Thursday, January 23, 2020

January 23rd Whazzup Report

When I was a small child, January always seemed to be the longest month of the year.  IN fact, I often thought that January was The Definition of Eternity.  To me, if I survived January, I was fully good to go for the Whole Year.  Nothing compared to January.  Part of it was growing up in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, the most skyless, gray county in the Whole Known World in January. NOBODY beats Tippecanoe, not even all of North Dakota!  Not even Chicago and that's saying a LOT right there.

It just so happens that Tippecanoe County is in a Native American Vortex and that's why the Storm Troopers of the Era attacked the Indians in The Battle of Tippecanoe and then burned down their vortex town.  It's all about vortexes long before Sedona, but we digress.

Anyway, even since I was a little kid January has loomed large on my personal calendar.  Generally speaking, I live in annual fear of January because of primal lingering fears that it might truly last forever and maroon me in a sea of gray for the rest of All Time, including my life, of course

And so it is with Great Joy I can tell you I have survived January Twenty Twenty up until almost the last and fourth week.  Trust me, when you get into the final home stretch of the fourth week of January, you feel like a thoroughbred stretching for the final wire in the Indiana Derby!  Wait, wait, I meant the Kentucky Derby.

Just to know the last day of this infamous month is barely more than a week away lifts my spirits and brings Joy to my Heart.  Oh, YEA!!!

It's been a tedious, eternally long month this January of Twenty Twenty.  We won't go into all the details but, trust me, all these past 23 days have constantly reminded me of my childhood January trials and tribulations.

After Susun returned from The 4th Annual Women's March in Sedona last Sunday we talked.  She said her brother, Roger, had invited us to Mesa.  Cue rejoicing and wild cheers from the Fans.  So, we didn't waste a moment and packed up and headed south mid-day Monday. Remember that song, "Monday, Monday?"

"Monday, Monday, so good to me
Monday mornin', it was all I hoped it would be."

Oh, YEAH!  So, we saddled up and headed our horses to Mesa.  We spent three gloriously fun nights with Dear Nancy and Roger there in The Heart of Mesa, Arizona.  Mesa was settled way back before ESPN and eBay but that doesn't matter.  They do an OK job down there in Mesa, regardless of what's on their table.

We had so much fun on this trip, especially playing cribbage and especially since we won.  IN fact, we won so bad last light we got kicked out of town today with various "terms of endearment."  That's what four "10's" and a "5" will do to a guy.  Just kidding, of course, Roger!

We cruised back through Payson, a town named for an Illinois Senator who bribed rubes to name towns for him in exchange for a Post Office.  We had a lot of stops planned in Payson and actually made them all, including a visit with Dear Friend Gena.  Of course, our astute Friends already know we're on The Case (and cage) of The Flyin' Lion that fell to earth in Hellsgate in 1927.  We made a bunch of new Associates in Payson and then we proceeded on to Pine.

In Pine we studied pine...and juniper and mesquite and other woody stuff.  It was fun.  We got home to Second Chance Ranch at 5 PM and that's when it's scramble time.  You can look at the Western Horizon and well know how many minutes of tme you have to strut yer stuff before it fades (rapidly) to black.

Well, we did git 'er dun and now we're a tucked in here to our cozy straw bale house, just a plottin' and a plannin' how we can git ourselfs another four tens and a five!

THANKS, Nancy & Roger!  We LOVE YOU!

Signed, Yer Country Bumpkin, Cribbage Winnin' Cousins from Wimwok!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Susun reflects on David Rust

Fast back to October when we dashed up to our Idahome to retrieve Dear Lil' Mosey Inn #1.  Naturally, we took the SLO-ROAD back to Ol' Airy Zonie.  Out into Goat Roper Wyoming and down through the West End of The Uintas and sneaking through the back side of the SLC metroplex via Provo and Spanish Fork.  And then we beat feet for Price and points Southerly.

