Category Archives: Adventure

Adventures; new, old and in-between.

Lost on the Trail – Ellen Baley

During this phase of the journey the wagon train was doing much of its traveling at night, owing to the great daytime heat of the desert and the long distances between water holes. At regular intervals during the night they would stop for a short rest. At one of these rest stops, eleven-year-old Ellen Baley, a daughter of Gillum and Permelia Baley, fell asleep and failed to awaken when the wagon train moved on. Somehow, she was not missed until the train traveled some distance. The poor girl awoke to find herself alone in the middle of a vast hostile desert. Filled with fright, she began running to catch up with the wagon train, but in her confusion, she took off in the opposite direction. When she was discovered missing, her father and older brother, George, immediately rode back to where they had stopped. To their horror, she was not there! Captured by the Indians must have been their conclusion! Nevertheless, they continued their search by calling out the little girl’s name at the top of their voices as they rode back. Their efforts were soon rewarded when, far off in the distance, came a faint cry,
“Papa, Papa.” Her father immediately answered and kept calling her name until he caught up with her. When reunited with her family and the other members of the wagon train, Ellen had a tale that would be told and retold by family members until the present day.

from:
Disaster at the Colorado
Beale’s Wagon Road and the First Emigrant Party
Charles W. Baley

Coso Hot Springs

Coso Hot Springs was known to the Native Americans for its curative powers. They would bring their sick to this place to heal. It wasn’t a myth, the hot springs really did help those with nearly any physical ailments. The waters worked so well that Coso became a health resort attraction active well on into the 20th century.

Millie De Lapin was a small woman. Diminutive and quite pretty. She had dark, almond-shaped eyes, her little nose was turned up at the end, dimpled cheeks and red lips slightly curved into a slightly crooked smile, and her raven-black hair was cut short, showing off a long neck that helped to give her an angelic and innocent look.

Beverly Montgomery ‘Monty’ Kadorkien was a dashing young lieutenant in the U.S. army. He was also a drinker, gambler, womanizer, liar, and possessed the weakest of morals. When the lieutenant learned he would be stationed in the Philippines, he feared staying in the dingy junior officer’s quarters would be detrimental to his style. If he were married, however, his wife and he would be given a spacious apartment to live in. Monty married the first girl he could fast-talk, sweet Millie.

He dazzled Millie and gained her hand in marriage. He cheated on her the day before and after their wedding, however. Monty was to have many other affairs during those warm nights. Millie, however, was faithful and had an undeserved patience with him.

Manila was disgusting to Millie; humid, dirty, crowded, the water fetid and the market produce generally bug-infested, badly bruised, or spoiled. After two years and two children she developed a tapeworm. The creature lived and grew inside of her. The worm then segmented and each of those segments grew into separate beasts. Upon a belated examination, the Army Doctor told her that she would not be capable of living much longer. Her current condition would lead her to her doom. Millie’s husband received orders to return to the states with his family. Monty, once ashore in his home country, disappeared into the mad society of the 1920s without a trace or trail.

Monte slipped away and didn’t come home. Since Monte didn’t come home it wasn’t long before there was no money to pay for things–no rent, no food, no anything. The children were unhappy and blamed their mother as they were too young to realize their father was a scoundrel.

Millie had become depressed. Very much depressed. She made an attempt at suicide. She stuck her head in the oven, but it got too hot. The next day, Betsy, a friend, told her she should have blown out the pilot light. They laughed. Millie did admit that she knew better and that this was her cry for help. Her situation was becoming too much to bear.

Robber’s Roost

Betsy also told Millie about a hot spring in the desert a few miles north of Little Lake. Certainly, if she were to go to this place, that the water may take care of her tapeworms somehow. Betsy’s husband, a German fellow that went by the name of Hans, was taking a sick friend there later in the week, and Millie would be welcome to catch a ride there with him. Betsy would take the two children to care for while she was away being treated. Millie agreed and began packing her bag.

Jake was a very sick man. The ravages of tertiary syphilis were maddening for him, and without treatment immediately Jake would die an excruciatingly painful death. Jack was far too young at age 32 (although he looked as if he were in his 50s) to pass on in this manner. His friend, Hans, was going to haul him up to Coso to see if there were a physical redemption awaiting him with the magical waters of the springs.

Jake had to be tied up to keep him still in the back of the truck as it bounced back and forth on the jagged roads through the Mojave past Red Rock, Robber’s Roost, and Freeman Junction. He would yell awhile and scream awhile and carry on in helpless defense.

Finally arriving in Coso, Millie went to check-in at the office and it was here that she met Mr. Olive. Mike Olive was a short man with dark, greasy hair, cut short as to easily be swept away from his thick glasses. He wore a white lab coat dirty with mud at the knees and the obligatory black bow tie. He was in his later 40s at least. His fingertips were clubbed from his chain-smoking, his nails dirty with mud from applying his prescribed treatments to the visitors at the resort. When Millie walked into the office he flipped his still smoking cigarette out the window and sat at his desk while she filled out the paperwork necessary for her stay. He tried looking down Millie’s blouse, but had no luck.

The first night was bad. The staff had placed Jake into a pit where the hot mud came up to his neck. His arms were still bound to his side so there was practically no chance of freeing himself up and running willy-nilly-crazy off into the desert ramparts. He would scream and scream and then scream louder and scream again and again. This went on all night. Jake’s amply audible suffering was inescapable.

