Daryl's Bio for Surveyor of the Week, POB Board
Well...Thanks to Lamon for this nomination...so here it is..the abridged version of my life. It got kinda big....so I deleted some paragraphs and combined things and ....well.....its still pretty big ...I hope you don't get too bored....Where to begin?....I guess with the beginning...I was born in England and raised in England and the U.S. to an American Dad and a British Mum. Left school when I was 16...that's the legal age over there. So I got out, left home and joined the Circus. Well....it was really the Zoo but it felt like a circus. I was hired as a trainee zookeeper at the Banham Zoo and Monkey Sanctuary, but basically I shoveled shite from the the pens and grottos and got beat up by chimpanzees on a daily basis. I still carry scars from the chimps. Those buggers might look all cute and cuddly but they used me as a punching bag for their own warped entertainment...... In the Chimpanzee world there is like a domination type hierarchy. Everybody strived to be King Chimp and in their eyes I wasn't a zookeeper or some human entity...I was just another chimp...a chimp with food. They did their best to put me in my place and make my life miserable and pretty much succeeded.
So How did I get into surveying?...completely and totally by accident. I was walking downtown in the village heading to the grocery store to get some bananas....for real... .I was even starting to think like a chimp...and passed by the "Job Centre" it's like the unemployment agency over here. I saw in the window the jobs board with the little cards advertising recent positions available and noticed one that said "Trainee Chainman Wanted, no experience necessary " well I had no idea what a chainman was but it looked like I might qualify. It paid 35 pounds sterling per week, about $66...that doesn't seem like much, but for a sixteen year old it was alright. Plus I didn't have to face the chimps....I would have worked for $10 a week.
The job was for the council. A county government agency. Our first job was staking out a sewer line through rural English countryside. I dragged a chain and set stakes. A real 66 ft. chain with the little brass tally's. The surveyor party chief used a T16...came with an optical plummet which was like the new technical gadget of the day at the council....but he never trusted this new fangled improvement on the T-16 and still used a plumb bob to set up the instrument. That was a good job as I look back on it now, dragging chain all morning then we would break for lunch and have a pint of lager and a cheese sandwich at the local pub. Then drag chain all afternoon. I dragged that chain for a few months then my dad, an avionics tech, got himself a job at the U.S. Naval Weapons Center in China Lake, California so I opted to go with him and the fam. It was California man!. That conjured up images of beaches, girls, surfing....I wasn't going to pass that up.
So I find myself in California...not surfing the beaches but out in the desert...the Mojave desert, nothing but creosote bushes and horny toads for as far as the eye can see. But that was okay too....a very new and strange place...which would later fuel my addiction to traveling and seeking the wonder of new and strange places. This was in the late seventies and I moved around a lot the next couple years up and down the west coast working as a maintenance man for a couple seasons at a lodge in Stehekin, Washington....working with Mexican migrants harvesting fruits and vegetables ...as a housekeeper for a motel....and finally landed my second surveying job back at China Lake, Ca. in 1981 for the Bureau of Land Management. Got hired on as a GS-3 and that was an awesome job...my first experience with the PLSS, with flying around in helicopters, driving jeeps out in the desert mountains looking for old rocks. I didn't even have to drag a chain, we had this new fangled gizmo, the HP 3805. Did a lot of work in the Panamint's, the mountain range that borders Death Valley National Monument to the west. Death Valley was a monument back then but today is designated a National Park. Death Valley and the Panamint's is one cool spot. There's a huge elevation change their between Telescope peak in the Panamint's and the valley floor at Badwater it's like 11,600 feet of change in only 15 miles horizontal. So surveying out there your just exposed to all this cool geography. Our projects never breached the Parks border of course and I really wanted to spend more time exploring the National Monument itself having got way into geology and mineralology....So after a year I decided to quit the surveying job and took up a job as a garbage truck driver for the Park service in Furnace creek. I wanted to be closer to Death Valley and although a garbage truck driver doesn't sound like that great of a job...I did get to drive all over ....for miles and miles....just to empty two trash cans at a wide spot in the road then of again for 20, 40, 60, 80 miles.....but eventually it did grow tiresome , garbage at 130°F takes on a life of its own.....so I got outa there and applied back with The BLM...this time in Phoenix, Arizona....they picked me up as a GS-4....man,...I was really coming up in the world now.
