In the News - Friday, December
stories written by John or
Elliott unless otherwise noted
this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
The Generals Highway is one of America’s
most beautiful scenic drives. Its curving two-lane
roadway is literally carved out of sheer rock in places,
debris poised to come tumbling down at Mother Nature’s
On Sunday, Dec. 13, following several
days of rainfall, tons of loose rock and dirt came
down on the highway and its narrow shoulder in several
places between Ash Mountain and Potwisha. For one
carload of park visitors, a mass of rocky debris slammed
into their late-model SUV.
The fateful rockslide, which occurred
about a half-mile up the road from the Foothills Visitor
Center, rendered the vehicle inoperable, but the occupants
— a couple and four children, ranging in age
from six to 12 — escaped without injury.
we crashed in the rockslide, it was so scary,”
said Maryjane Castillo, 29, who was a passenger in
the front seat. “I thought we were hit by a
bomb or something.”
The vehicle, driven by Michael Garcia,
29, was heading down canyon so the passenger side
took the brunt of the hit.
were barely able to make it off the roadway to the
turnout because the tire blew out,” Maryjane
said. “We knew we’d better get the car
off the roadway in case there was any traffic coming
around the bend.”
Ranger Steve Clary, who was on patrol,
arrived on the scene a few minutes after the near-tragedy.
the same place where a couple of years ago a boulder
the size of a house came out of the hillside,”
Ranger Clary recalled, “That entire area along
the upper side of the road here is really unstable.”
Kirk Stiltz, roads supervisor, was summoned
to clear the roadway. While Stiltz was lifting and
pushing tons of debris off the roadway, more loose
material came tumbling down.
The road was closed for about 30 minutes
and then intermittently while the rock and debris
was being cleared away. Throughout this past week,
orange cones marked the areas where there was the
greatest potential for more slides.
knew I should have stayed home and watched the Raiders’
game!” said Michael. “Seeing the snow
at Giant Forest was fun with the kids but now this
Drivers in the parks are asked to slow
down and watch for falling rocks and debris on the
roadway, especially during or after rainstorms.
New superintendent is
When Karen Taylor-Goodrich arrives next
month at Ash Mountain to take over the top job at
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, she will
be breaking some historic ground. Not only is she
setting out to prove that the best man for the job
is a woman, but direct from Washington, D.C., she
brings a strong wilderness background.
took my very first backpacking trip into Kings Canyon
National Park from the east side of the Sierras when
I was a teenager,” said Taylor-Goodrich in a
statement announcing the appointment. “As a
kid from the L.A. suburbs, that experience opened
up a world that has become my passion and career.”
I’m delighted to be returning to the place that
kindled my interest in protected areas and my understanding
of the powerful influence wild places can have on
each of us.”
In Washington, D.C., Taylor-Goodrich
has served as the National Park Service’s first
Associate Director for Visitor and Resource Protection
since 2003, managing a staff of 160 with a budget
in excess of $22 million. In her current position,
she helps in the supervision of seven national divisions
that include law enforcement, security and emergency
services, fire and aviation, employee and public health
and safety, special park uses and regulations, and
The new superintendent also brings an
impressive skill set developed while directing a range
of park-level programs at Yosemite National Park and
Grand Canyon National Park, Cumberland Island National
Seashore in Georgia, Lake Roosevelt National Recreation
Area in Washington, and National Capital Parks-East
in the District of Columbia.
Taylor-Goodrich’s background includes
some international assignments, including a stint
as a ranger at Kosciusko National Park in Australia
and project team leader in the Maasai Mara region
of Tanzania. Last month, she coordinated the signing
of an unprecedented memorandum with Mexico and Canada
to protect trans-boundary wilderness.
It is this passion for wilderness where
Taylor-Goodrich recently built upon her local connection.
As current chair of the Interagency Wilderness Policy
Council, she hosted an August summit in D.C. entitled
“Wilderness and Climate Change: Impacts, Challenges,
The first two speakers she introduced
at that national forum were Dr. Dave Graber and Dr.
