In the News - Friday, April 26, 2013
It's all about the buckle
Three Rivers Lions Team Roping this weekend
About 2,000 teams are expected to compete this weekend at the Three Rivers Lions Team Roping. This event has been held each spring in Three Rivers since 1950 with its roots steeped in the tradition of the area’s earliest settlers.
Lions Club members work diligently and relentlessly in various capacities to ensure a successful event, which raises funds for their philanthropic pursuits such as college scholarships for graduating high school seniors from Three Rivers and donations to dozens of various causes throughout each year that are beneficial to the community.
Two ropings per day are held for four consecutive days — Thursday through Sunday, April 25 to 28. The competition is handicapped, meaning that a disadvantage of time is imposed on a superior competitor to make the chances more equal.
At the end of the day(s), whichever team ropes all their steers (three to six depending on the event) in the lowest average time wins championship buckles. And because of the handicap, it’s anybody’s guess who will be the winners, which makes it exciting for both the competitors and the spectators.
Meet the new Generals Highway
After more than three consecutive years of ongoing road construction on the Generals Highway near Amphitheater Point, the current reconstruction segment is nearing completion. As a result, the Federal Highway Administration has changed its vehicle advisory from prohibiting vehicles over 22 feet on the Generals Highway to “not recommended.”
The Generals Highway, engineered and built 1921-26, was not constructed to accommodate the modern era’s longer vehicles. The caveat is that these vehicles, especially in the hairpin turn portions of the narrow historic highway, are likely to cross the double yellow line.
The newly reconstructed portions have some areas that are now wider but traditional tight spots remain and were simply stabilized to prevent further erosion of the old roadway and its underlying bed of material.
Prohibition of the longer vehicles has had a detrimental effect on Three Rivers tourism, especially the local RV and bus tour business that has been rerouted to Highway 180 on the Kings Canyon side of the parks. Rental RVs that don’t tow an additional vehicle and the larger tour buses have virtually ignored the Ash Mountain side of the nearby national parks since the late 1990s.
Three Rivers Hideaway and Lemon Cove-Sequoia Campground have noticed a steady decline in business because of the long-standing vehicle prohibition policy.
“Unfortunately these visitors are now out of the habit of coming to Three Rivers and this side of the parks,” said Dave Hammond, owner of the Three Rivers Hideaway. “Now they are entering the parks from the Highway 180 Kings Canyon entrance.”
Potential Kaweah Country tourists often search for visitor information from the National Park Service-sponsored Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks websites. The park online sites are currently sending a “not recommended” message to RVers and tour bus operators.
The current release posted on the parks’ website states:
Vehicles longer than 22 feet are not recommended between Potwisha Campground and the Giant Forest Museum. Vehicles longer than 24 feet are not recommended between the Foothills Visitor Center and Potwisha Campground.
Adding further to the traffic quandary is that the freshly surfaced and striped roadway encourages some inexperienced drivers to see how fast they can negotiate the hairpin turns and the narrow switchbacks. It’s good common sense to slow down, especially in the mountainous portions of the Generals Highway, and drive defensively for the sake of the wildlife and drivers who routinely cross the center line.
The Moro Rock/Crescent Meadow Road and the Crystal Cave Road when it opens next month continue to remain off limits to all vehicles 22 feet in length and over.
“We considered internally a permanent regulation that would prohibit all vehicles 22 feet and longer on the Ash Mountain to Giant Forest portion of the Generals Highway,” said Kevin Hendricks, chief ranger of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. “For now we are hoping that the operators of these vehicles are forewarned and exercise good judgment if they choose to travel the roadway.”
Hendricks said only experienced drivers should drive the road because there are limited areas to turn around and the steep terrain is challenging for the drivers and the vehicle.
“We sure don’t want someone to become scared or frustrated or endanger oncoming motorists,” Hendricks concluded.
The Generals Highway, opened in 1926, is one of the most scenic roads in America. It begins at the Ash Mountain entrance to Sequoia National Park at an elevation of 1,500 feet.