Kenny Smith was the field section chief and instrumental in getting me on board. For the next 13 months I surveyed all over Arizona with Dennis McKay and the boys from El Dorado Springs, Missouri. The Sonoran desert is way different then the Mojave desert....you got to keep your wits about ya or you will end up wearing a cholla cactus as a new fashion statement. And the Mojave's got it's rattlers but they always seemed bigger an uglier in Arizona. We did this one job for the USFS down at the border town of Nogales in the Sierra Madras. One night after work me and my buddy Kevin Miller went into the Mexico side of Nogales and had a night on the town....boy, did we get hammered.....It was over there we noticed some dude jumping the border fence into the U.S. a mere four or five hundred feet west of the check point. So in our enhanced state we decided to follow him over the fence....it turned out to be a hellava lot faster than going through the line at checkpoint charlie. I cant believe it's that insecure these days with the focus on immigration an all, but I havn't been there recently. On another job we were surveying some boundaries over in the White Mountains and the Apache Indian Reservation. A bunch of Co-ops from Alaska came snowbirding down from Anchorage to work with us for a few weeks in November. I always wanted to go to Alaska and their speak just made me want to go there all the more. Between them, Johnny Horton's North to Alaska and John Wayne Movies I pretty much knew everything there was to know about Alaska...it equated to Adventcha! and thats what I wanted. So I filled out the dreaded SF171 form and sent it off but it wasn't until April of 84 when I received a call from Paul Hickey a land surveyor at the BLM Anchorage district office asking if I was ready to come up...I was doing cart wheels around my motel room after that call.
I got off the plane in Anchorage around midnight and crashed their in the terminal behind the polar bear display. Got out to the BLM office...and before I knew it I was down in Moose Pass on the Kenai cutting lines through the woods, planting mons, and riding under the blade of a Bell Jetranger 206...I remember the crew went out to a bar in Seward after work one day and a fight broke out between some patrons....I was going cool!...John Wayne's Alaska! This is my kinda place! that was an awesome time, spent it all on the Kenai....Seldovia....rectangular surveys. Then in July I got transferred to the Alaska Railroad Survey. Which was just getting started....The Feds owned the railroad but it was being transferred to the state so a survey was necessary.....200 feet of right-of-away all the way from Seward to Fairbanks. That survey would end up taking 5 years. I worked with some great people on that survey including Evan Page, another SOTW on this board. The summer went pretty fast and BLM had no more need of me come fall. So I decided to go back to Europe to visit the fam. They had resettled in Scotland by then and dad was off here and there doing his Avionics.
My visit ended up being a two year visit. I call em my lost years because I was basically lost, drifting and doing nothing. I went down to Nairobi, Kenya for an overland trip up through Sudan to Cairo...but had trouble getting the sudanese visa and spent 2 months living between beaches and game parks. The day the visa came through was the day I flew home as I had run out of money. Now Scotland at the time was super economically depressed with like some 60% unemployment in the village of Balintore where I was at. I stayed with my family and got on the dole. I have 5 brothers four are younger and they too were in this situation of no work. So we would brew beer as a hobby and as a escape....Every two weeks the dole check would come in and we'd piss it away down at the pub. Me and my brother Matt were pretty good runners so we would enter highland games in the running events so we could get prize money...we'd piss that away too down at the pub. The rut just kept getting deeper...we had all applied to get into the British military....but it's quite a process...you wait for 6 months....then your sent down to the basic training centres for a few days to a potential recruit course where they weed out the people they don't want. My brothers applied for Navy and Army positions and finally vacancies opened up and they were accepted and gone. I had applied for a Royal Marine position...I passed the potential recruit course but still had to wait for a vacancy. It finally came after a year of waiting.....in the spring of 86 but before going in I decided to call Alaska BLM up and see if the railroad was still going on and if they needed some temporary survey help...and they did...the rut was over. I knew I could make more money in Alaska and I was never really comfortable about the Marines anyway. I would have loved the physical aspect but the rigidity of the command structure seemed to take away ones individual initiative. So I found myself back on the Alaska railroad survey in Talkeetna and Clear.
