April 2010 Issue Explore Historic California - Magazine for Enthusiasts










Room 8-The Most Famous Cat in Los Angeles




Sky high gas prices along with sluggish economic conditions have severely impacted our tour business for over a year.

We have reluctantly decided to suspend our tour operations for the time being.

Our sincere thanks and appreciation to all who continue to support us.

LOGO T Shirts Available


Explore Historic California with our  logo depicting the California backcountry and its rich history both true and farce.

We now offer shirts, sweats, jerseys and cups with our logo.

Click the shirt for details!


Friends of Last Chance Canyon is a new organization interested in sustaining and protecting areas within the El Paso Mountains, near Ridgecrest, California. The main focus is preserving and protecting historic sites like Burro Schmidt's tunnel and the Walt Bickel Camp.

Please click on either logo to visit the FLCC site.

We support


Join us at the 14th annual Moose Anderson Days

Saturday-Sunday April 24-25 at Jawbone Station 

Get a collectable t-shirt and help clean up the desert Saturday morning and early afternoon and enjoy a free lunch and prizes afterward.

Join our 4x4 tour Sunday morning ($10 if you worked Saturday, $30 if you didn't).

Click on the moose logo below to download a PDF registration form. Fill out and mail to PO Box 1902 Cantil CA 93519 or email to Jawbone@Wildblue.net

All participants must pre- register to receive a t-shirt and participate in the 4x4 tour.

Please register by April 15, 2010.

Contact Jawbone Station, 760-373-1146 for additional information.


Support Room 8's charitable legacy by donating to the Room 8 Memorial Cat Foundation or adopting one of their cats.

Click on Room 8's photo or phone

951-361-2205 for more information.

Mules can taste the difference--so can you



The Panamint Breeze is a newsletter for people who love the rough and rugged deserts and mountains of California and beyond.

Published by Ruth and Emmett Harder, it is for people who are interested in the history of mining in the western states; and the people who had the fortitude to withstand the harsh elements.

It contains stories of the past and the present; stories of mining towns and the colorful residents who lived in them; and of present day adventurers.

Subscriptions are $20 per year (published quarterly – March, June, September & December) Subscriptions outside the USA are $25 per year. All previous issues are available. Gift certificates are available also.

To subscribe mail check (made payable to Real Adventure Publishing) along with name, address, phone number & e-mail address to:  Real Adventure Publishing, 18201 Muriel Avenue, San Bernardino, CA 92407.

For more information about the Panamint Breeze e-mail Ruth at:  echco@msn.com


It's always FIRE SEASON! Click the NIFC logo above to see what's burning.



Click on the bag to find out how.


Visit Michael Piatt's site, www.bodiehistory.com, for the truth behind some of Bodie's myths.

Terri Geissinger is a Bodie area Historian, Guide and Chautauquan. A long time resident who lives in Bodie and Smith Valley, she is dedicated to preserving stories of the pioneer families, miners, ranchers and teamsters. Click the photo for information on her tours with the Mono Lake Committee.

Back to the past in California City--Wimpy's!

8209 California City Blvd.,
California City, 93505

Hey Brother,

Can 'Ya

Spare a Job?

The nation's economic downturn has severely affected the newspaper industry. My job of nearly 30 years was eliminated several months ago.

I'm actively looking for full or part time job opportunities within my diverse skill set.

If you have, or know of any openings, please contact me through this CONTACT  link.




Explore Historic California!

     Not too many years ago, the family station wagon was the magic carpet to adventure. Today, that family station wagon is likely to be a four wheel drive sport utility vehicle or pick up truck. SUV's and other 4x4's are one of the best selling classes of vehicles. Ironically, industry statistics show that once purchased, few owners will dare to drive their vehicles off the paved highway.

     Click your mouse through the website and enjoy our armchair adventures and the histories behind them.



Traveling Through Time

On This Day in History

by Cecile Page Vargo

It was a quiet day in the little house on McVine Street.  Aidan and his brother Reed were bored.

