Tuesday, March 11, 2003 03:99 a.m. P.D.T.

Ric Carter's

Clouds are swirling around Carson Pass like they know something's going to happen.

It's almost between seasons, not so many snowrats heading up to the decaying slopes, so Evie at Ridge Roost is taking some time off, contemplating Eternity. Sometimes she needs both hands.   —A Worried Customer

The corporate clones that run Kirkwood Resort want to expand, build a city there as big as Tahoe or Carson. Folks along the Carson Pass route either shudder at the traffic prospects, or are countin' up how much they can make by selling out. Realtors are drooling like hungry puppies. Of course, if the drought cycle lasts another few years, those plans just might change.

NewAgers say that Yosemite Valley is a navel of the universe, and that when the Mayan Calendar runs out in 2012 and a new cycle begins, a new humanity will be born there, or the New People will ascend there, or something like that. I certainly hope so. Old humanity is so tedious, eh?.

Truth? One visitor to the Yosemite, looking down into the Merced River from a mile-high vertical cliff, wondered how the river got down there, and was told, "That's funny, it used to run along the rim up here, but one day it fell off." Another visitor down in the valley, looking up at a mile-high waterfall, wondered "how they got all that water up there." Just another govt project...

Looking Down Upon the Mother Lode

"Dry Diggings changed its name to Hangtown, for obvious reasons, and then, for equally obvious reasons, to Placerville." —B.A. Botkin

Hangtown gals are plump and rosy
Hair in ringlets mighty cosy;
Painted cheeks and gassy bonnets;
Touch' em and they'll sting like hornets

When Lola Montez danced naked with a bear in Hangtown, nobody was surprised.

The Hangtown Association of Zymurgy Enthusiasts (HAZE) has disappeared from the Web. Hopheads everywhere are mourning.

"I know you. I knew Bret Harte. You're no Bret Harte."   (Eadward Muybridge, to Gertrude Stein)

"He was an incorrigible borrower of money; he borrowed from all his friends; if he ever repaid a loan the incident failed to pass into history."   (Mark Twain, on Bret Harte)

Drove from Volcano thru Pioneer, West Point, Railroad Flat, Sheep Ranch, Calaveritas, San Andreas, Mokelumne Hill, and back. In West Point, all they could talk about was all the drug labs in the area. Scared off all the bears, too.

Jalaba? Somewhere above the Mother Lode, bought a postcard of an Old West village, had a note on the back about "going to Jalaba". Unsure if Jalaba was a place or a girl. Then saw a picture of a bus sign-board: "To Jalaba - Indio" so Jalaba may be both (place and girl). Or maybe it was Jalapa, and Jalapa-Indio. Or maybe it was all a dream, I can't find the postcard now.

Half of the weekly protest in Sutter Creek

Looking Down Upon the Comstock Lode

A denizen of Virginia City of otherwise sterling character was in the habit of promoting non-existant mines, until exterminated by one dissatisfied investor. Entering the Pearly Gates, he amused himself awhile, then grew bored and started promoting a silver strike in Hell. In no time, word of the rich diggin's so filled every conversation, that the promoter decided the Rush was real, and caught the next stage down-slope.

When I got there, the mining ground
Was staked and claimed for miles around,
And not a bed was to be found,
  When I went off to prospect.
The town was crowded full of folks,
Which made me think 'twas not a hoax;
At my expense they cracked their jokes,
  While I was nearly starving.

Sitting out in the patio at the Gold Hill Hotel, established 1859. A row of Sierra peaks pokes up to the west, looks like a tribe of pyramids lately escaped from beside the Nile, come here to the snow to cool off - they've banked themselves with the white stuff and are enjoying it immensely. South of the pyramids, the next stretch of the Sierras looks like churned lava, shoved up and glaciated, a frothy blistered pudding of mountains, whipped up in an argent Alpine agony, or something like that.

Moundhouse Marsha says, "Don't call me that! They'll think I work in one of the brothels!" As if that were a step down from her present career, selling mobile homes.

Moundhouse is 'way downhill from Virginia City, in more ways than one.

Betting On War. You can walk into some local casinos, or just go online, and wager whatever you want on the upcoming Iraq slaughter, er war. It's a good gamble, sort of like buying stock in liquor-tobacco-firearms companies. Bet on stuff that kills people, ya can't go wrong, eh?

Lookin'Down On Damn Near Ever'Thing

Poet Joaquin Miller always explained, "I am not a liar. I simply exaggerate the truth." He should get a job as an Administration spokesperson.

Oh, what was your name in the States?
Was it Thompson or Johnson or Bates?
Did you murder your wife
And flee for your life?
Say,what was your name in the States?

