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Monday, 12 February 2018 21:46

Salton Sea Whimsy

by Sue Jaussaud

“Whimsy…a fanciful device or creation, especially in art.” Well, that pretty much describes the places Bob and I recently visited in the Salton Sea area. Our first stop was at the International Banana Museum (“The Most A-Peeling Place on Earth”) near tiny North Shore. The museum is just one large room, but it’s delightful… and delicious. There is a nominal admission charge, which is waived if you buy something, and you really, really want to enjoy one of their chocolate banana shakes. While whipping them up, the owner told us the story of the museum’s origin. And when his wife saw me taking Bob’s photo, she popped up from behind the counter wearing, what else, a banana costume. Display cases line the walls, full of more banana related items than you ever knew existed. Take a look on line, and call first to be sure they’re open. Then go bananas!

Our second stop was “East Jesus”, near Slab City, east of Niland. Amazing folk art lives here, created from the flotsam and jetsam of a trash pile. And it’s wonderful! Enter through a metal arch decorated with bicycles and propane bottles, and move on to the bottle wall, giant lizard, decorated cars, and TV wall. The creations go on and on, and you are free to walk around and take pictures. Nice folks here, too. I do love the desert, and finding this stuff is just the best!  ~ Sue

Monday, 12 February 2018 21:16

Report of an unofficial DE trip

By Anonymous.

The Jaussauds invited two couples to join them at their Colorado River shore home for a fun three day holiday. It was at the end of September and the weather could not have been more perfect. However, as you read my report of this most peculiar trip you will see why I do not name the invited couples, so as to save them embarrassment.

The DE members know me and know that I am a staid quiet and less than talkative, serious person, but I need to reveal some information about our guests to DE. I was designated to write the trip report; I suspect so, as usual, the DE members would pick on me.

My wife, Ruth, and I arrived at their gated private river road on the east side of the river across from Needles, California about midday and was I surprised. As I toured their property, I found that it was a large lot with four modern garage buildings. DE members know that Bob is retired from the entertainment industry and this was obvious as I saw what he and Sue have done with their place. They have saved a variety of desert treasures, including two trucks that had run down a bit but had been resurrected.

Before the other couple arrived, Bob and Sue took us on an old desert road north to a dilapidated and very old town where Bob was shopping for more desert treasures. There were a lot of cars and people, as well as a large local population of burros who seemed to have the right of way. As we tried to walk they kept getting in my way and trying to intimidate me into feeding them. Further on, we were shown some old mines. One was the Gold Roads Mine where my grandfather lost his right arm. Also, we were shown some of the old Historic Beale Road and many other old interesting sites.

After coming back to the river and the bunk house, we had a large pot luck dinner with the other couple, who had arrived while we were gone. Everyone, except me, worked together preparing the repast. I preserved my male image by not being in the kitchen. Their composite dinner was culinary art. They made me eat too much, I was just trying to be polite.

The next day was the boat trip. Six of us started down the river. There were hundreds of other very active boats going both ways and they stirred the river up until sometimes it was as if we were on the high seas. My wife and Allan laid back up front in the luxurious seats and were quite happy and smiling not even noticing that I was getting slapped in the face by the occasional extra high thrashing waves.

The beautiful verdant wild growth crowded the water in many places as we traveled toward our goal, the Topoc Gorge. Along the miles there were Indian lands and Wild Life Preserves. We were amazed, seeing majestic Blue Heron and other migrant fowl amongst the ever present forest of green reeds crowding the sometimes invisible shore line. There were many exposed beaches where hundreds of families were camped; tents, campers and beached boating parties all apparently having a wonderful time creating a spirit of hilarity. All that, along with the invigorating clear river air, I believe was what caused the ladies in our group to become wild and uncontrollable and eventually causing me much embarrassment.

Sue and Ding had driven down to the boat landing and resort at Topoc to meet us. We landed there and, as a group, we got to see the greatly improved facility there with all kinds of refreshments, restaurant and so forth, a grand place. That’s when it happened. The ladies started acting like free spirits and not cherishing their clothing, becoming somewhat audacious. And after they were persuaded to try to behave, to little avail, we later caught them holding the big door open to the men’s restroom so as to photograph the row of salacious urinals there.

