Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Mine

This mine I went into today is up in the mountains.  Well, I think they all are.  My trip led me through a small town that I have been through many times before - but only on the main street.  This time, I was driving on a narrow street lined with small and very old homes.  The end of the street was the beginning of the mine.

Guardshack greeted me. I went in.  There was a picture of a pickup truck and a notice about safety.  Okay, it didn't look anything like a pickup truck, I just read the notice and found out through that that this was once, at one time, a pickup truck.  A TV also on a stand.  I dreaded having to watch a safety video - I have watched hundreds of them in my trucking career, I am a very safe driver and I don't take unecessary, dangerous actions in a semi-truck.  I understand that a dump truck with a bed big enough to hold 20 cars can run me clean over and not even phase the thing.

Don't get in their way.  Doing so will have worse consequences than getting hit by a train. Trains run into you and tear vehicles apart, these dump trucks will just drive clean OVER you and the vehicle you are driving in and you will be - stone dead.  

I didn't have to watch the video. In fact, I didn't have to sign a bunch of waivers, either.  I just had to sign a registration card that is good for a year, just like the other mine I was in not long ago. 

Wait in the truck - 40 minutes until the man showed up to escort me in.  I hadn't seen this foreman for a long time.  I followed him and we immediately proceeded upon what I am estimating to be at least a 9% grade.   Up and up.  And up.  Get to a cross "road" - all roads in the mine are basically dirt roads.  Another cross road and then, a cross road with huge dump trucks rolling back and forth.  We wait - they have the right of way and rightfully slow.  Nobody in their right mind is going to try and beat one of those thing, to do so - well, if you lose the race?  Good luck with that.

On and on - up and up.  We get to the top.  It's the top of a mountain that has been levelled.   That's what it was.  I had wondered if this mine was also building a lake and yes, I asked.  One employee was all too eager to answer all of my questions.

Yes, they are building a lake - another lake to be filled with sulphuric acid.  Yes, SULPHRURIC ACID - an entire LAKE'S worth.  That is must mind blowing to me. 

Then comes the real story of the completely flattened pickup truck.  It seems that - only 2 months ago this occured - one of those huge dump trucks had stalled and wouldn't start.  The operator of the truck called in mechanics.  2 mechanics showed up in a pickup truck, parking in front of the tires.  Yes, I said in front of the tires, the tires on those things are at least 8 feet tall, much taller than any pickup truck.  WHY you would park in front of such - no clue.  I would never in a lifetime of lifetimes do any such thing, I would fear the thing rolling and crushing me. 

Well, unfortunately for the mechanics, the operator of the dump got the thing fired up and started rolling, he had no idea those fellows were under there.  The mechanics had violated a safety protocol that was designed for just that purpose: to keep them out of harm's way.  They were supposed to announce on their radio to that operator that they were there, under the truck and please don't crush us.   The operator, undoubtedly believing that extreme safety measures were being followed as these mines dictate that they are to be followed (infractions are followed up with people getting fired) just drove off. 

One of the mechanics was flattened with the truck.  The pickup?  To see the picture, you have no idea that that used to be a pickup truck.  None.  It's just a flat piece of metal laying on the ground.  The other mechanic apparently tried getting out - he was seriously injured - but he survived.  The truck operator? No idea, but I can only guess the torment that must go through a mind and heart when thinking that you killed someone, even if no fault of your own. 

The trip into the mine wasn't bad because of that, but it certainly has a sombering effect. 

The giant, stainless-steel fittings that I took in there were to be used for piping that is going to be used to move the sulphuric acid.  I didn't know stainless steel could withstand the acidic effects of sulphuric acid.  I did know that stainless steel can withstand the attempted effect of many other substances - but not this stuff. 

It was a great drive - until I started back to town.  I caught up with a mobile home being transported down the 2-lane highway - meaning stuck behind this thing as well as a bunch of other vehicles for an entire 7% grade's worth down a mountain pass and many miles beyond that.  DPS was escorting the thing because of the fact that it was imposing on oncoming lanes and oncoming traffic had to be stopped and stand off to the side of the road.

After miles and miles of this, we finally came to a 4 lane portion of the highway and I got into the fast lane as everyone else apparently thought that we should just follow behind the thing because Highway Patrol was escorting them.  Bunk.  Not disrespecting Highway Patrol, but I have passed that kind of stuff forever.  I figured to pull up on the Highway Patrol SUV that was in the back and see if he waves me on - which he did - he stuck his hand out the window and started waving traffic to move along, please.  I had no qualms with that, as we were going 15 mph below the speed limit.  Passed them and left traffic behind. 

That was my trip.  I wish I could have more like it, but, they come along only once in a while.  I was going to take my break time and get some rocks, but, I didn't want to potentially have a conflict with Highway Patrol and the U.S. Forest Service, I figure to call DPS (Highway Patrol) and find out what they say about a person stopping at designated stop points and taking rocks.  Not off the side of the road, but well away from the road.  The Federal Government is ownership of the Forest Service (who says it's okay), the State of Arizona is ownership of state DPS (of whom I haven't asked yet).  Just look at Arizona's SB1070 to try and figure whether there are conflicts between the state and the feds.

Sure, I could win a court case - feds always supersede state, or so they say - but why bother?  Just get a stance from them and be done with it.  If it's a no, I'll find rocks somewhere else, already have that in mind. 

Other stuff?  Just a glimpse.  Friday lands tomorrow.  Kewl. However, tomorrow is Friday the 13th (in case you are superstitious).  I fixed the manifold for my dripless system today.  I had no choice, certain plants start to whither as they decide they don't have enough water.  It was easy and only took a minute.  I am going to try and get the hole finished for the pond this weekend - which does not mean the pond will be placed in the ground, I also have to lug home hundreds of pounds of sand to rest the pond bottom on and that may or may not get done.  Probably not.

Fish are in good health, dogs are content, kids are kids and I am me.





So, the weekend's almost here. In case you hadn't noticed the last times I have gone driving the semi up into the mountains PLUS the prospect of driving down into a mine - well, I am alway psyched about that! Not only that, but I slept pretty good last night so I'm not tired this morning.

Onto other things. This decision of Gates to close the Joint Norfolk Command Center - is just the beginning. Are we going to make ourselves impotent so that we can have massive, government run health care and bail out banks and take over car dealerships because "they can't fail" and all the rest of the bunk that is going on?

I'm all for a big, strong military - a force that few will think to mess with in terms of thinking of ever attacking our country in all out assault and war. Making decisions such as this in the name of bigger government and government run society is ludicrous. I read this kind of nonsense in the news every day and just beg for November to get here and hope to high heaven that a huge change in senate personnel will take place = for the better of course.

Ummm, time is running out for this morning's writing. I got "tied up" on a Craigslist ad. I and a few others take it upon ourselves occasionally to lambast people making ridiculous ads, such as a woman that has 2 kids, has a full-time job for one of the "best fortune 500 companies in the valley" - her words, assuming she is receiving child support for her kids since she says she's single, yet receives $1,200 per month in rental subsidies every single month.

HOW, pray tell, does ANYONE get that kind of money while having a full-time job at a good company?

I dunno.

But, I do know that the work day approaches and I have a run up into the mountains to make : )



Short trip, got that over with. I no more than got back to the yard and left for home when I got a text from yet the newest version of a di...