Tuesday, June 30, 2009

History Of Santa Clarita Valley, CA #10

The History Of Vasquez Rocks
Who would guess that the surreal Vasquez formation, cradled in the Soledad basin, was formed by violent earthquake about 25 million years ago? To the western edge of the park lies the San Gabriel mountain range, and to the north are the Sierra Pelonas. Caught in the squeeze between these two major mountain ranges, the magnificent Vasquez formation took shape.
The narrow canyons and unusual rock formations were like home for legendary bandit Tiburcio Vasquez and his men. They not only found safety in its many nooks and crannies, but family and friends lived nearby. Lieutenant Cleovaro Chavez was placed here to handle operations north of the Antelope Valley. Horses were stolen from nearby ranches and exchanged for new ones that Vasquez had stolen further south, to make it less apt for them to be discovered.
By 1856, he was actively rustling horses. A sheriff's posse caught up with him near Newhall, and he spent the next five years behind bars in San Quentin prison.
After his release, Vasquez made attempts to be law abiding, but eventually returned to crime. He was captured after a robbery in 1867 and sent to prison again for a short time.
On May 13, 1874, Vasquez was captured in the Hollywood Hills where he was hold-up at the ranch of a “friend” after years of murder, stage coach robbery, horse thieving and many other crimes. In January 1875 Vasquez was sentenced to hang for murder.In San Jose on March 17, 1875, Tiburcio Vasquez was executed. He was 39 years old.

Tiburcio Vasquez

Monday, June 29, 2009

History Of Santa Clarita Valley, CA #9

Gene Autry’s “Melody Ranch” Movie Studio
Since 1915, when the studio was first opened for business, an endless string of hard riding shoot-em-ups have been produced at this location. Monogram Studios made 750 "B" westerns before selling the ranch to singing cowboy Gene Autry in 1952. Legendary cowboy actors, including William S. Hart, Gary Cooper, Tom Mix, Roy Rogers, Bill Boyd, and John Wayne filmed their westerns here until 1962 when a fire swept through Placerita Canyon destroying the main western street. Gene Autry maintained the rest of the ranch for his horse Champion until the horse’s death in 1990. He then put the ranch up for sale and the Veluzat brothers purchased it.
August 28, 1962 - The first blaze broke out just after noon in Hasley Canyon, north of Castaic Junction. The second broke out an hour later on a ranch between Newhall and Saugus. High winds whipped the flames into the most intense inferno anyone had ever seen.When the smoke cleared three days later 17,200 acres had been scorched and 15 structures and numerous outbuildings were lost. No one was killed, but the Western street at Melody Ranch, the setting for "High Noon's" immortal facedown, was gone.
Melody Ranch has been brought back to life with the restoration of the famous western street. You can experience a page torn from history on the street where famous westerns were made such as, The Lone Ranger, Wyatt Earp, Gunsmoke, Hopalong Cassidy, Annie Oakley, Rin Tin Tin and the Cisco Kid. Yes many things have changed but the old west hasn't...at least not at Melody Ranch.

Photo I took of entrance to Melody Ranch
Photo from Internet of town

Sunday, June 28, 2009

History Of Santa Clarita Valley, CA #8

William S. Hart, Silent Film Cowboy and citizen of the Santa Clarita Valley & the Hart Park and Ranch/Museum.
William S. Hart was born in Newburgh, New York on December 6, 1864. Hart started his acting career in his twenties. At the age of 49, Hart came west to Hollywood to start his movie career. During the next 11 years, he made more than 65 silent films, the last being "Tumbleweeds" in 1925.
A successful Shakespearean actor on Broadway who had worked with Margaret Mather and other stars, William S. He appeared in the original 1899 stage production of Ben-Hur.
Hart went on to become one of the first great stars of the motion picture western. Fascinated by the Old West, he acquired Billy the Kid's “six shooters” and was a friend of legendary lawmen Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson. He entered films in 1914 where, after playing supporting roles in two short films, he achieved stardom as the lead in the feature The Bargain. Hart was particularly interested in making realistic western films. His films are noted for their authentic costumes and props, as well as Hart's extraordinary acting ability, honed on Shakespearean theater stages in the United States and England.
In 1921, Hart purchased a ranch house and surrounding property in the Santa Clarita Valley. He built a 22-room mansion which today houses Hart's collection of western art, Native American artifacts, and early Hollywood memorabilia. Hart lived at the ranch nearly 20 years until his death in 1946. In his will, Hart gave the Horseshoe Ranch to the County of Los Angeles. It was to be set aside for the use and enjoyment of the public, at no charge. Today, the Horseshoe Ranch consists of 265 acres. Both the ranch house and the Hart residence are open to the public. An assortment of animals reside at Hart Park, including a small herd of bison which were a gift from the Walt Disney Studios in 1962.

William S. Hart

William S. Hart Mansion/Museum

Entryway to the mansion from upstairs

Formal Dining Room

Living Room

Saturday, June 27, 2009

History Of Santa Clarita Valley, CA #7

Beale’s Cut
Originally known as “San Fernando Pass”, this pass was first used in August of 1769 by Don Gaspar de Portola who was looking for a route to the north to follow out the orders of King Charles III of Spain, which were to colonize Alta California. Once through the pass he turned west down the Santa Clara River valley to the coast and then north to Monterey Bay. Once the mission was founded at Monterey travelers used this route extensively
About six years later Father Francisco Garces pushed north from the pass and pioneered the trail north through the Tehachapi Mountains into the interior of California. Later another route was discovered that led from the San Fernando Pass northeast into the Antelope Valley.
As time went on the traffic increased through the pass being traveled by miners, merchants and soldiers. General John C. Fremont marched troops through the pass on his way to sign the Cahuenga Capitulation Treaty that ended the war with Mexico. At that time the pass was named Fremont's Pass.
It was a very steep climb for wagons and at the very top was a four-foot step that caused many passengers to have to disembark and help push the wagon over the top. Sometimes wagons were unable to make the grade and rolled down the mountainside.
After the discovery of gold in the north in 1848 and the founding of Fort Tejon in 1854, also in the north, pressure was put on the government to build a better road. A toll road was started and by 1855 it was open for traffic. They say it was still a fearsome ride. Folks still had to get out and push and one description of the pass has the wagons beating the horses to the bottom of the hill.
A prominent landowner E. F. Beale, having traveled the pass for personal reasons many times, decided to do something about the dangerous conditions. In 1859 he took fifty men and with simple hand tools he made a cut in the mountain side 50 yards long, 65 feet high, and twenty feet wide. Finally the wagons could pass through with reasonable ease. In 1862 Beale was awarded the franchise for the toll road. Wagons were charged a quarter and passengers were charged ten cents. A team of horse was kept nearby to assist wagons in getting over as the hill, which was still quite steep, especially for the 35 ton loaded freight wagons. Thankful teamsters named the area Beale's Cut. Soon the name Fremont's Pass was forgotten and San Fernando Pass was again adopted, but the slot in the sandstone mountain will forever be known as Beale's Cut.
In the years that followed, the San Fernando Pass and namely the Beale's Cut area became Los Angeles's first traffic and air pollution problems. Wagons became backed up waiting to get through the toll road because it was so popular. In the dry months the wagons kicked up so much dirt people could barely see. Sprinkler wagons were brought in to wet the area down. Staging areas were set up for stages and passengers to wait in turn while the wagons went through.
The pass was used until the early 1900's and did get to see its first car, a 1902 Autocar. The car had to go up the hill backwards due to its gravity flow of gasoline to the carburetor. On the decent the wheels were chained to keep some semblance of control.
A tunnel replaced the use of the pass in 1910 and that in turn was made obsolete by the building of four lane highways in 1939.


