Water being fundamental to life has surely brought out the best in “we the people” and the absolute worst in “we the people”. I find myself in a very unique position as caretaker of 20,000 acres of California grassland situated at the head of the Little Cholame Creek, a tributary to the Salinas River.
For possibly 2 or 3 years I believe that I’ve had a “goings on”, that has been annoying to say the least. The kind that never made my world spin around so that I might find myself on the ground, but left me with the anticipation of being laid out on the ground with the world spinning above me. I was never able to completely erase the feeling that it might happen. The name Vertigo is one of those dreadful words that scared me enough, to fear that even if I open a book on the subject I might become infected.
But good luck, which has been a close friend of mine all my life, was along with me a couple of weeks ago when I went to see our family doctor for my biannual check up. The time when you breathe deeply, pee in a bottle, check blood pressure and then he asked the closing question “how do you feel”. I said I feel fine except that if I get up to fast, twist around to fast or put my head down to tie my shoes I feel kind of “yucky”. My doctor then went on to explain that my balance was being compromised because of Vertigo. He said “some crystals in my inner ear were not where they were supposed to be.” Well good ole me thinking the worst said “what do I do now?”. He said, “I’m sending you to a physical therapist”. Well, what did I do? I walked right past his receptionist who was to make an appointment for me to see a therapist. I slid right past her and out the door. I was sure that the therapist would induce a dizziness that I would never recover from. How stupid, but still real to me. After my visit with my Dr. and a couple of days had gone by I’m bending over to mark a piece of steel that I needed to cut when all of a sudden I lose my balance and feel nauseous. It only lasted a few moments. That’s it you coward, you’re going to call that therapist and then probably spend the rest of your life just spinning around. The only guy who ever went into orbit with out leaving the ground.
The first day, of the rest of my life, to spend in orbit had arrived. But I came prepared with a list questions that if the therapist ‘Toni’ could not answer to my satisfaction I could still ‘chicken out’. But before I could unleash my list of anxieties Toni totally disarmed me with questions that all I could do, was to answer yes, leaving me no escape route to where ‘Chickens’ live. She knew that she had me and that for me to turn back now she had every right to call me a “Weak Heart”, a disgrace to the male population of the world. So like any captured animal with no escape I capitulated and took the goggles that she asked me to look through, while she looked at my eyes from the other side of the goggles. This she explained dictated that I would do the Gufoni Maneuver and this maneuver would put the Calcium Carbonate crystal back in their proper place. This would be my inner ear, the part where my balance resides. She said ” I would feel much more balanced.” Next Toni had me lay quickly on my left side on to a padded table with a pillow and to look at a 45 degree angle for 3 minutes. I was comfortable when she said, “you can sit up now” and I said “That’s it? That’s all there is to it? You mean that I called on all my courage for what I do every night”. Toni said “well it’s a little different and more structured it’s so that Gravity can start to strip the crystals (Otoconia) stuck on some little hairs in my Horizontal Canal and then Gravity would put them back in my (Utricle) where they belonged. Then she said “I’m not quite finished yet, I want you to repeat this exercise twice a day at home for one week and then come back so I can test your balance and I will most likely be able to send you home without having to see me again. Well maybe a little tune up in the future.”
By the time I left I was already feeling like I could pass a sobriety test if necessary and every day since, now day 4, I feel like walking a tight rope, well not quite. But to all you class of 53ers if your feeling a little Rocky, The cure requires no pills, no shots, no X rays just a little Gravity to shunt those pesky little crystals back where they belong and then you can give Vertigo the old heave ho.
P.S. update 3/14/18
Just finished my third weekly trip to have Toni, my Vertigo guru, work her wonders. She’s getting the last of my Crystal’s to move back where they belong and you know, l also get a neck massage as part of the get well process and I have an eye exercise that she has taught me to do at home that works well also. Ya know, I’m getting to like Toni and my Vertigo visits that will soon be over. But I guess that’s the price you pay for getting well.
This blog is a collection of photos from throughout the last couple of years I’ve collected from various places. Hope you enjoyed seeing these snapshots.
