Old ‘Long’ Johnson – Memoir

Old ‘Long’ Johnson’s cow.

Old ‘Long’ Johnson sat in his rocker on the porch whittling a stick thinking about the time he saved Nell from certain doom. ‘Dubious’ Dan had tied her to a log at the sawmill and she was just about ready to be cut in half the long way when Old ‘Long’ Johnson saved the day for her. Another time Old ‘Long’ Johnson saved Nell’s life her was when ‘Left-handed’ Larry tied her to the railroad track to be ran over by the 9:18. Old ‘Long’ Johnson was there at 9:17 to cut her loose. One other time Nell had been tied up by Steve the ‘Scuz’ and thrown in the river. Old ‘Long’ Johnson fetched her safely out just before she would have crossed the point of no return and went over the edge at Certain Death Falls. “Seemed as if no one liked Nell,” thought Old ‘Long’ Johnson. “She was quite mouthy.”

– The End –
. . . or is it just the beginning?

Broken Leg

Somewhat behind the scenes . . . Death Valley

A gentleman named Bill had a hankering to wander about the desert. He had been told the way to really see the desert was to walk through it. He liked the idea and drove as far as Death Valley to start a good distance from all humanity and all things civilized. Here he met a Shoshone Indian Chief who traded him a fine burro for a fine, fairly new car. Off he went for a wonderful, if not occasionally harrowing adventure. Through Nevada into a corner of Utah back into Arizona and down the north rim of the Grand Canyon and back up the south rim to the village and then back to the desert in California. Well over a year had passed when he returned to his wife who was waiting for him in the little town of Baker in the middle of the Mojave. All was well upon his return and his adventures were becoming known far and wide. Bill had become known as ‘Burro’ Bill. One evening there was a knock at the door. Bill was surprised to see his friend, the Shoshone chief. The chief wanted his burro back. ‘Burro’ Bill said the burro was his now. They had been through so much together and he could not bear to part with the beast. The chief explained that a day or two after Bill and the burro departed the car had a flat tire and broke a wheel therefore was not drivable, therefore the deal was no good. The burro was still operable while the car that sat in Death Valley was not.

ref: review
Burro Bill and Me, Ramblings in the American Desert
Author: Edna Calkins Price

This Tragic Struggle

Johannesburg cemetery

What histories of tragic struggle with fortune and of defeat there are written in California! How many young men, for whom still fond hearts of sisters or mothers beat lovingly in vain, have fought the battle of life here unsuccesfully, and have died, as men know how to die, in solitude without a murmur or a groan.

— Charles Loring Brace
The New West, 1869

Backroads

SR 173 (decommissioned)

When the air has a bit of a chill and the days are short it feels good to spend time idling down a back road in that golden light with no intended time of arrival, anywhere.

Roads & Trails:
https://digital-desert.com/road-trail/

Ver:

Antelope Valley

Beautiful memories of beautiful moments — I was there the day the valley floor was being painted. Each brushstroke was evenly pulled across the plain as the sun rose and the day grew warm. The colors covered everything with life. There were bugs and brightly detailed butterflies and the creatures that eat them. There were the diminutive blue and pink fairies that made it all worth living for and meek mice, humble hares (although no one seems to remember one in particular), rats underground and birds that flew higher than could be seen, and then there were the birds that flew in between.

Rats. Rats were everywhere–typically.

Ver (Latin)- very, new, truth, life, forward . . .
‘verdant’ meaning green and growing and ‘veritas’ or truth.

24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn, yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
— luke 12:24-26

End of the River

Sink of the Mojave River, Afton Canyon, Soda Lake

Rather than growing wider and emptying into the sea the Mojave River becomes smaller and smaller finding its way in the sand between the cobbles and rocks curling into crescent -shaped dark meanders and swales transitioning to dry sand and finally, collections of same sized stones.

Mojave River https://digital-desert.com/mojave-river/

One Fine Day

If you want to see the desert pick a fine day and go to the desert. It will be cloudless, hot, and asleep and pretty much as you expect it. If you want to be in the desert while it is awake and alive and changing its own character–go when there is drama in the skies and in the wind. Go when its army of clouds cast unshaped shadows of camouflage on its colored hills. Go when rain is pouring down from the heavens in patches and flooding the landscapes and carving the canyons and washes. Go when the wind is blowing sand that scars its cliffs and uprooting the Joshua trees that have become old and weak. Go while the desert is growing, reshaping, and in a dubious struggle with itself. Go then.

Red Rock Canyon

Lenticular Clouds

Known as Altocumulus Standing Lenticular (ACSL) or Altocumulus Standing Lenticularis clouds, they are associated with waves in the atmosphere that develop when relatively stable, fast moving air is forced up and over a topographic barrier that is oriented more or less perpendicular to the direction from which the upper-level wind is blowing. This deflection creates a gravity wave downwind of the topographic barrier not unlike a wave you might generate by throwing a pebble into a pond. When sufficient moisture is present above mountain-top level, ACSL clouds develop within the crest of these mountain waves where the air is rising. ACSL clouds are continually developing and dissipating in the vicinity of the wave’s crest and immediately downwind of the crest, respectively. That is why they appear to remain stationary (hence the name) even though winds are swiftly (sometimes very swiftly) moving through the entire cloud

  • https://www.weather.gov/abq/features_acsl
Standing lenticular cloud over the unseen Fremont Peak in the Mojave Desert – from Black Canyon