Photo of Beale's Cut

Friday, June 26, 2009

History Of Santa Clarita Valley, CA #6

The "Black-Palm Springs"
Once a Mexican mining town, Val Verde ("green valley") was opened up to LA's African-American population in the early 1900s by "a wealthy white woman in Pasadena" who was angered by the city's Jim Crow laws, and the area soon "became a 'weekend picnic spot' for Afro-Americans".
In 1924 the land was purchased by Sidney Dones, who partnered with Joe Bass on the project. The pair shared a vision for the area as a resort community for African-Americans who were not permitted to own land or gather for recreation elsewhere in the city. They marketed their town as "Eureka Villa" and began to sell parcels to interested parties. "In 1928 the development became an independent township and residents changed the name back to “Val Verde”. By the 1930s the area was wildly popular, mainly because "it was one of only a few places blacks could go for recreation, others being Lake Elsinore in Riverside County, a section of Venice Beach and a park in Pasadena that was open to blacks one day a year".
The thirties saw a whirl of activity in Val Verde because WPA funds were granted for development of a swimming pool, funded by a federal grant of thrity-nine thousand dollars and celebrated with a gala opening that brought out a veritable who's who of black Los Angeles, including film stars Louise Beavers and Hattie McDaniels, who was then shooting Gone With the Wind and would shortly make history by becoming the first African American to win an Oscar (Flamming 349). The town boasted picnic tables, fields for ball playing, barbecue spots, and theatres where all-black productions and performers took to the stages. Hundreds, sometimes thousands of people would go to Val Verde, particularly in the summer months.
The need for a community like Val Verde touches on a time in our city's past that was, to say the least, bittersweet for a portion of the population. "The first half of [the 20th] century was a sad time for many Angelenos," recalls Leon Worden, a local historian. "Black-owned businesses were torched. Blacks couldn't use most beaches or public swimming pools, let alone compete with whites for high-paying jobs. It wasn't until the mid-1950s that the courts struck down restrictive covenants that prevented blacks from owning real estate in certain areas of Los Angeles."
While Val Verde was a respite and a safe haven, it also represented the fact that not everyone was able to fully enjoy Los Angeles as the Eden-like land of plenty as it was advertised and reputed to be. Curiously enough, many of Val Verde's most prominent supporters were those who were the strongest voices in opposition of segregation, like Charlotta Bass and other leaders of the Race organization, who consistently denounced segregated projects but apparently viewed Val Verde as a matter of separation, not segregation.So what became of Val Verde? By the 1960s and 1970s, segregation laws were reversed and Afro-Angelenos filtered into the city itself and made homes and lives for themselves without restriction. The need for an escape and a separate community was gone, and with it went much of the town's legacy. Soon Val Verde was seeing an influx of non-black residents, namely Hispanics, who were happy to find a quiet place to settle and raise families. The town is now home to mostly working class Latinos, a bevy of CalArts

Photos at the Val Verde Historic Center

Thursday, June 25, 2009

History Of Santa Clarita Valley, CA #5

Saugus Train Station.
When the Golden Spike was driven at Lang Station near Solemint, CA (which is now Canyon Country, CA) in 1876, tying together Los Angeles to San Francisco, and, in turn, the continent-spanning Union Pacific, it signaled an irreversible change in the lifestyle of the Santa Clarita Valley. The Saugus Train Station opened eleven years later on September 1, 1887 when the spur line to Ventura was completed by Southern Pacific Railroad.
In order to accommodate hungry travelers, Tolefree's Saugus Eating House was established at the north end of the depot. It was taken over by Martin and Richard Wood in 1898, who changed the name to The Saugus Cafe. By 1905 more room was needed for additional storage of freight at the Station, so the cafe moved across the tracks, where it stands today.
Cowboys would occasionally shoot up the Station as their way of greeting the trains. There were robberies, too, the most famous being the night in 1929 when "Buffalo" Tom Vernon derailed and looted Engine Number 59.
President Benjamin Harrison stopped over in April 1891, and Theodore Roosevelt was met by Governor Henry T. Gage here in 1903.
The last passenger train that stopped at the Station during April 1971 and the last freight train was discontinued in 1979. The depot was closed on November 15, 1978 by the last Agent, Mr. James Guthrie. Through a massive community effort, the building was saved and moved on June 24, 1980 to its present location on land leased from Los Angeles Country within William S. Hart Park.
The Saugus Station has been featured in a number of motion pictures, television shows, music videos and commercials. Films include "The Pilgrim" (1919) with Charlie Chaplin, "Suddenly" (1954) starring Frank Sinatra, and most recently "The Grifters" (1989) starring Angelica Huston and John Cusack, and many student projects for area film schools.

Saugus Station at it's original location on Railroad Street
(formerly San Fernando Road).