Another summer and fall went by and the bank account was again flush with money...I decided to buy an around the world ticket and took off with the first stop being in Cairns, Australia. I had received a Scuba Cert when I was in Kingman, Arizona...of all the places to get a Scuba Cert. and just wanted to do some diving in Oz. Another surveyor from the Alaska railroad, Mary, was also traveling to Australia that fall and we decided to hook up in Cairns. she showed up about a week later and we ended traveling by rail and island hopping over 3 weeks to Sydney. Somewhere on that rail between Newcastle and Sydney we got engaged. we celebrated with a meal at the Opera House and she left to go back to Alaska on Christmas eve and I took off for Indonesia. After a week in Indonesia the round the world trip didn't seem appealing anymore considering I had just got engaged so I too headed back to Alaska....back to the BLM back to the Railroad. ...
This time in Fairbanks...the railroad survey was starting to wind down and I was getting pretty tired of surveying...I was an Instrument man getting burned out turning angles and setting mons. and thinking about quitting. But low and behold a new invention comes along. Doppler. I don't know how many of you are familiar with Doppler....but its a satellite technology that one uses to accurately measure the doppler shift in a passing satellite overhead and can derive an accurate position on the earth. The receiver box weighs in at about 40 pounds and the monster batteries probably twice that...they used to go for around 100 grand each but I bought one years later for $36 at an auction....it's useless and just takes up space in my garage as the doppler satellites are no more. Anyway this Doppler technology rekindled my interest. And BLM saw fit to send me and Mary up to Ivotuk, a small airstrip on the North Slope to survey a line a line of the Naval petroleum reserve boundary. That was a kick ass job. Us two, a helicopter pilot, and a mechanic for three weeks on the most rawest land I had ever seen till then. Almost out of touch with the world. Our communications with Anchorage was a meteor burst system, this was before satellite phones. We would type text messages into this large box and they would be sent to Anchorage bouncing of the ionized trails of micro meteors entering the atmosphere. The message strings would never be sent in there entirety...just letters and words at a time and sometimes it would take hours to send or receive just 4 or 5 sentences. Frank Hardt, a BLM surveyor, was our contact in Anchorage and would send us 3 or 4 news headlines every day so we knew what was going on in the world. I remember one day we received the partial message "Reagan has s".....That entire day we were wondering what the rest of the sentence was going to be...we speculated that maybe "Reagan has skillfully started WW III". You think Internet can be slow these days.....that Meteor burst system drove us nuts. Anyway....After that job was all wrapped up I decided to quit surveying and get into another occupation.
Commercial Deep Sea Diving. There had to be some adventcha there.....right? And it must pay pretty good....and I need money to support my traveling habits. So I enrolled in the Divers Institute of Technology in Seattle and spent 7 months there getting the Cert. Now I'll recommend that school to anybody who likes fun, likes water and not afraid of hard work. The school is harder then the surveying although we got to do underwater surveying too. You got underwater welding where you get to surround yourself with electricity in salt water so as too bond two bits of metal together. You got completely black out conditions where your trying to raise a boat off the sea floor. You got the narcotic properties of Nitrogen when you go below 100-150 feet. well.....actually....that wasn't so bad .... I kinda liked that part. The underwater tools were great....the underwater jack hammer you used to break rocks .....made you feel like Jules Verne in an underwater San Quentin. The underwater chainsaw I think was my favorite. Cutting old pilings down or up I should say.....you get a couple million bits of wood chips floating around your head so you can barely see, and when you finally get all the way through the piling it takes off to the surface like an MX missile. But anyway the school was a blast. Except for one thing.....after I graduated they wanted to stick me on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. No where to go. I was well addicted to running at this time and was actually competing and winning races and could not fathom being stuck in one spot like that....so back to Alaska I go. More BLM surveying but at least I was running....I ended up winning the Arctic Valley run they hold up there...a grueling half marathon up a mountain and down and a few years later I won the Death Valley marathon. Ended up getting married to Mary...ha!...poet didn't know it. Out on the water In Seward, Alaska. And to celebrate the next day we decided to go scuba diving there in the bay where unfortunately Mary had an uncontrolled descent....her mask sucked itself to her face so hard her eyeballs almost popped out of her head. Another ten feet deeper and they would have...the barotrauma she received caused her eyes to bleed profusely and the whites to turn completely red....so we spent a good chunk of our wedding weekend in the hospital.
