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Babbitt Road on Val’s Road

My daughter has been working for The Wilderness Society and knows I am always looking for great nature photos of roads for my blog. She found this gorgeous one of Babbitt Road for me. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Babbitt Road

The location for this shot is Tahoe National Forest which is located in the Eastern Sierra Nevada (California). The dirt road is flanked by aspens and leads to Babbitt Peak Fire Lookout. The lookout was built in 1937 and is staffed during fire season. The elevation at the peak is over 8,000 feet.

If you come across a beautiful road in nature and would like to share it on valsroad, please send it along through the Contact button at the top of my front page.

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Have you heard this term before? It’s nothing like the lyrics in the song “It’s Raining Men” by The Weather Girls.

I saw this term for the first time as a headline in Conde Nast Traveler’s online edition (dated June 7, 2017). It read: “Madrid Bans Manspreading On Its Public Transport.”

Manspreading is when a guy sits down and spreads his legs wide enough to discourage folks from sitting in the seats on either side of him. I have included the photo used in the article.


There is even a sign/icon for it. Sorry, but it looks like a guy on a toilet to me.

manspreading sign

Closer to home, in 2014, New York City also had issues with manspreading on public transportation. Their slogan was “Dude, please stop the spreading.”

If you find this as fascinating as I do, here is a link to the entire article.

Just Added

Writer’s Elbow is Real

I’d been on the computer for hours revising the latest draft of my book. When I got up to take a break, I noticed my left elbow seemed tender. If I put any pressure on it, I felt a sensation similar to touching a very bad sun burn. My elbows are of the sharp boney variety. So I thought, maybe I just needed to cushion the arm rests on my desk chair.

After joking around that I’d invented a new condition called writer’s elbow, I found out that writer’s elbow is a real thing.

A little research on the internet informed me that like tennis elbow, writer’s elbow was caused by repeatedly straining the muscles and tendons. Unlike tennis elbow, I didn’t achieve any cardio benefit from sitting in a statue position for several hours.

So I’m re-evaluating my posture, stretching more, and being careful not to sleep on it. I should probably be icing and heating it too.

To all my writing friends, caution writing can be hazardous to your elbows.

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Jonestown Survivor Speaks

I had the opportunity to hear Laura J. Kohl speak at an Osher* educational event. She spoke about her experience with the Peoples Temple and Jim Jones. November 18, 2018 will mark the fortieth anniversary of the ‘revolutionary suicide’ that killed over 900 of her friends.

By a twist of fate, she was not at the Jonestown compound when the event happened. She and others were at another facility located in Georgetown, the capitol of Guyana. I won’t reiterate what happened at the compound as the news did their job. What drew me to this lecture? Like listening to the survivors of Holocaust or the rescued Chilean miners, I wondered, how does someone go on after such a tragedy?

Laura J. Kohl was thirty one in 1978. Now, she is a retired teacher with a voice that commands your attention. Many times she teared up as she recounted her story. Back in the 60’s and 70’s, she was a young woman looking for a way to make the world a better place. In San Francisco, she was introduced to Jim Jones. His inclusive message appealed to her. He brought diverse groups of people together to show the world the model of a promised land. She said Jim Jones offered a clean, pure way of life. He was a ‘collector of people,’ and he made a point to know each member personally.

Life on the compound, set in a tropical country, was unpredictable and exciting. Ms. Kohl said she’d still be there today if weren’t for the events of November 18, 1978. When the US relocated the survivors back to the US, she felt lost. No one could understand what she went through. It was an extremely difficult time for her.

She made her way back to San Francisco and heard about Synanon. Synanon was a controversial residential facility that helped addicts stop using and live in a community that was clean and drug free. Synanon was also another form of communal living that provided Ms. Kohl with ‘a cocoon to hide in for a while…I wasn’t scared off by the controversial group…I was beyond fearing for my safety.’ Ms. Kohl lived there for ten years. During that time she finished her degree, got married, and started a family.

Ms. Kohl still felt she had to piece together what happened. She reconnected with other survivors at Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland, California for the 20th anniversary of the Jonestown suicides. ‘When I went … I saw people that I thought were dead. We were all together and realized we had so much in common and so much love, we didn’t want to lose each other again… it was probably the most significant change since I’ve been back.’

Of course, I was fascinated as to why the survivors met at Evergreen Cemetery. Over 400 bodies were not claimed from Dover Airforce base in Delaware. Evergreen Cemetery accepted the bodies and built a mass grave for those victims. In addition to the simple tombstone, a wall has been added with the names of all the victims.

Jonestown Tomb Flower

My question was answered. People heal from tragedies in different ways. For Ms. Kohl, it was reuniting with survivors who could identify with her hardships.

*I attended this class through Cal State San Marcos and their Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. For more info, go to this link:

Just Added

Patriots Day – The Stay Strong Movie

When I told folks I saw the movie Patriots Day, their responses surprised me. Most said they wouldn’t go see a movie about terrorists bombing the Boston Marathon. My reason for going was because as a former Bostonian, I wanted to see the city again.

It was a surprise when I first moved to San Diego and discovered no one took Patriots Day off. In Massachusetts, on the third Monday in April, the state commemorates the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War. If you aren’t watching a battle re-enactment, you’re probably watching the Boston Marathon or at Fenway Park cheering the Red Sox during a rare Monday day game.

Certainly, this is a movie about a terrible event. More though, it’s a heartfelt tribute to the people of Boston. You’ll see what you couldn’t see on television three years ago. You’ll learn about the victims and their families. You’ll feel the panic as the first responders and medical teams work desperately to help the injured. You’ll find out how law enforcement and city officials try to make the best decisions they can to secure a city. You’ll stop breathing when a young man gets hijacked in his car by the terrorists.

Through all the emotions this movie evokes, you’ll understand what heroism is. Each person who helped another during the chaos of the bombing is a hero. Some of them wore uniforms, some did not.

The movie ended filling my heart with hope. Please see Patriots Day if you can. It isn’t just about Boston. It is about the power of a community coming together.

David Ortiz plays himself in the movie and no one will ever forget his words: “This is our fucking city, and nobody is going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong.”

I kept this cartoon over the years because we are all on the same team. Click on photo to read the caption.

boston strong cartoon