The International Congress of Speleology 2017, Penrith, Australia


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Following my stay in Cairns I flew to Sydney and arrived at the airport at the same time as several others from the Chillagoe trip. Barbel who had also decided to fly to the Congress from Cairns and I wound up taking the same train to Penrith where the congress was being held. Fortunately I had read up about Opal cards before arriving in Australia and knew we would need one of these to take the train. These cards turned out to be very handy as they could be used not only for travel on trains but on the ferries and buses in the area. The train trip to Penrith was fairly simple we only had to change trains once. Arriving in Penrith we were surprised to see an old style steam train rush into the station. We both turned to each other and exclaimed ‘The Hogwarts train?” Sadly I didn’t get a photo of it as I was encumbered with my luggage at the time. I returned to the station on another occasion when they were running and old electric train and got some pictures though it was not nearly as impressive.

The station at Penrith was undergoing some remodeling and we exited on the wrong side which delayed our getting a taxi for awhile but eventually we realized our mistake and once we got to the other side of the station we quickly found a taxi which dropped us off at our respective hotels. I was staying at a hotel that was a ten or fifteen minute walk from the conference center but it didn’t take me long to figure out the bus system which made the trip just a few minutes long.

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Luckily the hotel had pretty good sound proofing since I was greeted daily by the sound of dozens of lorikeets, parrots and cockatoos that  lived in the trees out front. I stopped to take a few pictures most mornings on my way to the congress.

The congress itself was a lot of fun and I enjoyed the talks and presentations. I did miss the 3D stuff that had been shown at the prior ICS’s I attended and hope that future ones will have more displays along those lines. I was also a little disappointed that the photo salon was a continually playing slide show which made it a little difficult to focus on a particular image and decide which would make a good candidate for a particular category for the cavers choice award. The obstacle course was particularly imaginative and the sump simulation provided for some good entertainment.

It was a great week and I really enjoyed myself. Especially the field trips on wednesday but I’ll write about that in another post.

 

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Ely and the 2016 NSS Convention


 

Heading out from Susanville we were taking Highway 50 Americas ‘loneliest road’ at least that’s what all the signs and tourist info said.Our next stop before getting to the convention in Ely was in Fallon where we spent the night across the street from the Douglas Mansion. Currently painted pink its listed as the only Victorian two story in Fallon in 1904.

We were following the path of the famous pony express and passed a few places listed as stops for the express as well as the famous Nevada shoe tree. Oh and when we stopped for cool drinks in Austin the saloon had a small collection of authentic western Jackal-opes.

Eventually we arrived in Ely and looks like we were in the right place!

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I was actually surprised i didn’t notice more signs on the way through town- turned out the were being blown over by windy conditions, it was really windy which was stirring up a lot of dust ugh. At least the sessions etc. were inside. We were warned in registration to put something heavy in the pouches provided for our Convention badges or they’d likely fly up in the breeze and try to strangle us.Since we’d arrived late we missed lunch so we headed into town for something to eat. The Silver State restaurant turned out to be across the street from our hotel and provided a great lunch.Then it was back to the school to admire the art, pictures and cave maps.

 

We spotted a sun spider in the hallways, said hi to Morley and Lorelle and watched kids and adults alike enjoying the cave sim. All too soon it was evening and time for the Howdy Party, this years theme was supposed to be Donner Party or some such but as at most Howdy parties  Most folks came as they were. Some did dress in old time western garb so the theme was present. Dinner was fine, though there was some grumbling at the late arrival of the beer truck Finally it was time for the main attraction. The performance by ‘The new Christy Minstrels‘ (an American large-ensemble folk music group founded by Randy Sparks in 1961). Needless to say it was a great show with many of the audience joining it with familiar songs and dancing.

The next day we spent enjoying the talks and sessions. Dad and I stopped in to watch Kip manage to beat the time for his age group in the 30 meter vertical, he managed to climb faster then the goal he’d set for himself so he was pretty happy.

The other vertical competitors all appeared to be enjoying themselves and there was plenty of people encouraging them so it was fun watching.

For that evenings entertainment I had signed us up for the ‘Rockin Rollin Railroad’ a geology field trip aboard the Northern Nevada Rail Roads authentic coal burning steam train.This featured presentations by local geologists covering railroad & mining history with a show and tell of ore samples from the Robinson Nevada Mining District. They did a great job telling us all about the geology of the area.They had some fascinating info about all the copper, gold, molybdenum and silver that had been mined in the area and descriptions of how we could see various layers from the Cretaceous where there was limestone as well as a host of other layers and minerals I must confess I missed as I was too busy geeking out on being on a steam locomotive. Running back and forth trying to find the best spot to get a picture while not getting covered in smoke and cinders proved challenging, but it was a lot of fun.

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I made it back to my seat in time for the description of the Ruth mine and to see the samples of garnets picked up at nearby Garnet hill.

A mine is a hole in the ground, owned by a liar.
-Mark Twain

Wednesday and Thursday we spent mostly attending sessions at the High school though we did spend some time in town admiring the new Lehman cave mural done as a commission in honor of the convention and browsing the great caving pictures at the art bank gallery. I even picked up a copy of a murder mystery book about a murder at an NSS convention in Ely Nevada! ( The book ‘An Unconventional Murder’ by Nevada caver Gretchen Baker was very entertaining)

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I left Mom and Dad at the motel to catch up on their rest while I headed down to the camp ground for the campground party which was great fun as usual. The canon firing was a nice touch. Though it had to end a little early because of noise complaints.

