home now, the nighttime marine layer, has sent the flames at Pendletone down until the sun comes up.
Other than that, it’s just another damn perfect Fall day in Escondido me.