Saturday's Launch at Snow Ranch

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William Orvis

Jan 4, 2022, 2:25:14 PMJan 4
to, LunarGeneral google

Hello everyone,

Ready to flly some rockets? The weather report for Saturday currently looks OK, but if the Friday storm moves to Saturday, we might have to cancel at the last minute so be sure to check the hotline before you drive out.

Stanislaus county Covid protocols do not require masks outdoors. However, with the spread of the Omicron variant, please social distance as much as possible and respect others distancing and masking decisions. Note that some rocketeers may not be vaccinated. LUNAR will not be policing masks or vaccination status so be prepared with your masking preference.

While driving out to the launch site, keep in mind, the speed limit on the dirt roads is 7mph. Also, if you come to a puddle of water in the middle of the road, drive through it. Do not try to drive around it. The roadbed is solid, the sides are not and you will get stuck. Even 4 x 4s get stuck out here.

Be sure to check the hotline in case we have to cancel at the last
minute. HOTLINE #: 925.443.8705

Last year we had some problems with people or dogs chasing or scaring
some of the cattle while searching for lost rockets. A calf ran into the
barbed wire fence and got tangled up. Don't chase or scare the cattle in
any way. Stay back from them and don't wave your arms or yell. If you
see any of the cattle that seem to be in any kind of trouble, come get
me so I can take care of them.

The stuff that follows is for newcomers to Snow Ranch. Of course, it
wouldn't hurt for the old hands to skim over it to make sure they have
not forgotten anything.

After the latest rains, things are very wet at the ranch, so make sure
you stay on the roads. Drive down the center of the road to avoid making
it wider. Drive slowly through the puddles in the road, they are not too
deep and they are solid on the bottom.

As you drive down highway 4 at 55 to 60 mph and turn up the road to the
ranch, realize that you are on a dirt road now that goes by people's
houses. Please drive 7 mph on the driveway.  If
you drive fast, you will send dust and grit all over the place. Slow
down, take it easy, there is plenty of time to get up to the launch
site. You will keep the rancher's happy and your car will like it too.

We will be flying on a working cattle ranch in a field that hasn't
changed much in the last 10,000 years. There are no paved roads,
sidewalks, mowed lawns, or anything else you are used to having at the
launches in Livermore. Treat this land with respect, and leave only foot
prints when you head home.

You will find rocks, squirrel holes, sticks, cow bones, and other
assorted items that can twist or break ankles or legs if you are not
paying attention. You will also see wildlife. In addition to the bulls
and cows, there are squirrels, snakes, coyotes, mountain lions, golden
eagles, bald eagles, buzzards, and other critters. Again, if you pay
attention, none of these critters will bother you. If you have kids,
keep an eye on them, don't let them wander far without an adult.

This is rattle snake country the same as the hills around Livermore. As
long as you pay attention to where you are walking and where you put
your hands and feet, you won't have a problem. Stay away from the rock
fences, the blackberry bushes, and the brushy rock formations. Those are
all snake places. If your rocket lands in one of those places, come get
me or one of the club officers to help you get it out. Now, I am not
trying to scare anyone, I just want to make sure you are paying
attention. My brothers, sister, cousins, and I played all over those
hills as children and never got bit and I want to make sure no one else

When you get to the launch area, follow the marked road to the field.
Even though it looks like there is a shorter way, don't do it. There is
a reason I mark the road where I do. There is a road down the center of
the field where we launch. You can park on either side of that road. On
the east side you can go as far as the creek but on the west side, do
not go more than one car length from the road. Most of the ground is sod
over mud. If you break through the sod, your car will drop to its axles
in the mud. Four wheel drive will not save you. The ground under the sod
is almost liquid. Some of you will remember when I pulled a lost rocket
out of the ground. The rocket had punched a hole through the sod. I was
able to stick my arm down into the ground all the way to my elbow
without any problem, slide my fingers under the rocket, and pull it out.

If I can stick my arm up to the elbow in the ground, imagine what
something with the weight of a car will do. The places we will mark out
have gravel under them and are solid. A few feet farther up the hill are

As I mentioned, this is a working ranch and there are a few ranch rules.

- Leave the cows and bulls alone. There are a lot of newborn calves in
the field, many born in the last week. If you see one, don't go too
close and do not get between the calves and the cows, especially small
- If you see a calf that appears to be in trouble, that is, it has
fallen in a hole or in the creek and does not seem to be able to get
out, come and get me and I will rescue it.
- Leave the wild critters alone. It is OK to look, but don't try to
pick them up. The rattle snakes you find out there are real, not toys,
and they bite.
- If there are bee hives on the hill above where we launch, stay away
from them. They are self protecting so you have been warned.
- Close any gates that you open.
- Don't do anything to deface or mess up the land. A rancher is just
about the greenest person you will ever meet when it comes to his land.
In this case, our family has been caring for this land for over 130
years. The worst thing you can do is to create ruts which cause erosion
which is another reason to stay on the roads.

There is a lot of history in this area. Indians used to camp just south
of where we launch and there are Indian grinding holes in many of the rocks.

The movies "Little House on the Prairie" and "The Big Country" were
filmed around where we will be flying. The remains of the "Little House
on the Prairie" set are just to the south-east of where we launch. The
stage road from Stockton to the gold mines in Angels Camp went right
through this area, and up the road a ways Black Bart used to rob them.
The History Channel filmed part of a program on Werner VonBraun near the
ranch house.

We will rent a porta potty for the day but there is no water, food or
anything else in the area so bring whatever you will need.

We have a barbecue grill I will fire up in the morning. I expect it to
be really popular just for keeping warm. Bring your own dogs or burgers
and have a warm lunch.

If anyone does get hurt, the closest hospital is in Oakdale, about a 15
minute drive from the Ranch (after you get back to the highway). There
is a map to the hospital in the LUNAR document box if you should need it.

There are maps to the ranch and driving instructions on the LUNAR website.

If anyone has any questions, I will be happy to answer them.


William Orvis
226 Joyce St.
Livermore, CA  94550

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