Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Archive for the tag “Bonneville Salt Flats”

Bonneville’s Jinx?

The new Rancho Begley. Note that the Aurora, loaded with dirty laundry, looks more at home out here than it does in a suburban area.

The new Rancho Begley. Note that the Aurora e-bike, loaded with dirty laundry, looks more at home out here than it does in a suburban area.

With the Southern California Timing Association’s Speed Week event scheduled to run August 9-15 this year, recent sprinkles had bumped the planned start by just a day, with first actual runs to start on Monday instead of Sunday. Not bad. When I arrived Friday afternoon, everything was looking promising. The short drive from I-80 to the “Y” intersection of the access road to the salt and Leppy Pass Road to the camping areas at the foot of the Silver Island Mountains was jammed with traffic and vehicles parked on the shoulder. Several BLM Rangers were directing the stream of traffic, asking each driver what they hoped to do, and then directing them as needed.

This guy is hoping to run his Cummins diesel-powered rod for a record.

This guy is hoping to run his Cummins diesel-powered rod for a record.

I made my way up toward last year’s campsite, found a workable area, and parked just long enough to yank the Evelo Aurora off the front end of the Ford. Racers are nothing if not celebratory partygoers, and although I found a Read more…

Nope. No Soap.


Hanging out on the salt, since there’s nothing better to do.

Well, it went down to the wire. The hope was that today’s spectacular sun and breeze would dry out mile 7, which is about where the two-wheelers would pop their chutes at max speed. It just refused to dry out, though. Mike Cook, the organizer of the event, was forced to cancel it for good for 2013.  If it won’t be safe, it can’t happen. How safe one can be while approaching 400 MPH is debatable, but there’s just no point shoveling in more risk.

So, I wandered around and saw a lowered and huffed (turbocharged) VW New Beetle and wandered over to find its crew in good spirits despite the cancellation. Racers are a tenacious bunch, and seem to roll with the punches more easily than many. As a rule, they’re also welcoming by nature – you can just barge in and join them without the usual “who’s this guy?” looks. There was a bright young lady among them who definitely sounded like Read more…

Shootout: In Doubt

DSCN0154Today is Thursday AM. The 2013 Top Speed Shootout guys are having to contend with rapidly changing weather forecasts, which has made putting their wallets on the line risky. The problem for them is squirmy logistics. It isn’t exactly cheap for them to haul trailers of carefully-prepped racing equipment cross-country, or to buy no-discount airline tickets, or book motels or the local KOA campground. These guys are in the upper echelon of speed crazies, and most have sponsors to keep happy. To be sure, none of these guys are poor, but each has invested way, way too much in their speed addiction. I liken it to owning a horse. On the grand scale of things, you have to be comparatively wealthy to own and stable a horse. Once you do that, you are by all accounts no longer wealthy.

The salt surface has proven problematic, and a few days ago was deemed unsuitable for high-speed runs in Read more…

Out For a Walk

A canal feeding brine back toward the Bonneville Salt Flats.

A canal feeding brine back toward the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Nothing spectacular today, which is nice for a change. The daytime temperature edged back into the 70’s today, and since I was already out to pump the camper’s waste tanks into the Tankmin in the Furd, I went for a 2-mile walk down the road heading for the Salt Flats. There are two 12-inch pipes coming out of the ground, each a hundred yards from the roadway. There must be a heckofa pump or two somewhere, because the flow rate out each of those pipes is impressive, and they flow 24/7. It seems that a potash plant on the other side of I-80 is returning leftover brine back to the salt flats.

That’s good, because the Bonneville Salt Flats used to be 90,000 acres in 1963, and today covers only 30,000 acres because of that plant. For speed freaks, that has reduced the former 10-mile track surface to just 7 miles. 18 inches of salt have been removed, and this voluntary return is hoped to slow further shrinkage, not hold or reverse it. Potash is a key ingredient in fertilizer, and this result makes sustainable methods of farming look like an admirable thing to me.

The last few days have been inordinately cold and windy, with highs at about 50. Officially, wind gusts registered Read more…

The Salt Addicts

This was all lake a week ago.

This was all lake a week ago.

Well, the Top Speed Shootout 2013 is turning into a saga long before it takes place. The most respected and only surviving land speed event this year, it was originally scheduled for September 12th-16th. Heavy thunderstorms flooded it and several other events out as the salt flats went deep underwater. Even as recently as last week, the racing surface looked pretty hopeless. This event’s rain date was October 10-14, and then they decided to arrange with the BLM for October 7-12 due to racer requests. It’s starting to get a bit nippy out here. The BLM okayed that, but then Congressional Republicans nixed that idea by shutting down so many government services. Somehow, the local BLM office is able to restage it with the original 10-14 dates, so, weather Read more…

Labor-Intensive Camping

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I spent yesterday goofing with the trailer, since the Top Speed Shootout event I missed has now been rescheduled for October 10-14.  With the SCTA World Finals going October 1-4, I decided to stick it out here in spite of Wendover’s relative lack of amenities – like oh, say, a barber shop. I’d normally stay only the 2-week limit and move a distance away, then return for the next event, but another camper assured me that the BLM is well aware of the needs of running these events, and will not hassle people staying longer as long as they don’t present problems. Good campers = a local blind eye to the systemwide rules.

A longer stay means that the trailer really needed to be repositioned true east-west to allow maximum exposure for the solar panels. It does make a difference, because at this time of year, the sun never goes straight overhead and a true E-W position will grab considerably more sun than being off-kilter and either resetting the panels a couple of times a day or leaving them horizontal. I can tell by the voltage readings I’m getting. The frequent clouds don’t help, since I’m grinding the iMac pretty heavily each day.

The other motive for relocating is that I’m on a slight slope, and the fridge uses more propane if it’s off level just a tad. So, I hitched up and weaseled around a few feet this way and that until I reached trailer nirvana. Too bad I didn’t get sufficiently paranoid about solar power cables and ropes while doing it, since I ran over a Read more…

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