Saturday, April 20, 2024

Gathering at Home For the Last Time

April 1 - 15, 2024
Tombstone, AZ - Desert Center, CA - Tombstone, AZ

Many of you have "gone with us" to our annual high school/hometown reunions. Although Bill lived in Eagle Mountain, CA, and we both attended school there, our reunions are always in Laughlin, NV. The Kaiser Mine community of Eagle Mountain closed with the mine in 1985. Nearby Lake Tamarisk, CA, has an RV park, and little else but the golf course, so it's not a practical location for most people - thus Laughlin with large casino/hotels, RV park, Colorado River, golf courses and close enough to a major airport for out-of-state attendees. 

This year is Bill's 50th reunion (mine was last year), and coincides with a major undertaking by several alumni from several classes to get us access to the closed ghost town, the high school (which is currently holding classes for grades 1-12 for the few families still in the area), and the recreation room in Lake Tamarisk. Woohooo!!! 

I'm still amazed by all that went into making the weekend such a huge success - both our alumni team and the representatives from the corporation who bought the mine and town a couple years ago, and volunteers among the attendees. Everyone worked long and hard and it was wonderful. 

Note that the reunion was sponsored by Class of '74, but Classes '66 through '85 were there as well.

A cold wind blows all day and night on Friday. It's miserable outside so having the recreation hall is great. A taco-truck from Blythe (an hour away) provides delish tacos and quesadillas, and all the fixings, feeds over 200 of us on Friday night. 

Friday we have more room without all the big food tables.

Kevin isn't usually that funny.....

Like everywhere else we go, Tessa is a celebrity.

Every year the reunion includes a golf tournament. Winning team, closest to the hole, longest drive - this year's happy winners :-)))

We all signed contracts that we would not share any photos from the town on social media. I do get some great photos of the old elementary schools, churches, mine tailings, old houses, and empty foundations for our own enjoyment. Our little tour group stops on Bill's old street where all the houses are soooo small, with all the trees gone, and many walls and roofs falling down. Bill's house is actually in pretty good shape, but boy does it look different. After Friday's nasty weather we are blessed with perfect blue skies and no wind for the weekend.

Following the town tour we visit our high school. Separate from the restrictions during the tour, I'm able to post the pics I took. It's not the first time we've been back since the mine closed, and the current administration is taking good care of most of it, so it is less time-shocking :-) 

We were blessed to have such a lovely school with big classrooms, huge swimming pool, tennis courts and lighted sports fields all those years ago.

Kim and Bill were classmates and it's fun having she and husband Jack ride with us for the day.

Bill and some of his classmates on the "Senior Quad"

This central space was only for seniors - and the rule was strictly enforced by said seniors! It was a big deal on the first day of my senior year to walk on this grass.

Looking back across the quad to the lunch tables. 

Behind the gym where I may or may not have smoked something once or twice. 

Lighted tennis courts - behind the outdoor basketball court.

Bill's tall chair at the swimming pool where he was lifeguard for two years. All tan and sexy.......

The snack bar at the front of the gym and across from the football field was open daily at lunch, and for all sporting events. Twinkies and Tab.....eesch!

Bill is the most awarded football player from our school, and one of only two whose jersey number was retired. His dad (our World History teacher) announced the games from the crow's nest on a light pole visible across the field here.

Mr Brown's art class - we had so much space!

I left this note on the art class board.

Our contribution to the event is the Memorial to all the classmates we've lost. Not the most uplifting project, but an important one we were glad to take on. We always take several yearbooks, and this year there are lots of people who haven't seen one in decades! Great fun to see and hear the reactions to those precious memories.

Too many from such a small school - we remember them each year.

Scrapbooks and a special project added to the yearbooks.

Mr Gravel's World History class was a favorite for many of us. During each of our sophomore years we created family Coat of Arms, and Bill found a box of them a few years ago! We organized them, and brought them for people to collect. What fun to see people who found theirs! When we get home I send messages to those I can find who weren't at the reunion, and mail out even more. 

We each got a template and then researched (in books, in the library!) symbols for our heritage.