Parkfield capital of the Cholame Valley finally had reason to awake from its self imposed 95 year sleep. Ranching at it’s best is always a gamble but the most tenacious and hard working recognized that ranches in The Diablo Mountain range had to be bigger in order to survive so like myself and others started to consolidate by buying the land that surrounded the “home place.” 10,000 acres is a common size that seems to work (pay the bills) but some are much larger and some a little smaller.
1980 was the year that determined the direction that Parkfield would take. A developer from Los Angeles decided that this Valley split into 40 acre parcels would be very salable, especially if deer and bird hunting or raising horses and cattle were all options on these parcels. Those of us that could see the possible conflict between people that had different values and priorities and seeing what happened when ranching communities took land development as an expected transition to a more urban environment. 7 of we ranchers thought that it didn’t have to be the normal course of events. We petitioned the Monterey County Board of Supervisors to change the zoning from its present 40 acre lot size up to 160 acre minimum size. Needless to say this was not a very popular proposal but on a 3 to 2 vote the board did save Parkfield as a true ranching and farming community for 160 acre was too big to fit a developers agenda so another possible but not wanted industry left.
This zoning change did create a vacuum but did give enough time for Parkfield to reinvent itself into a neighborhood that its priority would be, to encourage hunting, horseback riding, living the Cowboy life, cattle drives and birdwatching. The list is limited to activities that leaves Mother Nature still in charge.
Well if your going to have recreation as an industry, then the logical place to start would be downtown Parkfield. It’s glory days were long gone and by 1987 Parkfield was in bad need of a major remodel. I felt that in order to have one theme that told of Parkfield’s history I needed to own the land that our town was built on. Remember, those town lot deeds that in the 30s and 40s were sometimes used as Chips in a Parkfield Poker game? Well they had moved from the Poker table to actually having some value and all could be bought for less than a $1,000 per lot.
So over several months in 1987 I was able to purchase most of the lots that I needed to carry out a major “do over” on Parkfield. 1988 my son John who had just graduated from Cal Poly university at San Luis Obispo Ca. decided he wanted to make his home in Parkfield. I said the cattle business will only support 1 family so why not a cafe for you? John said ” sounds good to me, I’ve got a hammer and if you have a saw let’s go for it”. John grabbed his hammer and some nails and I hauled things to build a proper cafe and in spring of 1989 John opened for business. We still needed a place for our guests to get some “slumber time”, so John went to his shop got out his hammer and in 1991 he opened the Parkfield Inn.
The renewal of a Rodeo in Parkfield took place at the new Rodeo grounds in 1993 produced by our daughter Katy and in 1994 Zee and I went to the movies and saw ” City Slickers.” A movie about 3 wanna be Cowboys on a cattle drive. I looked at Zee and said we can do that, we have the ranch, the horses, and family with the skills to make any person feel right at home on his or her horse for 3 days of living the life of a cowboy or cowgirl and in the blink of an eye 24 years of cattle drives have passed from view and into V6 ranch history. Now as the family looks forward to our 25th year this spring I’m hoping that several of our grandchildren will be helping with the drives and getting themselves ready to take the reins to continue giving our guests a chance to experience driving cattle over the beautiful V6 ranch. John and wife Barbara have developed several different kinds of cowboy and horseback vacation events that are sure to please.
I hope you have enjoyed Parkfield history 101. Now we must look to Parkfield’s chances to survive in a tumultuous, interesting, scary, optimistic, pessimistic, brave or fearful New World. I think our Cholame Valley brightest days are starting right now and then melding into a future that will fullfil a need for people who want to reconnect with Mother Nature, Horses, livestock and a land that is much the same today as it was 100 years ago. But you say Parkfield’s success will be it’s downfall as the developer’s will arrive to carve up our Valley and then cart of the spoils. Not this time they won’t. Because of a tool called a Conservation Easement which if a land owner voluntarily chooses to place this kind of deed restriction on his land organization like The California Range Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy and many local Land Trust’s are available to hold your restricted deed in perpetuity and can also help raise the funds necessary to pay you the land owner for the difference between its present “sub dividable”value and it’s restricted value when the Conservation Easement is recorded the land will be devalued because it can no longer be divided. This that’s left is called its Conservation Value and is held by a land trust that protects the land in its present state. Parkfield presently has about 40,000 acres with recorded easements. Add to this our 160 acre minimum size zoning restrictions and a Monterey County Board of Supervisor who loves Southern Monterey County in its present state and would be committing political suicide if for some reason they chose to allow the South County to sub-divided. Mother Nature you can take a sigh of relief as well as all the Wildlife that calls this Valley home and all the rest of us that enjoy this beautiful Valley, I think we’re safe from man’s heavy hand.
