Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pasadena Pass Off

Last weekend we met Bryan and Terry in Pasadena and passed off Lucas and Davis. A week or so before Bryan called and asked if our boys wanted to go to church camp with his boys. I don't think we had really thought at all about doing family kind of stuff here. But a four hour drive later we were having dinner with Bryan and his family.

The drive through the Coachella Valley is long, sort of. El Centro is about an hour and a half from Palm Springs and Palm Desert, which are up above the Salton Sea, the largest lake in California.

Coming home we came down the 5 through Los Angeles. I thought this would be fine on a Sunday at 3:00. But it was not. I don't understand how somewhere can have traffic so bad that cars are stopped on the highway on a Sunday afternoon.

The 5 comes into San Diego. We stopped for dinner at Hodad's in Ocean Beach. The whole area along the coast was in the mid 80s and freezing. I was almost glad to head back over the grade to where the weather is warm.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

IV Press Article - Front Page today

click here for article and video

Children wind clay into pots for cultural learning

Staff Writer

12:34 a.m. PDT, July 28, 2011

OCOTILLO — Ocotillo resident Dillon Austin took care to smooth the sides of the project he spent hours creating Wednesday morning.

After winding together a coil for a base, he began building up the sides, one string of reddish-brown clay at a time. When finished, the hour glass-shaped pot was left to dry and be fired. It was Dillon’s first project for a pilot program art class at the Desert Museum.

“I want to come back next week,” he said.

The 12-year-old was one of about a dozen children from here who wound together pieces of clay into pots at the Imperial Valley Desert Museum. Though it was Dillon’s first class, others have been going to the center all summer to play with the clay.

The class is one portion of the pilot program the museum is putting together, said Executive DirectorNeal Hitch. The steps after the summer class finishes will be to bring the art classes to a high school in the fall, and then exhibit what the high schoolers create.

The program allows children and students to see what it takes to make some of the pots that are at the museum, Hitch said. Having the experience of creating a bad pot — and everyone’s first pot is bad — makes the ones that were made long ago by the Kumeyaay Indian Tribe in the area a lot more impressive.

The students could see how hard it is to make some of the two-feet-wide clay pieces when those students are constructing ones that are only a few inches wide, he said.

The pilot project began after the museum received a $2,000 grant from the Imperial Valley Community Foundation, he said. The Howard P. Meyer Foundation in El Centro also contributed funding and ASM Affiliates archeology company gave money for the clay.

The program has been a big success so far as the museum has seen more than double the expected number of kids each day, he said. The real test of how popular it is is the number of kids who return and recommend that others come out, Hitch said.

“This is just something that it’s fun to be here,” he said.

Children at the event agreed that it was worth coming back to.

Brittany Rausa, 12, has been coming for weeks, and said that she really enjoys making the pots. Her first one didn’t turn out well, but they’ve been improving.

Her favorite part is getting to mold clay while talking with friends, she said.

For 16-year-old Lucas Hitch, it’s about a little more competition than that. He wants to make pots that are better than his teacher’s, and his are getting there.

While he would like to make a pot as good as those by the Kumeyaay on display, he doesn’t think that’s going to happen with only a few classes left.

However, he said, he can hope.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Comic Con

This past weekend was Comic Con in San Diego. We drove into town because Martin and Lucas had tickets to see Childish Gambino, which is the stage name of one of the actors on the television show, Community. Davis, Deneen, and I stumbled into the screening of an Australian independent film called Griff the Invisible, written and directed by Leon Ford, who was there and introduced the film.

The entire soundtrack was written and performed by an Aussie pop band called Kids at Risk. They just happened to be at ComicCon and before the movie they did a five song set. The music is a little light hearted, yet haunting, and intertwined with 1960s-esque spy movie riffs.

The cooler thing to me is the fact that the band was awarded an Arts Council grant of $20,000 to travel to America and perform in a bunch of bars in LA. It appears that ComicCon was their first stop. Here is a bit taken from the blog on their website which posted on the 26th.

"Wandered stunned through the convention until we had to dash over to an online interview blog style thing with YOWIE which was great fun then back over to the theatre to perform a few songs prior to the screening of Griff The Invisible. Great vibe and everyone so lovely, welcoming and supportive. San Diego is a very cool city."

We finished the evening off with onion rings and shakes at our new favorite hamburger stand, Hodad's, and a walk around the Gaslamp District.

The film was not what it appears to be. It is marketed as a Superhero genre film, and the publicity surrounding the screening had the feel of a comic book. The movie, if you ask me, is a character study of individuals living with mental disabilities who are unable to cope with the real world and so they live in a world of their own. It just so happens that in movies, two people with the same disability can find each other so that the character study can become a love story.

