‘The Tape’ – Chapter 5 Meeka’s Revenge

by Bob Sparrow

(As a refresher, as well as for those new to the blog, the links below are to the previous chapters of ‘The Tape’, an allegorical tale of searching, with cameo appearances from beyond from my dear departed friend, Don Klapperich

(Jan 2014)  Chapter 1 ‘The Tape’                   http://fromabirdseyeview.com/?p=2454

(Jan 2014)  Chapter 2  ‘The Tape’  –  Searching for Xoon        http://fromabirdseyeview.com/?p=2500

(May 2014)  Chapter 3  ‘The Tape’  –  A Visit with Chief Chuckwalla    http://fromabirdseyeview.com/?p=2776

(July 2014)  Chapter 4  ‘The Tape’ – Oh Where the Trap Door Leads        http://fromabirdseyeview.com/?p=2807

 

Coachella-Valley

Coachella Valley

Chief Chuckwalla, with moist eyes, seemed a million miles away as he continued to stare out into the valley, trying to decide exactly where to begin to tell this story.

He finally began, “Everyone knows the story of slavery in America’s south, the slave traders gabbing black men and women from Africa and bringing them to America to sell; the cruelty that took place on the plantations and the attendant racism. But few people know of the slavery that took place right here long before America was ever colonized. It began when the Spanish conquistador, Cortez defeated the Aztecs in the early 1500’s which allowed the Spanish to rule what is now Mexico and the southwestern part of the United States for the next 300 years. The Spanish not only took our land, but they enslaved the Inviatim people to work it for them. The Spanish rancheros were the predecessors to southern plantations. They told us that our gods and beliefs were all wrong, that Christianity was the only true religion. In fact they used the word ‘Cahuilla’ to describe our tribe – a word that means heathen. We were told that we would suffer if we didn’t convert. And they made us suffer.

(Don: Ahhh, don’t ya just love organized religion?”)

The chief continued, “Those who either refused to work on the rancheros or refused to convert to Christianity were beaten, blindfolded, tied up and dragged behind horses to this place and imprisoned. Many of them died here, including my great, great grandmother.

“So those were their remains in the cells?” I said.

Palkara

Palkara

“No.” the chief replied, I could see he was struggling to get the story out. “My great, great grandfather, Palkara and their daughter, Meeka, managed to escape from this Hellhole. Several days after his escape, Palkara formed a posse and, now knowing the location of this secret underground prison, returned in the dead of night and attacked and killed the guards and freed hundreds of prisoners. Unfortunately he was killed in the attack. The Inviatim prisoners, who were released, moved south and established their village by what is now the Salton Sea, but at that time was a beautiful freshwater lake fed by the Colorado River.

Meeka, who was only about 10 when she and her father escaped, grew to be a very independent and strong-willed woman, who was determined to find a way to get back at the Spanish for killing her mother and father. As she grew older, she would often returned to this place just to remind herself of what happened here and to keep her resolve for revenge. She ultimately decided that she was going to use this Hellhole to exact that revenge. She convinced a small but courageous group of Inviatim tribe members to join in her crusade.

Meeka

Meeka

“It was in the late 1700s and the white man was now just starting to push the Spanish and Mexicans out and take over more and more of the southwest region. Most, if not all, of the Spaniards who took the Inviatim’s land and imprisoned and killed their people were now dead or gone. But Meeka’s desire for revenge needed to be quenched. She painstakingly found the names of those leaders responsible for imprisoning her people and killing her parents. She then located their children, or children’s children, many of whom were still living in the area and were now adults. Systematically, one by one, she kidnapped and imprisoned them here, locked the place up tighter than a drum and left them to die. It is their bones that remain down there now.”

I sat silently for a long time, in awe of the story I had just heard and finally said, “That is an amazing story; so what happened to Meeka?”

 

To be continued . . .

 

UN-FUN MONEY

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

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Tahiti – where I hoped to write this blog

I think it’s fairly safe to assume we all like to spend money.  Come on, admit it, when you think about things to buy you rarely think about  a new vacuum cleaner or getting that pesky crown replaced on your back molar.  Nope, in general we all fantasize about how we can spend money on “fun” stuff.  Last fall on our long car trip home from our summer travels my husband and I dreamed about some of the fun things we’d like to purchase over the winter.  My husband mentioned some ridiculous items – among them a Shelby Cobra.  I’ve heard him ask for that car so often that I’m now like the adults in a Charlie Brown cartoon –  his lips move but all I hear is “wonk,wonk, wonk”.  I, on the other hand, came up with some practical items – new furniture, season tickets to the theater, perhaps even a trip to Tahiti where I could ensconce myself in one of those swim-up bars and spend weeks writing a travel blog through the lens of too many Pina Coladas.  Then reality set in and the spending of “un-fun” money began.

