Sunday, 24 February 2013

Natural and Un-Natural Trash

The Clean-Up Crew
Today, the 24th of February, we had a clean-up in Salton City at the Beach, south of Johnson's Landing, north of the Old Yacht Club - working our way slowly but surely down the coastline.

Eleven people showed up, most of whom I had never met before, which was great! It was also very nice to see familiar faces. Ages ranged from 7 and up.

It was quite windy, which made it difficult to start a new trash bag, it whipping in the wind and being unruly. Once the heavier stuff came in, such as glass bottles or some of the hard indefinable plastics, it weighed it down just fine. But then of course you have to carry said bag. Otherwise a pretty day.

One of the volunteers was a kid named Dominic and for a brief period of time we went around together and it was fun showing him the difference between natural and unnatural and what we should pick up and what we can leave behind. The purple balloon remnant with long purple string? Pick up. Blue hard plastic? Pick up. Plastic bottles? Oh yes, pick those up too. Bird Bone? Leave behind. As a very general rule, if it is man-made, pick it up. It doesn't decompose like natural items and is not part of the natural eco-system and natural cycle.
Apart from the fact that it is ugly. And a spot that is ugly and trashed invites more ugliness. It is said that people are more likely to dump in areas where there is already trash. And not only that, wildlife may attempt and often do try to feed on it or accidentally swallow the items. Dominic had a lot of fun. At only seven, he certainly made a huge impact and ran around picking up so many items and would not let anyone help him carry even the heavy stuff.  

Dominic and Manuel
We filled up a trailer with an assortment of goods ranging from thin and thick Styrofoam, thick and thin cardboard, half a table, a massive wire spool, the aforementioned indefinable hard plastics, the usual glass and plastic bottles and cans - including two Coors cans that would have had pull-off tabs....

Can anyone tell me how long ago it is since they used pull-off tabs for beer cans?

We do find a lot of random 'old stuff' not just in the way of old beer can's but other old tin cans, old glass bottles, parts of swimming pools and swimming pool accessories, and remnants of tires, wires and old electronics encrusted in salt, mud, muck and barnacles. The Salton Sea was at the height of its popularity in the 50-70's and with that came the objects that facilitated recreation and fun. The floods in the late seventies covered all these items up and now as the sea is beginning to recede, they are coming to light again. As though a time capsule was opening its doors.

I am curious about the weight of all the items we collected today and I hoping to find out the total weight on Tuesday when I bring the trash to the dump. Here in Salton City, our local dump is closed Sundays and Mondays, meaning I have to wait until Tuesday to bring it down.

Some of the volunteers found out about it through the flyer that I put into the local paper, West Shores News and I was told that Junior Ramirez was instrumental for passing on the message and rounding up his crew! Nice one Junior!

Here's the list of the Clean-Up Crew: (and I hope I get it right - reading other people's spelling is not always so easy...):

Thank you to George Mohoff, Manuel Cassilo, Tina Culp, Dominic and Lola, Connie Jenkins, Junior Ramirez, Jim O'Brien, Andrew Lawrence, Terresa Sanchez, and Claudette Castillo. A huge massive cheers to Ed Hoffman, for kindly lending us his trailer!!!

Looking forward to doing one in March. More information to come.

Getting ready!

Manuel and George

Tina and Dominic

In the fields and in the trees


Trailer almost Full of Trash

Monday, 18 February 2013

Powered Paraglider Fly-In Salton City 2013

5th-10th Feb:

About  150 powered paraglider pilots descended onto Salton City for the five day long fly-in. I was there to work at the Empanada Stand and sell my photos and books and got to meet some new people and re-met some people I met last year.

For the most part it was quite good fun. Chatting with people from all over the USA, Canada and even way further afield, it was great to see people come down to the Salton Sea to go fly. It is said to be one of the best places to fly when the wind isn't kicking about. Of course the wind does kick about sometimes.
Winter in the Desert does have it massive perks like perfect temperatures, but like all places there are downsides. Other places get rain, snow, thunderstorms, insanely cold temperatures, different types of rain, different types of grey clouds (England: you know what I mean) and so forth. Here our bad weather, the kind of weather that makes people want to cower inside their houses, is the howling yowling winds and the Haboobs / sand storms. Seeing Haboobs is pretty intense, it is a wall of sand coming right at you, like giant tsunami waves in an ocean.  So it was windy on a couple of those days. Not as bad as last year, but quite windy nonetheless. That does mean that the pilots are grounded apart from those pilots who are pretty darn crazy. 

