Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Stroke of Genius

Sometimes in marriages it takes one spouse to gently remind the other of a possible foible, to help set things right as it were. This time it was the lovely L of J and L, Laureen, who had to once again remind J, John, that we do not write simply a travel blog but rather a blog with a broader scope: one concerning research and exploration. John usually just tells inquisitive minds - "Yeah, we travel and write about those travels." He starts researching, then writing and thinking of how the words and photos need to fit onto the page while Laureen smiles and explains that the whole idea behind this blog is to share the concept of digging deeper into "What's in your backyard?" Research and then go out and explore where that research leads whether near to home or further out into the world. It doesn't really matter, just go!

John continues to smile away while speaking with our new-found friends of the evening while Laureen explains the nuts and bolts of what we do. While social media in all its various forms is done, and perhaps overdone  in our modern age, blogging is still a relatively opaque field for many. And,  it is good to have Laureen around in public when John opens his mouth - it's a synergy sort of thing.

Laureen - posing, again
So, with a wedding anniversary coming up J and L wondered what sort of thing would be truly unique - sipping champagne atop the Eiffel Tower? Walking the ruins of an ancient tomb in Rome? Perhaps even looking for pirate treasure in the Caribbean? But reality crashed in and with work schedules they started looking into local events which could be fun and emphasize togetherness (thus why people celebrate the day they were married).

Kudos to Laureen who found a small company out of the Inland Empire in Southern California called the Purple Easel.

A rose by another name
An extremely innovative practice of getting groups of strangers (of course, you can attend with loved ones or friends) for a few hours to teach the art of art. Yes, actually painting on canvas - that one stumbling block which gets in the way of most talented people - to put our work out there for others to see (and criticize perhaps). If to criticize is to bolster the artist's talent then bring it on, but if it is simply a tool to ridicule then leave the room.

At least, that is J's sentiment with as many writing critics he's had.

The artist at work
We spent a very enjoyable evening in Riverside, California at the El Torito Restaurant with our two instructors (artists extraordinaire), Ian (the guy in the front of the room giving stroke by brush struck  instructions to us palette neophytes), and Aarick who wandered the room giving hints here and there to the artists-in-training doing their best to create works resembling something you could call art. For many it was a struggle mixing the right shades from the variety of colors, but we looked good mixing and actually most of the new artists turned white canvases into something they could proudly show friends and family.

Dr. Beyer - deep in artistic concentration
It isn't easy painting background colors, trees, shadows trees, branches that don't look like lumps of color, and most challenging of all, the elk.  At one point, Laureen's baby elk, I believe the term is calf, appeared to be an alien hybrid animal. Art is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose. Eventually though, with the assistance of our instructors, the animal began to take on more earthly proportions.

Writing is difficult enough, and I suppose that is why God created editors, but when placing colors onto canvas there is not much help from above. Unless it's people like Aarick or Ian standing behind you suggesting gently that your painting would look better if you concentrated on making the trees look like trees instead of telephone lines waiting for the utility crews to attach the overhead wires. Of course, they never said things like that but were only the most two encouraging fellas one could hope for when painting.
The fun begins

This was not paint by the numbers - nope. A blank canvas, an original painting at the head of the room, and directions (amply given) by the two artists. Every painting resembled the original to a degree but unique was an understatement amongst the forty people there on a Monday evening hoping to be the next Monet.

A proud moment
J was hoping not to get paint on his jeans while L was looking forward to the next attempt to be placed in the Louvre. Well, perhaps I overstate just a bit.

Bringing it home

And you have to love a company which advertises - Laugh, Drink (responsibly), paint and you will leave with your own unique and personally painted masterpiece.

Purple Easel offers painting events at their studio in Rancho Cucamonga or at various locations through-out Southern California and seems to be growing by the week according to KTLA and the Inland Empire Explorer.

Not sure we painted a couple of masterpieces but we're blogging about them, putting them on Facebook (L is since J can't even spell Facebook) and they are hanging in our home.
Our First Works of "Art"
That's what we refer to as masterpieces in our high desert locale!

For more information:

Purple Easel
Enriching Lives Through the Joy of Painting

11966 Jack Benny Dr. Unit 104 Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91739 Phone: 909.638.1272
Reservations@PurpleEasel.corms & Conditions

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

Where do the years go? It seems just like yesterday one hundred and six years ago that the first Newport Beach 'Christmas' Boat Parade took place. Of course, back then it was known as the Illuminated Water Parade.

