Sunday, March 30, 2014

Chatsworth is Horse Country

During the past decade it has become a tradition for the Mayor and Councilmembers in Los Angeles to visit Chatsworth's equestrian community to ride through the 'rockscapes' made famous by the thousands of Western films lensed here.

March 30, 2014, Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti along with City Councilmembers Tom LaBonge, Nury Martinez and Mitchell Englander gathered at Stoney Point Ranch to ride with Chatsworth equestrians.

The ride was organized by Mary Kaufman and Charlotte Brodie of ETI Corral 54, and included several Chatsworth Neighborhood Council Members along with many dozen community stakeholders.

Mayor Garcetti was right at home on a horse as he grew up riding in the San Fernando Valley.

(left to right) Linda van der Valk, Councilman Mitch Englander, Mary Kaufman, and Bill updeGraff.

Mary Kaufman on her beautiful palomino with iconic Stoney Point in the background.

Three of my favorite cowgirls (left to right above) Mary Kaufman chairperson of the Chatsworth Neighborhood Council Equestrian Committee, Charlotte Brodie long time Trails Coordinator for ETI Corral 54 and Jodie Sailor who operates Stoney Point Ranch.  Jodie has probably given riding lessons to about every child in Chatsworth at one time or another.

The City of Los Angeles Fire Department even showed up with a rescue horse -- just in case.

Linda and Andre van deer Valk are long time Co-Presidents of the Chatsworth Historical Society as well as members of the Chatsworth Neighborhood Council.

Long time supporters of housekeeping -- like Mary Benson above -- and maybe as many as one hundred other valley equestrians turned out for the ride.

Yours truly played photographer while nursing an injured wing… remember my cross country skiing mis-adventure a couple weeks back.  :-)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Reel Indians of the Santa Susanas -- Jay Silverheels

Jay Silverheels (1912 – 1980) was a Canadian born actor, and the son of a Mohawk (First Nations) Chief.  Before entering the film industry as a stuntman in 1938, he had been an all star lacrosse player and boxer.  He is best remembered for his role as Tonto in "The Lone Ranger" TV series (1949–1957).

Jay Silverheels Santa Susana locations filmography:

Kit Carson (1940) starring Jon Hall, Lynn Bari and Dana Andrews (Iverson Ranch) United Artists

Perils of Nyoka (1942) starring Kay Aldridge, Clayton Moore and William 'Billy' Benedict (Iverson Ranch) Republic

Daredevils of the West (1943) starring Allan Lane, Kay Aldridge, Eddie Acuff (Iverson Ranch) Republic

The Tiger Woman (1944) starring Allan Lane, Linda Stirling and Duncan Renaldo (Iverson Ranch) Republic

Haunted Harbor (1944) starring Kane Richmond, Kay Aldridge and Roy Barcroft (Iverson Ranch) Republic

Romance of the West (1946) starring Eddie Dean, Emmett Lynn and Joan Barton (Corriganville) PRC

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) starring Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston and Tim Holt (Chatsworth) Warner Bros.

Laramie (1949) starring Charles Starrett, Fred F. Sears and Tommy Ivo (Iverson Ranch)(Corriganville) Columbia

Broken Arrow (1950) starring James Stewart, Jeff Chandler and Debra Paget (Iverson Ranch) 20th Century Fox

Brave Warrior (1952) starring Jon Hall, Christine Larsen and Jay Silverheels (Corriganville) Columbia

Jack McCall Desperado (1953) starring George Montgomery, Angela Stevens and Douglas Kennedy (Iverson Ranch) Columbia

The Nebraskan (1953) starring Philip Carey, Roberta Haynes and Wallace Ford (Burro Flats)(Corriganville) Columbia

Drums Across the River (1954) starring Audie Murphy, Walter Brennan and Lyle Bettger (Burro Flats)(Iverson Ranch) Universal

The Black Dakotas (1954) starring Gary Merrill, Wanda Hendrix and John Bromfield (Burro Flats)(Iverson Ranch)(Corriganville) Columbia

Four Guns to the Border (1954) starring Rory Calhoun, Colleen Miller and George Nader (Bell Ranch) Universal

Masterson of Kansas (1954) starring George Montgomery, Nancy Gates and James Griffith (Iverson Ranch)(Corriganville) Columbia

The Lone Ranger (1956) starring Clayton Moore, Jay Silverheels and Lyle Bettger (Iverson Ranch) Warner Bros.

