So I have fallen into the routine of updating the blog every couple of weeks. I suppose I should update it more often, but hey at least I am updating it. Let me see now, what has transpired in the last couple of weeks? I finished the first half of my 2 part SQL course at VVC. It is an online course and was paid for by my company. I managed to get an A and have begun the second part. A couple of weekends ago, we went in search of footwear for the giant living in our house. Jesse had not driven on the freeway before and got some practice by driving us to Tanger Outlet in Barstow. We visited the Reebok store, but they only had baseball cleats in size 16. Next stop was the Van’s store in the almost deserted Outlet Center across the street. Fortunately, both Renee and Jesse found shoes they liked. Jesse then drove to the Mall at Victor Valley so I could get an AC adapter for the recumbent bike. No more batteries! Overall, Jesse did very well for his first time driving on the interstate freeway.
Mid-week I took a trip with a coworker to San Diego to attend a software presentation. The side benefit of the trip was enjoying lunch with my best friend Jim Ritch. The amount of mileage that day was a bit tiresome, but it was worth it as Jim recieved word a few days later that he had been promoted to Master Chief(E-9). Congrats brother! I also had lunch mid-week with some old classmates. It was fun sharing laughs about old times and catching up on each other’s lives.
This past weekend included getting a lot done around the house. Friday after work, Renee and I stripped the old carpet off of the front porch. It lasted two years, but had become a trip hazard. They really don’t make carpet that can stand the extremes of our weather for more than a couple of years. I don’t know if we will put any more down right away. Saturday morning, we were up early as Jesse had to be at Apple Valley High School to take his SAT. When I returned home, it was time to work on the swamp cooler. Unfortunately, the water pump no longer worked so a quick trip to Lowes and I was done working on the roof. Inside I had some acoustic ceiling to scrap off around the vent as it was looking pretty bad. After cleanup and some semi-gloss paint, the vent went up on the ceiling. Jesse called to be picked up and then we ate lunch. At around 3, I decided it was time to get the weeds in the yard cut down. I spent 2 hours mowing down all the weeds in the back yard. Renee came out and helped clean some the hazards out of the back pasture. That night, we watched an old DVD and ate popcorn.
Sunday, we went to church and Jesse did some driving in Victorville to help prepare for his driving test. We returned home and spent the rest of the day watching the Lakers win and reading. May is here so that means we have a birthday coming up. Soon we will have a 17 year old and hopefully another licensed driver in our house. Hope you and your family are well. Please let us know how you are doing. Blessings.
Twenty-five years ago, the Barstow High School Class of 1984 marched across the stage to receive their high school diplomas and launch out into life. We were full of dreams and hopes not knowing what lie ahead, but ready to leave BHS behind. I remember thinking how, like almost every student, I looked forward to leaving the campus behind and enjoying what I would do with my life. I wrote in my senior plans, “I plan to stick around Barstow for a year and then go down to San Diego State.” I was going to study Broadcast Journalism and become a television news reporter. Things didn’t exactly work out that way.
Two weeks after graduation, I was on a Greyhound bus bound for San Jose, CA. My best friend was living in a transient hotel and had a job lined up for me. I went to work for Bentz Tool in Campbell, CA as a Grinder’s apprentice. I was laid off after two weeks and eventually landed a job at a plating company in Santa Clara, CA doing shipping/receiving. I eventually moved back home to live rent free and worked mowing lawns/trimming trees around Barstow. I got tired of that, visited the recruiter and signed up for the Army to get out of Barstow.
I would eventually be stationed in Alaska where I came to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Reassigned to a post in Texas, I left the Army and married my wife. Our journey took us to Bible school in Dallas, youth pastors outside Ft. Worth, back to school in Tulsa, on to more school in Kentucky, before returning back to California.
I never figured, 25 years after graduation, I would be working back in Barstow and living in the desert again. I am not complaining as I have a great job and actually enjoy being in the desert. The town I desperately wanted to leave at graduation is now the place I provide for my family. I go to restaurants I loved growing up and see people I have known since grade school. I enjoy the smell of rain and work helping people understand the desert. Who knows what the next 25 years will bring? I have enjoyed the last 25 and trust the Lord to direct my steps in the next 25.
Thanks to the winter rains, the Mojave Desert is pretty green right now. Grasses and wildflowers have begun to spring forth. Where we live in Apple Valley, the normally brown dirt is now covered with yellow and purple wildflowers. It almost looks like someone spilled a tanker truck of yellow paint in some areas. Additionally at our house, the California poppies are multiplying with each day that passes. On the drive to work in Barstow, the hills and valleys are green with the fresh grass. I suppose that means I will needs to do a little mowing and weed trimming this weekend to keep the growth in check before it gets to high. I hope this doesn’t turn for the worse once everything begins to dry out. What looks pretty today will be kindling for brush fires once dried out.
