Life!

11-year-old Kass, a desert girl born and bred, looks into a natural stream of water (Cajon Creek) for the first time in her life. She was amazed that there was so much life going on right in front of her–everything she could see was living!
looking into Cajon Creek
She pointed this all out to me as it was happening. She has such a wonderful sense of Nature. I’m so fortunate to have experienced this with her.

Tips for Stagecoach Travelers

from the Omaha Herald, 1877

The best seat inside a stage is the one next to the driver. Even if you have a tendency to seasickness when riding backwards — you’ll get over it and will get less jolts and jostling. Don’t let “sly elph” trade you his mid-seat.

Southern Hotel - San Bernardino (L.A. Co. Museum)

Southern Hotel – San Bernardino
(L.A. Co. Museum)

In cold weather, don’t ride with tight-fitting shoes, or gloves. When the driver asks you to get off and walk, do so without grumbling, he won’t request it unless absolutely necessary. If the team runs away — sit still and take your chances. If you jump, nine out of ten times you will get hurt.

In very cold weather, abstain entirely from liquor when on the road, because you will freeze twice as quickly when under its influence.

Don’t growl at the food received at the station — stage companies generally provide the best they can get.

Don’t keep the stage waiting. Don’t smoke a strong pipe inside the coach. Spit on the leeward side. If you have anything to drink in a bottle, pass it around. Procure your stimulants before starting, as “ranch” (stage depot) whisky is not “nectar.”

Don’t lean or lop over neighbors when sleeping. Take small change to pay expenses. Never shoot on the road, as the noise might frighten the horses. Don’t discuss politics or religion.

Don’t point out where murders have been committed, especially if there are women passengers.

Don’t lag at the wash basin. Don’t grease your hair, because travel is dusty. Don’t imagine for a moment that you are going on a picnic. Expect annoyances, discomfort, and some hardships.

A Photo Tip

Power lines, not being all that aesthetic, can really mess up a pretty, scenic shot. Not much can be done about them, but if you are under them, they more or less cease to be an issue, and the maintenance roads in the right-of-way can lead to many other opportunities.

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Cyrena Dustin Merrill – Part VI

Continued from Part V
Salt Lake

Philemon’s mother hearing that we were coming started out to meet us but got on the wrong road, missed us, and had to walk back a long distance — we were about two weeks making the trip and the worry of it all must have told on me for when my sister-in-law first met me she said “is this you, Cyrena, or your ghost?”

About a week after I got back, my two children were taken sick with chills, then I was sick; then baby took croup and only lived about 12 hours, dying on the sixth of September.

I let father and mother Merrill take my fitout (of wagon, oxen etc,) and they went on with the first company that went to Salt Lake in 1847, but I stayed here at Kanesville until my husband’s return on December 11, 1847 from Battalion.

He spent his time in getting land warrants for the Battalion Boys and assisting Brother Young to get emigrants across the plains.

Here on September 10, 1848, our third daughter, Melissa Jane, was born.

In the spring of 1849 Brother Young having sent our teams back Salt Lake we fitted up and crossed the plains. Now we were really going to Zion and as our hearts were filled with gratitude to our Heavenly Father for His love and protecting care, we were enabled to endure all our trials with cheerful fortitude. Our faith was strong — we loved each other and lived in unity and we were blessed abundantly, and our souls often rang out on the prairies.

While passing through the Rockies we encountered severe snowstorms in many of our cattle perished, but again the Lord helped us, for father Merrill sent a team with a nephew to assist us into the city of Salt Lake.

Our first stopping place was in Salt Lake City where we built a log cabin in the Southwest or 19th Ward stayed here until 1857.

On the Big Cottonwood 7 miles from Salt Lake City, our first Utah baby, our second boy, Morgan Henry was born on February 17, 1850. And when he was three weeks old we moved into the 19th Ward of the city and my husband again left me alone with my little ones.

Houses then were scattered and the measles broke out among the Indians and they would rush past our cabin howling and screaming — run and jump into the warm springs and then take cold and die — then others would bewail and screech — and at all times of the day or night their howls or mournings rent the air and my hairs would stand on and from fright; the only times I ever slept that night was one of my brothers-in-law would come up from Cottonwood to stay a while.

Philemon had gone back to the Platte River to keep the ferryboat.

– continued –

Snake Bite — A Costly Mistake

If there is a statute of limitations for what I’m about to write down, I hope it has gone by — I’m a little embarrassed by my conduct during events taken place in April of XXXX while I worked as a volunteer at the California State Poppy Reserve in Lancaster, CA.

I was working the trails one hazy midday when two very excited young gentlemen came running toward me and told me that their uncle had stepped on a snake and it had bit him. The uncle, limping badly, looked pasty-pale and with his friend and brother made their way into the visitor center after once again telling me the man had stepped on a snake. The victim’s brother (as I found out later) while closing the door whispered to me, “He didn’t step on it, he kicked it to get it out of his way.”

photo of snake bite.

First, I inspected the wound.  Yep, it was a snake bite hole. Next, I asked if he knew what kind of snake it was, or what it may have looked like. He told me, “It looked like a snake. I told you that already.” Ooh, sarcasm. Yep. That’s a good way to irritate me. I bit my lip. He was regaining color.