Return to Warbow (1958) starring Philip Carey, Catherine McLeod and Andrew Duggan (Iverson Ranch)(Corriganville) Columbia

Alias Jesse James (1958) starring Bob Hope, Rhonda Fleming and Wendell Corey (Iverson Ranch) United Artists

Santee (1973) starring Glenn Ford, Michael Burns and Dana Wynter (bell Ranch) Crown

"The Lone Ranger" (TV Series) (1949-1957) -- 220 episodes as Tonto

He appeared in a plethora of other TV Westerns and episodes filmed at Santa Susana locations.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Reel Cowboys of the Santa Susanas -- Rex Reason

Rex Reason (1928 - ) is an American actor who was born in Germany, but moved to Los Angeles at a young age.  He attended Hoover High School in Glendale, California.  Rex appeared in several films and television shows during the 1950s and 1960s.  His best known Santa Susana locations film is probably Badlands of Montana (1957).

His Santa Susana locations filmography includes:

Yankee Pasha (1954) starring Jeff Chandler, Rhonda Fleming and Mamie Van Doren (Corriganville) Universal

"Tales of the 77th Bengal Lancers" (1956) TV Series -- episode: The Imposter (1957)

Badlands of Montana (1957) starring Rex Reason, Margia Dean and Beverly Garland (Iverson Ranch) 20th Century-Fox

"Trackdown" (1957) TV Series -- episode: The San Saba Incident (1957)

The Rawhide Trail (1958) aka The Lonesome Gun starring Rex Reason, Nancy Gates and Richard Erdman (Iverson Ranch) Universal

"Wagon Train" (1957) TV Series -- episode: The Myra Marshall Story (1963)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Nordic Skiing At The Badger Pass Cryosphere

Will Rogers once said, "Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment."  

I just committed a trifecta of bad judgement

• I chose the wrong place to go cross country skiing because I wanted to go some place with different scenery.

• I chose a venue with a lower altitude because of my difficulty with breathing at Mammoth's 8700 foot elevation.

• I didn't pay enough attention to the snow conditions report.

Just last month -- after a 25-year hiatus -- I cross country skied at Mammoth Lakes, and had a great experience.  If fact, I had such a good time I came home and went on a quest to buy the perfect pair of new style (NNN) nordic skis.  

I bought a new pair of Fischer Offtrack Skis and wanted to go cross country skiing one last time before the season ends.

I decided to go the Yosemite's Badger Pass Ski Area because of the natural beauty there, the ski area is 1500 feet lower than Mammoth Lakes, and the "snow condition" reports claimed to have 31 miles of open groomed nordic skiing tracks.

Badger Pass has a web page that updates ski conditions daily.  Their latest report stated the snow surface is "spring conditions."  I learned first hand that "spring conditions" is really euphemism for solid ice.  They also had not verified the condition of the trails -- some of which are not in good condition.

They say you're never too old to learn

Lessons learned at the Badger Pass cryosphere are...

• An artificial hip is not helpful when attempting to snow plough on ice.

• Cross country ski poles do not replace good snow plough technique.

• You can't pole vault with cross country ski poles. 

Now don't get me wrong, if you are a young, athletic, and a skilled nordic skier Badger Pass has a lot to offer.  On the other hand, if you are in your 70s, haven't skied much recently, and have an artificial hip maybe Mammoth Lakes is a better choice.  Next year when there is fresh powder snow at Badger Pass I might go back and try to ski to Glacier Point.

In the meanwhile I will be working on my physical fitness -- especially strengthening my hip rotation muscles.