My wife loves the snow and is always happy when it comes. Monday I was at work in Barstow and it began coming down. Much to her dismay, they only got rain at the house despite being at a higher elevation than where I work. I eventually was sent home that day as it continued to accumulate. Surprisingly, once I hit the freeway, there was nothing but rain all the way home.
Fast forward to Wednesday morning, I awoke to falling snow and that continued to accumulate throughout the day. I called in to work and stayed home. Renee and I ventured out to check the mail in the midst of the snow and were coated with it. Halfway through the day, we lost power, but it returned a couple of hours later. I had to use the broom on the Direct TV dish several times to return signal to the TV. The snow kept falling into the night.
Thursday morning, we awoke to over a foot of snow. It was quite beautiful. We eventually went out and cleaned off my truck so I would be ok to drive in today. We also tried to make a couple of snowmen, but found the snow to be less than cooperative. It had dried out overnight and no longer packed. As the day went on and temperatures warmd, we finally got the snowmen built. The temps kept warming and they were pretty droopy by sundown. When I left the house this morning, the roads were still covered with snow and ice. We will see if it sticks around for Christmas.
Yesterday, we had a rare heavy snowfall in Barstow. On average, it snows once every five years there. Unfortunately, I was already at work when it began to fall. It was beautiful to watch, but very hard to get anything productive done. As a kid growing up in Barstow, the moment you saw snow falling, all activity ceased. We would walk right out of class, right out of school and start playing in the snow. Even if it didn’t stick, we left becase it snowed so seldom. So with the snow accumulating, offices began to close. First the BLM office closed and then the Mojave National Preserve. We were going to be left alone until we were told that we too could go home. Funny thing was that by the time I hit the freeway and made it to Lenwood Road, it was nothing but rain. It rained all the way home to Apple Valley. Renee was disappointed that there had been no snow at the house. She has her hopes set on some falling there soon.
As a kid growing up in Barstow, one thing you could always count on was that come the end of October it would be cold, windy, rainy or all of them combined. I remember several times getting all dressed up to go trick or treating and having it rain as we went around door to door. Did we stop because of the rain? No way! There was candy to be gotten. Then there was the weird tradition that was only in Barstow of having the Mardi Gras parade on October 31st. Why? I have no idea, that is just when it was. So trick or treating was always on the 30th. We didn’t know any better, so once you moved away you found out that Mardi Gras was not at the end of October and regular places actually trick or treated on the 31st. They recently changed that tradition and now hold the parade the weekend before Halloween and let kids trick or treat on the 31st. The Mardi Gras parade was always a cold night as well as you were in the parade or along Main Street/Route 66 watching a sibling in it. Eventually they began broadcasting it on the local cable channel and that was some big deal because you could be on TV.
As I left the house this morning, the rain was falling and the clouds were rolling in right on schedule.
All good things must come to an end or so the saying goes. I was able to hang out with my younger brother over the last few days as he was in town for his 20th high school reunion. It was great reminiscing about our days past and laughing about memories. We even managed to get a breakfast burrito from Plata’s before excavating things from the many layers of dust in Barstow. Some of those things hadn’t seen the light of day in a long, long time. All in all it was a good visit and we really enjoyed having him visit. Now to get back to work after having 5 days off…where is the any key….?
Friday, I was given the afternoon off by copper thieves. We went to lunch at Rosita’s and returned to an office full of beeping back-up battery supplies. It turns out that copper thieves had decided to steal copper from on of the nearby substations. This resulted in a large portion of Barstow losing power. We waited around for a few hours before calling it a day and heading for the house. The power remained out until 7 that night.
Desert Dispatch story
Another building burned up that I used to go to as a kid. We would go to Yermo every now and then to eat at the International Cafe. Well Friday night, the abandoned building that once housed the restaurant burned to the ground. That is the way of the desert, eventually this happens to most buildings left vacant here. Like Lake Delores, and McMahon’s Fruniture, it now only exists in my memories.
Fire destroys vacant restaurant building in Yermo
Yesterdays, 5.4 earthquake shook us around a little. It felt like you were on Jello as it wiggled. At my office, I thought someone heavy had walked up behind me until I realized our floor is concrete and doesn’t move. I looked at a decoration on cubicle wall and watched it sway back and forth. Renee and Jesse felt it at the house, but none of us were freaked out by it. It has been a while since we had one that strong, but we do live in California after all. Jello-land!