Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bridalveil Fall

There are nine major waterfalls in Yosemite Valley and countless others all over the park.  The first major one you get to coming from the south entrance is Bridalveil Fall.

Bridalveil is 617 feet high and flows year round.  This year, there was so much water, the waterfalls were actually hard to see from the base.  There was just too much mist to get a good view up close.  For perspective see the mist in the photo above as seen from across the valley.

The waterfall was actually hard to photograph from the normal viewing area.  When you got close the area was surrounded by a thick mist and the paths were covered in water.

Everyone who got close was soaked, but what fun!  The cataracts below the falls were pretty to watch while drying off.

Next stop, Yosemite Falls...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Seen any bison lately?

I'm going to take a quick break from our trip to Yosemite to share a photo with you.  I saw this on Wikipedia's featured pictures page and it comes courtesy of the Burton Historical Collection at the Detroit Public Library.

What you're seeing is photo from about 1870 of a pile of bison skulls waiting to be ground into fertilizer.

Bison are amazing creatures.  If visit California, you can see a wild non-native heard on Catalina Island, about 22 miles off of Los Angeles.  They were brought to the island for a 1924 silent-era film.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How to Camp Like the Maas Family

When we go to Yosemite, we usually like to camp outside the valley along the South Fork of the Merced River.  Yosemite is a popular place and this year, it been getting a lot of press in the travel world because the snow pack was about 200 to 250% of normal, making for some spectacular waterfalls.  So tourism was up for the summer season and we weren't able to get our normal campsite.

The National Park system has an online reservation system, but the more popular parks fill up months in advance, so each year we reserve a group campsite at Yosemite and then invite other families to join us.  This way we get to camp with friends we like and it's even cheaper that way (about $10 a family or less per night).  And we've never had a problem getting others to join us.  One of the nice things about camping outside the valley is that it's really quiet and we found a spot along the river with a nice swimming hole for the kids too.

Noticing the river was swollen, we stopped off to see our usual swimming spot with the nice jumping rock.

It was anything but our typical lazy river, it was a chilly torrent with some pretty good chop and the kids' jumping rock under water.

The boys thought it was pretty neat to see river so different.

While Tim noticed that there was a pretty good wake in the center of the river and was sad that he didn't have his surfboard.

So he hollered out to his mom asking if it was okay to jump in.  He couldn't hear what she said, so he turned to me since I was standing next to him and asked me my opinion.

Tim's a strong swimmer, so like any dad, I said, "Sure, just be safe."  From the distance we didn't realize that Kristine was giving Tim the thumbs down on the river swim.  He got out to the middle when Kristine realized what happened and started hollering.

(Andrew posing for a photo while Jonathan hears Mom calling Tim back to shore)

Tim got back to shore and was invigorated from his fight with the current.

After we explained that we didn't hear Kristine say no, everything was okay.  Especially since Tim was okay.

(A little nervous still, but happy her kids are safe)

Next stop the obligatory Tunnel View overlook family photo – probably the closest thing we get to an annual family photo and then on to the valley...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Yosemite Valley

Dear Readers,

Unfortunately, I am suffering from photoparalysis!  Don't try and look it up, it's a term I just created for my current condition.  I figure that's what I'll call it when I return from vacationing in a neat place and I've taken too many photos to know what to do.

You see, last week, I was in Yosemite and it was way too pretty, so I took far too many pictures.  Today, I'll give you a little teaser.  This is Yosemite Valley from the tunnel at the south entrance.

My apologies if there is actually a real condition called photoparalysis.

Sincerely yours,
Nate (of Nate's Nonsense)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Lord Gordon Gordon

Yesterday's Person-of-Mystery was Lord Gordon Gordon (a.k.a. Lord Glencairn, Hon. Mr. Herbert Hamilton, George Herbert Gordon, George Gordon, George Hubert Smith, and John Herbert Charles Gordon), confidence man, swindler, and robber of the robber barons, sometimes jokingly referred to as Lord of the Con.

His early life is relatively unknown, some say he was Scottish, others English, and some say he may have hailed from North Carolina, but his first big con came in 1868 when using the title of Lord Glencairn, he took Marshall & Son jewelers in Edinburgh for £25,000.  In 1870, he fled England for the United States and began using the alias, Lord Gordon Gordon.

When in America, he continued his swindling first in Minnesota where his first ploy was to establish himself as a western investor.  He registered himself in a Minneapolis hotel and deposited $20,000 in British Pounds in a local bank.  Titling himself as Lord Gordon Gordon, he availed himself of Col. Loomis, the land commissioner of the Northern Pacific Railway, where fooled Loomis into believing that he represented the interests of his sister, and was in Minnesota to find a site to settle 100 Scottish families from his home estate.