The line for the screening of the new movie "30 Minutes or Less" was right next to ours. That line had 200 people in it. Ours had maybe 30. Davis wanted to get into the line for the movie everyone else wanted to see.

Life lesson: Don't do the ordinary. Take the line that few people are in. It may be a bust, but chances are better that great stories are going to come out of that line.

I was right. The Imperial Valley will be a really cool place to live if we can get into San Diego once a month.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Missing the Turks and Caicos

This weekend I was really missing Grand Turk. I was looking at the blog posts from last year. This week a year ago we were spending our last weekend on Provo at the Grace Bay Club, we then had our last dive on the Bohio Wreck documenting the shipwreck site, and my last issue of the Astrolabe was due. I miss the beach. Actually, I miss the water. Actually, I miss swimming. And really, what I miss is snorkeling and killing lion fish.

So, Sunday evening we packed water and decided to hike to the top of the ridge trail that we have been on four times up in the Coyote Mountains. We decided to hike up to an large square rock outcropping that we call the fort. We have come across this trail on several hikes. We now call it Deneen's Pass, for reasons that I can't write about because Deneen got mad that I use her as an antagonist in my writing. But lets just say that "pass" would be a reference to the 1970s game show Match Word and not a reference to say Donner Pass or Sonora Pass.

In the cool of the evening we began our hike, with the intent of making it a fast hike. In the first thirty-five minutes we had hiked a mile in and a half mile up. Not bad. And not far to go. After a ten minute break we evaluated. Do we really want to go to the top? We had made it this far before. And from here Davis had run up to the fort.

Up to the fort.

This hike was a little harder, and a little longer.

Ok, we made the fort.

"Let's just see what's beyond the next ridge."

After a ten minute break we evaluated. It did not look far to the next landmark. We have hiked this trail four times. We always talk about whether it is a very old Indian trail, or possibly a big horn sheep trail, or according to Martin, "just a hiking trail."

At the top, the trail opened up to a wide, flat mesa of desert pavement that overlooked the valley below. In the center of the mesa there was the remnant of a geoglyph. The end of the trail was a shaman ceremonial site, and in fact, there was a discernible spiritual feeling in the landscape.

On the way back down the mountain we came across our first rattlesnake. Cool huh!

Well, it's no lion fish.

But it will have to do. This was a pretty good day.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Taco Wednesdays

Last night the news out of Yuma, AZ, showed that our weather is moving from "hot" to "hotter," but today we had a break in the weather and it was a cool 102 degrees. So this evening we packed our packs and headed out for a hike into the Coyote Mountains.

We hiked up into a wash to get our of the wind and learned to use Davis' emergency fire starting kit that he bought before he came out. It took some work to get the hang of it, but a pocket full of dryer lint did the job and wala...fried corn tortilla taco night.

We finished dinner and hiked up the ridge trail in the fading sunlight.

Just a typical mid week evening I guess. Got to get home so we can watch Americas Got Talent.

Monday, July 4, 2011

July 4 - Independence Day

This July 4th was very different than the last three. Grand Turk, if you remember, was a British Overseas Territory and they did not celebrate July 4th. In fact they did nothing. And last year the blog entry records that we did not do anything either.

Well this year we are in America. Though we are right on the border. Americanism is kind of big. It's just the large majority of the Americans here are bilingual.

There is a celebration called Freedom Fest at the Imperial Valley Community College that is county-wide Chamber of Commerce sponsored event. It is the largest attended event in the valley, well next to the Children's Festival which had 40,000 attendees this year.

Like most things here, the event had a small town feel. But it was tacos and fireworks so how bad could it be. It reminded us a lot of 2002 when we drove to Vencennes, Indiana, for the fourth. Or possibly the 4ths that we spent in Loudonville, Ohio, during music camps at Judson Hills Camp.

It was cool to see fireworks, again.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

60 Degreeeeeeeees

I think the hottest place I have ever been was in Phoenix in the mid 1980s. It was 100 degrees at midnight while we were playing basketball.

I know I have pointed out that the Imperial Valley is the second hottest place in the United States to live. But really? Can you read that? I mean really? Can you read that?

That is the front porch.

This morning the Ocotillo Optimist Club had a bike parade and an ice cream social. It was at 8:30am. It was the coolest part of the day at about 105 degrees.

We went out at 4:00 at the peak heat of the day, just to be Nietzschian. Deneen bet me that we would not see another person. The gas station was full. Every car smelled like radiator fluid. We went over to my new friend Jimmy's house to check what his thermometer read. Both my new friend Jimmy and Steve the neighbor came out to sit on the porch. It was only 117 on Jimmy's porch.

Its about midnight. Its 108 degrees on the porch. I am going to get in the hot tub to cool off.

Well it didn't kill us, so I guess we're stronger.