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The Sun Runner The Magazine of the Real California Desert February/March 2012—Vol. 18, No. 1 The Sun Runner Magazine PO Box 2171, Joshua Tree, CA 92252 (760)820-1222 • www.thesunrunner.com Publisher/Executive Editor:Steve Brown email@example.com Founding Editor Emeritus: Vickie Waite Asst. Publisher, in memoriam: Barbara Buckland Theatre/Film Editors: Jack & Jeannette Lyons Literary Editor: Delphine Lucas Music Editor: Judy Wishart Calendar Editor: Lynelle White Contributing Writers Lorraine Blair • Philip Bonafede Steve Brown • Death Valley Jim Ashley Dunphy • Carlos Gallinger Lou Gerhardt • Jennie Kelly Jack Lyons • Seth Shteir • Judy Wishart Contributing Photographers & Artists: Lorraine Blair • Philip Bonafede Steve Brown • John Chao • Ashley Davis Snake Jagger • Death Valley Jim Ashley Dunphy • Ming C. Lowe Ted Markland • Karin Mayer Patrick McGrew • Judy Wishart Advertising Sales: John Cucchiara, Senior Sales Manager Ashley Ziegler Sun Runner Team Support: Christina Dooley • Steve Hall • Isha Jones The Sun Runner Magazine features desert news, desert issues and commentary, arts & entertainment, natural and cultural history, columns, poetry, stories by desert writers, and more, for the enormous California desert region. Published bimonthly. MAGAZINE DEADLINE: March 26 for the April/May issue, for advertising & editorial. To list a desert event free of charge in The Sun Runner’s online desert events calendar, please send your complete press release and event information (preferably with photos) to calendar@thesunrunner. com, or mail to: Calendar, c/o: The Sun Runner Magazine, PO Box 2171, Joshua Tree, CA 92252. Please include all relevant information in text format. Notices submitted without complete information or in an annoying format may not be posted. Event information absolutely will not be taken over the telephone or telepathically (it hurts!). SUBMISSIONS: By mail to the address above; by email: publisher@thesunrunner. com, or stop us when we’re at the Kelso Depot like everybody else does. SUBSCRIPTIONS: $22/year U.S.A. ($38/ year International, $38 trillion Intergalactic) Copyright © 2011 The Sun Runner. Permission for reproduction of any part of this publication must be obtained from the publisher. The opinions of our contributors are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of the magazine. Honest. We have made some effort to be accurate, but we are a desert publication after all, and we are not responsible for errors or omissions in material submitted to us, nor claims by advertisers. Advertising, press releases, and public service announcements are accepted at the mysterious discretion of the all-seeing publisher. 10 The Sun Runner – February/March 2012
The Sun Runner The Magazine of the Real California Desert
February/March 2012 – The Desert Treasures Issue
Inside this Issue:
Dry Heat, by Steve Brown ... 11 The Tortoise Telegraph, News gathered from around the desert – at our own pace ... 12 The Death of Tourism in our area and across the American West, by Steve Brown ... 14 On the Trail of Dirty Electricity in the Desert, by Steve Brown ... 18 The Art of Snake Jagger, by Steve Brown ... 20 The Best in Native Film, by Steve Brown ... 22 Palm Springs Treasure Re-discovered, by Patrick McGrew ... 24 Robin Maxwell, by Steve Brown ... 26 Storytellers of Ancient Lake Cahuilla, by Ashley Dunphy ... 29 The Return of the Salton Sea History Museum, by Jennie Kelly ... 31 Lessons from Ebey’s Landing, by Seth Shteir ... 32 Where to Find Gold Near Joshua Tree, by Philip Bonafede ... 34 The Ways of Things—Petroglyphs: Appreciating Desert Treasures, by Carlos Gallinger ... 35 Ramblings From Randsburg, On the Trail of... Bert Wegman, (1902-1981)... Who Helped Preserve the Mining Culture of the Californai Rand, by Lorraine Blair ... 36 Death Valley Jim’s Desert Adventures: Red Mountain, by Death Valley Jim ... 37 Desert Theatre Beat, by Jack Lyons ... 38 Film Talk, by Jack Lyons ... 39 Hi-Desert Music News, by Judy Wishart ... 40 Positive Living: A Force Multiplier, by Lou Gerhardt ... 43 The Best Places to Dine in the Real Desert ... 46 The Best Places to Stay in the Real Desert ... 48
Cover Art — Enchanted Desert, by Snake Jagger
Snake Jagger is a whimsical surrealist who continues to evolve. Read his profile on page 20. Do you have photos and information about desert events? The Sun Runner produces the most comprehensive desert-wide events calendar for the California deserts and surrounding areas. If you have event info or photos, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Are you a desert artist? We love to run art from California desert artists on our cover. If you have a work you’d like us to consider, please send it to email@example.com. Remember, the work should be vertical, and large enough at high resolution (300 dpi) to cover 9” x 11”. We prefer desert-themed works, full color, with room for our masthead and logo at the top (without destroying the integrity of your work). Please include a brief bio and contact information with your submission. Want up-to-date advertising information about The Sun Runner Magazine, The Stumps Monthly, the new Sun Runner online business directory and website, and our specialty publications? Call Senior Sales Manager John Cucchiara at (760)992-0838 or (760)8083297 for our media kit and current advertising specials.
“The other Desert—the real Desert—is not for the eyes of the superficial observer, or the fearful soul or the cynic. It is a land, the character of which is hidden except to those who come with friendliness and understanding. To these the Desert offers rare gifts: health-giving sunshine—a sky that is studded with diamonds—a breeze that bears no poison—a landscape of pastel colors such as no artist can duplicate—thorn-covered plants which during countless ages have clung tenaciously to life through heat and drought and wind and the depredations of thirsty animals, and yet each season send forth blossoms of exquisite coloring as a symbol of courage that has triumped over terrifying obstacles.” – Randall Henderson and J. Wilson McKenney There Are Two Deserts, Desert magazine, Volume 1, Number 1, November, 1937
hen it comes to treasure, there’s no place like the desert. Whether it’s the stuff of legends, like Pegleg Smith’s lost gold, any number of “lost” mines, the occasional cave stuffed full of gold bullion stashed there by Patton and guarded over by two mysterious tanks and a dead soldier still on duty, or the cultural and historical kind, the desert’s fertile ground for treasure hunting. We try to bring you an assortment of desert treasures to familiarize you with the wealth of our land and in this issue we highlight one incredible woman from the Pipes Canyon/ Pioneertown area who has brought history to life for readers around the world through her writing, and who is journeying into new territory with her latest project. We also introduce you to Snake Jagger, our cover artist and a cultural treasure as well. Snake takes our familiar desert world and then adds his own touch, which is what architects of the mid-modern period did as well, which is why we’re including a “lost” house designed by Albert Frey with our treasures. We mark the loss of one of our most promising cultural treasures—author, Joel Newman, and, of course, we’re fighting to preserve our greatest treasures, our natural wildlands, our epic vistas, and the ecological integrity of our desert parks. Make no mistake, the desert is being pushed toward a momentous tipping point, where one push too many may result in farreaching consequences. We have far more treasures here than we can get to with this one issue, of course. But the desert is an ongoing story and this is an ongoing magazine, so we’re not going to be lacking for story material anytime soon. We’re also starting to embark into new territory in our 18th year. We’ve organized a special Little Petroglyph Canyon Tour this April, that we think will be extremely interesting. The canyon, located near Ridgecrest on the Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake, is only accessible to U.S. citizens, and only on certain weekends via a tour. This trip includes a customized itinerary, overnight lodging at the Carriage Inn
in Ridgecrest, a full breakfast buffet, orientation, and some special activities in the historic mining town of Randsburg, a book on the history of the area, and an evening welcome and orientation to the Ridgecrest area. You can join us on the trip for only $199, though spaces are limited, so register online at www.thesunrunner.com soon. If this trip does well, we’ll look at adding some others to our line-up, another way to connect with our readers and to introduce folks to some of the most interesting people and places across the desert. We’re looking at a day trip (with an overnight option) to Felicity, the center of the world, and the Museum of History in Granite, sometime before Easter. If you’re interested in joining us, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re feeling a sense of urgency to get out and explore the desert as we’re starting to lose some of our cultural and natural treasures. The fate of cultural treasures like Salvation Mountain and the Amargosa Opera House are somewhat up in the air as the incredibly creative spirits who led to their creation are in their 80s. Likewise, we’re hearing a geothermal plant may have marked the end of one of our favorite Salton Sea sites—the mud volcanoes. What a shame if these wonderful little volcanoes no longer gurgle and belch up mud at the end of the San Andreas Fault! Other energy projects being rammed through by the government and multinational corporations are destroying Native American cultural sites near Blythe, an old Army airbase near Rice, and stunning desert vistas across the California deserts. Who wants to wander Mane Street in Pioneertown with the spirits of Gene Autry and Hopalong Cassidy with enormous wind turbines spinning all along the ridgeline? Of course, we’re always looking for treasure, and now we’ve got Death Valley Jim to help us scour the desert too. Whether it’s up that lonesome canyon, on top of a butte, or whether it’s the writer, artist, historian, musician, activist, community leader, actor, poet, or another creative soul whose work defies explanation, the desert is filled with priceless treasures. February/March 2012 – The Sun Runner 11
The Two Towers Out near Pipes Canyon and Pioneertown, you’ve got a different kind of scenery. There, you get an awe-inspiring mix of the hi-desert, with its boulder formations and Joshua trees, along with the shapes of iconic Western buttes, and where the desert meets the mountains to the west, there are pines and juniper, with small but clear streams and the life they bring with them. You can almost pretend you’re back in the Old West, which is one of the reasons Pioneertown was built in the 1940s as a movie set town. Walk down Mane Street past the old Red Dog Saloon, or catch the Pioneertown Posse or Gunfighters for Hire in action, and you understand. Even in this modern world, 12 The Sun Runner – February/March 2012
you can still find folks tying their horses up outside when they drop by the legenday musical roadhouse, Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace. Just like the Old West, when the gold spike was driven and the railroad stretched all the way across the country, and when the last big cattle drive ended and hundreds of miles of fences severed the trail forever, our desert is facing momentous change. You may only notice the two 200-foot towers if you’re looking for them. One stands on Flat Top Mesa, and the other on Black Lava Butte. At night, a red light blinks at the top of each to warn away aircraft. The towers are there to measure the wind atop the buttes, and if there is enough of it, there are plans to erect enormous 400-foot wind turbines on these nearly untouched lands, with giant blades spinning across the ridgeline. High voltage power lines (Remember Green Path North? This will be its bastard step-child.) will stretch off, carrying all that “green” electricity to urbanites in Los Angeles who can rest easy knowing they’re helping save the planet. Desert Mesa Power, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Element Power posts this on their corporate website to explain their approach: At Element Power we strive to be creative, versatile, and nimble in our approach, as well as treat each of our partners with integrity and respect. We view our partners— whether they are landowners, customers, local communities, government entities, development partners or equipment suppliers—as just that, long term partners that will be interested in doing repeat business with Element Power. But Jeff Dickman, who has explored the two buttes for decades where the towers now sit, points out a reason for concern. “When I learned about the windmills proposed for Black Lava Butte and Flat Top I was stunned,” Dickman noted. “The area is ringed with villages and other cultural sites. Rock art abounds. Black Lava Butte has hundreds of petroglyphs, mill slicks and other likely other features not yet recorded.” Add to that the destruction of unique wildlands on the tops and slopes of the buttes, the harm to tourism and filming around the Pioneertown area, and industrialization of these iconic ridgelines, and there’s a cause for concern for just about everyone. Save Our Desert, along with support from the hardened Green Path North veterans, the California Desert Coalition, are bracing for a fight. If you’d like to find out more, or take action, start with a visit to saveourdesert.com, or drop by their booth on Saturday mornings at the Joshua Tree Farmers Market.