“Let’s watch a movie!” McVine Mommy said, and called the boys over to their vast collection to look it over.  One by one they went through the movies…but the boys shook their heads.  Nothing interested them.

“Let’s play a game!” McVine Mommy said, but once again after going through a long list of games. Aidan and Reed just shook their heads and looked bored.

“I know!  Let’s go play in the fort!  We could bring our lasers and protect it from the doppelgangers and dragons!” Aidan said.

McVine Mommy looked hopefully from Aidan to Reed, and saw a glimmer of a smile form on Reed’s face. While they went to search for their lasers, and a cool costume to wear….she went to the kitchen to prepare a snack for them to take out to the fort.  Little boys always need a good snack to be able to have the strength to carry their laser properly when preparing to go out and slay doppelgangers and dragons!

McVine Mommy took two brown paper lunch bags and filled them with a pbj sandwich, sliced carrots, and an oatmeal and raisin cookie. She took a marker and put happy faces on the outside of each bag, and wrote R E E D on one and A I D A N on the other. She folded the top of the bag down three times to make a little handle and by the time she was done…there stood Aidan and Reed, each with a cape, rubber boots, a helmet, and a laser belt with the laser tucked in it. They each had big smiles on their faces like the happy faces that were on their lunch bags.

Reed grabbed the bag that had the letters R E E D on it and Aidan grabbed the one that said A I D A N on it. They went towards the door to the backyard. Reed put his hand on the door knob and started to twist it to open the door, and just as he did a big flash of light lit up the window in the door. Ten seconds later the rumble followed, and the little house on McVine Street rattled with the noise. Huge drops of water began following from the sky, slowly at first, then another flash of light and another rumble and the large drops of water started falling from the sky so fast and hard it was as if someone was throwing a bucket over the house. Then suddenly it started raining what looked like frozen white peas. For five minutes it rained those little white peas then it went back to large continuous drops of water and more flashes of light followed by rumbles that shook the house.

“Uh oh!” Mc Vine Mommy said.

“Uh oh!”  Aidan said.

“Uh oh!”  Reed said.

The smiles on Aidan’s and Reeds faces turned to frowns.

“Come on, this is a good time for a picnic!”  McVine Mommy smiled.

“A picnic?” said Reed with a big question mark.

 “In the rain?”  said Aidan, his nose crumpling into a funny face.

“Sure,”  McVine Mommy continued to smile, as she went to a drawer in one of the kitchen cupboards and pulled out a green and white checked table cloth.  She took the table cloth and put over the big round coffee table in front of the living room sofa. She put two big pillows at the table pointed for each boy to sit there. She grabbed a potted plant from a window and put in the middle of the table…”See, we’ve even got a little tree to sit by.”

Aidan jumped up and ran to his room.  He was gone a few minutes, leaving McVine Mommy and Reed with puzzled looks on their faces.  When he came back, he was carrying a quartz rock. He sat it beside the potted plant, and grinned. 

“Why, Aidan!  How clever of you! It’s beginning to look more and more like we’re outside isn’t it!  Before we start eating…what else could we decorate our table with that would make it look like outside?”

The boys sat there with the chins rested on their fists, deep in thought.  Reed got up quietly with a serious look on his face.  He went to a basket where there were games and toys. He searched through it, until he came up with a plastic red ant, three inches in size.  He grabbed it and appropriately sat it on the round table next to the rock and the potted plant. 

“Very good Reed!” McVine Mommy clapped her hands in delight!

“Now we have an ant for a picnic!” Reed said.

Aidan had already opened his lunch bag and was unwrapping the pbj that McVine Mommy had made for him. He had just started to take a huge bite out of it when Reed brought in the ant. Now, he was tearing off a corner of the bread and making crumbs rolling it in between his fingers, getting crumbs all over the table.