From there, it continues 40 miles through Sequoia National Park and Giant Sequoia National Monument to its junction with Highway 180 in Kings Canyon National Park. In the 19 miles from Ash Mountain to the General Sherman Tree, the elevation gain is 5,300 feet.
For the latest parks’ road information: (559) 565-3341.
Hidden Gardens of Three Rivers:
Growing a successful fundraiser
for Three Rivers Union School
It was a beautiful spring day, the kind that makes every Three Rivers resident reflect on how lucky they are to live here. And it was on this picture-perfect day that unprecedented access was provided to more than 450 patrons of the third annual Hidden Gardens of Three Rivers tour to Flying Heart Ranch, the sprawling property of Oscar-winning actor Anjelica Huston.
Three other impressive properties in the vicinity were also on the tour, which was the most well-attended yet: Steve and Barbara Lahmann’s Livingston Lavender Gardens, Cal and Jill Johnson’s Rock Canyon Ranch, and Bettina Birch’s organic Bee Green Farm. Every garden is different; each one spectacular in its own way.
The tour was held Saturday, April 20. It is organized by the TRUS Foundation and has quickly become Three Rivers School’s largest-grossing fundraiser of the year.
In an attempt to thwart traffic jams on Kaweah River Drive, tour participants were directed to drive the tour route in a counterclockwise direction, starting at the Dinely Bridge and ending at the North Fork Bridge. Kaweah River Drive residents were forewarned about the influx of traffic on this day and were downright neighborly when it came to changing up their routines for one day.
Volunteers assisted with traffic and parking at each site. Golf carts were used at the Johnson ranch to eliminate the walk from the parking area to the main property for those who preferred; shuttle vehicles ferried tour participants to the Birch property from the Three Rivers Arts Center.
The homeowners are to be commended for the diligence paid to their properties. All were cleaned up, spruced up, colorful, and blooming. In addition to blossoming flowers and flowering trees, there were ponds, animals, garden decor, arches and pergolas, interesting architecture, various collections of nostalgia, the always intriguing and wild Three Rivers landscape abutting the premises, and the expansive views that make Three Rivers a place like no other on the west side of the Sierra Nevada range. It was a veritable feast for the senses.
To ensure that everything ran smoothly, about 50 local volunteers were on hand throughout the day. These folks included all 11 of the Foundation board members, Redbud Garden Club members, and garden enthusiasts who lent their invaluable expertise.
There were artists in every garden: painters Wendy McKellar, Nadi Spencer, and Kacey Fansett, as well as some others who were selling their garden-worthy wares. Local restaurants donated time and effort to provide sustenance: Anne Lang’s Emporium, Gateway Restaurant, Sierra Subs and Salads, and Antoinette’s Coffee and Goodies. In addition, Barbara Lahmann provided her locally renowned lavender cookies and lavender punch made with, you guessed it, lavender picked fresh from her lush, vibrant garden that is accessed by a network of gravel paths that meander through the property and around the two adobe dwellings.
Musicians applied their talents that blended seamlessly with the sounds of spring. Earl McKee strummed his guitar and sang cowboy songs, and many others enhanced the grounds with their unique sounds.
Anjelica has a rustic museum on-site that was open to the public and featured memorabilia from her Hollywood career, photographs of the transformation of the ranch that she purchased nearly three decades ago, and even a tribute to her famous grandfather, Walter Huston, that includes a portrait and a pair of his riding chaps.
Cal Johnson had his barn and workshop open to the public, which not only did he build but also includes much of his handiwork and captivating collections of insulators and barbed wire. Wife Jill graciously greeted visitors outside the couple’s home, where around every corner and in every nook and cranny there is a treasure to be found; if not a plant, then a relic from the past that is most likely renovated and whimsically painted.
Bettina Birch shared her immense knowledge of all that’s green and growing by providing interpretive markers to identify plants, flowers, trees, and what is growing in the edible garden on her certified organic farm. Inside a gardening shed were displays that described the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables, gardening books and cookbooks collected from her recent trip to Italy, and items for sale, from dried herbs to just-planted seedlings. Her blood-orange marmalade was all the rage, and there was nary a drop left at the end of the day, which is perhaps a good sign that everyone departed the tour satiated, in body, soul, and mind.