Having some luck corralling the ladies, we all proceeded on down the river, passing under the marvelous bridges that accommodate tremendous auto and train traffic, as well as several major interstate gas transmission lines that cross above the river. One of our major national arteries.

We then moved on into the Topoc Gorge. A majestic place where the river goes through the gigantic towering geological mountain formations. The town of Needles, California up river from there is named for them. It was awesome, grotesque dark brown soaring rock formations routing the river this way and that with often a menacing barren rock shoreline giving the impression we were imprisoned by these very ancient mountains. Along the way the river spilled off into canyons, secret reed lined waterways disappearing into a wild rugged country. Captain Bob took the boat off into one. It was profusely lined with reeds and river plants that crowded our passage and then it opened into a private majestic lagoon and he stopped the engine. We were alone and away from the turmoil of the crowd on the river. It was a splendid interlude, though we were alarmed when the captain pretended at first that the super Hi-Tech engine wouldn’t restart.

We then rejoined the crowded river that flows on to Yuma, eventually to the Ocean. But we turned about to return to Jaussaud’s landing. We left Ding and Sue off at the Topoc landing; I don’t know how they conducted themselves thereafter. The return trip seemed to be a survival exercise; I was thankful that our Captain was brave and skillful. As we sped toward the numerous boats violently whipping the river into a frenzy it was as if we were traveling across the virgin desert in a large dunebuggy. Thankful that the boat was strong enough to withstand the contest, though Bob seemed a bit battered when we landed at the Jaussaud’s landing.

After resting a while and Bob having recovered, Ding, Allan, Bob and I decided to visit the Needles Museum just across the river from their place but no one was there to let us in. So, after driving around seeing the town that economic times has changed drastically we returned to the bunkhouse. Then the Jaussaud’s embarrassed me again. They called Cheryl Mangin, the woman who is the matriarch of the Museum, and invited her to come to our pot luck dinner that night even though it was her day off. Sue said she planned to impose on Cheryl to open the museum on Sunday just for us. Cheryl came to our dinner and appeared to be enthused (She might have been feigning it). They all laughed and carried on and Sue got Cheryl to agree to open just for us on Sunday.

Ding and Allan had to leave early the next morning but Ruth and I and Bob and Sue did go to the museum. After all, we had imposed on beautiful Cheryl. I do have to admit it was a very worthwhile visit. Anyone traveling to Needles will be rewarded to go there. There are many wonders there and many great historical artifacts. The Jaussaud’s have donated many items that are there to enjoy, including a large operating Erector Set Ferris Wheel (assembled by Captain Bob).

Monday, 12 February 2018 21:07

Holiday Fiesta at Ding and Allan Wicker’s House!

I t’s possible you had an excuse for not making the Desert Explorers holiday gathering at the home of Ding and Allan Wicker, but it couldn’t have been a very good one. You must plan better next year. The folks who did make it were treated to great food, happy people, a festive day and some twisted fun with the “bring a gift, get a gift, steal a gift” game.

We kicked the gathering off with the shortest DE meeting on record, less than 25 minutes! There were wonderful      dishes, savory, sweet, local, international, hot, cold and in-between. Nobody went hungry and everybody found things to satisfy their cravings.

Regardless of folks’ backgrounds or traditions, it is always a wonderful way to wrap up the year. Warm greetings, friendly faces, good food and a wacky game to loosen things up made this a wonderful afternoon.

Who was there? Bob Jacoby, Bob and Sue Jaussaud, Nan Healy, Jean and Sunny Hansen, Julie and Bill Smith, Kate Fosselman and Steve Jarvis, Neal and Marian Johns, Ruth and Emmett Harder, Bobby Sanchez and Daniel Dick, Jim Watson and his sweetheart Linda, Ann Yibing Bai, Marie and Nelson Miller, Ellen Miller, Dave McFarland, Axel Heller, Jay Lawrence, Bruce Bartlett, Dolly and Jerry Dupree, Nancy Maclean and Ron Ross, Vicki Hill, Genmarie Wentworth, and our hosts Ding and Allan Wicker.

Thank you Ding and Allan for having us again this year. It was big fun!

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