By and By we wound up in The Center of The Universe in Hanksville, Utah.  Anybody who's anybody, of course, totally knows it's the Center of The Universe mostly because it's self evident and also well labeled.  Labeling helps in the 21st Century.

So, we're sitting there in the Center of The Universe and I said to Clair, "Have you ever heard about David Rust?"

Well, no, she hadn't.  But she was curious.  And being curious is a real big asset if you know what I mean.  So we drove on down from The Center of The Universe in Hanksville toward more mundane destinations, including, of course, Hite Crossing.

And it took most of a coupla hours or maybe more...maybe three tell Clair about David Rust.  You see, David was a most admirable Man.  He was a True Man's Man but he was even more than that.  You can't sum up David Rust just with a few words.  Nope.  It takes a book.  A Big Book naturally called "David Rust."

Well, by and by, Clair got David Rust Religion there a comin' outta The Center of The Universe like we did and she said, "I gotta read that book as soon as I can get my hands on it."  And, by golly and by gee, she grabbed ahold of a librarian and got that book in her hands PRONTO!

Well, when Clair finished the book (after 3 renewals) she burst into tears and sobbed and sobbed.  It was everything I told her it would be.

Tonight, it all came back around for her and she reconnected with the whole Hanksville Initiation Thing. (HIT).  Man, she LOVES David Rust and she LOVES everything she read in his book and it's so powerful and emotional for her.  Man, you can't even imagine.

Well, we're wrapping up TBT for this week and a lookin' forward to more fun stories a week from today.  But a word to the wise is this--if you wanna read something that's gonna knock yer socks clean off, get yer hands on "David Rust!"

Just ask Clair, she'll tell ya straight.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Mid-January Report

Healing Happens.  Two months ago on November 14, Susun tripped coming out of a travel trailer and broke a bone in her lower right leg.  It's a well known fact that bones take awhile to heal so we figured maybe two months would be a OK estimate.  Sure enough, she drove her little truck yesterday for the first time since the mishap.  Of course, there's more healing to go.  And a lot of caution and careful movement lie ahead.  But she's a model patient and has  been following Doctor's Orders really well.  We both fully expect here to be near tip top condition by the time her February 19th trip to Southern California comes around.

Once the mid-November incident took place, we were both pretty much "confined to quarters" here in Rimrock.  I served as caregiver and chauffeur while Susun recuperated and allowed the healing process to take place in its own natural time frame.  That meant I had a lot of time on my hands so that's when I began digging a lot deeper into some history stories I love.  And one thing led to another.  And I found even MORE history stories to love.  Before you know it, I began posting numerous history stories on various Facebook history groups in Flagstaff, Prescott, Grand Canyon, Verde Valley, Phoenix and Globe.  Over the past two months, such activity has turned into a "thing" and it's now an almost daily activity.  Meanwhile a Facebook page I created for the history stories is reaching around 15,000 people per week.

The whole "history thing" that has sprouted and grown as a result of Susun's mishap is a welcome addition to both of our lives.  I enjoy the digging and the telling and Susun enjoys the listening.  The endeavor continues to grow.  We're working on two stories that are larger than can be told via Facebook or even perhaps the ubiquitous blogs.  So that means we're having to finally delve into the arcane, inscrutable world of ebooks.  Even though we're a lifelong book lover, we've never taken a liking to ebooks themselves and have studiously avoided any confrontation with the ebook publication process.  I'm sure my life would be much better overall if I never had to even THINK about ebook publishing, let alone actually use it.  Ah, but times change and now we are engrossed in the sticky spider web of ebook publishing.  UGH!

The story we're trying to tell is about the Crash of the MGM Lion in September 1927.  The story itself is mesmerizing.  The method of trying to tell the story is anything but!  Probably the only way we're even going to get a break through is to use a blog to write each chapter and then transfer the narrative and photos to the convoluted altar of The Gods of ebooks.