Providing for Three Rivers School
The 2013 garden tour netted about $17,500. This brought the 501(c)3 organization’s coffers to more than $57,000. At a working meeting of the board of directors on Tuesday, April 23, the money was allocated to Three Rivers School for the following programs, equipment, supplies, and projects:
$20,000 -— Upgrade technology equipment and infrastructure
$10,000 — School band support
$ 5,000 — Assist with playground renovation
$ 4,000 — Commercial floor scrubber for gym upkeep
$ 2,000 — Ongoing annual commitment to fund SCICON trip
$ 1,000 — Ongoing annual commitment to assist with band camp
tuition and community calendar fundraiser expenses
Additional funds kept in reserve for unforeseen needs and Fall Dinner and Auction startup costs.
Two accidents reported at Lake Kaweah
Morning commuters on Thursday, April 18, were greeted by the sight of a 1970 Chevy pickup that had careened off the roadway and came to a stop up an embankment on the south side of Highway 198.
Injured in the 7:30 a.m. accident was Donald Stone, 72, of Visalia. The mishap occurred a quarter-mile east of Lemon Hill at a place where a number of serious accidents have happened in the past.
According to the CHP report, Stone, who was eastbound, failed to negotiate the curve in the roadway and over corrected, veered right, and lost control of the pickup. The vehicle came to a stop on its wheels 59 feet from the shoulder of the highway.
Stone suffered moderate injuries and was transported to Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia for treatment.
On Sunday, April 21, William Rawls, 48, of Tulare was involved in a solo accident west of Horse Creek on Highway 198 near Lake Kaweah. In that incident, Rawls was driving a 2008 Ford F-150 pickup westbound when it became fully involved in fire.
Nearby residents were witnesses to the fire and kept close watch that the fire didn’t spread to dry grass.
Details of this accident are pending. More information will be released at the conclusion of a CHP investigation.
WHS hires new varsity football coach
The Woodlake Unified School District board of trustees announced earlier this month the hiring of Jose Del Rio as the new head varsity football coach at Woodlake High School.
Del Rio, a former quarterback at Dinuba High School and College of the Sequoia in Visalia, most recently tutored the quarterbacks as an assistant coach at his high school alma mater. He replaces Woodlake’s 2012 head varsity coach Scott Hernandez who resigned effective January 2013.
During the April 10 WUSD board meeting, the board also accepted the letters of resignation from junior varsity head and assistant coaches Eddie Dominguez and Antonio Lopez, respectively.
Parents and students have the opportunity to meet Del Rio and his coaching staff who will be introduced by members of the Tiger Football Boosters on Sunday, April 28, at Castle Rock Elementary School. The meet-and-greet will begin at 6 p.m.
In other sports-related news, Drew Sorensen, WUSD superintendent, said the district signed a special “certificate of completion” agreement with the State of California to allow its track team and students to use the new state-of-the-art track that encircles the football field.
Sorensen said members of the public will be permitted to use the track once the new light poles are added and the stadium project is officially completed.
“It’s the board’s priority to get the new stadium project done, and we are getting close,” he said. “We expect to sign off on a final inspection of the new facilities in the next few weeks.”
Bike and Trike Contest kicks off
May’s 1st Saturday event
New artists join 1st Saturday lineup;
Raffle tickets for those who make purchases
By Holly Gallo
In addition to the usual array of beautiful and intriguing local art, tasty restaurant specials, and great lodging deals, the upcoming 1st Saturday event is celebrating a handful of new artists and events for their May 4 “Petals and Pedals” affair.
As May is National Bike Month, the Trike and Bike Decorating Contest has a fitting revival in the May 4 1st Saturday. According to Shirley Keller, an organizer of 1st Saturday, the contest has been wildly popular in the past with participating children even donning costumes to match their decorated rides.
Parents and children will gather at the former Hummingbird Café parking lot at 9 a.m. that Saturday. The ultimate winner, chosen by popular vote just before 11 a.m., will win $100 cash. Every participant will receive a prize. Chump’s, Donald Mosley, DDS, and Sylvia Durando sponsored the cash prizes.