It took the Homesteaders the rest of the 19th century to “prove up” on the best of the land that was still available. Oil seeps that had always been a curiosity on the Valley floor caught the imagination of a few wildcatters and now took center stage. This started Parkfield’s 2nd boom that went on from about 1888 till 1915 +or- a few years. Parkfield’s mini oil boom is a testament to human perseverance as it took about 30 years to convince the last of the high rollers that putting your money down for the right to drill for oil in the Cholame Valley. It was literally a guarantee that the money would have just as good a chance if it were poured down a Rat Hole. The few hints of oil that this well drilling binge produced was just enough to give the saying “hope springs eternal” credence. But enough is enough and the money to pour down more Rat Holes finally dries up. When the dollars took flight and left so did all the wildcatters and their Roughneck crews and equipment. Their was, about this same time another part of the Parkfield economy that was starting to call it quits. They were the Homesteaders. 160 acres was just not enough acreage to make a living, no matter how frugal a family was and so with mixed emotions one after another started to leave. The following excerpt from the twice monthly newspaper ‘The Sand Storm’ printed the following glowing report on the health and prosperity of the Cholame Valley. Little did it know that the report was written from the deck, of the dry land version, of the good ship Titanic. Two more events were about to show themselves that would relegate Parkfield to “a house of cards” status who’s economic foundation was about to take a hit that would empty the town’s pouch of Silver and Gold.
Besides oil the Cholame Valley was home to Mercury, a much valued element. During World War 1 this metal, that at room temperature was a liquid and was necessary in the making of bullets and cannon shells for the war effort, could also be found encased in glass tubes to make the thermometer that hung on the back porch wall in many homes. The Patriquin Mine discovered by Louis Patriquin in 1910 was very rich in high grade ore and by 1913 the Patriquin family along with a host of miners were ready to fire up the retort furnaces necessary to separate the Mercury from the Cinnabar ore. At the same time their were several other mines being worked in the Valley, all needing workers. Their was one Glory Hole in particular that yielded $10,000 in Mercury, a whole lot of money in 1913. Now add to this activity a large coal mine just outside of the Cholame Creek water shed but miners came to Parkfield for grocery and love and laughter. The chain of events that follows is a story shared by many other towns that settled the land west of the Mississippi River.
World War 1 is over and their is no longer a need for tons of Mercury so Supply and Demand takes over and the price goes in the toilet and the once rich ore has played out leaving only the low grade ore not worth processing, miners leave. The coal mine on the other side of the mountain shortly after Coal was being produced and then loaded on its own rail cars then sent down 25 miles of track that had been laid from the town of San Miguel where it would meet the Southern Pacific rail line then on to San Francisco but in no time the mine starts intercepting a lot of water, so much it was costing more to pump out the water than the coal was worth. Miners were let go and the coal mine closed. Remember the plight of our wildcatters and Homesteaders? Adding all 4 catastrophes together I believe adds up to Bankruptcy for “our town”. If only our Cholame Valley could have foreseen the future. The end result would probably would have been the same, for a bloated confidence is a hard thing to extinguish.
It’s time to read what the local newspaper had to say. By April 22, 1899 the local newspaper called ‘The Sand Storm’ while boasting a population of 900 people, said this. “Parkfield is at least a model town in respect to business houses. It has 2 stores, 2 saloons, 2 livery and feed stables, 2 blacksmith shops and 2 hotels and it probably has 2 good citizens in it”. It also boasted of a community hall, school and water tower to meet the needs of the town. Who could want for more!
