Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Another Home on Our Range

The wildlife is slowly coming back and we thought we could help by providing a birdhouse
for a pair of wrens. No trees left on the bunker property so I put the BH on the address marker. We shall see.

November 12/2011

Ran out to the bunker to finish up some things before winter comes. Monday night I set up the 90 inch TV to watch what turned out to be the worst football game of the year. Too bad that the first string Vikings didn't show up. I wish I could make that kind of money to lose almost every game I played. The 90 incher is set against a 144 inch wall so you can tell how big it is. Really pulls you into the game. By the way that's
not the game but a Dean Martin/Frank Sinatra movie from the dark ages.
Barb and I put the backing on the roof tile that we installed last trip and set about cleaning up a ton of broken glass from the glass block the didn't make it through the fire. The place looks much better. She also ran a magnet all over the parking area and picked up about five pounds of nails, screws and assorted scrap. The roof tile that was broken I broke into smaller pieces and filled some low spots in the drive way. Turned into an easy trip and we're back home getting ready for Thanksgiving.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween '11

Nothing about Halloween here but the time of the year means that the weather is great and the holidays are upon us. The bunker is looking good and the last piece of roof finishes it off nicely. The XO and I worked really well together to get it finished and even were able to take many breaks and had a leisurely drive home. We came back through Llano to stop at Coopers for the best BBQ in Texas. The tree in the picture above is perfect for the season. It is along the highway between Mason and Llano and may not be around next year. I found it three or four years ago then lost it because I thought it was closer to Mason. The line at Coopers was long and slow and I got into a conversation with the guy behind me. Turns out that he was coming home from Fort Davis too. He has a place in DMR which is on the loop South toward Valentine and much more rugged than our mountain. We looked up there when we we looking around in the area but the road in was bad and it got worse as you went up the mountain. He said he was spared from the fires back in April and that's good. He lived close to Llano so he bought his BBQ to go. Nice guy. We ate in and had another hour to travel.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Back to work

Came back out this weekend to finish the West roof that we started last trip. The wing walls were standing when we got here as were the trusses. I painted the walls first thing Saturday morning and then we began to set the tile. The first picture shows how the finished product turned out. I still need to clean up the junk pile in back.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Turning the corner

I touched the wrong button on the blog today and changed everything. I'll reserve my opinion until I have worked with it a while. For now I just have an empty keyboard.
Writers block! Well you have to be a writer to have it so I guess I'm safe. The XO and I drove out last Thursday to work on the roof and managed to lay 27 blocks to make wings and put up some trusses to hang the tile. No pictures this trip but this finishes the roof off on all sides so it will look like the front. We were really beat by the time 5:00 rolled around and I was ready for a shower and a glass of wine. Not to happen. The XO called home to check on G"maw, we have to be careful she's 94, and she had taken a turn for the worse and needed us home ASAP. Well ASAP is 6.5 hours minimum. We loaded up really fast and headed home leaving tools on the roof and five gallons of paint on the patio. It took longer to get home because the 80MPH speed limit becomes 65MPH when the sun goes down. Pulled into the driveway at midnight ready to bundle G"maw up for a trip to the emergency room. No.. She had a complete recovery about 10:00 PM. We are going back this weekend, depending on her health, to finish the tiles and put a coat of paint on the new blocks. Wish us luck.
The picture above is for comparison only. More timely pictures to come.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Location, location, location

Many people have asked where the bunker is located. Some people, even Texans, don't know that there are mountains in Texas. Here is a map showing Fort Davis and some of the surrounding area. Further South is the Big Bend and North is New Mexico so if you jump on interstate 10 and drive like heck (80 MPH limit) 9 hours from Houston or 3 hours from El Paso you'll be in the neighborhood. The bunker is on a mountain just South of Fort Davis called Dolores Mountain and this link has the story of how it got it's name. Because of the altitude and the other mountains in the area the weather is moderate and it gets more rain than the desert floor such as Terlingua or Presidio or even Fort Stocton just 85 miles Northeast. All things considered it is a perfect spot in a big state like Texas.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Still looking at transportation

I have been looking for a new vehicle to replace both the Van and the Buick. Just one to be a road car and to haul that 18 ft trailer. I think I have found it. The pictures show a 2011 Prius with a 2 inch hitch receiver. Perfect. Good MPG and at low speeds it's battery powered. I can cruise along with the trailer behind and look down (up) on other drivers. I just wish it were a plug in electric that way I could drive it really slow from Austin to the bunker and plug it in at each motel and use their electricity. Hauling the trailer it would only take five weeks to get to Ozona (half way) and 55 miles of extension cord.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Welome to the roadhouse

The birds had damaged the neon on the front porch so I repaired it and this trip hooked it up and lit it off. Looks great. Still freaks out the neighbors but they freak easily. Especially the one down the hill that has been hunting the mountain lion up here on the mountain for several years. The latest news is that she has been seen with kittens this year.