The station at it's current location in Heritage Junction/
Hart Park - Newhall, CA


Yesterday I went for some routine blood work at Kaiser. I have high cholesterol/triglycerides, but I cannot tolerate the statins that they prescribe for this problem. My last doctor tried me on 4 different kinds and all of them gave me muscle pain and fatigue. He also had me try taking Niacin and OTC Fish Oil.
My problem is genetic, NOT so much what I eat. I remember my mom's doctor used to tell me that my mom could stop eating all together and still have high cholesterol, and it appears I have the same problem. But my mom could take the statins with no problem.
When I was first diagnosed with high cholesterol/triglycerides, my total cholesterol count was 305. I started walking and hiking, tried to watch what I ate and lost 40 lbs. and I got my total count down to 265, but that's the best I could do. The my total count hovered between 270 and 280 for about 4 years. Now it's back up to 300. My good cholesterol however stays around 49 or 50, which is 10 points above normal and that is good.
I admit that I have not been watching my food intake as well as I used too plus Ben and I have started eating out more often again for lunch and I know that the fast-food is not good for me. I'm thinking that this is the reason my numbers have gone back up as I still walk and hike and I've only gained back 10 of the 40 lbs. I lost 5 years ago.
If they could come up with some kind of prescription medication for high cholesterol that did not cause the side effects, I'd take it in a minute.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

History Of Santa Clarita Valley, CA #4

Castaic Junction: James Dean's Last Stop Before Immortality?
It's likely that few residents realize that a 54 years ago, the Santa Clarita Valley played a bit part in one of Hollywood's most notable tragic endings.
In the late afternoon of Sept. 30, 1955, actor James Dean was heading north to a race in Salinas in his Porsche Spyder, with mechanic Rolf Wuetherich.The pair reportedly stopped for lunch at Tip's Coffee Shop in Castaic Junction where Dean might have had his last bite to eat.Reportedly, the actor best known for his brooding image ordered an all-American snack of apple pie and a glass of milk.Several hours later in Cholame, CA, 25 miles east of Paso Robles at the junction of Highways 41 and 46, Dean swerved to avoid hitting a Ford sedan that had turned left into his path.Dean's car came to rest in a ditch, his arms and neck broken and his left side crushed. He died in an ambulance.California Highway Patrol officers estimated Dean was driving about 70 mph.Wuetherich, who was injured in the crash, said Dean's last words were, "He's got to see us."The other driver, Donald Turnupseed, said he didn't see Dean coming.Just 24 years old, an actor on the verge of stardom was dead and a legend was born.At the time of his death, only one of Dean's films — "Rebel Without a Cause" — had been released. "East of Eden" was released days after his death, and "Giant" was released in 1956.Ironically, prior to his death Dean had filmed a traffic safety film warning motorists to "drive carefully. The life you save may be mine."While some have said Tip's was not the site of Dean's last meal, former Signal publisher Tony Newhall calls that "hearsay.""Don't let anyone tell you he didn't stop at Tip's," said Newhall, who wrote an article on the 30th anniversary of Dean's death for The Signal's Sept. 29, 1985, edition.In the biography "James Dean: The Mutant King," author David Dalton wrote that Dean and Wuetherich "drove along the Ridge Route, stopping at Tip's Diner for something to eat."Newhall said his research leads him to believe Tip's waitress Althea McGuinness — who died in the mid-1970s — was the last person to serve Dean.In a 1985 interview, former Tip's manager Carmen Cummings told Newhall she vividly remembered Dean's stop at the restaurant.”Yes, he did stop there on his last day," she told Newhall. "He sat at the counter. We all recognized him."But did the actor stop for another meal that fateful afternoon?Fifty-four years after the fact, Newhall said ultimately, "only James Dean and his mechanic know the answer."

Tip's Restaurant at Castaic Junction in the Santa Clarita Valley is now gone

James Dean

Dean in his Porche Spyder

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

History Of Santa Clarita Valley, CA #3

California's first commercially successful oil well at Mentryville.
“A mighty gusher of oil shot to the top of the 65-foot California Star Oil derrick on September 26, 1876. Known as "Pico Number 4," it was the first commercially successful oil well in the western United States. The well was tucked away in the Santa Susana Mountains formation of Pico Canyon, approximately four miles west of the present-day Lyons Avenue exit off of Interstate 5 in the Santa Clarita Valley. It had been punched to a depth of 617 feet by a French immigrant named Charles Alexander Mentry, just thirty years old but nonetheless a veteran of the world's first commercial oil fields in Titusville, Pennsylvania. Transient oil workers migrated to Pico Camp to harvest the bounty, and by 1880, as many as 100 families lived in what was being called "Mentryville." Young oil men lived in bunkhouses, while those with wives and children built clapboard cabins of imported redwood. Theirs was the first village in the Santa Clarita Valley to enjoy natural gas lighting. Townspeople erected a schoolhouse in 1885, and a 13-room mansion was occupied by oil field superintendent Alex Mentry and his family 1898. At the turn of the century, Mentry died. Field workers started to abandon Mentryville in the early 1900s, by which time the canyon's richest deposits of oil had been depleted, and greener — or blacker — pastures beckoned. After 1938, Mentryville's sole inhabitants were the head foremen and their families, who stayed on to manage the flow of oil that would eventually ebb to a trickle. Not only did Pico Number 4 give birth to an industry in California; it was also the longest-running oil well in the world when it ceased operation in 1990. Located at the base of Pico Canyon’s chaparral-dominated slopes, Mentryville was an 1880’s oil boom town built around its oil well, Pico No. 4. Named for Charles Alexander Mentry, the oil well’s tenacious driller—and later superintendent of the company that would become Chevron—Mentryville was home to over 100 families until the early 1930’s. Pico No. 4 went on to become the longest continually operating oil well in the world, closing in 1990. Historic buildings still stand including Charles Mentry’s grand thirteen-room mansion, a one-room school house, and a period barn. Mentryville and Pico No. 4 are registered as California State Historical Landmarks.”

Monday, June 22, 2009

History Of Santa Clarita Valley, CA #2

The History Channel called it “America’s worst civil engineering failure of the 20th Century” but we call it “The St. Francis Dam Disaster”.

"Great St. Francis Dam Crumbles"
"Great Wall of Water Sweeps Sleeping Victims Into Eternity"
"Death Flood comes In Darkness"
"Dead May Number 400"
"Living Hunted in Debris!"
"Flood Death Toll Grows"

The bold, black headlines echo down through the years, staring up from the fading, crumbling newspapers that carried the tale of death and destruction to their readers.The second worst disaster in California history began on March 12, 1928, near midnight, in the remote San Francisquito Canyon area of Saugus. The St. Francis Dam failed at 11:57:30, a time pegged to the loss of electricity from the Southern California Edison transmission lines to Lancaster. The lines were located 90 feet above the dam's eastern abutment.The dam's reservoir of 12.5 billion gallons of water poured down the narrow canyon, initially in a 140-foot-high wall of water, and swept nearly 500 men, women and children to their deaths. In California history, only the 1906 San Francisco earthquake killed more people.It was a disaster of epic proportions, one that remains largely unpublicized and unknown, today.As the flood carved out a path to the sea, it lay waste to Castaic Junction, Piru, Fillmore, Santa Paula and Saticoy before emptying into the Pacific Ocean, more than 50 miles away, near Ventura.