Loomis spent $45,000 of the railroad's money on a two-month long lavish expedition and surveying of rural Minnesota, consisting of horses, tents, cooks, waiters, and servants, all in royal style, with Gordon being the guest of honor.  All the while, Gordon was inviting investors and speculators who were later defrauded.  Loomis explained the expense to the railroad board that Gordon was prepared to invest $5 million dollars into the development.

Capitalizing on his running Minnesota scheme, he left for New York, with letters of introduction including one from Col. Loomis to Horace Greeley.  On the train ride, Gordon became friendly with Mrs. William Belden, the first wife of James Fisk, and told her that he possessed an annual income of $3 million and upon reaching New York, Gordon was introduced to society by the Beldens.

Through the Beldens, Gordon became acquainted with Jay Gould, the famous robber baron.  Gordon told Gould that he held 60,000 shares of Erie Railroad stock and that he could manipulate the election of the board of directors in favor of Gould.  Gould at the time feared that he might be forced out as Director of the railroad.  Believing that they had become speculative partners Gould told Gordon to do what he needed to secure his position.  Gordon told Gould that his initial bribery on Gould's behalf had already cost him $1 million and that he'd need more than Gould's word to continue his plan.  Gould gave Gordon a combination of cash, stock, and bonds worth $1 million.

Gould soon realized he'd been had when Gordon tried to unload some of the stock below market price.  Gould enlisted the help of Boss Tweed and had Gordon arrested.  Released on $37,000 in bail paid by a another mark, Gordon presented a reasonable defense until addresses and names of presumed relatives could not be verified in Europe and former history of his cons back in Great Britain surfaced.  Realizing his scheme was almost at an end, Gordon fled the United States for Canada in May, 1872, and managed to leave Toronto just ahead of a British warrant for his arrest.

He next appeared at Munro House in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in late 1872.  Again fancying himself a Scottish Lord, he lived well off his ill-gotten gain.  When word of his unseemly past reached Manitoba it was disbelieved by local authorities who had good reason to believe Gordon's word over Gould and Tweed.  Gordon had informed Manitoban authorities that he was there to finance local development and that Gould was unfairly pursuing him.  Believing Manitoban authorities would not recognize the American warrant for Gordon's arrest, Gould had hired detectives to track Gordon's movements.  A plan was hatched to kidnap Gordon and bring him to Minnesota to stand trial.

After trailing him for some time, the detectives successfully kidnapped Gordon at gunpoint and made for the border.  Manitoban authorities were made aware of the crime and sent word to stop the abduction.  North West Mounted Police (now the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) caught up with the wagon carrying Gordon at Pembina, Manitoba (near the North Dakota border) and took Gordon's abductors into custody.

When rumors of the foiled plot reached America it was initially believed that the abductors were sized on the American side of the border and the Governor of Minnesota demanded their release.  When Manitoban authorities would not comply, the Governor ordered the mobilization of the Minnesota State Militia, thousands of Minnesotans volunteered, and President Grant authorized sending an army into Manitoba if a speedy release of Minnesotans could not be effected legally.

Initially insulted by American actions, and ready to defend their sovereignty, the more Manitobans learned of the former nefarious actions of the so-called peer of the realm, Lord Gordon, the worse the Canadian position seemed.  Eventually, the kidnappers were released with a slap on the wrist to avoid a potential military conflict.

Sensing that Gordon was planning on making an escape towards British Columbia from Manitoba under the ruse of a hunting expedition, Manitoba issued a warrant for his arrest and the Manitoban Provincial Police set out to track and arrest him.  They eventually caught up with him in Saskatchewan's Touchwood Hills.

Gordon was returned to Winnipeg, but with many of the public still refusing to believe the incredible accusations against him, he was granted bail.  Finally, the British warrants from his jewelry con caught up with him and detectives were sent to arrest him.  Gordon catching word of the approach of the British authorities, threw a lavish party and gave expensive gifts to the guests.  While at the party, arresting officers took Gordon where he expressed concern that they might travel through the United States en route to Toronto (apparently still concerned over American justice).  Gordon seemed eased by the news that they would travel east via the all-Canadian Dawson Route.  A seemingly calm Gordon got dressed but asked to put on warmer clothes for travel.  He distracted the officers by asking if they'd seen his tam o'shanter.  Seizing the opportunity, Gordon dashed for his bedroom, gabbed a loaded pistol he kept by his bed, and standing against the wall fatally shot himself through the head.  Thus ending the run of the "lord of the con."

