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Sunday, April 20, 2008



Old license plates and spur-lunkering mates





It’s refreshing to get out and breathe some fresh air, when springtime in the Rockies hits, after our long winter slog. Normally, 3V3TZ and I will go out searching for bits of nature in the desert, before the sage turns too snaky. After all, there was that one year during the QX-Air highway cleanup, when a rattler darted like lightning to bite my pants leg at the crease, before coiling back into his cave and then rattling. That spring afternoon, our crew had planned to sip a few Weinhard Ales to celebrate the completion of our cleanup quest. However, after the close snake encounter, I dipped into the Weinhards a bit early “to calm my frazzled nerves.”





While the sage and grass is still low, seasonal rains dust sand off old stones and sometimes even ancient arrowhead points or chips.



Sunny afternoons immediately following these cyclic downpours are prime opportunities to see with piecing clarity a rainbow of beauty unearthed in the glistening desert stones.





One Idaho spring, when the season was late arriving, 3V3TZ and I got the fever to explore some dry land, so we ended up walking along the sides of the old Union Pacific Railroad bed, around an abandoned depot. We found a few junk cars and I thought I was doing well to find an intact 1957 Idaho License plate. However, when I returned to the rig, I saw that there was a 1926 plate flipped next to the car. 3V3TZ had whooped me again!





The funny thing about his 1926 plate was that it seemed to have some orange tinges around surface edges. We thought it was too unusual a shade, for rust to turn to and then we went online to discover that they originally painted the plates orange that year.





Although 3V3TZ was thirty-one years ahead of me in our license plate race, the next spring thaw I made a partial comeback. As I was walking down River Street returning from Les Schwab from switching off studs, I saw a small piece of metal protruding from the earth. Carefully pulling out the rest of it, I discovered that it was a partial plate from 1923! My immediate theory was that Rupert House had as a seven-year-old boy, playfully tossed a snowball along that street, which knocked off that plate clean off for me to find later, so I could tell you this story and give you a good laugh to breathe about in the Northern Rockies fresh air.

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