Saying Goodbye to an Old, New Friend To tell you the truth, I didn’t know Joel Harry Newman all that well, and that’s a damned shame. When I met Joel, I felt like we had known each other for years. Kindred spirits. Two old school journalists, a bit jaded, but still driven to tell the stories of this world the way we saw them. Writers with respect for their readers, and not much respect for BS. Joel had written for Los Angeles Times Magazine, Details, The Hollywood Reporter, the L.A. Herald Examiner, PDN, ADWEEK, L.A. Style, Westways, and Conde Nast. He had worked as story editor on movies like Arachnophobia, Hollow Man, and John Carpenter’s Vampires. He covered crime, politics, arts & entertainment, business, and travel, along with other news, features, and human interest stories. Along with his beautiful and talented wife, Feryat Newman, a writer and poet, Joel settled at a great little place in Morongo Valley the Newmans called Inkwell Ranch. We met after Joel sent us a copy of his 2010 book, Tell Me What You See. The book, the story of Major Ed Dames, head of the unit of the Army famed for their remote viewing (think Men Who Stare at Goats), is fascinating, a read I just didn’t want to put down. Knowing some of the back story on how the book came to be led me to respect Joel’s work even more. But he had been sick when we saw him not long before Christmas (we had him sign one of his books as a gift for someone), and then came the news from Feryat that he was gone. Plans to get together for dinner at the ranch turned to plans to remember Joel’s life and sit with Feryat for a while. Some folks, it seems, you miss a lot longer than you know them. – SB February/March 2012 – The Sun Runner 13
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he death of tourism in our area and across the American West. What could be causing it? Off-roading devestation? Theft and diversion of limited water resources? Rampant sprawl and unbridled development? Evil Republicans bent on environmental destruction? Nope. How about a liberal Democrat president and “green” energy? Ironically, while Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar touts the Obama administration’s belief in the importance of science to eighth graders with a Google+ Hangout on Science, part of the Department of the Interior’s “Youth in the Great Outdoors Initiative,” the administration may mark the end of the great American outdoors, and the way of life that has gone with it. President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Progress Report from 2011 details that “National Parks see more than 280 million visitors, generating $12 billion in visitor spending and supporting nearly 250,000 jobs,” and notes that the Outdoor Industry Association estimates recreational activities including hiking, camping, and fishing contribute $730 billion to the U.S. economy, support more than six million jobs, and generate $289 billion annually in retail sales and services. “Easy access to quality outdoor recreation areas is something that all Americans should enjoy—whether they are young or old, live in rural or urban areas, and no matter how take advantage of the natural world,” says Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “Under the banner of America’s Great Outdoors, President
Obama has made it clear that conservation is a priority for this administration. We will continue to invest in land and water projects that have the backing of communities who depend on the jobcreating power of the outdoor economy.” Information about the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative (it’s slogan is, “A Promise to Future Generations”) notes that among other regions, “the southwest deserts,” will be the subject of interagency collaboration on landscape-scale conservation. That is, if there’s any of it left to conserve when the very same administration gets through with it. One Department, Two Opposing Agendas The Department of the Interior notes that it is the manager of 20 percent of the nation’s public lands, and a further 1.7 billion acres off its shores. Interior notes that, “Within the Southwest, our Bureau of Land Management manages 30 million acres of public lands with solar potential. We have set aside 1,000 square miles of BLM lands in 24 solar-energy study areas and are evaluating these lands for appropriate development.” Meanwhile, the Bureau of Land Management, which has taken the point on fast-track solar projects, notes that as of the end of 2010, “there are 147 solar applications pending. Of those, 104, comprising 1 million acres, are “firstin-line” applications.” (As of the end of 2011, the total number of major renewable energy projects approved by Interior totaled 22, including 13 commercialscale solar energy facilities). The BLM notes that some managed
public lands are not available for alternative energy production. National Conservation Areas “with the notable exception of the California Desert Conservation Area,” are not available, while Areas of Critical Environmental Concern “may also not be suitable for development.” Note the use of may because it appears the BLM is allowing ACECs to become candidates for development, raising the question of how you justify destruction of areas of “critical” environmental concern for “green” energy production. The BLM’s news release on the Draft Solar Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement from December notes: The modified preferred alternative also establishes a variance process, going forward, that will allow development of well-sited projects outside of solar energy zones on an additional 20 million acres of public land. BLM Priority Projects that are already being processed will not be subject to the proposed new variance process. The Supplement makes clear that Interior’s solar program will incorporate other, state-based planning efforts to establish additional solar energy zones. Planning efforts that are currently looking at establishing new zones include: the Arizona Restoration Energy Design Program, the West Chocolate Mountains Renewable Energy Evaluation, and the California Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan. The Supplement also makes clear that there is opportunity for industry, the public and interested stakeholders to propose additional zones for consideration. “Tapping the vast potential of solar resources in the Western states will go a long way to diversifying the country’s energy portfolio and re-establishing our position as a clean energy leader in a global market worth trillions of dollars in the long term,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. But wait. The Department of the Interior notes that 1,000 square miles of BLM lands are being set aside in benign-sounding “solar-energy study areas,” to be evaluated for “appropriate” development of solar projects. The BLM say that there is an additional 20 million acres (over 30,000 square miles) of public land, plus state and private and other federal agency-managed lands, that can be developed for solar energy, with 20.6 million acres of lands with the potential to generate wind power. In the desert, Salazar recently approved transmission for a solar thermal “power tower” project that is sited on privately held lands in Rice. The 1,410
acre project (small by Ivanpah, Blythe, and Desert Sunlight standards) is planned for a historical site of an Army airfield. For those of you who have driven east on Route 62 from Twentynine Palms, the vistas around Rice are expansive and nearly untouched by humans (the highway, a rail line, a few dirt roads stretching off in the distance to provide lines of perspective, a little rubble and the obligatory shoe and bra tree display, and that’s about it). One can imagine Native Americans, prospectors, Wyatt Earp, and Patton wandering about at different times in history. Now, smack dab in the middle of all that will be over two square miles of mirrors pointing at a “power tower” filled with molten salts, with high voltage transmission lines leading off into the distance since there are no population centers to be found nearby. Studies have indicated these kind of industrial power installations can prove deadly to birds who can’t see the thermal energy being reflected by the mirrors until they fly between the mirrors and tower. Forget fried chicken. How about fried red-tailed hawk or other raptors and migratory birds that may pass that way? But after you thnk about the environmental impacts of siting a bird-frier over a hundred miles from where the power it produces will be used (and it will lose a significant portion of the power it produces during transmission), think too about the European, Asian, or urban American tourist exploring the great untrammeled American deserts. Think about their surprise when a destination they’ve been told will inspire them with vast iconic vistas that stir their imaginations with imagery that can only be found here no longer exists. When the great American road trip that exemplified a unique form of freedom only takes you casino-to-casino past endless lengths of buzzing high voltage power lines, miles of scraped, barren desert filled with glaring mirrors, dust, and the occasional tortoise or hawk skeleton, and ridgetops covered with 400-foot spinning windmills, will that be a trip you’ll want to repeat? When you head out to explore the desert’s natural wonders, its hidden historical and cultural treasures, and get away from it all, will you return to wander and explore this new “green” wasteland? 85,000 Acres of Wind Turbines Around Joshua Tree National Park Closer to home, this is an issue that is hitting hard as more than 85,000 acres of wind development has been proposed
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Visitors found clean air (94 percent), natural quiet, including the sounds of nature (93 percent), views without development (87 percent), and solitude (80 percent) to be extremely or very important qualities for their park experience. for areas on and around the borders of embattled Joshua Tree National Park. “This will be the death of tourism in our area and the American West. The $64 million effect created by Joshua Tree National Park will be impacted,” Twentynine Palms innkeeper, lawyer, historian, business instructor, and environmentalist Paul Smith noted at a recent tourism committee meeting of the Morongo Basin Regional Economic Development Consortium. “This will be a massacre of our tourism industry.” Smith added that this scale of development will cut off recreational use of a vast area of public lands, as well as further isolate Joshua Tree National Park as an ecological island, placing it in environmental jeopardy (the park is already coping with numerous threats to its ecological integrity). Smith’s “death of tourism” assessment may sound extreme, but he’s right. With vast stretches of windmills (over 135 square miles), along with the roads, staging areas, pads, noise, transmission lines, substations, and flashing lights at night, the desert may begin to look like a large vacant lot in an otherwise urban area. A Joshua Tree National Park visitor study conducted by the University of Idaho sums up the visitor perspective succinctly. Visitors were asked about what features or qualities were either very important or extremely important. Visitors found clean air (94 percent), natural quiet, including the sounds of nature (93 percent), views without development (87 percent), and solitude (80 percent) to be extremely or very important qualities for their park experience. In short, visitors to Joshua Tree National Park find a sense of natural peace and a feeling of solitude very important—and central—to their experience with the park. Take that feeling away from the 1.4 million or so annual visitors coming to the park, and logically, you’ll take away their core reason for coming. Say goodbye to the $64 million dollars flowing into the economies of the Joshua Tree Gateway Communities. These findings can be applied across the desert. Windmills along butte ridges near Pioneertown mean no more interest in filming on Mane Street (although they may mean incredible pyrotechnic displays during the next wildfire, that oddly enough, could begin from a lightning strike to a windmill). The Old West movie spirit of Pioneertown will be overshadowed by rows of 400-foot spinning turbines, and unspoiled buttes will be gashed with access roads and pads, obliterating Native American cultural resources and previously undisturbed habitat. “We think our country needs to invest in renewable energy in ways that will not jeopardize our national parks and wildlands,” says National Parks Conservation Association Desert Representative Seth Shteir. “It doesn’t make sense siting them near park borders. It’s counterintuitive to destroy habitats to save them. Parks can’t remain biologically isolated islands.” With respect to tourism, Shteir notes that the visitor experi16 The Sun Runner – February/March 2012
ence is “directly reciprocal with the local economy.” If tourists perceive their “natural” experience with desert parks and wildlands to be negative, then there will be a negative impact on the local economies around desert parks. “If we do enough damage we could inadvertently harm the desert’s economy.” Shteir notes that the BLM’s Solar Programmatic EIS received over 80,000 comments. Based on that, the boundary for development is supposed to be pushed back from Joshua Tree National Park. But whether a satisfactory “buffer” can be found, or whether there is one in reality at all, is still to be seen. The Mojave National Preserve has the giant Ivanpah solar project nearby, and people in the know say what the desert has seen so far is just the tip of the iceberg, an interesting analogy for a vast government and corporate initiative ostensibly to combat global warming (though it has the look and feel of a corporate welfare project with politics driving it instead of science). Blinking Red Lights With over a 10-to-one ratio for pumping money back into the local economy (Joshua Tree National Park’s annual budget is roughly $6 million, with a $64 million, 800 job effect on the local economy), and 1.4 million annual visitors from all across the world (with international visitation climbing), Superintendent Mark Butler is noticeably concerned about the impact potential energy development can have on the national park in his charge, but occasionally even he even seems overwhelmed with the challenges facing the park. “Think of all the red lights blinking across the desert,” he tells me, more than once, pointing at the enormous wind development plots on a map of the park and its surroundings. He seems overcome by the image of a sea of more than a hundred miles of blinking red lights and giant propellers cutting off park wilderness from surrounding wildlands. And he’s worried about what it will do to park visitation. He notes not only will industrial-scale wind development spoil the popular vistas in and around the park, but they’ll cut off recreational access to the BLM lands where they’ll be sited, and to the border of the park in some areas. They’ll also cut off wildlife corridors, further isolating this ecological treasure. In a recent meeting we covered the wind and solar developments proposed or presently being constructed around the park’s borders, the hydro-electric power project proposed for the old
Kaiser mining pits at Eagle Mountain (it will actually use more energy than it produces), and the zombie-like threat of the Eagle Mountain dump (Kaiser’s Mine Reclamation Corporation may have filed bankruptcy, but that doesn’t mean they can’t rise from the dead to try one more time to build the world’s largest dump on the southern border of Joshua Tree National Park). Butler sees the threats to the park clearly, and is intent that the park has a say in its own future. He takes his responsibility to the American public seriously, as a caretaker to our lands. Near the end of our meeting, he holds up a map of Joshua Tree National Park. Down at Eagle Mountain is the center of a large red circle that looks like a nuclear blast zone. It’s an analysis of tortoise predation and what Butler refers to as “a garbage dump ecosystem.” He points to the obvious. “That covers up to 75 percent of Joshua Tree National Park, including prime desert tortoise habitat.” Butler is reaching out to gather support for the park from areas like the Coachella Valley, which has a history of supporting the dump. “We’re all looking for ways to differentiate ourselves,” he notes, in reference to tourism. “The Coachella Valley doesn’t want to be known as the gateway for 20,000 tons of garbage every day for 115 years being dumped into the heart of Joshua Tree National Park.” Tip of the Iceberg As I leave Butler’s office at national park headquarters on the Oasis of Mara, I think of the disturbing news coming from the south at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park where industrial wind projects threaten the integrity of that beautiful desert park. I think of Rice and its unspoiled vista, never to be seen again. I think of the disaster that is Ivanpah, the obliterated geoglyphs of Blythe, the Eagle Mountain dump that won’t die, and projects seemingly planned for all my favorite places across the desert, and I think of all that we’re just now beginning to lose. And I think of the comments about what we’re seeing now being the tip of the iceberg, and I shudder. We used to talk about the desert being under siege. Well folks, the siege is over. The enemy is inside the walls, and the war has begun. We either fight, or the desert people come to explore, the desert we love and respect, with its vast inspirational and soul-replenishing vistas, its wild spirit, and its seemingly endless beauty, is a thing of the past. We welcome your thoughts and comments.
