(for Icarus)

Have you ever heard that the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus is “The Greatest Show On Earth”? Well, where there is a ‘greatest’ circus show, there has to be a ‘worst’ circus show. I worked at the worst circus show on Earth for sixteen years. That would be the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Test Site. Not only does it hold the title of Worst Show on Earth, it boasts the additional certification as the Most Crooked Show on Earth, since the founding of Reverend Son Myong Moon’s Unification church. Their Mothers must certainly be proud, yes. The Test Site holds the national record for squandering the most tax dollars per capita, of all government entities in existence.

It holds by far the most ‘fixed carnival features’ from the east to left coast. Step right up and try your luck. Win a prize. Impress your girl… and bring plenty of money, cuz you’re going to play the shovel-the-cash-into-the black-hole game over, and over, and over. Ride the roller coaster whose cars will derail at the first hill crest. Enter the fun house, the house of mirrors, make the bell ring with the giant wooden mallet. Win a stuffed panda for your biotch girlfriend. It’s all crooked. It’s all fixed. It’s all a sham to suck tax revenue out of the heart of America, and spit back a mediocre-sized lump of carbon.

I can’t count the number of times a customer told me, with regard to the urgency of his project: “Money is no object.” Well, I always chuckled and insisted: “Welcome to the DOE Test Site; I think you better sit down.” From there it was always a torrent of tumult, a maelstrom of misery, a labyrinth of lies, and a sucking ass-wound of money waste. Waste, waste, waste: waste not; want not. Haste makes waste. Test Site wastes money. Advantage: Test Site! Taxpayers: zero–FAIL!!

In my harrowing hate for the politics and management of the Test Site, I distanced myself from the grind, moving more and more forward away from the giant suck, into the depths of the land parcels where few dared to venture. Escape, is what it was. I lived it. I loved it. I recount a chunk of it to you now:

I flew along the pavement at *over* 90 miles per hour in the 55 MPH speed limit, far in a remote area of the already remote DOE Test Site. It was in these remote areas where I had assembled my powerful empire of generic support corollary for any and all measure of research and development work, if for nothing more than eventuality.

Everything I massed exuded sterility, so as to potentially fit any requirement for some bizarre R&D project, from wherever and why ever it may come. Out there, most folks who work at the Test Site are just plain scared to go: it’s too far, too hot, too remote, too… scary! Heat trumps all the reasons; once out there, well it just didn’t look that hot in the pictures.

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That’s right, I ruled that far-off land, where other white men feared to fool. I did 90 in the 55 MPH speed limit, because there wasn’t anybody out there except me, my support infrastructure, God, and God’s creatures. I saw them all the time: wild horses, donkeys, coyotes, eagles, hawks, owls, bobcats, mountain lions, antelope… the list goes on. Me, I just fancied being in a truck doing 90 MPH; in a place that big, you just couldn’t get any work done doing 55–feel me dawg?

On this day I sped on, churning up dry dust on a skillet black top. It was mating season for tarantulas, and dozens of them all decided that their dates were on the other side of my 90 mph pavement, so they crittered themselves across my road, they did. Hate ‘em, those things; they gives me the willies… so I swerved and careened along the road, taking out as many of them as I could, all at 90 miles per hour.

I might get as many as 100 this season; that I might… and I crossed my fingers, but who’s counting. You can waste a lot of creepy creatures at 90 MPH; that you can!

I soared by my last base camp of the day. I knew it well enough to tell it was all still there and ‘good to go’ without even stopping. I could tell my treasure was in tact, all at 90 miles per hour through a dirty window. I’ll just keep going until I get to the abandoned west gate. There’s a decent turnabout there where I can do a graceful 180 degree turn, and call it a day.

Now that I am done concentrating, it wouldn’t hurt to tune in Jay Mohr Sports radio. I don’t follow sports, but loves me some Jay Mohr.