money with wings

First up was a new washer and dryer.  We had noticed over the summer that our clothes came out a lot less wrinkled when we were using someone else’s appliances.  I hate it when my off-hand attitude toward domesticity rears up.  How could I not have noticed that our washer and dryer were so obviously sub-par?  Clearly there is some “housework gene” that I am missing.  But since I’ve never liked being on the working end of an iron, I was all for buying a new “laundry suite”.  That’s a term I learned at the appliance store, where  I was faced with an overwhelming array of choices.  It is astounding to learn the tasks these hunks of metal can perform – remove spots, steam clean, sanitize!  I kept looking for a dryer that would fold and put the clothes away but I guess that’s a bit down the road.  In any event, a couple thousand dollars later we were the proud parents of a new washer and dryer.  Sad to say…I’m not sure that our clothes are any less wrinkled but I’m pretending that they are so I don’t feel like we wasted our money.

The next month my husband was doing a walk-around of the house and determined that we really couldn’t go one more winter without painting it.  So we got a couple of estimates from painters. Clearly they assumed we wanted to paint the whole neighborhood.  Wow – I know they have to caulk and power wash before they slap some paint on, but really, you could feed a small nation for what they charge.  Four days and several thousand dollars later, more “un-fun” money had been spent.  Unfortunately, once the house looked so snappy it became evident that much of our landscaping had given up the ghost during the blazing hot summer so more “un-fun” money was forked over to the landscapers.

In January one of my front tires mysteriously had a rather large piece of rubber torn out (I’m taking the Fifth).  A trip down to those friendly people at Discount Tire resulted in an inspection that necessitated purchasing FOUR new tires.  Tires, or generally anything having to do with car maintenance, is the height of “un-fun” money.

dishwasherFinally, this week our dishwasher decided that nine years was long enough to do dishes.  Jeez – I was “the dishwasher” growing up and I lasted 18 years.  (Isn’t it funny how our parents “suddenly” decided to get dishwashers when we moved out?).  Anyway, we found ourselves on another trip down to the appliance store – I’m thinking we may have to put their address in the “Frequently Visited” category on our nav system.  I asked the salesman if that super-duper washing machine he sold us four months ago might also be put into service doing dishes.  He was not amused.  Thirty minutes later we were separated from more of our hard-earned “un-fun” money.

So, to summarize, we have a new washer, dryer, paint job, landscaping, tires and a dishwasher.  Not a pina colada in sight.  Oh well, my brother is better at writing about tropical bars anyway.  I’ll just sit home and wait for the next thing to break down.  Hopefully it won’t be me.

King of the Cowboys

by Bob Sparrow

get your kicks

Route 66

I had the occasion to travel to Apple Valley, CA for work last week; no, it was nothing like having to travel to the island of Kaua’i for work as I did a few years ago, but it was not without some redeeming qualities. An hour and a half’s drive away, bucolic-sounding Apple Valley is located at the southern end of the Mojave Desert at an elevation of nearly 3,000 feet and is considered ‘high desert’ – apples are no longer grown there. The historic ‘Route 66’ winds through the area, but the quiet, pot-holed streets and boarded up shops would indicate that very few are still ‘getting their kicks on Route 66’.

Interstate 15 now runs adjacent to  Apple Valley and I rarely traverse it without thinking of Roy Rogers (It’s on the way to Vegas, so I’ve made the trip a few times!).  In the late 40s and through out the 50s Roy was a staple in the movies and on TV and helped popularize the musical Western.  Roy and wife, Dale Evans, who had long careers in movies and on TV, retired in the mid-80s to their ranch in Apple Valley, which was home to the first Roy Rogers Museum, which contained artifacts from his movies and TV show, including Roy’s horse, Trigger, who was stuffed and placed in the museum.

andy

Andy Devine

gabby

Gabby Hayes

Most everyone in my generation idolized Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and got to know his many sidekicks who provided comic relief; Pat Brady, who drove a Jeep named ‘Nellybelle’, Andy Devine and George ‘Gabby’ Hayes, who both had voices that made you wince and faces for radio. We also became acquainted with Roy’s faithful German Shepard, Bullet.  Rogers and his entourage appeared in over 100 films and had top rated radio and TV shows in the 40s and 50s.

Roy was born Leonard Slye (a name Hollywood had to change!) in Ohio and quit high school at 15 to work in the family shoe factory. The family moved to California during the Great Depression where Roy worked driving truck and picking fruit. He was always interested in singing and yodeling and worked with several bands over the years until he and a friend formed a group that became the ‘Sons of the Pioneers’ and ultimately signed a record deal. In 1935, Roy’s good looks landed him his first bit part in a Gene Autry movie.  Three years later, when Autry was demanding more money (probably saving up to buy the California Angels!) the lead part was offered to Roy and he was on his way to becoming a matinee idol.

