Spring Break. Leg Break!

April 26th, 1990

There we were, thinking we were on vacation when everything changed. I suppose things like this happen but not to us, never had.

It was Spring Break and time for another run to the desert. Get away from the fog; see how the rest of the world is getting along. Ed and Suzanne, in their truck, Lolli, I and the dog in our VW bus. First the gonzo run to Bakersfield and the Basque restaurant, then up Kern River Canyon for the night at Miracle Hot Springs; big disappointment. They were all torn out because of "liability issues", we're told.

The next day on over Walker Pass and down into Owens Valley and up to Coso Hot springs; can't enter the area, "Naval Weapons Testing Area"! Continue on to Dirty Socks hot spring and find the wind blowing clouds of salt into the air. Forget that. Continue on towards Death Valley and the town of Keeler.

We have been in contact with Jody, current owner of Cerro Gordo, site of a former huge silver mining operation and, after calling her on the phone from Keeler, are invited to "come ahead".

Up the gravel road we go. Fourteen miles later we arrive at 8,500 feet elevation and the mine site. Buildings built in the 1800's, early 1900's. General store, hotel, tramway, miner shacks, abandoned equipment and a cold wind. We talk to her and Mike for a while and then park the vehicles down in a draw behind a ridge, hopefully out of the wind, and hole up for the night.

The next morning Ed and I explore the area but it starts to snow and we all decide to head for a lower elevation and a hot spring location we notice on the map. Miles of medium to bad gravel roads get us within ten miles of our destination. We arrive at a soft spot in the road, covered with deep dry talc. We get out and walk the edge, planning our attack. Back to the vehicles and Ed gives it a try while I wait with come-a-long and forty foot chain. He makes it and then it is our turn. We make it too and then continue on. Soon we come upon a worse spot. Get out and look. We decide to turn around and check out a different approach. Back through the soft spot and on around. Finally we find a better way to the hot springs. Some campers are already there.

We park, set up camp and soon are soaking in beautiful, clear, warm water. Heaven!

Our second evening an unusual light rain falls (it almost never rains in this valley) but it is a warm rain and feels good. We finish Ed's excellent grilled chicken, slathered with Nook-Mom sauce, grab our towels and head for the hot spring.

With-in ten feet of the pool, Lolli slips on some wet clay. We hear a crack as she hits the ground. It can't be, but it is. Something broke in her lower leg.

Folks jump out of the pool and come over and offer help, all in the buff! Lolli is the only one dressed, she is still in her robe!. One man is a retired chiropractor, one woman is a nurse on vacation. Soon a plan emerges. A cardboard box for a splint. Duct tape to hold it together. A bench top for a stretcher. At eight in the evening Lolli is loaded into the back of my bus, Suzanne along side to comfort her. We head for the nearest hospital, in the town of Lone Pine, three hours away. Ed stays behind to break camp and load up the stuff we left behind. He will catch up with us in Lone Pine.

At the hospital they confirms it. Both bones broken in her lower right leg. They stabilize the leg, give us the X-rays and off we go to Fort Bragg, the long way around. Down 395 to Mojave, up over Tehachapi Pass to Bakersfield, up I-5 to Williams and west on highway 20 to the Fort Bragg Hospital. (All the northern mountain passes were closed due to snow.)

So there you have it. Spring Break 1990. No pun intended. Lolli is fine and plans to see you all at her birthday party, May 12th. Thanks to all those wonderful folks at the hot spring, the Doc at Lone Pine, and the great staff at the Fort Bragg Hospital.

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