Friday, May 29, 2015

Where's Heather?

Wonder Valley's own artist, Heather Johnson,
is riding her motorcycle to the other end of the Americas.

From Heather: "This is Isaac. He helps out stray motorcyclists on their way south (or north). Last November, two British guys riding from Alaska to Tierro del Fuego camped in his garage. One of them, 4 nights after waking up one morning covered in mosquito bites, came down with Dengue Fever. Isaac spent two weeks nursing him back to health, and in the end the pair reached their destination. I am honored to be the fourth rider to camp in Isaac's garage."

Many Moods of Ben Vaughn, Sunday, May 31, 2015

This week's MANY MOODS OF BEN VAUGHN will feature selections by these fine recording artists and more. Full playlist to follow.

WXPN, Phila., PA (Saturdays at 5:00 pm EST)
WEVL, Memphis, TN (Fridays at 6:00 pm CT & Tuesdays at 9:00 am CT)
PRAIRIE PUBLIC RADIO, all of North Dakota (Saturdays at 3:00 pm CT)
KCDZ, Joshua Tree, CA (Sundays at 3:00 pm PST)
KDLG, Dillingham, AK (Sundays at 9:00 pm Alaska Standard Time)
KISL, Catalina Island, CA (Mon., Wed., and Fri. at 8:00 pm PST)
KLOI, Lopez Island, WA (Saturdays at 8:00 PM and Fridays at 8:00 AM PST)

Now available on iTunes thanks to KCDZ in Joshua Tree, CA.

Rattlesnake removal

It's snake season and one Wonder Valley local recently asked me who to call to get the rattlesnakes out of her pool.

Now, I've heard of this guy, Bert Lies, and people tell me he's the rattlesnake whisperer, but I want to state that everything about rattlesnakes is at your own risk. I am not making any claims, I'm just passing on information.

I haven't seen a rattlesnake yet; a gopher snake, a red racer and a shovel nose, yes, but not a rattlesnake. When I do I'll be calling Bert. He does not harm the snakes. He removes them and relocates them.

Bert Lies, 818-825-1226. This is also posted under the [ Businesses ] tab above.

Wonder Valley mention in the Los Angeles Times today

On the front page of the LA Times today:


Ken Layne at the Palms, Wonder Valley
"Ken Layne is driving past Wonder Valley — an unincorporated community he calls the 'weird cousin' of Joshua Tree. He is uneasy. Years ago he got a speeding ticket on this road and it cost him $600. Now he sets the cruise control on his car to 59 mph every time he drives out here. 
"'This is prime bighorn sheep territory,' he says, looking beyond the plastic coyote on his dashboard toward the wide-open vistas. 'There are no signs of people except for us.' 
"He points out the dust devils spinning off in the distance. This is his life now."
The Desert Oracle is available at the Palms, and I wrote a piece for the Summer issue about how you can tell if you're a desert rat. I suggest getting a subscription - one year for $15 and it comes right to wherever you get your mail.

Hat tip (h/t) to Jay Babcock of Joshua Tree.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Desert Trail Column, May 28, 2015

Beginning June 1, our community center, located at 80526 ½ Amboy Road, will be open Mondays only, from 8 to noon. Star Javier will be there to help with park, road and/or community center issues. Messages can be left for her anytime at 760-367-9880, and she’ll return calls on Monday mornings between 8 and 9. The above number is now the only number at the community center, but you can also call the San Bernardino County office at 909-387-5940. The Wonder Valley Book Program hours will also change on June 1 to Mondays only from 9 to noon. The community center and book program will be closed on all holidays.

Darlene’s Commentary:  I’ve had many interesting experiences during my 63-year visit to this planet. Some were weird, some funny, some unbelievable, some scary, and some were even normal. Here’s a recent example of a strange one. After I started having right hip pain, I was subjected to a series of x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, nerve conduction studies, a steroid injection into my spine and one with an anti-inflammatory directly into my hip joint. Nothing kept the pain away for long. My orthopedist has now ordered “no-weight-bearing” for my right leg and hip, so I’ve been trying to use crutches. The problem is I can’t exactly figure out how to walk carefully with four feet (my feet plus crutch feet). My best method so far is to go right crutch forward, right foot with no weight, left foot to bear the weight, left crutch to keep the balance. I feel like a just-born deer!