“Aidan, you’re responsible for any messes you make, you know,”  McVine Mommy warned.

He brushed the crumbs into a pile closer to the big red ant, and said, “Look! The ant has stolen crumbs for his lunch!” 

“Hahaha!  Lunch for the ant!  We have one big hungry ant with a lot of little crumbs! What do you think of that Reed?”  asked McVine Mommy.

Reed nodded his head up and down real big.  He grabbed his own sandwich, and made a few crumbs out of it for the plastic red ant, then he said, “Hurry up, let’s start eating before the ants take over our pbj’s!”

The boys devoured their pbj’s, and laughed about their funny outdoor/indoor picnic. McVine Mommy found a couple of ceramic birds on a book shelf and put on top of the rock.  Then she pulled up a pillow and watched the boys eat. Outside the lightening and thunderstorm had passed and a gentle rain was watering the lawn and garden of their little house on McVine Street.  The stereo had been turned on and nature noises were coming out of the speakers birds crickets waterfall sounds filled the inside, drowning the pitter patter of the rain outside. 

“Mom, the picnic was fun!  But we’re still bored!” the boys cried out almost at that same time.

“Well, I don’t know what to say. You couldn’t find a game. You couldn’t find a video and the rain washed away the dragons and the doppelgangers outside by your fort. What else could there be to do?

Maybe we should take a little nap and then when we wake up you might change your mind about a video?”

“Awe, Mom!” 

 Suddenly the room was jolted with lightening and thunder again. The lights flickered on and off and the sounds of the nature from the stereo stopped completely with the confusion.

“We’re too scared to take a nap, now!” Reed said.

McVine Mommy thought real hard for a few minutes…then went to the bookcase and started looking through the books.

“What about a story?  This one looks interesting, it’s about a Time Machine.”

The boys quickly cleaned up their lunch, leaving the rest of their picnic in place on the big round coffee table. When they were done, they curled up on the sofa, one on each side of McVine Mommy. “Once upon a time there was a professor,” she began like most stories do, but before she could get the rest of the sentence out the most humongous rumble of thunder yet, shook the house like an earthquake.

The lights flickered back and forth again until they went out and the living room was completely dark. Another quick and short rumble shook the house and suddenly the flat screen tv came on all by itself.

 McVine Mommy, Aidan and Reed just stared in shock at the tv. McVine Mommy found the remote and tried to turn it off.  The satellite wasn’t working and it was just a blue fuzzy screen with no tv show and no sound. But the big tv had a mind of it’s own and refused to turn off. Fog started coming out of the tv screen and filling the room around them. A faint image of a man beckoned to them. Reed put his face to the screen and stared into it for a long time.  Then suddenly, he was pulled into the tv screen and disappeared.

Aidan and McVine Mommy didn’t know what to do. They called and called Reed’s name., but the screen was just blue and fuzzy and smoking out more fog. The man’s face and his whispery voice had disappeared.

“Mom!  Mom!” cried Aidan,”We’ve got to get Reed!  We’ve got to step into the tv screen and go after him!”

“But how?” McVine Mommy asked.

“Here, take my hand!” Aidan yelled, and pulled her as close to the screen as possible and in a flash Aidan and McVine Mommy were sucked into the blue fuzzy screen just like Reed had been.

 “Mom!  Mom! Look it’s a time machine!”  cried Aidan.  And sure enough just like the picture there was a time machine and a professor and “Oh My Gosh!  Ittttttsssss a DddddddInosaur!” McVine Mommy cried out.

“Don’t worry, Mom!  The dinosaur is friendly!” Reed said, as he patted the giant lizard shaped dino.

“Oh my!” McVine Mommy exclaimed as she watched Aidan join his brother patting the dinosaur.  The professor beside the dinosaur smiled beneath his moustache, and offered her his hand.  “Professor Higgedybottom here, “

“Mr. Higg,  uh Professor, Higgedybottom. How nice to meet you!  Are we really way back in dinosaur time?” McVine Mommy asked as her hand grabbed his in a friendly handshake.