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oyce Manley’s no stranger to windmills. Her home in the Painted Hills area just outside Desert Hot Springs, is nearly surrounded by hundreds of them. This retired teacher has fought them, and still keeps a vigilant watch on them, noting the noise, the dripping oil, the occasional turbine fire, maintenance issues, and suspected health problems, as reason to continue. I first met Manley when the hill to the south of her was being developed for wind energy. We sat on her porch, looking out past the bougainvillea and the fruit trees toward the hill, trying to match up the approved plans of the roads and pads for the turbines with what we were seeing in front of us. They didn’t match. There seemed to be a third to half again as many roads scarring the hill as were represented on the plan’s map. It looked to be another case of ‘it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission,’ and I think it was true. Even though I wrote about the discrepancies (and I’m sure Manley pointed them out to numerous officials), nothing seemed to ever come to pass. This day, I’m out again, with Dr. Sam Milham, the retired Washington state epidemiologist who has become a leading authority on one of the least known environmental health hazards: dirty electricity, and author of the excellent book, Dirty Electricity, Electrification and the Diseases of Civilization. Milham studies the health effects of electromagnetic fields, radio frequency radiation from cell phones and cell towers, WiFi systems, and ground current. He’s out with me measuring ground current in, and outside of, Manley’s home. We’ve done this before. This past year, Milham and I measured five volts or more flowing through the ground at our home, and all around downtown Joshua Tree. He reported back to me later, that even in the midst of Joshua Tree National Park, where there are no electrical facilities or wiring of any type, voltage was flowing through the earth there as well. Why? It’s simple. Electrical power forms a circuit. It runs into our homes, gets used for a variety of purposes, and what 18 The Sun Runner – February/March 2012
Measuring the ground current, above left, you can easily see the high frequency transient dirty electricity present below the regular 60 Hz waves. After plugging in a Graham-Stetzer filter to condition the power, above right, the level of dirty electricity is noticeably diminished. Below left, a plugged in Graham-Stetzer meter customized for Milham’s research to measure 10 times more dirty electricity than a regular GS meter, comes close to overloading near 20,000 G-S units at Manley’s home. After plugging in a GS filter, below right, the measurements of dirty electricity present in the wiring of her home has been significantly decreased. The GS “Microsurge” meters display the Volts per second present, an approximation for high frequency energy (dirty electricity). High frequency electricity measured by the GS meter ranges from 10 kHz to 100 kHz—the range where most human, animal, and equipment problems are reported.
isn’t converted into heat or energy of some other sort, is returned back to the substation where it completes a circuit. But utility companies now often let the power run back through the ground instead of providing the wiring necessary to conduct the power on its return. When it runs through the ground, it runs through us, animals, plants, and anything and everything else that will conduct it. The high frequencies that are the most problematic and are associated with the most health issues, are in the radio frequency range. They are most often caused by the conversion of DC power to AC, for devices ranging from computers to TVs, fluorescent lighting, and other modern appliances. In Manley’s case, voltage, along with very high levels of dirty electricity, appear to be flowing through the ground and are being amplified in her home through her wiring. “This is the only house I have ever seen this high,” Milham notes. “I have my meter able to read up to 20,000 (Graham Stetzer units), and it’s pegged.” Milham explains the wind turbines each have a switching power supply, a major source of dirty electricity. Manley talks of a nearby resident who suffered from migraines that have now evolved into Parkinson’s Disease, and Milham adds that on the Campo Indian Reservation where wind turbines were installed (a storm in late 2009 with 70 mph winds caused a large blue flash, damaged some blades and prompted blade removal and inspection of all 25 turbines), people on the reservation up to three miles away from the turbines have reported becoming sick. We’ll be conducting further testing soon. See our website (www.thesunrunner.com) for more on dirty electricity. February/March 2012 – The Sun Runner 19
nake Jagger often refers to his artistic style developed over the past several decades as, “whimsical surrealism,” and since the desert’s a pretty surreal place anyway, Snake fits right in. Take a close look at Snake’s “Enchanted Desert,” on the cover of this issue, for instance. A doorway stands at the end of a desert pathway, opening up into another desert landscape. An alien peers out from behind the saguaro cactus, and a rake lays unused in the sand, the smoothed and tidy sand, a sign of some form of human order and interaction in his natural world. There’s more, of course, but you get the idea. Snake’s world combines the natural with objects, some ordinary, some not, out of place, or in one series of paintings of flowers with biplanes zooming about, out of scale. Snake works from an alternate desert inside his head, an inspired and ordered world where the artist reshapes the natural landscape into something uniquely his, with out of place mundane items drawing the viewer into his work, inviting them to open that door and explore a world that is subtly different than their own. Jagger creates art ranging from large scale commercial murals, to found object assemblage sculpture (which still seem to contain an element of whimsy), and now is working on more abstract works. He’s been known to paint his desert scenes on found objects, and furniture as well. Snake’s new abstract works involve bold shapes and vivid colors, some with recognizeable human forms and objects, others evoking waves, light, and a hint of fashion. “Over the past 18 months, I have been engaged in an intense exploration of abstract art,” Snake notes. “Talk about working without a net—nothing I have attempted in the past has been as frightening, and at the same time as exhilarating, as painting abstracts. As an essentially representative painter 20 The Sun Runner – February/March 2012
for most of my career, I have to admit to not having given much thought to artistic expression in an abstract form, nor did I understand the underlying characteristics. But now, after having spent some time in this exploration, I have a much deeper respect and appreciation of this of art form, and the techniques of painting in the abstract style.” Don’t be surprised if you still occasionally see a peek of Snake’s whimsical surrealism in his new work though, as this master- For more of Snake’s art, visit and www. ful —and playful—artist www.snakejagger.com, snakejagger.weebly.com. evolves.
TWENTYNINE PALMS ART GALLERY AND GIFT SHOP Desert Art Native American Jewelry and Southwestern Gifts 74055 Cottonwood Dr. (off National Park Dr.) Twentynine Palms, CA 92277 www.29palmsartgallery.com (760)367-7819
Open: 12 to 3 PM Wednesday–Sunday Summer Hours: 12 to 3 Friday-Saturday-Sunday
February/March 2012 – The Sun Runner 21
alm Springs has become an internationally known film festival destination. But while we love the glitz and glamour of the red carpet, the stars, and the gala awards ceremonies we can never afford to attend, we often feel more at home with some of the smaller, more intimate, festivals here. Smaller, in the case of the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum’s Festival of Native Film & Culture, doesn’t translate into less important, or less entertaining. The Festival of Native Film & Culture, celebrating its 11th year , is looking like it’s going to be one of our favorites. The Festival of Native Film & Culture is becoming known nationally and Guest Programmer Elizabeth Weatherford, founding director of the Film and Video Center of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, is one reason why. This year, Weatherford will be giving a free, pre-festival lecture, A Perspective of Native and Indigenous Films, at 7:30 p.m., on Tuesday, February 28, at The Camelot Theatres in Palm Springs. Michael Hammond, executive director of the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, as well as the festival’s originator and a film buff as well, said the event grew partially from a love for film, and as it grew, it expanded its scope to include works from all indigenous peoples, a move he says proved to be wise. “I think it’s important when there are Native people in the audience, it doesn’t matter where the film is from,” Hammond notes. “Native people are fighting the same battle everywhere together. It comes down to four issues: sovereignty, territory, language, and culture. For non-Natives, it’s important to learn that these cultures are just different, not better, not worse, in 22 The Sun Runner – February/March 2012
Here I Am, top right, is an Australian film that tells the story of a beautiful young Aboriginal woman with a dark past (Saturday, March 3, 8 p.m.), while A Good Day to Die, above, explores the life of Dennis Banks, who co-founded the American Indian Movement (A.I.M.) in 1968 to call attention to the plight of urban Indians in Minneapolis. Banks, and A.I.M., went on to actions and confrontations in Washington, D.C., Custer, South Dakota, and Wounded Knee, that changed the lives of American Indians forever (Saturday, March 3, 5 p.m.).
the hope that non-Natives will embrace diversity.” This year’s festival includes films (features, documentaries, and shorts), from the U.S., Canada, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Australia, and New Zealand. “It’s getting to the point where the Native American world is planning trips arond this festival,” Hammond notes. Proof that it is gaining in popularity across the Native world, Hammond says, is exemplified by the fact the Suquamish Tribe in Washington state is bringing 120 people to Palm Springs for this year’s festival. Hammond stresses the importance of supporting Native cultures worldwide, and here in the desert. The Agua Caliente Cultural Museum is involved with numerous ongoing cultural activities revolving around Cahuilla culture. The Festival of Native Film & Culture runs from Wednesday, February 29 through Sunday, March 4 at the Camelot Theatres. For a schedule of films with links to purchase tickets, visit www.accmuseum.org/Film-Festival, or call (760)778-1079 or (760)325-6565 for more information. One special treat for festival-goers this year is the introduction of the closing film, The Strength of Water, by John Mataira, Consul-General at the New Zealand Consulate General in Los Angeles. Mataira is not only a brilliant diplomat, but a superb presenter of his Maori culture and its songs and stories. February/March 2012 – The Sun Runner 23
s part of Palm Springs Modernism Week, the current owners of the Dr. Hugh Stephens residence have offered their home to the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation for house tours on Tuesday, February 21. The Stephens home, completed in 1949, languished, almost forgotten, behind a dense natural landscape, until it was “rediscovered” by a PSPF Board Member in 2010 and nominated as a Palm Springs Class 1 Historic Site. It is a prime example of modernist residential architecture by the firm of Clark & Frey and was particularly noteworthy when published in the September 1955 issue of House Beautiful where it helped introduce the idea of “The Family Room” to post-war America. The building’s stylistic markers place it directly in the historic context of Palm Springs’ Modern Period. Although not well-known, the house is a prime intact example of the significant modernist architecture for which Palm Springs is widely known. Dr. Hugh E. Stephens (1915-1984), for whom the house was built, was the son of a Kansas City insurance agent. After completing his education, he began his professional career in Santa Barbara at Cottage Hospital, but relocated to Palm Springs in March, 1946. The Community Desert Hospital had just opened and Stephens affiliated with the hospital and became the first physician to maintain a year-round practice in Palm Springs. Stephens was related to Prescott ‛P. T.’ Stevens, the Colorado cattleman turned Palm Springs developer [Stevens who had married a Stephens1 just to confuse things] who came to the village in 1912, purchased a thousand acres from the railroad and became one of the village’s earliest developers. He was a principal backer of the El Mirador Hotel. It was P. T. Steven’s daughter Sallie and her husband Culver Nichols who invited both Dr. Stephens and architect John Porter Clark to settle in Palm Springs. In so doing, the course of the town’s architectural history would change. Dr. Stephens, together with his wife Mary (Paradise), raised their five children (Mary Jo, Sally, Nan, Beth and Jim) in the home until his death in 1984. The family eventually sold the property, and in 2002, the home was nearly destroyed by a fire caused by an unattended candle. The house’s survival was largely due to its masonry construction, although the roof structure was completely destroyed. Fortunately, the house was reconstructed utilizing the original drawings. The home is located on two lots in the Palo Verdes Tract 1 P. T. Stevens married Frances Stephens. Her brother was Hugh Stephens, Sr. 24 The Sun Runner
in the south end of Palm Springs. The parcel is triangular in shape, the hypotenuse having been formed by a creek that eventually became an angled road called along the backside of the property. The property is heavily landscaped rendering the home virtually invisible from the street. A sidewalk from the front road leads directly to a covered porch and the formal entrance to the house. So important is the building’s setting that the entire feeling and association of the building to its site would be seriously compromised if the property were to be sub-divided. The single story, three-bedroom two and one-half bathroom house is generally an elongated rectangular form with an east to west orientation. The principal façade is set back 25 feet from the street. A garage located at the eastern end of the property is attached to the main house via a breezeway—the garage, with its sloping roof is set at an angle to the main house, and is accessed via a driveway. The roof above the living area at the west end of the house slopes up from an otherwise flat tar and gravel roof. The eaves extend beyond the walls of the house to provide overhangs that shade the house from the desert sun; the wood framing for the roof structure is visible both inside and out. The walls are painted concrete masonry units, approximately 6 inches x 16 inches x 8 inches deep that form both the exterior and interior walls of the building, and are set in a running bond. Patterns of evenly spaced blocks are used in various locations around the house to give it visual interest. Door and window openings are trimless and frameless; windows are steelframed, used in a combination of casements and fixed panes while the sliding doors are aluminum framed; 18-inch square glass blocks are also used in vertical rows to bring light to the interior and also as a design feature. An occasional masonry wall extends to the edge of the overhang, and is punctured by 18-inch square openings—a repeat of the design elements found elsewhere on the house. A wooden single-light French door with a sidelight and transom are features of the covered entry, along with a large stone planter. A freestanding steel post supports the overhanging roof at the entry. Palm Springs Modernism Week, a celebration of Mid-Century Modernism, is February 16 through 26. Get all the information on special events, films, lectures, parties, and tours at www. modernismweek.com. Visit The Palm Springs Modern Committee’s website at psmodcom.org for extensive information on Desert Modern design and preservation.