Karen’s Commentary:  I recently attended the Meet & Greet with our MAC Representative Teresa Sitz. The meeting was sparsely attended, but a lot of issues were brought up, along with good discussions and recommended solutions. I think Teresa has some excellent forward-thinking ideas, new perspectives on Wonder Valley, and thoughts on why some things aren’t working. Teresa seems like the kind of person who, when confronted with a barrier, will step back and figure the best way around it, even if it means taking an entirely different route.

Check out the Wonder Valley website at Teresa Sitz now includes our column every week and dresses it up with some cute pictures. She does a very nice job of informing everyone about what’s going on in our area.

Handy Hint:  To remove pet hair from furniture, wipe it with a damp sponge or fabric softener sheet.

Thought for Today:  If a package is transported by car or truck, it’s called a shipment; if transportation is by ship, it’s called cargo.

Until next time . . . remember to take time to enjoy the WONDERs all around us.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Deserted, at the Palms, Saturday night

Deserted at the Palms
[ From the copy on the Facebook Page ]
A weekend at a dusty saloon oasis known as The Palms. All ages welcome. Tix cost $30. Free camping.

Doors open at noon.

83131 Amboy Road, Wonder Valley, CA 92277

At the door, tickets will be CASH ONLY. Buy tickets with card online in advance: Online ticket sales stop May 29.

The Palms is a desert haunt in a desolate place called Wonder Valley, California. A shabby oasis run by a family known as The Sibleys, the beer costs two dollars and they sell twinkies at the bar. It has an out-of-tune piano missing some keys and its most dedicated patron is a tall mannequin with a giant cat mask for a head. The place is a treasure with PBR on tap.

2:00 p.m. - Anna Oxygen
2:30 p.m. - Barfth
3:00 p.m. - Zombelle
3:30 p.m. - L.A. Takedown
4:05 p.m. - Feels
4:40 p.m. - Nedelle Torrisi
5:15 p.m. - Kim & The Created
5:50 p.m. - Bloody Death Skull
6:25 p.m. - Zig Zags
7:00 p.m. - Part Time
7:35 p.m. - The Memories
8:10 p.m. - Sonny & The Sunsets
8:50 p.m. - Jack Name
9:30 p.m. - No Age
10:15 p.m. - Magic Trick
10:55 p.m. - Black Bananas
11:45 p.m. - Pharaohs
12:25 a.m. - King Tuff
after...Butchy Fuego DJ set

Meet and Greet - Monday, June 8 at the Community Center

You are cordially invited to attend a
Meet and Greet

Monday, June 8, 2015
9:00 - 11:00 a.m. at the

Wonder Valley Community Center
80526 Amboy Road, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277

Light refreshments will be served. The building is ADA accessible.
Everyone is invited and welcome to attend and participate.

There is no agenda at this meeting. This is an opportunity for you to meet your neighbors, your MAC delegate,* Teresa Sitz, and discuss issues of concern in the community. If you'd like to bring up an issue privately, please email Teresa at

Teresa will bring a digital scanner, so if you have historical photographs or letters you'd like to scan and submit to a community photo album, please bring them along.

* MAC - The Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council consists of 9 county appointees who represent 9 unincorporated communities in the Morongo Basin.

Monday, May 25, 2015

WEMO letter to download and send: DEADLINE: JUNE 4!

The community met to view Pat Flanagan's presentation on the BLM's WEMO plan last Saturday. 38 people attended, which isn't bad for a beautiful Saturday on Memorial Day weekend.

Wonder Valley community meeting. Other people are sitting on the sides and in the back.
Many thanks to Pat Flanagan for all the work she's done on this issue. Thanks to Star Javier for opening the Community Center on a Saturday and helping with set up and clean up. Thanks also to Donna Landry, Ken Sitz, Bob Tellefson, Izzy, and Jill Reinig for helping with the meeting. Thanks especially to everyone who attended.

Letter to the BLM
Download, edit, print, sign and send. Feel free to add your own personal notes regarding the OHV issue to the letter.

If you have ANY trouble downloading this write to me at and I'll send you the letter by email.

The public comment period for the WEMO (WEst MOjave Plan) opened on March 5 and will close June 4, 2015. Send your comments to: or by mail to:
Bureau of Land Management
California Desert District
Attn: WMRNP Plan Amendment
22835 Calle San Juan de Los Lagos
Moreno Valley, CA 92553 
Please send a copy of your letter to:
Supervisor James Ramos
San Bernardino County Government Center
385 N. Arrowhead Ave., Fifth Floor
San Bernardino, CA 92415-0110
Pat Flanagan's Power Point Presentation on the BLM WEMO Plan

Talking points for your letter, if you'd prefer to write your own:

Where's Heather?