“Oh yes we are!”  He knocked on the metal of the igloo shaped time machine.  “Step inside if you please. There’s room for all of us, minus Mr. Saur.”  He laughed a big belly laugh.

“Oh can we Mom?” the boys asked in unison.

“Well….” She paused for a moment weighing the options, “We’re already further back in time than I had ever imagined, so why not!”

Inside the time machine they all went. Professor Higgedybottom pointed to a digital screen with numbers.  “What time are you interested in?  Just pick a date!  And one pull of this lever we’re there!”

The boys took turns punching in random numbers without any thought.  The time machine rumbled and shook like the thunderstorm had that started their day, then everything blacked out and it was quiet. Red emergency lights blinked on and the door to the time machine magically opened. Professor Higgedybottom cautiously looked before his first step outside and then motioned for the McVine family to follow him.

The great mountains that towered above their little valley were still there, but the tight rows of suburban houses were gone. There were patches of thorny shrubs here and there, lots of sandy dirt with rocks scattered here and there where the McVine house had stood. Oak trees were seen in the distance, and patchwork quilt squares of citrus trees and various crops could be seen all up and down the valley. A few ranch houses and cabins dotted the land.  

A great gush of water could be heard running down the nearby canyon. Cows were heard mooing in nearby pastures, and the howl of coyotes bounced off of Camelback Mountain in the distance.   The year was 1903.

“Clip clop, clip clop, clipppity clippity clip clip clop, jingle jangle jingle jangle jingle jangle” and a cloud of dust interrupted the peaceful scene, as an unusual looking wagon came down a dirt trail out of one of the northeastern canyons. Strains of an old hymn could be heard in a robust male and female voice.  Aidan, Reed and McVine Mommy joined in the singing as the sounds got closer.

 I’ve wandered far away from God,
Now I’m coming home;
The paths of sin too long I’ve trod,
Lord, I’m coming home.

Coming home, coming home,
Nevermore to roam,
Open wide Thine arms of love,
Lord, I’m coming home.”

 Welcome to the vale of Monte Vista!” the man at the reins of the wagon hollered out as he spotted the little group and their igloo shaped contraption. He didn’t question anything, but raised his hands to the sky and shouted “It’s a glorious day! Come celebrate with us in the oak grove tomorrow morning at sunrise! The missus and I will be there to greet you and guide you in the ways of the Lord!  It’s our first Sunday service in the oak grove tomorrow at sunrise. You will see our tent.”

“Pastor Wornom, perhaps?”  McVine Mommy asked.

“Why yes, and this is Jenny,” he pointed to his wife.

‘We’d love to come” said Professor Higgedybottom, “but we’ve got a lot of ground to cover before the sun sets on this day.”

“Why don’t you settle down with us until after the service?” the Pastor asked.

McVine Mommy looked hopefully at the Professor, as the boys giggled at the funny house shaped wagon, and petted the horses.

Higgedybottom grumbled, “No, .no. Would like to, but we can’t linger more than an hour or two and there’s so much more we need to see.”

“We’ll be sorry to miss you!” the Pastor said, as he tipped his hat, and directed the horses on.

Aidan, and Reed, and McVine Mommy waved Parson and Jenny on, then turned back to the professor to see he was already back in the time machine.  Afraid of being left behind, she hurried to join him.

“Well that was interesting, but a bit dull. Pick another time, boys, and maybe we’ll have a bit more of an adventure next time.”

Again, Aidan and Reed punched in random numbers. McVine Mommy pulled the lever, and everyone braced themselves for the rumbling and shaking until the blackout came and the red lights started blinking and they were in another time again. Reed grabbed the door to the time machine and opened it this time. He could barely see, for the buckets of water coming down from the sky.

“Rain!  More rain!”  Aidan cried. “Why is there always rain?”

