Sunday, August 31, 2014

Part II of Californy

So we climbed aboard the ferry at 6 PM and headed back to Long Beach and the Queen Mary, arriving there a little after seven. The tour members were now on their own until 11 AM Sunday. We took a break in the room and proceeded to the Chowder House on the Promenade Deck where we ate another sumptuous meal although the Wife was disappointed in her shrimp scampi. She said it should have been called shrimp scamper due to lack of shrimp. My dinner was fine.

We slept late Sunday Morn, getting up about 6:30 and headed for the free buffet breakfast again. (Included in the tour fee.) Some of the group took the self-guided tour of the ship, but we looked into a couple of shops and bought inexpensive souvenirs for the family and killed time until it was time to board the bus again. Instead of heading home we were transported to the inland waterways of Naples which actually make up a channel to the ocean and are small channels around the small islands. Included in out tour was a gondola ride through these waterways with expensive houses and boats lining the banks. The gondolas were rowed by two young men each and one on our gondola was from Italy. He serenaded us and related some of the transactions of the housing market as he rowed along. They were in the millions of dollars per house, even the small ones ran around three million simoleons. This little side trip took about two hours with the loading and unloading and we headed for an In-n-Out Burger place in the area and ate lunch or took lunch with us on the bus. The gondolas were fun and everyone seemed to enjoy the ride.

Heading out of town and home, we ran into the first pinch on the road. I-10 was shut down due to a fatal accident near Quartzite and the traffic was backed up to just west of Blythe, miles, in other words. The highway was re-opened about 6:30 or 7 and we were delayed about three hours, inching along the freeway. The bus made a stop at Chiriaco Summit before we ran into this mess, thank the Lord. We finally made it into Buckeye where the second pinch arose. All this traffic had to squeeze into one lane due to construction in the area and we arrived at the stop in Buckeye about 10 or 10:30 PM. Oh, yes, we didn't get to stop at the Naked Man Bookstore in Quartzite.

Other than that, a fine time was had by all, and we reached home about midnight, which was way beyond our bedtime.

Now that we're rested, we're ready for another tour.  

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Out of Town Further West

The Wife and I took a bus tour over the weekend to Californy, Long Beach to be exact, for two nights on the Queen Mary. The trip there was uneventful and if it wasn't for the tour guide, boring. David, the guide, kept us entertained with questions and historical facts about the desert and mountains along I-10. I would guess the average age of the old people on the bus was somewhere in the 70's, and they were a pretty lively old bunch.

Prior to checking into the Queen Mary, there was a stop to visit the Long Beach Aquarium and stretch our laigs, and ankles, and hips. We got rid of some of the kinks and wandered around looking at the sea life - amazing, it was. We went on to the Queen and found our rooms, which weren't bad for a ship, lotsa wood and old equipment all over and you still had your choice of water, salt or fresh, in the shower. The salt water was shut off, of course, which was a good thing in my mind. I hadn't found anything therapeutic in the salt water showers on the Navy ships and couldn't believe they used to advertise salt water as being healthy and great for the skin and body. We hit the sack after partaking of a sumptuous meal in the Promenade Cafe. I didn't know that a hamburger could cost $15, but there it was and the other menu items equally as pricey. The guide had already told us that the Sir Winston was fairly exclusive, requiring dressing up, which was out of the question with the clothes we brought. We also received a brochure about the ship with a diagram of the layout in case you should get dis-oriented, and there would be free time to explore the ship on Sunday morning.

Saturday came too soon, and the party headed for Catalina Island for the day on the Catalina Express, which made the 26 miles in about an hour and arrived there about 9 AM. Tour-wise the only things scheduled were a trip on a glass-bottom boat at 11and a bus tour of the city of Avalon and part of the island at 2 PM. I enjoyed both, never seen so many damned fish up close or so much damned kelp, either. The two-man crew was very helpful and caring, helping us old-timers on and off. The Captain was almost an old friend. He said his father had a tattoo like mine and served on the aircraft carrier ESSEX during the Korean War, so we were practically family, except I was never on a carrier, let alone the ESSEX. Anyway, as sea stories go, he was pretty good at it.