In 1907 an entrepreneur by the name of John Scarpa started taking tourists from the local cities across Beacon and Balboa Bay in his Italian inspired gondolier all festive with lit Japanese lanterns.

Not John but just a cool photograph.
It caught on and just the next year Scarpa was leading eight kayaks, all burning the lanterns in the same manner as their leader to the delight of site-seers crowding the board walks. This event landed on July 4th of 1908 and the birth of the annual (almost, it was called off for a few years because of WWI) boat parade was begun.

John Scarpa was the man!

Things got better and spookier though in 1915 when a spectacular parade with forty vessels took place including two boats shooting fireworks at each other, two underwater mines being exploded to the thrill of the crowds and a derelict boat set afire in the middle of the bay. What fun but don't try that in the 21st Century. 

Do not try this at home!
After the 'Great War' Joseph Beeker a true pioneer in the very early days of Newport Beach brought the boat parade back into existence. The man who developed Beacon Bay, started the Balboa Ferry Line and was one of the major player in creating that haven for million dollar plus homes on Balboa Island was in his element. His clout and prestige brought the boat parade back to full glory in 1919.

However in 1949 the City Fathers decided that this show of lights upon the waters of Balboa Bay were bringing in too many tourists from outside (those whom don't belong) crowding the streets and viewing areas and stopped the parade.  Play back to 1946 when Newport Beach City employees had started pulling a barge about the bay during the Christmas Season sporting a large decorated tree and lots of people on the barge singing carols. Those folks continued on disregarding the poo-poo politicians and soon other yachties joined the barge lighting up their own boats and powering around the bay in good spirits.

Boats of all sizes show their pride
The parade was back on and the Beeker family joined in with the use of their ferries in the bay allowing visitors to be in the parade itself to the delight of friends and family on shore waving and singing songs.

The parade has morphed into one of the top ten Holiday Events in the country according to Davey's Locker out of Newport Beach (actually on Balboa Peninsula) and by the more than a million people each year who view the show live.  The parade is conducted for five nights (Dec. 17 thru the 21st) prior to Christmas and seems to be getting better each and every year.

Some pretty big yachts.

J and L have made the parade a family tradition since our girls were little and this year we were treated (by those same girls) to be in the boat parade itself and not just shore observers. An exciting time with family and new found friends aboard our own bit of history.

Houses lit up and maybe the owners too?
Our gander around the bay to view the wonderful lights of both the houses (and in some cases mansions which looked more like hotels) was from the very large and comfortable 'Western Pride' out of Davey's Locker and choreographed by Captain Mike Harkins and his great crew. There's a reason Mike is called a Skipper - the way he was able to 'skip' this large ship around the bay in and between the countless yachts and dinghies proved he was simply a magician or a guy with nerves of steel. We'll go with both descriptions at this time after witnessing first hand his control of the wheel and confident voice over the speakers describing every aspect of the tour of lights. In truth, a very nice man who took his job very seriously - navigating safely and ensuring his passengers enjoyed the spectacular array of lights.

The dozens of guests on the Western Pride certainly enjoyed themselves by the sound of the oohs, ahhs and laughter all around us. A picture perfect evening during the season when perfection started a little over two thousand years ago.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas and don't forget, there's always 2015.

For more information:
Davey's Locker
(949) 673-1434

Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Santa Claus Lane

"You must think we're just awful. I mean you're here with your family, and ..." She gestured toward the gentleman on the parade sidelines and the lovely young lady and children next to whom he was standing.

He smiled broadly and lifted both arms in an open and welcoming gesture. "Come here, honey."

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This one left the ladies breathless.

Johnny Depp meets the Tombstone Legends
The Tombstone Legends had been invited to join Lasky Productions to celebrate 100 years of cinema in Hollywood, the place where it all begin. We would be the first group of performers on the red carpet at the 83rd Hollywood Christmas Parade. So off we trouped in full 19th century regalia (I mean, we are celebrating how things were a hundred years ago, right?) to Hollywood and our rendezvous spot in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater on the Walk of Fame. As the first group of performers, (following the Marine Corps Band who will kick things off with a bang at the start of the actual parade) the producers and "Others of Importance" responsible for getting this big show literally on the road (Hollywood, Vine and Sunset, to be specific), had us march back and forth across the red carpet for the better part of an hour so they could calibrate the cameras, sound, lights, etc. in front of the grandstands. 

