Saturday, August 6, 2011

Picking Up the Pieces

I don't have much energy left tonight...It's been a busy week...I accomplished a bunch of things.

Yeah, the Giants' slide has taken a toll, but the other stuff I took care of did the lion's share of the damage. It's all straightened out now, so let the relaxation commence!

I've kept digging in the Lincoln Highway Lode. I now know the location of three Lincoln Highway Mileposts, and a couple of original bridges that have vestigial Lincoln Highway Signs still fading away on the concrete.

The California Chapter of the Lincoln Highway Association has a set of maps of all the routes through the years in California, and nearby Livermore, CA has a Lincoln Highway Museum in the original Duarte Garage, built in 1915 by FH Duarte. Duarte's Garage was an Associated Oil service station right on the original road, and served travelers until 1927 when the Carquinez Bridge opened and the Lincoln Highway's route was moved to the bridge.

The Livermore Heritage Guild opens the museum one Sunday each month. When it's open at the end of August, I'll have the California Chapter's maps in hand, and I'll take as much of the old route as I can out to Livermore.

Slowly I'm finding bits of info about the local pieces of the road...some day I'll have them all lined up like ducks in a row so I can make a day of visiting and photographing a bit of the route.

There's a California Chapter meeting in October...I might get there, too...this is fun!

Friday, August 5, 2011

If You Find Yourself In Need of A Hole

Keep digging!

I'm slowly learning about the Lincoln Highway's route through California, and I read a little on the road through Reno...History is awesome when you can walk around on it, or even better drive around on it! Today I read several newspaper stories about the road near Dixon, Fairfield, and Vacaville. Every time I motor from the DaveCave to the Ancestral Digs, I drive through these towns.

I was a good student all through school, but history just put me in a mood for a nap. History studies back in the day were just a bunch of dates and dead, dried up old men...until the first time I actually walked on history.

In the seventh grade I had a really good history teacher. Somehow he made those dates and dead guys interesting...but the ah-ha moment came on a field trip. We took a school bus from downtown Salt Lake City all the way out to Promontory Summit (I know, all the history books say Promontory Point, but the actual site was the Summit above the Point).

Promontory Summit is where the two railroads building the Transcontinental Railroad met, and after a day or two furiously laying track on parallel roadbeds, a labor dispute, (and getting paid by the mile- thanks US Congress) were joined with the Golden Spike. That field trip was in 1964...five years before the centennial of the May 10, 1869 ceremony.

Walking around the site back in 1964 was amazing! 95 years since that day, there were artifacts laying everywhere you looked...shovel heads, pick-axes, crow bars, hundreds of railroad spikes, old squished a word? Museumfulls.

Sixteen years later I found myself hiking along the Lincoln Highway, and walking around on history again. A bunch of us hiked over Donner Summit from Donner Lake to Donner Ski Ranch via Track #1. Still live, we took extra care when hiking through the numerous snow sheds and tunnels, making sure to listen extra carefully for the deep rumble of several huge diesel locomotives pulling a heavy freight train up the Summit grade. We enjoyed a grand old all-day hike, and avoided any locomotive drama. It was a weekend, during a recession, and we never heard or saw a train all day. Five years after that hike, I lived right on the Lincoln Highway...about 150 yards from Track #1, and it was a rare day when a train didn't go by every 2-3 hours!

By the mid-90's, Track #1, the original Transcontinental Railroad roadbed over Donner Summit was retired, and rail traffic was routed through the 1925 built, wider, taller, faster 10,322ft long Tunnel 41.

All that history under foot sparked an interest in history that I never imagined I'd have back in seventh grade history class struggling with those stories about those dry dead dudes. The first book I read after I moved to the Sierra Crest was Irving Stone's "Men To Match My Mountains", Stone's fictionalized account of the Western Migration and the Taming of the West.