The bus tour, after a nice, slow lunch of a garden salad with chicken for me and shrimp salad for the better half, was even more interesting. Hell, I never had an inkling there had been cowboys on Catalina and there wasn't, as far as I had been told. But, by golly, there was the Zane Grey Hotel on the hillside. The Great Western Writer, Zane Grey, had been there to film The Vanishing American and had brought along fourteen buffaloes to use in the film. And the story goes after the filming was over, only seven were shipped back to the mainland. They couldn't find the others and pretty soon they had to do something to get rid of some of them. It seems that Catalina was just fine for over-producing buffaloes. Some of you already knew this, didn't ya? So, Mr.Grey liked it so much  that he built this big house on the hillside which was later turned into a hotel. But the folks who stayed there had to be careful since there wasn't any room numbers (and still that way). The rooms are named after his book titles.

Out of town on the bus was a few tight curves and narrow roads and the Catalina Island Fox, which we heard plenty about since it was near extinction before the Conservationists took it under control and began producing more. Two Harbors on the other side of the isle is where all the action takes place, the Yacht Club being there. You have to be a member to get in there, though. Back to town, we went by Marilyn Monroe's house where she grew up, a small place stuck in between larger houses.

As far as books and bookstores, we didn't see anything but the library.



Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hybrid Author

Your attention is respectfully directed to the Terry Burns Post at From the Heart blog in the column on the right. Terry defines and discusses the "Hybrid" author. I gather from it that authors who go the traditional route and self-publishing, and write articles for various magazines and papers, would fit the description. I recommend you read the article and decide for yourself. Who knows? Maybe you are one!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Note About the Memoirs of John R. Young, Mormon Pioneer

I found the journal of John R. Young to be interesting in that he as a young boy writes about the Mormons being blasted out of their hometown of Nauvoo, Illinois, by the people who thought the Mormons were evil and demonic for building a beautiful little town out of nothing near the Mississippi River. And some of the people also believed the Mormons were devils and had horns on their heads. They killed their leader, Joseph Smith, in cold blood as he rested in a jail where the people of Illinois had put him for daring to start a new religion that didn't agree exactly with the way the people thought it should.

Anyway, Mr. Young relates the trials and tribulations from his perspective as the Mormons travel West in 1846-47. After finally reaching the area of the Great Salt Lake, they begin to build houses and another town, and Brigham Young, John R.'s uncle, sends his adherents on missions to other places in Utah to help settle the Territory and bring more people into the fold. John R. Young, at the tender age of sixteen, is called upon to go on a mission to the Sandwich Islands.  Under the guidance of the mission President, he and others are sent to the various islands to preach and proselytize. He doesn't know a single word of the Kanaka language, but within two weeks of landing on Maui, he has practically mastered it just from conversing with the natives. He describes in detail the times he spent preaching and talking to the people in Hawaii and the troubles he had from certain individuals. He returns to Utah, happy in his soul that he did everything within his power to enlarge the church.

He goes on to tell abut his marriages and his mission to England and Wales, the people he met there and the money he earned working to send a number of converts to Utah and his return. His problems with polygamy later on are described in detail, the narrow escapes, and his sojourn in Mexico. He had a total of four wives, one marriage only lasting about a year due to the death of that wife in childbirth. He loved deeply all of them and their kids and the wives loved each other, too. They lived for a while in Orderville, a town that was set up by Brigham Young as an experiment in Communism in the 1870's, where everyone was treated as equals in wages and everything else in the social order. After Brigham died, the town returned to the "normal" way of life.

Jacob Hamblin, the Missionary to the Indians, was sent to end the practice of the Utes of choosing a bride for a tribal member. They no longer fight over who is going to get the girl like they had become accustomed. Mr. Young was witness to one of these fights where an Indian selected a young girl to be his bride, but another Indian also wanted her - ergo the fight. One of them was bigger and stronger than the other, so more men were selected by the Chief to fight on one or the other's side, with about twenty on each side when the fight began. Some of the Indians fell into a creek along with the girl who was seen only by her long, black hair on the surface of the water and she was pulled out by a white man. This resulted in a fight between the first Indian who wanted the girl and the white man with the white man winning and dragging the girl to the other Indian. And they all started fighting again with the girl between the two main participants. Her brother saw that she was in terrible pain and suffering, so he jumped up and stabbed her in the chest and killed her. The brother took a stance and said that if anyone wanted to kill him, to go ahead, he wasn't afraid of dying. This ended that fight and the girl was given a funeral.

Mr. Young wrote fine tributes to three of his wives and was very poetic, writing poems as the urge hit him throughout his life, several of which are in his journal.  The end of his Memoirs, Chapters 36 and 37, consist of poems reflecting on his life, Brigham Young, and Utah, among other subjects.