Still a Wonder
We practiced our pacing, blocking out our walk while being serenaded by no other than Stevie Wonder, the Grand Marshall, as he warmed up at the keyboard. At the end of our final walk-through, the group ended in front the Wonder himself, broke formation, and started to dance with abandon. Partying like it's 1881, mind you, considering how we're dressed.  It was an exciting moment for a little group of Western theatrical actors from various parts of Southern California.

So off the carpet to dry off and prepare for the actual parade. It had been literally pouring all afternoon, a rarity in this part of the state and a blessing in the current drought. But that couldn't dampen the troupe's spirits as we shuffled past Erik Estrada and Montel Williams and the dozens of big names and familiar faces that make this parade such a favorite among the estimated 26 million who watch it every year on television.

Back to the Roosevelt Hotel where one of our group noticed a quiet man with his family standing at the guardrails awaiting the parade. He looked a lot like Johnny Depp. A LOT. But this is Hollywood and look-a-likes are everywhere. Still there was something about him. Will Roberts,internationally known roper and gunslinger was doing his best to entertain the little group braving the rain when he says to the gentleman, "I bet you get this a lot: but you look a lot like Johnny Depp."

The man smiles and replies, "Yeah, I get that a lot."

As Will started to walk away, he heard the gentleman's companion call his name: Johnny. Seriously?

J and L on the red carpet
Well, you know how that story ended. That's how we opened this blog -- and the proof is in the picture. He was nothing but a gentleman as John and Johnny spoke, shook hands, and wished each other and their families Merry Christmas. A wink and a nod to his companion from Depp and off we went. We were working, after all. Not too many can claim Johnny Depp came to see them perform. Okay, maybe he and his family wanted to watch the parade and not just us. But we all dream a little.

So about that parade.

This one is special. Star-struck or not, this one has lasted a long time and has quite an interesting history. It was originally known as the Santa Claus Lane Parade. In 1928, the merchants along a one-mile stretch of Hollywood Boulevard, would close down the road to hold a parade (and boost sales). The original parades had perhaps one float, a band, a celebrity and, of course, Santa Claus.

The parade was shut down during World War II, but in 1946, the parades began again with Gene Autry as the Grand Marshall. As Gene Autry headed down the parade route, all he could hear were children shouting "Here comes Santa Claus. Here comes Santa Claus." After all, Santa was in the vehicle behind him, and we all know who the kids really came to see. Sorry Gene. Did you ever wonder what the inspiration was behind the song that has become a perennial Christmas favorite: Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)?
Gene Autry, long-time grand marshal of Santa Claus Lane

The parade has grown. The route is now over three miles. (Try that in your high-heeled Victorian boots). And grand marshals have included astronaut Buzz Aldrin (last year), Charlton Heston, William Shatner, Ron Howard, Michael Landon and that other name you associate with Christmas, James (Jimmy) Stewart. There are floats, stars in fancy cars and on foot, marching bands, and such a festive holiday atmosphere, that if you weren't feeling in a Christmas mood when you arrived, we'd be shocked if you left without humming a little to yourself or hearing one of the songs in your head. That'll put you in the Christmas spirit.

And the purpose of all this? Well, of course, people love to see the floats, wave at the celebrities. Heck, we liked being psuedo-celebrities for the night. But Hallmark Channel, the primary sponsor of this parade, anticipates donating 1.5 million dollars to Toys for Tots through this parade and the related holiday season events. The US Marine Corps' Toys for Tots program provided over 16 million toys last year to 7 million children.

We certainly couldn't imagine a better reason to stand in the rain for hours than to benefit the children at Christmas.

Merry Christmas from Hollywood to you!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Riverside Festival of Lights

Come one - Come all to the Festival of Lights!!
Once again starting November 28th at precisely (as exact as one can get) 4:30 p.m. Pacific Standard Time a switch will be thrown and the majority of downtown Riverside in Southern California will become a beacon of twinkling lights for the International Space Station.