Nate Stephenson, two of Sequoia-Kings Canyon’s
acknowledged experts in ecology and wilderness policy-making.
The fact that Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
are on the cutting edge of wilderness research was
huge in Taylor-Goodrich seizing the opportunity to
return to California.
excited about the many challenges and opportunities
Sequoia and Kings Canyon presents,” said Taylor-Goodrich.
“I look forward to getting to know and working
with the park staff, the local communities, my interagency
colleagues, and our other partners to protect and
conserve this very special region.”
Taylor-Goodrich will officially begin
her tenure as park superintendent in early February.
She succeeds Craig Axtell who retired in October.
Sierra snow is 97 percent of normal
That series of storms that blew through
the Southern sierra region last weekend brought more
than 30 inches of snow above 7,000 feet. That was
great news for water watchers who are feeling a little
anxious about the prospects of a fourth consecutive
below normal precipitation season. But the recent
storms were especially generous to the local Sierras;
northern regions received significantly less snow
and are currently reported to be around 68 percent
of normal for this early time in the season.
Local ski resorts are up and running
with Sierra Summit reporting a base of 18-24 inches
while Badger Pass in Yosemite National Park is reporting
two to three feet of base. Badger Pass opens today
and its new shuttle service from Oakhurst starts Saturday,
The 47-passenger bus operated by Delaware
North Companies Parks and Resorts is really a coup
for skiers who don’t want the hassle of driving
and chaining up in the wintry road conditions. The
shuttle departs from Miller’s Mountain Sports
in Oakhurst at 7:00 a.m. and makes a stop at Tenaya
Lodge in Fish Camp.
The fare is $10 and includes park entry
at Yosemite’s south entrance. The shuttle will
run on weekends for the entire Badger Pass season
which is scheduled to stay open until April 3.
During the holiday period, Sat. Dec.
26 to Sun. Jan. 3, the shuttle will operate daily.
Departure from Badger Pass is 3:45 p.m. with a scheduled
arrival back in Oakhurst at 5:30 pm.
For information about the new shuttle
service call the Delaware North Companies Recreation
Office at (209) 372-1114; for Badger Pass information
and snow conditions call (209) 372-1114.
A little closer to home, the local mountains
received nearly 30 inches of snow at the Farewell
Gap sensor at 9,600 feet in Mineral King. The Giant
Forest area received more than a foot and a half of
snow with areas around Lodgepole and Wuksachi reporting
just over two feet.
The local snow is ideal for snowshoeing
especially during crusty conditions in the mornings.
It’s a little early for cross country ski enthusiasts
but the snow that is on the ground will make an excellent
base for the next series of storms which could reach
the area by Christmas Day.
For road and snow conditions in the local
mountains call 565-3341.
The end of an era in Yosemite
Tribute held for Nic and
When the Badger Pass Ski Area in Yosemite
National Park opens for the season today (Friday,
Dec. 18), there will be an empty pair of skis. That’s
because Nic Fiore, one of America’s most influential
ski instructors and a Yosemite legend for nearly six
decades, died last June at the age of 88.
On Saturday, Dec. 5, more than 800 people
attended a tribute service at the Curry Pavilion and
Lounge for Nic and his wife, Midge, who died in 2003.
Overflow seating was provided outside on this 40-degree
day, in the shadow of Glacier Point, where a big-screen
was set up to simulcast the program that was occurring
Dan Jensen, chief operating officer of
Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts at Yosemite,
welcomed the throng of the Fiores’ family and
friends, as well as Nic’s former students, colleagues,
and co-workers. Nic’s daughter, Cindy, rang
the Badger Pass ski school bell, which was transported
down the mountain especially for the occasion.
After presentations by nearly two dozen
speakers, including Congressman George Radanovich,
the audience inside and out joined in the singing
of the French folk song Alouette. Commemorative ski
pins, engraved with Nic’s name, were provided
to all who attended the historic tribute.