The time is now 1920 and most of the folks who came to this Lovely Land to carve out a life are gone. Parkfield was closing down because there were very few jobs left to offer. There are 2 occupations that remain to this day, 1 being Cattle Ranching that need ranch hands and the other is Dry Farming. This style of farming which depleted the fertility of the soil over several decades finally made the costs to raise and harvest a crop to expensive leaving soil that once grew Wheat and Barley to revert back to grazing land. So Parkfield was left to languish in the backwaters of southern Monterey County “out of site out of mind” to the point that Paso Robles our shopping town 37 miles to the South West. If you asked many of its residents in town what they new about Parkfield the answer would probably be “where the hell is Parkfield”?
Parkfield never quite became a ghost town but there were times when deeds to some of its town lots were used for chips in a Poker game. Our grammar school stayed open and reading, writing and arithmetic were still the most important part of the curriculum. The Cal Fire station opened its doors for each fire season and rodeos were still a part of life in this Cowboy town. They were only held occasionally as were dances in the town hall, because Parkfield had become a town that would produce a Rodeo or dance “now and then” between Cat Naps that lasted for 95 years. It could also be awakened every now and then when “The rumor mill” talked about new money coming to town in search of Oil or that somebody was going to reopen the Patriquin Quicksilver Mine. But in 1981 Philips Petroleum actually came to town and leased up the mineral rights on a large share of the Cholame Valley and then picked a sight on our V6 Ranch to drill. With modern equipment that could go deeper supposedly to where the oil was and then to spend about $1,000,000 drilling under very difficult conditions to find a pocket of pressurized Salt Water by Natural Gas that had a very short life and Philips Petroleum had had enough. They pulled up stacks with their wallet somewhat lighter never to be seen again and ending all rumors that Parkfield would now wear 2 crowns, 1 for earthquakes and 1 for oil. So our town yawned and went back to sleep to have the longest decline in population of any Californian town, lasting from its Zenith year of 1899 to the middle 90ties about 95 years when “our town” reached a sustainable number of 18 citizens which can fluctuate a little when there is a birth or a death.
(End of part 3)
1854 finds William, Charles, and Edwin Imus living in Santa Cruz, California and for reasons known only to the Imus brothers the life of a beach boy or fisherman was getting old and they all agreed that it was “time for a change.” The three boys agreed that their future was waiting for them about 150 miles South, in the Cholame Valley of South Eastern Monterey County. Not wanting anymore sand in their shoes, the 3 boys saddled up their horses and loaded all their belongs onto a packhorse and headed East over the Pacheco Pass, then southward down the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. The trip must have taken a couple of weeks to reach Jacalitos Canyon. Then heading West climbing toward Mustang Saddle elevation 3500 feet and their lying before them in all it’s splendor was the beautiful Cholame Valley. To get to modern day Parkfield they descend 2000 feet to what was then a summer Yokut Indian village as there was year around water in the Little Cholame creek and thousands of Valley Oaks with their annual autumn crop of Acorns, a necessary part of the Yokut Indians diet. Maybe because Parkfield was already spoken for and reason known only to the Imus boys this was not their promised land. So they journeyed on following the Big Cholame Creek another 5 miles to the North and found a fertile plot of land to raise their cattle and horses and gave it the name of Imusdale.
The Imus boys were left pretty much to themselves except for a few San Miguel Mission Indians that brought cattle into the Cholame Valley to graze for awhile and then to move on. So the boys, for the most part, were left to their solitary lives that suited them just fine. 1862 Abraham Lincoln was our president and was committed to ending slavery and not allowing the United States of America to dissolve, was fully engaged with the Great American Civil War. But part of Lincoln ‘s domestic program was to sign The Homestead Act into law. This act granted to the applicant, 160 acres of land if he worked the land for 5 years and built a place to live. This Homestead Act would encourage the settling of the West and was this Act that started the Homestead era in The Cholame Valley. A Mr. Wm. Murley thought to be the first settler after the Imus boys to file the first Homestead claim in the valley.
It’s hard to believe but on February 28, 1874, 20 years after their arrival, five parcels of land belonging to the Imus brothers were sold at public auction for delinquent taxes by the Monterey County sheriff for the sum total of $508.28. This amount became the purchase price for 1529 acres and was sold to Mr. Francis Dowd. Doing the math you get $.33 cents per acre!! This sale of their land holdings must have not set to well and with the end of open range when Barbed Wire was introduced into the Valley by a neighbor, was the last straw. 1876 finds Charles and Edwin Imus 2 of the 3 brothers gathering their Devon cattle horses and belongings for the second time and this time they drive their herd to Camp Willows, Arizona.
