Sunday, July 27, 2008

Vegas On The Drive Loop

I had a boyfriend many years ago who was incapable of driving past a reservation without stopping for a few pulls on the big money slots. If we didn't stop, he got edgy like a smoker on a long flight. But I always thought he had many other better ways to spend all that money, and I think I've found one he might even enjoy.

I was never a gambling man myself. Oh sure, I could understand playing nickel slots for a couple of hours. I could see spending fifty dollars and calling that the price of entertainment. But hundred dollar slots? Thousands of dollars gone over the course of a single evening?

No way, that's not my idea of fun. That's what I call stress. Just the simple knowledge that I could be spending that money doing something useful or more lasting is enough to ruin the fun. But then, add in the pressure. Given the much higher stakes, I am painfully aware of the importance of winning back what I am losing.

Out here we have casinos too, but we have no municipal water source. Instead, we buy our drinking water in town and we rely on surface springs that run all year, water tankers that come up every few weeks, and wells. But year-round springs are rare and the endless parade of tankers can become expensive over time so a well, if you can get a productive one, is a wise investment. Since my spring gets thin each summer and access to it is shared with fiercely competitive neighbors who wish to usurp my water rights, a well seemed imperative.

But well drilling is just like gambling. There might be water a few feet down, but you'll never know unless you drop some cash into the hole and see if it floats back to the top.

We've been drilling a well for weeks now. And we definitely have water on our property. Each time we put the drill down into the soil, we have water bubbling up after a few dozen feet. But oh, the complications.

At the first location there was the dreaded black sand that you can drill through but then collapses and settles into an impermeable concrete layer, ruining the well after you've nearly finished it. The eighty foot shaft filled with water by itself to only fifteen feet from the surface, but we couldn't get the water out. So we moved to a new location.

Then there was the diamond vein that couldn't be drilled through at all. So we moved to a new location.

And then, most recently, we set up the rig on the drive loop. It seemed like a good spot. And sure enough, we drilled to only thirty feet and signs of water started trickling in. But there were problems. The rig was vibrating off its footings, causing the drill stems to flex inside the drill shaft and destabilizing the well as it went.

And then, after correcting the drill's positioning twice, the drill bit and ten feet of drill stem separated from the rest of the machine forty feet down. And as we prepared to give up on the location and abandon the equipment at the bottom of the well shaft, the water level rose four feet in an hour. More water we couldn't have.

So we're going to throw the dice again in a new location. And as we prepare to grind away eighty or one hundred more feet of rock, I cannot help but be reminded that I am no fan of gambling. Especially when the stakes are high.

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