Morris is my friend although he never looks at the camera when I take his picture.

Morris is my friend although he never looks at the camera when I take his picture.

Since I’m not a doctor and I felt the patient was being uncooperative, I decided a medical professional would have to take it from this point. I called 911. It takes about 20 minutes or so for emergency response vehicles to get from Lancaster to the reserve. The dude was looking better and looking at me as if he expected me to suck the poison out of his leg. “Not my job,” I thought. There were other volunteers there that were far more capable than I, so I went out with my buddy Morris (Volunteer of the Year) to stand in the parking lot.

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The fire truck came first with a support vehicle, whatever they call the service truck that follows. The fire truck couldn’t make it up the sidewalk to the visitor center, but the smaller truck could. I wanted to ride on the back too, but I didn’t ask. It looked like fun.

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The paramedic rushed into the building with about a dozen other personnel and did a triage-type-thing. Assessing the wound he confirmed my suspicions that it was a snake-made-hole in his leg.

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Next, the helicopter came. There was no place to land so it went away. That would have been so cool to see the guy get a ride in that. I would have asked if I could go with them, but I would have had to walk back.

So they took him away in an ambulance.

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One of the guys with him asked me,  “Where did they take him?  I said, “I don’t know. I’m not from around here. I live about 70 miles away.”

My shift was over then. So I went to my brother’s house to stay the night with him. I hope the snake is alright. I can’t see how the guy with his little-skinny-toothpick-legs could have kicked it hard enough to hurt it. Good example though. Nobody else kicked a snake for the rest of the season. One of my best times ever, so far, yet.

Simply Nature

Photo of cresote bushes at sunset in early spring in the Mojave Desert

Creosote at Sunset

It is simple really; the wind storms bring dusk early to the high desert. The airborne dust hastens the sunset, and the sunset goes flat into dark. It’s then, most times, that the wind rests and the day is over. The desert wind has played its joke on people, and gives the desert fauna a long night to hunt or be hunted. By the time the sun has raced around the earth and rises, the game has changed ever so slightly, and some desert creatures will be dead and some will be fed.

Cyrena Dustin Merrill – Part V

Continued from Part IV

The Call for 500 Men

During 1845, although we were preparing to leave Nauvoo for the Rocky Mountains, they were pushing the work on the Temple and on May 24 the walls were finished and the Apostles administered to hundreds of the people — the services often continuing all day and all night. We received our endowments in the last of December going through the Temple at night.

photo of the Mormon Battalion flag

Mormon Battalion flag – note the spelling of the word “Battalion.”

Now as the mob it said “we will still drive all the Mormons into Nauvoo and all Nauvoo into the Mississippi,” preparations were made immediately evacuating the city and on February 6, 1846, my husband left with the first K guards to guard the records across the river, and went on to Garden Grove, leaving me with my little ones in Nauvoo. When he came back near the last of April with a team, our second daughter Lucy Cyrena, was three weeks old — she, having been born on April 7 — and taking only our bedding and clothing — leaving everything else in the house we went by wagon to Mount Pisgah.

Authorities held counsel and concluded to move on, after putting up some huts which could be used by those coming later.

When within a few miles of Council Bluffs we were met by an United States officer to enlist men for the Mexican War. Coming to a halt Brother Brigham called for 500 volunteers. On July 16 the troops were mustered, my husband being among the number, thus we were left without our natural protectors and as this took our stoutest and best the way much hard work was thrown on the women and the aged. I had only one week’s provisions on hand.– But our faith was strong and Brother Brigham would lead us on. After they had been gone three days some men returned from the Battalion and started to the camps that Capt. Alan had sent them to gather up 50 families of the Battalion Boys, and they could travel with their husbands to California as the government would pay all expenses.

At first I did not wish to go but being over persuaded, I joined the company to follow my husband. My driver was Monroe Frick, a boy of 14 who was such a good kind boy. I arrived at Fort Leavenworth about August 1, 1846.

The joy of once more meeting my husband was of short duration for he could not consent to me traveling with them with my little children and the young babe; so after putting up a wagon with 18 months provisions and to yoke of oxen, Monroe and I started back over that lonely road of 200 miles to the camp of Israel. This was done by the advice and counsel of Brother P. P. Pratt.

Philemon went a day’s journey with us and when he left us in the morning was the hardest of all my trials — we had to travel through Missouri whose swamps were full of malaria, and several times we came to places where the rain had washed out the road and we had to unload our flour and provisions, get the wagon across, then carried the things over and reload. It seems a miracle that we ever succeeded in reaching Winter Quarters, but in God was my trust and he protected us and cared for us.

– continued –

Zigzag

Interesting how a zigzag of light against a shadow will catch your eye while you look away from the low sun. Anticipation, is paramount; the shadows roll over the mountain canyons and ridges quickly. Observe it then. Blank everything else out and don’t look away. What you will see will never be the same again. Don’t miss your moment!

photo of Mojave yucca at sunset, Apple Valley, CA.

A zigzag of light