“No need to let a little rain stop us.” said Professor Higgedybottom as he grabbed a huge umbrella and said, “Let’s go!”  Fortunately, the umbrella was large enough to cover all of their heads if they closely huddled together. 

There was still nothing on the property the little family lived on, except now everything was muddy from the rain and the roar of water from the canyon was louder than ever. Lightening and thunder occasionally rumbled the ground and lit up the sky.

McVine Mommy looked a little frightened.  “Professor Higgedybottom - it doesn’t look really safe out here. Shouldn’t we go back?”

“Oh, I think we’ll be fine!” he replied, “The boys seem to be enjoying it, too!”

“But we can’t even see!” she said.

“Yes, Mommy!  We can!  Look there’s blue sky over there!” said Reed.

“And a rainbow!”  said Aidan.

“Anyone want to go look for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?” asked the Professor.

“We do! We do!” the boys shouted in unison.

“Well, ”  said McVine Mommy, ”I don’t know.”

The storm suddenly stopped, and more blue sky appeared overhead.  Everyone gave pleading looks at her.  “All right, let’s look for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!” she smiled.

Aidan and Reed started romping through the mud, laughing as they went. Higgedybottom and McVine Mommy trailed behind at a slower pace, more careful of the mud and puddles everywhere.  They followed the sounds of the rushing water to the mouth of the canyon.

“Why look! It’s a river!  A real river!” McVine Mommy said.  “Not all tamed like it is in 2010.”

Before anyone could say another word, the wind came up along with more dark clouds. The rainbow disappeared. The river appeared to be widening fast and furious and the little foursome could barely scramble to higher ground in time.

They watched in amazement at the rocks and debris and the mudflow rapidly coming down the canyon. The clouds lifted once again and the sun was bright and warm and the sky was blue.

“A really gully washer! That’s for sure!” said Aidan.

“Wish we had a boat!” said Reed.

“Oh, no, I don’t think that a boat is a safe idea, ” said McVine Mommy.

“Now, where’s your sense of adventure?” asked Professor Higgedybottom with a twinkle in his eye. He motioned for them to follow him to a smaller branch of the river.  “This could be fun!”  He reached inside his lab coat, and his rather large stomach disappeared as he pulled out a huge package.

He opened it up, pulled a ripcord, and a rubber raft appeared before their very eyes.  Aidan and Reed jumped on first, then the Professor, and after some convincing, McVine Mommy. 

“Whooopeeee!” the boys shouted, as a wind caught their raft and started pulling them along the gentler stream. Light waves turned to rapid as they found themselves a part of the main river once again. Reed looked back to see where they had been, and his eyes grew larger and larger in amazement. Try as he might, his voice wouldn’t come out, but he tapped on his Aidan’s shoulder and pointed.  “Proooofffffesssor!!!!!” Aidan shouted, ”What is that?”

After one quick look,  Higgedybottom practically tipped the boat in his excitement. 
“Proof at last!” he shouted.  “It’s Nessie! Let’s see if we can get this raft ashore somehow and take a look!”

It took some doing without paddles, but the rapids had leveled out and they managed to dock the little raft and get out.  Everyone was muddy and dripping wet, but in good spirits. Except for McVine Mommy, who was now pointing up the river again where Higgedybottom's “Nessie” was fast approaching.

Aidan saw his chance, and just as the legendary water monster passed, he reached his arms out and tried to latch on to her giant scaly tail.  Higgedybottom outguessed the boy and grabbed on to Aidan before he could touch Nessie. The boy wiggled and screamed in disappointment, while McVine Mommy and Reed watched in amazement.  Nessie suddenly stopped floating down with the rapids, and found her way to the shore. She beached herself there, bellowing in lonely disappointment. 

“Come on,”  Reed said, as he began to go down and see Nessie for himself.

“Now just wait, Reed!” The professor cried out!  “I’ve dealt with Nessie before, and she can be as tame as can be, but you never know what her mood might be!”

