Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Morning Observations

These notes are from my journal this morning. The photo was taken last Friday morning along the Au Sable River.

It’s 7 AM and the temperature is cool for the last day of June. 50 degrees Fahrenheit, the thermometer says. My toes agree as they rest on the concrete floor of the back porch, rocking the swing back and forth. I’m reading the last essays in Wild Comfort by Kathleen Dean Moore. I pause and look up in time to see two young fawns, their spots prominently displayed, wobble out of the woods at the corner of the back lot. I wonder where their mom is at. They look around for a moment, and then retreat back under cover. Two squirrels are running around a pine tree, they could be playing a game of tag, but that’s not likely. In the distance, a mourning dove coos, sounding like a mournful owl. A dozen or more other birds are singing. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I notice the doe and the two fawns, moving out into the field behind the house, where hay has freshly been cut (by headlight at 11 PM last night, I’m sure there is a city ordinance against doing such work late at night). The deer family moves down into the draw, out of sight. I then see, in the maples along the fence line between the house and the field, a couple other squirrels are playing their game of tag. I return to my essay:

Gladness lifts the natural world out of the merely mundane and makes it wonderful, and reminds us that when we use the sacred stuff of our lives for human purposes, we must do so gratefully and responsibly, with full and caring hearts…” (151)

Pausing, I hear the squirrels again in the nearby pines and look up to see them together, their tails side by side, wagging in unison.
I feel voyeuristic, watching their ungraceful movements and listening to their sharp claws dig at the bark for footing. Soon, it’s over and they run off to the ends of separate branches to preen themselves and maybe even smoke a cigarette.

The shadows cast by the sun as it rises above the treetops are long. I close my book and head off for a breakfast meeting.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Prince of Tides: A Book Review

Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides (1986). I listened to an audio version of the book and later read portions of it that I really liked.

I don’t know why it has taken me so long to get around to reading Pat Conroy. As one who grew up in the salt marshes of coastal North Carolina, I quickly found myself drawn into the setting of this story. I knew kids whose dads were shrimpers and commercial fisherman and most of our dads, mine included, had commercial fishing licenses even if that wasn’t how they made their living. I’ve seen the sun and moon rise over the water and the sun set behind the salt marsh hundreds of times and have never tired of it. I know the rhythm of the tides and of being attuned to a change in the weather. I’ve watched porpoises play in the inland waters and gulls feed from the back of a boat. And, when the protagonist of this book, Tom Wingo, claimed that he was “more fabulist than historian,” I nodded in agreement. (77)

Tom Wingo has nearly lost it all. He’s middle aged and feels he has not lived up to his potential. All his life his mother has instilled in him a desire to rise above his low-country roots, but he resisted. Tom is an ordinary guy, born in a hurricane during the War, while his dad was hiding from the Germans after having been shot from the sky. He looked up to his older brother, Luke, and to his twin sister, Savannah. There was that day when he became a one-game wonder at the University of South Carolina, running for two touchdowns against Clemson. But mostly Wingo’s life was normal. At the beginning of the novel, he’s no longer doing what he enjoys and that for which he’s truly talented: coaching high school football. Unemployed and therefore free to travel, his mother asks him to try again to save his sister, a world renowned poet, who is in a New York City mental hospital. Before he heads north, he learns his wife is having an affair with a local surgeon. His parents have divorced and his father is in jail for drug running and his mother has married the local banker (and the Wingo family enemy). We know Luke has died and the community in which he was raised was gone, but how is a secret. In fact, there are many secrets within this family, which are slowly revealed throughout the book.

In New York, Tom meets with his sister’s psychiatrist, Doctor Susan Lowenstein. The two of them meet and Tom begins to share his story as a way to help Dr. Lowenstein to understand his sister. It is through this retelling of the family’s story that we learn about Tom’s family. In addition to helping Lowenstein understand Savannah, Tom prepares Lowenstein’s son to play high school football and two later they have an affair. Sadly, for Lowestein, this affair gives Tom the confidence to go back home and fight for his wife and his family. It’s not much of a fight as his wife, a physician, discovers that her surgeon lover has many lovers. In the end of the book, the family is somewhat back together and they enjoy a picnic on a shrimp boat moored in the salt marsh, watching the sunset and the moon rises. There, at the end of the book, Tom says to himself a moving prayer:

I am Southern made and Southern broken, Lord, but I beseech you to let me keep what I have. Lord, I am a teacher and a coach. That is all and it is enough. (566)

I won’t go into all the details of the book, for I’d hate to give it all away. Let me point out that I found Luke Wingo’s character a lot like that of Hayduke in Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang and its sequel, Hayduke Lives. I really liked Tom’s eccentric grandfather, a religious fanatic whose Good Friday Cross Walk was well known. When the cross got too heavy for him, he put a wheel on it, which he later saw as his downfall. When he died, Tom said, “The only word for goodness is goodness, and it is not enough.”

