Posts Tagged With: singles

HIKING-ANGELS CREEK TRAIL.

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From Highway 49, Glory Hole Recreation District at New Mellones, a free hike was advertised for New Years Day, rain or shine. You can see people warmly dressed as we strangers met at the entrance station and introduced ourselves.

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Dogs are allowed on the trails. We met two bikers and we saw evidence of horses using the trails. Walkers are asked to give way to horses, but we didn’t meet any.

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Ranger Josh, guided the group and pointed out the growth patterns of this type of forest and explained in some detail the various flora and fauna.img_0455-copy

At the beginning of the Angels Creek Trail, the forest has a mixture of digger pines, black oak, live oak and thick underbrush.  Ranger Josh admitted the underbrush is a fire hazard with chemise and buck brush.

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I was impressed by the girth of this giant manzanita specimen and the lichens and bright, green moss growing on it. Ranger Josh noted that the east side of the hills get most of the water. He told us that manzanita burns very hot and can burn up your stove, actually melt it if you use enough of it.

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Angels Creek is low, in tune with the current drought situation. The trail is a 2.5 mile hike.

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I looked at just about every mushroom, hoping to find a “buckskin”. (Not it’s scientific name.) The old Italians knew their mushrooms and would pick up large delicious mushrooms under manzanita habitat. I didn’t find a one. Deer feed on these, as do various insects.

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I didn’t get many pictures of the hikers. Strung out in a line, it is hard to capture everyone. The trail is narrow in most places. Looking back and forth I believe we had about 30 people on the hike. The Calaveras side of the Recreation Area has seven trails of different lengths and are rated easy, moderate, challenging and so on. This trail is moderate.

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When guided, Ranger Josh makes many stops and he even played a couple games with us. He formed us into a walking caterpillar, eyes closed, to just walk and tune your ears, nose and senses to the trail. If you are a lone hiker, you get the sense of quiet that being in a natural forest gives you.

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The sun didn’t come out during our 3 hour hike. This tree, etched against the overcast made a nice contrast, with the west side of the hill in the distance showing meadows; more barren than the brushy east hillside.

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At the end of the trail was a pretty view of the lake with an island showing that isn’t visible when the water level is normal. Drought conditions persist here in California though the recent rains are encouraging. The Calaveras side has seven trails and the  Tuolumne County, Tuttletown Recreation area also has seven trails.  Senior Citizens, with their pass can enter the hiking trails free at anytime of year. For most, there is a day use charge.

This was my first excursion with a new social singles group  and I got to meet the seven people at the end of the hike. Cindy is the key organizer and can be reached at this phone number if you are interested in joining. I didn’t ask permission to print her phone number, (no addresses are given), but her number was published in the newspaper ad for this hike, so here goes. 209-559-8517. The only qualification, you must be 50 or older. We picked up two new members at this event.

 

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THE HOMELESS-DIGNITY, SELF-WORTH.

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Continuing the saga of my homeless brother Norman, here he is with his little dog and his bike. He lost the dog the last time he was arrested.  He had taken over a condemned house. With a house address, he was able to get a bank account and begin collecting his social security which amounted to about $1,200 a month. He dug a new sewer line, fixed leaks on the roof, put in new flooring, a toilet and new plumbing. Over time,  he put in a washer and dryer and television set. He made friends with the neighbors.  He lived in this place for three years and invited a couple other homeless guys to live there too.  Then, he decided to plant a garden with veggies and marijuana. A neighbor reported on him and the police came to “his house”, knocked on the door, arrested him for growing marijuana. (The other two guys vacated the minute the cops came to the door.)The cops would not let him secure the house nor make arrangements for his dog.  Directly to jail.

In court, Norman could make a deal with the D.A. but he refuses. “If you do, they own you. They can just pick you up at any time and slap you back in jail for looking cross-eyed at someone.  Probation for me is useless. I can’t get anywhere on time. I don’t have a watch or a calendar. I often don’t know the time of day or what day it is.”

While in jail, another brother picked up his mail and deposited his checks and paid for his storage building.  Without family help, he would have had to reapply for Social Security all over again, and wait for it to clear, from 6 weeks to  3 months.  When Norman returned to “his house”, the place had been stripped of everything he owned. His dog, gone.

He made his way back to a homeless camping area under the freeway in San Leandro. Someone told him  about a mobile home park in Hayward with vacancies.  It was a run-down place. He walked up to apply. The woman took one look at him and turned the sign around and said she had no vacancies. He was scruffy and dirty again, by this time.

Norman is personable. People like him.  He makes it a point to befriend the storekeepers he must depend on so they know he doesn’t steal. He manages to fend off depression through his Bible and his faith.

Desperation is the most common ailment of the homeless. It sucks away any sense of well-being, hope or strength. It is naive to think that homeless people, single men especially, who can’t afford housing and basic necessities, should somehow be kind and sweet. Homeless people can be scary, full of tattoos, drunk and offensive, druggies, often panhandling aggressively. They don’t want to be dirty and stinky and loathed by all who see them. So called normal people with homes and traditional lives suffer from depression, drink too much, beat their wives, and kick the dog.  They can live their messy lives behind a locked door. But the homeless are treated like trash and we expect them not to be depressed, hungry, angry, criminal and ill?