(End of part 2)
Parkfield, Mmmmmm let’s see, what are we famous for?
Well we are the Earthquake Capital of the World, where Geologists from many different parts of these United States come to study all the little jerks and quivers that are always happening along The San Andres Fault but what I think most Geologists hope for is “to be hear when happens” so they can put on their resumé that “I experienced a big one.”
I’ll start with the Shakers of the 20th Century that are worth talking about. They’re the ones that if there was a Richter Scale they probably would have measured from a low of 6 to almost 7. The 20th Century had barely got started when in 1901 the Cholame Valley with all its 900 souls that call Parkfield its capital got hit by an Earthquake that shook chimneys hard enough to remove them from many houses and to keep several Brick Masons busy for a month or two building new ones. 1922 with chimneys now made of sterner stuff and houses made of boards and nails that would just creak and groan when struck by an earthquake were struck by a quake that hit in the middle of the night. It was measured by one old time Cowboy, who remarked the next morning “I needed my spurs to keep from getting Bucked off my bed.”
June 7, 1934 arrived and our community hall was all lit up with Colman gas lanterns, as electricity had not yet arrived in Parkfield. That wouldn’t happen till 1949. These lanterns put out lots of light needed for the annual end of school year play. The play was in progress and it was about 8 P.M. when the foreshock arrived. It sure got everyones attention and brought the program to a halt for several minutes. Then someone in the audience said, “The big one always comes first, let’s get on with the play.” The audience agreed with cheering and clapping so the actors took their places and on went the play. Somebody must have been looking at their watch because 17 minutes later the real one hit and the best guess was of a high 6 on The Richter scale. It tossed people and chairs around and broke the Mantels in the gas lights which turned out the lights. Well, no one was hurt and being a resilient lot it was decided in true Show business fashion that the show would go on! After putting new mantels in the lanterns the lights came on and the children finished the play and then took their bows and everybody agreed a school play to remember.
June 27, 1966. Zee and I and our now 4 kids were enjoying our 5th year on the V6 ranch. It was evening time and I was talking on the telephone to a friend in Palo Alto California when it hit. I believe I said “oh sh*t we’re having a real Earthquake” and at about that moment our kitchen cabinet broke open and dishes flew everywhere. Nobody was hurt and our wood frame house went threw it unscathed but the aftershocks got kind of old and some what unnerving. They lasted for several weeks. This earthquake caught the attention of the U.S.Geological Survey and in 1967 they started to monitor the San Andreas Fault because there was enough history that maybe the wait time to experience an earthquake was thought to be reasonable. (1857,1881,1901,1922,1934,
(End of Part 1)
Zee and I are in Las Vegas for our annual trip to watch The National Finals Rodeo and take in some of the sights, sounds and due a little people watching on the Las Vegas Strip. But while laying in bed till midmorning, at our Treasure Island Hotel room. I flicked on the boob tube to get a dose of fake news, or better yet, try to sort out the real news from the fake. Megan Kelly is on the tube interviewing some lady that is pontificating about an alleged time when she was Groped some 20 odd years ago by “The Donald” our president, caretaker of your land and mine for the next 3 plus years.
You have to be a Republican to believe that our U.S.A. that we all hold title too, Is still the best place for a person to call home and for this to happen to the Demo’s according to a gaggle (meaning a lot) of Democratic Senators say “for this to happen we must first clean out the evil doers by giving lip service to the fact that a person in our 50 states is innocent until proven guilty.” So with the flag of Political Correctness flying high over their camp it was necessary to start with one of their own kind. The first good old boy to go was Senator Al Franken and under the bus he went without a chance to defend his honor or lack there of. Now with this miscreant gone, I’m sure the rest of our lawmakers that govern us are “spotless as the new blown snow, squeak-clean, above reproach, qualifying them now as worthy, to demand hearings to impeach President Trump.
