Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Today so far

Drove down Six Mile Canyon and saw some more wild horses. That can't possible ever get old. I drove up some old jeep trail two-tracks to check out some mine sites on BLM land but didn't find anything accessible. I did kind of feel like a prat taking this brand new SUV with less than 270 miles on it back on these 4WD trails but I took it very slow and careful and didn't so much as scrape a skid plate or brush a tree. Got a little target shooting in at an improvised range that some locals apparently set up. And unlike the ones in MRE urban areas, it was neat and clean with a minumim of debris and almost no casings scattered about. Whoever uses this spot police up after themselves nicely so I followed suit and left no evidence of my visit behind.

Then it was down into Dayton to try to locate the old Sutro Tunnel portal, a holy grail fore history buffs and mine explorers. Back in 1860, German immigrant Adolph Sutro came up with the idea to tunnel into the lower levels of many of the large Comstock area mines to help with drainage of water--a major problem in these mines--and to improve ventilation. The mine companies loved the idea until they realized that his tunnel might also be used to haul rock out of the mines and that he stood to get paid nicely if that happened. They tried to stop him over the years but to no avail. He finally broke through into the workings in 1878 after tunneling over six miles through solid rock, but by this time the mines had gone deeper so the drainage benefit never really came off. Sutro sold his tunnel--now used for haulage--and moved to San Fransico where he became mayor. This tunnel connected to several of the largest mines though and I'd loved to have used it for exploration but for two problems: first, a cave-in blocked it a ways in, and second, it is privately owned by the Comstock Foundation and they have a rather unfriendly caretaker living on site, a one-armed fat guy with a serious bad attitude who lived up to the description given to me by everyone I'd talked to yesterday. He's locally infamous for his rudeness and hostility towards visitors. 

Now I could kind of understand not wanting to have everyone and their dog showing up at all hours and just poking around without so much as a by-your-leave, so I did the courteous thing and dove up slowly, right to his little shack, then walked up and knocked on the door to politely ask permission to take a few pics of the portal. I migh has we'll have saved us both the trouble--the guy was the biggest asshole I've met in some time, and right out of the gate with no provocation. "No you can't see it! The property is closed and you need to get off it right now!" Now we were less than a hundred yards from the famously historic portal and I could just see it from where we stood. I really tried to placate him by explaining that yes, I understood that it was closed to tours, but that I'd come to see him out of respect to ask the small courtesy of just a few pictures. "You need to just get the fuck out of here," he snarled.
"Not a problem," I told him. "I'll go, but that's a pretty poor way to talk to someone who isn't being disrespectful to you in the slightest."
"This property is owned by the Comstock Foundation. If you want to see it, find out when they do tours. They aren't doing them now though." 
"Ok, that's great. I'd love to check with them.  Can I get their contact info from you?"
"You can go look it up on the Internet. From someplace else. Now get out of here,"
"Fine. Have a nice day." I turned to walk back to my Jeep and saw that he was following me back to it, a glower on his face. I also noticed that he didn't appear to have a weapon, yet here he is being totally disrespectful to someone he doesn't know. Not that he was in any danger from me--and I was armed--but not everyone who happens along is like me. Push enough people with unnecessary disrespect and bluster and eventually you're likely to meet someone equally nasty who will push back. Law of averages. And especially stupid to do it where you live because you've now got to be on defense 24/7. A little courtesy is always smart when you're all by yourself out in the middle of nowhere, especially if you're obviously in poor shape and only have one arm. Yeah, I think I'd be nice to people if I was I his shoes, but that's just me. And from what I heard from everyone yesterday, he's always like this. Here's hoping that it doesn't come back to bite him on the ass one day.
Even in my case, I was tempted to come back after dark and take a look inside that portal just to spite him. From what I could see, would have been child's play and in years past I'd have done it just because. But I'm older now, and I have a security clearance to safeguard, so I'll take the high road and go find other sights to see. 
Still: Murphy's rule #17: "Don't be a dick to people strange to you until it's time to be a dick, and even then don't let your mouth write checks that your body can't cash."

Off to see more sites.


  1. It wouldn't do to kick the ass of a one-armed fat man.

  2. It's always amazed me how many assholes there are in the world.
    And did he really have a flower on his face, or was it a glower? (A nice relaxing glass of wine can prevent unnecessary typos.)
    I haven't been in Reno/Sparks/Virginia City/Carson City since about 1979, but I really liked it. I'm glad to hear it's still a pretty nice place (except for Fatso), and I'm kinda living vicariously through your posts.

    1. Sigh. I could write these posts in half the time if I wasn't battling auto-correct constantly on this iPad.

    2. I never write on phones or iAnythings, so I didn't think of auto-correct till after I sent the comment. I apologize.
      (The first time I tried to send an email by phone was to a utility company, and the auto-correct kept changing "autopay" to "autopsy." I turned the phone off, wrote the email on my computer, and never wrote another email on my phone. But I'm that way. And get off my lawn!)

  3. Sad to hear that, and I'd definitely file a complaint with the owners!

    1. I actually e-mailed comstock mining about this guy for you. I think they are VERY aware of the fat one armed bastard now. I'm sure it's going through "Channels" I got an email back that said this:

      Thanks for the e-mail. The Comstock Foundation for History & Culture is a separate entity. Here is a link to its website. http://comstockfoundation.org/

      The Sutro Tunnel is privately owned; however, as you’ll see on this website the Comstock Foundation does collaborate with the owners of the Sutro Tunnel to restore the site.

      Also, the Comstock Foundation does conduct an annual tour each September. While I haven’t had the opportunity to take the tour, I hope to one of these Septembers.

      Best regards,
      Zach Spencer

      Comstock Mining

    2. Much appreciated indeed!

  4. Hey Murphy;

    It is a shame when people are being a dick,you get farther being nice than being a dick. What goes around, comes around. Well enjoy the rest of your trip and don't bother worrying about jerkwad people.

  5. So, It looks that if you had shown up in September you could go on a tour. Maybe you could come back at that time?
    Just a thought.


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