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Talked into another zany adventure in the outdoors

Don Quilici
Nevada Appeal Outdoors Editor

Last Thursday, I unwittingly allowed myself to be talked into another zany adventure in the Great Outdoors.

Sal and Catali Quilici of Dayton (yep, before you ask, we are related), Bob “Slick” McCulloch and I spent the day in the Pinenut Mountains, way out past the end of Johnson Lane in Douglas County.

You are probably wondering what the four of us were doing out there and the answer is quite simple: We were on a mission to collect as many pinenuts as we could in the course of that one day.

If you’re new to this area, pinenuts are the product of the cones of the pinon pine tree and those tiny morsels are delicious, either eaten raw or cooked.

Sal and Catali had been in that area the previous week on a family outing to cut several small pinon trees to be used as Christmas trees. While they were looking for the right-sized, perfect trees, they noticed quite a few were loaded with cones that were in turn loaded with nuts.

Based on that information, the four of us put our heads together and made the decision to return to that same area on Thursday morning to harvest as many of the nuts as we could gather.

At 10 a.m., the Quilicis picked up Slick and I at my house and away we went, with Catali as the driver. I lost the flip and had to sit in the front with her, while the other two enjoyed themselves in the back. Those lucky dogs!

The first moment of discord arose when she turned up the volume on the radio and loudly played some God awful music that she said her grandson, Little Pete (Petey), age 8, enjoys.

After listening to some Country Western guy sounding like a cat with its tail caught in a door, I told her that I need to spend some time with Petey to teach him how to enjoy real music like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Tony Bennett. She called me a bad name and kept driving.

The next moment of discord arose when she tried to turn left onto Stephanie Lane. I told her it was the wrong road, to speed up and to keep driving south. The two troublemakers in the back seat loudly snickered and she called me a bad name, again.

Once we reached Johnson Lane and were headed east, everything was OK until we got out of the 25 MPH zone and into the 45 MPH zone.

She continued to plod along at 25 MPH and when I sarcastically told her that I would like to get to our destination before dark, the same thing happened again: The other two loudly snickered, she speeded up and called me a bad name. Sigh, I get no respect.

When we reached the end of the pavement, we drove east on a dirt road that is in good condition, but you need to be alert for rocks in the roadway. Catali (AKA Mario Andretti) has never met a rock that she didn’t like and we never missed one as we whizzed along in a big cloud of white choking dust.

After driving for miles and miles, the road began to slowly but surely deteriorate and get worse and worse. Finally, the other two Quilicis put their heads together to confer and decided that we must have missed a turn behind us.

When I said, “Holy Cow, how in the heck could you miss your turn, you were out here less than a week ago,” that miserable Slick snickered and the other two called me a bad name.

Catali made a U-turn, drove for miles and miles back in the opposite direction in a big cloud of dust, and then finally Sal said with infinite wisdom, “Catali, I think this is our turn, coming up.”

I rolled my eyes and snickered, as Catali skidded around the corner and took that side road toward a distant ridge top.

As that road began to steadily get worse and worse, at the next several intersections with other dirt roads, she asked Sal, “Which way do I go,” and he would reply, “I think you need to turn to the right, but I’m not sure, I don’t remember.” Yipes! The two of them had been here less than a week ago!

By this time I had resigned myself to being hopelessly lost in the Pinenut Mountains, and hoped and prayed that I could reach the Douglas County Search and Rescue Unit with my cell phone before I starved to death.

About then, Sal excitedly said, “Catali, back up, that side road you just passed was where we were last week.”

Catali slammed on the brakes, the SUV skidded to a halt, she put it in reverse, and tried to back uphill on that very steep, narrow, rocky road. All she did was to dig in deep with the rear tires and kick up lots of rocks and white dust.

Sal wearily said, “Catali, you need to put it into four-wheel drive.” She snarled, called him a very bad name and Slick and I were afraid to snicker.

She drove a little further down that steep ridge, turned around and went back up to the side road.

No disrespect intended, but when we finally arrived at the spot where they had cut their trees, less than a week before, I would not have taken an ATV on that “goat trail” and I would have bought my trees from a Christmas tree lot to save all that terrible wear and tear on my truck.

Oh, well, thank God it was their vehicle and not mine.

We got out of their dust-covered vehicle, put on latex gloves (to keep the pitch from the cones and pinenuts off of our hands), looked like a bunch of amateur proctologists and began to wander around and collect pinenuts.

Our strategy was simple but very effective: We looked for trees where there were a large number of fresh-looking cones lying on the ground and then we just knelt down and picked up the nuts that were scattered all around the cones.

When we were finished, the four of us had all kinds of pinenuts to enjoy during the holidays.

Then when we were finally back on U.S. 395 going home, Sal and Catali both said that they had a great time and the four of us should do this again.

Yeah right! As if I ever want to go back to that hell-hole again. Slick and I were silently delighted to just be safe and sound, and more importantly, alive. Whew!

Bet Your Favorite Pigeon

Bet your favorite pigeon that he can’t tell you how to determine which pinenuts are good and which are bad.

If he grins and says, “That’s easy. Just put them in a big bucket of cold water. The good ones sink to the bottom, while the bad ones plus the debris float on top,” he has also collected pinenuts.