Monthly Archives: August 2019

Out & About—The Plank Road

Out & About

 

In January 2017, I found a book by Christopher Wray titled The Historic Backcountry. That led me to another of his books titled “Highways to History.”

Yesterday, I decided to embark on an Out & About expedition to find the Wood Plank Road because the pictures in his books were so intriguing.

I found it.

Looks like this:

Wood Plank Road

The Plank Road was a 7-mile long road of wood planks built to get vehicles through the Imperial San Dunes in far southeastern California. It was comprised of sections eight feet long and twelve feet wide that were built off-site and moved into place using a team of horses. Double sections were installed at intervals to permit vehicles to pass. Horse-drawn plows were used to clear the drifting sand from the roadway.

According to some sources, the Plank Road was built from 1912-1914 and in use from 1915 through 1926. Tourist information displays at the site tell a different story:

The story of the Plank Road began with the era of automobile transportation and a spirit of competition between the cities of San Diego and Los Angeles. San Diego was determined to become the hub of the Southern California road network. Civic and business leaders recognized the benefits of establishing roads to link their communities and promote commerce. Businessman and road builder “Colonel” Ed Fletcher was a key promoter for San Diego who sponsored a race from Southern california to Phoenix, Arizona. The Examiner, a Los Angeles newspaper, issued a personal challenger to Fletcher for the race.

The race took place during October 1912. Fletcher completed the race from San Diego to Phoenix in 19½ hours. He beat the Examiner’s reporter who had been given a 24-hour head start and was racing from Los Angeles to Phoenix, by 10 hours! Fletcher managed to have his car pulled across the Imperial San Dunes before there was an established road by a team of horses. He also got his car across the Colorado River in Yuma on a railroad bridge, winning the race.

The approval to build the Plank Road through the Dunes was decided with support from Imperial County Supervisor Ed Boyd, the local newspapers and local communities. Also a factor in the decision was the recent State and Federal Government decision to build a bridge over the Colorado River in Yuma. With great fanfare, the first planks for a 2-track road were installed on February 14, 1915. Traffic and maintenance quickly wore the road. A second plank road, consisting of a continuous 8-foot planks was built in 1916. The second plank road remained in use until 1926 when a 20-foot swide, asphalt-like concrete road, was constructed by the State Highway Commission.

Through the years and with little use the Plank Road began degrading. In the 70s, a major effort took place to revitalize the area and create a monument in recognition of the Plank Road. The Bureau of Land Management, Imperial Valley Pioneer Historical Society, California Off-Road Vehicle Association and Air Force personnel collaborated to assemble a 1,500-foot section of the Plank Road using various portions of it remaining in the dunes. This revitalization stands today to memorialize the determination and vision of those who forged the first automobile highway across the dunes. CORVA’s volunteers and mission were recognized by the Bureau of Land Management naming their efforts the “Preservation Project of the Year.”

Over 400 volunteers worked to recover and preserve the Plank Road.
CORVA volunteers transported unearthed portions of the Plank Road and moved them to be reassembled at the monument site.

Wood Plank Road

Wood Plank Road

Wood Plank Road

Wood Plank Road

Wood Plank Road

Wood Plank Road

Before you go there, though, be sure your car is full of gas, that you have lots of water, and that your phone and/or GPS works, because it’s hotter than hell there.

117 effin degrees fahrenheit

The Plank Road is California Registered Historical Landmark #845.

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How to become a native

Did you know?

 

After I retired on December 31, 2016, I got extremely bored.

When I get bored, I get depressed.

I endeavored to find something to do with all the time I had available to me (24 hours a day, 7 days a week), so I decided to try to find something to do which I had never done before.

After several months of searching, I settled on driver.

I got positions delivering packages for Amazon Prime and people for Uber.

Both companies suck, but it took me six months with Uber and eight months with Amazon to finally call it quits.

Zoey the Cool CatBoth were minimum wage jobs, which really didn’t bother me per sé, but neither Uber nor Amazon allowed tipping. Courtesy of Microsoft Excel, it was very easy for me to determine that neither of the two jobs could provide long-term income to put a roof over one’s head, food on the table, clothes in the closet, and feed Zoey the Cool Cat.

Once one added in gas, maintenance (brakes, tires, etc.), and special insurance for multi-stop professions, a long-term driving job like these two would put one into bankruptcy unless one had a spouse who also worked, or had a higher-than-minimum-wage job, or more than one job.