RR & SoPRoy always wore a white hat that never came off during a fight while he was knocking out the bad guys, in black hats, with one punch. Towards the end of each movie or tv/radio episode, after he’d righted all the wrongs, he would pick up his guitar and sing a song, often accompanied by Dale and his back-up group, The Sons of the Pioneers, whose songs can still be purchased on iTunes.

Dale was a story unto herself; born Francis Smith in Texas, she was married at 14 and divorced with a child at 16, yet continued to pursue her singing career. Her marriage to Roy, his second and her fourth, lasted 51 years, until his death. She wrote their theme song, Happy Trails.

He was dubbed, ‘King of the Cowboys’, she, ‘Queen of the West’.

Roy & Dale

Roy Rogers & Dale Evans

Roy died in 1998 and Dale three years later.  They are now both interned at the Sunset Hills Memorial Park . . . in Apple Valley.

If you’re ever passing by Apple Valley and want to visit the museum . . . the original Roy Rogers museum was erected in 1967 in an old bowling alley in Apple Valley, it moved to a bigger building in neighboring Victorville in 1976. To draw more people it moved again to Branson, Missouri in 2003, but eventually shut down for good, due to lack of interest, in 2009.

The passing of an era . . . a very good era indeed for those of us who were fortunate enough to have lived in it.  Thank you Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, for all the Happy Trails.

 

THE EDUCATION OF AN “ICE BUCKET” SKEPTIC

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Brother Bob - In full Ice Bucket Challenge Regalia

Brother Bob – In full Ice Bucket Challenge Regalia

Last August the world was taken captive by seemingly reasonable people everywhere dumping buckets of ice over their heads.  The cause, of course, was the “Ice Bucket Challenge”, a fund-raising effort for ALS, sometimes referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”.   The “challenge” was that people either dumped a bucket of ice over their heads or donate $100 to the ALS Association.  Once the bucket was overturned the participant then challenged three friends to the task.  It was impossible to go on any social media account or turn on the TV without seeing someone dumping ice – from former Presidents to Oprah.  You know it’s serious when Oprah does something.  Not to mention that my brother and co-blogger, Bob, participated in the challenge and coerced his kids to take part as well. I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical of the whole endeavor.  My feeling is that when something becomes “the thing to do” it generally loses all serious intent.  Plus, we’ve all read about charity fund-raisers that don’t result in many funds actually going to the charity.  I figured that it was AUGUST, for Heaven’s sake, so people in most parts of the country were more than happy to bathe themselves in ice.  I was not one of them.

And then something happened that hit very close to home – the husband of a dear friend was diagnosed with ALS in January.  It has been devastating to them and to all of us that care about them.  They are coming to grips with the effects of the disease and learning all they can about it. As it turns out, the ALS Association is a wonderful resource, providing not only guidance and support, but actually supplying wheelchairs and any other equipment that a family needs to accommodate the manifestations of the disease.  So my friend was telling me the other day that the ALS Association volunteer mentioned that they had been able to purchase a lot of equipment to lend out because of money they got from the “Ice Bucket Challenge”.  Suddenly, I felt a bit embarrassed that I had not dumped ice on my head.  So being the nerd that I am, I set off to research whether the Phoenix Chapter of the ALS Association was unusual or whether “the Challenge” had done as much in other areas of the country as well.

ALS_Ice_Bucket_Challenge-display

As it turns out, those intrepid people at CNBC were thinking the same thing.  Last month one of their reporters, Meg Tirrell, investigated whether the “Ice Bucket Challenge” had been a social media phenomenon or an effective fund-raiser.  Turns out, it was both.  The “Ice Bucket Challenge” actually raised $115 million for the ALS Association, compared to their annual budget of $60 million.  How did they raise that much when so many people chose to dump ice? Because people both dumped and donated.  Which should help to restore your faith in human kindness this Monday morning.  And to cheer you up even further, it turns out that Phoenix was not the only area to benefit – it helped ALS Associations all over the country buy equipment, provide respite care programs, and maybe most importantly, it funded four research projects aimed at better understanding , and thus finding a cure,  for what causes ALS.  All four projects had been stopped due to a lack of research money.

There is no word yet as to whether the “Ice Bucket Challenge” is going to be an annual event or whether it was just a one-time phenomenon.  Hopefully it will take place again in August and I can assure you, I will be dumping ice and donating with the best of them.  And I’m also taking part in the “Defeat ALS” walk in October.  Family and friends be warned – I’m going to hit you up for some of your hard-earned money when I strap on my walking shoes.   And just to add a degree of difficulty to the walk, I’ll dump a bucket of frozen Margaritas over my head as I pass the finish line.  I think that could catch on.