It kind of reminds me of the old debtors prisons. You go prison for stealing a loaf of bread because you are hungry. You can’t get out until someone pays your way out, but you have no money to make that happen. Are we that medieval?  The way some cities treat the homeless, the answer is yes.

Everything has changed again for Norman. He is in a burnt out house that he is slowly fixing for the owner using his carpentry skills. He is not paid. With housing, he is stable, relatively sober and upbeat. The owner buys materials and arrives with his tools, one or two days a month. The owner takes the tools with him so no one can steal them while he is gone. (Not exactly the best neighborhood.)

At this new place, he has something to love-a stray cat;  He has a place safe from young street punks who steal his bike and shove him around, just because they can. Here guys on the street have offered him friendship and marijuana. He doesn’t trust them and so far has refused any involvement with them. It is easier to do when you have a locked door.

The owner, (to remain unnamed), is a guy Norman built a house for about 10 years ago when he was homeless but still working for food and booze.  It was before he had his stroke and before he could collect his social security. This man allows Norman to use his address for his mail when he is living on the street.

Norman has a throw away phone for which he buys minutes so he can communicate with me. He has a know it all attitude about some subjects and can be irritating at times.  I listen as patiently as I can.

Currently, his Social Security has been  reduced to $780 a month.  Social Security is on auto deposit now, and they promptly deducted Obama Care from his check.  He has no way to get to a hospital, or establish a relationship with a doctor. He recently had a toothache and was in considerable pain. But, he couldn’t get to a dentist either. His income and ability to find a place to live is further from reach then ever, when this house is finished.

His bills are few without rent. He has to pay his storage fee. When on the street he has electricity in his unit and he can cook in a crock pot and sit in a chair and write his letters. He has a place to keep his papers safe and dry.  But, no shower, nor place to sleep.  Still, it is a refuge of sorts that the manager of the storage building allows because he likes Norman.

Meanwhile, in this house, he can shower and keep himself clean.  He is stable and has a sense of purpose. He writes letters to public figures like Elizabeth Warren, President Obama, Governor Christie. He writes long letters to major newspapers and sends me copies of them.  He is a bit mentally impaired in that he thinks he is part of the political scene and is influencing others for a better America with his letters.

I feel he needs to know that he has some self-worth; that his opinion is worth something to someone. That someone cares about whether he lives or dies.  Isn’t that what we all need?  A sense of self-worth with some dignity?

In one of his letters to the editor, he wrote:  “A fox has his den, a bird has her nest, but the son of man has no place to lay his head.”

So, what is the answer? More tomorrow.

 

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My Current Location Near Yuma, Arizona…

About 12 miles north of Yuma, Arizona is a small parcel…about 5 acres…of BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land where RVers can park for free while visiting the Yuma area. Yuma has dozens of RV parks where one can stay for 35+ dollars a day…but free is good.

My ex-Singles RV group has parked here for a number of years during the Christmas/New Year’s Day period. They are here now so I’ve had a chance to see some old friends even though I’ve elected not to join their gathering. Another reason RVers like this spot is because, daily, the VFW has a band from 2 to 6 PM, that plays good old country and western music that draws a good crowd. In addition, on Christmas Day, the VFW hosted a great meal of ham and all the fixings for only a $5 donation or for free if you brought a dish. I paid the $5 because I do not like to cook. They also have a similar meal on New Year’s Day.

The weather this year has been a little cool…in the 60’s. But, starting today, the long-range forecast is in the 70’s. New Year’s Day current forecast is for sunny and 75 degrees. Right on!…says the Weather Wimp…that’s me according to my life-partner Mary. She’s currently at home enjoying the holidays with her family. She’s scheduled to join me once again in about three weeks.

Here’s what the place looks like…

First a Google Earth view looking from above. This image was taken on September 30, 2006 so the lot appears empty but for three RV’s. The little round spots with a dot in the middle are creosote bushes…found everywhere in the desert southwest.

I’ve identified the adjacent VFW location. I stay a lot at VFW’s but I’m told county regulations do not allow it at this location. I’ve also identified my location with an “x”. Also identified  are where I took below photo’s 1,2 and 3. In these photos I’ve highlighted my location with a yellow marker. You can see enlarged views by clicking on the photos and an even larger view by clicking on the photo once again…

In photo #1, the entrance is just to the left of the stop sign. I’m located along the southerly fence line…tends to be quieter here…

Photos #2 and 3 were taken from atop a small rise…probably about 25 feet above the site elevation which is about 288 feet above sea level…

Here’s a panorama shot…

Like many places I travel these days…the number of RV’s is less. A few years back…this site would be crammed with more than twice as many as there is now. You’d be lucky to find a spot if you came in today, years ago. A long-time friend from the singles group told me 10 years ago they would draw about 150 RV’s. This year they have 58 registered. Quite a difference.

I’ve never particularly liked this location. It tends to be crowded, windy, dusty and noisy because of the vehicle traffic on Highway 95 and the railroad on the other side of the highway. The BLM regulations allow a 14 day stay before one has to move along. At 35+ dollars a day in an RV park…that comes to around $500. Despite the negatives here as identified above…free is good!

Here’s a photo from my location about one hour before sunrise…

and the same shot about five minutes after the sun dipped below the horizon with the VFW in the foreground…

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2011
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