Visitors to Gold Lake are advised not to drink water from the lake, or from streams flowing into and out of it, due to the high levels of gold suspended therein. This water cures the drinker of any desire for alcohol, but itself becomes addictive. The gold remains in the body, causing death - anyone suspected of being a habitual consumer is likely to be shot and melted down for their gold content. Stick to Evian.

Rx: Indian Whisky

 1 quart alcohol
 1 pound rank, black
  chewing tobacco
 1 handful red peppers
 1 bottle Jamaica ginger
 1 quart black molasses
 Water from any river,
  ad libitum
 Mix well and boil till
 all the strength is
 drawn from the tobacco
 and peppers
Indian Whiskey. As Mark Twain wrote: "You take one barrel of Missouri River water, and two gallons of alcohol, Then you add two ounces of strychnine to make them crazy — because strychnine is the greatest stimulant in the world — and three plugs of tobacco to make them sick — because an Indian wouldn't figure it was whisky unless it make him sick — and five bars of soap to give it a bead, and half a pound of red pepper, and then you put in some sagebrush and boil it until it's brown. Strain this into a barrel and you've got your Indian whiskey: that one bottle calls for one buffalo robe, and when the Indian got drunk it was two robes. And that's how some of the traders made their fortunes." (Drug labs are nothing new.)
PEONS — "Los Angeles had its slave mart, as well as New Orleans and Constantinople — only the slave was sold fifty-two times a year as long as he lived, which generally did not exceed one, two or three years under the new dispensation. They would be sold for a week, and bought up by the vineyard men and others at prices ranging from one to three dollars, one-third of which was to be paid to the peon at the end of the week, which debt due for well performed labor would invariably be paid in aguardiente, and the Indian would be happy until the following Monday morning having passed through another Saturday night and Sunday's saturnalia of debauchery and bestiality.
  —Horace Bell   (Debauchery and bestiality without sanitation can be hazardeous to health.)

Ric Carter's RIDGE RAT NEWS: Published somewhere off Shake Ridge, Volcano town, Amador Co. Calif., despite everything - Published whenever I have something worth saying, if not oftener - This here's issue #4, which features a hot-linked color picture, but the upkeep of that may be more than I want to bother with.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003 02:52 a.m. P.D.T.

Ric Carter's

From the ridgetops to the crest, nights 're still damn cold here. Some warm noons a bear awakes, dances like a Mormon, goes back to sleep. It'll be a long winter.

Evie at Ridge Roost wonders why all the fuss over Iraq, and MidEast oil. "Put up some solar cells, brew some gasahol; those camel jocks can invade or nuke each other all they want, no skin off OUR necks," she sez, throwing another log on the fire.   —A Loyal Customer

Some bits of the old Mormon Emigrant Trail should be visible, come Spring...

Secessionist movement at Truckee-Tahoe is picking up steam. Last time sessesh was tried up north (Nataqua) there was shooting but no killing.

Numerous mines and ghost towns are now lost beneath the surface of resevoirs. A good long drought will reveal some. But when those lakes silt up, they'll be gone forever. Unless robots come.

It was nitrous, not UFOs, after all.

Have you noticed that since everyone has a camcorder these days, folks don't talk about seeing UFOs like they used to? No Yeti-Sasquatch tapes lately, either. Look for mysteries elsewhere...

FROZE — Took a spin in the SUV over Carson Pass to Hope Valley an' down to the Blue Lakes. Stretching my legs along a pond in deep shade, I saw that the first storm of the winter had been frosty'n'furious. Sticking up from the ice were frogs' heads by the dozen — they'd popped up startled, an' been flash-frozen in place when th' wind hit.   —A Keen Observer

Looking Down Upon the Mother Lode

MASONIC CAVE —  THEN:  In quiet, beautiful Volcano is the oldest Mason's lodge in the West, started by a bunch of real earthy guys who used to meet in a hole in the ground. These Masons quickly gave up on it, as some members had trouble distinguishing it from their ass, especially, after celebrations. It also tended to be damp and gloomy, not exactly enhancing the gold-guts-glory experience the Argonauts so deeply craved.

 NOW:  Family that owns and resides on the property has granted public access, on the condition that all visitors pay close heed to signs posted along the way. The bucolic site around the scenic, abrupt volcanic plug housing the Masonic Cave is ideal for picnicing, bird-watching, meditation, etc.

As in many other Mother Lode towns, the Nevada City council is officially opposing war on Iraq. Council members may be rounded up as 'enemy combatants' at any moment. Bye-bye.

The Amador County school district, to deal with budget woes, plans to cut arts education. (Here's the letter I sent them.) The Nevada County schools held a fund-raiser to deal with their woes. Guess which county will thrive in the future?