Hole in the roof

Ten years ago this place was just a structure in the Davis mountains. The original builder had safety high in his priorities so the only way in was a steel shaft from the roof through the floor and into a horizontal shaft that terminated 30 feet away on a cliff. Well my son and I cut the lower part of the shaft out years ago. I installed a sky light at the top of the shaft. Over the years we found that all that steel acted like a big radiator cooling the bunker in the winter and heating it in the summer...Wait, that's backwards.
SO, this trip I cut out the upper part of the shaft and filled it with insulation. The roof in the photo is temporary but you get the idea. The only other work this trip is to take 30 solar panels back to Austin and see if I can sell them through Craigs List. The grid tie inverter was fried in the spring fires and instead of buying a new one I figured I would get out of the business. Anyone want them, Cheap. I will deliver too (reasonable distance). Update....Craigs List came through again. Two days after posting I sold all of the panels, grid tie equipment and wind gen. Hope they have found a good home.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Texas and Employment

I have wondered for the past couple of years why the Texas unemployment rate has hovered around the national average while Texas has created more jobs than any other state. The guys at WILLisms have explained it. It seems like a LOT of people are voting with their feet and coming to a state that has jobs, Texas. A few have jobs before they move but most come and register with the TWC while waiting to be hired. They are counted as unemployed for that short time before they start working. Thus the count goes up and the rate stays high. Some of these people were off the lists in the states they left because they had given up and some bring wives and friends with them and this keeps the rate higer than it should be. The Texanomics blog shows that the actual rate should be 5.5% or even a little less. The only problem I can see is that all those people from the blue states are bringing those old lefty attitudes with them and you can tell when they say things like "back home we..." or "they should pass a law to...". Welcome to Texas but try to become a Texan it's so much better.

Monday, June 20, 2011


I have been wanting to replace the van for a long time but I haven't found the right replacement. Til now. Just down the street was this set-up. I'm not sure what the weight limits may be be but I can adjust. The only problem I see is that the highway patrol may get to know me on sight out on interstate 10 and give me an escort or two. Heck officer Thurman already knows my van and waves when he goes by.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Back to work

Got the new floor on the trailer and re-welded some spots bent or broke by the scrap yard. Put new tires on and packed the bearings. So now it's time to take the rest of the scrap to the scrap yard. The wheels and axles were the heaviest and then a lot of other stuff to bring the total to 2780#. Whew, what a job. The weather didn't co-operate either the temperature has been 100+ for three days (we wanted to get out of Austin because of the heat, didn't work). Took the load to Fort Stockton this morning and cashed in. By the time I pay for gas for the trip I just about break even. But on the plus side all of the stuff I have been trying to get rid of is gone and in a year or so the grass and yuccas will be back and the whole place will shine.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Clean Up phase 1

Made the trip back to the bunker this past weekend to begin removing the trash and assess the damage a little more thoroughly. The damage was deeper than we had thought. The solar panels were intact but the wires and connectors were burned off and the grid tie inverter was cooked. The water panels front glass was gone and the solder had melted from the copper pipes inside. The air conditioner has an undetermined problem that wasn't a problem because the temp was COLD. So, I'll be out of the solar business if I can find someone to take them off my hands(37 high voltage panels).

As you can see from the pictures two of the trailers were destroyed and the third with no bed became a trailer sand witch for a trip to the junk yard. The small crane that I have was perfect for the job of lifting the 16'flatbed into the 20 footer and then lifting the Wells cargo into the flatbed. I had to cut the axles off so the width would work out but they fit like a glove. Next trip I will have a bed and side boards on the 20' and haul the axles and other steel off. They only pay $100 a ton but something is better than nothing. Maybe I'll make enough to pay for the four new tires I had to buy.