I enjoyed the book, although I did find Conroy’s use of adjectives a little over done. Conroy subscribes, I believe, to the school of “why use one adjective when five will do.” But this is good southern storytelling, which done rightly is never straightforward, you have to know about the family and the setting. Conroy touches on many topics in this book: differences of social classes, race relationships, war and peace, environmental issues, rape, sexuality, religion, mental illness, among others. It’s a challenge to deal with so much, but Conroy does a good job and I recommend his book.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

First Night on the River (an Au Sable River story)

I just got back from a two night trip on the Au Sable River. Here’s my account of my first night on the banks of the river. A friend and I paddled the river from Grayling to Parmalee Bridge this week. We didn't catch many fish, but had a great time. There’ll be at least another story or two to come as well as plenty of pictures. Hopefully, over the weekend, I can catch up with all your blogs…

I also think it's time to change my profile picture as it's been a few months since ski season! What about this photo of me sitting on the canoe, catching up in my journal?

The photo below shows my bivy tent, a small one person affair that is only about 18 inches tall. In the photo, take on the second evening of the trip, the rain flap over my head is zipped up. Hopefully the photo will give you an idea of what I'm referring to in the story below.
Distant flashes from lightning could be seen when I crawled into my bivy tent at 11 PM. In this northern latitude, it’d been dark for only an hour. We’d fished till after ten, but with no luck. After enjoying a drink of peppermint schnapps, which Jim had packed in, we each retreated to our tents. The air was heavy and moist and the fly on my tent was wet with perspiration. I zipped myself in, hoping to have kept out most of the mosquitoes, but leaving the fly over my head open. It was too warm to close up the tent. I lay on top of my sleeping bag and fell asleep, listening to the sounds of insects, the rushing of river and the occasional clap of distant thunder. An hour later, I’m back awake. A felt a few drops of rain on my face. The thunder claps are no longer distant and I see a bolt of lightning streak from the sky, striking on the other side of the river, the boom following just a second or so later. The storm is on top of us. I unzipped my screen and pulled the fly over my head, sealing myself inside. Zipping the screen back up, I fall asleep, listening to the rain approaching like a stampede of horses. It pours and beats against the nylon, but I sleep. I wake up an hour later, hot and sticky. The rain has stopped and I am dry. But the air is too warm and I pull the fly from my head and enjoy the night air. It’s a little cooler after the rain, but still warm. I look at my watch. It’s 2 AM.

An hour and a half later, I wake back up to mist of water on my face. It’s beginning to rain again and I once again pull the fly over my head. There’s less lightning in this storm but soon the rain is even more intense. I fall back asleep for a few minutes, only to wake up hot and stuffy. The heavy rain has slowed and I partially opened the fly, letting a little air. Enjoying the fresh air, I fall asleep for a few minutes, then the rain increases, sounding like a drum on the roof just above my head. I zip the fly back tight. This goes on for several cycles, till around 4:30 AM, when the rain completely stops. I then remove the fly and fall back asleep. I’m surprised, for the next time I wake it isn’t to a shower, but a chorus of birds welcoming a bright new morning. The sun is well up and attempting to break through clouds and a light breeze moves the heavy wet air around. I unzipped the netting over my head, stretch my scrunched up muscles, pull on pants and a shirt, stood up and slip on my wet river shoes which had been sitting outside the tent. It’s now 7:15 AM, time for coffee and for getting back to the business of the river.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My Father's Day Post

As I did a Father's Day post for Dad, I thought maybe I should do one for me. Besides, I haven't had time to write and be that creative lately and since I hear a river calling my name and am taking off tomorrow to spend a few days paddling and fishing (and maybe getting ideas for new posts). In other words, I won't be around... For the time being, I'll post a few pictures from Sunday. I really should take a photo of the oil painting my daughter did for me, of the Golden Gate Bridge in fog (with the supports rising above the fog).

