Monthly Archives: May 2021

Stewart Indian School Cultural Center and Museum

Today’s topic is a very non-traditional subject. Ruth and I first heard about the Stewart School in an article in The New York Times on Sunday May 16, 2021. It was part of a longer article called “Explore Nearby Sites of Indigenous Culture”. Intrigued by the information and on our way to Carson City, NV anyway, we decided to stop and see Stewart while there. We’re glad we saw it, but the subject might cause pain.

The New York Times article began with an explanation that 300 federal boarding schools in the USA were built to assimilate Native American children into a different culture than they were used to. Only the Stewart School in Carson City that “operated from 1890 until 1980 remains structurally intact”. Several of the buildings that were once used as part of the school are still there, but they are in bad shape. There were 65 stone buildings constricted for use in this school. They were crafted by Hopi masons, and the Stewart site opened with a museum in 2020 just before the pandemic struck. The article in the Times speaks of “intergenerational trauma” and “destructive learning methods”. It is painfully honest.

So was an article in the local newspaper that I used to work for in Vancouver, WA. The article appeared on Sunday, May 30, 2021. Its headline reported “215 bodies found at Canadian Indigenous school”. The article documents that 150,000 children were taken from their families in Canada until the 1970s. This article was incredibly timely. The Indian School reported on was in Kamloops, BC. Once Canada’s largest residential school for First Nation children, this school has uncovered the remains of 215 children from the age of 3 onward. The buried children had been taken from families across Canada to be educated and assimilated into the existing Canadian culture. A friend asked Ruth if we had seen the film Rabbit Proof Fence about similar events in Australia. We have seen it.

Our tour of Stewart began in the Administration Building that contains some very fine museum displays. The museum is permanent but some of the exhibits are not. The bead work that Ruth & I saw comes down on October 22, 2021. BEADS: Indigenous Beadwork of the Great Basin” is wonderful. It contains the work of great Native American artists like Jaime Okuma. Just above is her “Silk Scarf of Beadwork Image”. Okuma has art displayed in and owned by the Heard Museum in Phoenix and a museum in Salem, MA. Two other examples of her work were on display in Carson City. I trust that the quality of this bead display will be continued in future exhibits. The Museum in the back room begins to tell the historical story of Stewart with incredible honesty.

I was shocked to learn that of the 357 Native American schools that were built, 64 of them remain opened. They are in Oklahoma, Arizona, Alaska, New Mexico, and South Dakota. I was further shocked by the news that many of the students who attended these schools retain fond memories of their experience.


(To be continued in Part II)

Sad Susanville

Poor Susanville. This town of almost 20,000 people in northern California was our first major stop on our 2nd California trip in 2021. It’s very near Highway 395. Ruth and I spent some time in Susanville several years ago, and we really liked it. It was fun to be back there, but the town is about to fall on hard times. Just emerging from its COVID year, Susanville is about to lose its 2nd largest employer.

The California Correctional Center, Susanville’s 2nd largest source of salaries, will be closing permanently by June 30, 2022. The California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation and California’s Governor, Gavin Newsom, have announced plans to officially close CCC. Budget cuts in California is the cause. Job losses and eventual declining property values are the expected results. The California Correctional Center is in Lassen County. Its closing could cripple Susanville’s economy. Opposition to this closing is mounting despite the fact that the state can save 122 million dollars by shutting this prison. This closing will affect 3,000 inmates. The minimum security prison in Susanville, this town’s biggest employer, will remain opened. Many of the men and women working in CCC hope to find jobs in the remaining prison, but there are not enough positions for everyone and houses all over town are already for sale as Susanville citizens contemplate moving on. In the meantime, this town is facing the eventual loss of 1,500 jobs, many houses for sale, and the release of prison inmates in their community.