Nic is said to have taught more than
100,000 people to ski at Badger Pass from 1948 to
2004. This popular, family-friendly ski-and-snowboard
resort is the oldest alpine ski area in California.
Nicholas Fiore was born Dec. 1, 1920,
in Montreal, Canada, one of 12 children. While teaching
skiing in Canada’s Laurentian Mountains, he
was invited to become a ski instructor at Badger Pass.
He arrived at Yosemite Valley in December 1948.
When he caught a glimpse of the sheer
granite walls that surround the famous valley he exclaimed
in his usual skiing frame of mind, “This is
fantastic!” Then he asked, “Where do the
beginners learn to ski?”
Nic planned to stay at Badger Pass for
just that winter season. But, as is the story of so
many, he fell in love with Yosemite and never left.
When the ski season concluded in the spring, Nic would
make his way to the valley where he went to work in
the park’s hotels, eventually serving as maitre
d’hotel of the Ahwahnee Lodge and working various
stints as manager of the Glacier Point Lodge, the
Wawona Hotel, and the five High Sierra Camps.
Nic met his wife-to-be, Midge, while
working in Yosemite. She and her sister, Barbara,
had arrived in 1945 and were working in the Curry
Village dining room.
They married in 1951. The Fiores became
an indispensable part of the Yosemite community, where
they raised their two daughters.
Nic directed Yosemite’s ski and snowboard school
at Badger Pass for 45 years (1956-2001). Well into
his 80s, he continued to hit the slopes nearly everyday
and even taught an occasional ski lesson into the
According to his family and friends,
Nic will be remembered for his friendly grin, heavy
French Canadian accent, and immense knowledge of the
Sierra. In addition, he had a passion for skiing and
made outstanding contributions to the sport, as a
charter member of the California Ski Instructors Association
in the 1940s and as a founder of the Professional
Ski Instructors of America group, founded in 1961.
Nic underwent heart surgery in 2004,
which caused him to miss the opening of Badger Pass’s
70th season in December. In May 2009, he had a stroke
and, on June 16, he died in a Fresno nursing home.
Nic and Midge are survived by their two
daughters, Cindy Volpa and Nicci Goc; and eight grandchildren.
Boy Scouts revived in Three
A recently organized Boy Scouts of America
Pack No. 323 had their first meeting Monday, Dec.
7, where the boys made Christmas ornaments, which
is in keeping with their monthly theme, Christmas
Art. This carried over to Sunday, Dec. 13, when the
pack attended the Enchanted Playhouse’s production
in Visalia of “Tiny Tim’s Christmas.”
Those interested in having their sons
join the local Boy Scouts may call 561-3574 for information
and an application.
COS Health Center
While supplies last, H1N1 vaccines and
seasonal flu vaccines will be available at no charge
at the College of the Sequoias Health Center.
As of last Friday morning, Dec. 11, there were
585 doses of H1N1 vaccine and 107 doses of the seasonal
Swine flu was first identified in April.
During the first seven months of the pandemic, it
sickened about 50 million Americans and killed about
10,000, according to CDC estimates.
Fourteen states are reporting widespread
influenza activity; a decline of 11 states from last
week. They are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California,
Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire,
New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.
Vaccinations will be available to the
general public from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through
Friday, at the Health Center, which is located at
the southeast corner of the Giant Forest building
on the COS campus in Visalia.
For more information and to ensure doses
are still available, call 730-3880.
holiday safety tips
The Tulare County Sheriff’s Department
has issued a reminder for citizens to be on the lookout
for criminal activity that is associated with the
holiday season. Especially during challenging economic
times, it is common to experience an increase in crime.
Here some tips to stay safe:
Be alert and aware of your surroundings. Park in a
well-lit area. Remember to lock your vehicle. In fact,
keep vehicle doors and windows locked while you are
in it. Minimize the number of valuables left in your
vehicle and keep valuables, such as electronics and
gifts, out of sight. Protect your purse or wallet.