Wonder Valley's own artist, Heather Johnson, is riding her motorcycle to the other end of the Americas. She's made it as far as Nicaragua. From Heather:
I spent my last 4 days in Nicaragua off the grid on a quiet beach with no tourists, but a handful of strays like me, who've found themselves here from far reaches of the globe, looking for excuses never to leave. The place is empty and immaculate, with turquoise quarter mile waves that'll pulverize you into the sand if you're not paying attention. Monkeys roar like lions from trees that wrap themselves around other trees, choking them out of existence. Sunsets blaze with chemical intensity against silhouettes of rock promontories shaped like rude gestures. 
Miro, Sabrina and Kevin pulled me out of a dark place this week. They shared their food, their stories and their hearts, reminding me that I'm not doing this thing alone. There are others everywhere, floating around the world searching for meaning and finding it.

Local color (and sometimes black and white)

The following photos were taken by Wonder Valley residents Gina Fisher Kohn, Donna Marie Landry, and Susan Lipper. Thank you all for taking such beautiful pictures and for sharing them with the blog.

Mailboxes, Gina Fisher Kohn
Full moon in the palo verde tree, by Donna Marie Landry
Untitled snapshot, by Susan Lipper, Guggenheim Fellow

Memorial Day Weekend in Wonder Valley

Memorial Day Weekend saw an influx of tourists into Wonder Valley for two special events.

High Desert Test Sites staged Carmen Argote's Vast Furniture at their Iron Age Road property. About 50 people gathered there to see the exhibit, hear the lecture, enjoy a community potluck and camp out under the stars. Kip Fjeld, an HDTS volunteer and itinerant tinkerer, provided rehabbed vintage kerosene lanterns to light the event. A gorgeous sunrise greeted the out-of-towners many of whom trundled over to the Palms for breakfast and gospel music after packing up.

It was a little mind-boggling to see a long row of cars along Iron Age Road. Is it time for Wonder Valley to consider valet parking?

Later Saturday night it was standing room only as around 200 people jammed the patio at the Palms to see Diane Best's three moving image pieces, part of  Boxoproject's Joshua Treenial. Reverend Screaming Fingers (aka Lucio Menegon), Wonder Valley's own The Renderers, and Artemis provided live accompaniment to the movies. The balmy desert night, the blanket of stars, the energy of the crowd, the music, the art, all melded to make a magical night.

Photo, courtesy of Doug Beale
Photo, courtesy of Doug Beale
People told me all the vacation rentals were booked up this weekend. I wondered how the community might better serve visitors on these busy holidays. Once people are in Wonder Valley they want to see more. Perhaps we could stage community popup businesses. Maybe the Glass Outhouse and Wonder Valley Thrift and the Community Center could be open and do something special - a crafts fair, a coffee/beverage shop, a bake sale, something that highlights the best of Wonder Valley. Let's think on it.

A big Wonder Valley thanks to Joshua Treenial, Diane Best, Lucio Menegon, the Renderers, Artemis, the Palms, and High Desert Test Sites for making this such an amazing weekend.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Agenda for Community Meeting, May 23, 2015

Saturday, May 23, 2015, 11:00 a.m.
Wonder Valley Community Center
80526 Amboy Rd, Wonder Valley, CA 92277
Wonder Valley MAC Delegate / Meeting Chair: Teresa Sitz

  1. Call to Order, 11:00 a.m.
  2. Flag Salute, Community Member, 1 minute
  3. Public Comment on non-agenda items (2 minutes each), 10 minutes
  4. Introduction and meeting format, Chair, 5 minutes
    a.  Purpose of the meeting. (NOTE: There are no action items on this agenda.)
  5. BLM WEMO Presentation, Pat Flanagan, 20 minutes
    a. Questions and Answers, 20 minutes
    b. Public Comment, 30 minutes
  6. Adjourn, 12:30 p.m.
The public may remain following the meeting to write a public comment letter to the BLM. These letters must be received by the BLM by 4:30 p.m. on June 4, 2015. Paper, pens and envelopes will be provided.

Light refreshments will be served. This building is ADA Compliant.

Download a copy of the agenda.

Many Moods of Ben Vaughn, Sunday, May 24, 2015

This week's MANY MOODS OF BEN VAUGHN will feature selections by these fine recording artists and more. Full playlist to follow.

