True Color, Part 25
by Chiggers Stokes, Special to Forks Forum
My consuming interest in alternative energy is not the only obsession I have obeyed in steering a dangerous course in modern pioneering. I was born in Brazil. If fireworks could be demeaned to military intent, Brazil would be a major world power. When I was a kid, a U.S penny bought ten Formidảveis. (translated amazing formidables) which was a cardboard pouch of 100 grains of flashpowder with a self igniting fuse.
They were like grenades!
My family re-patriated to the U.S. when I was five years old, which probably accounts for why I still have all my fingers and can still grow eyebrows. I was bored with the safe and sane displays available to the American public.
Early on I learned to subvert ordinary fountains to a pyrotechnic that would lift off the ground and zip around any audience imprudent enough to attend one of my Fourth of July shows.
When I was 23 years old I obtained an Oregon Blaster’s License. I procured a Washington card when I acquired part of the Flying S Ranch ten miles from Forks. Some of the stunts and close calls that typified my exercising those licenses were the subject of previous stories for the Forks Forum. I won’t repeat them now because I am in the process of applying for a Washington State Pyrotechnic license so I can be on the firing line at Tillicum Park for 2016’s Forks Fourth of July.
I will say that I went through a phase where dynamite was my solution for almost everything. Why own a shovel when you had a Blaster’s License? In fact, dynamite came to mind when I faced any life challenge.
A friend came over, desperately depressed, and asked my wife and me what is the point of living.
Clearly, my friend needed a couple of sticks of dynamite detonating beside our cabin to put him right. But I didn’t want to blow out the recycled glass we had installed in our $800 cabin. I went down to the soft mud next to Hemp Hill Creek and buried a couple of sticks…or maybe it was five or six.
The crater went clear to the creek and our cabin was painted mud. My friend left shortly after the explosion. He wasn’t depressed when he left and he seemed to be very interested in living, after all.
The Flying S became my private proving grounds. My wife removed the historic name of Flying S, given by German immigrant Otto Siegfried, and dubbed the farm Craters of the Bogachiel Flying Rock Farm.
She asked what I intended to do with so many holes in the ground. At a loss for a logical answer, I said she could use any one of them to bury a goat. She actually laid a goat to rest in one of my craters not long after. But we had many more craters than goats.
It was only a matter of time before my obsession with explosives would intersect with my obsession with alternative energy. I noticed that Coho fry had moved into the crater by the creek in a deep concentration.
I needed State Fisheries to approve my plan to seduce a gallon a second of water from Hemp Hill Creek for a microhydroelectric project. I talked a fishery biologist named Randy Johnson into signing off on the Hydraulic Project Application to connect my microhydroelectric with Hemp Hill via a circuitous channel that connected my beloved craters.
Mr. Johnson pointed out that this artificial habitat would be a formidable ditch. I assured him that, for me, ditches were not a problem.
When the HPA arrived in the mail, I hurried down to Peninsula Loggers Supply and came back with a case of fresh dynamite, 300 feet of det-cord and about 100 pounds of explosive fertilizer.
I used about half of it getting a feel for digging ditches with stumping powder and ANFO (ammonium nitrate). I connected the booms with the det-cord which brought many satchels into one shot.
That evening, I told my wife that the next morning I would be taking off the safe and sane and making a once and for all shot. I expected that one shot to complete the project and still leave some land on our property. I talked to her about the safest bunker to repair to with our new baby girl.
I was taping a blasting cap to the det-cord, getting ready to unleash the fury of hell on this particular eco project when Randy Johnson showed up. I thought he was a day late, but he had the HPA in hand and I had started a day early.
But he wasn’t one to quibble. I asked if he wanted to light the fuse and he thought it might be fun.
Fuse lit, I yelled FIRE IN THE HOLE!!! for my wife’s benefit. Randy and I ran back to my cabin. At the side our $800 cabin was parked Randy’s $15,000 government pickup.
“Didn’t you see our vehicles on the other side of the creek?!” I exclaimed, as we sheltered on my front porch with a full view of the impending holocaust.
“Surely you don’t expect to have rock fly way over here by your cabin,” he reasoned.
“I’m certain of it! If your pickup will drive, you’ll leave here with a payload of our farm…”
“But your family is in here,” Randy mewled.
“The wife’s under a bed with our kid…”
And then, with a roar that is felt more than registered with the ears, a significant portion of our farm lifted into the air. Several rocks hit my shop roof but didn’t go through.
Then rocks started crashing through the fiberglass roof of a shed. Rocks began falling around Randy’s pickup throwing up grass and dirt as they impacted. A big rock came through our living room skylight and my wife cursed and daughter started crying.
When it seemed like it was over, Randy ran to the porch’s threshold and looked into the sky for any asteroid sized rocks still on the way. He jumped into his miraculously undamaged government pickup and took off with the same expression I had seen on the face of the friend I helped with depression.