During the daytime when everyone was busy Jake’s agony wasn’t so distracting. Everybody felt bad for the guy, for sure. It must hurt having your mind turn to mush, but folks had their own problems to deal with, like Millie with her tapeworms. Mr. Olive recommended drinking three tumblers of the spring water each day for 30 days. Since Jake was still screaming and hollering Mr. Olive added that Millie should go on walks to relieve stress–and that since there were coyotes out and about, and she was such a petite woman, that he would be pleased to accompany her as protection. She noticed he kept trying to look down her blouse. Mr. Olive was a bit shorter than her and ended up being repeatedly unsuccessful in his endeavor, Millie thought it was kind of cute. Her regimen would be this; one glass of water in the morning after breakfast, then a short walk with Mr. Olive, another glass of water at lunch and a longer afternoon walk with Mr. Olive, and after dinner Millie and Mr. Olive would sit on the porch and listen to Jake scream and scream and cry and holler in visceral torment.

Everyone there felt bad for Jake, but come on, this was going on and on and not helping Millie’s major depression at all. Millie had been keeping a diary and her entry for the fifth evening was;

“I toss and turn at night worrying about things. I hear Jake crying. I am not sleeping at all. My eyes feel like two piss holes in the snow.”

It was late in the evening on the sixth night–No one in the compound was sleeping. Millie wrote in her diary; “I wish Jake would shut up. I have been awake for most of the last 96 hours. I sort of wish Jake to die. If not soon, I may have to kill him.”

On the 7th day, Jake had actually quieted down a little. Everyone thought it was of dehydration, hoarseness, or maybe even he was just getting better. After midnight Jake became silent and all through out that part of the desert there was not a noise to be heard as if everyone and everything had fallen deeply asleep.

Mr. Olive and Millie took naps in their cabins instead of taking their walk. By nightfall, the crying had turned into moaning and groaning, and after awhile there were a couple of muffled fits. Millie wrote in her diary; “Finally!”

Everyone was in such a good mood and looked so well-rested and healthy and happy at breakfast. As Millie drank her glass of Coso water Mr. Olive approached with the largest smile on his face.

Millie asked, “what happened to Jake? Is he better?”

“Coyotes ate his head,” replied Mr. Olive.

Millie continued to drink the water as recommended. After several weeks she was cured of her tapeworm problem.

Mike Olive and Millie De Lapin fell in love and were married after a proper courtship. They moved to Riverside, California, where Millie planted citrus groves becoming a successful area farmer. Mike Olive became an intellectual free spirit and always kept trying to look down into Millie’s blouse and Millie always thought it was cute.

Monty bought a big flashy car, ran it into a pole, cracked his skull and got amnesia. He lived the rest of his life in a mental hospital receiving electro-shock treatments. He would often fall asleep and miss dinner. His children never visited him.

  • end

Edna, Charlotte & Shady

The following is an excerpt from ‘White Heart of Mojave’ by Edna Brush Perkins

Shady Myrick – 1850-1925

It was discouraging, but we persevered until we found a real old-timer. He was known as Shady Myrick. We never discovered his Christian name though he was a famous desert character. Wherever we went afterward everyone knew Shady. Evidently, the name was not descriptive for all agreed on his honesty and goodness. He was an old man, rather deaf, with clear, very straightforward-gazing eyes.

Most of his life had been spent on the Mojave as a prospector and miner, and much of it in Death Valley itself. The desert held him for her own as she does all old-timers. He was under the “terrible fascination.” As soon as we explained that we had come for no other purpose than to visit his beloved land he was eagerly interested and described the wonders of Death Valley, its beautiful high mountains, its shining white floor, its hot brightness, its stillness, and the flowers that sometimes deck it in the spring.

“If you go there,” he said, “you will see something that you’ll never see anywhere else in the world.”

He had gem mines in the Panamints and was in the habit of going off with his mule-team for months at a time. He even said that he would take us to the valley himself were he a younger man. We assured him that we would go with him gladly. We urged him—you had only to look into his eyes to trust him—promising to do all the work if he would furnish the wagon and be the guide, innocently unaware of the absurdity of such a proposal in the burning heat of Death Valley; but he only smiled gently, and said that
he was too old.

Silver Lake turned out to be the place for us to go after all. He described how we could
drive straight on from Joburg, a hundred and sixteen miles. There was a sort of a road all the way. He drew a map on the sand and said that we could not possibly miss it for a truck had come over six weeks before and we could follow its tracks.

“It ain’t blowed much, or rained since,” he remarked.

“But suppose we should get lost, what would we do?”

“Why should you get lost? Anyway, you could turn around and come back.”

We looked at each other doubtfully. In the far-spreading silence around Joburg the idea of getting lost was more dreadful than it had been at Barstow. There was not even a ranch in the whole hundred and sixteen miles. We hesitated.

“You are well and strong, ain’t you?” he asked. “You can take care of yourselves as well
as anybody. Why can’t you go?”

“You have lived in this country so long, Mr. Myrick,” I tried to explain, “you do not understand how strange it is to a newcomer. How would we recognize those mountains you speak of when we do not even know how the desert mountains look? How could we find the spring where you say we might camp when we have never seen one like it?”

“You can do it,” he insisted, “that’s how you learn.”

“And there is the silence, Mr. Myrick,” I went on, hating to have him scorn us for cowards,” and the big emptiness.”

He understood that and his face grew kind.

“You get used to it,” he said gently.

It was refreshing to meet a man who looked into your feminine eyes and said: “You can do it.” It made us feel that we had to do it. We spent a whole day on a hilltop near Joburg looking longingly over the sinister, beautiful mountains and trying to get up our courage. Happily we were spared the decision. Two young miners at Atolia sent word that they were going over to Silver Lake in a few days and would be glad to have us follow them. Perhaps it was Shady’s doing. We accepted the invitation with gratitude.

He understood that and his face grew kind.

“You get used to it,” he said gently. . . .

Chap. II – How We Found Mojave