We had interesting discussions of Susanville’s fate in its recently moved visitor center, our motel, and the Elks Lodge. Every local is worried. The 2 women operating the visitor center that day were clearly distracted by events and the lack of tourist attractions to visit. The only attractions of interest to us were some town murals and The Nobles Trail. One of the lady’s son had recently done a school project on it. The man cleaning and repairing rooms at our motel wanted to talk about events. We stopped at the Elks Lodge because it’s in an interesting, historic mansion we had noticed at 400 Main Street. Ruth and I talked to the Elks and their wives who welcomed us to their current home in Susanville that was once the scene of weddings and community parties and may eventually return to that function.

The Nobles Trail was in operation between 1852 and 1859. It came into existence as an alternative. Thousands of immigrants to California used Nobles after gold was discovered in 1848 at Sutter’s Mill near what is now Shasta City. The Nobles Trail went through Susanville and was a better alternative to the trail that went over notorious and often difficult Donner’s Pass. Sixty-one trail markers now identify Nobles. Beginning in Black Rocks Hot Springs, NV, the Nobles Trail had more gradual assents, avoided 40 miles of desert, had water, and provided deep-forest sections. The coming of the railroad caused its decline.


Scenic Highway 395

The southern end of US Highway 395 is in the Mojave Desert near Hesperia, CA. It proceeds northward for 1,300 or so miles to the Canadian border. It goes through 4 states. Its Nevada portion is the smallest. California’s section is the most dramatic. Most of it is designated scenic. I have always wanted to drive all of the California portion of 395, and now I have.

On the trip we just completed, Ruth and I entered Highway 395 south of Lakeview, OR and followed it all the way to the Mojave Desert. We stayed overnight in the growing town of Ridgecrest in this desert before heading north again on 395 to see what we had missed. As it turned out, we had not seen a lot. Our favorite town on this route was Bishop, CA. We thought we would drive 395 almost back home in March, 2021 when we took our first post-COVID trip after a year of travel inactivity, but now we are glad we didn’t. There is too much to see including Mount Whitney and Topaz. Highway 395 is so rich in attractions that we spent a lot of time talking about returning.

The reason we drove it in May instead of March was the weather. This highway that we had been on portions of before in all four states has lots of elevation, and we were in for a big surprise. On our first night on the road in mid May it snowed in Lakeview, and we were in falling, drifting snow for a couple of days as we headed south on 395. Fortunately, the roadbed remained clear so we were able to keep going, and the snow made the journey memorable.

By the time we got near Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states, the weather had improved. Mount Whitney, which we saw from Lone Pine, CA, is 14,505 feet tall. We learned from locals that most people mistake Lone Pine Peak for it. Mount Whitney (seen above) is to the right of Lone Pine Peak and rather anonymously behind it. Mount Whitney is actually a series of jagged peaks with the real mountain in the middle. A local woman in a museum took Ruth and me outside to see the actual Mount Whitney, which is incredibly close to the lowest point in the United States, Death Valley. We were told that spring is the best time to climb Mount Whitney despite the fact that a couple of climbers were already in trouble on the trail to the top. We learned about Mount Whitley in a visitor center. We were warned not to attempt to climb it without first reading a handbook about it and obtaining a permit. Snow is a possibility year round, and July and August can be rainy months up there with lots of thunderstorms. Permits can be gotten at We were told that climbing Mount Whitney is extremely difficult. A lot of climbers attempt this feat without the right equipment and fail to acknowledge the fact that those on the trail gain almost 7,000 feet in elevation. Proper training for this climb is a good idea.

Seeing Mount Whitney is just one of the many delights of travel on Highway 395.


Deli Towne USA

Before COVID, It got Ruth & my attention that People magazine had an article that claimed to list “The Best Sandwich in Every State”. This sounds like an impossible undertaking, but Madison Roberts seems to have at least succeeded in feeding travelers well and rather inexpensively on the road as long as readers like sandwiches as their main meal of the day. Ruth and I were on a long road trip at the time the list appeared, so it seemed like a good idea to sample as many sandwiches as we could. We are now up to 12 tasted of the 50 described and don’t expect to sample them all. The 3 best sandwiches were in Montana, Missouri, and Louisiana. The worst was in Georgia. Madison claimed to have “teamed up with online restaurant guide the Infatuation to find the country’s most epic meals on sliced bread.” She and her team largely succeeded.

