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Stuck in the Muck in Winnemucca

When I reached a point on Jungo, I was supposed to turn north and go about 10 miles until I got to the land. That direction wasn’t paved and didn’t even have level dirt. It seemed to be a jeep trail but didn’t look too bad at first. Unfortunately, the Crown Vic I was driving was hardly a 4 wheel drive. A few miles down the closest Jeep trail, the wheel ruts were getting deeper and the center dirt and underbrush started scraping the bottom. It got to the point that I aborted this first attempt to stand on what could eventually become my own land and decided to turn around and try another day with a real 4WD vehicle chico roofing company. But the “land yacht,” as a friend calls it, got stuck sideways in the trail with the rear wheels spinning helplessly.

About an hour later, I noticed two guys in a white pickup truck driving near my location. I stood up and waved them over to save them further radio direction finding effort. When they reached my car, it became apparent that these fellows weren’t Search and Rescue, but random Mexicans driving around on a work assignment. They spoke Spanish, but their English was good enough to have a conversation.

The town of Winnemucca has everything an urban dweller could want–big retail stores, schools, a hospital, airport, banks, movie theater, whorehouses, and probably a shooting range (this is Nevada). The cheap hotel casino I stayed at had WiFi, as do several competitors. So while the residents of this little burg can gamble, shoot machine guns, and patronize hookers while they download porn, the broadcast airwaves had only gospel music and out of state radio preachers. Welcome to rural America. Good night.

Placing newspapers under the rear wheels resulted in shredded paper and no useful movement of the car. My 50 watt ham radio someone described as “undercover narc” style has 800 channels, each with over a dozen subaudible tone codes to choose from, for keying up hilltop repeaters. Since there were no conversations in progress that I could hear, it was going to be a slow manual search to find a channel to cry “Help!” on.

The car had a full tank, the engine was providing heat and I had a warm jacket. But I also had no food or water. When snow started falling, I decided to stop fiddling with the ham set and try phoning roadside assistance, expensive though it may have been. The cell display indicated only a one bar signal at best, but it showed date and time. Alas, even while holding the phone carefully oriented to the highest signal received at the location, centered over the car’s metal roof as a ground plane, the call attempts failed. As the snowfall became more intense, this atomic age city boy determined the situation was close enough for me to call an emergency. I dialed 911.

I called the fellow listing the parcel early the next morning as scheduled, and he gave me the GPS coordinates, which my Sprint cellphone allows me to track. After checking out of the hotel and breaking my fast, I ventured out from town per his directions and went roughly 24 miles west on state maintained Jungo Road. I was told there was wildlife but all I saw were free ranging cattle. An indication of good farmland, at least.

But I did have two cellphones with me. One was a Sprint/Nextel phone for the movie production company, which had no signal even in town. The other was my personal Sprint phone–a new Samsung model with GPS and Sprint TV. It had five bars in town, but was weaker at this location, what with passing a couple of mountains to get here. So there I was in late December surrounded by undeveloped fields in northern Nevada, stranded.

On the way, I stopped by Winnemucca, Nevada to inspect 40 acres listed on eBay at attractive terms, $199/mo for 10 years. The seller has a great reputation selling only surveyed land with solid contracts. The location, where Hwy 95 and I-80 meet, will likely see rapid growth. Reno has certainly become a new Los Angeles. Real estate prices in Vegas and Pahrump were bid up to the point were owners weren’t selling and buyers weren’t buying. There are some “luxury” apartments in the Los Angeles west side you can rent for a mere $2,500/mo and at the end of the lease own nothing. So owning land with maybe an old RV from Craig’s List, and eventually building something, seemed (and seems now) to be a bargain.

I decided to drive to my Mom’s place in Chico, California for Christmas last year.

I figured 911 would summon forth secret power reserves to boost the signal or maybe use different frequencies to access a satellite. The phone beeped impressively with “Emergency Call” flashing on the display.

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