"Death and Destruction Carried by Great Flood Wave When Big Dam Breaks"
"Many Bodies Remain Buried in Debris as Death Toll in Catastrophe Still Mounts"
"Fillmore Funeral Chapel Stacked With Bodies of Victims of the Flood"

After the catastrophic failure of the dam, the newspapers, including The Signal, dispatched reporters and photographers to the scene of the tragedy. They filled their pages with photographs, interviews with survivors and lists of the dead.Tales of horror and heroism were documented for days, and in some instances weeks, after the deadly dam collapse.Remarkable tales of survival and tragic tales of loss were reported in the Fillmore American of March 15, 1928. "Shot his Way Out Thru Roof of House Saved by Sycamores" was one such headline."Frank Maier and his wife and three children, residing on (a) ranch below the Bardsdale bridge, had a remarkable escape. As the waters swirled in around them, they made their way to the attic. Here Frank shot a hole through the roof, through which he passed his wife and two of the children to the roof. As he was about to follow them with his son, the house began to move, it was caught in a little circle of sycamore trees, where it rocked from side to side, without turning over or being carried away. The house floated, like a leaky boat, the mark showing that there had never been more than eighteen inches of water in it, when it dropped back to the ground."Another story in the same paper reported, "How Old Man Koffer Swept to Safety on Mattress of his Bed." Demonstrating how writing style and political correctness have advanced through the years, the story read:"Old Man Koffer was saved. And the term old is not used lightly or slurringly, for he is seventy-four. He and his wife, also aged, lived on the Carter ranch above Fillmore. The waters caught them as they slept. And that is about all that Old Man Koffer remembers. For when he realized where he was, he was on his knees, clinging to the mattress, his old wife gone. A few awful moments and the mattress and its aged occupant swirled out to one side and landed in the Illharaguy lemon orchard, where help came to him."In another tragic report, a man was able to save his baby, but his wife and four other children "swept by, crying for help that could not come."

"Wastes Scarred by Fearful Hand of Death Stretch Under Leaden Skies in Land of Misery"
"Corpses Flung in Muddy Chaos by Tide of Doom"
"Desolation Stalks Where Fertile Fields Once Held Happy Homes, Now Hurled Into Oblivion"
"St. Francis Dam Disaster Most Appalling"

Newspapers of the day were not shy about placing opinion on their front pages. The Fillmore American wrote one of the most scathing pieces on the disaster:"Just as the ominous thirteenth of March, 1928, was being born, Death, mounted on a wave of swirling waters, seventy feet high, and beginning at a crumbling dam high up in San Francisquito canyon, rode in devastating wrath to the sea. Sweeping through the most fertile valley in the Southland. And in his wake he left death, and devastation, and ruin, where a short hour before his passing people slept in peace, security and happiness."The story of the breaking dam has greeted your eyes from scores of newspapers pages before this one reaches you. How the big $2,500,000 dam, built on the insecure foundation of a great city's greed for what did not belong to it, crumbled as the result of faulty designing and hasty construction. Engineer Grunsky was right. That great dam built in the center of the canyon, with light-flung wings to the soft earth sides of the mountains, was an ‘old woman's apron.' And the strings broke and the result was a hell of swirling waters that took life after life, until its fury was stayed in the waters of the sea."The St. Francis Dam was the brainchild of William Mulholland, the manager and chief engineer of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Mulholland had designed the aqueduct from the Owens Valley that brought a reliable and steady supply of water to Los Angeles. Water politics between the city of Los Angeles and the farmers and ranchers of the Owens Valley were strained after many in the northern valley felt that Los Angeles had "stolen" their water. A group of ranchers had tried to dynamite portions of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, others had captured a spillway and shut off water to the aqueduct for a brief time. Mulholland wanted a local reservoir to hold an emergency water supply that could sustain Los Angeles for a year in the event that an earthquake, or other calamity, severed the aqueduct.The Signal, a weekly paper in 1928, first reported the tragedy on Thursday, March 15."One of the worst calamities that ever happened in Southern California took place Tuesday morning at about 12:30 a.m. when the great San Francisquito Canyon dam broke and sent a wall of water crashing down the canyon, sweeping everything in its path to destruction. ... The loss of life was appalling, coming as it did, in the dead of night, without any chance of escape..."In a Los Angeles area paper, the tragedy is reported in the dramatic style of the day: "Death and devastation continued last night to stare back from the sodden wastes of Santa Clara valley upon a horror-stricken world, mute with the knowledge of appalling loss of life and property in the greatest disaster in the history of Southern California."

"Total Loss in Lives and Property Is Still Very Incomplete"
"Responsibility for Disaster Undoubtedly Up to Los Angeles"
"Flood Indictments Hinted"
"Dynamite Theory Now Advanced As Cause of Break"
"Blame Mulholland for Dam Structure"

As the weeks passed and the list of missing dwindled, the ranks of the dead increased and the tally of property losses swelled, the search for the cause of the disaster — and the assigning of blame — played out in the area newspapers.Everything from sabotage by Owens Valley farmers, to earthquake, to the eventual finding that the dam was built on a foundation of "slippery rock," was put forth in print in the days following the disaster.Eventually, blame for the dam's failure was laid at the feet of the dam's builder, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's Mulholland.He was reportedly devastated by the disaster, and photos of him at the scene of the calamity on the morning of the tragedy show a shocked Mulholland as he surveyed the damage.A Los Angeles newspaper dated March 14, 1928, was sympathetic to Mulholland."Mulholland's Heart Torn by First Disaster," the headline declares. "Chief Engineer Mulholland was a pitiable figure as he appeared before the Water and Power Commission yesterday afternoon to make his report on the visit to the scene of the disaster. His figure was bowed, his face lined with worry and suffering. As he told the commissioners of his trip, his voice was broken."Every commissioner had the deepest sympathy for the man who had spent his life for the service of the people of Los Angeles, administered the water department from village days to present and made the Los Angeles of today possible by building the Aqueduct and furnishing a supply of water for a city of 2,000,000 persons. In all his career of handling great projects he is facing the first disaster to any of his achievements. For his Irish heart is kind, tender, sympathetic and the tragedy for the people in the canyon and the Santa Clara Valley is the tragedy of William Mulholland."Years after Mulholland's death, geologists discovered that the dam had been built in the area of an ancient landslide, something unknown to Mulholland and the geologists and engineers of the time. However, that may or may not have contributed to the dam's failure.To find the true cause of the disaster, it may be necessary to return to the very beginning — the building of the dam.