We used markers or color pencils or crayons - with a variety of artistic prowess :-)

Saturday night it's pot-luck-on-steroids for over 350! No restaurants or grocery stores, and limited kitchen space, and yet there is more food than can be eaten! Our close friends and us have our RV refrigerators and storage space for our contributions, but many people come from Indio hotels 60 miles away. I can't believe none of us took a single photo of all the tables we filled with food!! It was epic.

My class of '73 - me wearing Bill's letterman sweater :-)

Bill and life-long pal Mike.

Class of '74 shows up strong for their 50th. One of the few places where Bill isn't the tallest in the pic!

Our goodest friends Jimmy and Donnie (whose chair is just much shorter!)

These were four of my best friends my senior year - such a treat to have them all together even for a few hours.

There just isn't enough time to get caught up with everybody!

It's fun seeing friends we've visited in our travels - Katie in Seattle and Vicki in Yuma.

Sunday a handful of us head into the desert in Jeeps and ATVs. We always note that none of us appreciated the natural beauty that surrounded us "back in the day", and how lucky we are that much of it remains unspoiled today.

I don't have an issue with them, but the huge solar farm is very unpopular with many.

The incredible Eagle Rock.

The town is Eagle Mountain, we were the Eagles in school. No one found this amazing formation until 40 years after we left! And it's in an area we ran around in all the time.

We're usually out and about on our own, but it's great fun with friends too!

Weeping Woman is a formation we're familiar with. It is a sacred place for many of our friends, being the final resting place of family members.

The Ocotillos are in full flame.

The sun is so bright that I can't see the egg in the nest through the camera lens. It's to the left above the darker nesting material. Well protected in the cholla!

Petroglyphs in a narrow canyon.

Thursday and Sunday evenings, and Saturday and Sunday breakfast, several gather around Donnie and Anna's RV (across the street from ours and Jimmy and Maggie's). It's like food falls from the sky at these things! Donnie and Jimmy grill and we bring some side dishes, and I have no idea where the rest of it came from :-)

Not our last reunion, but the last time we'll ever see the high school and the town. No doubt the last time we'll see some of these old friends. It went by way too fast, there are things and people we failed to see that we regret missing, but it was an incredibly wonderful weekend of memories and hugs.

Monday we're up and on the road with half the distance to go that we had to get here. Bill has his first (and likely his last with the in-home starting soon) traveling treatment scheduled in Peoria that afternoon. All goes well at the little RV park and the clinic, and at 7:00 wer'e having a delicious dinner at Abuelo's. Unfortunately a family and the restaurant management let three screaming children run wild non-stop, ruining my meal and making me get out of there as fast as possible. Bill is much more tolerant.

Tuesday is a pretty Spring day drive, and we're home and unpacked by noon.

Bisbee's Valentine's Day fire was devastating, and I'm happy to say that the main street is now open to pedestrians and one lane of cars, with all but the burned-out businesses fully open. Even better news is that engineers believe they can rebuild the damaged structures without demolition!

Photo from Channel 13 News

Perhaps as important as the success of the reunion, is the success of our trip. Everything worked perfect, I enjoyed the drive, and Bill was able to do his usual set-up and breakdown routine. It was very encouraging, and I'm sure keeping this rig is right for us right now. 

Training for in-home dialysis is moving forward, and making it work on the road is definitely a go! So we now have reservations for three months of travel, leaving the day after Memorial Day and returning the day before Labor Day :-))) North through Utah, the corner of Idaho, into Washington, and south along the coast. A familiar and favorite route with a couple new adventures planned. Very exciting!

Reese and Penelope enjoying their Easter celebration.

Elliott, angelic in deep sleep.

M&M getting up high in SoCal.

The youngest, happy girl Cassidy. 



  1. What a wonderful post Jodee. Those lasting friendships and memories are a testament to your little town and your families. Too bad you couldn't share some photos, but agreeing not to post them was worth it, for sure. Yay! Your MH trip was a success and you feel comfortable to plan a summer trip, starting soon! We look forward to seeing you in a few weeks and hear all about it. As usual, the grands photos are fab!

