In keeping an eye on the devastation taking place in Southern Calif, my heart strings are being tugged and I am trying very hard not to cry. I worked for NASA/JPL, a job I loved and looked forward to going in every night. At that time, JPL was a self contained, highly guarded and protected city of a minimum of 6,000 workers at any given moment. A few years after leaving JPL, I went to work for the U.S Forest Service/La Canada Station, division of the San Gabriel mountains, right next to La Crescenta. Oddly enough it was located just a few miles east of JPL. My days were spent in the mountains I grew up in and spent most of my free time hiking, rock climbing, waterfall sliding, camping and fishing. My father had given us kids a love for the outdoors that has continued to deepen my whole life, but I was most at home in the San Gabriel Mountain range and the Mojave Desert. The last home I lived in before moving to Kansas in 1979 was on Poppyfield Drive in Altadena, one block south of the foothills. The Marx Brothers Estate was not too far from us, and while the mansion was long gone, the property was beautiful to picnic at. I have been to the Mount Wilson Observatory on many occasions, several youthful moonlight trysts were enjoyed there.
On the Albert Schweitzer Trail there was a waterfall that was extremely difficult to get to as after a very long downward hike, you would come to a cliff and the only way down to the canyon bottom to continue on was to climb down a metal cable inserted into the top of the cliff that reached almost to the bottom. On one occasion we witnessed a girl fall from the top and hit head first on the rocks. We climbed back up the cable and ran all the way to the rangers station to have them call for air support then ran all the way back down with two rangers to where she was being comforted by some friends we left with her. The helicopter came and we never found out what happened to her, but it didn't appear to be a survivable wound, hence the relative seclusion of the falls, just too difficult to get to. Once we reached the falls, being the young hippies we were we would set up camp on a sandy beach near the bottom of the falls, strip off our clothes, climb back up the falls, sit at the top, one at a time, with our legs outspread to build up a force of water behind us, close our legs and FLY over the falls and into a clear, deep pool at the bottom. Before your minds get all kinky, the reason for being naked was clothes would wipe away the heavy slick moss at the top - that was what allowed you to slide freely. We witnessed a horrific injury there as well, but too emotional to go into it now. I will tell you, the funniest memory was a troop of Boy Scouts and their leaders were hiking up the mountain on the trail across from us. As we were all there basking in the sun in our birthday suits, the leaders, after rounding the corner and seeing us, barked orders at a whole bunch of maybe 12 year old boys, "Eyes to the right! NOW!" We were polite enough to pull our towels around us, but it was the funniest sight ever.
Now, all of that is going up in flames. Old friends homes, my old home, everything, is either burnt, burning or going to burn. People are losing every thing, thousands of them, and people are dying. I can be happy with my many, many wonderful memories, here safe and sound in Kansas; they cannot and will probably need years to recover from the devastation. Please send prayers, energy, everything you can, that the weather changes and they manage to get a handle on it quickly. That the winds stop blowing and the rain starts falling. We are all members of the family of humankind and our brothers and sisters need our help.
Thank you, dear friends and family, for letting me ramble on and ask for your support.