WXPN, Phila., PA (Saturdays at 5:00 pm EST)
WEVL, Memphis, TN (Fridays at 6:00 pm CT & Tuesdays at 9:00 am CT)
PRAIRIE PUBLIC RADIO, all of North Dakota (Saturdays at 3:00 pm CT)
KCDZ, Joshua Tree, CA (Sundays at 3:00 pm PST)
KDLG, Dillingham, AK (Sundays at 9:00 pm Alaska Standard Time)
KISL, Catalina Island, CA (Mon., Wed., and Fri. at 8:00 pm PST)
KLOI, Lopez Island, WA (Saturdays at 8:00 PM and Fridays at 8:00 AM PST)

Now available on iTunes thanks to KCDZ in Joshua Tree, CA.

Just add water!

Marine Love

Maybe we could get a little Marine love in Wonder Valley. I think we'd have to have a plan and a small cadre of local volunteers, but I bet we could do it. Any place in Wonder Valley need cleaning?

Twentynine Palms Marines chip in to clean up desert

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Desert Trail Column, May 21, 2015

Have you noticed our beautiful “new” grader going up and down the roads? It had only 2,000 hours on it, which makes it practically brand new! Tim has been lowering berms and crowning the roads where he can. We really appreciate all his efforts, and look forward to when the big-time road repairs can begin.

Miss Ida Lane plays some genuine honky-tonk piano at The Palms most Sundays. Stop in to listen and sing along while she plays such songs as “Yellow Rose of Texas,” “Waltzing Matilda,” “Angel Band” and “Uncloudy Sky.”

Pastor Max Rossi passed along some good news recently. The Road Extension Plans were finally approved by San Bernardino County, so the new church building should be up and fully operational on Godwin Road by the end of this year. Max wants to thank everyone for their prayers.

A WEMO Presentation for Wonder Valley will be held on Saturday, May 23 at our Wonder Valley Community Center at 11 am. WEMO stands for the BLM’s WEst MOjave Plan. They are working to designate 5,000 additional miles of off-road vehicle routes, and Pat Flanagan will talk about how this may affect Wonder Valley.

We send out Rainbows-of-Emeralds-and-Lilies-of-the-Valley to Barbara Finnegan who celebrates her special day this week. Happy birthday, Barbara!

Karen’s Commentary:  Ted and I had two firefighters over for a turkey dinner last week – old friend Jay Dimoff and his partner Aaron who lives in Azusa and is normally stationed in Needles! Wow, what a commute! Azusa was my teenage stompin’ grounds, we raised our family in neighboring Glendora and Jay lived in neighboring Covina when he was a kid, so there was a good deal of “old neighborhood” talk. What a fun evening.

Darlene’s Commentary:  Of all the good bands I have seen at The Palms in Wonder Valley, and there have been a lot, my favorite is the Blackwater Juke Box Band. The bandleader, Geordie McElroy, plays electric banjo like I’ve never seen – the whole band is on fire! Their music and lyrics are so unique and fresh. Blackwater Juke Box totally ROCKS!

The Wonder Valley Book Program is open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 to noon at the community center. Books and movies can be checked out free. Come on in and look around.

Handy Hint:  Prevent soil from escaping through the holes in the base of flowerpots by lining with large coffee filters.

Thought for Today:  “We’re behind you all the way” is the motto of the Procrastinator’s Club of America. They have 14,000 members, and probably millions more who just haven’t gotten around to joining.
[ photo coming soon ]

Until next time . . . remember to take time to enjoy the WONDERs all around us.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Happening this week...

Saturday, May 23, 2015, 11:00 a.m.
Wonder Valley Community Meeting, 80526 Amboy Rd, Wonder Valley, CA 92277
Pat Flanagan will be giving a presentation on the BLM's WEMO (WEst MOjave) Plan.

Saturday, May 23, 2015, 6:00 p.m.
Joshua Tree's High Desert Test Sites hosts Carmen Argote's exhibition, A Vast Furniture, with an opening reception, potluck and overnight campout at the Iron Age Road Parcel, beginning at 6:00 pm tonight. Take Twentynine Palms Highway to Iron Age Road in Wonder Valley, turn left and drive a few more miles. For more information visit

Saturday, May 23, 2015, 8:30 p.m.
The Joshua Treenial continues today with local artist Diane Best screening three moving image works accompanied by Lucio Menegon (Reverend Screaming Fingers), the ethereal Artemis, and Wonder Valley's own The Renderers. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. at the Palms, 83131 Amboy Road in Wonder Valley. A $10 donation is suggested.

