[LUNAR Announce:] Saturday's Launch at Snow Ranch

Bill Orvis orvis at comcast.net
Thu Apr 1 05:03:48 UTC 2010

Hello everyone,

We are going to go for the launch this Saturday. We have been getting
rain on and off for the last few weeks so it will be wet. There is
definitely no fire danger. Make sure you stay on the roads and do not
drive more than one car length from the road in the parking area or you
may get stuck.
The stuff that follows is for newcomers to Snow Ranch. Of course, it
wouldn't hurt
for the old hands to skim over it to make sure they have not forgotten

We will be flying on a working cattle ranch in a field that hasn't changed
much in the last 10,000 years. There are no paved roads, sidewalks, mowed
lawns, or anything else you are used to having at the launches in Livermore.
You will find rocks, squirrel holes, sticks, cow bones, and other assorted
items that can twist or break ankles or legs if you are not paying
attention. You will also see wildlife. In addition to the bulls and cows,
there are squirrels, snakes, coyotes, mountain lions, golden eagles,
buzzards, and other critters. Again, if you pay attention, none of these
critters will bother you. If you have kids, keep an eye on them, don't let
them wander far without an adult.

This is rattle snake country the same as the hills around Livermore. As long
as you pay atteition to where you are walking and where you put your hands
and feet, you won't have a problem. Stay away from the rock fences, the
blackberry bushes, and the brushy rock formations. Those are all snake
places. If your rocket lands in one of those places, come get me or one of
the club officers to help you  get it out. Now, I am not trying to scare
anyone, I just want to make sure you are paying attention. My brothers,
sister, cousins, and I played all over those hills as children and never got
bit and I want to make sure no one else does.

When you get to the launch area, follow the marked road to the field. Even
though it looks like there is a shorter way, don't do it. There is a reason
I mark the road where I do. There is a road down the center of the field
where we launch. You can park on either side of that road. On the east side
you can go as far as the creek but on the west side, do not go more than one
car length from the road. Most of the ground is sod over mud. If you break
throught he sod, your car will drop to its axles in the mud. Four wheel
drive will not save you. The ground under the sod is almost liquid. Some of
you will remember when I pulled a lost rocket out of the
ground. The rocket had punched a hole through the sod. I was able to stick
my arm down into the ground all the way to my elbow without any problem,
slide my fingers under the rocket, and pull it out. If I can stick my arm up
to the elbow in the ground, imagine what something with the weight of a car
will do. The places we will mark out have gravel under them and are solid. A
few feet farther up the hill are not.

As I mentioned, this is a working ranch and there are a few ranch rules.
   - Leave the cows and bulls alone. There are a lot of newborn calves in
the field, many born in the last week. If you see one, don't go too close
and do not get between the calves and the cows, especially small children.
   - If you see a calf that appears to be in trouble, that is, it has fallen
in a hole or in the creek and does not seem to be able to get out, come and
get me and I will rescue it.
   - Leave the wild critters alone. It is OK to look, but don't try to pick
them up. The rattle snakes you find out there are real, not toys, and they
   - If there are bee hives on the hill above where we launch, stay away
from them. They are self protecting so you have been warned.
   - Close any gates that you open.
   - Don't do anything to mess up the land. A rancher is just about the
greenest person you will ever meet when it comes to his land. In this case,
our family has been caring for this land for over 130 years. The worst thing
you can do is to create ruts which cause erosion which is another reason to
stay on the roads.

There is a lot of history in this area. Indians used to camp just south of
where we launch and there are Indian grinding holes in many of the rocks.
The movies "Little House on the Prairie" and "The Big Country" were filmed
around where we will be flying. The remains of the "Little House on the
Prairie" set are just to the south-east of where we launch. The stage road
from Stockton to the gold mines in Angels Camp went right through this area,
and up the road a ways Black Bart used to rob them. The History Channel
filmed part of a program on Werner VonBraun near the ranch house.

We will rent a porta potty for the day but there is no water, food or
anything else in the area so bring whatever you will need.

We have a barbecue grill I will fire up in the morning. I expect it to be
really popular just for keeping warm. Bring your own dogs or burgers and
have a warm lunch.

If anyone does get hurt, the closest hospital is in Oakdale, about a 15
minute drive from the Ranch (after you get back to the highway). There is a
map to the hospital in the LUNAR document box if you should need it.

There are maps to the ranch and driving instructions on the LUNAR website.

If anyone has any questions, I will be happy to answer them.

William Orvis
226 Joyce St.
Livermore, CA  94550
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