There - Just to the north-east - we think
For five long holiday weeks the evenings in this rather beautiful city will be highlighted (a bit of a play on words here) with over three and half million Christmas lights strung through trees, bushes and tightly wrapped around the historic Mission Inn and Spa. The brain child of Frank Miller who started building a small 'rest stop' for weary travelers back in 1902 who came to visit the once thriving citrus valley a mere sixty miles east of Los Angeles. Miller's dream continued to build as did the structure of the Inn to its present day splendor - proudly owned by Duane and Kelly Roberts who seem to try and outdo the previous year's lighting project each consecutive season.

 And a project it is with millions of lights along with animated singers, dancers, and other Holiday spirited entities twirling, bowing, and moving along the exterior of the entire Mission Inn. The interior of the Inn is just as enthralling as the exterior but the favorite is still the outside as tens of thousands of visitors pay court to the artistry which is taken to display such a massive and costly display of lights.

A sing along perhaps?
 In fact, J and L were fortunate enough to spend a night at the Mission Inn two days before Christmas last season and had a chance to speak with some of the folks who had put up the lights. We learned that on some of the tallest palm trees surrounding the exterior pool no cranes or scaffolding could be used to hang the lights but simply a man who seemed to have the ability to clamber up the trunk of the palm while encircling that very same trunk. A rope, good footing, and a pride to do the best job he could were the three ingredients needed to succeed and succeed he did. J would have just thrown the lights as high as he could to the branches and hoped they would stay lit - much like he does at his own abode.

How do they do that?
Professional light hanger he is not. Though, on a side note - John is so enamored with the Mission Inn it was featured in his recent novel - Soft Target (2014).

Professional writer - yes - light hanger - no!

Stay warm - my friends
Besides the lights, there is an ice skating rink, food and craft vendors, stores offering all sorts of specialty items for purchase, hot chocolate by the gallons, and live entertainment within a block of the Mission Inn. A couple of hours can easily be spent hiking from area to area enjoying all that a quaint downtown could offer during the Christmas Season.

Lighted Chariots of Romance

J and L finding it all rather cozy
 Of course, this is not a sales pitch for the 22nd Annual Riverside Festival of Lights (it doesn't need a blog from the High Desert to sell this wonderful event to the public) but simply a reminder by J and L to go out and take in sights and sounds of nearby towns.

It is truly amazing to find such wonderful surprises close to home.

And what better time than Christmas to explore such an uplifting experience.

Move along now - get a crackin' - did I say that really?!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Devil's Punchbowl - Pearblossom

Hiking in Southern California is a wondrous experience any time of the year but one of the most attractive times is the Autumn. Though the 'Golden State' is nearing its fourth year of a very nasty drought this recent Fall the trees are still changing color, the mornings are crisp and the afternoons are generally very comfortable to put one foot in front of the other and hit the wilderness for an adventure.

If California was a sibling he/she would not be liked by the other brothers and sisters. Trying for an analogy here!

This is what makes camping and hiking so enjoyable during this time of year. Moving, seeing, experiencing, and exercising makes for a most wonderful day without the extremely high temperatures of summer.

During the month of November J and L decided to head out to the Devil's Punchbowl in Pearblossom (a mere forty minutes from their abode in the High Desert of Southern California) to explore and a quick (actually three hour) seven and a half mile hike through some of the most interesting and beautiful terrain a human could envision.

Just one of the vistas
As life sometimes does, at the last moment Laureen couldn't make the over-nighter (we had decided to bring the RV and relax in the evening around a campfire after the events of the day). But the trip was still on with John and Paul Bakas (our videographer and cameraman) and the exploration began just forty miles away knowing John had never visited the awesome geologic formations within the Angeles National Forest on the northern slopes of the San Gabriel Mountains in the county of Los Angeles.

Guide Posts

We didn't know and know we needed to know. Thus the reason our motto is 'what is in your backyard?'

Devil's Punchbowl sits at a little over  4,700 feet above sea level and was created by the San Andreas Fault which squeezed, over eons, the sedimentary rocks when water leaked through their layers thus creating the steeply tilted forms the area is best known for.

Think of Play-Doh between the palms of two hands tightly clasping each other - remove them and there you have creations of tall visions of beauty. Or at least that's what John remembers with the 'magical' properties of Play-Doh.