In regard to new artists, Anne Lang’s Emporium will feature the works of Porterville silver jewelry artist Theresa Perger. The Three Rivers Arts Center will be filled with familiar artists who have recently rejoined the 1st Saturday syndicate, hosted by Calamity Jayna. Look forward to seeing Zachary Zachary’s wood framing of sketches, Steven Zachary’s woodworking figures, the oil paintings of Ron Stivers, and Gary Olenslager’s drawings and wood sculptures.
Those who shop at local businesses have the opportunity to win a gift basket worth $600 simply by saving their receipts for the day. The basket will be filled with donations from local artists and businesses, including Nadi Spencer, Shirley Keller, Anne Lang, Sequoia Outdoor Sports, and Sophie Britten.
For every $10 spent at participating businesses — many of which offer special discounts at the mention of 1st Saturday — the purchaser will receive a ticket for the drawing that will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the Three Rivers Historical Museum. It is not necessary to be present to win; just make sure a name and phone number is on the back of each ticket.
The Redbud Garden Club will be having its annual plant sale on the lawn in front of the Village Market. This is a first for 1st Saturday, and Keller said that the participants are “really excited” to work with the Garden Club.
For more information about 1st Saturday, check in at www.1stsaturdaytr.com for monthly updates.
Former 3R resident publishes e-book
By Holly Gallo
Twenty years after publishing the descriptive guidebook to hiking in the Big Trees, Day Hiking Sequoia author and former Three Rivers resident Steve Sorensen takes his readers on a radically different journey with Heap of Bones: A Baja Surfer’s Chronicle.
Far from the land of lush meadows and sentinel pines, Steve candidly narrates the retired life of pilgrimage that he and his wife, Claudia, came to know after they abandoned their North American homeland and (mostly) settled in the rugged surfers’ promised land of Baja California.
The reader’s eyes won’t wander past the first page before tasting the flavor of his style and prose: “ I believed it was the writer’s duty to bend, hammer, and twist both time and the facts until they conformed to his will... But now that I’m in my sixties, lazy, indifferent, and too stubborn to follow direction from anybody, I’m beginning to appreciate the beauty of chaos.”
Indeed, chaos ensues. From emotionally-derelict California DMV attendants to crooked Tijuana cops, Heap of Bones illuminates the beauty of adventure, the vulnerability of expatriation, and the surrender of the surf.
Heap of Bones is available for Kindle online at amazon.com.
Flying through the air
with the greatest of ease (photo caption)
A group of paragliders landed at the old Three Rivers Airport shortly after the finale at Jazzaffair on Sunday, April 14. The gliders included Clint Johnson whose dad Cal Johnson transported the adventure flyers to a hill overlooking the site of Lions Arena. The complete equipment is entirely portable and easily carried on the pilot’s back or in a car or other form of transport.
Children invited to become Junior Rangers
By Alysia Schmidt
Do you like exploring? Are you interested in nature? Would you like to earn a special patch? On Saturday, April 27, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks will celebrate Junior Ranger Day. This will be a “fee free day” at these parks (only), so everyone can participate.
The parks are hosting a Junior Ranger Day Exploration Fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Foothills Visitor Center, which is located just one mile inside Sequoia National Park. The entire family is invited to discover what it’s like to be a ranger.
Find out how mules and horses supply workers in the wilderness. And meet the animals.
Learn about the wonders of reptiles and amphibians from a park biologist. Join a bear technician who will demonstrate how American black bears are kept safe and wild.
Participate in an activity that illustrates how insects and flowers teach us about the Earth’s climate. These are just some of the experiences that await you at the fair.
Celebrations for Junior Ranger Day are being held throughout Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Take a self-guided scavenger hunt any time between 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in either the Lodgepole or Grant Grove areas. Or, explore the Big Trees and other wonders of nature on special Junior Ranger walks.
Partake in the fun while becoming a Junior Ranger. Don’t miss out!
Alysia Schmidt is an interpretive ranger at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.