February/March 2012 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; The Sun Runner 25
n history, the formal written version put down for posterity, that is, women are often ignored, stuffed somewhere in a footnote, marginalized and reduced to the occasional two-dimensional characterization. Men, preferably white (at least in European and Amerian history), strut about, doing the “important” stuff, and women while away their days having babies and holding down the home front while the men take off for this conquest or that war—doing all the big things that go into the history books, usually written by men. How odd, how arrogant, to think the sex which comprises more than half the world’s population, should be reduced to such triviality, such meaninglessness. How interesting, and sexually biased, to believe it to be so. Shut out of the history books and frequently relegated to anonymity, women have been silenced from the story of world events for far too long. Enter one non-assuming woman from up around Pipes Canyon and Pioneertown. If women rarely make it into the history books as prominently as their male counterparts do, then believe me, they’ll find another way to ensure you don’t forget that they were there, and they did indeed have a role in shaping the events of the day. And that’s where author Robin Maxwell comes in. Robin grew up in New Jersey, going to school in Plainfield, and graduating from Tufts University School of Occupational Therapy. But it was only a few years before she came west to Hollywood, where she worked as a parrot tamer, casting director, and screenwriter. She wrote comedy, drama, and feature animation for Disney and others—accomplishments which helped create a foundation for her next move—into the lives 26 The Sun Runner – February/March 2012
of women in the 15th and 16th centuries. Some may meet Robin and find her to be an intelligent, pleasant, disciplined writer. I see someone who has done the work of a true historian and author—someone who has traveled through her research and her passion, back through the centuries, to connect with women from another time and place and bring them back to life, not as two dimensional caricatures, but vibrantly real people, with all the ambitions, dreams, strengths, and even faults, of those alive today. Some may meet Robin and find her to be rather unassuming, someone you could possibly overlook. But if there’s one lesson, for men especially, to be found in Robin’s work, it is this: Never, ever, underestimate the power of a woman. Her female characters found in her historical novels, well known or not, are strong women. Their stories are often of determination and discovery—of themselves, their sexuality, and their place in history. Robin’s male characters are no less driven and true to form, but her passion is telling the story of women, some well known, like Elizabeth I, and others lost to history and only found in a stray sentence, such as Caterina, mother of Leonardo da Vinci, in her book, Signora da Vinci. Robin does extensive historical research for her works of fiction, providing a solid base for her characters to become real. Her groundwork is real historical facts, events, and relationships, but where the history books leave off and no contemporary records exist, that’s where she really gets going. As with all great historical fiction that personalizes the very real people who find themselves part of history, she has to get inside their heads, their motivations, their personal ambitions, fears, and interests that drive their actions. Sometimes, all history sees are the actions. But what leads to them can be far more complex and interesting than anyone could ever guess. Just like her determined female characters, Robin is disciplined, and driven to make her mark. And just like the great women of history, known or unknown, she doesn’t let much of anything stop her or slow her down. She lives with her husband Max Thomas, a yogi, Renaissance man, and a desert treasure himself, in the beautiful natural setting of the hi-desert. Robin and Max have endured fire (and almost lost everything—including their lives—in the 2006 Sawtooth fire), deep personal loss and grief, and Robin’s latest challenge to her literal ability to work: blepharospasm. This medical condition is an uncontrolled muscle contraction of the eyelid. It leads to periods when her eyes forcibly close, and can end in functional blindness. “When I think of all the information in my head, no wonder my brain is fritzing out,” Robin says of her condition. For someone who spends 12 hours or more at her computer working seven days a week, this presents a significant challenge to Robin as an author. Max, however, has worked with Robin to help find ways to work around the condition (these two are a dynamic creative team). This collaboration has been especially important with Robin’s latest project, a book that ventures out of history and into a full century of, well, jungle love. Robin’s ventured into the literal literary world before, and to prove she’s no pushover, when she did, she walked right into the head and heart of Juliet Capelletti, territory formerly thought to belong to one man, and one man only: William Shakespeare. In O, Juliet, Robin enters the world of Romeo and Juliet, a dangerous place to wander about as a writer. And she pulls it off, fleshing out Shakespeare’s young lovers and the forces they come up against. Now, Robin is embarking on a new adventure, and is bringing a woman who has, up until now, been a supporting character into her own. The year is 1912, and Jane Porter is lecturing at
the Chicago Library. She’s there to present her findings on a “missing link” species she’s discovered, and she’s booed out of the hall. One man, a certain Edgar Rice Burroughs, is in the audience, and he’s not so dismissive of Jane’s work. Every now and then, you encounter a situation where you just know that something a writer, artist, musician, or other creative soul has pulled off something brilliant. In the structuring of Robin’s new book, JANE, The Woman Who Loved Tarzan, I encountered an example of that brilliance. The first time Tarzan made his appearance in print was a century ago, in 1912. Burroughs had given up on trying to peddle pencil sharpeners and had taken to writing after decades of unfulfilling, and unsuccessful, work in the real world. Tarzan, however, became a success. Now, in JANE, Robin has gone back a century to introduce the historical author of Tarzan to the fictional mate of his popular character, which, of course, helps get Burroughs working on the story that eventually leads Jane to the Chicago Library where he meets her, in a literary-historical loop through time, as well as fact and fiction. Brilliant. It’s always encouraging to see a fictional character just go confidently marching into reality. I haven’t seen any character make reality their own literary device since Kurt Vonnegut’s character, Kilgore Trout, wrote his own book. And, as you may have guessed by now, Jane, is no two dimensional supporting role in Robin’s tale. “Tarzan is under the impression that he’s a less-than-perfect Mangani (the missing link species who have raised Tarzan),” Robin explains. “Jane helps him remember who he is.” And Robin helps Jane know what she’s talking about. Robin has put her historical fiction skills to work for Tarzan’s world and she’s done extensive research on everything from missing links in human evolution to feral children. So when Burroughs meets Jane, he’s in for one wild story. “Edgar Rice Burroughs is in the audience and he’s so fascinated he goes up to her afterward,” Robin describes the meeting between author and character. “She goes home with him and she’s got her two cases with bones to show him. And she says, ‘I’ve got a story for you.’ It starts with her waking up after an attack by a leopard in Tarzan’s nest.” So, how did Jane, who met Burroughs and introduced him to Tarzan, meet Robin so it all could happen? “We came up with the idea driving down Route 62,” Robin explains. “Max asked what the next book was going to be. I said I’d really like to do another love story, and that I like using a character from literature.” You can just see Robin and Max asking out loud, “Well, what’s another couple from literature? Tarzan and Jane! “I had to research the book,” she notes. “I found it incredibly good storytelling, but dated, and some of it hard to believe. I’ve made my career writing about strong women. I wanted there to be a good reason for Jane to be in Africa, and I wanted her to be strong and intelligent.” And so Jane attends Cambridge (but can’t graduate, being a woman of her times). But Robin had one present day hurdle to clear before the story JANE could become a reality: Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. Burroughs had formed his own corporation to oversee his work back in 1923, and the company continues to look after Burroughs works 100 years after Tarzan was introduced to the world. “I knew someone who had a friend who had done business with ERB, Inc. for 10 years,” Robin explains. “I knew you did not mess with the ERB people. That had to be the first step. I called and pitched it to the ERB president.” The pitch worked. JANE was on its way to making history. “The coolest thing is that ERB granted me literary conceit,”
Robin says. “The way ERB heard about Tarzan first is from Jane, in my book.” James Sullos, Jr., president of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., is just as enthusiastic about Robin’s JANE as she is about getting to tell the tale. Though some members of Burroughs’ family didn’t want new Tarzan books to be written, ERB, Inc. has expanded their perspective, and when Robin approached Sullos about JANE, he was “very interested” in the project. “She has a history of writing about strong women and how they survive,” Sullos, a parttime resident of Indian Wells, explains. “I think she’s come up with a masterpiece. I call it a masterpiece and a classic. It’s both.” Oh, and Sullos is quite pleased the ending to JANE seems to leave it open for a possible sequel. “She’s done a lot of research and touches on a lot of things,” Sullos continues. “She’s bringing in the missing link and does a very good job of piecing that together.” And so Tarzan—and Jane—continue their love for each other into a new century. But there’s another love story here, and it’s every bit as remarkable and timeless. “I started talking about the problem with my eyes that I developed in the middle of trying to write JANE, The Woman Who Loved Tarzan (when I couldn’t even read my research books),” Robin explains. Max became my eyes. This is how we worked every day: He would read aloud to me the parts I had underlined in my research books and computer print-outs. I would sit with my laptop and with eyes closed or staring out the window at the Sawtooths and would copy the notes in 24 point font, then print them up... during the process, something changed in Max’s and my relationship. He’d always been the first (and most trusted) reader of everything I’d written... he became my story partner on JANE. “I’ve given Max the last and biggest acknowledgements in every one of my novels, but there aren’t words to describe what my level of gratitude is for him on JANE. I literally could not have done it without him. And there’s no doubt that after 30 years together, the experience made us closer than we ever were. If the book is a success, we will share it in a way we’ve never done before.” You know, this has all the elements of an epic story about a strong woman determined to make her mark on the world. There’s passion, drama, romance, tragedy, discipline, challenges, and perhaps most importantly, love. February/March 2012 – The Sun Runner 27
colony of Ireland erupts in rebellion. Grace O’Malley, a gunrunner, pirate, and “Mother of the Irish Rebellion,” is at the heart of the troubles. Maxwell takes you along as O’Malley sails up the Thames River to London for a risky meeting with Elizabeth in this tale of the her Irish war. “Through the eyes of these intelligent and courageous women, the dramatic and violent events of the Irish conflict come stunningly alive.” – The Irish World, ( London ) 2005: To the Tower Born The disappearance of the young York princes, Edward and Richard, from the Tower of London in 1483 has stirred debate among historians and worked its way into Shakespeare. Maxwell offers a controversial perspective on the disappearance in a dangerous world of political intrigue. “Robin Maxwell’s writing entertains and opens new and tantalizing avenues of thought on the princes’ disappearance.” – Ricardian Register 2007: Mademoiselle Boleyn When Anne Boleyn is sent to the French court she is introduced to a world of political maneuvering and her own sexual awakening. Strong willed, clever, and with the guidance of powerful alllies and friends, including Leonardo da Vinci, she learns to navigate the world of the court, on the path that takes her to Henry VIII.