Perhaps the most disappointing part of my Yosemite cross country skiing adventure was the total lack of snow at the Mariposa Grove nordic ski trails.  I had been looking forward to skiing there the first and last days of my trip.

20/20 hindsight

I'm really sorry I didn't go back to the Tamarack Ski Area at Mammoth Lakes.  The trails are much leveler, so are more forgiving for an older skier.  They also might be a better place for a beginning skier to learn.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Nordic Offtrack Cruising -- New Tread or Marketing Gimmick?

When I first learned to cross country ski back in the 1970s there were darn few groomed trails.  I do recall a couple of ski areas that had a trail created by snowmobile tracks, but most of the time we just followed forestry roads making our own trail as we went.

Back then a few more adventurous folks bought shorter, wider skies with steel edges like the Fischer Europa 99 for backcountry touring and winter camping.

Last month -- when I decided to go cross country skiing -- after a 25-year hiatus -- I encountered my first groomed trail with machine made tracks at Tamarack Lodge (above) in Mammoth Lakes, California.  Admittedly skiing in grooves made the kick and glide of nordic skiing a little more effortless, but at 71 years-old I sometimes need to go a little slower than the crowd, and I'd always rather be where there are even fewer people.

I started researching new nordic normal cross country ski options and encountered Fischer Sport's advertisement for 'Nordic Offtrack Cruising'… "An outdoor trend is causing a sensation among winter enthusiasts: getting out without losing any time and simply savoring the winter experience from your very own doorstep.  Fischer identified this trend early on and with its Offtrack series now enables you to enjoy all the fun in every terrain.  Because freedom knows no compromises: leave the signs and trails behind you and make your own tracks even with just 8 to 10 cm of snow.  Because winter is too short to wait any longer for the season to start" they claim.

Fischer's official website features a slick video promoting 'Nordic Offtrack Cruising'  

I admit the video really appealed to me -- that's just the speed I want to travel -- I thought to myself.

Over the years I've owned several pair of Fischer skis and have never had a complaint, so when I started to search for a pair of "Offtrack Cruising Skis" I started with Fischer.  It didn't take long to find the perfect match for me…

Fischer Adventure 60 NIS Offtrack Cruising Ski

The Adventure 60 (formerly the Adventure Crown) comes with superior gliding Premium Crown that utilizes the tenacious gripping double crown in the center and the better gliding single crown on both ends of the waxless pattern.  

The Adventure 60 also comes with the NIS binding plate. The dimensions of the NoWax Adventure 60 make it the perfect ski for both in and out of track.  

The traditional 10 mm of sidecut from tip to waist help this ski initiate turns, and the 60 mm tip gives plenty of flotation and stability when breaking your own trail yet fits nicely in a set track.  

The wood core air channeled construction keeps this ski fairly light and extremely durable.  Cap Construction protects the graphics.  The Premium Crown waxless base offers outstanding grip in all but icy conditions along with superior glide.  The sintered Sintec base has 3.5% graphite for better glide.  The mid-length sizing makes climbing and turning easier.  

This ski is sold according to the skier's weight not height -- I use a 189cm ski length -- so I have 6 inches less ski to deal with in tight places.

I spent several days online looking for an affordable Fischer Adventure 60 ski package that included skis, bindings, boots, and poles.  I found a broad range of prices, and few reasonable deals until I encountered Akers Cross Country Ski Specialists at

Now that I've got my new Fischer Adventure 60s from Akers and I'm off to do some 'Nordic Offtrack Cruising' in Yosemite National Park.

Happy off-track cruising

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Was Great Granddad A Viking King?

Vikings invading Great Britain

In 2011, I ordered both maternal lineage (MtDNA) and paternal lineage (Y-46) DNA tests from  

The results suggested mom's ancient ancestors may have migrated to Europe settling in present-day Basque Country and other parts of Europe, and dad's ancient ancestors probably lived in present day Scandinavia.

In 2013, I ordered a revised and improved test that suggests my ethnicity is 53% Western European, 21% Irish, 20% English and Scotch with trace amounts 4% from the Iberian Peninsula and 2% from Scandinavia.