Construction of the "concrete gravity dam with an arch" began in 1924 and ended in 1926. The St. Francis was originally built to stand 185 feet tall; however, in an effort to increase the capacity of the reservoir, the dam's height was increased to a towering 205 feet. A wing dike, 588 feet long and nearly 15 feet high, along the western embankment, further added to the reservoir's capacity.Life-long Santa Clarita Valley resident Bailey Haskell, now 91, worked on the dam as a young man. His job was to help transport gravel from the creekbed. He criticized the materials used in the construction."They didn't use washed gravel," he said. "They were using gravel directly from the creekbed that had clay in it. I could see these great chunks of clay going right into the dam."J. David Rogers, whose list of credentials is extensive and includes certified professional geologist, certified engineering geologist, certified hydrogeologist and member of the American Institute of Professional Geologists, has conducted numerous engineering studies of the dam site over the last 20 years. He now thinks he knows what caused the failure.In his yet-to-be-published paper, "Man Made Disaster at an Old Landslide Dam Site: A Day in the Field with Thomas Dibblee and J. David Rogers, St. Francis Dam area, May 17, 1997," Rogers reports a laundry list of 13 design deficiencies. Many of the failings are couched in technical and engineering terms: "Lack of hydraulic uplift theory being incorporated into the dam's design; lack of uplift relief wells on the sloping abutment sections of the dam; failure to batter the upstream face of the dam to reduce tensile forces via cantilever action; failure to analyze arch stresses of the main dam; failure to remove high water content cement paste (laitence layer) between concrete lifts; failure to account for the mass concrete heat-of-hydration; failure to recognize tendency of the Vasquez formation to slake upon submersion and failure to provide the dam with grouted contraction joints."However, other items on Rogers' list are more easily understood by the layman, including: "Failing to recognize that the dam concrete would eventually become saturated; failure to wash concrete aggregate before incorporation in the dam's concrete; failure to recognize the paleomegalandslide structure of the Pelona Schist comprising the dam's left abutment (the site of the ancient landslide); and failure to adequately account for changes in cantilever and arch loads caused by raising the dam 11 percent of its original design height (from 185 to 205 feet)."His report states that despite the design deficiencies, the dam might have endured."Given the fact that so many other dams of that era were also built without a proper appreciation of uplift, and that more than 115 dams have now been identified as having been unknowingly built against paleolandslides, these factors, in themselves, cannot strictly account for the dam's untimely demise."The report concludes, "Probably the greatest single factor that could be pointed to was the decision to heighten the dam a second time. Aside from the geologic shortcomings, all of the structural analyses predicted overstressed conditions when the reservoir pool rose within seven to 10 feet of crest. Had the dam not been heightened that last 10 feet, it might have survived."What may have signaled the death knell for the dam was the final heightening that created an unstable structure. As the reservoir filled to the brim, just six days before the collapse, the massive force of the water behind the dam caused it to lift from its foundation, twist and crumble.

The official death toll of the St. Francis stands at 495. The true toll is probably higher when undocumented farm laborers are added to the rolls of the dead. No one knows exactly how many perished at their camps in the fields along the floodpath. It is known that more than 60 inhabitants of Power House No. 2, located 7,300 feet downstream from the dam, were killed when the 110-foot-high wall of water wiped the power house, and the family living quarters, from the face of the earth.At a Southern California Edison construction camp located along state Route 126 at the Los Angeles-Ventura county line, 84 of the 150 workers encamped there perished. The power of the flood is hard to comprehend, but after traveling more than 50 miles down the Santa Clara River Valley, an AT&T lineman reported the wall of water was still 15 feet deep and three-quarters of a mile wide when it reached the ocean at Ventura.Lost in the mists of time is an exact accounting of the monetary cost of the disaster. Charles Outland, in his out-of-print book, "Man-Made Disaster," tallies losses in excess of $13 million — in 1928 dollars.

The full reservoir behind the dam.

The day before the collapse.

After the collapse.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

History Of Santa Clarita Valley, CA #1

Ben and I moved to the City of Santa Clarita, CA about 15 years ago. We live in the town of Canyon Country which is one of the 6 towns within the city. The 6 towns are Canyon Country, Saugus, Newhall, Valencia, Stevenson Ranch, and Castaic.
Santa Clarita is located about 29 miles north of downtown Los Angeles and about 44 miles east of Ventura, CA.
About 200,000 people call the City of Santa Clarita home. The town of Canyon Country has about 35,000 people.
Santa Clarita is a city with a lot of history. I decided I would start to share the history of this area on my blog.
One of the most important historic happenings in Santa Clarita is the fact that this was actually the location of the first gold find in the state of California. History books claim that the first gold find was up in Coloma, CA at Sutter's Mill by James Marshall in January of 1848. This information is just not true.
The truth is, Marshall and Sutter gained notoriety because their strike was widely reported in east coast newspapers later that year.
The first California gold was discovered right here. In the Santa Clarita Valley. In Placerita Canyon, to be exact. Six years before Sutter's Mill. As most of you know, Placerita Canyon is my favorite place to hike.
In the 1840s, the area bounded by Piru Creek on the west and Elsmere Canyon on the east was run by the Del Valle family. They acquired it in 1839, when California Governor Juan B. Alvarado granted the rancho to Mexican Lt. Antonio del Valle. Stocked with cattle, sheep and horses, the rancho was headquartered at the Asistencia de San Francisco Javier at present-day Castaic Junction. Jose Francisco de Gracia Lopez, an uncle of Don Antonio's second wife, leased some land from the Del Valles and ran his own cattle.
Here's what happened on March 9, 1842, the day of Lopez' 40th birthday:

"At about noontime, (Lopez) was deep in CaƱon de los Encinos (Live Oak Canyon), picking a spot under an ancient oak tree for lunch and a siesta. "After his nap, Lopez dug up some wild onions with his knife and was surprised to discover gold clinging to their roots." Lopez and his associates scavenged the riverbanks and came up with more. They took their find to Los Angeles and sent word to Mexico City. Assayed by the Philadelphia Mint, the gold tested out at .926 fine. Hundreds of prospectors from Los Angeles and Sonora, Mexico flocked to Live Oak Canyon, which was renamed Placerita Canyon. "Placer," of Spanish origin, means surface deposits of sand or gravel containing gold. From 1842 to 1847, the miners culled some 1,300 pounds of gold from Placerita. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848 turned California over to the United States, and many of the Sonoran miners went home. History is unkind to Sr. Lopez, not only because it generally overlooks him, but because it often makes him out to have been a simple rancher who found gold by dumb luck. He wasn't and didn't. Both Reynolds and Ruth Newhall note that Lopez studied mineralogy at a university in Mexico before coming to the Del Valles' rancho. Evidence suggests that while here, Lopez systematically searched for gold. Reynolds writes: "While there had been rumors of other gold strikes prior to 1842, Lopez made the first authenticated find, started the first gold rush in California and made the first attempt at a mining claim. (Don Antonio's son Ignacio) del Valle was the first person to make mining laws in the state."

