Wednesday, July 25, 2018

A Trip of a Different Color

I was thinking of this title as in "a horse of a different color", like not our usual type of trip with the truck and camper. We were supposed to fly to Phoenix to see daughter Jess as well as Lynn's Mom, rent a car to drive to Palm Springs to see my Mom, drive back to Phoenix then fly home to Boise. It sounded like a lot of work so we cancelled the flight and drove. I will always take the opportunity to camp when I can so we did just that on the way there and back.

We drove down the eastern side of the Sierras to drive past places we've backpacked and remember old times from when we lived in California. It's been a long long time since we drove this section of Hwy 395. Our last time it was still just a two-lane all the way, now 4 lanes for much of it and a heck of a lot safer. Our first night was a place I never thought to see crowded, the Alabama Hills. There were only a few places left and thanks to the internet it was crowded on a Monday night in April.

We didn't have a view of Mt. Whitney from camp but could just see the Whitney Portal Road.

A great evening happened as they usually do when we're in our camper. How does that work?

We left Duke in Meridian with daughter Jen but brought Bailey for company, and a guard dog.

I had to walk across the dirt road to get a peek-a-boo view of Mt. Whitney, marked with a blue dot. I'm pretty sure it was Whitney tho it's been a while since I've seen the ol Man.

The clouds were pretty cool that night, again, like they usually seem too be when out in the camper.

High pressure pushed the clouds on down the road next morning, making for a windless day. Not like the day before when the wind was terrible and head-on. I could take my foot off the brake and the truck would stop almost immediately, I was getting only eight miles per gallon downhill.

A bit of history, personal, and a lot of text coming on, in case you'd like to change the channel.
I lived in Japan for four years as a kid and Air Force brat. Back in the states we lived in San Bernardino CA from fifth to ninth grade and had the run of the San Berdo foothills where we lived. It was usual to catch a desert tortoise, snake or tarantula walking home from elementary or junior high school. Coyotes, deer, mountain lion and bobcat roamed our neighborhood. Coyotes would jump our wood fence at night hoping to get my Beagle, we learned to keep him inside at night.
In fifth grade, my fourth grade friend Gordon and me followed an old train track bed to an incredible place. Maybe about two or three miles from home we discovered the Arrowhead Springs Hotel tucked up against the mountains beneath a very large natural arrowhead on the mountain itself. 
Seeing an outside stairway we went inside, of course. And took an elevator the only way it went, down. Holy smokey joes, we were in the steam caves. Shower curtains separated the steam caves that were used as saunas and, there was no one around. We explored a bit then hiked home. 
To think of what we did those days as kids is remarkable in todays world, but we went back many times the next few years.
Into Boy Scouts and nature in a very big way I had an adult naturalist as a friend as well as a Forest Ranger who raised raccoons. I forget how I was involved with The Arrowhead but I was able to do conservation projects on it's side to prevent erosion and also planted some of the many fire resistant plants from Israel that grow there today.
In eighth grade I did a science project on the Arrowhead taking dirt samples and sending them off to be analyzed, finding out that the dirt on it's face was different than that around it.
The Arrowhead is around seven acres and darn near forty-five degree angle, my ankles today would burn trying to walk it even if allowed.
Back then it was owned by Campus Crusades For Christ. Being very involved with church I also helped run the annual Easter Egg hunt on it's front lawn. The lawn where oh so many stars from Hollywood laid out while away from the cameras.
You see, that rail road bed that Gordon and I followed came straight from Hollywood to the Arrowhead Springs Hotel and ran just above our houses. Clark Gable and his era of stars spent time there, I've seen the pictures inside.
Also I need to explain the second word of the name, Springs. Under the Arrowhead on the mountain bubble geothermal mineral hot springs, naturally, the main draw of the Hotel. I've also swum, swam, went swimming ok, in that swimming pool. Fact is I used a snorkel and mask there for the first time igniting my future love of SCUBA, in which I got certified for my 16th birthday while living in Yorba Linda, CA.
I was told back then while doing my pre-internet research, that Mormons coming over Cajon Pass saw the Arrowhead and found it's healing waters underneath. Having allegedly seen it in a dream their leader stopped them there and San Bernardino was settled. 
Ok that was tiring, too much text but moving on...
Driving by San Bernardino on our way to visit Mom in Palm Springs, I had to drive by the old neighborhood and Arrowhead Springs Hotel. 
There was major disappointment pulling in to the drive for the Hotel. I haven't been back since 1969 and there were locked gates at the entry off Waterman Canyon Road. Well, you know how it goes right? You're an adult now and can take a bit of disappointment now and then, right? Maybe? Ok so there was a guard gate and two gentlemen talking outside, guards of course. I parked and walked up and we started talking, me mostly as I explained my personal history with the Arrowhead. While talking, a Fire Dept truck pulled up on the guard side of the gate and one of the guys I was talking to walked away to chat with that guy, are you with me? While I was talking with the other guard the first guard came back with a big smile, HUH? I'm not good at communicating so I may have lost you there but anyway there was great news. The Fire Chief for the new owners of the Arrowhead Springs Hotel said he would take us, me and Lynn, on a private tour. I'm getting goose bumps again as I write, it was that cool. I was about to enjoy a highlight of my adult life and a short ride back to younger days.

