Snow in March!

Over the weekend, we had some clouds move in and begin to drizzle and rain. While looking out at the rain, I noticed the drops began to drift a little and become bigger. It was snow! It was just in spurts and then would change back to rain before eventually becoming a steady flurry that began blanketing everything. It accumulated a little and after stopping the snow melted into the soil except on the mountains and some more exposed areas. It was something to see snow falling while the California Poppies in the yard were blooming.

Spring?

We have noticed California Poppies are blooming in the front yard with a few more opening each day. I would like to weed, but I will wait until these blooms have run their full cycle. Surprisingly, it appears we have about three Texas Bluebonnets also poking through the ground. Two years ago, we had a couple come up which were promptly eaten by the rabbits. Hopefully, these will bloom and then go to seed before they fall victim to the rabbits. We have a lot of greenery (for the desert anyway) and should see a lot of wildflowers as things continue to warm up.

Pondering the past and appreciating the present.

As I drove into Barstow this morning, I got off the freeway on an earlier exit than normal to take the back roads to the office. Immediately after leaving the on ramp, I found myself behind a crew of tree trimmers in two trucks that looked like they were barely holding together. They were moving well below the posted speed limit on a double lined road so I didn’t pass them. Instead, I was behind them for most of the way to my office. I then began to remember how 23 years ago, I was in a truck just like these guys. I trimmed trees in Barstow until it got warm enough to cut lawns. It was cold hard work and many times we were up before dawn and working until sundown. All these years later, I sit in an air-conditioned/heated building with a state-of-the-art computer designing websites. I no longer ride in a clunker truck, but a 2005 Dakota. Thanks Lord for reminding me to be grateful for just how far I have come and how you took a tree trimmer and opened opportunity before him.

As if Barstow wasn’t isolated enough already….

Yesterday, our internet, phones and even my cell phone went down at work. I am getting a new appreciation for all kinds of things lately…electricity, internet, phones. Read the full story below.

Cut cable downs communications systems in Barstow

February 19, 2008 – 2:52PM

BARSTOW — One small cable running along Route 66 carries a bulk of the telephone calls and electronic data out of Barstow to the rest of the world. On Tuesday morning, that cable, no thicker than a pen, was cut, downing phone calls, Internet connections, credit card transfers and 911 emergency services in Barstow and across the High Desert.

“It’s the main line between Barstow and Victorville,” said Peter Lindberg, a Verizon employee working to fix the cable Tuesday afternoon. “It calls out to the world.”

The Barstow Police Department, Barstow Fire Protection District and Barstow’s sheriff’s and California Highway Patrol stations set up alternate lines to handle emergency calls during the outage. 911 service returned to area agencies around 2 p.m. Tuesday. Sal Corrao, the division chief of the fire protection district, said law enforcement and the fire district began coordinating as soon as the outage happened and there was only a brief time Barstow residences were without a usable emergency line.

Much of the 911 traffic was rerouted on alternate cables by 1 p.m. During that time, the police department received four to six emergency calls . The fire department received no emergency calls during the outage. CHP officer Taj Johnson did not know how many calls were received by the Barstow station during the outage but said that during an average eight-hour shift, an individual officer may responded to 10 to 20 calls.

At about 10:30 Tuesday morning, a public works crew from the city of Barstow sliced a fiber optic cable buried along National Trails Highway near Barstow County Club. The crew was fixing damage to a storm drain sustained during the last storm in the area, said John Rader, spokesman for the city.

“Apparently a backhoe got a little too close to the cable and snagged it,” Rader said. “And that’s what caused the chaos.”

The chaos affected 12,000 customers from the Needles area to Barstow to the Victor Valley area, said Jon Davies, a Verizon spokesman. In Barstow, many residents and businesses were unable to make non-local calls, use cell phones or access the Internet. Customers at local restaurants, stores and gas stations could only pay with cash, as debit and credit card transactions also travel along the cable that was cut. Davies said cell phones, although wireless, eventually rely on cables buried underground to make connections. ATMs and credit card readers also have to make a phone call to make customers pay.

“When you punch in your pin number, the ATM machine dials up the central servers at the bank,” Davies said.

To fix the cable, Verizon employees spliced together a new section of cable. It involved rejoining 24 individual pieces of hair-thin fibers, said Jeff Woodward, a Verizon employee. Once employees isolated the site of the cut, crews responded and worked to fix it. The Barstow public works crew stayed in the area to assist with the repairs, Rader said. Full service was restored to the area at 3:24 p.m.

