The east flank of the Chocolate Mountain Gunnery Range, second largest in the world, lies one mile walk from my trailer doorstep where five years ago on a Sunday with scanty jets and thousand-pound bombs lacing the airspace, and the mistletoe draped thick in ironwood trees to duck beneath Navy prop-plane security, I hiked twenty miles across the range to the Salton Sea to visit 320-lb. Big John bobbing on his canoe in the Salton Sea.

The range is where pistol-whipping 'coyotes' abandon illegal Mexicans in the Promised Land who spot dry mouthed the gleam of my trailer and walk in reverse to arrive chewing barrel cactus for moisture and near-death. They were frightened out the range, they say, by the bombs that leave house-sized craters, larger than my modest 10' burrow.
The range is of historic value as General Patton's training ground for hundreds of thousands of troops for the WWII hot Africa campaign and the wide old tank tracks gather sand and stink bugs past my outhouse where the US Border patrol four years ago high-speed chased a vanload of illegals who plummeted into the Millipetas Wash, fled and were never seen again… though others turn up with their heads buried in the cool sand and stiff burning legs.

 Patton's dated 1940's shells, some 6'' long that serve as tea goblets to an annual handful of visitors for a refreshing taste of Sand Valley, trickle down mile-wide Milipetas Wash from the range in semi-yearly cloudbursts that brim the bank 100-meters from the library, outhouse, cook trailer and burrow.

Linux-Care CEO Art Tyde answers invitations to high tea leafleting the property from 500' in his Cherokee Piper with photocopy pleas to ensure one blows to Rancho Scorpion to pick him up in an hour at the nearest cross-road town of Blythe.

We recline on lawn chairs 15-feet above the 110F desert night floor on the library semi-truck van roof via a spiral staircase to view Orion and four-hour war stages of a half-dozen helicopters with blinking red taillights dropping Marines here-and-there and sometimes mistakenly near ground-zero flashlights at the Rancho. We ease back in the chairs as a dozen roaring jets climb and dive and release like Dumbo 6'-bombs that pock and shatter the eardrums sending ten-story brown blasted plumes that drift like War of the Worlds on westerlys with parachute flares that light an itinerant three-mile cone to the rancho as 5-mile-long rainbow tracers from 1000-rounds per second airborne machine guns and the rockets' red glare blasted from jets at green dummies on the ground.

The show is all the Fourth of Julys across the great nation and the Star Spangled Banner rolled into one that costs the taxpayers two million dollars per week by my conservative estimate. After a sound night's sleep on the burrow waterbed, that double as an emergency bank, I ride the range in another neighbor's custom dune buggy gathering hundreds of pounds of aluminum bomb fins and brass copter shells to sell at the Salton Sea recycler for a record $1000 for one day's take. My fixed expense for this is $23/year property tax that's paid for by the range collectables among sidewinders and tarantulas.


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