Our first view of the Arrowhead as we got closer. I could see some vegetation starting to encroach on the Arrowhead but not much since 1969, forty-nine years ago.

The once famous swimming pool, now in neglect, where I taught myself to use a snorkel. A compass with directions pointed to major U.S. cities with mileage is tiled into the bottom.

A mineral springs pool where people could sit on the pedestals and feel the geothermal healing water.

We were the only people on the property. The new owners are trying to decide what to do with it all. Being a painting contractor I'd consider it a labor of love to be involved in repainting. The main issue being lead the state of California. Having dealt with leaded paint many times in the 70's in California with no visible signs of dain bramage I would now have to wear a hazmat suit.

The interior was pristine, just like I remembered, and so empty it reminded me of "The Shining". I could imagine a little boy on a big wheel going by saying "Redrum, redrum."

Same picture without ghosts, or whatever.

"I'd swear I was just here" said the old man contemplating the passage of time while looking out of fifteen year old eyes stuck in a sixty-four year old body. There's a disconnect at times isn't there, when you remember so vividly. It was quite a feeling I tell you what.

Looking across the Inland Empire, it was a magically clear day thanks to the wind the day before. This lawn is where the Easter Egg hunt happened.

 The banquet room, sans tables and chairs but maybe a few ghosts still lingered.


Ladies powder room.

Men's cigar room, where men smoked Cubans while waiting for women to get powdered.

Of course, the theater. Looks like a Grand Whazoo movie was last showing, 20,000 Outfitters Beneath The Sea.

Your room number Ma'am? We've been waiting your return.

For the purists...

A look from the south side you can barely see the outside stairs that Gordon and me used to sneak into and elevator down to the steam caves, of which you can see the opening and veranda below. I can still vividly see them back there in 1966, steaming away.

The time came to leave, sadly, I'm sure I'll never see it again. But it was an extremely fortunate occurrence and I'm forever grateful to the gentlemen that made it happen! It renewed my feelings of goodwill that seem to go lacking in todays world and gave me these pictures that I'll treasure.

We next drove across the valley where Lynn's Father is interred in a beautiful outdoor mausoleum.
Seems it was a day for reflections and meloncholy feelings.

I did in fact want to cry, Lynn's Father was a true gentleman and great Father who left us too soon in 1995. Gone in the middle of a conversation with her Mother, heart attack.
Lynn tried, but couldn't quite reach her Father...
I offered to put her on my shoulders, it would have been a grave situation I'm afraid.

Looking north we could see where we had just been, Arrowhead Springs Hotel.

My 600mm lens did a so-so job from twenty-five miles away, I can see the highway up to Crestline near the top.

We're driving, we're driving. On to Palm Springs to see my Mother. The Coachella Music Festival was just over with miles and miles of stop & go traffic going the other way hah. I caught a break this time, there was about fifty miles of it that we had seen and our main reason for leaving California and moving to Oregon in the 80's.