Don’t carry large amounts of cash or extra credit
cards. Role-play with children about what they should
do in the event you are separated. Have your keys
out and ready when you return to your vehicle. Do
not leave your car unattended with the motor running
or with the keys in the ignition, even for the very
short time needed to pay for fuel, do a quick errand,
or even warming it up in the driveway. Only make online
purchases from trusted, secure websites (look for
“https” in the web address, which verifies
At home— Place
gifts where they can’t be seen from the outside.
Avoid opening the door to strangers (legitimate delivery
people will be able to show identification). Investigate
charities before donating by calling the Secretary
of State or the charity’s main office. Have
outdoor lights that are activated by sensors. Mail
cards with money, checks, or gift cards only from
a post office or a blue U.S. Postal Service collection
box (not in a roadside mailbox). If traveling, ask
the Sheriff’s VIPs or a trusted friend or neighbor
to watch your home and make arrangements for mail
Do not drink and drive. Wear your seatbelt and make
sure everyone else in the vehicle buckles up too.
Prepare for winter driving conditions and equip your
vehicle with cold-weather emergency supplies. Do not
talk on a cell phone, text, or anything else that
will cause a distraction. Take frequent breaks to
avoid fatigue, especially when driving long distances.
Give yourself extra time for travel, especially in
fog or rain or during peak travel times when traffic
is heavier than normal.
WELCOME TO MY FOOD COLUMN
Eating healthy despite the holidays
By Tina St. John
Healthy eating and habits are possible
throughout the holidays.
Every year at this time out comes all
the decadent food. We all look forward to eating non-stop
all the luscious treats like cookies, cakes, and appetizers
oozing with all those forbidden ingredients that wreak
havoc on our insides.
If only we could eat all these non-filtering,
processed holiday delights without the effect it has
on our bodies. Who are we kidding when we tell ourselves
that these foods have no calories and if they do,
oh well, it’s the holidays.
How do you resist? It’s the time
of year to celebrate joy and good tidings and it only
happens once a year. But the trays of goodies seem
to appear more than once during this once-a-year season.
And it’s funny how when the treats
do appear, all our justifications start to go off
in our heads. “When the New Year starts, I’ll
stop.” “I’ll eat the mini blueberry
cheesecake and get my fruits and protein.” “I’ll
skip dinner tonight or breakfast tomorrow.”
“I’ll do twice as much exercise to make
up for what I’m eating.”
Yeah, right. I know it’s a challenge.
Everything is so good, and how often do cream-filled
brownies or apricot-glazed strudel come into our day?
Not often, which is why it’s so hard to pass
on these mouthwatering treats.
After all, we have to experience happiness,
and eating should never be torture or create suffering.
But when we do indulge, we suffer.
Our bodies suffer, our minds suffer, and our emotions
suffer because we’ve filled ourselves with food
that creates havoc in our system. It’s a fact.
The good news is that there’s a
host of things one can do to minimize the effects
of consecutive days of poor eating so that come January
2nd one doesn’t feel like an overstuffed pig
wanting to lie down only to pass the time.
First of all, when the food tray appears,
do not overindulge. Enjoy, but try not to be excessive.
Remember what it felt like when you ate
too much in the past? That’s right, now hold
that vision when you’re reaching for that second
or third ooey-gooey-cheesy thing that is so delectable
you have to have one more taste because you may never
see it again. Moderation is the key.
Second, if you know the tray is coming,
drink some water and fill up. This is the most simple
and sure way to curb your appetite and save your tummy
from overload. It really works.
Third, if you’ve eaten beyond your
limit because, oh my goodness, there was no way you
were going to pass up that chocolate concoction that
you’re certain came from the planet of Chocolate
Gods, then exercise. Get moving by walking, stretching,
bicycling, or whatever to get your body in motion.
Exercise helps to move things through your system
much faster than sitting or doing nothing.
And finally, do your best to begin your
day by eating raw food. This ensures you get the nutrients
your body needs to stay healthy.