Anyway, back to the interview, this Bimbo. Did I say that, that’s fake news but what is real news is the fact that she didn’t want anyone to come within 3 feet of her anymore without her permission and if by the tone of the interview. I can now extrapolate this view to mean it is also held by the general female populations. So if this is true, Houston I have a problem. What should I do with my wondering eyes, that are exposed to ever more cleavage and tight Tee Shirts with all kinds of messages written where my eyes dare not wander. This phenomenon will most likely agitate the imagination for some and could cause a perfectly descent sort to become a groper. In my day it went by the name of “to cop a feel” and a slap across the face was the punishment. But times they are a changing and a new penalty book is being written by Public Opinion as I write.
So let’s get back to factual news. I’ve got my pocket Tape Measure out to determine my arms length, which I find to be 2 feet. So, if I play by this ladies 3 foot rule a distance that disallows me from interacting with other humans spontaneously. Like putting my hand out to shake another’s hand or to give a pat on the back, or a hug, and making a kiss on the cheek definitely off limits.
But wait a minute I’ve got to remember that I’m in Las Vegas where “touchy feely” is a fine art. So is it necessary for Vegas to invoke the 3 foot rule? Anyway all these ladies that have come forward to expose many famous men for Groping have made some important demands on male society. I know that these demands are being heard by the “High and the Mighty” loud and clear as we have watched one member after another from their club, fall from grace.
How’s this for a starter list. Judge Roy Moore running for a Alabama senate seat, Matt Lauer Today show host, Senator Al Franken, Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein and all the yet to be discovered men who might have inherited to much Testosterone that might be reason enough for all to “bite the dust.” In this very toxic environment of today “a little dab will do you in”
So I think it’s about time we all take a deep breath and pause for awhile to let public opinion have a chance to bubble to the surface of reason and give us all some direction as to how we get out of this mess. ” How about being decent to one another” just a thought. So let’s move on now to the more important mundane, boring job of running a government or a business or how about doing a better job of running “our own lives.” But if “We The People” insist that there be more blood on the floor of the Boxing Ring of “he said she said” at some point rational people have to say enough of this Witch Hunt. Can it be enough when the last dirty rotten lout has been caught and properly castrated with a dull knife. I hope so. Wow!!! If this cleansing is not enough then we have moved into a new realm called the Nonsense Revolution whose rallying cry shall be “Give me, No-sense before Common Sense.”
P.S. Just a reminder “what you think about me is none of my business.”
‘You are not safe’ is a poster that popped up all over Seattle today 9/27/2017 according to our local channel 6 news broadcast. Then the national news with Lester Holt says that food allergies for adults are on the rise. And just in, on our local news is a course on bike safety for the younger set. All of this barrage of worry news in just the first half hour of 2 hours of ” ain’t it awful news.” So what do you get from this bombardment of unsettling news? If you’re lucky and are endowed with an attitude that says I’m healthy until I’ve got a temperature and my Doctor says you need one of these pills and some rest. But if you’re not grounded with a healthy attitude then I suspect if I went to your house and looked into your medicine cabinet it would be completely full of every conceivable elixir. After taking a handful of these pills you’d feel better until you happen to pass your T.V. set, on your way out the door. But wait a minute, one of your favorite daytime Soaps stops you. The doctor is telling some poor soul that he has some incurable disease and in the blink of an eye you have all the same symptoms and that feel good feeling is gone and you’re left wondering if you’ll see another day tomorrow.
Hypochondriac, a person who is abnormally anxious about their health, add to that a constant stream of slogans to keep you safe BE CAREFUL, WATCH OUT, DON’T GET HURT, WHAT YOU’RE DOING IS DANGEROUS and I’m sure there are many more warnings that are meant to be helpful but there is a cost. For many it’s a start to a learned behavior that begins with what can go wrong instead of what can go right. Life becomes a constant game of dodging every predicament because taking a risk might uncover a broken body hidden in your mind.
What a terrible way to live a life. I know because I’m a recovering Hypochondriac that made each day a day spent escaping death. So how did I start to break this life draining habit ? Remember habits are learned and can be broken. The best time to begin is now, so for starters how about not washing your hands next time you feel the urge and pass up the hand sanitizer at your local grocery store then sing a few bars of your favorite feel good song while all the time your wearing a smile.