Saturday, June 23, 2012

80 Days of Summer - Day 23

Day 23
Brandi's company - Intrepid Potash - hit 1 million man hours of no injuries and threw a big party. That took up most of the day. I then took the kids to the pool for a couple of hours in the afternoon. The day closed with a great surprise. One of my college roommates - Joel Jorgensen -  from the Fall of 1995 at Ricks College, texted to say he was passing through Moab with his family. That was the semester I met Brandi, so he knew both of us. We hadn't seen him since that spring after we were married. Normally, I might not remember a roommate, but that Breckenridge #5 apartment was a crazy bunch. I was home off my mission with a bunch of guys that hadn't left yet. We had a blast together - Joel, Brad, me, Dave, and Boaz. Most of the fun was at the expense of Boaz. We were constantly stealing his "chonies" and putting them on each other's pillows and stuff. Brandi and I got married in January, and when I unpacked my things at my apartment, I found 10 pairs of Boaz's underwear in my luggage. Joel told a great story from the semester after I left. A stray dog followed Dave and Joel home, so they locked it in Boaz's room. What followed wasn't pretty. Good times. We met Joel and family at Zax and caught up on the last 16 years. 
The day started with a big boat ride by Canyonlands By Night and Day. The jet boat holds over 100 people, and it skimmed through 14 inches of water at one point on the little journey up river from Moab. The boys loved it. I thought it was boring. Rather be in my canoe or a kayak. 
James checking out the cliff walls north of Moab on the Colorado River during the boat trip. He hypothesized that a mountain lion lived in that high cave. Then he switched to a bear before finally settling on a heron.
Intrepid had 300 plus people out to the mines about 15 miles west of Moab. The yard was filled with bouncy houses that Matt and James loved.
 The biggest bouncy house. I even went through this one.
Emmy on the baseball throw bouncy house. I videoed Brandi when she picked up a ball, so I could make fun of her. She then promptly threw the first pitch right into the 5 inch opening.
 James and Matt. James is into wearing a pair of Oakleys I found recently. Cool guy. Matt and James were choreographing their "slides" by going down exactly the same way together. 
 I pretty much dominated the football toss.
An aerial photo of Intrepid Potash. The river cuts across the top. The plant is along the river at the upper left. The evaporation ponds are on the right. Vertical shafts are drilled all over the photo here. See below.
The company started in 1961 when they built most of the buildings. The vertical shaft tower (below) used to send men and equipment down into mines 1,000-2,000 feet below to the potash veins. Soon, the veins were too thin to make mining with men and machines worthwhile. Intrepid came in and started a new system. They drill down to the vein, and then horizontally follow the vein with a machine. They cap the drill shaft and pump salt water down into the shaft. The potash attaches to the salt crystals. They then pump it out, send it to evaporation ponds, and then bring it back to the plant for separating. The potash sells for a buttload of money. The excess salt sells for pennies. Potash is used for a lot of things, but in bulk, it is used for fertilizing crops.

 Vertical mine shaft (abandoned) and other buildings still in use.
 Salt pile after separating.
 Salt is everywhere, and everything is in a state of decay.
For the first time maybe ever, they shut down the operations and allowed family to walk through the whole operation. It was a pretty cool tour, although it would have been better with someone explaining the process.
 These road graders are used to scrape the potash/salt combo out of the evaporation ponds.
Two huge holding "sheds" that are at least the length of a football field, maybe two, house the potash. I've been in them before where they were full up to the ceiling. We drove right on in for the tour. They ship most of it out by rail.
The evaporation ponds have a blue dye in them that helps capture sunlight. They look really cool. Pictures from Dead Horse Point State Park above the mines often show the evap ponds' striking blue set against the red rock. It was out around these ponds that Will Smith and his son Jaden just finished filming for the movie, After Earth. Brandi's boss, and our home teacher, met the director, M. Night Shyamalan. He said the guy was very cool. Shyamalan showed him the cameras they were using and how they were using 5 of the 8 specially designed cameras existing in the world for that type of photography.

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