I had to wonder as we drove past endless miles of windmills, would Don Quixote have attacked each one or gone completely insane at the sight of so many? I'll go with insane.

I can also see the CalTrans is having a hard time keeping up with the trash.

Mom has a great view of Mt. San Jacinto.

Me, Mom and step-father Art.

Wow, a lot of driving and visiting going on. After two nights it was off to Phoenix to see our Daughter Jess and husband Gary. We had a great time and it went all too quick.

While there we found a nice little 2008 Razor Trail for cheap. Then the problem was a trailer. UHaul wanted $370 for a one way flat trailer to Boise, whoa. I looked a couple of days at new trailers but finally on our last day found a used with my exact measurements, I'll explain later. Plus, the tailgate lifted off! Very rare!

The new Whaznator...

We stopped at Coral Pink Sanddunes in Utah on the way home. Was this a cool trip or what?

Well, you can't say I'm off my rocker now can you? What, don't you take your rocker with to enjoy morning coffee? Tisk tisk...

We had also gone by to see Lynn's Mother and ended up with a family heirloom. As old as it was I doubt it had seen Utah red before hah.

Bailey took right to it as if she'd been off-road before. (?)

Having too much fun we decided to look for dinosaur tracks in the hardened sandstone.

Geez, all those colors started swimming before my eyes just like...well, you know.
There are three that I think I see in this picture, but know. The word flashback comes to mind lol.

Even Bailey couldn't sniff them out.

There is at least one "impact" print in this pic but I won't say where. Stare till you drop! I did.

Whew, almost done with the fun. Another great evening was there to be taken.

That night I did a triple dog dare and roasted with two sticks in one hand. I might have been chewing gum too, multi-tasking I was.

Well, the other hand had to take the picture, that's all I'm saying.

Morning, can you tell? And time to leave, it was a long way to Meridian Idaho.

My truck was ready to fly though and gave me great mileage on the way home.

Back at home I was real happy with my camper measurements while on the truck. I needed the tailgate of the trailer to come off, like it did, and the trailer to slide under the camper for storage space. I didn't have even an inch to spare at the back of the camper where the tub juts out, tada!

Well that's it, for now. Thanks a bunch for looking, maybe reading, and have a fabulous day, week, month...year!

Dave & Lynn Rogers

Dave & Gordon, summer of 1965 in San Bernardino CA. My first tarantula of many. We discovered the Arrowhead Springs Hotel that same summer, what a life it was. In the foothills we discovered a really nice cave with a spring at the back with old galvanized pipe running out and down to ol man Fisher's water cachment pool that was complete with little catfish, where I learned that those fins hurt like hell when you grab them wrong with bare hands. I ended up catching and raising a lot of snakes incl a rattler which I caught while out riding my dirt bike. Coming into the driveway with it wrapped around my arm while I held it's head, I had to shift without the clutch, Mom almost had a fit. The Sonoran Whipsnake was my favorite  and one of the fastest snakes in North America. I had a pair lay eggs one time. I caught a desert tortoise that would try to bite your toes if barefoot and would chase you into the house, Oscar. My little beagle thought he'd sniff one of my snakes while I had it out. He ended running off with me chasing him, a five foot long bull snake attached to his nose and trailing body between his legs. Mr. Fisher put out salt licks for deer and Gordon and me would early morning climb the olive trees in  his orchard to wait for them to come down, they did once, what joy. At thirteen and on my first fifty mile backpack trip stepped in a fire pit barefoot only to discover that those grey ashes covered red hot coals. I hiked thirty miles with my foot a big huge blister. On the very same day of getting home from that hike, fell on my ten speed going downhill and had the incredibly unsafe metal pedal go into my leg to the bone, I got a good look at the bone when I pulled the pedal out. My Mother has asked me to write a book of my adventures over those years, so many were incredible. I might some day, but then who'd believe me? Lucky for me those adventures have never stopped. I might turn into an old man if they did. Wait, what?