Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Two rock hounds rock on


BOB HALTOM builds a rock cairn in a field in Cameron Park as his rock hound Boomer offers advice. Democrat photo by Krysten Kellum

From page B2 | May 09, 2014 |

A few months ago, cairns of carefully stacked rocks began to appear in Cameron Park. You could see them up behind Eskaton, on Sudbury Drive, in the Pine Hill Preserve — tiny cairns, medium cairns and a few taller than an Irish Wolfhound.

People wondered who was creating the cairns. Occasionally people or animals or the wind knocked them down and sometimes they would be mysteriously rebuilt.


Mystery solved

The mystery is a mystery no longer. The creative action behind the rock cairns is Cameron Park resident Bob Haltom and his trusty fellow rock hound Boomer.

Haltom began collecting rocks 20 years ago for the rock walls of the terraces he built for the extensive gardens wrapping around the home he shares with his wife, Joanne.

“My wife is the gardener and I’m the landscaper,” said Haltom, surveying the multi-level gardens.

“I used to go up behind Bel-Air where they built the medical center and pick up truckloads of rocks unearthed by the construction,” said Haltom. “We called it ‘the moon’ up there but now it has been paved over.”

Seeing a rock cairn by the side of the road while on a drive sparked a response from Haltom.

“I thought it was so cool,” he said.

Haltom began building small stacks while on walks with Boomer.

“I wasn’t doing it openly at first, just kind of as a surprise,” said Haltom.

Boomer, a 7- or 8-year-old rescue dog of indeterminate breed waited patiently while Haltom made his stealthy constructions in a few minutes. Neighbors began noticing and one day, Haltom and Boomer were caught in mid-construction.

“The neighbor said he’d wondered who was making the stacks and he liked them,” said Haltom. Another neighbor found him out and told him she loved seeing the rocks.


Rock on

An artist was born.

A vacant lot that backs up to the Pine Hill Preserve is Haltom’s favorite playground with an endless supply of rocks. The hilly lot boasts more than 10 rock cairns. Most have a triangular rock on the top, Haltom’s signature.

“They don’t all have a triangle but I try,” said Haltom.

Haltom and Boomer walk every day and the rocky red topography near their home provides plenty of material.

“You need a solid base, so I start with a flat rock on the bottom and then add different shapes. After 20 years of building rock walls, I can visualize how they’ll fit before I stack them. The higher you stack the rocks, they start balancing themselves,” he said.

Often the stacks topple over, sometimes an accident of the weather or an animal; other times a human factor has intervened.

“Not a problem,” said Haltom. “It just gives me more to do and I stack them differently. Boomer has knocked a few of them over doing his business.”

Joanne has also been known to do restacking of toppled cairns when Haltom is rock hunting elsewhere.


keep on rockin’

Haltom’s cairns began to grow, both in number and in size. Some of the biggest ones can be found in the Pine Hill Preserve and the drive to create is growing.

“It’s kind of a Zen thing,” said Haltom.

He said he has always loved to play in the dirt since he was a kid, playing with his Tonka Toys.

“This is kind of a throwback to my childhood. I’ve only been doing it a few months, so I know it’s going to grow.”

Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.





District 2 candidate statements tell of goals

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

Sand Fire nears containment: 66 structures destroyed

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Schedule for Highway 50 blasting closures

By News Release | From Page: A3

Tails wagging over dog park approval

By Julie Samrick | From Page: A3

Quarter-acre fire in Kelsey

By Rebecca Murphy | From Page: A3



My Turn: Privatization of public services

By Mark Belden | From Page: A4

Policy book

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4



Piano replaced

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5

Comments sign-in policy

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Save the Guinea Worm

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Large bangs

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

Private property gets no respect

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

District 2 supervisorial special election

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 4 Comments

GDPUD management report

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5



Ex-Bruin lends a helping hand

By Steven Shaff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Sierra Sharks finish middle of the pack

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

Roundup: July 29, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A8

Taz pull through for SSL trophy

By Patty Pope | From Page: A8



Nuns discover a pleasant place

By Lexi Boeger | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Bargains can be found everywhere

By Democrat Staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

At a glance: Game time

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2

Barbecue dinner to benefit Blue Star Moms

By Mount Aukum Winery | From Page: B2

Stagecoach story takes riders on a trip

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: B3

Help needed to make cool ties

By Sew 4 | From Page: B3

Stroke and osteoporosis screenings planned

By Life Line Screening | From Page: B3

Gold Rush Days activities cancelled this year

By Sacramento Convention And Visitors Center | From Page: B4

Master Food Preservers: Tomato time

By Monique Wilber | From Page: B4

Sacramento area museums offer summer fun

By Sacramento Association Of Museums | From Page: B5

Build an author platform at the Library

By El Dorado | From Page: B5



Weather stats 7-29-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

Building permits 6/2-6/2014

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2Comments are off for this post

Crime Log: July 17

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2



Merlyn Wilbur Adams

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Wallace Murrel Thomas

By Contributor | From Page: A2


Real Estate




Women’s Health

Love the skin you’re in

By Noel Stack | From Page: WH4

Dump stress and improve your health, productivity

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: WH7Comments are off for this post

Women’s Health Expo

By Marshall Medical | From Page: WH8

Find the confidence you need to fight back

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: WH12

Our choices directly affect our health

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: WH14

They’re NOT your mother’s hearing devices!

By Marshall Medical | From Page: WH17