Uber, however, could provide short-term income, especially if one’s car was bought and paid for by mom & dad (high school graduation present), a situation that I found was quite common, and insurance and maintenance also was provided by mom & dad.

College students would drive for Uber but not on a daily basis. Usually just on weekends, especially Friday & Saturday nights in nightlife areas. By sticking to those areas, and with Uber paying every Monday, one could make a couple hundred dollars for the weekend. For someone with a family, not good pay. For a college student whose expenses are paid for by mom & dad, said college student could make a little money so that mom & dad weren’t always lecturing said college student on how much money said college student spent, as if mom & dad really cared anyways.

One day I had an Uber request from an 87-year-old man in a wealthy area of San Diego. He needed to go to Irvine, about a 60-mile drive. Sounds like good pay, but unless one can find someone in Irvine coming to San Diego, the pay for 60 miles turned into pay for 120 miles roundtrip. Now the pay doesn’t look so good.

I took the excursion because it would eat up some time in that 24-hour day.

He was a talkative man, and friends (husband, mostly) say that I like to hear myself talk, so we had quite a good conversation about many things.

About half-way through our journey, he said, “Your accent sounds like you might be from Australia or the southern United States.”

Great Nation of Texas“Texas,” I replied.

We talked about Texas and how long I had been in San Diego.

After a few minutes, he asked me if I was a native San Diegan.

Well, in his defense, he was 87.

I told him again that I was from Texas.

“I know that,” he said, “but are you a native San Diegan?”

“I don’t understand.”

He said, “You are a native when you no longer go home because you are home.”

Well, then, by that definition, I became a native San Diegan on April 30, 1993, after having spent four days in San Diego. I never went “home” to Texas again, and only set foot in the state 4 or 5 times between 1993 and 2001.

And that’s how you become a native, regardless of where you were born!

San Diego Panorama

Pereskia, the grandmother of all cacti

Did you know?

Yellow rose

When I was but a youth of 15, my wise old grandmother employed child labor (me!) to create a rose garden for her. I do admit that she had some beautiful roses, but that experience, as well as all those pokey pokeys hiding in that lush, green foliage forever soured me on roses. They are beautiful, as long as they are on someone else’s property.

Fast forward fifty years and I discovered the rose of the cactus world. Looks like this:

Pereskia grandiflora v. violacea

That’s Pereskia grandifolia var. violacea. It’s a very leafy plant, and the opened flowers look like miniature roses. Just like rose bushes, it has some serious pokey pokeys hiding in that lush foliage, albeit far worse than any rose bush I ever have come across. Here is a tall bush at Waterwise Botanicals in Fallbrook, California:

Pereskia grandifolia v. violacea

Mine is on its way to looking like that.

I discovered this plant in May 2018 and was so enamored of it that I did an education display at the Summer Show & Sale for the San Diego Cactus & Succulent Society, garnering second place:

Pereskia education

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Music on Mondays (8/19/19)—I don’t believe a thing I said

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

It’s somewhat rare for more than one song from any one album/CD to make it onto my Lost On A Desert Island list, especially for albums released after the mid-1980s.

Kongos is one of the rarities, having placed two songs from their 2012 album, “Lunatic” on my list. Here they are, but note that “I’m Only Joking” has some bad words in it, bad words which Twitler and his regime have convinced me are acceptable in today’s world….

“Come With Me Now”

“I’m Only Joking”

Picture of the Moment—Poor snake

When I was in Utah in May, I visited Antelope Island State Park in the Great Salt Lake.

It doesn’t look to be an island when looking at maps, but whatever.

There is a lot of wildlife on Antelope Island, including a bison herd numbering several hundred and, of course, antelope.

On my way to see the bison herd, a black-billed magpie (Pica hudsonia, also known as American magpie) was snacking on this snake in the middle of the road.

It was so into its meal that it let me get quite close to get this picture.

Black-billed magpie eating a snake

Nature's Geometry: Succulents by Russel Ray

Order proof book—check.

I finished my book this past Monday. I changed the cover from dark green to dark brown.

Jeff Moore’s book, Spiny Succulents, has a dark green background, courtesy of me when I was doing the final editing and design layout, so I didn’t want it to look like I copied his book.

The new cover looks like this:

Nature's Geometry: Succulents by Russel Ray

I ordered a proof book on Wednesday, but it will take a couple of weeks to get here. Meanwhile, I’ll have to find something else to do, like, perhaps, playing with Queen Olivia, if she ever decides to quit sleeping.

Queen Olivia