Taking our bikes with us, we drove to the community of Irving where we pedaled the Paul Henry Trail to Middleville. This section of the trail runs along the Thornapple River and is a part of the old railroad bed of the Michigan Central (the line ran from Jackson to Grand Rapids).

There a few old mile markers from the railroad. I'm assuming this one is 71 miles from Jackson.Riding on a bike, I first saw the hare (we'll, it was really a cottontail rabbit). Later I saw the tortoise (or turtle)... This guy wasn't looking too good and wasn't in a hurry to get off the bike path.
Take from a trestle over the river... Cracked Pepper was closing as we got to Middleville (they are open only for lunch on Sunday), so we ate at Champs Bar and Grill, sitting out on their back deck. I had eaten in there a couple of times, and wouldn't have gone their with my daughter in the PCA (pre-clean air) days. But with the smoking ban now law, we could all breathe. The food was good and, on a warm humid day, the bottle of Newcastle kept my throat wet. Riding back, the air against the wet humid clothes kept us cool, but when I stopped for photos, I was finding myself swarmed by mosquitoes. Peddling hard, we quickly loaded up the bikes and got away from the swamp and bugs. With the exception of bugs, it was the perfect afternoon.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day post

The photo is of my father when he was a teenager, fishing the Linville River in Western North Carolina. I came across this photo a few years ago when helping my grandma pack up stuff and I copied the faded black and white print with a digital camera. He's been fishing all his life, although he generally fishes salt water now. He fishes fresh water when he comes to see me, but with mom's health, he hasn't been able to make it up there in over 3 years.
It’s hard to think of Dad as old. He was probably 50 before I regularly beat him in one-on-one basketball. He had this nasty hook shot that couldn’t be blocked. As a kid, I'd watch him play baseball and softball in awe. Although I could hit decently, my fielding never came close to his. I think it was two years ago, three years after my mom’s illness was diagnosed, I flew home and when I saw him standing at the exit to the concourse, I saw for the first time the look of an old man. It was shocking for he was always so young. However, the next day, we were out in his boat looking for fish and there, at the helm with the salt spray in his face, he was young again. He loves being on the water.

I’ve seen a new side of Dad over the past five years as he’s cared for mom. Although he was never strict, I wouldn’t have ever used terms like gentle to describe him. But now I would. There is not much Mom can do for herself now and my father waits on her all day. He takes her to the bathroom, changes her, insists that she take her medicine, eats and drinks enough liquid. It’s a new career for dad, essentially working as a nursing aide. But he insists on not putting Mom in a nursing home, although he has recently started letting her stay for a week at a time for some respite which he desperately needs.

I know Dad misses traveling. He has travelled his whole life, having worked on the road for over 40 years. He started out with a territory and by the time I was in high school was flying all over the country and when I was in college that expanded to all over the globe. He enjoyed travelling and, when I talked to him about the changes that he has faced over the past five years, traveling is the one thing he misses the most. When we kids were all grown, Mom went back to college and became a social worker, but only worked a few years. She quit so she could travel with my father, who enjoyed having her along with him. The two of them have been together since high school. And they’ll be together till the end. Until then, and afterwards, I hope Dad can still get out on the water occasional and that one day he’ll be able to travel again. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.
And may all you Dad's out in the blogging world also have a wonderful Father's Day.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A snake in the grass...

As the Surgeon General requires warnings for lots of things, I want to warn those of you who suffer from Ophidiophobia that there is a picture ahead that you might not like…

Yesterday, I took a long lunch and after eating, walked a path in the hills and meadows behind a construction project that lately has been too much on my mind and in my dreams. Its bad enough to have to deal with it many waking hours, but when it invades my sleep, it’s living rent free in my head and that ain’t good. But anyway, a little fresh air is always nice and so I took a walk and took my camera with me.

Back in the spring of 2009, as we were getting ready to begin this project, we burned several sections of the “green space” and then reseeded the ground with wildflowers and native grasses. We also put in trails with blue bird and bat houses and duck boxes. Today, along the trail, you can see the evidence of the flowers. I am proud that the project perserves green space as well as converted an old gravel mine into the building area.

