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!
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
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.