1997: The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn Now in its 22nd printing internationally, Maxwell connects Anne Boleyn, queen for a thousand days, with her daughter she never got to know, Elizabeth I, through a secret diary. At the start of Elizabeth’s reign as queen—a reign that would last for more than 40 years—this diary is given to her. By reading it, the new queen discovers the mother, queen, and wife of Henry VIII she never knew—a strong, courageous woman—and her discovery changes the course of history. “A wonderfully juicy historical novel so convincing that it’s difficult to believe it is the author’s first...Maxwell brings all of bloody Tudor England vividly to life.” – Publishers Weekly (starred review) 1999: The Queen’s Bastard Did “the Virgin Queen,” Elizabeth have a son with Robin Dudley, Earl of Leicester? Amongst the intrigues and tumult of court life, and England’s battle against the Spanish Armada, Maxwell brings this royal bastard son to life. “Breathes extraordinary life into the scandals, political intrigue and gut-wrenching battles that typified Queen Elizabeth’s reign...Electrifying prose...enthralling historical fiction.” – Publishers Weekly (starred review) 2001: Virgin, Prelude to the Throne A Los Angeles Times bestseller, Virgin takes the reader into the world of Elizabeth I in the years before she becomes queen. Banished from Henry VIII’s court at age two, Elizabeth finds an unlikely ally in Henry’s sixth wife, Catherine Parr. But when Henry dies, and Edward is crowned King of England at age 10, her future is, once again, unpredictable.
“Historically plausible account of Anne Boleyn’s adolescence in France as a courtier of King Francois. Maxwell’s prequel to her first novel (The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn, 1997) explores Anne’s upbringing far from England.Lavishly imagined detailregarding entertainment, dress and habits of the time-adds depth to this work.accomplished rehabilitation of muchmaligned Anne as an empowered woman.” – Kirkus Reviews 2009: Signora Da Vinci In 1452 a very young boy is seperated from his unmarried mother whom the world never will get to know. Maxwell tells the tale of the his mother, Caterina, and the world of the ultimate Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci, through the eyes, and heart, of this courageous woman. “Here is a superbly imagined portrait of a woman living in turbulent times who boldly behaved as few dared. Caterina da Vinci moved in a world that included the glittering Medici and the villainous Savonarola, all of whom are well-limned in this sparkling epic. Set in the sunshine of 15th century Tuscany, the novel continually delights with intriguing details, from the bottega workshops of the great Italian masters to the minutiae of an alchemist’s laboratory.” – Vicki Leon, Uppity Women of the Renaissance, Working IX to V 2010: O Juliet Treading on dangerous literary grounds where few dare to go, Maxwell spins the tale of Juliet Capelletti and her love, Romeo Monticecco. Move over Shakespeare - Maxwell’s telling the rest of the story. “Not many writers would dare to compete with William Shakespeare. But Robin Maxwell pulls it off. Her star-crossed young lovers are just as unforgettable as the Bard’s, and now readers get to see what happens off-stage.” – Sharon Kay Penman, New York Times bestselling author
“Tense, absorbing, highly entertaining.” – Library Journal
September, 2012: JANE, The Woman Who Loved Tarzan
2003: The Wild Irish A tale of two strong, determined women who meet in history. After Elizabeth I has beaten the Spanish Armada, the English
You can also read Robin’s posts about contemporary women in her Huffington Post blog, and visit www.RobinMaxwell.com for more information on her books.
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ho knew that a brown plastic tackle box could hold so much history? Inside, each item was neatly placed in its own clear plastic case, showing the care the collector used for the objects he had found. As a collections manager for Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, part of my duties require that I do research about the donated items we receive to determine whether or not they will enhance the historical value of our collections. An object is just an object; but, if that object can be used to tell the story or history of a people or place, then that object has become invaluable. For example, a teapot is just a teapot until you learn that it travelled by boat to America with an Irish immigrant during the Irish Potato Famine. Then that teapot can be used to relate the history and stories of that person, people, place, or time. The contents of the tackle box were collected by anthropologist Dennis Koty around the shoreline of ancient Lake Cahuilla. Tucked away inside the tackle box were a number of fish and shark teeth, a mammal molar, and seven shell and coral remains, all of which are a testament to the history of the area and its people. The objects found by Dennis Koty may come from three sources: the time when the Sea of Cortez extended into present day La Quinta, Ancient Lake Cahuilla, or the Salton Sea. Geo-history and oral history of the lake According to Cahuilla bird songs, the oral history of the Cahuilla people, the Cahuilla have occupied the region now known as the Coachella Valley since time immemorial. For many cultures, oral history is their history—it is the encyclopedia of their societal knowledge. Scholars often view oral traditions skeptically; however, oral traditions predate written histories and, in many cases, have been borne out by other “more scientific” resources. Recent excavations in the Tahquitz Canyon area mirror the Cahuilla stories, revealing evidence of human habitation in the Palm Springs area as early as 3,000 BC. When traveling through the eastern end of the Coachella Valley, non-Indian sightseers have often asked what made the horizontal lines along the sides of the mountains that are reminiscent of bathtub rings. In Stories and Legends of the Palm Springs Indians, Francisco Patencio discusses the ancient lake that made these lines. “Many times in the early days this question was asked. When the Indians answered, ‘The ocean,’ they were laughed at. So the Indians did not speak much.”
It may have been difficult for non-Indians to imagine an ancient lake or the Sea of Cortez in the heart of the Colorado Desert, but for the Cahuilla people it was common knowledge based on their oral history about the region. Geologists have confirmed Cahuilla oral history about ‘the ocean’ in the desert and have established the geo-history of the Coachella Valley to have once been part of the Gulf of California. Millions of years ago, the Sea of Cortez extended into present day La Quinta, and the Colorado River intersected it near Yuma. Over time, however, silt deposits from the Colorado River separated the Salton Basin from the Sea of Cortez indefinitely. Geologists have concluded that the Colorado River delta channel, created by an ever-changing, slow-flowing, and silt-laden river, periodically flooded and diverted the channel northward into the Salton Basin. Around 700 AD, flooding from the Colorado River created the first Ancient Lake Cahuilla. The ancient lake was once one of the largest lakes in North America, rivaled in size only by the Great Lakes. It was 105 miles long, 35 miles wide, and 320 feet deep. The Cahuilla stories about Ancient Lake Cahuilla describe how the valley suddenly flooded and the effect the lake had on the environment and the Cahuilla people. As was told to him, Patencio reported the succession of flooding and drying periods of the ancient freshwater lake. He described the destructive force of the flooding on one occurrence: “When [the water] came, it came quickly…with great waves rolling over and over…It turned over like wheels, and carried weeds, cactus, wood, and everything that stood in its way.” Another Cahuilla elder, Akasem Levi, gave a similar account. Levi stated that “…the water from the south began to rise and all the people moved ahead of the water toward Palm Springs. They settled near kavinic, which the water did not reach. Here they lived for some time; then the water began to go back, gradually at first and sometimes rising again” (Strong, William D. Aboriginal Society of Southern California). The lives lost and the dramatic environmental changes created by a lake in the desert left lasting impressions on those who survived and became part of the oral history passed down through the ages. Archaeologists believe Ancient Lake Cahuilla flooded and dried on several occasions. Radiocarbon dates from marsh deposits and other archaeological sites along the shoreline suggest three to four major inundations of water over the last February/March 2012 – The Sun Runner 29
1,300 years, each lasting for up to several hundred years. Also, there is evidence indicating that earlier inundations may have occurred over 2,000 years ago. Archaeologists estimate that about three or four hundred years ago Lake Cahuilla evaporated entirely, leaving behind a salt flat and the ring around the slopes of the surrounding mountains. However, the Colorado River was not finished with the valley. In 1905, a canal diverting water from the river burst and created the present day Salton Sea. While the Salton Sea is only one sixth the size of Ancient Lake Cahuilla, it still remains California’s largest lake. The Cahuilla Indians once fished and hunted ducks and other small animals that lived around the lake. Cahuilla elders have explained the stone half circles along the rocky slopes of the Coachella Valley to be ancient fish traps once placed down the length of Ancient Lake Cahuilla’s shore. The arrangement of these rock “structures” along the slopes of the Santa Rosa Mountains caused many non-Indians to speculate on the original purpose of these half circles. Once thought to be the foundations of dwellings, archaeological evidence for Ancient Lake Cahuilla soon brought archaeologists around to accepting what Cahuilla elders had said all along—that these stone circles were indeed fish traps. Patencio related the oral history of the building of fish traps around Ancient Lake Cahuilla: “A circle was hollowed, and the sides built up with rocks…They are from two to three, sometimes four feet high…These have openings at one side… They are shaped like a horse shoe.” Although Levi did not specifically describe the stone fish traps, he said that after the lake formed, “all the people separated along the edge of the water to catch fish.” With each flooding by the Colorado River, Ancient Lake Cahuilla became a rich aquatic habitat for birds and fish and a food resource for the Cahuilla people. Large marshes along the shoreline became a permanent home for many bird species and a respite for migratory birds along the Pacific flyway. Numerous fish species from the Colorado River entered the lake. Many Cahuilla took advantage of the lake environment and settled along the water’s edge. Archaeological excavations in the area found the remains of 3,886 fish of various freshwater species in one location, and provide evidence indicating that, in addition to the desert plants and animals to which they had always relied, the Cahuilla ate freshwater clams, waterfowl, bird eggs, and marshland plants. Identifiable objects Some of the teeth can be identified as shark teeth fossils from the Miocene era, a geological period approximately 23.03 to 5.33 million years ago. The clam and crustacean shells can either be freshwater clams from the Colorado River or saltwater clams from the Sea of Cortez; thus, their age is unidentifiable without further testing. The coral is from the Sea of Cortez. The mammal molar is very distinct from the rest of the collection, but whether it is a sea mammal or land mammal has not been determined. Lastly, one of the objects is a vertebra of an unidentified fish. Sharks of the Sea of Cortez The sharks in the Sea of Cortez during the Miocene area, when the Sea extended into the Coachella Valley, were just as numerous in species as they are today (currently there are over 50 different species in the Sea). Without further investigation by an expert, these teeth can not be attributed to a specific species. The Fish in Ancient Lake Cahuilla The fish present in Ancient Lake Cahuilla were from both 30 The Sun Runner – February/March 2012
the Colorado River and the Gulf of California. The croaker, sargo, and orangemouth corvina were from the Sea of Cortez. These species, particularly the sargo, sometimes swim up the Colorado to spawn, thus entering Ancient Lake Cahuilla via the Colorado River. The bony tail chub, striped mullet, squawfish or Colorado pikeminnow, machete, desert pupfish, and razorback sucker all originate from the Colorado River. Of all these species, only the croaker, orangemouth corvina, bony tail chub, striped mullet, and Colorado pikeminnow have teeth; however, research on the sargo, machete, and desert pupfish yielded uncertain results. Fish of the Salton Sea In 1905 when the Colorado River broke its dam filling the Salton Basin again, many of the fish species native to the river also came back to the Sea, including carp, catfish, and mosquitofish. However, due to rising salinity these populations declined by 1929, and are no longer found in the Salton Sea. The Desert Pupfish also found their way back into the Salton Sea. Between 1905 and 1957, trout, mosquitofish, and humpback suckers, were the main fish species in the Salton Sea. Also during the 1950s, the California Department of Fish and Game introduced 20 species of fish from the San Felipe area of the Sea of Cortez, including orangemouth corvina, croaker, and sargo. During the 1960s tilapia, a freshwater African species, was introduced into the lake; by the 1980s it was the dominant fish species in the Salton Sea. All the fish species, including the freshwater fish, have amazingly adapted to the high levels of salinity, low oxygen levels, and the varying temperatures present in the Salton Sea. The significance of this collection This collection is important because these teeth, shells, and bones are a testament to the landscape, flora, and fauna of the Coachella Valley before the Cahuilla people arrived, and attest to the changes that took place over the centuries after the Sea of Cortez was cut off, creating the environment the Cahuilla people eventually lived in. The teeth also tell the history of the more recent Salton Sea. These objects help strengthen the link between Cahuilla oral history about the ancient lake and the scientific. They provide evidence that the ancient lake was present multiple times over the last 2,000 years, and are some of the many pieces to the puzzle which help prove the flooding and receding of the lake. The fish of Ancient Lake Cahuilla shaped the daily lives of the Cahuilla people; it was the food they ate and caused them to make innovations in their daily lives, and determined their settlement patterns. For more information about local Native history, contact Ashley Dunphy, Collections Manager, Agua Caliente Cultural Museum at (760)833-8175 or email@example.com.