As I walked along, I heard a high pitch sound coming from the grass in the trail up ahead. I stopped and saw a large black snake, which obviously didn’t make the sound. I slowly moved closer, camera in hand, hoping to get a good picture, when the snake reared its head, letting loose a mouse. The moose tried to get away, but the snake quickly struck it in the back leg, knocking the mouse on its back. (see photo below). I was trying to get a better photo when the snake decided he didn’t want to tangle with me, so he took off. The mouse, stunned by the snake, rolled himself up and wiped his fur, gave me a curious look, and then headed off in the opposite direction. Today, I’m assuming I’m being heralded as some kind of god in the field mouse world, and maybe a demon in the snake world unless serpents are still aligned with the devil as they were in the Garden, then maybe I’m a god for them too. Or maybe I’m just the rude dude who ruined lunch.

By the way, in case you don’t know the word Ophidiophobia, it means a fear of snakes. I promise, there are no more snake photos (nor any of very scared mice), so enjoy the rest of the photos.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Nevada Jack's Rant on Religion

While Sage struggles with his sanity and multiple deadlines, and folks not getting things done on time and all kind of other headaches, I thought I’d help the old boy out and write a post for him. This is Nevada Jack reporting…

I "borrowed" this photo from another blogger. I can kick myself for not stopping on one of my trips south and snapping a photo of an icon that's now just scorched metal framing..
One of the funniest things I’ve heard about lately is the demise of the oversized “touchdown” Jesus whose shadow nearly fell across I-75 in Southern Ohio. I know Sage tries to follow Jesus (and between me and you some days he does a better job than others) but thankfully Sage hasn’t fallen for the belief that a bigger Jesus will bring bigger or better blessings. It seems a true follower of Jesus would try to show their allegiance in other ways than building statues that seem to be a total disregard of at least two of the Ten Commandments. That might be okay if keeping 80% was a passing grade, but I don’t think it works that way. A better method of showing allegiance is to spread a little kindness and gentleness. Even Jesus tried not to draw too much attention to him, traveling around on foot, doing good and often telling people not to tell others of the good he did. I’m sure such secrecy drove the early church’s PR folks crazy, but once Jesus ascended into the heavens and was no longer there to keep then straight, generations of do-gooder PR folk have tried to outdo one another, giving rise to what the world didn’t need, another kitsch industry. But a few days ago, in a sign that God does have a sense of humor, that monstrosity rising over the freeway just north of Cincinnati, was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. Or maybe God is just doesn’t have the stomach for tacky statues of his Son. There must be an 11th commandment? It’s unwritten, of course, but goes, “Thou shall avoid kitsch.” If you missed the news of this event, check out this yahoo news report.

On a similar subject, Sage was telling me recently about his conversation with some Zondervan publishing executive that he sat across from at a dinner. He asked this guru of the Christian publishing world about their printing presses and was shocked to learn that they don’t have any. They outsource all their printing. Their smaller runs are still published in the United States, but their larger runs, like Bibles, are all published in China. Sage found this interesting as just a few days later he was talking to two friends of his who are heading for China. They were talking how each of them were going to smuggle 5 Bibles into China. Ironically, having more than five Bibles seem to raise the eyebrows of Chinese customs. There is something strange about smuggling in Bibles (5 or less at a time) that were printed there to start with, but like so many things religious (including that Commandment-breaking monument), money and pride often top piety.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Longing for low tide

Right now, it feels like I'm underwater; I need the tide to fall so I can get my bearings. I knew this was going to be a busy spring and summer but I still need a break.

And then I popped into Facebook and read that one my readers of this blog is going to a Tiger game tonight. That ain't fair! It normally wouldn't bother me much, but this is the weekend the Pirates are in Detroit and hopefully tonight is the night they break a 6 game losing streak! I had looked at trying to get down there for one of the games, but it just wasn't in the cards.

Speaking of tides, I've recently read Conroy's The Prince of Tides. It's my first of his books and I'll review it later, but his adjective-laden prose reminds me of my home country, "Down East" in North Carolina. The photo was taken on low tide back in April when I was at my parents. I'll try to be back soon with something more substantial to post.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Tribute to Ralph continued...

Last summer, when I was in Cedar City, I asked if I could copy this photo which hangs in the hallway at Ralph's home. Before I posted it online, I wanted permission from his wife and she gladly gave it. This photo is of Ralph and his brother with their father, in Goler Gulch, around 1930. It certainly has a "depression era" look to it. Ralph talked about how his father literally knew the truth of earning enough to "Make Beans" for that's what they had to eat.
I'm busy for the first part of this week, so I'll be hit and miss in the blog world. Now if I can just post this, as I had problems posting it earlier today.
BTW, I was out today and saw five helicopters overhead, heading toward Kalmazoo, one of which I'm sure was carrying the President as he's speaking there at a high school graduation tonight...