You can make a smoothie in the morning
for breakfast, then sometime during the day eat a
healthy salad. Those two things will help keep those
butter-laced sugar bugs on the run.
I’ve included two Healthy Morning
Smoothie recipes for your defense. I’ve also
enclosed Nikki’s Healthy Holiday Cookies.
MORNING SMOOTHIE NO. 1
1 large banana
Juice of 4 oranges
¼ cup frozen strawberries
1 ripe pear
1 heaping tbs. MSM (available at Three Rivers Mercantile)
5 leaves of organic greens of your choice (optional)
Blend and drink.
HEALTHY MORNING SMOOTHIE NO. 1
1 large banana
Juice of 4 oranges
¼ cup frozen strawberries
1 ripe pear
1 heaping tbs. MSM (available at Three Rivers Mercantile)
5 leaves of organic greens of your choice (optional)
Blend and drink.
NIKKI’S HEALTHY COOKIES
3 large bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup coconut oil, warmed only so it isn’t
(Alternative: olive oil)
2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cups almond meal
1/3 cup coconut, finely shredded and unsweetened
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. fine grain salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 oz. of chocolate chips or dark chocolate bar, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ingredients
and drop by teaspoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake until golden brown.
Avoid singing the holiday blues
The holiday blues: Elvis sang about them
and people bring them up every year. Depression can
happen any time, but the glow of the holidays might
deepen your blues by contrast, so let’s consider
causes and solutions.
Unrealistic expectations: Much
as a bride on her wedding day might treat a snag as
a catastrophe, some people have a fantasy script for
the “perfect Christmas” and react severely
when things aren’t exactly right.
Christmas has the same effect as over-planning a vacation,
and makes it about as fun. Choose one or two themes
and keep your focus there. Be available for others.
Years from now, your family will most fondly remember
your presence and thoughtfulness, not how much money
Missing those remembered more:
When a loved one is absent, something seems profoundly
missing. People who aren’t with their families
during Christmas may also feel out of place. I will
never forget my middle school teacher tearfully recalling
being in Vietnam 20 years earlier, singing Silent
Night on Christmas Eve in a strange land with soldiers
he didn’t know. He had still not gotten past
Recommendation: Grieve healthfully
for those who aren’t with you, but balance your
feelings with gratitude for having known this person
in the first place.
Hazards of winter: During
long, dark winter days your pineal gland secretes
more melatonin, which can cause fatigue. Seasonal
Affective Disorder (a depressive disorder) affects
people vulnerable to extended darkness. People are
also prone to exercising less and are more likely
to catch colds and viruses during cooler months.
Recommendation: Get an early
start on your New Year’s resolution with regular,
moderate-intensity aerobic workouts. Exercise stimulates
the release of endorphins, your body’s natural
painkiller, and helps boost your mood.
Six weeks of chaos:
Fifty years ago, Christmas lasted one week. People
put up their trees three or four days before Christmas
and took them down shortly after. Now it lasts from
Thanksgiving until New Year’s — a month
of lines, parties, traffic, travel arrangements, delays,
and hunting for a parking space.
Recommendation: Take control
of your schedule. Don’t go to parties you’d
rather avoid (okay, maybe one) and spend quiet evenings
at home. Take time to rest and limit your shopping
to two well-planned days. Accept that your patience
will be tried and that everything will take you twice
The temptation of holiday debt:
The desire to overspend can be overwhelming.
Recommendation: Parents who
buy their kids expensive presents say more about their
needs than those of their kids. Love isn’t about
the cost of gifts but the thoughtfulness of the giver.
Your child will love two special gifts that hit the
target way more than 12 gifts that are mediocre.
Alcohol: Holiday parties
mean alcohol, a depressant that interferes with sleep,
motor coordination, inhibition, and thinking. It’s
also immensely destructive to internal organs.
Recommendation: Limit your drinking.
If you cannot get through the holidays without alcohol,
you have a problem. Do not get into serious family
conversations while under the influence, lest you
say something you will regret.