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Mystery Hint for Today:  Involved in a Famous International Kidnapping.

Who could I be?  That's the mystery!  Go ahead and take a guess and then go enjoy your day.  Check back tomorrow and I'll reveal the answer.  The first correct post will be declared the winner.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Halcyon Fields

Today, I'm featuring a bucolic photo of my great-grandparents, E. S. and Mary Goodner.  I don't know where they are, but it sure looks like a pleasant day.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

When Vacations Make News

Typically, only the rich and famous make the news when they take vacations, but it appears as though our family trips are now cause for headlines.  If you noticed the front page of today's Sierra Star, you can see a picture of our two younger boys jumping in Bass Lake.  Tim is looking on from the inner tube in the background.

You have to figure this is a pretty nice place to live if an article on boys jumping in a lake is the top story.

Bully for Yosemite!

It seems as our boys get older, and life gets ever busier, there are fewer times we can enjoy extended times just as a family.  We just returned from a quick family vacation to Yosemite and things couldn't have been more delightful.  Every year, we've tried to squeeze at least one trip to Yosemite into our summer plans.  Of course it helps that it's only a four hour drive from our home.  As we just got home last night, I'll be posting more later.  Being a history guy, of course the historical aspects of the park are always on my mind too and it didn't help that a certain other website happened to be on a Teddy Roosevelt week right as we left on our trip.

In case you were unaware, President Roosevelt made a trip to California in 1903 and camped at Yosemite starting May 15.  Fewer, I'm sure, are aware that Roosevelt made a quick stop in San Luis Obispo on his way to Yosemite, where he made a speech and toured the old Spanish mission.  For your enjoyment, here's the speech he made after stepping off the train, May 9, 1903:

Mr. Chairman, and You, My Fellow-Citizens: 

     It is indeed a great pleasure to have the chance of meeting you this afternoon.  For three days now I have been traveling through your wonderful and beautiful State and I marvel at its fertility. I am not surprised to see you looking happy.  I should be ashamed of you if you did not.  (Applause.)
     I know of this county in connection with certain Eastern agricultural producers, for unless I mistake, those who offered prizes for the largest vegetables and fruits of certain kinds have had to bar the products from this county, because they invariably won the prizes.  (Applause.)  I know of one Eastern producer who said that the products of this county would have to be barred, because he had spent already $500 in prizes to the county and had gotten back but $14 for seeds.  I have forgotten all of the records that you have in the county.  I know that the largest pumpkin, watermelon and onion came from here, so that your agricultural products have made a name for themselves to be feared.  Of course, in stock raising and dairying the county stands equally prominent.  I am glad to learn that the State of California is erecting here the polytechnic institute for giving all the scientific training in the arts of farm life.  More and more our people have waked to the fact that farming is not only a practical, but a scientific pursuit, and that there should be the same chance for the tiller of the soil to make his a learned profession that there is in any other business.
     For three days I have been traveling through one of those regions of our country where the interests are agricultural and pastoral, where the tiller of the soil, the man who grows stock, who is engaged in agriculture, is the man whose interest is predominant; and of course it is the merest truism to say that it is the earth tiller, the soil tiller, the man of the farms, the man of the ranches, who stands as the one citizen indispensable to the entire community.  The welfare of the nation depends even more than upon the welfare of the wage-worker, upon the welfare of the home-maker of the country regions.  I congratulate you people of California upon the evidence that you have grasped the fact which our people must grasp, that the legislation of the country must be shaped in the direction of promoting the interests of the man who has come on the soil to stay and to rear his children to take his place after him.  We have passed the stage as a nation when we can afford to tolerate the man whose aim it is merely to skin the soil and go on; to skin the country, to take off the timber, to exhaust it, and go on; our aim must be by laws promotive of irrigation, by laws securing the wise use in perpetuity of the forests, by laws shaped in every way to promote the permanent interests of the country.  Our aim must be to hand over to our children not an impoverished but an improved heritage.  That is the part of wisdom for our people.  We wish to hand over our country to our children in better shape, not in worse shape, than we ourselves got it.  (Applause.)
     I have congratulated you upon your material well-being and upon the steps that you are taking still further to increase that material well-being.  I wish further to congratulate you upon what counts even more than material prosperity, upon taking care of the interests that go to make up the higher life of the nation.  I am greeted here by men who wear the button that shows that they proved true to a lofty ideal when Abraham Lincoln called to arms in the hour of the nation's agony.  (Applause.)  Our nation showed itself great in those days because the nation's sons in '61 and the years immediately following had it in them to care for something more even than material well-being, because they had it in them to feel the lift toward lofty things which only generous souls can feel.  I see around me the men who took part in the great Civil War, whose presence should excuse me from preaching, for their practice preaches louder than any words of mine could.  (Applause.)
     I have seen everywhere through your State, in addition, the care you are taking in educating the children.  I have been struck by the schools, and as I have said a special word of greeting to the men who deserve so well of the nation, so I wish to say a special greeting to the future, to the children, to those who are to be the men and women of the next generation; and upon whom it will depend whether this country goes forward or not.  It is a good thing to raise such products as you have raised on your farms; it is a better thing to bring up such children as I think I have been seeing today.  I like the way in which, through your schools, you are training the children to citizenship in the future.  Ultimately, though soil and climate will count for much, what will count for most is the average character in the individual citizen, the individual man or woman; that is what counts in the long run in making a nation.  (Applause.)
     I go from you with an even increased faith in the future of our country, the future of America, because I go with an even increased faith and confidence in what the average American citizen is and will be.  I believe in you, men and women of California, men and women of America, of the United States, because I feel that you are not only sound in body and sound in mind, but that which counts for more than body, more than mind–character, into which many different elements enter–but above all, the elements of decency, of courage, and of common sense.  (Cheers and applause.)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Paul J. McWhorter