Friday, June 04, 2010

Goler Gulch: A Travel Tip Thursday post

Ralph died on Wednesday morning. We met shortly after I moved to Cedar City, Utah and quickly became friends. I was beginning my research into mining camps, which eventually led to my dissertation. Ralph had grown up in Goler Gulch, a mining camp in the Mojave, before World War II. We took many trips out into the desert. I always liked traveling with Ralph for he could look at a rusty piece of metal and figure out what they use it for in the mining or milling processes. For my Traveling Thursday post, which I’m posting on Friday, I’m going to take you to Goler Gulch, the place where he grew up, north of Randsburg, California. This trip was in March 2005. The photo below is Ralph at Sam's cabin.

Ralph and I had stayed the night in Ridgecrest. Before heading out for the desert early in the morning, we stopped at a grocery store and picked up fruit and pastries along with coffee and juice. We then drove in the soft morning light toward Goler Gulch. It had been a wet winter and the highway is lined with pinkish flowers. Along the way, I see White and Yellow Asters, Daisies and bluish Heliotropes growing under the Greasewood. Our first stop was at Sam’s Cabin, located just off the highway. We got there and sat outside, eating breakfast and watching the morning light change across the El Paso Mountains to our north. Ralph noted that you could find any kind of mineral in those mountains, but you better not try to develop a mine, because as soon as you start digging, whatever you were after would disappear.

Sam's homestead
After eating our breakfast, we looked around the old cabin while waiting for Bill, a friend of Ralph’s friend from Southern California. Rocks and boulders of all shapes, colors and sizes dotted the yard and Ralph could point to each and tell me from which gulch it had been taken. Most of the rocks had been hauled in by Sam with the help of Ralph and his brother Charlie. Sam’s cabin is in a state of “arrested decay.” The BLM keeps it from blowing down and one can rent it for up to two nights. I’d heard a lot about Sam and had even met his daughter, who’d recently died in her nineties. He was an old-time miner. He’d worked in Nevada and then headed up to the Klondike in 1898, where he supposedly made enough money that he didn’t have to do much work the rest of his life. In the 1930s, he showed up in the Mojave, working as a caretaker for a mining firm in the desert. It didn’t take much to live like he did. He had a wife, who lived over on the coast. Sam would go visit her a couple times a year and occasionally she’d come out to the desert, that being the extent of their marriage. My favorite story of Ralph and Sam was their trip to Death Valley in Ralph’s family Model T, taking the truck out across China Lake before the government converted the dry lake bed to a Naval Aviation bombing site. Sam died in 1965, in his early 90s.
Sam's homestead in the Mojave

Bill arrives a few minutes later with Mike, the plant manager at a chemical company he owns. Bill is driving a huge Suburban SUV, so we decide to take it and leave my vehicle at Sam’s Cabin. We climbed in and Ralph began the tour of Goler Gulch. The gulch has always been a placer mining district, meaning the ore is found in sediment washed down from the mountains. Attempts have been made to find the ore body from up in the mountains, but no one has ever identified the source of the loose ore. When Ralph was a kid, old miners held to the belief the gold had been brought in during the last ice age, by glaciers, but there is no evidence of glacier activity this far south. Another popular theory, according to Ralph who reports this with a straight face, is that the gold came from Alaska.

Ralph was born in Kansas, but when he was an infant, his parents moved to California. They added a bed to their Model T coupe, making it into a truck in which the family made the journey. After a short stint in LA, they headed into the desert, where his dad worked as a miner and a cook. The Model T still runs and is still in the family. Ralph told about his brother Charlie and him taking the Model T on trips through the desert. In the spring or after rains, when the water would be raging in the gulch, they’d stop the car on one side of the stream, take off the fan belt and drive through the water, hooking the fan belt back up on the other side. The car seemed to go anywhere; you just had to know the tricks. If the fan was spinning, it would kick water over the distributor cap and short out the electrical system. The engine could take a little more heat than the electrical system could take water. The Model T still runs and is still in the family.