Best Place to Live – A Day in the Life

by Bob Sparrow

Top10A couple of recent ‘Best Place to Live’ surveys reminded me of my business travel days when I crisscrossed the country and would often be asked where I was from. When I responded, “Southern California, Orange County”, I would hear things like, “Oh, a surfer dude”, (I’ve never surfed), or “Oh, is that why you wear those cool shades?” (I wear sunglasses BECAUSE IT’S SUNNY THERE!), or, “Aren’t you afraid that an earthquake is going to cast California into the Pacific Ocean?” (No). If the conversation continues, people feel compelled to remind me that, 1) there are too many people in southern California, 2) the traffic is unbearable, and 3) the air is unbreathable.  Then, feeling the need to ‘throw me a bone’, they’d say, “But the weather’s nice” and then they’d remind me of the earthquakes again.

Last week in a California survey done by Movato Real Estate, I discovered that my city of residence for the last 38 years, Orange, was selected as California’s best city to live in.  In fact, Orange County had seven of the top ten cities.  If you’re interested in seeing the rest of the cities, here’s the link to the survey:

http://www.movoto.com/ca/best-places-in-california/

I hope everyone feels that they live in the ‘Best Place to Live’, but I wanted to confirm and perhaps help justify this elevated status for Orange County, so last Friday, February 27, I set out to help prove that it is, in fact, one of the very best places to live, in part due to its proximity to such a diversity of environments. Thus my journey began . . .

The Desert

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pre-dawn at Desert Willow Golf Resort

DSC01785

Sunrise for a perfect day of golf

I woke up at 3:45 a.m. (The things I do for you readers!) and with an assortment of wardrobes in tow, I’m out the door at 4:05. It takes me 95 minutes to drive the 103 miles from Orange to the beautiful Desert Willows Golf Resort in Palm Desert – golf’s winter mecca. It feels like I’m in a whole different world, because I am. It’s 50 degree at 6:18 when the first sliver of sunlight appears over the  Little San Bernardino Mountain range and softly lightens the Coachella Valley below.  It will get to 77 degrees here today. I’m envious of the golfers that are teeing off at first light in perfect weather, but I have a full day ahead of me, so I order breakfast, read the paper, write some of this blog and then head to my next destination.

The Mountains

DSC01794

Photo taken from the sun deck

DSC01796I cover the next 85 miles to Big Bear Mountain in 115 minutes and arrive at Snow Valley Ski Resort where the cloudless sky is deep azure blue. I’ve gone from an elevation of around 200 feet to around 7,000 feet in less than two hours. It will get down to 21 degrees here this evening.  Bear Big Mountain provides great local skiing and snowboarding in the winter and great hiking trails in the summer.  There was a storm last week and another one coming in this weekend, but I am fortunate to find a window where chains are not required to negotiate the assent on this winding mountain road.  Once at Snow Valley, I step out of my car and take a deep breath and feel immediately exhilarated by a blast of fresh mountain air – this is air that no one has breathed before!  I enjoy a cup of coffee as I hang out on the upper sun deck of the lodge watching the skiers on the mountain and wishing I were amongst them. I make a snowball, because I haven’t done that in years, and throw it at a nearby tree . . . and miss. While I’m in the neighborhood, I decide DSC01799to head over to picturesque Lake Arrowhead – another 25 minutes and 14 miles. Back in ‘the day’, Lake Arrowhead was the mountain retreat for many Hollywood stars including, Shirley Temple, Tom Selleck, Patrick Swayze and Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys (photo at right is one I took of Wilson’s former lake house) to name a few. Today Arrowhead Village  it’s fairly quiet; it’s off season – no boats on the lake, no stars in sight!  Time to head down off the mountain.

The Beach

HB sunset

Huntington Beach sunset

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Huntington Beach pier

I drop from 7,000 feet to . . . zero – sea level, as I drive 87 miles in just under two hours from Lake Arrowhead to Huntington Beach. I could have gone to any number of great beaches in Orange County from Seal Beach to San Clemente, including tony Newport Beach or artsy Laguna Beach, but I wanted to visit my favorite beach restaurant, Dukes at Huntington Beach – ‘Surf City’. I find a place at the bar and watch surfers and street entertainers as the sun disappears slowly and beautifully into the Pacific Ocean.  My day is complete – sunrise to sunset.

I do understand that proximity to the desert, mountains and beach is not everything, but it just adds to all the other factors that make Orange County a ‘best place to live’.

I make the 23-mile trek back home exhausted, but feeling great about completing the ‘trifecta’ – desert, mountains and ocean all in one day. Next time I’m thinking it should be the ‘Trifecta Triathlon’ – same venues only I play golf, ski and swim.  Maybe not.

PS: For those wondering – 312 miles