[LUNAR Announce:] Saturday's Launch at Snow Ranch
orvis at compuserve.com
Thu Mar 31 05:31:00 UTC 2011
Want to fly some rockets? Saturday is not looking too bad but there is a
possibility of rain so be sure to check the hotline before driving out.
There was a possibility of rain last month and it turned out to be a
great day. I will call in the last update about 6:30am on Saturday morning.
We have had about 5 dry days so the ground should have drained out a
little. There will be mud so as always, satay on the road.
If the creek is still running high, you have a small car and need to
cross it to get a rocket, do not try it. If the creek is high, we will
need to get some volunteers with a truck to ferry people across. I doubt
that this will be a problem though.
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 anything.
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, bald 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 attention 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
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 through the 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
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
- 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 bite.
- 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
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.
226 Joyce St.
Livermore, CA 94550
orvis at compuserve.com
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