Ralph's family homestead

Over time, Ralph’s family acquired quite a collection of buildings around the homestead. Ralph pointed to a building he and Sam had built at the beginning of the war for some women from Pasadena who wanted a place to flee when the Japanese invaded. They were sure the Japanese were coming to rape them, Ralph said sarcastically, so they hired Sam to build them a home in the desert. Another building Ralph rescued from the Navy, who’d set up operations at China Lake during the war. Abandon as surplus, he brought it and hauled it home so that he could have his own room and he returned from the Pacific.

We made another stop at the site of the old one room school. Ralph and his brother attended school here with eight or ten other kids from 1932, when the schooled opened, to 1936 when they got bused into Randsburg. (Last summer, Ralph’s first grade teacher was celebrating her 100th birthday). Ralph pointed up stream and said that the girl’s outhouse was up there and the guys were downstream. I asked him why they didn’t just have a unisex outhouse with a lock, since the most students they had were 12, and Ralph, in all seriousness, said he assumed the school board had concerns about mixing urine. We saw the well for the Yellow Aster mine, one of the larger mines in the district. As we explored, Ralph picked a leaf of Indian Tobacco and told about as a kid he’d harvest it and sell it to an old miner, but the miner was forbidden to smoke it underground because it stank so bad. He also found an “Indian pickle,” a plant with a long stem and an open chamber on the end where you could place your tobacco as you drew the smoke up the stem. The “Indian pickle” made a good bong, Ralph said. He also showed us a growth on a greasewood (also known as Creosote bush) which could be crushed and smoked for a “natural high.” “This also stinks, which is what you’d expect from such a plant,” Ralph informed us. None of us wanted to try it out for ourselves.

We next headed into the gulch itself, a canyon where the mining took place. There were five shafts dug down into the dirt, named Fine Gold (#’s 1 though 5). Only Fine Gold #1 had a traditional gallows frame, the others being pick and shovel operations with a windlass. In time, the miners discovered that the gold was mostly deposited within a few feet of bedrock, some eighty feet down. They’d sink a shaft then work out following the bedrock as they made their way up and down the gulch.

As we drove our way up the gulch, Ralph told us about miners he’d known growing up the desert. One was a kid, just 18, who discovered enough gold to buy himself a brand new ’36 Ford with an 85 horsepower V8 engine. Another was a guy named Happy, who was the first pot-head Ralph knew, back before the war. Happy came looking for work and the miners didn’t want much to with him so, when he asked where he might a place to prospect, one of the old-timers sent him to the most unlikely place around. Happy discovered a 14 ounce nugget and was happy for a long time thereafter. Some of the miners were more adapt at mining outsiders, an ancient trick of the mining trade. Curly would pull out his pan anytime he saw a tourist. They’d get to see him work out some nuggets from his washings. He’d tell him he dug the ore at his mine, Eagle’s Roost,” up in the mountains and they’d be willing to buy a few inches or feet of the mine from him. During the war, Curly got talking to a man from Kansas and Ralph’s father warned the man not to trust Curly, but Curly had told the man that everyone talked bad him and were always saying that he was dishonest because they were jealous. So the man brought from Curly a bunch of land that wasn’t worth much and most of it Curly didn’t even own. Afterwards, Ralph said, “Curly went into Randsburg and brought war bonds and became a hero.”

The creek was still running strong and the ground soft, so before reaching the end of the gulch, we decided to turn around. Bill said he’d thrown in a shovel, but none of us were excited about actually using it. After we got out of the gulch, we drove up into the hills and then headed back across the way to Randsburg, where we had lunch.Looking at Creosote Bushes near the Yellow Aster Mine

Postlude: Ralph lived in the Gulch until he graduated from High School at which time he joined the Army Air Corp and trained on a B-24 (I think that’s the plane). He made it to the South Pacific in time for the war to end. Ralph received a combat citation, and just so no one thought of him as a hero, he loved telling the story about how some General thought they should have combat experience before being sent to blow up Japan. The General sent several hundred airplanes into the sky to blow the hell out of some islands that a few Japanese soldiers had the misfortune of being marooned on as their island had been leaped over in our drive toward the Japanese homeland. His second mission was to drop supplies into POW camps after the surrender. After the war, Ralph attended school on the GI bill and became a chemist and spent the rest of his life in the Southwest.
Other posts where I was traveling with Ralph: Randsburg, CA and Death Valley (same trip as this one); Hole in a Rock Road; Treasure City; Camp Bangladesh