One of the pilots, the very highly trained Christoph, who is from Germany but lives in the USA, said it was super intense and absolutely amazing being up there. The wind was such that he could hardly penetrate it flying into it. When turning he would be whipped into it and powerjet back at easily more than 40 mph. From where I was standing on the ground he appeared to reach jet speeds and Top Gun images and the respective Top Gun powersongs would form their way into my head. 

What did end up happening and this is the stuff of nightmares, is that a couple of days later on the day of the competition, one pilot, professional, fell out of the sky about 75ft off the ground. His wing collapsed. He is alive, in hospital and as of the moment is unsure whether he will ever walk again. Everyone is waiting on the news - all are thinking of him and his family. I did not witness the event myself, but I met many who know him and all are shocked and saddened by the situation. As with many sports, this one being higher up on the list of 'where bad things can happen', it happened. In the last couple of years, there have been others who in the field of flying - not just paragliding, but also ultralight pilots and others - met their early untimely death. Everybody is just thankful that this pilot is alive. 

In a sense because of this incidence, the last day was more subdued, but there were plenty of people who took to the skies and scoped the beauty of the Salton Sea from above. As for me (I tend towards things like hiking, and cycling and quiet things - apart from music, which I like loud and raucous) hearing the continuous drone of engine noise can be somewhat taxing. But it was also pretty awesome to see pilots take a couple of dainty steps with big backpacks on their backs and huge kites above their heads and be lifted into the skies. Not that everybody has dainty launches... in fact depending on the wind strength and skill level, a lot of foot launchers do not have dainty launches... But I did really want to join them up there. 

On a last note: One HUGE gripe I had, as do some of the residents here, is that there are a very small amount of pilots who choose to fly right by and on top of people's houses and/or scare off birds - both of which are NOT COOL... it's stupid, rude and completely inconsiderate to the residents and the wildlife. And it is always a few that ruin the reputation of everybody else.

Coming in for a landing.

Foot and Quad launching

Ask any pilot: a lot of time is spent repairing these machines

The Indy AirHogs
A note to this picture above: You must visit the super hilarious PPG for Morons, done by none other than the guy in the middle, Paul Anthem: Check out  PPG for Morons - Quick Exit...

Friday, 1 February 2013

On Torres-Martinez Tribal Land: the Rededication Ceremony of a 1907 Schoolhouse

Cake with old and new
The ceremony for the completion of an old schoolhouse, which was built in 1907 and only recently renovated was today on a warm, sunny day on Tribal Land near the northern end of the Salton Sea.

The school building is one of three buildings, which were all built around the same time and are California's oldest standing US agency buildings. So far, the Torres-Martinez have had enough funding to cover the renovation for the schoolhouse, but still lack the funding to do the same with the Agent Residence, which housed the teacher and the Indian Agent Building.


   Since 1970, the Torres-Martinez have made efforts to renovate  these buildings, as already then they were falling into states of disrepair. While it has been a good forty years since then, it does show that persistence and commitment and the old adage of 'if you don't succeed at first, try try again', do pay off.  The San Manuel Band of Serrano Indians supported a good portion of the project and were presented with a plaque in recognition of their support.

Some of the speakers today reminisced of the festivals, festivities and pow wows that have been held at the school house over the last few decades. Some of the elders spoke of using the building as a child and watching how the windstorms, the earthquakes, and simply aging allowed the building to deteriorate and there was nothing they could do. All were beyond appreciative and happy to see it in its original splendor once again. The ceremony was very emotional and joyful featuring also a group of Bird Singers and Dancers.

The Torres-Martinez have been in the Coachella Valley for thousands of years and are known as the Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians. They also have a pilot wetlands project on their land, right by the White River, a beautiful place filled with birds and wildlife.

Agent Residence

Indian Agent Building

Bird Singers and Dancers

Bird Singer

Congressman Raul Ruiz and Assemblyman Manuel Perez

A joke - MC Joseph Mirelez and Raul Ruiz laugh

Tribal Chairwoman Resvaloso at the entrance