Now, thirty-one years after the Track #1 hike, I'm on the trail of another Transcontinental Road, and I've already found some places I can walk around on the now-abandoned original concrete lanes. I've been walking around on vestiges of the Lincoln Highway most of my's another circle to close, and another chapter to learn. I'm guessing there's no boring old dudes in the rest of this story...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Lookin' For Lincoln

OK, that didn't take long. They say Curiosity killed the cat. While not a bee in my bonnet per se, this Lincoln Highway thing is beginning to consume me...or at least my time.

Wednesday's foray into Berkeley caused me to miss the Giants game (though I watched the cable replay...after I knew the final score) Not a trace to be found, though the view of the Berkeley Pier was stunning, as was the view of the cable catwalks up to the new tower of the eastern span of the Bay Bridge...they'll start pulling cable soon.

On the internet and on the ground, the Lincoln Highway plays coy...searches don't exactly work...that is, when I search "Lincoln Highway" I get results that are close, but not exactly what I'm looking for. I settle for close enough...start reading...and then another source reveals itself.

Lots of these "near hits" are blogs or archived newspaper columns of the human interest variety, from before Daily Newspapers embraced the internet, hence the articles aren't tagged for searching, or haven't got enough hits to attract Google's searchbots.

The Lincoln Highway Association (LHA) cites several books on the highway, and links to the publisher, but these books aren't on Amazon or Barnes and Noble's website. I visited my local Barnes and Noble today. The books are in their system, but they can't order them for me...I'm guessing that the LHA has an exclusivity deal with the publisher. They're in a no-win situation I guess...more profit from the books for the LHA, but less audience online. I'll mention this when I order "Lincoln Highway: California"

I talked to SturgeUrge this afternoon...he's going to a family function in Stockton for the weekend. I was able to inform him that Stockton's Waterloo Road was once a piece of the Lincoln Hwy...I bored him with the Berkeley Pier story too. SturgeUrge evened the score with a fishing report from Tuesday.

SturgeUrge took his nephew out after halibut Tuesday...they couldn't buy a bite, and missed a few drivebys...slightly mauled baits that SturgeUrge thought were sharks not halibut. Then on the last bait of the day, the nephew nails a 29 inch striped bass! Good on ya, Casey!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bringing the Heat

I'm feeling like this is gonna be a "kitchen sink" kind of blog. There's lots of little things going on across the CorduroyPlanet...none of them Earth-shaking. I'm still lacking focus...I blame the Dog Days, though the weather isn't the normal dog days inferno here in the Inland Valley.

I've been glued to the internet a little more than I should have been over my weekend...I was keeping the Twitter machine on the front burner watching MLB's Trade Wire to see what moves if any the SF Giants would make as the July 31 deadline approached...unfortunately I became psychic collateral damage as even sports writers were tweeting the ins and outs of the Debt Ceiling/Budget Battle back in Washington DC...I'll spare us any politics here.

Another story leaked into my brain's inbox while I was digging around to find some more detailed information on the Lincoln interest hasn't turned to an obsession yet, but it might if the local county library doesn't have some of the books on the Lincoln Highway by state.

I'm curious about Utah, Nevada, and California's routes...after looking around the 'net over my weekend, I realized that I've lived in four places right on the historical Lincoln Highway, but I've never seen an original Lincoln Highway Signpost or even a facsimile...There's lots of photo evidence online, so I'll bet that I've driven right by several signs in Reno, Sacramento, Auburn and elsewhere, but haven't seen them because I wasn't looking...I imagine that the signs are there...but are "lost" in the modern day visual cacophony. This is going to be like an Easter Egg Hunt.

 Another thing caught my eye on Twitter...lightning fires up and down the High Sierra. Reno and the Northern Sierra have been dealing with numerous lightning starts for a week or two, and Tuesday morning I saw a tweet by @R5_Fire_News that said: "Wrapping up 40+ lightning fires in southern CA that began over the weekend. ~6,500 downstrikes in 24 hr. period. Most fires 1/4 acre or less"!