Today, the oak tree beneath which Lopez took his famous nap — the Oak of the Golden Dream — is a California Historic Landmark, near the Placerita Canyon Nature Center. Take Placerita Canyon Road 1 1/2 miles east of State Route 14 to the park entrance.
Here is a photo of my brother Keith standing in front of that oak tree.

Father's Day

Today we went up to the cemeteries where our dad's are buried. My dad is in Sylmar, CA at Glen Haven Memorial Park and Ben's dad in Glendale, CA at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park.
Ben and I don't have children, so the only way we celebrate Mother's Day and Father's Day is by taking flowers to the cemetery.
Was a little warmer here today. Started out very cloudy this morning but burned off quickly. It's in the low 90's and they are saying we will be in the 100's by middle week.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Drizzly Day

Got up this morning to "June-Gloom" once again and today the marine layer was so thick that it actually drizzled and made the ground wet. I had planned to head over to the Placerita Nature Center Open-House, and decided to go even though I knew it would be wet and soggy. There really was not that much to see....a few birds, some lizards, some snakes. They had two baby rattlers in a glass case. I'm glad those suckers were locked inside there. I took a few photos and I'm sharing two of them here with you all.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Happy Friday/Happy Summer

Tomorrow is summer here in the good old USA.
My brother was supposed to be coming up from Orange County for the weekend but he some how hurt his back and so he went to the doctor yesterday. They did an MRI but did not see any disk problems and they ruled out kidney infection. They gave him pain medication and sent him home. I got an email from him today saying he would not be coming up for the weekend because the pain medication is making him very groggy and he didn't go to work today and has been sleeping most of the day.
We were supposed to go over to the Placerita Nature Center for their annual open house. Guess I'll have to go by myself because tomorrow is Ben's work Saturday.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Morning Walk

Took a morning walk over in the community of Bridgeport. Here's a video I took while on that walk.
I like uploading videos from YouTube better than than from Blogger because the are bigger and you can also make them full-screen.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Warm Wednesday

Today we did not have any "June Gloom" at all, in fact it got up to about 94 degrees.
We went over to KFC today and brought some chicken back home for lunch. Our soap opera (The Young And The Restless) was not on today because since the Los Angeles Lakers won the basketball title, they were having a big parade for them in downtown Los Angeles and a celebration at the Coliseum, so it preempted my show. I hate it when they do that, especially when I could care less about basketball.
Right now we are watching the Los Angeles Dodgers playing the Oakland Athletics. I do enjoy watching baseball.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Nice Lunch

The sun was out and shining brightly this morning when we got up AND the electrician came and fixed that outdoor outlet for us, so all is well at last.
We had a nice lunch at the Sizzler with our good friend Ed today. Ben and Ed met several years ago when they were working at the same company. We try to get together with him at least every-other month. Lately it's been hard to do though because his dad just passed away so he is back and forth between his home in Pomona, CA and his mom's home in Boise, ID. His mom is in her late 80's and being that Ed is their only child, he has to keep an eye on her. Ben feel that Ed should move back to Idaho to take care of his mom, but he doesn't seem to want to do that.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Wasted Day

Got up this morning and sent Ben off to work then proceeded to do some housework. As I've mentioned before, I don't go for my morning walks on days I plan to do housework because if I get outside and then come back to face the housework, I can usually talk myself out of doing it (LOL).
After I finished with my work, I thought "I think I'll head on over to Bridgeport and walk around the lake path". I then went into the bathroom to use my electric hair dryer and it didn't work! At first I thought it was the dryer, so I tested it on another outlet in another room and it worked. Then I noticed the GFI button on the bathroom outlet had popped out. I went to the garage to check the breakers and they looked OK, but I could not get the button to stay on.
Then I remembered.....the person who lived in our house before us "thought" he was an electrician. He strung wires that go to nothing and added useless switches and outlets all around the place. He had put an electrical outlet on the outside of the house near the patio. Guess he used it for power tools outside or something. Anyway, we have never used it because every time we did, it would pop the GFI button in the master bathroom.
Well, when the work crew was here last week, they replaced the siding panel that this outlet is in before they painted our house as the siding was starting to rot. I guess the guy didn't caulk around the outlet door or something because this morning when the sprinklers came on, the outlet got wet and that's the reason the GFI button popped. After the outdoor outlet dried, the outlets in the bathroom were working again.
But I cannot have this happen every time the sprinklers water the lawn!
I called the supervisor down at the construction office and told him about the outlet. I had mentioned to him before that it popped the breaker every time we used it and it was useless. Anyway, he said that he'd send one of his guys over sometime today to take a look at it and either exchange the outlet or just disconnect it. That was over 6 hours ago and no one has shown up yet. Maybe they have to wait until their regular shift is over like they did with the painting. I've just been sitting here all day waiting, so needless to say, I never got to go for my walk.
Now I'm wondering. If they disconnect the outlet, will that keep the outlets in the bathroom from working since they are hooked up to it for the GFI?
It's always something.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunny At Last

Well the sun actually made an appearance today. I went out for my morning walk and it was really nice.
My friend Karren called to let us know that her husband Wally has gotten a clean bill of health after having his prostate removed because of cancer. They said they caught it so early that the tumor was completely contained in the prostate and all of his tests show that he is cancer-free.
He is now recuperating at home.
They are hoping to take their 5th wheel up to Eureka, CA again this summer as they did last year to escape the heat of SoCal and this time, we may go up and meet them there and spend 6 or 7 days in the KOA Kabins where they stay. I'm trying to get some information on the price of the Kabins and what the accommodations are.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Annual Yard Sale Day

Today was our community's annual yard sale. Since we are a gated community, they do not allow people to have individual yard sales during the year, so every June, they open up the gates and let everyone who lives here have a sale if they want.
We have never participated in the 15 years we have lived here. We usually give our unwanted items to Goodwill or Salvation Army.
Let me tell you that people come from all over the valley for this annual sale. From what I've heard, years ago, before we moved here, they yard sales really drew the crowds.
This morning the streets were so crowded with people and cars that you could have gotten out if you had too. So needless to say, we just stayed in the house and watch a movie on HBO.
We watched "Hollywoodland", the story about the death of George (Superman) Reeves. Actually, the movies was NOT as good as I had expected.

