johnny April 29th, 2010
After a lackluster winter at Amazon’s Fernley facility, Jenn and I decided we’d be better off looking for a job we enjoyed than one that promised big bucks and may or may not deliver. As one of our interests is caving, we decided to try and get jobs at a cave for the summer, even if it meant working the gift shop and cleaning restrooms. It turns out that we lucked into one of the most amazing jobs we could hope for.
Our first choice of positions came through and we got workcamping positions at Caverns of Sonora. For those of you that have never heard of it, Caverns of Sonora is one of the most decorated caves on the planet. While there hasn’t been a study that I’m aware of, I believe it could very well be the most decorated cave in the world based on formations per square inch. We are lucky enough to be spending a fair portion of every day guiding tours in this cave.
The tour is a very up close and personal experience. We are literally inches away from formations throughout much of the tour. On top of that, we are working for some of the best people you could hope to be around. The cave is owned by a family that has owned the land surrounding it for five generations and the general manager has been a true caver for forty-six years. I can’t imagine a better work experience.
Words cannot begin to describe this beautiful cave. But to give you a general idea, we spent a week training with two to three tours a day that are close to two hours long and on our first day off, we took two tours through the cave just to enjoy it and take photos. I snapped five hundred and forty some odd pictures in three and a half hours. Almost eighty have been uploaded to the gallery. The pictures do not do the experience justice, but they are far better than words could ever be. I only wish I had half the photographic skill of the professionals who have done the off-trail photos.
The pictures for this post are chosen more or less at random as I would be very hard pressed to pick favorites from the photos we’ve taken so far. At twenty bucks a person, the tour pushes the limits of our budget, but it really makes me stop and think what beautiful things we may have missed over the past two years by being thrifty. I hope none of them were nearly as beautiful as this, but I will definitely think twice the next time we pass a ‘tourist trap’ by because we don’t want to throw our money away. Some of those traps are probably every bit as worthwhile as this one. Please take a look at the gallery. I’ve yet to see someone come out of a tour disappointed; in fact, the most frequent comment is ‘this is the prettiest cave I’ve ever seen.’
johnny April 11th, 2010
Well, I threatened to make torches and knives once I got a cascade down with clubs. So far, I haven’t made any knives because I’m still too busy working on torches. I’ve now made 3 sets of torches. The first set was based on the green club construction and worked out pretty well. Eventually though, they started coming apart as the handle detached from the torch. Not good!
The next set I made wooden handles with the intention of swapping club/knife/torch heads out and using the same handles. There were a lot of issues with this version wanting to fall apart. On top of that, they were a pain in the butt to make, took some specialized tools and hardware to do correctly, a little painful to catch, and were just too darn heavy.
Yesterday, I salvaged the handle wraps from my first torch set and made some fairly light weight torches. I skipped the aluminum tubing that protected the dowel rod in the previous design and just wrapped it in tinfoil tape. The handles are a little different as they widen up considerably more than the green club handles towards the top.
I did finally find a source for furniture tips, but they are just too light to counterbalance the torch heads even in this ultra light model. So… I’m still using drilled out golf balls for knobs. Will I ever find a better solution?!
I also made a few rings to juggle from clear vinyl tubing. It flexes a bit too much to juggle in the heat of the day without putting a layer of tape around the rings. However, if you wait for the evening and stick a handful of glowsticks from the dollar store inside, they don’t look half bad. The biggest problem with the glow rings as props is convincing the kids to let me have enough to juggle.
They’re pretty nifty little night time toys that are incredibly fast to make for very little cost. Kids love ’em and I don’t have to keep refueling every 2-3 minutes if I want to juggle at night!
If you make a set of rings, I suggest getting a dowel rod with a diameter close to the inside diameter of your tubing and using a one inch sized piece to connect the tubing together. A couple of inches of electrical tape will secure it enough to stand up to a fair bit of abuse without coming apart.
jenn April 5th, 2010
A 7.2 earthquake struck about 80 miles south of us yesterday. It was the first one that I have ever been in (or at least felt). Johnny and I had joined the Scott/Riggs family for their Easter festivities and BBQ. The kids were running around playing with water guns while the adults were chatting and playing chess. Next thing I know, the ground starts shaking and all of our trucks start rocking back and forth. It was pretty surreal. It was like being on an amusement park ride except that you didn’t know what was going to happen or when it was going to end. And, everyone was ready for it to end. I never get motion sick, but I was starting to as was everyone around me. It just kept going and going. The news is claiming that it only lasted about 30-55 seconds but everyone near me agreed that it felt more like 2-3 minutes. I wish that we would have timed it, but being in Slab City, no one had a watch on.
I guess it shook the whole SW. I received an email from liveworkdream.com stating that they felt it all the way over by Tuscon. Wow!
Above are maps from USGS showing the earthquake activity in this area (we are near Niland, CA) over the last week and the shake map for the 7.2 that hit yesterday. There are a lot more maps and information on their website.