I counted the telephone poles, that was what I did subconsciously so that I would know sort of where I was in the grand geospatial realm of the test site. There were distant mountains for reference, but the reference was one-over-the-world, and not much good to pin down one’s position to within a few hundred meters. That is about how close I needed to know where I was to quell my comfort zone’s outcry. I was a 200-ish meter guy, so I did fancy. Most others were about ten mile to fifteen mile folks.

Even at 90 miles per hour something ‘white’ caught my eye to the left of my speeding Chuck Yaeger mobile. There just isn’t anything ‘white’ out here to speak of, so a thing that is ‘white’ caught my eye. I looked again, straining to confirm white, and I did. I saw two things white, white and fuzzy.

“Whoah, Nelly!” I coaxed as I maneuvered to bring my truck with its white-hot windshield to a stand down and turnabout. Well hell… I’ll just turn around at the west gate and watch for ‘white’ on the right side this time. It just takes too long to bring this beast back to hypo-speed and engage in a bearing-reversal solution; why quarrel with Sir Newton–right?

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As the steel stallion whinnied to a cantor, I was put in mind of the time I got three speeding tickets in two weeks, and lost my driving privilege on the test site for a whole year. That happened near the main base camp Quick Silver, some sixty miles north of Reno, NV.

Quick Silver was the area of the test site from where all other white men feared to venture. That included the county sheriff, who routinely set up and picked on homebodies with paltry speeding citations: “Yeah, you’ll rule the world someday, you pogue mother fucker… one speeding ticket at time!”

Yeah so, breakin’ the law, breakin’ the law, yeah bro! I drove anyway. I drove for an entire year never venturing a millimeter over the speed limit. It was in that year that I came to really know the scape and score of the test site… I mean, there is so much more to see at 55 miles per hour, you know?!

I used a radar detector, a laser one that covered the County Sheriff’s speed gun bandwidth. I gave a fellow who was in trouble a ride one day when nobody else would. I mean this guy was going full-caliber desperate for ride of some 180 miles round-trip. For my insolence he turned me into management for using the detector.

That same fellow ‘lost’ his truck one day in the twilight zone. Truck just up and disappeared while he was checking some seismic sensors (too far up north). He had to walk some 15 miles across the ‘frying pan’ until a security patrol found him. Say he almost croaked. The worse thing for the poor fellow was, when they went to look for his truck… there it mysteriously sat, right where he had left it. Tanto’s land; Tanto’s Bermuda triangle in the desert. Don’t cross Tanto!

So Nelly is run down to 45 MPH going east now. I am counting poles and craning my neck to see fuzzy white. And I see it finally. There, at some 100 meters from the roadside is a lone telephone pole. In the cross timbers of the top, is a pile of sticks and twigs that formed a bowl. From the top of the bowl of branches are two white fuzzy heads. I cruised up closer and reveled in the spectacle that was two baby Red-Tailed hawk chicks, just days old, and yet already so big and fuzzy-white.


Daedalus and Icarus awaiting instruction from Mama-Hawk.

I did a slow circle around them and their nest. Two fuzzy white heads tracked my circular route around their stick bowl. They were big-headed and fuzzy; white and big-headed; magnificent and fuzzy. I marveled at them for moments. But… Mama-Hawk must be marveling too, and close by. I scanned about quickly. At near that moment Mama-Hawk flared her wings hard as she came to light on an adjacent, abandoned pole.

“You ain’t from around these parts, is you, white man?” was the look in her eye, and she belched forth an ominous and foreboding screech, challenging my resolve to meddle with her chicks. It was that same hawk screech that I had heard in every western movie I ever saw as a boy. “Advantage; Mama-Hawk” I conceded as I drove slowly from the stick bowl perched upon the peg, that abandoned pole, out in no white man’s land.


(My bro Roberto the Bobcat used to haunt one of my remote test stands. I have been less than ten feet away from him on one occasion… purely by accident, mind you. He liked my shade.)

geo sends (finalized in part II)

Featured image courtesy of DOE