Are you Bored yet....I gotta get another beer....just a sec.............okay...where was I .....oh yeah.....We decided to do another trip to Africa...Mary had not been there so I worked a job...my first private job surveying outside of BLM with the company Geonex too raise the cash for an Africa trip. That was out on a camp we built at Happy River near Rainy Pass. I talked a little about that camp earlier in a post. Dave Hubbard, who frequents this board was also out there and many other good surveyors. The temperatures were so cold that the Military cancelled its Arctic warfare games....I always thought that was a hoot. The river had frozen solid....we had some limited use of the quad runners but mostly walked every where. Me an Billy Day were assigned the lines the furthest from camp and we fondly referred to our morning and afternoon hikes as the Ho Chi Mihn death march. The job went pretty smooth except for one plane crash landing while bringing in a surveyor, Sue Miskell, and a couple drums of fuel but nobody was hurt.
Me and Mary left for Nairobi, Kenya that January with intention to cross the African continent, south to north, Kenya to Morocco over 4 months camping out of a truck, through 11 countries....The East African game parks are awesome, I got mugged on the outskirts of Nairobi by a dozen or so very desperate people and very hungry I am sure...they took everything I had, money, socks, shoes and the shirt of my back but they were nice enough to leave me my pants. Burundi was a beautiful country despite the genocide history....We got mobbed in Zaire when we got stuck in the mud ...that was a very scary time. Bangui and the Central African Republic was also a dangerous place but by then we were seasoned travelers and did alright. Another truck we passed going south and doing our itinerary in reverse were not so lucky and had to bury one of their passengers off the side of the road when they had became sick and died. Our truck broke down in Niamey, Niger and that was a blessing....I too became violently ill there and considered flying out but was not able to sit up for a flight. While the truck was being worked on we were able to find a French doctor who did not speak English, nor us French but he was still able to diagnose malaria. The treatment of harsh drugs did the trick and I got well enough where we could proceed to Cameroon and Nigeria....we were here when the 1st Gulf War was well under way and decided to forgo the Sahara crossing.....there were reports of reprisals against tourists and non Moslems in Algeria....so redirected to Mali.....one fantastic and beautiful country....finally 4 months later we finished our trip in Senegal, completely utterly exhausted...we stayed on the beach in a small French resort for a week then drove to the Gambia for a flight to London. It will be a trip I will never forget. except for a few miscreants, the Africans and people of the Sahel are some of the friendliest I have ever met. And I am way sad to see the deterioration that has happened over there today.
Well....back in Alaska and back to surveying having pretty much given up the commercial diving career. Working totally private now. Pretty much whored myself out to what ever surveying jobs were going on.....and their were plenty. In the mid nineties we grew tired of the long dark winters and moved to Nevada and surveying wasn't so bad again with the advent of GPS, Robots, and the Internet. Worked for a local firm, Castle Surveying and Gil Paterson.....I learned a heck of a lot there doing surveys all over the Reno area. Steve Parrish who was working as the BLM cadastral chief in Reno was good enough to bring me back in to government cadastral work for quite a few months before I moved on to an engineering firm, 12 months a year, two week vacation, benefits, a ball and chain....the worst job of my life. The engineers there reminded me of the chimpanzees at the zoo. I did mostly water rights surveys and some cadastral around Nevada and that was a good thing...lots of camping out in the desert but more importantly I didn't have to hang around that office...yet anyway...I ended up sitting the Nevada LS test and got my license but that was not a good thing at that time....as the principal surveyor got fired then I ended up in his slot.....a slot I had no desire to take.....It ended up turning into office work...office politics.....yuck... so I quit after four months. ....and vowed never to have a 9 to 5 job again........We moved on to Oregon where I am today. and pretty much work for 3 or 4 contractors around the west and up in Alaska as you see from the videos. I choose jobs now based on the coolness factor and not the money factor. Gives me lots of breaks year round so I can play with photography and my new found passion for sailing. We are now sharpening our skills so we can sail across the Atlantic ocean in a couple ,three years........The Canary Islands to the French West Indies, and a new way of seeing the world.
Well...there you have it....I left a lot out...other journeys...some 44 countries last I counted, we ended up going back to Africa, to Morocco, Europe more times than I can remember, Central America, Cuba, Vietnam, Cambodia. Traveling is a bug that gets under your skin....And surveying compliments that quite nicely.
Barge Life on the Tanana River. Native allotment surveys.
Cannikin Nuclear Bomb Site. Amchitka.
Schonstedt helped us find a GLO brass cap 4 feet below road surface.
Surveying Water rights in Nevada