Weather wise there hasn't been a whole lot to write home about lately and it sure doesn't look very promising for the near future either.  As usual, we all had high hopes of a "wet winter" when the first few gobsmackers gut punched Northern Arizona.  Alas, they seem to have been just a tease.  Or, as someone said, "Well, that was our winter--it's spring time now."  Meanwhile our Idahome is getting hit hard but that's another story.

Dear Friends Maria & Tim have been visiting Second Chance Ranch in their Gulf Stream Class A motorhome for the past few days.  The Wonderful Couple free ranges far and wide from sea to shining sea but they always seem to gravitate back here to Central Arizona.  We love their visits and eagerly look forward to their arrivals.  We're always sad to see them go but we know they are off on yet another thrilling, fun-filled adventure.  In a mere two days they will be tucked into the capital of Costa Rica to begin a two month stay in that country.  We're hoping we will see them in Idaho sometime this summer.

Speaking of summer, our planning continues.  As most folks know, we love taking one trip a year to Sawtooth Country.  Last year's trip was delayed into late July because a Dear Friend was going to be there then.  This year we're back to a more flexible schedule so we're already trying to squeeze into Sunny Gulch Campground outside Stanley and not far from Redfish Lake.  Wouldn't you know it, the few reservable sites at Sunny Gulch are already full.  Of course nobody up there right now is remotely thinking about camping.  They are all practically snowed in.  The Sawtooth back country generally has about five feet of snow right now.  It always seems so weird to be sitting down here in Arizona talking about Smoke Season and river runoff and such when Sawtooth Country is under a deep, deep blanket of snow.  Ah, the Life of Snow Birds!

We spent some fun days at Susun's brother's Mesa Place in December and we're looking forward to going back again this month for a short sojourn.  Roger and Nancy are lovely hosts and always roll out the red carpet for us.  Chances are pretty good we will head down that way next week.

Today being January 15th marks the unofficial end of Rimrock's Annual Cold Spell.  According to The Book Of John & Susun, the Rimrock's Annual Cold Spell begins on December 15th and ends on January 15th.  Of course, it isn't always perfectly cut and dried but it's a danged good guess as to when the coldest of the winter's cold will be upon us.  So far this Arizona Season has been mild.  Our lowest temp was 16 degrees way back in early November.  Most of the daily lows have been in the low 20's with some dips into the upper teens.  Considering that we've seen it get down to 2 degrees here, such temps are definitely considered mild.

Well, that's all there is to write about home.  Thanks for reading.  Happy mid-January.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

The Two R's

Remember how early one room school houses were said to focus on teachin' them kids The Three R's?

Readin', 'ritin' and 'rithmatic."

Well, at this point in my life, I am focused on the Two R's.  I couldn't care less about that Third R.  So I spend my days in R&R, so to speak: Readin' and 'Ritin'.

We generally get up around 6 AM and go back to sleep around 8 PM every day.  For who knows how many days, my life has been occupied by studying the Canyon Diablo Train Robbery. It consumes hours and hours of The Two R's.  It might not technically be considered "R&R" in the traditional sense of "rest & relaxation" but it gets the job done.  It helps me pass what would otherwise be a tediously long day while being consumed by the arcane details of history surrounding that 1889 event and the saga that followed.

I know this might seem hard to imagine but I love it.  I get so immersed in the Two R's of the CDTR that it never seems like there are enough hours in the day to do what I want to do.  It's one of those projects that seemingly has no end and sometimes I can imagine going on forever and forever into eternity.  Yes, I know that's a tad bit of an exaggeration...but not too much.

Each night, the call of nature gets me out of bed right around 1:30 AM...almost like clockwork. When I come back to the covers it takes at least 30 minutes (and sometimes 60) to go back to sleep.  It's during that precious "wee hour window" that I get my most productive thinking done.  That's when I can think the clearest.  That's when I can see new avenues.  That's when the really GOOD ideas come to light---ironically in the pitch black dark of night.

Every night I think of things to do the next day which eat up mass quantities of hours.  Sure enough, I get up the next day and start off following the threads of the "wee hour window" ideas and, POOF, the day is danged done before I even know it got started.