"We passed through a dead mining town. Not a soul lived in the place. There were the windows through which the eyes of hope and longing had gazed toward the east, the broken fireplaces where love had gathered in the evening. All was desolation, and through it rang the faraway tones of a howling wolf."   —Opie Read

COLUMBIA, CALIFORNIA:   The Lazy Miner — Why, even a lazy man could do pretty well in diggins as rich as that. You take, for instance, one of these first comers, he was even too lazy to wash his drawers. To save himself the work of scrubbing them, he just tied them to a limb that overhung a little stream and let them dangle in the water. He figured, you see, that the current would wash them for him overnight. And the next morning when he come to fish them out, lo and b'God! he found his drawers gold-plated.   —G. Ezra Dane   (I gotta try that!)

Looking Down Upon the Klamath Lode

Around XMas a Klamath Lode gold-rush town was auctioned on eBay. (Bridgeville is just down the road from Peanut & Hayfork, and over the hills from Igo & Ono.) After bids around US$500,000 (enough for a simple house down in San Francisco) it sold for nearly US$1,800,000 (enough for a nicer SF house). This is more than the value of gold extracted in the area. Go figure.

Geo Caswell dug for gold above Weaverville. He kept chickens that pecked around the tailings. One he killed in 1856 for Sunday dinner had a gizzard that panned out $12.80.   —after Chas Peters

When Louis Belfils heard the spirit voice whisper in his ear, "Don't look for the gold!" as he combed the ranges south of Grants Pass, he knew he was cursed, and the Lost Frenchman's Gold has stayed lost, to this day. But Satellites may change that.

"How high are the Klamaths?"
"Near to 9,000 feet, friend."
"Do people fall there often?"
"Just once, friend."

When Klamath prospectors, Oregander webfoots and other Northers are turned away from the Pearly Gates and enter the domains of Hell, they have to be hung up on hooks for a week or more to dry out, as they arrive much too green to burn.

At PICK-AW-ISH CAMP on the Klamath River, Indians gather yearly in the dark of the August moon for a three-day festival. They work to propitiate earth and forest spirits to avert landslides, earthquakes, forest fires and droughts.   —WPA Guide

A CLINCHER — Method of catching Mountain Lions in the Klamath:
man carries a board on which a human figure is painted; as soon as he arrives at the den, he knocks behind the board with a hammer; the noise rouses the catamount, which then flies in a direct line at the board and grasps it, and the man behind clinches his claws into the wood, and so secures him.   —A Reliable Source   (after freely imbibing of Panther Sweat)

Lookin'Down On Damn Near Ever'Thing

Capt. Sutter in 1841 built the large keep & walls of his imposing Fort. Gold-seekers overran his Delta domain after 1849, and by 1852 the Fort was in ruins. This deterioriation was even faster than that of modern public housing.

"Gold is the most useless thing in the world."   —Henry Ford   (then richest man in the world)

Delta land is so rich, if you plant a crowbar at night it'll sprout tenpenny nails by morning.

"I met a Californian who would talk California — a state so blessed he said, in climate. none had ever died there a natural death, and Vigilance Committees had had to organize to stock the graveyards and vindicate the state's humanity."   —Robert Frost

Tired of California? Take over Wyoming.
Tired of Heaven? Then take over Hell.
But I digress.

Steal their land. Steal their money. Steal their livestock. Steal their dignity. Yup, Native American news usually sucks, big-time. Ugh.

"Indians... are the only ones to be conquered by the United States and not come out ahead." Harry Oliver

DOOMED — In March 1906, a band of Miwok Indians near Volcano set out West through the Delta, establishing a camp on Round Top in the Berkeley Hills. There they had a splendid view of the earthquake and fire that devastated San Francisco on April 6 of that year. After noting the immediate rebuilding in the same location, they returned home, feeling that the White Men were either:

  1. Too foolish to survive long, or
  2. Too insane to live anongside.
The Miwoks' next visit will occur soon.
THE REAL WEST — "It lasted only forty years and then it was finished. If it's a good land, and it grows good people, it's because it's been irrigated by a lot of sweat, and spit, and blood. Tears have fallen on it too, and a little snakehead whiskey. An old-tiomer said it best... 'It's big and purty now, all right. And I helped build it. But by damn, wouldn't it be fun to tear it down and start all over again?'"   —Philip Reisman Jr.

Ric Carter's RIDGE RAT NEWS: Published somewhere off Shake Ridge, Volcano town, Amador Co. Calif., despite everything - Published whenever I have something worth saying, if not oftener - in this issue #3, I've added some color and pictures for excitement, but don't too worked up, that may not last.

Ric Carter, ric@sonic.net, www.sonic.net/~ric, copyright © by OTRSS