Focusing on my 2% from Scandinavia

Scandinavia is perched atop northern Europe, its natives referred to throughout history as “North Men.” Separated from the main European continent by the Baltic Sea, the Scandinavians have historically been renowned seafarers. Their adventures brought them into contact with much of the rest of Europe, sometimes as feared raiders and other times as well-traveled merchants and tradesmen.

The Vikings -- norsemen from Scandinavia -- sailed most of the North Atlantic, reaching south to North Africa and east to Russia, Constantinople and the Middle East, as looters, traders, colonists, and mercenaries.  Vikings under Leif Ericson, heir to Erik the Red, reached North America, and set up a short-lived settlement in present-day L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. 

Longer, more established settlements were formed in Greenland, Iceland, Great Britain, and Normandy.

In early 2014, I found family tree sources supporting my 2% Scandinavian ancestry.  To be absolutely honest any ancestry that goes back beyond modern records (18th century and later) is a bit murky to me -- and in my opinion -- must be viewed with some suspicion as to their complete accuracy.

That being said I found evidence that suggests I have viking ancestry that goes back to Halfdan "Hvitbein" Olafsson King in Uppsala, born 704 in Romerike, Buskerud, Norway; married about 735 to Asa Eysteinsdatter in Vestfold, Norway, and died 750 in Vermaland, Norway.

If I am truly descended from Halfdan "Hvitbein" Olafsson King in Uppsala the lineage is as follows:

Halfdan "Hvitbein" Olafsson King in Uppsala (704 - 750)
my 38th great grandfather

King Eysteinn Halfdansson (736 - 780)
son of Halfdan Olafsson

Halfdan Eysteinsson
son of King Eysteinn Halfdansson

Ivar Vidfame Sweden Halfdansson (772 - 824)
son of Halfdan Eysteinsson

Eystein Glumra Noisy Rattle Ivarsson* (810 - 846)
son of Ivar Vidfame Sweden Halfdansson

Ragnvald I Wise Jarl Eysteinsson (830 - 892)
son of Eystein Glumra Noisy Rattle Ivarsson*

Robert I Rollo "The Viking" "Rolf the Ganger" Prince of Norway & Saint De Normandie "Count of Rouen" Ragnvaldsson (846 - 932)
son of Ragnvald I Wise Jarl Eysteinsson

William I (Longsword) of Normandy (893 - 943)
son of Robert I Rollo "The Viking" "Rolf the Ganger" Prince of Norway & Saint De Normandie "Count of Rouen" Ragnvaldsson

Richard I Normandy (933 - 996)
son of William I (Longsword) of Normandy

Richard II Duke of Normandy (1000 - 1035)
son of Richard I Normandy

Robert I Duke of Normandy (1000 - 1035)
son of Richard II Duke of Normandy

William the Conqueror (1024 - 1087)
son of Robert I Duke of Normandy

Henry I Beauclerc England (1068 - 1135)
son of William the Conqueror

Matilda England (1102 - 1167)
daughter of Henry I Beauclerc England

Henry II Plantagenet (1133 - 1189)
son of Matilda England

King John Lackland Plantagenet (1167 - 1216)
son of Henry II Plantagenet

Henry III Plantagenet (1207 - 1272)
son of King John Lackland Plantagenet

Edmund Crouchback Plantagenet (1244 - 1296)
son of Henry III Plantagenet

Henry 3rd Earl of Lancaster Plantagenet (1281 - 1345)
son of Edmund Crouchback Plantagenet

Eleanor Countess of Arundel Plantagenet (1311 - 1372)
daughter of Henry 3rd Earl of Lancaster Plantagenet

Richard Fitzalan III, Earl of Arundel, Earl of Surrey (1346 - 1397)
son of Eleanor Countess of Arundel Plantagenet

Elizabeth Duchess Norfolk Baroness of Fitz Alan (1366 - 1425)
daughter of Richard Fitzalan III, Earl of Arundel, Earl of Surrey

