Saturday, March 18, 2017

Before We Get Back to See Our Kids.....

March 6-8, 2017
Desert Center - Redlands, California

I've been dealing with slow internet and a more recent stomach bug, so have managed to get behind here. I'm confident your lives have continued on un-fettered by this lapse.

Our last day in the desert, Monday, we take the Jeep south to visit a few more memories. 

I've written about the little mining town that Bill called home and where I went to high school - Eagle Mountain, California. It's a ghost town now, except for our school which now serves K-8 for the few families who call Desert Center and the surrounding desert home. I like that it's a ghost town. That no one else lives there, changing things. It will always be our home, our memories live there without being covered up by those who might have come afterwards. The grocery store isn't called something else, the houses aren't painted another color, no high school trophies have been won by names we don't recognize. The town lives every day in the minds and hearts of those of us who shared so much under our clear desert skies - from the graduating class of 1962 to the final graduating of 1983.

Monday Bill and Coy and I drive along the old railroad and behind the town to look at what physically remains. It's amazing to me that when going to school here I never noticed the huge tailings piles that towered over us.

Kaiser Steel Mining town - Eagle Mountain, California
I still see tree-lined streets, green lawns, Christmas lights.

The large equipment building.

We're still here.
Our high school

A lifetime friend, Coy


A salvage company has purchased the old mine railroad - the heavy equipment was working while we were there.
Moving water from Lake Havasu to Lake Matthews is the job of the Metropolitan Water District. My dad worked at Iron Mountain, MWD's most remote pumping station. I lived there with my parents for years and returned to live with my dad for my four high school years - riding a school bus to Eagle Mountain 50 miles and back every week day. Unknown to most people who know about the five pumping stations is the Coxcomb Tunnel. For years it was manned by a single employee who lived in a small canyon next to the tunnel - with his family in a nice cinder block home with very good air conditioning and amazing views. And zero neighbors. Our school bus picked Cheryl up and dropped her off each day.

The tunnel remains, as do the power poles along the single track road, but the house and garage are gone. I don't know if the flag pole was there when the family lived there, but there is one today - complete with American and POW flags flying.

The water from the open canal enters the tunnel underground at this site.

Across from the old homesite - views forever.
What I don't expect is to find the canal empty. I know why though. What used to be every seven years, is now an annual system shut-down to clean the silt from the canal and three reservoirs along the water's route. We drive along the concrete channel for miles before heading out into the desert.

Note the buoys hanging here - to grab onto if you fall into the canal - so you don't get sucked underground. This was an important lesson growing up here - don't go in the canal!!

Looking all scrubbed and ready for fresh water.

Underground siphons allow for flash floods to cross the canal without dumping dirt and rock in the water.
In addition to MWD's massive water project, this area is well-known as the home of General Patton's Desert Training Center from 1942 to 1945. There were 15 camps throughout the southwest, including the Iron Mountain camp near where I lived.

Officers' areas were marked by "solid" pathways, covered with crushed rock.

A picture perfect day.
We end our day at the old Totem Pole Ranch - once a date farm where today there are no palm trees.






314 acres for sale with a well and power, and just a little fixing up......and those views!!
Back home we enjoy dinner with our host, then hugs and good-byes for now.

Always hard to leave our beautiful little lake site.
Tuesday we leave the peace and wide open spaces of the desert and enter the vast chaos of SoCal's metropolitan area. We're at this first stop for a single night to meet more high school friends for Taco Tuesday.

Mission RV Park in Redlands is a nice, clean, city RV park with tight back-in spaces. Except for one pull-through right in front of the office with water and electric that I have reserved. It's our home for the night and works perfect. The pub where we're meeting our friends is just two miles away.

Definitely the busiest dog-tv Tessa has had so far.
Stacy and Eric come for a pre-dinner visit and then we meet the other two couples at Taylor's Cocktail Lounge - a very popular spot. We haven't met Denise and Jesse before, they are also Eagle Mountain "kids" who graduated years after we left. It's another fun evening of good food and good friends.

Stacy, Shirlene, Bill, Tommy, Eric, Jesse and Denise (the two folks in the back just had to put up with us)
Wednesday is a very exciting day for us. Although we've both flown home separately, this is the first time we've been back to see the kids and grandkids together in 16 months. We can't wait to see them all!


18 comments:

  1. Such an amazing story of a hometown frozen in time. We sure spend a lot of money and time to make water go where Mother Nature never intended it. Nice job on the easy pull through for yet another visit with more friends. Happy happy times coming up. Sure hope your bug doesn't last as long as mine has and that Bill doesn't get it.

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    1. The times have been happy indeed - and fortunately I'm nearly 100% now :-)

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  2. Whew--that's an even bigger fixer upper than ours!! Enjoy your time with the kids!

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    1. But the big pool is in really good shape :-))))

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  3. I hope that one day we are in that area at the same time you two are. I would love to tour your hometown and relive the stories from back in the day with you. I'm sure it still feels strange to see the ghostly look when your mind sees it alive.

    Sorry to hear you were under the weather. It seems many bloggers have been ill lately. John got that terrible cold that just wipes you out completely and causing coughing that makes the ribs ache. Luckily for him, he was only really bad for two days, but it took about a good week to feel better and regain energy. Thank goodness I made it through and was healthy enough to drive to the next location since there was no way to stay extra days!!

    Good to see Tessa in a few photos. I am sure she was loving that "TV show" being by the office!

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    1. We would so love to show you around the area - lots and lots of fun things to see in the Jeeps. We'll have to make it happen :-) So sorry to hear John had the crud - glad he survived being a passenger too!! She startled the FedEx and UPS drivers from behind the sunshade (I tried not to laugh), so she really had a great time :-))))

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  4. Amazing pictures Jodee!! It's amazing (word of the day for me LOL) the change that happens when we go back to our high schools and places we lived. Hope you are feeling better.

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    1. Thanks Laura, we love visiting our memories together - amazing is a good word :-) I'm doing much better thanks.

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  5. Hope you are feeling better...lots of hugs and kisses for the little ones are in store! Enjoy your visit with famitly.

    What a cool post and pictures down memory lane!

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    1. Definitely better and loving up the kiddos for sure! We had so much fun :-))

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  6. Modern day ghost town is amazing. Wonder if the town was setup knowing it would only be around for a certain period of time? Trips back to our roots are always the best.

    Hope you are feeling better. The cold medicine isle here is nearly empty. Seems like everyone got it at the same time.

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    1. While the mine couldn't have lasted forever, it did close before the ore ran out. So I imagine there was a feeling of impermanence, but having to leave was hard on everyone. We have been lucky to dodge that nasty cold/cough - but I'm never a fan of the stomach flu :-( Doing better though!

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  7. That's interesting about the buoys, Jodee!

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    1. :-))) always freaked me out - I just knew I'd never grab one in time!!

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  8. You write so beautifully and poignantly about your hometown, Jodee. What a wonderful tribe of friends you have from that time in your lives. Could be an interesting book....and you would be the perfect author!

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    1. Oh thank you Laurel, that means so much to me as I am such a fan of your writing. That desert does truly live in my spirit :-)

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  9. Great memories sparked from this journey home. I'd have been terrified of drowning in the canal. Glad you're back to 100%, especially with visits to the family.

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    1. My dad did a good job of instilling that fear in me - I never even considered going in, no matter how hot it got! Feels good to feel good :-)))

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