Wednesday, 13 May 2009


Only stories are interesting---but everything and everybody is a story---a drama if you will. Bored people are simply story-blind. Awaken to the stories that crowd round us and voila! no longer bored. All day long and into the night I notice stories---far more than I can share. But here's a few: Pauls' and my rig hunkered hard against the tamerisk trees to shield ourselves from a fierce wind raging across the desert at Kelso,Ca. Two rows of trees, miles long, were planted a hundred years ago flanking the railroad tracks, and still watered and tended. Why?
As protection from this monster---that's why! The mighty and mysterious Kelso dunes, 600 feet high, fully capable of stopping the most powerful locomotive dead in its tracks--- happened so often the trees were planted as defense--- worked beautifully.
The mystery of these dunes is how they manage to "talk". Yes, they do--in a loud "voice" a roar when conditions are right. I've heard their sound. Scientist studying the phenomenon revealed a complicated answer: something about the unique way these grains are shaped causes them to vibrate as they move, magnifying to an eerie thunder. Go hear it speak!

Here is a story of practicality and political correctness--took some doing to get to the bottom of it. An old family graveyard very close to the proposed rail route---what to do---getting permission from all relevant parties--very difficult---moving bodies---creating a new cemetery--very expensive. Solution: fence it in and piously post crosses. (its what I would have done; dealing with sappy sentimentalist is one of the "crosses" sensible people have to bear.)
Kelso station, Ca. There's two good stories here: Why such elegance in the deep desert.(look and see where it is--smack dab in the middle of the Mojave desert--25 miles from anywhere)
Google it to get that story---too long to tell. The drama for me was how preservationist got the government to spend millions for restoration. It is a beautifully finished, well staffed, instructive museum.
The solution was simple for the railroad: They announced that it would be destroyed. Whoa! Preservationist rushed to the rescue, stimulating a bit of "pork" added to a congressional appropriation bill and bingo---station preserved. I must say----this is quality pork.
Largest thermometer in the world--I presume! Baker, Ca. The story I see here is that anyplace can distinguish itself if it half tries. Think deeply and creatively enough and your town can host a festival celebrating something. People beat a path to Sisters, Or for the quilt festival and Britt, Ia, a nothing of a town, makes itself memorable for the National Hobo festival. Fame is mostly self-declared and that's ok with me. Cajones and baloney will get you well known--e! (like getting yourself elected KING OF KODGERS!)
Who would not want to see where this road leads? Does it not beckon to you? Across that dry valley and through that mountain pass, a green and a blue surprise awaited me.
Here's the blue one--pristine--pleasantly hot, Tecopa Springs. photos are forbidden--for good cause--all the bathers are nude--men only on this side. I sneaked this shot. Actually I knew it was here. The surprise was that it's no longer free---and there's the story: County workers just let it sink into ruin---not motivated. So they leased it to a can-do guy who charges $7 and does a beautiful job. Old timers raised holy hell but could not reverse the decision. Paul and I grudgingly paid the fee and stayed till we got our money's worth. Without thinking, I asked one fellow: What's the wierdest thing you've seen happen here? The entire company fell to hilarious laughter. (never got an answer--didn't need one)
Here's the green surprise: the interior of America's most unique bus--THE GREEN TORTOISE
Actually there are many of them all configured about like this. The rear portion is all bed. Tired passengers just lay in a friendly heap like sleeping puppies. Hungry ones dine at the center table and I presume the front benches are for chatting and viewing.
Here, parked outside Tecopa Springs bath house; This quirky bus line, based (where else) in San Francisco sells adventurous tours to the bold and sociable. A group, mostly women, were returning from a 5 day Death Valley jaunt. Cost: food included: $250.
Imagine you're a miner in the sweltering hot town of Shoshone, Ca at the turn of the century,very near Death Valley and you need a cool place to live. You might do as these did--dig yourself a den in the (relatively) soft limestone. Add a door and life is dramatically sweeter. About 10 of these remain and are now protected.
This fellow even carved a home for his car.
Like most miners of the day, they ate canned food and ---------
This is the best story: In the 60's a moderately successful broadway ballerina on vacation, traveling through a ghost town, breaks down, sees an abandoned theatre, gets a vision of owning it, settling here and performing to whomever will come. AND THEN MAKES THE VISION REAL! She's still here! Aged but still performing---almost always to a full house. (they drive in from Death Valley 20 miles away) Now for the REST OF THE STORY: Her husband got bored and went away. She "connected" with her handyman and continued her lifestyle. Google Amargosa Opera house for an interior view of the theater.
Interior of her hotel/villa--30 or so rooms for rent---saw no takers.
Paul and I moved on to Death Valley, Where on a moonless night we danced with this lovely lady in the campground.
Writer/Adventurer Daniel Arnold (author of "Early Days in the Range of Light")who we met at Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley just before he set out ON FOOT to walk across the Cottonwood mountains directly to Lone Pine Ca. He had already walked the length of Death Valley where there are no roads--carrying 5 gallons of water.
He let me heft his pack---Wow! 60 pounds or more. He gave us a postcard to mail to his wife.

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