That's just how fast it happens--almost in a blink of an eye.  And there isn't a day yet when I don't go to sleep lamenting more what I didn't get done than what I did.  I never know what gift of insight the "wee hour window" is going to give me but I always know it will be Good.  I now look forward to that time of day perhaps even more so that broad daylight....or maybe even morning coffee.  Nah, coffee wins that game.  But whatever.

Anyway, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

Just in case yer curious what last night's "wee hour window" suggested, it's ALL about this horse hoof you see here on the famous Buckey Statue in the equally famous Prescott Plaza.  So, one of our many projects today was to produce a post on the "Celebrating Historic Prescott" Facebook group about this horse's leg.  Yeah, that's what the "wee hour window" will do to a him get a leg up!

Monday, January 6, 2020

The Winslow Yards

Back in March 1943 when Jack Delano rode a Santa Fe freight train through Flagstaff to Winslow, he could have never known there would be people studying his photographs nearly 77 years later.

Delano's informative and often poignant images reveal a slice of Northern Arizona Railroad Life heretofore unseen.  Delano's career would span many genres and localities but it is his Office of War Information photos of the rails across Northern Arizona that will live forever in the annals of Southwest history fans.
This is one of the most touching Delano photos I have found in his entire collection.
Most Delano photos of that era where not focused on an individual "looking at you."
The largely Navajo hired hand day laborers were relegated to shoveling cinders.
Delano was such a pro he stepped out into their world and recorded priceless photos!
Winslow in '43 had the only diesel roundhouse on the Santa Fe line.
When diesels were invented, Santa Fe picked them for the Southwest.
Why? Well, water was an issue for steam engines. Diesels didn't need water.
Delano was a creature of his culture.  White Men climbing aboard The Mighty Steed
are a special part of the Jack Delano Collection at the Library of Congress.
Ditto.  This photo is instructive because it shows a once vaunted steam steed
of the mighty Santa Fe line now relegated to switching duties in the Winslow yards.
Delano was granted unprecedented access to the diesel locomotive engineer's cab.
Here you can see the Winslow yard laid out in front of the arriving engine.
If you look closely, you can see the Indian laborers at left shoveling cinders.
Delano was hired by the Office of War Information to give them what they wanted.
This is yet another photo of the strong, smart white man in control of technology.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Is it possible?

On New Year's Day we once again said we would start blogging again.  But we haven't.  It's five days later and we have nothing to show for the relentless passage of time.  I makes us wonder if we really CAN blog again? Maybe we just don't have what it takes.  Maybe we're just another faceless Facebook friend...just another meaningless member of the social media mob.  We wonder.

What's it going to take for us to break out of Hotel Facebook and roam free range on a blog's blank palette?  We honestly don't know that answer and we're obviously struggling to make the transition.  With that in mind, we're going to swipe yet another Facebook post to create the remainder of this missive.

"As we studiously study The Canyon Diablo Train Robbery (CDTR) Story, we are stuck by many inconsistencies, incongruities, and downright inscrutabilities.

This Journey Deep Back Down Memory Lane is a fabulous & fantastic experience. We had NO idea how much we didn't know. We "thought" we knew the story. HAHAHA! Oh, how we have been proven wrong time after time in the past few days...and fully expect to be proven wrong over and over again.

That's what is SO FUN about History. The History you "thought" you learned in grade and high school is as inevitably wrong as wrong can get.

It's only by questioning our own assumptions and peering deeply into our so-called "personal mythology" that we can begin to come to grips with what "might" have been so-called Real History.

The Canyon Diablo Train Robbery Story is a trip back down Memory Lane for me in so many ways. Technically my Purdue degree was in "journalism & history". It's only with age & wise eyes that we can look at what we once thought to be facts. HAHAHA!

The so-called "facts" of yesteryear are like last fall's crisp leaves kicked and crinkled under feet.

