I met the Houston Guys for breakfast at the Elko Red Lion, having made the chilly two block walk from the Holiday Inn Express. The Houston Guys were The Client and The Company Man. We engaged in the usual preliminary small talk about our kids, where we lived, and where we grew up. Turned out that all three of us are geologists and our kids are all boys. The Client is originally from Fresno and he carried the girth of a former football player. The Company Man is straight of the Texas oil man mold. One of his sons is Army Special Forces and another is a Navy Seal. Football is big in Texas. I like these guys but their Texas lifestyle affirms my conviction that I will never, ever live in Texas. Ever.
With breakfast over, we piled into an SUV and headed east on Interstate 80 for Wells. The Company Man took the helm, The Client shotgun, and me the back seat. Given my moderate hearing loss, I was in and out of the front seat conversation. The northern Nevada scenery was mostly hidden by clouds but the base of the Ruby Mountains was visible, teasing at what lay in their higher reaches.
In Wells, we met the Mine Manager and his Mine Assistant. The Mine Manager is a jovial guy, another old geologist. The Client and I interview the Mine Manager about operations, permits, and other environmental issues.
Meeting concluded, we piled into two of the mine's rigs, which were a bit more substantial 4-wheel drive units than the SUV rental unit that brought us thus far. The Company Man and Mine Assistant pile into one rig. The Client and I ride with the Mine Manager in another rig. The Client naturally takes shotgun. On the drive the talk turns to hunting and guns. I don't hunt and I don't own a gun so I have little to add to the conversation.
I observed a fault scarp paralleling our highway to the right. I mentioned it to break things up a little. The Client seems impressed and admits that his field geology is a little rusty. The Mine Manager mentions the devastating Wells earthquake whose epicenter was near the observed fault scarp we were passing(Thursday, February 21, 2008 at 06:16:02 AM; Magnitude 6.0).
The talk goes back to hunting and guns. The Client mentions that he had done a lot of hiking but never saw much purpose in it until he had a gun in his hand and, with that, he had a purpose. I guess I never needed a purpose to be outdoors, especially to shoot animals with high-powered rifles. Just being outdoors works for me. I have nothing against hunting and I'm sure I could do it. The idea of being stealthy and stalking prey appeals to me. Right now, it's not a priority in my outdoor pursuits.
We left the main highway and headed up into the mountains on the mine haul road. We made stops at the mill then farther up at the active mine and then up and over the crest to the inactive mine. At each location, we got out of the vehicles for a quick look around. It was bitterly cold and windy. Higher up at the mines it was snowing. I was comfortably attired in synthetic layers with a parka shell as an outer layer. The Houston Guys had blue jeans and jackets. They didn't take the cold very well.
On the drive down from the mountains, The Client spotted a herd of about a dozen mule deer. I had to give him credit for the hunter's eye.
Back in Elko, I met the Houston Guys for dinner and football on the teevee. It was the Giants at the Cowboys, so the Houston Guys had a heightened interest in this game. I didn't share that level of interest but there was beer involved. The Company Man had chicken wings and I think The Client snuck over to the buffet. I had a beef dip from the bar. The Company Man and I worked our way up to three beers. After some subtle goading from the Houston Guys during the day, about Seattle people wearing Birkenstocks and the perceptions of the Confederate flag, I was finally ready ready to show my hand, fortified by beer. But the Houston Guys had a 5:30 a.m. flight the next day and so excused themselves early for the evening. I walked back to the Holiday Inn in a lightly falling snow.