Fire Season begins July 1st. With this year's heavy La Niña-fueled snow and rains, history says we'll have a mild fire season. The lingering winter-like spring weather and the cool so far summer temps almost insure it, despite the local news teasers touting the "extra fuels from the wetter-than-normal spring growing season"

While I don't compulsively scan every AFD this time of year, I do dig into any fire stories I happen upon. Again when I do look at the AFD and Fire Weather Discussions, it's clear that the heavy winter snows are keeping a lid on the mountain Fire Danger outlook.

Highway Hypnosis
Well, my local county library made for an interesting trip. I walked in and realized that I haven't been in my library in Truckee since I got internet service back in 1996! That's 15 years! So as I was walking through the metal detector/stolen book array, I wondered if libraries still have card Dewey Decimal System chops are rusted out...I asked for help at the desk. The nice library scientist showed me where the computer was... a quick keyword search and I found five books...all close but no cigar...the nearest tome on the Lincoln Highway is three towns away...another day, when I'm out that way, I'll bundle the library trip...

Back at the Ancestral Digs, I hit the internet a little harder...I found some intriguing info on the Lincoln Highway in Reno, learned that the Truckee Branch went through Verdi, and out Dog Valley Road. I read some stories on the road through Livermore and southern Alameda County, and wonder of wonders, the road used University Avenue to reach the Berkeley Pier which was the ferry terminus to San Francisco back in the day!

That's enough of a closed circle for today...Once upon a time I went to school on University Ave...I belonged to the YMCA a block off the road, and my Dad taught us to fish off the Berkeley Pier...SturgeUrge and I still pursue halibut within casting distance of the pier...but that's a story for another day...

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Highway History

Holy Jeez! I'm enjoying the Giants' game Saturday evening and keeping an eye on the Twitter Machine for Giants trade rumors and seems there's a few fires going off around Reno this afternoon...monsoonal flow and dry fuels...lightning...

Damn, an evacuation order is in place for the Bain Street Fire near Virginia City, and NDOT has closed the Geiger Grade NV341...the Red Rock Road fire north of Stead Field (home to the Reno National Championship Air Races) is at 1000 acres now, too.

I can't find any recent update for the fire on Peavine Mountain, west of Reno and home to the Air Races' "Slot" where the Unlimited Racers line up and take the traditional command...."Gentlemen, you have a race" from the Pace Plane Pilot.

I saw the Peavine Fire tweet a couple of days ago...there's been a week or so of lightning caused fires around the Truckee Meadows as the valley around Reno has been called since the westward migration of the 1840's.

A look at Reno's AFD shows the NWS forecasters aware of the fire danger, but predicting mostly wet thunderstorms hence no Red Flag Warnings.

As I watched the Giants game, there were no new fires after dinnertime. Sister K was visiting the Ancestral Digs for the weekend, so I made a special effort for supper. Eggplant Parmigiano with fresh baked sourdough bread and a simple salad of baby green and herbs with vine-ripe tomatoes and sliced almonds.

After dinner everyone napped a bit then watched some TV. The local PBS station ran "A Ride on the Lincoln Highway"!

I'd never seen the show which tells the road's history and shows some of the 3000 miles of America's first coast to coast highway. Part of the Lincoln highway runs right through Truckee and up and over Donner Summit (Old Highway 40) Over the years, I've lived in three different places on the Lincoln Highway. Until I watched the show, I didn't know that the Lincoln Highway splits in Reno and crosses the High Sierra over both Donner Summit and HWY 50's Echo Summit.

The show didn't cover the Sierra Nevada portion of the route, but it did profile the author Michael Wallis and photographer Michael S. Williamson who wrote a new book: "The Lincoln Highway: Coast to Coast from Times Square to the Golden Gate".

Onto my Amazon wishlist it went. I drove the Donner Summit portion last was much more pleasant than the highly kinetic, stressed out Interstate 80 was!

I'm thinking I should explore some of the rest of the Lincoln Highway next year when I head east to Texas for the United States Grand Prix in Austin! Gentleman...start...your...dreaming!