Being reared as a Mormon, I found the Memoirs of John R. Young, to be interesting and educational, especially on the early years in the history of the Mormons.This book is available for free at Project Gutenberg.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Mister St. John by Loren D. Estleman

A crusty old man is hired by Pinkerton to round up the Buckner gang, who have been robbing banks and trains instead of doing honest work. This crusty old man, Irons St. John, was a famous lawman in the Oklahoma Indian Territory who for years had been rounding up the bad hombres and putting them before Judge Parker to receive justice. Mister St. John quit being a Peace Officer and ran for Congress and got trounced by his opponent. Enter the Pinkerton Agent Rawlings, who offered him the job of going after the Buckner gang for $20,000 and expenses.

St. John decides to take on the job and sets out hiring a couple of crusty old men, not necessarily friends, George American Horse, who was a Crow Indian, and Bill Edwards, a sharpshooter who was beginning to lose his eyesight and wore glasses now. These two men wee working in a Wild West Show when St. John contacted them. And then their was the Preacher that St. John thought he needed because of his pistol work, Midian Pierce, called Testament, who read the Bible most of the time and molested young girls when he thought he could get away with it. He was a blood-thirsty killer. St. John hired the Menendez brothers to go along on the ride. They were neither brothers or named Menendez, but cross-border thieves and killers.

A crusty and dirty bunch of lawmen, it was, that went looking for the Buckners, Merle, the cousin of Race, the other Buckner and outlaw, thievin' train and bank robber. And long with them was the crusty Killer and Thief, Jim Shirley, who fought in the war with Cuba and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions that lost both his hands. He buys an Indian woman, Woman Walking, who helps him recover from his loss of hands, and they devise a way for Shirley to shoot a gun with straps and a trigger device. He becomes well versed in the use of his pistol and becomes a permanent member of the gang along with the Indian.

The hunt is on and goes to Colorado to Wyoming and further down the road. St. John's men almost catch 'em, but they manage to get away again. And that's the way it goes down to the very last page with shoot-outs and long horseback rides in the snow and cold until it finally comes to an end, sort of.  There is a back story on almost everyone that's just as exciting and thrilling as the story going on with people getting killed and shot up and all.

A hard and hearty novel by Loren D. Estleman that keeps you going to the end to find out what's what and who wins out. This was Mr Estleman's seventh western of the many he has written. This edition was published by Fawcett Gold Medal in January 1985.       

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Tad More on the Great Salt Lake

During Fremont's explorations of of 1843, he had the opportunity to see the Great Salt Lake with his very own eyeballs and said a little about it.

"We were upon the waters of the famous lake which forms a salient point among the remarkable geographical features of the country, and around which the vague and superstitious accounts of the trappers had thrown a delightful obscurity . . hitherto  this lake had been seen only by trappers, who were wandering through the country in search of new beaver-streams, caring very little for geography; its islands had never been visited; and none had been found who had entirely made the circuit of the shores; and no instrumental observations or geographical survey of any description had ever been made anywhere in the neighboring region. It was generally supposed that it had no visible outlet; but among the trappers, including those in my own camp were many who believed that somewhere on its surface was a terrible whirlpool through which its waters found their way to the ocean by some subterranean communication . . . And my own mind had become tolerably well filled with their indefinite pictures, and insensibly colored with their romantic descriptions which in the pleasure of excitement, I was well disposed to believe, and half-expected to realize."

And Fremont even gets a little romantic by comparing his first view of the lake with Balboa discovering the Great Western Ocean. And he goes on about landing on an island and making camp, saying in his journal: "We felt pleasure in remembering that we were the first, who in the traditionary annals of the country, had visited the islands, and broken, with the cheerful sound of the human voices, the long solitude of the place."

Of course, they never found the whirlpool, but they did discover the solitude of the place on the island away from all the noise of  the Indians and other men of the party who remained in the main camp on shore.

They would really be amazed if they could see it a hundred and sixty years years later with all the mining operations on the south shore and the noise of the beachfront entertainment sites like Saltair and Blackrock and not far away the city of Salt Lake with its bustling trains and traffic sounds. 

Ref: The Founding of Utah by Levi Edgar Young and Memoirs of My Life by John Charles Fremont.


Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Tid-Bit of Utah History - Number Four

It was a tough competition, all right, and the competitors didn't even know they were competing. Which brings me to the question or brings the question to me, who was the first person to discover the Great Salt Lake? I thought it was someone else and maybe it was after all the dust finally settled back to the earth. Of course, not to be considered in this race are the Pag-uampes and other Indian tribes who would have already been there and done that and turned away with a shrug, "Ugh, too much salty."