Walking the sometimes narrow path toward the Devil's Chair, which isn't a chair at all but just simply a large peninsula like outcropping of granite overlooking the over 300 foot canyon can be a bit challenging. But it is these hikes that make the journey worthwhile. Though the trail is only seven and a half miles it can still break a sweat on the hiker over the 594 foot elevation gain. With Fall in the air moving from a sunny spot on the path to a shady patch beneath cliffs or tall trees can send the temperature dropping fifteen degrees within moments. From sweating to being chilly.

Paul climbing out of the Devil's Chair!

It's the way of hiking!

J enjoying the view.

Walking through forests of pinon pine, Joshua Trees, cottonwoods, and the bushy shrubs of the desert chaparral makes for a day to really enjoy the many varied flora that is indigenous to the locale. Unfortunately due to the time of the year many of the animals one may see during spring and summer were not out but getting ready to hunker down for the winter - perhaps in six months a return trip will be in order to view the chipmunks, squirrels, deer, and even maybe a rattlesnake - but on this hike besides the ravens and a hawk or two gracing the skies the hike was rather devoid of wildlife.

After the hike John and Paul decided to relax in the RV at a public campground just a few miles east of Devil's Punchbowl on Big Rock Creek Road. Sycamore Flat Camp was the perfect place to set up camp and 'rough it' for the night after such a fruitful day. Then again, 'roughing it' in a thirty-four foot Bounder Class A isn't a too bad way to go except for having to start the generator the next morning to brew the coffee.

Yes, Sycamore Flat Camp is a dry camp - no water available - but it does have a very nice unisex cement block porta-potty and bear proof trash cans. The sites are very large and separated from other campers by a good thirty feet or more and the cost - a measly $5 per night! In all their travels J and L have never found anything cheaper (though L wasn't on this trip) unless it was when they pitched their tent way off the grid in 'no man's land'.

A warm fire, cold beverages, fine cigars, a hot dinner, and the comfort of a RV made for a very enjoyable end to a great day of hiking through the wilderness.

Paul Bakas enjoying a warm fire

As we like to say - go and explore in your own backyard and you will be surprised at what you will find. Following our own advice we are constantly surprised and delighted.

And isn't that what researching and exploring is all about - to find treasures you didn't know existed and sometimes at your own fingertips.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Walking with the Dead - Almost?

Jacks of the Lantern
J and L have been fortunate enough to travel extensively to bring stories and photographs back for our readers to enjoy but with Halloween just around the corner we thought we may add our own idea about this peculiar horriday.

The origin of Halloween as we know it today is still a bit of a mystery as many scholars refer to it as All Hallow's Eve or the Eve of All Saint's Day, it is the time of year we mere mortals use humor to confront the power of death. Most of these historical experts believe October 31st was tamed by the Christians to take away the power of the Celts and their Gaelic Samhain feast day (and was actually celebrated on a different day altogether). Why allow the Druids (the original tree huggers) a day of visiting strangers and demanding cakes (the original treat), candy or anything else of value from strangers when anyone could get into the mix and nix the pagans.  Of course, with any theory, there are skeptics who believe it was Christian all along - very few but they exist and doesn't the sound of Druids, Celts (kelts), Gaelic, and Samhain give a better ring for Halloween? Sounds almost spooky and ancient.

Druids - original tree huggers
 Well, maybe not ancient but pretty darn old since the first mention of All Hallow's Eve didn't show up in the Old English language until 1556. In geologic time that may not sound ancient but when it's hard to remember sometimes what one had for lunch yesterday it is indeed a long long long time ago.

Whenever the term or terms became part of the yearly festival of dressing up like ghosts, ghouls, zombies and ex-spouses it has stuck and became part of a worldwide culture. Billions are spent each year for this one special day around this globe and grows more every 364 days until the next neighborhood haunting.

It's truly a day to go out, for both adults and children and dress up to try to give the person next to you a heart attack and then laugh when the defibrillator doesn't function properly. Probably just another trick to obtain that elusive Snicker's Bar.

On a serious note - if there is one here - we at J and L tend to be a bit suspicious about supposed hauntings since we've visited countries such as France, Spain, Italy, England, the Caribbean, South America  where legends abound of ungodly things happening within the walls of houses, castles and cemeteries. Nada. Not even the creep of a hair on our necks.