The trip back to Austin was an adventure. After creeping down the road about 20 MPH under the speed limit to take the trailers into Fort Stockton. They had a much harder time unloading than I had loading and managed to bend the frame and snap a weld at the tail gate. The magnetic tail light wires were too short and fell off with any bump. A DPS trooper pulled me over because I looked so suspicious and we had a nice chat. No ticket. The XO and I pulled back on the hi way and in a mile or so one of the lights fell off. I got out and re-attached the lens-less tail light. Two miles further what was left of the tail gate fell off and while I walked back to pick it up the trooper stopped and gave me a ride back to the truck with the tail gate balanced on his trunk lid. Made it almost to Junction before both tail lights fell off. Well it was still daylight and I said we could make it home before dark and as long as the truck lights could be seen over the trailer we should be O.K. Well, we made it. Now all I have to do is rewire and put a new bed on the 20'er.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

More Pictures

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Bunker

Where to start. Barb and I were there at the bunker to begin some finish work I have promised to do. I had brought the 20ft trailer out to get it out of the yard here in Austin. Some of the work involved cutting some steel and we thought we had better not. The humidity was about 4% and the wind was really blowing. We decided not to do the cutting and to head back a day early so I could rest before a DR.s appointment on Monday. Sometime Saturday a welder in Marfa caused sparks to ignite the dry grass at his shop. News reports say that it only took only 1:30 minutes to cover the 21 miles to Fort Davis. By that time it had spread into a wide front that burned the mountain and 20 or 30 houses in town.
We were blissfully ignorant of all this until Sunday morning when we saw a crawler on the national news. I called Mr. Hicks on his cell and got all the news. He told us that The Bunker was still standing but materials that I had stored in back was gone as well as one of the enclosed trailers. The wooden porch was undamaged (that'll make you scratch your head) and the power poles had been spared. Many of the poles on the road and down on the hiway were burned off at ground level (see picture). We thought we had better see for ourselves so we headded back.

The whole mountain was on fire and I heard Sunday that it was 0% contained and had scorched 84 sq miles in Jeff Davis county alone. On our way to Ft D we were stopped on hiway 67 outside of Alpine due to fires along the road. Things went bad very fast and a change in wind direction put us (Barb and I and about 30 other drivers) in danger. I wasn't worried, I was parked two cars behind a propane truck. Wait!!! What.. The smoke was very dense and the DPS figured we stood a better chance if we got out of there through the fire line. He told us to saddle up and lead us about 6 miles out of the fire area. Once out we saw that they had Northbound traffic stopped and there were about fifty cars waiting. Damage to a RR bridge caused the Sunset Limited to be delayed 6 hours between Alpine and Marfa. See link.
Later Sunday night we tried to go back to Fort Stockton but the road was still closed and 90 to Marathon was closed too. All of this was 30 miles from Fort Davis and we had to retrace our course and by this time the road to Balmohrea was closed also. Wild Rose Canyon was blazing and it was dark. The back fires that were set up on the mountain glowed and gave the whole world a feeling of eeriness We were stuck. DPS troopers told us the only way out was past the observatory 50 miles to Kent and then 67 miles to Fort Stockton. No early bed-time for us.

Pictures of fire damage

These are the houses that were totaled. They went up like a roman candle and thank goodness all were empty at the time. The first one is the three building on the very tip of the mountain. They had been working on a remodel for about a year.

It looks like the end of the worid

This week end there was a major fire that involved the bunker. When I say MAJOR I mean 60K acres+. The fire was so fast it destroyed 3 of the houses on the mountain totally and damaged most of the rest. I have a few pictures to share:

Friday, April 01, 2011


I want one. Have you seen the Direct TV ads about the opulence of having so many channels to watch? The tiny "lap giraffe' is what I'm talking about. I can see a whole herd roaming the bunker compound and I can plant several bonzai trees for feed and a tiny watering hole down by the address marker. Soon I can run the whole herd North to the railhead. Yipie..eeye..ay. Wait, that means a market for the meat. They will eat them. No, I better keep them down on the ranch. Well they do make cuddly
pets. Want one?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I'm back

Well, there has been very little to write about in past few months that wouldn't be like whining or too personal to share. I have all the new parts installed and working fine and the blood thing is not resolved but won't kill me any time soon.
The XO and I have made several trips but did no work until last week when I finished up a few things that have needed doing. I was able to get down on the floor to cut and fit the last of the carpet. I loaded up all the tools and stuff we won't be needing to bring back to put into a garage sale. Anyone need a chainsaw that will cut 13" into solid concrete? I also had to replace a board on the porch that had warped really bad. We will be spending more time out here in the future but we don't have to work as hard as we have in the past.
The moon was so bright Saturday the you could read a newspaper on the roof. There was still moon shadows at 7:00AM. Really neat. If I hadn't have been so bone tired I would have set up the telescope to see the moon better.

I have tried to stay out of current events and politics in this blog but one small statement: What the hell is going on? How come I'm in this hand-basket? I'm too old not to notice that things are changing and not for the better. At least the bunker is WAY OUT THERE and as Austin circles the drain West Texas will remain as it has been for the past 175 years.