ot many new organizations get the chance to have two grand openings within a 22 month period. Such is the case with the Salton Sea History Museum & Visitor Center now located in Mecca at the Desert Cahuilla Wetlands Temal Pa’lekish. The iconic Albert Frey-designed North Shore Beach & Yacht Club was intended to be the museum’s home for life. It was the intention of Riverside County’s late Supervisor Roy Wilson that the museum would act as the cornerstone of this wonderful building rich in the history of the Salton Sea’s heydays. The yacht club is now owned by Riverside County and through the efforts of Roy Wilson it was renovated and brought back to life through the dedication of everyone involved. As Wilson’s hand-picked choice to create the museum, it was a great honor to be onsite every day during the renovation process to not only document the process, but also to provide input and historical guidance on staying true to the original design. With the support of such groups as the Palm Springs Modern Committee, it is a fact that the fully renovated building once again shines bright on the shores of the Salton Sea. Sadly, such was not to be the case for the new museum, at least for a little while. Although enormously successful, the new county leadership chose to guide the future of the historic treasure away from serving as a source of education and historic preservation and instead “go in a different direction” by utilizing the entire building as a community center. Although a community leader for scores of years and a longtime advocate for such services for the underserved community of North Shore, thousands question the logic of locking-out the leading source of historic education and preservation for the previously shared facility in favor of Zumba classes. With the door firmly slammed shut, a new one opened. Through the generosity of the non-profit Desert Cahuilla Wetlands Temal Pa’lekish, Executive Director Debi Livesay and the Wetlands Board of Directors, a new home was provided for the benefit of preservation and education. As with most new
homes, it took several months of renovation to make it feel like your favorite snugly blanket. Thanks to a $5,000 donation from Dickerson’s Employee Benefits for construction materials, several thousand hours and dedication of the 100 percent all-volunteer staff (turned construction specialists) the colossal effort was rewarded by a well attended grand re-opening of the much loved Salton Sea History Museum & Visitor Center on February 3—a full eight months to the day after the eviction! While work will continue to polish our new home, our mission of historic preservation and education is back on track. With the opening of our new location, we are very much in need of additional volunteers. Please contact us at (760)574-5471 for more information. Our keynote speaker, Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez, spoke highly of the great job being done by museum staff with a proclamation honoring the accomplishments of all of our volunteers. His efforts in sponsoring legislation to bring local control of the Salton Sea restoration efforts back to the twocounty region from Sacramento was appreciated by attendees. Like the Assemblyman, museum staff also considers education about the Salton Sea a priority and provides that service. Other speakers included June Eilers Hall whose father Gus Eilers opened the first resort on the sea in 1927 (Date Palm Beach), Torres Martinez Tribal Vice Chair Raymond Torres, Diana Chihuahua, Wetlands board member and tribal liaison to the museum, Claudia Suarez from Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack’s office who also presented a proclamation, and Pat Cooper representing Denise Moreno Ducheny, a longtime supporter of the Salton Sea who recently announced she will run to represent California’s 51st Congressional District. The new 51st Congressional District drawn by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission is comprised of Imperial County including the Salton Sea and portions of San Diego County. For more information on the Salton Sea History Museum, please visit: www.saltonseamuseum.org. February/March 2012 – The Sun Runner 31
ould a Village of Joshua Tree National Conservation and Historic Reserve protect resources and the rural character of our desert communities? “The rural historic landscape of the Reserve retains its integrity. New development is designed and sited to respect the cultural landscape and to protect key landscape features that are of historic significance. Interpretation of the history of the Reserve is integrated into the landscape in a way that is visually unobtrusive and is compatible with the day to day activities of the local community. Visitors, students and residents all benefit from the interpretive opportunities of the Reserve. Important scenic vistas and corridors are protected from incompatible land development. Changes in land use continue, but with care and respect for the visual beauty of the Reserve. “The Reserve is a model for sustainable development that respects a community’s need to adapt to new challenges while protecting a nationally significant historical resource. The Reserve partnership is a model of cooperative management of cultural and natural resources. A well-developed sense of stewardship exists within the local community and between the Reserve partners that assures the health of the Reserve into the future.” These are exerpts from the Vision Statement for Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve, Whidbey Island, a community whose geography and history appear to be light years apart from that of the California desert. And yet the story of its windswept beaches, native prairies, abundant farmland and 32 The Sun Runner – February/March 2012
rural communities may be instructive because, like Joshua Tree, it once shared tremendous pressure for development and the desire to protect its natural and cultural resources. Citizens on the central portion of Whidbey Island banded together and formed the Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve in 1978, a national park unit that includes towns, farms, over 400 historical structures, native prairies, shoreline and two state parks. This unique unit of the National Park System, the first in the nation, celebrates the rich history and ecology of the area, while preserving its rural communities. The National Park Service works collaboratively with other agencies and the communities on Central Whidbey Island for the ongoing protection of natural and cultural resources, as well as preservation of the rural landscape. All agencies, jurisdictions and private property are respected. The Reserve is managed by a nine member board whose goal is to promote sound conservation and preservation practices. The board is comprised of seven members who are appointed by local towns and county government while the remaining two members are appointed by the State Parks and the National Park Service respectively. The benefits of having many members of the Trust Board from local communities are directly related to the fact that much of the land in the Reserve is private. Therefore, it’s essential to have Trust Board members who live and work in the local communities to represent those stakeholders. Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve is located a world away from the rocky slopes, steep bajadas and Joshua
tree forests of our region, but the creation of a similar Reserve in our area could help protect natural and cultural resources, the character of our rural communities, and our quality of life. The creation of such a Reserve could also help manage the increasing pressures for development. I spoke with Tom O’key, a passionate advocate for the concept of a Village of Joshua Tree National Conservation and Historic Reserve. Q. What do you think the benefits of the National Conservation and Historic Reserve concept will be for the community? I see it as being a solution to less preferable choices. The reason I say this is the community wants to have control of its own destiny. The National Conservation and Historic Reserve concept is the least demanding form of control in the long run. Doing it this way also gives us the opportunity to raise money in other ways. The reason Ebey’s landing has been successful is because of the support of the federal government and the opportunity to raise funds in creative ways to offset financial burdens that you might experience with cityhood and other forms of self government. Specifically, there will likely be an economic upswing directly related to a National Conservation and Historic Reserve designation that has a positive effect on the community. It will encourage people to visit our area and build things that are in harmony with the neighborhood. Real estate values would likely go up because people find our neighborhoods more attractive. Opportunities to partner with Joshua Tree National Park will increase. Q. What are some similarities between the communities of Ebey’s Landing and Joshua Tree? The communities are different in many ways, but one thing both communities have in common is the pressures of expansive development that don’t necessarily have the best interest of conservation or everyday citizens. The communities are also similar in their desire to protect a special place. Once you scrape the ground in Joshua Tree or Ebey’s Landing, the resources are gone forever. You have to be proactive to protect the resource. I think Ebey’s Landing was proactive and we are lucky that they serve as a model of what can be achieved. Although the communities aren’t exactly the same, the feeling and spirit are similar and I believe the outcome will be the same. Q. What resources in our area are in need of protection? Joshua Tree has many resources that need protecting. For example, consider the idea that George von Trassel built the Integratron because he believed that there were fields of energy emanating from the earth. People come to Joshua Tree with that feeling and there’s definitely an energy here. Also, just think about everyday natural encounters in our community. You can have National Geographic moments every day just being attuned to your neighborhood. There are inspirational moments that can help you feel the neighborhood and appreciate how difficult it is to survive. Several weeks ago, we were sitting and looking out the front window when a bobcat ran by, dispatched a rabbit and sauntered into the wilderness to enjoy his evening meal. A week later I called out to a bobcat that appeared near my house and he was almost willing to walk into the house! Another time I opened my garage door and a rosy boa plopped to the ground . I picked him up, made sure he was okay and turned him loose into nature. We get these events all the time. Q. How did you become interested in the National Historic Conservation Reserve concept?
My interest began with an understanding of the pressures of development. I came across the little book called Five Acres of Heaven and it sparked my interest on how the Small Tract Act formed our desert neighborhoods. The Act created the small shacks throughout the desert and it was a motivated by a spirit and idea that was developed by Minerva Hoyt, who envisioned the creation of Joshua Tree National Park. Some of the shacks from the Small Tract Act deserve to be protected as historic resources. During the shack attack—a time when these shacks were torn down—people associated them with squatters or crime and considered them a nuisance. But they are also remnants of history and a social situation, namely homesteading. In fact, the year 1955 was the highlight of this era, a time when Colonel E.B. Moore had a land office trailer right here in Joshua Tree. Its remnants are still behind the Art Queen. If you ever examine the names on the streets—Hollinger, for example, was his brother-in-law. Hilton Street was named after John Hilton, master of desert painting Q. Is there a specific story behind the creation of Joshua Tree Village National Historic Conservation Reserve? The story would be very similar to the park’s story. The motivation to do what was done then has not died. In view of the modern experience the definition has been modified a bit. I don’t think in 1936 they imagined Super Walmart or giant highways. We have a new society that needs to be re-educated. You can’t separate the idea of a national park and the rural community where it has its roots. Just because we don’t have hotels like Yosemite’s famous Awhanee Hotel, in Joshua Tree, doesn’t mean we don’t have a place and a treasure that‘s worth saving. Q. What would be the process for moving this idea forward? I think we need to open a forum of discussion. We have to examine the resources of our area, the same way Ebey’s Landing did. For me the Five Acre Tract Act comes from a few people approaching our government for their support. We should ask Congress to support us today with the concept of a Village of Joshua Tree National Conservation and Historic Reserve. If the mandate for the preservation our national parks lies with Congress, and our community is also looking out for our national parks, then it stands to reason that Congress should be looking out for us. Seth Shteir is California Desert Field Representative for the National Parks Conservation Association. Photos courtesy of Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve. Top left: John Chao. Top right: Ashley Davis. Thanks to Brittany Suszan for her assistance with the photos.
February/March 2012 – The Sun Runner 33
he first thing you need to know about finding gold is that you will find gold where gold has already been found. This is a simple saying among gold prospectors and you will save yourself a lot of time by avoiding areas where gold has never been discovered. If you want to have a good chance of finding some placer gold just east of Twentynine Palms then head out to the Old Dale Mining District to try your luck at digging up some California gold nuggets. Most of this land is BLM (Bureau of Land Management) property and you can prospect there. You will find many old abandoned mines in the Dale area and several clubs including our local club has claims there. Plenty of gold has been found in the Dale District through the years and there is still plenty of gold remaining there to be found! Just remember that gold prospecting is not easy or else everyone would be doing it. Prospecting for gold takes time, knowledge, research, safety precautions, the right equipment, dedication and some elbow grease. The best way to enjoy a prospecting trip is to plan to campout for a couple day—bring the family and friends. Once you arrive at a location like the Old Dale District, up Gold Crown Road, you are going to want to use either a metal detector or a dry washer or both. You will need some basic training to operate this equipment yet this equipment is not difficult to operate. You will also want to bring several gallons of water, a masonry trough and a gold pan to pan out the concentrates from your dry washer. Gold is very heavy and has a specific gravity weight of 19.3 This means that gold is 19 times heavier than an equal amount of water. Just knowing this will help you find gold by understanding the very nature of this ore. Gold is so heavy that it tends to sink into crevices or what prospectors term as “gravity traps.” Sometimes a screwdriver and a five gallon bucket can be your best friend. Simply by digging out these crevices I have found several little nuggets. Always remember to respect existing claims when you go out prospecting. Placer claims are marked with signs and posts that identify legal claims. It is always best to consider joining a local mining club, 34 The Sun Runner – February/March 2012
pay the annual dues, and have legal access to their claims. In the Joshua Tree area you can contact the First Class Miners, Inc. The FCM is a certified non-profit educational organization. Their website is www.firstclassminers.org. A prospecting club will provide you with a knowledgeable group of people who have been prospecting for many years, and mining claims where you can prospect for gold. Our club provides ongoing educational programs for all our members, group campouts, claim tours, meetings to discuss our progress as a club and more. I am including photos of some of the club members gold finds. These finds took a serious investment of time to dig up. The largest collection below took 11 years of metal detecting and dry washing to collect. One of the best tools I have used to scout out new areas is Google Earth. This is a free download and can help you understand where you are going and what to expect. I highly recommend this free download. If you wish to take a placer gold mining class at our local college for six Saturdays please contact Copper Mountain College in Joshua Tree and inquire about Jim Wharff’s class on placer mining. You will be working in the open desert during most of this class. I usually deliver a lecture on metal-sensing technologies so that students understand how and why metal detectors work. Philip Bonafede is a prospector and owner of Prospectors Depot, in Joshua Tree. You can reach Phil with your questions and comments at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or (760)366-3333. We’re looking forward to doing some prospecting with Philip this coming year.