We've livin' and lovin' our retro revisit to The CDTR!

The Story Continues..."

Thank goodness we have the Canyon Diablo Train Robbery Story to give us some focus and purpose!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Canyon Diablo Train Robbery

Our latest and most current project is all about the March 1889 Canyon Diablo Train Robbery.  It's quite a famous story and an Arizona Legend in its own right.  It has been written about extensively.
We intend to compile and edit the various versions of the story.  Our goal is to help interested readers understand what may have actually happened.  There are so many permutations and combinations of the retelling of the story that it's very hard for people to separate fact from fiction.  Frankly, it's probably impossible to determine what truly happened with many aspects of the story.  Certain parts are well ground in verifiable facts.  Other parts...not so much.  We fully expect the project to take at least a year to get into a book format.  Chances are we will publish an ebook in conjunction with "print on demand" so that a hard copy can be available, too.  Most of our work is going to a blog located here:

Ten Years Ago

We started this blog about ten years ago, plus or minus. So, we MUST post something here on New Year's Day of 2020!

We stealing two of our Facebook posts from New Year's Eve to create this post and perpetuate the fun day we had on New Year's Eve.

Well, the 1st half of the Sun Bowl is history. Here's our takeaways:

We called it slap stick football and Herm Edwards was a little more kind and just called it sloppy football. Frankly, we've never seen such sloppy football before unless it was in a Three Stooges movie...or something. Just when you thought it couldn't get did. In fact, if two high school teams played this badly, they probably would have all been expelled. At times during the first half it was hard to imagine this was actually a post season bowl game. A bunch of guys playing football on the back lot of The Project Housing could have played better and more entertaining football than what we saw during the first half. Frankly, it was a very sorry sight to see. It's only redeeming value was that it made watching Three Stooges Play Football a viable alternative.

Somehow, in spite of all odds and indications to the contrary, Arizona State accidentally stumbled into 9 points and the Sorry Seminoles are scoreless. But don't let the score fool you. The first half was a fiasco and is undoubtedly the laughing stock of Twitter feeds during halftime. If there was something good to say about this first half, I surely don't know what that would be.

Perhaps the only entertaining aspect of the first half was watching Tony The Tiger ads. Those ads were actually quite well done and the Mission Tiger campaign has some real merit. We'd suspect no one is watching this game except us since it's such a beautiful day outside.

Maybe the second half will be more entertaining...or not.

Our Brightest Spot of The Game was watching it with Dear Clair. She suddenly and unexpectedly sprouted and spouted some seriously correct football lingo and she swilled some beer and ate chips like a real football fan. Man, I was IMPRESSED! I don't know where the heck she got all that Right Stuff but it was a sight to see. YOU GO, Clair GIRL!!!

Cue Wild Cheering! Cue High Fives! Cue it ALL at 4 PM--in the middle of broad daylight! In Rimrock! Yes, that's what happened on New Year's Eve here. The Sun Devils Won The Sun Bowl! They shoulda lost. Heck, they shoulda never been there in the first place. But they WON!

Despite the fact it was a Three Stooges Bowl from start to finish, it was decidedly fun to watch because of the fact they won when, frankly, they shoulda lost. But that's the fickle finger of football.

My high school coach Paul La Rocca was a football purist. He always said that the fickle football could go any which way. And, of course, history has proven him correct so many more times than not.

ASU's team is all about the improbable. As The El Paso Times said after the game:

"The most probable result of the 86th Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl is that it would produce an improbable hero. In a strange and entertaining 20-14 Arizona State victory against Florida State in front of 42,412 fans, freshman safety Willie Harts, making his fourth start of the year, and his Sun Devil defensive teammates filled that role."

ASU football is now poised for greatness. The whole world can see that freshmen can and DO make a defining difference for The Sun Devils. Talented high schoolers are going to beat feet for Tempe! Jayden Daniels forged the way and Willie Harts just kicked down the door!

Let The Good Times Roll!