Lady Joan Baroness Stanley Goushill (1401 - 1460)
daughter of Elizabeth Duchess Norfolk Baroness of Fitz Alan

Katherine Stanley (1430 - 1498)
daughter of Lady Joan Baroness Stanley Goushill

Christoffer Savage (1473 - 1513)
son of Katherine Stanley

Richard Savage (1520 - 1551)
son of Christoffer Savage

Susan Savage (1550 - 1576)
daughter of Richard Savage

George French (1570 - 1647)
son of Susan Savage

Ann French (1610 - 1673)
daughter of George French

George Mason (1629 - 1686)
son of Ann French

Richard Mason (1670 - 1730)
son of George Mason

William Mason (1692 - 1745)
son of Richard Mason

Margaret Mason (1725 - 1752)
daughter of William Mason

James Boyd (1757 - 1791)
son of Margaret Mason

James Boyd (1783 - 1854)
son of James Boyd

Valentine Boyd (1811 - 1870)
son of James Boyd

Sophia Boyd (1836 - 1908)
daughter of Valentine Boyd

David Jackson Bailey (1865 - 1949)
son of Sophia Boyd

Franklin 'Frank' Jackson Bailey (1886 - 1968)
son of David Jackson Bailey

Velma Veda Bailey (1914 - 2004)
daughter of Franklin 'Frank' Jackson Bailey

yours truly Jerry England 
son of Velma Veda Bailey

I'm not really sure I believe the lineage, but it's fun to think about.  They claim anyone who can go back 30 generations in Europe will eventually find a King in the family tree.

If I really do have a Nordic heritage maybe I should go cross country skiing in Norway.

Adios Cash, vaya con Dios

Cash is my third loss in less than six months. 

At 3 a.m. this morning he woke me up kicking the stall wall.  His colic was what the vet called a strangulating lipoma. 

He was too old for surgery, and in severe pain, so it was time to say goodbye to a great friend. 

The Old Man sure is putting me to the test. 

My old pal was truly a bombproof horse...

Adios Cash, vaya con Dios

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Cross Country Skiing To A Natural Hot Tub

In the late 1970s I rarely played hooky from work, but reports of fresh powder snow at Mammoth Lakes, California was all the lure I needed to pack my cross country skis and head north.

When I got to Mammoth I learned about a cross country ski touring adventure planned for the next day, so I signed up.  A now long-gone ski center offered a cross country ski tour to Hot Creek's famous geothermal area.  The weather was stormy, so the plan was to check-in late in the day to make sure the trip was still on.  

At the last minute unpredictable weather caused the tour to be cancelled.  When I woke up -- the next morning -- to partly cloudy blue skies I checked to see if the tour was rescheduled.  It wasn't, so I decided to go it alone.

I headed out of town, South on 395, to the airport turnoff and followed signs to Hot Creek Hatchery Road.   From there I turned onto Hot Creek Road.  It was not plowed -- so I parked my car allowing plenty of room for other cars to pass.

At this point I had a 3 mile solo cross country ski into Hot Creek.  The terrain is relatively flat, and since I had been to Hot Creek a couple years earlier at the end of a deer hunting trip I had a pretty good idea where to go.  I admit it was a bit eerie skiing those 3 miles alone.  

You can imagine my surprise when I arrived at the thermal area a found a group of bathers that were already enjoying the benefits of the natural hot tub.

More about Hot Creek

According to the US Forest Service -- Hot Creek is a place to marvel at geology in action.  Boiling water bubbling up from the creek bed, fumaroles and periodic geyser eruptions at Hot Creek attest to the chamber of hot magma which lies about three miles below the surface of the earth in this area.  

The steam seen along the Hot Creek drainage is created when water percolates deep into the ground and enters a complex underground plumbing system.  The water is heated and pressurized before it rises to the earth's surface.  It is believed this journey takes around 1000 years.  

Earthquakes can cause sudden geyser eruptions and overnight appearances of new hot springs at Hot Creek.  

Water temperatures can change rapidly, so entering the water is prohibited nowadays.