Yesterday's Person-of-Mystery was none other than the notorious Paul J. McWhorter (also known as PJM),  author of the Old Picture of the Day blog.

Paul passed the half-century mark on Friday, so to mark the occasion, I figured I'd use a old photo I found of him.  As some of you may recall, this blog was started in response to his regular chicanery and machinations.  It is true, he seemed a little out of place in the Confederate uniform, but since his photo has appeared on this blog before, I figured someone might recognize him.  

Like yesterday's photo, Paul is something of an anachronism, he appeared in Ripley's as the first person ever to get his driver's license in a Model T Ford.  You see back when most people were driving Model Ts, no one needed to get permission from the government to drive.

It would appear from his blog, that Paul is planning on restoring a couple Model Ts that he currently owns.  We'll be monitoring this latest development to make sure that peaceful purposes prevail and that this doesn't somehow mark a return to his former nefarious ways.  It would not surprise me at all though if he were planning on making an appearance in next year's Toenail Trail Day parade, perhaps driving a shiny antique auto, waving to the good people of Christoval with a peafowl feather in his cap.

Paul like myself is a school teacher – which reminds me, as of yesterday, I'm now on summer!  Ah, what joy!

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Mystery Hint for Today:  More famous later in life.

Who could I be?  That's the mystery!  Go ahead and take a guess and then go enjoy your day.  Check back tomorrow and I'll reveal the answer.  The first correct post will be declared the winner.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Maas Brothers

Today I'm featuring a photo of my grandfather with his brothers.  My grandfather, Dick Maas, is in the middle.  Uncle Bill is on the left and Uncle Barney is on the right.  My great-grandfather and his brother Ben ran a meat company together for a short time and the boys are posing by the delivery wagon.  The brothers pictured here were originally from Kansas City, Missouri, but then removed to Southern California.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"The California Limited," on the Desert, 1906

"The California Limited," on the desert.
5512. Copyright, 1901, by Detroit Photographic Co.

Postmarked Trinidad, Colorado, July 6, 1906, 7:00 PM
Rec'd Wichita, Kansas, July 7, 1906, 3:00 PM

Miss Jessie Burrows

Our lunch is awfully good.
All safe so far.  Having a nice trip, so cool.  We stayed at LaJunta 2 1/2 hrs.  Expect to see Clarence at 6.45 A.M. Sunday.  Will write you more after while.  Jessie.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ambrose Bierce

Congratulations to DAG, winner of this weekend's Person-of-Mystery Contest!  DAG correctly identified Ambrose Bierce in Saturday's post.

Ambrose Bierce was a journalist and satirist best known for his Devil's Dictionary.  Here's an example of one such tongue-in-cheek entry:

DICTIONARY, n. A malevolent literary device for cramping the growth of a language and making it hard and inelastic. This dictionary, however, is a most useful work.