Reed stopped in his tracks, and McVine Mommy let out a scream. Badwater Nessie was up on her feet and coming towards them as fast as her weight would let her. And she didn’t look like she was in a good mood. The massive roar she made proved it.  

Professor Higgedybottom gathered the McVine family towards him and told them huddle around him tightly.  He opened up his massive umbrella just as a wind came through, yelled “Hang on tight!” and off they flew just as Nessie was ready to charge them.

Away with the wind, Higgedybottom, McVine Mommy, Aidan and Reed flew, holding on tightly to each other and the umbrella. The beautiful little valley below, dotted with ranches, groves, and crops, and little houses here and there got smaller and smaller as they flew.

There were new rivers and streams and mud debris flows changing much of the landscape. But there was also sunshine and another beautiful rainbow.  They followed the rainbow, still in flight holding to each other and the umbrella.  When they got to the end of the rainbow, the umbrella began descending and finally landed. They were back at the professor's igloo shaped time machine.

“Whew!  That was close!” said Professor Higgedybottom.  “You don’t want to mess with Nessie when she’s like that! We’re also running out of time. We need to go back into the time machine.” He opened the door, and one by one McVine Mommy, Reed, Aidan, got inside. 

“I think it’s time to go back home!” McVine Mommy said. 

But it was too late. The door to the time machine was shut and Aidan had already punched in another year. Again the rumbling and shaking and the blackout resumed and the red lights blinked on and the door automatically opened. As they peeked carefully outside all they could see were wildflowers and a white picket fence.

“What year did you punch, Aidan?”  asked McVine Mommy.  “Where are we?”

Aidan turned and looked at the numbers. They read 1897.  It was quiet and beautiful. Poppies, blue dicks, dandelions, and more were blowing in a gentle breeze. There were no people, no animals, no buildings, no weather. Just flowers and flowers and flowers and the white picket fence. 

“It’s dinner time!  We could have a real picnic here!” McVine Mommy suggested.

Professor Higgedybottom looked at his watch. "No, not enough time. We need to get back to 2010. I have an important date in ten minutes!”

He pulled everyone back into the time machine, closed the door.  “I’ll set the date” he announced, and the shaking and rumbling and darkness started all over again.

Reed opened his eyes and found himself sitting on a park bench. Leaning against him was his brother Aidan, sound asleep. On another park bench a few feet away sat McVine Mommy and her friend Cecile. Cecile was reading the last few words out of a book,   “And on this SITE in 1897, nothing happened, ” she said, as she closed the book. 

A rusty sign with big letters hung on an old weathered fence next to the benches.  In big letters it said “ON THIS SITE IN 1897 NOTHING HAPPENED”. Behind the sign was a field of wildflowers. Reed elbowed his brother to wake him, just as Professor Higgedybottom came up the walkway.

“Oh look,” said Cecile.  “There’s Roger. I’ll bet the bbq is on and it’s almost time to eat! Let’s join him and your dad in the backyard!”

“Bbbbuttt, that’s not Roger! That’s Professor Higgedybottom!”  both boys cried out at exactly the same time.

“Now boys, ” McVine Mommy shook her head.

Roger and Cecile just laughed.




Cerro Gordo Update

Cerro Gordo is Closed to Visitors

Cerro Gordo's American Hotel (center) and nearby buildings are surrounded by a blanket of snow.

The town of Cerro Gordo is officially closed at this time - until further notice.

However, the road is a County Road, and pictures of the buildings may be taken from the road.

There is absolutely no trespassing off the road. A caretaker is on site, so please observe the no trespassing.

Please do not hesitate to contact Sean Patterson at:

Cell phone: 661-303-3692 or

Email address: sean@smpatterson.com

Stay tuned to this website or our Facebook page for updates on Cerro Gordo's status.





explorehistoricalif.com Copyright © 2010, All Rights Reserved.                           Powered by ebray.net