On the trip we just completed, we added Deli Towne USA to our done list. Its sandwich would be in the high end category. Ruth especially liked hers but complained about the high cost of Deli Towne’s drinks. We did not have drinks with our sandwiches, and I pointed out to Ruth that the beverages were about what you would pay if you had a gourmet sandwich anywhere in the USA in a similar setting. However, Deli Towne’s setting is rather unique.

Deli Towne is in a Chevron gas station in Reno, Nevada. It’s a very popular idea to fill your gas tank in this neighborhood station about 2 miles east of downtown and then sit on the patio eating a sandwich that you bought in a typical convenience store. Ruth had a Black Forest ham sandwich on a grilled roll with cheddar and cream cheeses, jalapenos, mayo, and tomatoes. I had a very similar sandwich without the cheeses and ate the pickle that came with the order. Deli Towne sandwiches can be built from a customer-given list of breads, cheeses, meats, and toppings. Six items including bacon result in extra charges. Sandwiches come in 4 sizes: mini, small, medium, and monster. We ordered small in the early afternoon and needed no additional food for the rest of the day. I can’t imagine how large the monster is. The woman who took our order called what Ruth had a Hot Ham and Cheese, and I suspect that this is their best seller. We ate on Deli Towne’s patio. There are a few parking spaces in Deli Towne’s front for those who just shop the convenience store and/or order a sandwich.

On to Pretty Bird Chicken in Salt Lake City and, perhaps, Salvaggio’s Deli, which has several locations in Colorado. Hopefully their “hot #3 Cheesesteak sandwich” can be sampled in Denver and other Colorado towns. Both sandwich oriented dining establishments seem like likely places to eat on our mid-summer trip.


PS The bush below was seen on our walk to urban Deli Towne. Ruth, who gardens faithfully, could not identify it.

A Bristlecone Pine Forest

The bristlecone pine tree is an amazing species to me. Despite its hardiness there are very few bristlecone pine forests in the world because they grow in a limited range. They only prosper between 9 and 11,000 feet in dolomite, a highly alkaline limestone soil. This condition exists in the White Mountains south of Bishop, California. This forest is up a winding and rather difficult but worthwhile road. The two roads to it are 16 miles south of Bishop at the town of Big Pine.

We turned right on Highway 168 because we were heading north at the time. This highway continues east after the turnoff to the bristlecone pine forest in the Inyo National Forest south of the highest point in Nevada. The left turn to Schulman Grove occurs after driving 13 miles. This stand of bristlecones has an elevation of 10,000 feet, and the turn-off to it is after a one lane section of Highway 168. This bristlecone pine forest is 2 miles past the fantastic Sierra Vista Overlook where I took the photos above.

Bristlecone pine forests are found in only 2 places in California. They exist in 16 spots in Nevada including less-visited Great Basin National Park. There are fewer bristlecone pine forests in Utah but they exist. That’s it!

Bristlecone pines produce a dense resinous wood that resists insects and other pests. They also resist fire. The seasonal Schulman Grove Visitor Center that was not open when Ruth and I were there was completely destroyed by fire in 2008, but the forest is still there. Bristlecones grow where other pine trees can’t because they thrive in nutrient-poor soil. They do not experience much growth each year but have a hard wood that does not decay. They tend to die in better soil and can stay alive with little bark. In fact, they can lose 90% of their bark and still grow. Bristlecone growth rings provide a summary of past history. Scientists can learn about volcanic eruptions, floods, and fires by studying this tree’s rings.

This particular stand of bristlecones was discovered in 1953 when Doctor Edmund Schulman found them. Some of them have been around for more than 4,000 years and are the world’s oldest known specimens. These can be seen on the easy one-mile long Discovery Trail that makes a loop. The other available trail is the 4 1/2 mile Methuselah for serious hikers that offers a glimpse of Death Valley and is described as “moderately strenuous”. If you take it, however, you will see the oldest trees on Planet Earth.