    1. We can't wait to see you two and Taos next month!! It still amazes me how many from our little community still manage to gather, and stay in touch in between.

  2. I agree with Susan, what a wonderful post! I've said before I envy you and Bill your lasting friendships from those high school years and what a special time being allowed back in the town where you graduated. Of course Tessa is the star attraction! And those grandbabies are so adorable--Elliott's eyelashes!!

    1. We are definitely blessed to have 50+ years-long friendships :-) The boys always get those beautiful eyelashes - unfair!!

  3. I agree with Sue and Janna…what a wonderful post. So many memories, so many friends, and such good news that you will soon be rolling along soon to favorite places to spend the summer! The Eagle rock is really cool and the story that goes with it…it’s funny how we pass by places all the time and then one day…we see things that we never saw! And how awesome Bill found all those Coat of Arms all of you created in 10th grade! I’m glad to hear Bisbee is open to pedestrians. My fingers are crossed as we have reservations (for the third time…we cancelled twice already…once b’cause of snow and then Jack was sick and we lost him) in Bisbee the end of September…and I really hope you will be home by then! Love the girly girls photo…such beautiful sisters Reese and Penelope are!

    1. We will be home for sure and look forward to catching up with you in Bisbee in September! Even though the Eagle is close to the highway and to the areas we played in, we still struggle finding it every time we go to see it :-)

  4. What a fun post of your lasting friendships and memories that will continue to be cherished and grow. Glad you were able to get glimpse of your old homes. Hoping the new owners will be restoring it.
    The grands are so AWESOME!!!
    Looking forward to following your summer travels.

    1. We've heard a dozen stories on what the new owners are planning. The remaining houses will likely all be torn down no matter what. It was a great opportunity to go back and see it one last time. Those grands always make us smile.

  5. What a fantastic reunion. I love that small towns have the ability to include all classes in their reunion. My parents always had their reunions that way in Clayton. Everyone had friends in other years. Sure sounds like so much fun. The huge grins in all your photos show us just how everyone felt. Awesome treat to get to visit the closed ghost town and relive so many memories. Very nice high school!! Of course Tessa is the highlight for everyone. Thanks for sharing. What positive news for Bill. So very glad all is working as you had hoped. Sounds like a fun summer. Always enjoy seeing what the grands are up to. Love the rock climbing hikers. Hopefully, we can meet up somewhere on the road with our new little rig.

    1. It was a really great time for so many of us!! I think more people knew Tessa from our posts than remembered me from school :-))) Yes, we would love to meet up with you, and see how you're enjoying smaller living on the road.

  6. Great post Jodee. I love seeing your reunions With only 350 people in nearly 20 years of classes compared with my 800 people in my graduating class alone. No wonder I never go back to my reunions they aren't anywhere near as terrific as yours. I'm sad to hear you will not ever be able to go back to the town or the high school what are they doing with them??

    Love that great Eagle rock and cannot believe you lived there and never recognized it it. Can that really be??

    I am so happy you are going to be able to do dialysis on the road and very envious of your route. It is one I would love to spend a summer taking

    1. It's unclear what the new owners are planning, but it will take a long time to do anything I think. It borders the national monument (Joshua Tree) so I don't think there will be much done with the mine. We're still surprised when we see that eagle!!

      I'm hoping we get good weather on our route, it's the latest we've headed out so we'll see!

  7. I'm thrilled that your trip went so well, and that your trip validated your decision to keep your home-on-wheels. :-) I've lost count of the reunions that I've "attended" with you...but I'm always struck by how many people show up, and how meaningful (and fun!) your reunions are. I've never been to a reunion (my graduating class was enormous!), but I have a couple of friends from childhood/high school days, and there's something special about the connection and shared memories from all those years ago.

    I'm so excited for you and your upcoming trip! The only thing better is if we were on your route.

    1. It really is amazing how many adventures and life events we've shared with each other over the years - for which I'm so grateful :-) Our little Eagle Mountain tribe is pretty special and unique. Glad you have a couple long-time friends too! Changes in the wind again but we're still doing good.