Taking stock and not liking what
you see: Often people are guilty of the hindsight
bias (erroneously thinking that they should have known
all along what the right choices were) and do not
like the fruits of their labors. “I could be
making more money.” “I could be doing
things better.” “I made many mistakes
as a parent.” “I should lose more weight.”
Recommendation: Be realistic.
You’ve done better than you think. Balance your
self-criticism with recognition for what you’ve
done well and approach the New Year as a chance to
learn from your mistakes. Get some perspective by
volunteering to help some of the many people considerably
worse off than you.
Some people feel let down after realizing the presents
have all been opened. Some catch more sleep. Others,
paradoxically, get addicted to stress and go shopping
the day after Christmas.
Recommendation: Embrace your
post-Christmas crash. Your exhaustion isn’t
abnormal; it’s your body’s way of telling
you you’re spent. Indulge in a couple of lazy
days around the house. If you cannot relax, consider
how addicted to stress you might be.
In the same way that Scrooge pledged
to keep Christmas every day of the year, endeavor
to maintain a sense of balance, perspective, and gratitude
through the holiday season and beyond. Don’t
buy in to the madness.
Focusing on love, joy, peace —
the important things — can cure even the most
Grinchy spell of the blues.
This article was contributed
by Jay Pope, a psychology professor at Fresno Pacific
THREE RIVERS ART REVIEW
Making the rounds at the
1st Saturday of 2009
By Eddie McArthur
If you haven’t yet ventured out
on the first Saturday of a given month, you are missing
several major treats. I’ve learned that I simply
can’t see every artist, attend every venue,
or take advantage of every special offer each month
because there is simply too much happening!
But isn’t that a great problem
to have? So, here are the few I saw this past 1st
Saturday (Dec. 4):
My husband and I stopped by Anne Lang’s
for a bite to eat to energize us for our visits. We
sat in near-darkness as Anne and her cheerful crew
dealt with an ill-timed power outage. The wonderful
array of munchies was too tempting to pass up, and
just before we left the power came back on, hopefully
a portent of a good day to come.
At the local Century 21 office, Geoffrey
Glass has a display of photography dubbed “The
Seasons of Three Rivers.” Geoff does all the
work himself from capturing the beautiful scenes —
and he has a great eye — to the enlargements
and framing. A new talent has “flashed”
onto the local scene. If you love the views around
our area, and who doesn’t?, be sure to check
out Geoff’s work.
We stopped next at Colors Art Studio
and Gallery where Wendy McKellar’s wonderful
furniture pieces are tempting my eye and my wallet.
I’m going to have to find a place in our home
for one of these magical pieces of art masquerading
Leslie Powell joined Wendy this month,
displaying her fanciful metal sculptures. The huge
sunflowers especially seemed to be talking to me.
I’m picturing one of them nestled amidst real
sunflowers next season.
Nadi Spencer’s colorful studio
was decked out in celebration of the month of December.
The fragrance of her Moroccan Bastilla was like walking
past the cinnamon roll place at the mall; you just
have to go in.
Here, a crowd gathered by the stove,
sampling the bastilla and enjoying Nadi’s art.
Thanks to offerings like coffee mugs and note cards
that carry the images of her works, everyone can afford
a piece of local art.
I had hoped to stay for Rae Ann Kumelos’s
story of the Reindeer, but there was just so much
left to do.
Outside Cort Gallery, Kay Gaston displayed
her handcrafted dolls and jewelry made from fused
glass. Kay has married these two talents with a group
of pieces of jewelry in the shape of dolls. I would
love one of these from Santa!
Joining Kay was Jeri Burzin with her
lovely photography. A shot of a wood duck particularly
caught our eyes. The reflections in the water have
a very painterly quality and the image is clear as,
well, a bright December day. One usually has to go
to Minkler to see these two artists, so having them
in Three Rivers for the day was especially nice.
Although we’d planned a few more
stops, the nasty cold I’ve been fighting off
said it was time to go home. Darn!
But, there’s more 1st Saturday
to come in 2010. I’ll be there!