Monday, December 18, 2006


My previous post about driving through Iran barely touched upon it. I wrote it May 14, 2005. You can read it *HERE* (scroll down). I didn’t do it justice. That was one of the great adventures in my life. That and rerouting the railroad in the Peruvian Andes (which I also haven’t mentioned much) both happened before I was 30. Good times.

The company I worked for in Iran (Morrison Knudson) got these construction projects in far flung places and needed some useful idiot to go out to investigate the sites. Good thing I was available. A lot of smarter idiots would have turned the job down.

My job was to locate a camp site convenient to the project and do a complete survey on a prospective landing strip and later do the design for it. I also operated heavy equipment during its construction, but that was later. Also useful on the assignment was finding and mapping aggregate deposits, which meant sand and gravel for concrete, not to mention water. Fun times.

The only way to do it was to drive out of Tehran to these sites because they were remote and I needed equipment which was unattainable anywhere not to mention that car rentals at a provincial airport was unheard of.

So I set off in a station wagon packed with equipment and enough packaged and canned goods to feed me a month. (The food items were useful for barter and gifts.) With me was a little Greek chap who was an amazing linguist and who could also drive. In the area to which we were going, many languages were spoken. My little friend never let me down.

The first lesson implanted on me was that you must fill your gas tank at every station because the next station was about ¾ of a tank away. The first gas on our trip was in Qazvin, west of Tehran. We had to search for the station because there was only one and it wasn’t on the main road.

(To digress a bit: Some years later a Communist leader came to America and commented, “What a waste of assets,” when he saw gas stations on all four corners of an intersection. At the time, I agreed with him, as any good liberal/socialist would. But now I know that’s wacky. That kind of thinking caused the long lines for, and the rationing of, toilet paper in some countries. If the free market couldn’t support a gas station on all four corners of an intersection they wouldn’t exist.)

Needless to say, the oil industry was then and is now a state owned monopoly in Iran. Much to my surprise, there were no long lines at the gas station, although the next station was about 200 kilometers away in any direction.

We left the “main road” at Qazvin and headed northwest toward the Caspian Sea on a secondary road. When we arrived at the site of our future project there was a French construction camp adjacent to it. They were just about to start building a damn there. Although I couldn’t see any work having been done on the damn, their permanent camp was just about finished. That was not the way American projects were run. We always started on the project immediately while living in tents. The permanent camp was given low priority.

To be continued… For an excellent full road map of Iran go *HERE*.


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