Friday, June 12, 2009

June Gloom

I really hate hot weather, and I'm glad we are having cool weather right now, but I am sure wishing the sun would peek through some. We have NOT had any sunshine for over a week! Makes me want to just stay in the house and hibernate.
So did everyone make it through the Digital TV Transition ok?

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Mildred (Nalley Valley) noticed the cat in my garage on the photo of my house in the previous post. That is Marmalade aka Marmie. He is our neighbor's Tabby but she is not home very much as she is a firefighter, so Marmie spends a lot of his time at our house. He has his own dry food and water in our garage, he comes in and sleeps in our rocking chair during the day and he sometimes sleeps with us when his owner is not home. He is so sweet and cuddly. About a month ago, his owner had him shaved and he looks so funny without all his fur.

Today Is Thursday

Got up this morning to another cloudy day, but at least the sun has peeked out a few times. The marine layers does not seem to be as thick as it has been the past few days.
I went for my walk after Ben left for work, came home, had breakfast and went outside to start putting back all of the patio chairs, BBQ, wind chimes, etc. that we had moved away from the house for the paint job. Got the broom out and swept up what mess the workers left behind, which really wasn't much as they did a pretty good job cleaning up after themselves.
I must admit the house looks great and now that everything is back in place, it feels normal again. Took a photo of the front of the house so you can all see how it looks.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Guess What!



Another Gloomy Day

I just got back from picking up my medications over at the Kaiser Pharmacy. It is so gloomy outside, I just do not feel like doing anything but staying inside either watching TV or messing around on my computer. I love the cool weather, but I'd like a little sunshine too. This "June Gloom" really brings me down.
The painters should be back this afternoon to finish up the job. I found out that they do these "odd" jobs like painting houses, etc. on their own time and that is why the worked Saturday and Sunday and do not show up on week days until their normal work shift is over.
The house they are re-roofing during the normal work shift belongs to the owner of the land that all of our homes sit on. I don't think I ever mentioned that my gated community is made up of 400 manufactured homes that sit on foundations and are on leased land. We own our homes, but not the land they sit on. We are not a mobile home park as our homes cannot be moved since they are on foundations. Most people who come into our community don't eve realize that these homes were not build on-site. Anyway, so many people have walked out away from their mortgages and left the homes empty that the owner of the land has bought several of them back from the bank and is fixing them up to sell later when the economy gets better. At least they don't end up with squatters in them and they don't look like abandoned homes.
We bought our home 15 years ago for $84,000.00. Four years ago, they were selling for $250,000.00 and I kept thinking how stupid people were for paying that amount of money when they didn't own the land. Well, those are the people who ended up having to walk out of their home.
The only regret that I have is that our community is NOT a "senior community". It would be so much nicer if it was.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Painters At Last

The painters showed up around 3:45 PM and it is now 6:45 PM and they are still out there working. I think they have finished the trim on the front of the house and on the north side of the house. So they are about half done with the trim. Sounds like they have moved to the back yard now. I don't know how they are working as it is cloudy and gray and if you ask me, it's a little dark. If the sun was shining, it would be really bright out there for them. But at least they showed up. I figured they would maybe finish the front and return tomorrow to finish, or that they would quit around 5:00 PM or 6:00 PM as they have been working on roofing that other house since 7:30 AM this morning. I'd think they'd be tired. I still think they will have to come back tomorrow morning.

I Called The Supervisor

I knew that the work crew was not going to show up this morning so we went ahead and ran errands and went out to lunch. After lunch, I called the supervisor of the work crew and he told me that yesterday he took the day off. He said it was the first time in 8 months he had done that and while in his absence, the person who was sitting in for him decided to assign the work crew to another job (replacing the roof on the other house I mentioned yesterday). He said that they should be done with that this afternoon and as soon as they are, he would be sending the work crew back over to our place to work on painting the trim. He said that they will then come back tomorrow and finish the job. He apologized and said that if I needed to go anywhere or do anything, to just go ahead and do it. I do need to run over to the Kaiser Pharmacy tomorrow and pick up my medication refills.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Don't Worry....We Are NOT Being Scammed.

One good thing is these workers are the resident work crew for our gated community. They work on the homes and grounds here every day. They report to the Construction Supervisor who has an office right here in our recreation building, right across the hall from the Community Manager's office. Plus the Construction Supervisor lives in an apartment in the upstairs of or recreation building right here in the gated community. And no, we NEVER pay in full ahead of time for any job. We gave them a deposit and that's it. We've worked with this Supervisor and his crew before. It's a legitamate group.

Maybe Tomorrow

Just before 12:00 noon, one of the workers showed up at the door asking if he could go into the back yard to pick up his ladders and the paint sprayer. He said that he "thinks" they will be back here tomorrow sometime to finish off painting the trim.

No Workers Today?

Monday morning. Got up around 7:15 AM for Ben to get ready for work. The truck the work crew had left in front of our house was gone so we did not know if they came and got it or if someone had stolen it.
7:30 AM, I was getting ready to go for a morning walk when the same truck pulls up in front of the house, so I assumed they were here to finish the trim on the house. The worker went into the back yard, got one of the ladders they left behind yesterday, put it in his truck and left. The other 3 ladders and the paint sprayer are still in our back yard.
8:00 AM, noticed that the entire work crew that had been here for the past 2 days was not over at another house in our gated community ripping the roof off the house. So I'm guessing they won't show up here today to work. Maybe they really have to make sure the paint on the siding is dry before they start putting ladders up against it to paint the trim.
Guess I could call the construction office and ask when they are going to come back to finish, but I really hate being a pushy person. It's just not me. Ben kept saying I should call if they did not show up by 9:00 AM, but I keep feeling I should give them another day before I call.
9:00 AM, went over to Michael's Craft Store. Had not been there for awhile and wanted to pickup some beading supplies.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

What Happened To the Workers?

They left for lunch and never came back.
They left around 12:30 PM and it's now 5:15 PM.
They left one of their trucks in front of our house. Left their paint sprayer. Left three ladders. Said they were going to come back after lunch to paint the trim, which surprised me because they usually wait for the wall paint to dry for a day or two.