Although born in Ohio, Bierce grew up in Indiana and enlisted in the 9th Indiana Infantry, where he distinguished himself under fire and rose from Private to First Lieutenant.  During the Civil War he saw action at numerous battles including Philippi, Shiloh, and Kennesaw Mountain.  His experiences would influence much of his writing and he wrote a number of works about the war.

Later in life he was employed by William Randolph Hearst where he was known for his sharp wit and his dark criticism.

In late 1913, at the age of 71, Bierce put his affairs in order and left for a final tour of his old battlefields and then one of the greatest mysteries began.  Bierce crossed over into Revolutionary Mexico, followed Pancho Villa's army as far as Chihuahua and mailed a final letter, December 26, 1913, to his close female friend and journalist, Blanche Partington, in which she transcribed in her journal that he wrote, "If you hear of my being stood up against a Mexican stone wall and shot to rags, please know that I think this is a pretty good way to depart this life," later he supposedly closed, "As for me, I leave here tomorrow for an unknown destination."  Bierce was never seen nor heard from again.  At the urging of his daughter, the United States Government made an official inquiry into his disappearance, but found nothing of his supposed time in Mexico.

There are several theories about his final days and some are rather wild in nature.  Most theories hold that he was killed in Mexico either by the rebels, federal troops, or Pancho Villa himself (after mocking him).  Some say that he died in battle after joining up with Villa's forces, others that he was executed by government soldiers when he revealed that he was trying to find Villa.  Most of these stories highlight his cutting wit even at the firing line.  Interestingly, no American journalist reported seeing him in Mexico, even though the country was filled with them and Bierce was well known.

More outlandish stories have him working as a spy trying to ascertain German activities in Mexico, being spotted decked out in jaguar skins as the "god" of a band of Central American natives, in an insane asylum in Napa, California, or in France with the British during World War I.  Another somewhat plausible theory holds that Bierce with with the help of his friend, Blanche Partington, decided to concoct the heroic tale of going to Mexico and instead found a lonely spot to commit suicide (perhaps even at the Grand Canyon).  Although most theories have him in Mexico based on Partington's testimony, he was never seen by anyone who knew him and none of his purported letters from Mexico to his friend, Blanche, were ever seen by anyone but Blanche.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Mystery Clue for the Day:  Now you see me, now you don't!

Who could I be?  That's the mystery!  Go ahead and take a guess and then go enjoy your day.  Check back tomorrow and I'll reveal the answer.  The first correct post will be declared the winner.

Friday, June 10, 2011

What's the only state without a "flag?"

Question:  Quick, what's the only state without a "flag?"

Answer:  Ohio*

* Technically, Ohio's "flag" is a burgee.  A burgee being a triangular (or swallow-tailed) piece of cloth usually used by ships in yacht clubs.

As I was researching my previous post on Ohio, I became curious about its funny banner.  Most states have rather boring flags, you know the blue flag with the state seal in the middle, but Ohio definitely stands out!

In 1901, Buffalo, New York was to be the host city for the Pan-American Exposition and Ohio wanted to showcase its commerce and culture with a grand building.  John Eisemann, an architect from Cleveland, was hired to design the structure.  And what better way to grab the attention of the crowds, but by flying a giant state flag from the top of the roof?  Unfortunately, that's where Eisemann ran into trouble – Ohio had no state flag.  So he designed one.

He even patented it!

(The Ohio Building with Eisemann's patented burgee)

Ohio was so proud Eisemann's work, they officially adopted the pennant in 1902.  Thus making Buffalo, New York, the first place the Ohio state flag was flown.

During the Exposition, the Ohio Building was even host to favorite son, President William McKinley!  Unfortunately, the President was assassinated at the Expo, but not in the Ohio Building.  That happened over in the Temple of Music.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Do you remember a statehood celebration?

My earliest memories of life are from about age three, but I don't have too many of those.  I can remember much more from about age four and five.  I was thinking about this today because yesterday, I met someone who was talking about statehood celebrations they remembered as a child.

Hawaii became a state on August 21, 1959, and there are plenty of people who can remember that.  The same goes for Alaska, which became a state, January 3, 1959.

There are probably a few of the oldest among us who might even recall when Arizona became a state, February 14, 1912 or when New Mexico was added on January 6, 1912.  It starts getting iffy when we go back much before this.  How about Oklahoma on November 16, 1907?  Remember you'd have to be a few years old to even remember this.

So how many of you remember when Ohio became a state on August 7, 1953?