In San Diego, California we visited the Whaley House (supposedly the most haunted site in California) but yet when John jumped up and down on the stairway where the most 'feelings' were of other worldly spirits the only feeling he got was he would be exited from the building. Though, to be completely honest as written in another blog we did have an uncomfortable feeling and the photographs showed 'something' unusual in a downstairs room that we could not explain. Stairs batting zero and room batted us almost out of there in a hurry - even got a cold chill.

Whaley House San Diego - Nice digs for a ghost
But nothing could have prepared us for the 'night ghost walk through Dublin'. Sure, it was almost dark, the sky glistening a long lasting sunset in the summer but as our tour guide (yes, sometimes you have to take a tour to see certain things) moved us from place to place visiting ancient Viking residences to the more mundane things of only a few hundred years ago we knew there was something special waiting for us.

No not that - ghostly sighting!
Sure enough we found that 'special something' where a poor lass named Darkey Kelly who had become involved with a married man of some note in Dublin in the 18th century and ended up pregnant. Now, Darkey Kelly didn't have a pristine past since she was once a girl of the night turned madame of her own business but nonetheless she was pregnant, single and coming from the darker side of Dublin. The father of her child fearing for his reputation (whatever that meant), was terrified others would find out declared that Kelly was in fact a witch (that being enough to seal anyone's fate, especially during such a superstitious time in society). That was all it took to have Kelly dragged by the hair up forty stone steps to the churchyard of St. Audoen's where she was summarily tried, convicted and burned alive along with her unborn child.

Laureen scared - not really - just a cartoon
Rumors, myths and tales tell of people hearing a young woman moaning in the night about the loss of her child or others say they have seen her spirit walking the churches grounds in search of something that no longer exists - her child, her innocence, her lover, or the people that murdered her on a lie?

We listened and took photographs and felt sorry for her. But upon returning home to the states and looking at the downloaded pictures something jumped out at us. While taking multiple photos of the area where this poor woman was mercilessly dragged to her ultimate death we had shots of an empty pathway, an empty gate and then suddenly two photographs taken a split second apart were totally different. One was dark showing the gated area and the next one showed the same gate but eerily there seemed to be an orb of light to the right of the gate. We put it down to a number of things but always coming back to it we quite couldn't put our finger on what we were looking at.

Research began. Don't take anyone's word for something - research first! Other blogs that referenced what we may have photographed.

3/13 - 4girlsandaghost - "I took a photograph from up on the churchyard steps, looking down towards the entrance gate. Not being a big believer in orbs, I disregarded it for the moment. Very shortly after I took the picture, the tour guide went on to say that the apparition of Kelly was often spotted just inside the gate."

6/09 - ghostcatcherie - "Upon analyzing my photos from the tour I found a very unusual shape in one of the photos taken on the 40 steps. I brightened this to see more detail and shape seems see through. I initially thought it to be a shadow, as it is transparent, but the colour and positioning seems odd. It was also taken with no flash in very little light. Although I cannot say this was a ghost, it is still a very interesting photo indeed."

A Dark Corner
A Darkey Kelly?

Compare the photos we took of the place Darkey Kelly was brought and you decide. We're open to any explanations but the hairs did stand out on our necks on that tour, and what was a rather warm day for Dublin suddenly turned very cold as we stepped through the gate where many years ago a young woman was dragged to her death.

So, Happy Halloween and remember the ghosts, goblins or whatever visiting your doorstep may not be mere humans dressed up for the night but could be those who haven't decided if it is their time to leave this blue planet?

Who knows for sure but isn't that the haunting fun of such a night?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Homage to Family - Sort of

Tino Luciano aka Doc Holliday from Tombstone Legends
Members of the Tombstone Legends have been live on the stage, filmed a television series, and even full length movie. So, when J and L decided to meet this talented group of actors and dear friends at Mountain View Cemetery in San Bernardino, California recently, it was an event which the two intrepid explorers knew must be made to fit into their habitually busy schedule.