Sunday - Paint Day

The work crew showed up at 7:00 AM but did not get started until 8:00 AM as they were waiting for their supervisor to show up with the caulk and paint.
They were finished with the all the woodwork, the caulking, taping up the trim and covering the windows and doors with plastic sheeting and by 12:30 PM they were finished painting the exterior walls of the house. Now that will have to dry before they come back and finish off the trim. They just told me they are leaving for lunch and will be back to finish the trim later.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Long Day

The work crew left at 3:30 PM and said they did not know if anyone will show up to work tomorrow or not since it will be Sunday. They got the partial roof put on the porch and replaced the bad piece of siding on the side of the house, and they started caulking the seams so they will be able to start painting soon. They still have a few boards that they need to replace.
It was a long day for me since I didn't go outside and it was dark and gray all day long.
After dinner we had some excitement around the neighborhood. We heard the sheriff helicopter flying round and round and really low. We turned on our scanner and heard them mentioning streets in our neighborhood and that they were chasing 4 or 5 suspects in the riverbed. Then there were sheriff cars all over our streets and we heard them say that they had handcuffed a couple of suspects and were still looking for the other. Finally heard the helicopter leave, so we guess they caught all of the people they were looking for.
Don't know what was going on. We do know that there have been several cars broken into here in our gated community, so don't know if that had anything to do with it or not. Ben and I think it's probably teenagers who live in our community who are breaking into the cars.
You would think that a gates community would have no crime, but that's not the case.


Well today we are having some work done on the outside of our house. There was some woodwork that needed repairing and then the exterior of the house needs to be painted. We live in a gated community and have a "construction" office on the premises, which is great because they do all kinds of work....painting, carpentry, plumbing, electrical, etc.
I was a little afraid they would not show up because of the weather. It is all cloudy and gray outside and they are predicting showers, but they showed up at 7:30 AM and started right to work.
I know they won't be able to do any painting today with this kind of weather, but at least the woodwork repair will be complete (hopefully if it does not rain) and then they will be able to do the painting when the weather is better.
Only thing is I'll have to stay home and probably inside all day and put up with the noise from the hammering and the power tools.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Strange Weather

We are having some strange weather for Southern California.
Normally this time of year, we have what we call our "June Gloom". That's a marine layer that comes in off the Pacific Ocean and makes everything gray and gloomy in the morning, then starts to burn-off by afternoon and leaves the sky hazy.
For the past 2 or 3 days, we've been having rain showers, thunder, lightning, wind, the who enchilada!
I started out for my walk this morning. The sun was peeking through the clouds and the thermometer read 70 degrees. I got about 1/2 mile from home and the sun went away, the wind came up, it got cold and it started raining. Good thing I enjoy walking in the rain (LOL).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Getting Back Into My Routine

Funny how just a couple days away from home can get your out of your normal routine.
Today I had to get back to sending my husband off to work, taking my morning walk, running to the market, etc.
Yesterday after we got back from our mini-vacation, we had the supervisor of the work crew in our gated community come by to give us an estimate on repairing some siding and woodwork on the outside of our house and also having the entire outside of the house painted. Called him again this morning to have him come by to pickup our deposit check to start the work. He said they will be here first thing Saturday morning.
I've also been searching the Web to try to come up with some other short trips for my husband and me to take. I told him I'd like to start going somewhere every 2 or 3 months. I'm trying to find places that are no more than 200 miles from our home here in Canyon Country. I'm trying to find towns that have interesting sites and/or history or unusual roadside attractions or museums. I love old historic towns that have NOT updated anything but have restored everything to it's original condition.
One place I'm looking into is the Iron Zoo near Coalinga, CA. Here is a link about it:
If you live in California within 200 to 300 miles from Los Angeles and you know of any such places, please let me know about them so I can check them out online. I'd appreciate it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Home Again

Well, we are back home. Had a nice time even though it was short. Had rain this morning while in Three Rivers, CA and also most of the way down State Route 65 through the San Joaquin Valley. Saw some lightning over the Sierra Nevadas.
Below are some links to my still photos and to a very short video I took in Sequoia National park.




Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I'm blogging to you this evening from Visalia, CA. I'm sitting in our room at the Super8 Motel just off Hwy. 198. We got here around 10:00 AM and drove straight up to the Sequoia National Park. Boy, I sure did NOT like that little 2-lane windy road that took us up into the Sierras. The views were beautiful though. The Kaweah river was really pretty. We drove up to the 6000 foot elevation where the General Sherman Redwood is. Boy, it's way back in the hills and we had to hike down about a half mile to see it. I did fine because I walk and hike all the time, but Ben was huffing and puffing and his legs were hurting him. Anyway, we turned around and started back down the tiny windy road after that because we were getting very low on gasoline and the clouds were coming in and it was getting cold and looked like it might start to rain. In the morning we are going to a town called Exeter, CA where they are supposed have a bunch of murals all over town. Sounds like an interesting site-seeing place. Then we'll head back down south and home.

Gone On a Little Trip

It's 6:08 AM here in SoCal and I thought I'd better get a quick post in before we leave. We are headed up to Visalia, CA for a little overnight trip. We have not been able to take any trips due to gasoline prices and the economy since 2005. We used to go on overnight trip once a month, plus we used to go on vacation for a week every 6 months, but since I retired, have not been able to do that. We are ONLY going up for today and tomorrow but at least it's something. We are going to spend a few hours in Sequoia National Park. I wish we had more time, but Ben does not get vacation or sick leave pay and he only has 2 days off, so this is it.

Monday, June 1, 2009

All Around This Wonderful World We Live In

OK, I don't usually get "political" when I post to my blog, but today, I just felt like I had something to say.
I belong to a web community called "Not Over The Hill". It was originally for people aged 40+ but they do allow younger people to join if they abide by the rules. I have made many friends at this community, people from all over this "Wonderful World We Live In".
Today I learned something that I never knew from my NOTH friend "Kiwibarb". I found out that in New Zealand, they do not have snakes, hummingbirds or squirrels. This really amazes me. I guess we tend to think that what we have, all the other countries have too. Actually that is kind of a dumb thing for me to say since America does not have elephants native to our country. We don't have hippos native to our country. But I guess because I've seen them at the zoo, I forget that they were not here before someone brought them here.
It is so fantastic that due to the Internet, we can meet people all around the world, become friends and communicate with them on a daily basis. We come to realize that no matter where someone lives, they are people just like us. They have families and jobs. They go shopping and to the movies and do all the same things we do. We may not all speak the same language, but that doesn't matter. We all think and feel.
Maybe if ordinary people like us ran the governments of the different countries, maybe there would not be war and hatred.
Think about it.