 

 

Friday morning we skipped the sessions and headed out to tour Lehman cave.

 

On the way back we spotted a couple elk standing by the roadside and we took a small detour to visit the charcoal kilns. We also stopped to see these guys by the roadside.

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We made it back in plenty of time to get ready for the banquet dinner and awards ceremony.

It was another wonderful convention and I look forward to attending many others!

Weekend BBQ at Cave City


Coulterville

Coulterville

I wouldn’t normally drive nearly 300 miles for a BBQ but when the opportunity includes a chance to catch up with some caving friends I haven’t seen in a while and do some sightseeing well why not?

I loaded the motorcycle and headed north. I took the scenic route, winding my way through the foothills. I finally stopped at Coulterville for a break and a cold drink. I walked around the Historic Hotel Jefferey took a look at the old steam train and various gold rush era things on display. Finally I told the Duke at the Emporium farewell and headed on to lake Camanche to set up camp for the night. It was a busy summer weekend and this is a popular spot so I was not alone but at least I’d be back on the road before the big crowds arrived.

mining equipment

mining equipment

Emporium

Emporium

Camp for the night

Camp for the night

Lake Camanche, water levels looking pretty low.

Lake Camanche, water levels looking pretty low.

I awoke in the morning and turned on my cell phone, figured I’d check my messages before heading back into the hills where I wouldn’t have signal. Just then my phone rang! It was Ric checking to see if I was coming to the BBQ. I told him I’d see him up there in a couple of hours and after a stop at Valley Springs for coffee and supplies I made my leisurely way on through San Andreas and on to Cave City.  Ric arrived a little after I did and it turned out we were the only ones to arrive early. That was OK though as we had plenty of time to catch up and see that the cave tours were doing plenty of business. We wandered over to the gift shop and reminisced about how we’d watched it being built and slowly transformed over the years. They now have a video viewing area and a full bear skeleton on display. We also spotted a couple of deer behind the gift shop.

gathering for the BBQ

gathering for the BBQ

It wasn’t long before others began arriving and slowly we started organizing the lighting of the grills so that dinner could begin.

Matt was doing some last minute prep on his pitch for the Convention in Ely next year and showed us a new promo video he put together which really looked great. I’m looking forward to attending.

Matt making last minute edits

Matt making last minute edits

Deer behind the gift shop

Deer behind the gift shop

Climbing practice

Climbing practice

After dinner in addition to Matt’s video, Dave gave a great slide show on some of his recent cave trips including the Bonne Terre lead mine in Missouri which is on my list of place I’d like to dive someday. After his great slide show there were some enterprising folks who made a squeeze box/obstacle course out of Rons ladder.

Hold your beer or lose your pants, decisions, decisions.

Hold your beer or lose your pants, decisions, decisions.

All to soon it was over. After a good nights sleep in my tent it was back on the road for the long drive home.

Another great weekend in the MotherLode

 

Broug Dadford turns 80!


Brug Dadford turns 80! Brug Dadford turns 80!

For many years now It has been a Mother Lode Grotto tradition to Celebrate Doug Bradfords birthday with a trip to one of our favorite caves. He has made this an opportunity to encourage a better sense of style and attire amongst cavers, by making this a formal affair. He certainly makes a dapper figure caving in his tuxedo!

In the cave In the cave

This years trip was a great success and while Doug said he doesn’t intend to continue (it is a pretty strenuous hike, usually leaves me feeling tired for a couple of days after), hopefully others will continue this great tradition.

Once in the cave Dave had fun directing a photo shoot  and I got to test out a couple of new video lights I picked up- overall consensus was they were pretty darn bright. You can check out the results- http://captnemo.smugmug.com/Video/CaptNemos-videos/i-Cfn5hqR/A

You may want to go make some popcorn first though its 20 minutes long or just skip ahead to 12:45 that’s my favorite bit.

Matt poses over the lake Matt poses over the lake

There was still a little water in the cave though the water levels were not surprisingly very low.

Conrad,Rich,Forest and Scott. Conrad,Rich,Forest and Scott.

Millipede in the cave. Millipede in the cave. approx. 6cm

Sun setting as we hike up. Sun setting as we hike up.

lupine lupine

After our great trip we enjoyed a wonderful dinner at El Jardin, though our party filled the restaurant to capacity. I still had a long motorcycle ride before I got home but it was worth it.

 

 

Keep CALM and enjoy the lights


Christmas lights

Christmas lights

Still playing catch-up on my posts. So this is from Christmas. A bunch of the family headed out to C.A.L.M – California Living Museum for their annual fundraiser/ Christmas light show. I think C.A.L.M is great here’s a quick quote from their website-

Founded in 1980 and opened to the public in 1983, CALM displays and interprets native California animals, plants, fossils, and artifacts to teach a respect for all living things through education, recreation, conservation, and research.

And I love going out there to see the animals but the Christmas lights are fun too and make for some interesting photos.

Bright lights in the woods!

Bright lights in the woods!

CALM

CALM

Calm Lagoon

Calm Lagoon

There was plenty of hot cocoa and kettle-corn and the kids really enjoyed the train and merry go round. It made for a very fun outing.

Michael on merry go round

Michael on merry go round