The Clay Hill Experience
Between yesterday and today I've spent a total of 16 hours driving to and from our Clay Hill site in southeastern Utah. We are moving our microwave radio tower off of Mossback Mesa and onto Clay Hill over the next few months. It will be a good move.
I became convinced in November 2002 that we absolutely had to get off of Mossback. That was the month I traveled to San Juan county and climbed the infamous mesa. And while mountaineering may be a fine occupation for a mountaineer, it's tough work for computer geeks. And while the UEN Field Ops staff are much more than just computer geeks, still, I felt funny about sending them out to fix electronic equipment after a life or death struggle with a thousand foot plateau rising from the floor of San Juan county.
Clay Hill isn't exactly in the middle of a metropolitan area. It's just as remote as Mossback. And some cliffs are just as steep and just as high. But you can drive to the site. Not that it is all that easy. Yesterday my staff and some of the local school district people hauled a few thousand pounds of batteries, a 40 foot galvanized tower (some assembly required) and various other tools and equipment, to the Clay Hill site.
On my drive over that last 5 miles I counted at least 4 hairpin turns and two steep grades that I would have bet a substantial amount of money could not be negotiated by a four wheel drive vehicle towing a rather long trailer with a heavy payload. I was wrong. And what they did just to get everything to the site was simply amazing.
The major goal for this week is to assemble our 40 foot, four sided microwave tower. On Tuesday UEN and San Juan School district staff had assembled the tower to about the 20 foot level. Or, put it this way, the easy work was done. And not that the first half is all that easy. It isn't. But comparatively, that second half is really the more interesting and difficult part.
It was great to watch the UEN Field Ops staff do their work. I, of course, was not afraid to get my hands dirty. I had fun bolting some of the bracing together. And it was great to assist where I could by hauling on the rope. I was only qualified for the most menial of tasks. The real work was done by those on the tower.
At lunch Virgle Ellis, San Juan School District, gave me a ride to the top of a 40 foot boom that is on site. It was a great view, but the wind was blowing and so I wasn't as comfortable as I would have liked. The blowing wind covered me in a fine glaze of red dust. My eyes hurt and watered from the grit and there was an uncomfortable grist to my hair, lips, ears, neck, everywhere.
I had to leave about 3:00 PM. The hell of being a manager and having meetings the next day. The crew stayed on for a few more hours and got the entire tower assembled. I reluctantly left them to do their job. But how cool is it that as part of what I do I can spend most of a work day in the middle of Utah nowhere, working with a smart and talented bunch of guys building a microwave tower? Pretty cool.............