Photo courtesy of the Maturango Museum.
he desert is full of all kinds of treasures—gold, silver, and other rare elements. Even water in the desert can be considered a treasure and the source of immense wealth. One of the greatest treasures that we have in the desert is art, and we can truly call this art a treasure. And like all treasures, it needs to be protected and watched over because there are people who will steal it and vandalize it. I’m talking about the petroglyphs and pictographs that dot the desert landscape. And while this art form has been around for a long time, it is only now beginning to be appreciated for what it really is. For one who is looking at this art form and wants to put a value on it, all you have to do is use the same measure for this art form that you would use for any other. When we shop around the various art forms, we will find that almost any piece of art that is 500 years old will be valued for its antiquity alone; and of course, with petroglyphs we are often dealing with thousands of years. Then one could consider how easy a particular piece of art is to replace. This is partially why a piece art such as a painting or sculpture may be relatively inexpensive until the artist dies. From then on, the number is set; no more can be made and in a sense, it has become rare. Of course, in the case petroglyphs, these artists are not only dead and gone but their entire society has died out and we know little of them. But there’s the one element that all art must have, and that is beauty and style. And here one might be tempted to downgrade or minimize the beauty and style these petroglyphs and pictographs have. However, I would say to look again and you might see the skilled hand of an artist. All you have to do is look at the low quality of the modern graffiti that has defaced and insulted them in modern times to see that these ancient artists were skilled indeed. And then we should also appreciate that they incorporated the style and symbolism that was part of their culture and language which we know little of except through this art. But what we do know is that the life of a hunter-gatherer is often difficult and dangerous. It is a life filled with hunger and exposure to the extremes of weather that we living in this day and age really don’t know. And so for a person living under these conditions to take upon themselves to produce art, to make something beautiful that would speak to generations yet to come, is truly remarkable. If this is not enough for us to treasure them, to protect them, and pass along to all the generations yet to come, one can only ask what does this say about our present society?
Explore Carlos Gallinger’s videos on the desert at his website: www.thewayofthings.org. February/March 2012 – The Sun Runner 35
ow does a writer pick out a “culturally significant” player in the great mining drama of the Mojave...even when limited by the geographical boundaries of just one historical district? It seemed to me a bit like choosing Time Magazine’s Person of the Year except that, instead of a calendar year, more than a century of history was out there for the picking. On the Rand, as in any other place, many people, for good or ill, have left their mark. Yet some people always stand out, the ‘cream of the crop,’ and Bert Wegman surely seems one of them. Memories of Bert’s hard work and passion for the Rand remain remarkable as they seem exactly what was needed in the recovery from the mine shutdowns of World War II. It helped that Bert was younger than the early miners who had arrived on the Rand about the time Bert was born. Some good news was published in the L.A. Times on May 22, 1944: Twelve elderly miners in the Randsburg district, who have for months been restrained from taking any revenue from their gold claims, may now avail themselves of the services of the Butte Lode Mining Co.’s custom mill. Bert Wegman, manager of the property, has received a release from Order L1208 of the [War Production Board] permitting the company to resume mill operation with a limited crew and to accept custom millings up to 100 tons per individual operator. In August of 1962, Desert Magazine featured an article under the heading: IS 36 The Sun Runner – February/March 2012
SMALL MINING DEAD? In addition to reporting discourse from the American Mining Congress’s annual meeting, a feature appeared about a person who was running what was described as “Southern California’s Last Operating Gold Mill.” The person was Bert Wegman and he ran his 10-stamp custom mill at Randsburg’s Butte Lode Mine which he had acquired in 1950. Wegman’s business was operated as a small stock company with a 10 percent cut of the millings going to the property owners. Old Yellow Aster tailings were being processed as well as material from other small workings. The mining operation also included what might today be termed “cultural tourism.” In the souvenir program (price: 15 cents) for the Ninth Annual Rand District Old Time Mining Celebration on the 14th and 15th of September 1957, a photo of the amalgamation tables at the Big Butte Mill was printed with the mention that “guided [mine]tours usually include Big Butte in their itinerary as it generally can be seen in action.” The Bakersfield Californian of October 14, 1960, announced that the Kern Antelope Historical Society “will have a field trip to [Wegman’s] Randsburg stamp mill. Bert Wegman will operate his stamp mill for them.” On the Rand, the mills had marked the decades of the early 20th century with the pounding of hundreds of heavy, noisy stamps. In contrast, the war years were
strangely silent. With the new start up of the mill the war-weary dreariness began to lift. The noise! The excitement! The treasured hope of a golden future! Thanks Bert. Visit historic Randsburg as part of our Little Petroglyph Canyon Tour itinerary this April. Join Lorraine Blair for a visit to the 1912 Plum Cottage (with lots of historic pictures and artifacts), Library Too, a good example of early Rand construction, her 1951 travel trailer, and an introduction to the Rand at Lorraine’s library. Enjoy the wildflower blooms along Highway 395 as you head north to Ridgecrest. Explore the Rand District Cemetery in Johannesburg. Have lunch or an ice cream sundae at the Randsburg General Store, with a phosphate from the bar that came around Cape Horn. Reserve your space on our upcoming Little Petroglyph Canyon Tour at www.thesunrunner.com
ed Mountain is located within the Rand Mining District in San Bernadino County. The townsite is located directly along Route 395, roughly 26 miles from Kramer Junction. The mining ruins around Red Mountain are found in the mountains behind the town, and can be accessed via Osdick Road and Red Mountain Road. Before becoming Red Mountain, the town was known as Osdick (I will refer to the town as Osdick up until the time the name was changed). Osdick came to be in the summer of 1919, during the near-by town of Randsburg’s third big mining boom. Pete Osdick was one of the original miners in the area and he felt the town should be named after himself since he had lived in this area longer than anyone else. W.H. Williams, another miner in the area (who discovered California Rand Silver Mine) contested that the town should be named Hampton, which was his middle name. Both parties would end up laying out a townsite, and both applied for a Post Office. Pete Osdick won the Post Office in February of 1922, and the area officially became known as Osdick. The California Rand Silver Mine (also known as The Kelly Mine) would produce over $7 millions in its first four years of production, it would be one of the richest mines in California. For many years it was also the largest producing silver mine in the United States. It was said by Charles Moroney (General Manager) regarding the mine, ”Drifts 104 feet, raises thirty-two, and cross cuts 111. Values across and along the vein for a distance of twenty feet or more will average about $2.40 in gold and 60 ounces of silver.” It would continue production until 1929 when the price of silver dropped significantly. It is estimated that the mine’s total
production was over $12 million dollars. Other mines in the area included the Big Four, Silver Kings and Silver Glance. By 1929 Osdick had acquired many names, “Sin City,” “Inn City,” “Never In,” etc. Finally the U.S. Postal Service decided to put an end to the naming dispute and dubbed the town Red Mountain, which it has remained ever since. Despite having one of the most impressive silver mines in the country, some might say that Red Mountain was even more well-known for it’s sins. During prohibition you could get a drink at any business in town with the exception of the Post Office. The only time Red Mountain was ever “dry” was when they had been tipped off about an upcoming raid. The Ku Klux Klan actively protested the drinking atmosphere in Red Mountain by offering up free dances in nearby Johannesburg. The KKK may have been about the only ones to oppose the party atmosphere that Red Mountain became famous for. As well as the drinking, Red Mountain became well known for its prostitution. It was said the prostitutes that worked the many brothels were highclass and beautiful, kept themselves clean, and made for good company. The Annex, Little Eva’s, The Monkey House, The Northern, The Owl, The Pacific, The Red Onion, and the Silver Dollar are just a few of the more well known houses of ill repute. Gambling was another of the many pastimes celebrated at Red Mountain. Just about anywhere you could get a drink you could find a game as well. Overall the advertising slogan, “Where every night is Saturday night and Saturday night is the 4th of July,” was pretty accurate. Today Red Mountain is a skeleton of its former self. The 2010 Census lists
The California Rand Silver Mine, top; and the Silver Dollar, above.
Red Mountain with a population of 125 persons. All of the mines, bars, hotels, casinos, and of course, brothels, have long ago closed their doors. Most of the buildings and homes at the townsite are original structures and make for an interesting walk-through, including the Silver Dollar Bar, church, schoolhouse, market, and many more. The California Rand Silver Mine sits above the town, fenced in to preserve its history and keep unsuspecting victims from the dangers of arsenic poisoning. There are many additional mining sites you are free to explore in the surrounding mountains. If you do decide to explore, please be aware that there are many unmarked shafts through the area and use caution. Entering mines is extremely hazardous. Red Mountain is a fascinating place to explore. Sadly a large chunk of the history of the town is extremely difficult to track down. Everything from about 1933 to current times that has happened or hasn’t happened here is extremely difficult to track down. Next time you’re driving Highway 395, and find yourself driving through Red Mountain, slow down and imagine the once bustling streets of this mining town. Join the ongoing desert adventures of Death Valley Jim at his website, www. deathvalleyjim.com. February/March 2012 – The Sun Runner 37
Desert Theatre Beat
By Jack Lyons Sun Runner Theatre Editor The 2011/2012 Season is already half over! Where does the time go? Let’s get right to the doing of the numbers and the where’s and when’s... HI-DESERT THEATRES Groves Cabin Theatre – Morongo Valley The mighty Groves (all 22 seats) opens Edward Albee’s family tale of “Three Tall Women” on Saturday, February 11. The play, directed by Debbie Hagadorn, stars Joy Groves, Vicki Montgomery, Elody Rain, and Dennis Priest. The play performs on Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. through March 5. Reservations are a must at The Groves (remember, only 22 seats), so call the box office at (760)365-4523 for tickets and information. Theatre 29 – Twentynine Palms “Jakes Women” by Neil Simon and directed by Butch Pelfrey continues at Theatre 29, performing on Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m. through February 11. Also, there is one Sunday, February 5 matinee performance at 2: 30 p.m. For reservations and ticket information call the box office at (760)361-4151. DOWN VALLEY THEATRES Coyote StageWorks – Palm Springs Coyote StageWorks, the Equity performing troupe based in Palm Springs, begins its third season with the 2008 Tony-winning comedy “Boeing-Boeing,” produced by co-theatre founder Chuck Yates (who, as an actor, nabbed the Best Lead Actor in a Comedy at last year’s Desert Theatre League Awards ceremony). The sexy, non-stop comedy written by Marc Camoletti, translated by Beverly Cross and Francis Evans, and directed by James Gruessing, is being presented at the Annenberg Theatre at the Palm Springs Art Museum. Performances are being given on Thursday, February 16 38 The Sun Runner – February/March 2012
and Friday, February 17 at 7:30 p.m., and on Saturday, February 18 at 2 pm and again at 7:30 p.m. There is one Sunday, February 19 matinee, at 2 p.m. For reservations and ticket information call the Box Office at (760)325-4490 or go online at www.psmuseum.org . Palm Canyon Theatre – Palm Springs The high-energy, cult-classic musical “Hairspray,” continues to entertain at The Palm Canyon Theatre, playing Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. through February 12. The singing, dancing, over-the-top musical, is directed by Dane Whitlock. February 24-26, the theatre presents —for three performances only—“A Little Night Music,” by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler. Performances are given Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., and on Sunday at 2 p.m. The satirical comedy musical “Urinetown,” with music, lyrics, and book by Mark Hollimann and Greg Kotis is an “equal opportunity offender” that spoofs and mocks: the legal system, social irresponsibility, populism, capitalism, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement, and local politics. In short, the authors didn’t miss anybody. The musical comedy opens Friday, March 9 at 8 p.m., and plays Thursdays at 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. through March 18. For reservations and ticket information call the Box Office at (760)323-5123. Cabaret Theatre West – The Indian Wells Theater - Palm Desert The desert’s unique cabaret/musical show “Hooray for the USA” will celebrate America’s great history as the cast and creative team take you across the country with visuals designed by Leanna Bonamici, with songs and dancing. The talented company of 11 performers shines in this special tribute to America and the songs that lovingly take you down memory lane on a fabulous sentimental journey you won’t want to miss. “Hooray” plays March 2-3, 23-24, and 30-31. For reservations and ticket information call (760)568-0024, or visit their website at www.cabarettheatrewest. com . Palm Desert Stage Company – Palm Desert The Palm Desert Stage Company brings their second season here in the desert to a close with the hilarious musical comedy, “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” by Joe Di Pietro and Jimmy Roberts. This is the second year that the tal-