 

Another “Only in the High Desert” Story

This is one of those stories that seem to only happen in and around the high desert. Makes you wonder if it’s the heat or too many years on meth that causes these nutty things to happen.

Men tell strange tale of kidnapping, near hanging

February 8, 2008 – 5:30PM

NEWBERRY SPRINGS — When deputies Jacob Gault and Fidencio Davalos first heard what happened to three Newberry Springs men a few nights ago, they did not know if they should believe it.

“It was like something from a movie,” Davalos said of the three men’s story of kidnapping, handcuffs, nooses and eerie interrogation.

However, less than 24 hours later, the Barstow sheriff’s station had one man in custody and plenty of evidence to corroborate the three’s tale.

Gault and Davalos arrested Dan Garcia, 44, of Newberry Springs, for suspicion of kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon early Friday morning after a raid on a Condor Road property by deputies from the Barstow station, the sheriff department’s crime impact team, officers from the county’s gang unit and the department’s helicopter.

On Thursday morning, Gault and Davalos went to Newberry Springs to meet with three men, between the ages of 18 and 23. Davalos said the three launched into a bizarre account of what happened to them after Garcia allegedly kidnapped them when they stopped their truck in Garcia’s driveway to turn around. Here is what happened, according to Davalos:

Before stopping in Garcia’s driveway, the three men finished checking on an elderly person they care for in Newberry Springs. When the incident began at 11 p.m. Wednesday, Garcia appeared out of some bushes wielding a gun at the truck. Garcia fired one round at the truck and then ran toward the truck. With his gun pressed to the side of the driver’s face, Garcia ordered the men out of the truck and placed two of them in handcuffs, leaving the driver free.

Garcia then led the three to an area where nooses hung and instructed the driver to place the others’ heads in nooses. The driver was then told to use Garcia’s tractor to dig a hole “big enough for a person,” according to Davalos.

At some point, Garcia told the driver to stop digging the hole and restrained him using zip ties. The three were then led back to their truck, which Garcia had moved, and were interrogated about whether they used drugs, believed in God or were in gangs. The cuffs and zip ties were removed and Garcia asked the men to provide him with their personal information, addresses, phone numbers and Social Security numbers.

Then Garcia let them go. The three men suffered only minor scratches. The whole ordeal lasted about three hours. The three went to their respective homes. Garcia, however, continued to call and threatened the three. They called the sheriff’s department.

“They were still just in shock,” Gault said.

The sheriff’s department obtained a search warrant and orchestrated a raid on Garcia late Thursday night. Gault said after Garcia realized he was surrounded by about 20 sheriff’s officers, he surrendered and was taken into custody.

Sgt. Manny Mendoza said despite the presence of nooses, the kidnapping and assault does not appear to be race-related. Garcia is Hispanic and the three victims are white. He said the department does not know what drove Garcia to his suspected actions. During questioning, Garcia did mention that he was sick of people stealing his property, Mendoza said.

The sheriff’s department is still investigating. Anyone with information about Garcia can call the Barstow sheriff’s station at 256-4121. People with information that wish to remain anonymous can call WeTip at 1-800-78-CRIME or leave information on the WeTip Web site at www.wetip.com.

High winds reak havoc!

How did you spend Super Bowl Sunday? We woke up to almost hurricane force winds with gusts to 75 mph. Looking into the backyard you could see the tin shed expanding with each gust. Finally, the stress was too much and the roof blew out. We quickly dressed and rushed to gather what we could before the wind spread it from our place to Lucerne Valley. Several times we had to just stop and hold our ground or the wind would have blown us down. We secured what we could of the shed by smashing it, flattening the walls down, and throwing heavy objects on top of it. We then turned to see the power pole with our electric meter tilting toward the ground. After a call to our insurance company, they dispatched a contractor to brace it in the midst of the winds. All of this even before kick-off. What a day!

Close, but no cigar!

Well, for the second time this year they predicted snow and for the second time this year, we just missed it. The mountains out our front door show we were actually within just a few hundred feet of getting the white stuff, but missed out again. Renee was not happy and I am sure Jesse wouldn’t have minded a snow day either. They say we have another chance coming up, but I won’t hold my breath.