This is before my time, but apparently, when Ohio was looking to commemorate what should have been its sesquicentennial, some Buckeye historians were looking through Congressional records to find the Act of Admission which has typically been the formal pronouncement by Congress that a new State exists.  Curiously, they didn't find one.  It wasn't required before Ohio (since the original 13 didn't need it and Vermont and Tennessee already had governments that were recognized by Congress) and it didn't become custom for Congress to declare an Act of Admission until Louisiana became a State after Ohio.

Politicians and scholars started debating if Ohio was really a state and the whole subject at the time became the butt of jokes.  Even more curious, because there was no formal declaration, no one could even ascertain when exactly Ohio should have even become a state.  Was it 1802 or 1803?  Most historians said it was November 29, 1802, however people in Ohio had always assumed it was 1803.

(Congressman George H. Bender)

Finally, Ohio Congressman George Bender introduced the Bender Ohio Statehood Act on January 19, 1953 that would retroactively admit Ohio to the United States as of March 1, 1803.  It was approved by the House on May 19, 1953 and by the Senate on August 1.

(Celebrating Ohio Admission in Youngstown, 1953)

President Eisenhower finally signed the bill granting statehood to Ohio on August 7, 1953 – retroactive to March 1, 1803.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Grand Reveal

Congratulations to DAG, who correctly identified Allan Pinkerton as this weekend's Person-of-Mystery!  I thought he would be more difficult, but it appears that DAG knew him by sight.

Pinkerton fell into detective work by accident.  A Scottish immigrant to America, he first worked as a cooper for a brewery outside Chicago.  While in the woods looking for appropriate material for barrel staves, he stumbled upon a gang of counterfeiters.  Pinkerton notified the local sheriff and helped him make the arrests.  Pinkerton eventually took on more law enforcement work and was known for his strong abolitionist views.

Moving to Chicago, he gained additional fame when he helped helped rescue two abducted Michigan girls.  Pinkerton tracked the outlaws and shot one of the kidnappers.  This incident in 1853, provided him a job as the Cook County Deputy Sheriff.  Realizing the potential for work, Pinkerton formed his own private agency, the Pinkerton National Detective Agency and created as it's motto the phrase, "We never sleep."

Because of his strong abolitionist views and his fame in Chicago, he was hired to guard Abraham Lincoln, where he foiled an assassination plot on the way to the inauguration.  Pinkerton gained a reputation for professionalism and his dogged pursuit of criminals.  This reputation was encouraged by dime-store novels and Pinkerton's own writings.

(Pinkerton, on left, with Lincoln)

Pinkerton pioneered a number of then unconventional detective techniques including tailing a suspect and going undercover.  Even the term Private Eye comes from the Pinkerton logo.

Saturday, June 04, 2011


Mystery Hint for Today:  Insomniac

Who could I be?  That's the mystery!  Go ahead and take a guess and then go enjoy your day.  Check back tomorrow and I'll reveal the answer.  The first correct post will be declared the winner.

Today, we have a outdoors shot of a number of dapper gents.  To win, you'll only need to identify the man not wearing a stove pipe hat (seated on the far left).

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

So Good To Be Home

What a weekend!  I returned from our latest Boy Scout backpack trip yesterday and I'm still a little stiff from the trip.  As I mentioned our goal was Mt. Pinos (ele. 8,847 feet) near the Chumash Wilderness Area in Ventura County.

(The Scouts headed down the trail)

This was to be a training hike building the boys up for more difficult hikes later this summer.  For several of our Scouts this was their first time backpacking.

(Hillside trail)

Things started off rather normally.  We hiked, slower than expected, to a place called Lily Meadows (6,250 feet) where we had a small amount of unexpected snow the first night.

(View from the tent)

Not expecting worse, we pressed on to Sheep Camp (a little over 8,000 feet) where we encountered an unexpected storm.  We were hit with snow pellets and strong winds.  It was at this point that we abandoned the idea of reaching the summit.  I slept in a little 1-man tent and the winds were so strong I placed large rocks on top of the tent stakes, but during the evening two of the stakes were ripped from the ground.

(Contemplating a 5 o'clock bedtime)

While we didn't expect the storm, we're Scouts and well prepared for unexpected situations.  Although I must admit, I felt a bit like an arctic explorer that night with the wind and snow whipping my tiny tent.  

(You always think you're tough until you find the boy who proves you wrong)

The next morning all was better and it even warmed up hike home in a t-shirt.  What an odd and fierce little storm.  I went up to the ridge line to look at the view, which would have been close to what we would have seen from the top.

All the boys had fun and made it home safe, which is the real measure of a good trip.

(My son Andrew, on right, with friend Spero)