ented PD Stage Company of performers has produced a two-production season in the Arthur Newman Theatre at the Joslyn Center, in Palm Desert. The musical comedy stars Colleen Kelley, Matthew Shaker, Raul Valenzuela, Lou Galvan, Shannon Hooper and Theresa Jewett. The production is directed and choreographed by Jeanette Knight. Tickets and reservations are available online at www.pdstage.com, at the Joslyn Center front desk, or by calling (760)636-9682. Indio Performing Arts Center – Indio IPAC, the east valley’s top performance venue, presents the highly popular musical, “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” directed by Bob Reinhagen, beginning Friday, February 24, at 7 p.m. The production, with music and lyrics by William Finn, and a book by Rachel Sheinkin, tells the story of the young contestants’ lives through song and flashbacks during a hilarious spelling bee. It’s a show for the entire family. Performances are given on Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m., with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m. through March 25. For reservations and ticket information call the Box Office at (760)775-5200 Derrik Lewis’ Musical Chairs – Indian Wells Theater – Palm Desert The highly popular and acclaimed musical show, “Musical Chairs,” makes a most welcome return to the desert on Wednesday, February 29 with a one day, two-performance-only, show entitled “Polka Dots & Moonbeams: The songs of Jimmy Van Heusen.” There is a 2:30 p.m. matinee and a 7 p.m. evening show. Lewis, is not only one of the Valley’s top impresarios, he’s also a fantastic piano player and singer. His shows are not be missed. Also featured with Lewis are some the valley’s top entertainers including: Richard Leibell (good to see Richard back from chilly Minneapolis), Darci Daniels, Patrick Arendall, Francesca Amari, and Michael Holmes. For tickets call (760)883-1800. See you at the theatre…
FADE IN: The 23rd Palm Springs International Film Festival has come and gone. I don’t know long they can go on breaking attendance records, but it keeps happening. This year, more than 135,000 movie maniacs, Hollywood industry officials, celebrities, guests, tourists, and filmmakers from all over the globe descended on our fair valley. Being the perfect hosts that we are, we provided everyone picture-perfect weather just like in the movie Shangri La. How very appropriate. Festival Executive Director Darryl Macdonald and Festival Chairman Harold Matzner can take bows for a festival that came off without a glitch… almost. At times, the disappointment of not being able to get to see a certain movie, even though one had a Platinum Pass, due a surfeit of available seats, put a damper on the festivities for some. While a few glitch’s out of 135,000 festival attendees may be okay for some, for the exec’s of PSIFF, it means more homework has to be done before next year’s festival. Thanks to an army of volunteers 99 percent of the festival went smoothly. On the bright side, the patrons who lined up at the five venues located little more than a mile from each other, provided many happy hours for other film junkies to compare notes and exchange their takes on the 188 films from 70 countries who made up this year’s festival. The festival screened all nominees, on the long list, for Best Foreign Language Film consideration at this month’s Oscars. It should be an interesting race for all nominees, and perhaps, a surprise or two for the viewers, as well as the actors, writers, producers, directors, and
other creative types that make the movies America’s favorite entertainment. Up next for the Palm Springs International Foreign Film festival is “ShortFest”, the most popular and largest short film festival in the world. It arrives on June 19 and runs through June 25. If you can’t get enough movies during the two festivals we have here in the desert, hang in there. I often report on the three film societies we have here in the desert: The Palm Springs International Film Society, the Desert Film Society, and The Desert Classic Film Society. Home base for PSIFS is the Regal Cinemas, Palm Springs Stadium Nine. They meet once a month on a Saturday, October thru May. Contact them at (760)322-2930 or www.psfilmfest.org. The Desert Film Society meets at The Camelot Theatres in Palm Springs, and screens films on Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. The screening for March 10 is the Japanese comedy film “Hospitalite.” It’s a wild and wacky story of a family living in a crowded Tokyo apartment suddenly visited by relatives and their relatives’ friends who have no plans to move out. The March 17 film is “Elena,” a Russian drama concerning an older man and his younger wife. Both have children from previous marriages. When the older husband has a heart attack and recovers, he changes his will, deciding to give his entire estate to his estranged older daughter. The new wife then decides to protect her three younger children’s futures. Now we have a recipe for… who knows what, as the drama unfolds. Contact them at www.desertfilmsociety.com. If you’re a fan of film noir or aging film classic movies, The Desert Classic Film Society, founded and organized by film historian Chris Perry of Yucca Valley, is definitely for you. On February 10, the society is screening F. W. Murnau’s 1922 silent masterpiece “Nosferatu,” with musical accompaniment. For fans of horror and noir this is a film not to be missed. All films are screened at the society’s Bijou Cinema, 57482 Onaga Trail, Yucca Valley. On February 17 at 7 p.m., former NPR movie reviewer Randy Fischer presents his “Literature-to-Film” series. And on Friday, March 2, at 7 p.m., the society presents “Classic Animation Festival #2.” It’s a dazzling program of animation films from the 1930s to the 1960s hosted by Perry. For more information, visit www.desertclassicfilmsociety.com. See you at the movies… where “the stuff that dreams are made of” can be seen. FADE OUT: February/March 2012 – The Sun Runner 39
would like to dedicate my column this issue to Ted Markland who passed away recently. Ted was instrumental in starting an influx of musicians to Joshua Tree starting in the 60s when he first brought Gram Parsons out to Joshua Tree National Monument. He lugged an old chair up on what is now known as Markland’s Mountain and brought many others up for some spiritual enlightenment including members of the Rolling Stones, Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda, Jack Nicholson and Donovan. Later, Keith Richards and Gram replaced the old chair with a barber chair that spun around so they could get a 360- degree view. Ted started out as a comic—his good friend Lenny Bruce was his manager—and then branched out to acting. He is best known as Reno on the TV show The High Chaparral, and Hap Arlich in the now famous scene from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest where Jack Nicholson needs one more vote to watch the World Series and needs Hap to raise his hand. Ted discovered Joshua Tree when attending one of George Van Tassel’s annual Flying Saucer Conventions out at Giant Rock. He kept coming back and bringing more people; he even conducted Timothy Leary’s wedding up on his mountain. He lived with the Navajos many years before finally calling this desert his home. I always loved to visit Ted, and he in turn loved having visitors and telling stories and showing all his photos. One of my favorites was one of Ted and Lenny Bruce clowning around in Tijuana outside some dive bar. While starting work on a book about the music and musicians of Joshua Tree, Ted Quinn and I knew we should start with Markland. We spent quite the day with him telling us some amazing stories that we can’t wait to share with all of you. When Gram passed away in Room 8 at the Joshua Tree Inn, Phil Kaufman wanted Ted to help him with the theft and disposal of Gram’s body out in the Monument, but Ted declined. I will miss his laugh and his stories, but am so glad I got to spend some time with him. He was quite a character and I’m not sure if he realized how much of a musical Mecca our 40 The Sun Runner – February/March 2012
Shannon McNally, above left, and Bugs Salcido, above. A rare photo of Ted Markland on Markland’s Mountain, top right, and a great shot of Ted by Ming C. Lowe, bottom right.
little desert has become, but he knew first that it was going to be something amazing! So happy to hear that Bugs Salcido is moving back to Joshua Tree after a hiatus in Las Cruces, New Mexico. An outstanding singer songwriter, he has worked with Counting Crows, The Rolling Stones, Cracker, Sheryl Crow and many others. Paul McCartney chose his song “Everyone Needs Some Love Now,” for a CD compilation for his charity The Garland Appeal, to honor his late wife Linda for breast cancer awareness that brings MRI machines to rural areas around the world. Welcome Back Bugs!!!! Alt/Country treasure, Shannon McNally, came to town for a show at Pappy and Harriet’s and even stopped by Mount Fuji General Store for an afternoon performance. Some really exciting shows are coming up at Pappy’s and I am excited to say that I will be starting a blog on the new Sun Runner website to help promote shows, review CDs and archive some of the many photos I have taken over the last 15 years out here. My parents lived out here but I never thought I would. One time, I came out to visit and ran into Donovan in Von’s getting some groceries. I think I knew then that something was up. I wrote my first poem that day when I got home and will share it on the blog. What a long strange trip it’s been.. Clive Wright has an amazing new CD out called “Spoke,” that was recorded and mixed at Desert Sky Studios in Joshua Tree. Festival season will soon be upon us, can you believe this year will be the 10th annual Joshua Tree Music Festival in May? It’s going to be off the hook this year so get your tickets early! Ted Markland, I am sure you are looking down on us from the mountain with Gram and Tom Wilkes. I bet the laughter— and the music—still continues.
Remembering Ted Markland
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am well into my second year with my column in this fine magazine and I want to thank publisher and editor Steve Brown for giving me the opportunity in each issue to reach thousands of readers with positive living thoughts and also making it possible to raise money for my non-profit activities. Recently in Pomona, I presided at a well attended (150-200 people) program celebrating the good life of my friend Burke Le Sage. After the event, a well known motor sports leader, Richard Parks, told me I sounded like Norman Vincent Peale. I accepted it as a sincere compliment. The fact is, of course, I had told my colleague, Dr. Peale, in 1965 that if I ever started writing a magazine column I would call it “Positive Living.” He thought it was a great idea. When I write about having a positive attitude, I am not suggesting that you should abandon common sense or deny the reality of extremely difficult situations. Tough minded optimists are not naïve, Pollyannaish, or unrealistic. They “smell the coffee” in every difficulty. They are pragmatic, logical, and extremely practical. On the other hand, they have the audacity of hope and a certain belief that something of value may come from any negative experience. Have hope, dear friends. Tomorrow will be different. Tomorrow you may hear the music, meet the person, read the book, have the insight, think the thought that changes your life in a beautiful way. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell is a tough minded optimist. It was Powell who said with deep conviction, “perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.” Believe it, my friends, and anticipate with optimism tomorrow, next week, and all your days. This column is sponsored by my friend Tom Huls and all the good people at Big-O Tires in Yucca Valley.
Check out Lou’s book: Positive Living with Dr. Lou Gerhardt, A Tough Minded Optimist. You can find it on Amazon.com or through Barnes & Noble. February/March 2012 – The Sun Runner 43
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Circle C Lodge
Private oasis offers 12 spacious guest rooms nestled in a lush garden courtyard with heated pool, spa, BBQ pit. Full kitchen, A/C, HBO, phones, continental breakfast. AAA, extended stay available. 6340 El Rey Ave., 29 Palms, CA (760)367-7615 • 800-545-9696 www.circleclodge.com
EL RANCHO DOLORES MOTEL
A respite for desert travelers since 1940, downtown 29 Palms. Swimming pool, courtyard, A/C, direct phones, satellite TV/HBO. Refrigerators/microwaves, kitchenettes available. Ken Patel, Manager. 73352 29 Palms Hwy., 29 Palms, CA 92277 (760)367-3528 virtual29.com/a-z/dolores
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Bed & Breakfast Inn. Gorgeous 1928 stone manor on 25-acre historic Campbell Ranch. Gardens, elegant guest rooms, fireplaces, grand piano in great room, fine linens, gourmet food, catered functions. Gary & Jan Peters. 74744 Joe Davis Dr., 29 Palms, CA 92277 (760)367-3238 www.roughleymanor.com
SUNNYVALE GARDEN SUITES Condo-like suites with a touch of the “old west.” Junior, 1 & 2 bedroom suites, full kitchens, living rooms, dining rooms, private patios w/barbecues, Cable TV, DVD, patio area, playground, spa and fitness center. Tony & Cora Naraval, owners. 73843 Sunnyvale Dr., 29 Palms, CA 92277 (760)361-3939 www.sunnyvalesuites.com
29 Palms Inn
Fine food & lodging since 1928. Lunch, dinner, continental breakfast, Sunday brunch. Art-filled dining room, bar. Heated pool, poolside patio, adobe bungalows. “Oasis of Mara” and trails, near JT National Park headquarters and visitor center. Paul & Jane Smith, Innkeepers. 73950 Inn Ave., 29 Palms, CA 92277 (760)367-3505 www.29palmsinn.com
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