Was it that dern French beaver-skinner and mountain-climber, Etienne Provost?

Was it that dern American beaver-skinner and mountain-clinber, and fort builder, Jim Bridger?

Or, was it that other dern Spanish beaver-skinner and mountain-climber and explorer, Father Escalante?

Or, maybe it was that dern beaver-skinner and mountain climbing rock-hound, exploring and fur party-leading  Captain Ashley?

Except for the Pag-uampes and the devout Father Escalante, the competitors were all in the same party of that Captain Ashley. One set out this way, one the other way, and one didn't. Jedediah Smith was along, too, but he wasn't named as being the first white man to gaze upon the Lake. According to Robert Campbell, who was in the party, the discoverer of the Great Salt Lake was none other than that early western mountain-climber, Jim Bridger. It appears that Bridger went down the Weber River to its mouth and found the Lake.

But Etienne Provost left the main party with a group of men and struck a tributary (Pumbar's Creek) of the Weber and at its mouth was the Lake. A man named Dale writes in his Ashley-Smith Explorations " that if Provost reached the Great Salt Lake before winter set in, he must be credited with its discovery."

So, I guess either one of the same party could have claimed victory. But what if someone else could have also claimed to have discovered it? How about Baron LaHontan? This LaHontan shows up in a comment by Captain Stansbury in 1852 that this Baron LaHontan as early as 1689 wrote of discoveries in this region, which was published in English in 1735. He wrote that "150 leagues from the place he then was, their principal river empties itself into a salt lake of 300 leagues in circumference." He never said how he determined the size, though, and how could he see it from that far away?

If true, this takes away the gun fodder of Bridger or Provost or Smith or other explorers having found the Lake first.

Shucks, you just never know.

Ref: The Founding of Utah Levi Edgar Young and Exploration of the Valley of the Great Salt Lake by Howard Stansbury.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

FLASH - Free Book

News Flash - Hold the Presses - Grand Announcement........

O'Shaughnessy's New Deputy will be Free this weekend starting the eighth of Aug and ending the eleventh. Put your order in at for this exciting novel by none other than Yours Truly ooly duly.

Tom Anderson returns from a mission and gets mixed up in a bank robbery in the fictional town of Hillside, Utah Territory, and he sets off in the posse to capture the robbers. Returning unsuccessfully,  Sheriff O'Shaughnessy gets wind of where the thieves might be. He makes Tom a Deputy Sheriff and tells him to hunt the bank robbers down with the help of two men assigned by the church to retrieve the bank's money, since most of it belongs to the church. And the chase is on.

Tell your friends and enemies and other people about this chance to get a FREE copy of O'Shaughnessy's New Deputy. And please write a short blurb on Amazon about your like/dislike of the book, etc. And THANKS TO YOU-ALL.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Will Rogers, The Oklahoma Cowboy

The header sketch this time is supposed to be Will Rogers from a photo on Wikipedia Commons.

I don't think very many school kids of today ever heard of Will Rogers, but when I was growing up we looked forward to the day when one of his movies would be shown at the church house because we knew that it would be full of down-home, common-sense humor, and everyone would laugh and carry on and go home and repeat his jokes later. At the time, he was downright funny with his horse and rope tricks and his political jokes.

He wrote several books and articles like He Chews To Run, There's Not a Bathing Suit in Russia, and Illiterate Digest. He wrote a weekly newspaper column for The New York Times for several years. He starred in silent movies and sound movies and was a popular actor, playing in the Ziegfield Follies and many other vaudeville acts and nightclubs.

Monuments to him stretch from Oklahoma to California and Texas and points East. He was famous for his one-liners like A fool and his money are soon elected,  Our foreign policy is an open book, a checkbook, When the Okies left Oklahoma and moved to California, they raised the average intelligence level in both states, and one more of his many, The Income tax has made more liars out of Americans than golf. Okay, here's another one, Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.

Rogers even ran a mock campaign in Life magazine for the Presidency. He was the "bunkless candidate" for the Anti-Bunk Party. His only campaign promise was that if he won, he would resign.

Will Rogers like to fly and supported Billy Mitchell, who advocated a military air force. He died with his friend, Wiley Post, in 1935 in a plane crash in Alaska.

Ref: Wikipedia/Will Rogers Bio