Sunday, 5 December 2010


BAGPIPE BOB at the dedication ceremonies to open the spectacular bridge now spanning the Colorado River just below Hoover Dam. (you'll see in a minute how this fits into my story)
TRUCKERS ROOST WHERE HISTORY WAS MADE. Kodger King digs in for the story. I've driven 40 miles today and that's enough---no serious drifter would go further. So halfway between Blythe California and Indio I pause for the night---drawn as is this photographer by the beauty of the distant mountains. I know a bit about this place and would soon learn the rest of the story. See that dark line at the base of the mountain? That is the famous Colorado Aqueduct
---bringing California's share of the Colorado river to Las Angeles. And as you can see the builders faced a formidable problem right there: how to get the water over that mountain. They managed of course designing a kind of clever siphon up and over. You can imagine the thousands of workers once living here. They needed doctors of course for the occasional accident and that lead to a surprising development right here that affects all our lives. I'll tell you in a bit.

First, I show you the town--That Cafe is the last remaining business---all else--except the post office is shut down. Vast dirt lots are empty.

So truckers wheel in for 8 hours sleep. Quiet, spacious, free parking places like this are treasured by drivers.

I don't think you can read this, so I will tell you the gist. Right here was the birthplace of HMO's (health maintainance organizations)----specifically Kaiser Permanente--one of the nations largest.

AND THEN----AND THEN---who should drive up but a colorful old friend "bagpipe" Bob---Fresh from the dedication ceremonies of the new super bridge at Hoover Dam. He's the first to march across it playing the bagpipes. (he makes a good living playing the pipes on special occasions.) I persuade him to stay the night---so we drink beer and catch up.

Next morning I engage the self described "mayor of Desert Center" ---an affable veteran who stopped for a night and never left. He told me the colorful--and likely true---version of the main local characters. The place was founded by a desert codger named Stephen Ragsdale who built up a small empire of desert services and got rich. (google desert center for the full story) Not wishing to leave cash to to his heirs--he spent most of it on a strange project----several huge circles of palm trees.

The owner of the Cafe came by to add her view. When I tell folks I'm putting the story on the internet, I get unbelievable cooperation.

The remains of the palm circle. Dead, said the mayor because the kids turned off the water to them after the old man died.

Sure enough---no water .----but guess what?

One of them lives anyway. Anazing proof of Prigogine's Nobel prize winning theory. Living things stressed but not killed will reorganize in an improved manner. Apparantly, this one palm tree adapted somehow when the water was turned off. I take it as a metaphor for the survival of humanity when mega disasters strike.---Like the black plague. Some will adapt and survive.

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