As members of the Legends, the theatrical group who revisit the days when Tombstone, Arizona Territory, reached its height in fame or infamy depending on your point of view, or more precisely the late Fall and Winter months of 1881 and 1882. We try to keep the spirit of the old west alive. The time when men were men and they lived by a more chivalrous code. Well, for the most part. A time when the gentlemen and ladies truly did wear the latest in Paris fashions in the dust and heat of the Sonoran desert. Ah, but a figure they cut. And, yes, this is the era of the most famous gunfight in the 'old west' even though it lasted only about thirty seconds.
Tombstone Legends meet a few of their namesakes 

Wyatt Earp and Ike Clanton (actually three Earps, Doc Holiday, two Clantons and two McClaurys ) met not far from the OK Corral for a duel. Almost mano y mano except there were a lot more than two men facing each other. There were a couple who ran away from the fight before it started (not on the Earp side) and even Ike Clanton decided once the bullets started flying that it was in his best interest to skedaddle. He lived through that gunfight but ironically was gunned down and killed two years later by another law officer (Jonas L. Brighton) when he refused to surrender after a robbery and thought a horse could out run a bullet.

Obviously Ike never bothered to study physics. 

Back to the topic - the Legends were invited to the event by well known historian and author Nick Cataldo of the San Bernardino County Sun Newspaper. What event? The first annual (love saying that since it's the first) stroll through a cemetery that definitely is a piece of local historical value and what better narrator to lead over one hundred visitors than Mr. Cataldo. He is probably the utmost authority of history in San Bernadino and that is one large county in the United States to know as much as he does.

One of the points J and L always tries to stress is to go and investigate what is near a person's own backyard. There are so many wonderful and exciting venues, historical sites, and just plain interesting places to visit that one does not need to be a jet setter and explore the word for excitement and insight. Just take a few moments and do some local research and that very researcher will find enough items to last a life time to dig into.
The good, the bad, and Behan

So, again why visit a cemetery?

Because that's where the stories are of who was here long ago and not so long ago.

The Legends have never let the remembrance of that gunfight go to the wayside. That fateful and  controversial afternoon of October 26 of 1881 was and is still one of the most defining moments of western lore - good or bad. The troupe decided this event was for them and there was no way they were going to miss it.

Where's this going?

Simple fact - James Earp was the older brother of both Virgil, Wyatt and Morgan  Earp who worked in a saloon in Tombstone on the day of the tragic shoot-out but was not personally involved in that or the vendetta that Wyatt pursued after the younger brother, Morgan, was murdered while playing billiards in March of 1882. James passed away of natural causes in 1926 and is buried at Mountain View Cemetery.

A quiet moment
Alvira Packingham Sullivan Earp (Allie) is also interred at the same cemetery close to where James lays in rest - she is the long time common-law wife of Virgil Earp who moved to Colton, California in early 1882 (after Morgan's murder) to recuperate from his nearly fatal own assassination attempt back in December of 1881 in Tombstone. He recovered but never regained the full use of his left arm for the remainder of his life.

Paying respects
Hmmm - who pulled off the attempted murder of Virgil and the successful murder of Morgan? It's pretty well known the Clanton's (especially Ike) were behind the bloodshed but no one was held responsible and the crimes went 'unsolved'. CSI wasn't around just yet.

So the Legends paid their respects to the Earp family members but still stayed with the crowd as Nick Cataldo spoke about various important people from the past who were residing within the gated cemetery. The list is long so only two will be mentioned here but if the reader is interested in the rest please refer to the cemetery or the articles well written by Mr. Cataldo in the newspaper.

Randy Rhoads: gone but not forgotten
Consider carefully your mode of travel
Sunny Sue Johnson was an actress who appeared in both Flashdance and National Lampoon's Animal House just to name a coupe of her credits. One of the saddest mausoleums was erected by the family of Randy Rhoads who died in a plane crash in 1982 at the age of 26. He was the lead guitarist for  Ozzy Osbourne after leaving Quiet Riot in 1980. He was on the way to eclipse Jimmy Hendrix as the best guitarist known (according to the records kept at that time) but since he died at a young age as did Hendrix those competition results will only be known by the angels. Rhoads, according to Osbourne at the time was going to give up the rock and roll life and finish his Master's Degree in Classical Music to become a full time music teacher. He believed the life led by most rock and rollers (he didn't drink much, do drugs or smoke) was not to his liking with his Christian upbringing. An errant joy ride in an ill gotten airplane by the band's bus driver ended his and many of his faithful followers future.

What one can learn visiting a graveyard! More than you would expect - go visit, read and mainly enjoy the art of exploring.

It's fascinating what you learn only a few dozen miles from your abode.