Sunday, May 24, 2015, 3:00 p.m., KCDZ Joshua Tree, CA.
The Many Moods of Ben Vaughn

Monday, May 18, 2015

Diane Best at Palms, Saturday, May 23, 8:30 p.m.

"[Diane Best] will be showing 3 moving image pieces outdoors at the Palms, as part of the 3-day Joshua Treenial Event. The show will start at 8:30, and will run 40 minutes. The pieces will be shown with live music by soundtrack composers: Reverend Screaming Fingers (aka Lucio Menegon), The Renderers, and Artemis. After that first showing, the show will be repeated with recorded soundtrack."

Come join me under the stars!

$10 suggested donation
Palms Bar and Restaurant
83131 Amboy Rd, Wonder Valley, CA 92277

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Wonder Valley in the May 19, 2015 BOS Agenda

Item 68, page 15
Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Acting as the governing body of the Board Governed County Service Areas and Zones:
1. Adopt the following Resolutions continuing special taxes, which were previously approved by the voters, for 2015-16 and direct the Auditor-Controller/Treasurer/Tax Collector to place the special taxes on the 2015-16 tax roll:

c. Resolution setting a special tax for County Service Area 70, Zone TV-4 (Wonder Valley), at $5 per parcel, per Attachment C (no increase from previous year).

q.  Resolution setting a special tax for Zone A of County Service Area 70, Zone M (Wonder Valley) at $55.00 per parcel, per Attachment Q (first year of special tax).

You invited and welcome to attend and participate in this meeting via videoconferencing at Bob Burke Government Center, 63665 Twentynine Palms Highway, Joshua Tree. The public is invited to give public comment, make presentations, or just watch the meeting.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Desert Trail Column, May14, 2015

The USDA Food Distribution will take place on Monday, May 18 at the Wonder Valley Community Center, 80526 ½ Amboy Road, from 11 to noon. The He Provides Ministry will also be there with free clothing and household items for anyone who can use them.
We send out Rainbows-of-Emeralds-and-Lilies-of-the-Valley to Curtis Johnson who celebrates his special day this week. Happy birthday, Curtis!

Darlene’s Commentary: Our father, Jerry Borquez, worked in aerospace and in 1958, our whole family moved to Cape Canaveral, Florida where his expertise was needed. Two years later, when I was eight years old, we returned to California by car. I remember stopping at a fruit inspection station, and as Daddy drove up to the window, he turned to me and my little sister Donna and said, “Now, don’t say anything about the oranges in the ice chest.” We got out of the car to stretch our legs (and, I am sure, to keep our mouths shut) and I remember we walked over to a tall wooden sign that read “Welcome to California” and “Wonder Valley.” Little did I know that I would move to this area 29 years later, and end up living across the road from that very sign!  I love Wonder Valley.
Karen’s Commentary: Our big bullfrog is croaking again! He had quit croaking for about a week when we put three new tadpoles in the pond, but he is now back in fine form. We haven’t named him yet, but are thinking of calling him Damian after Damian McGinty who is a very young and handsome member of Celtic Thunder with a baby face and a surprisingly deep voice. Years ago, we named our first frog Jeremiah. After Jeremiah went to that great fishpond in the sky, we got three frogs that we promptly named Bud, Weis and Er! It’ll be pretty hard to come up with better names than those.
Our community center is open every Monday and Wednesday from 9 to noon, and Star Javier is there to answer any questions or discuss issues about our park and/or roads. On the Mondays when the USDA Food Distribution takes place, the community center opens at 8 am.
Handy Hint: Hang a shoe organizer bag in your garage. The clear plastic pouches make it easy to both store and locate spray paints, lubricants, gardening tools and other items.
Thought for Today: Gene Simmons was a sixth grade teacher in Harlem; Sting taught English, music and soccer at a Catholic girls school in England; and Stephen King was a high school English teacher in Maine. Kind of scary.
Until next time . . . remember to take time to enjoy the WONDERs all around us.

BLM's proposed OHV routes in residential neighborhoods

Pat Flanagan will give a presentation on the BLM's WEMO Plan on Saturday, May 23, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. at the Wonder Valley Community Center, 80526 Amboy Rd, Wonder Valley, CA 92277.

Everyone is invited and welcome to attend and participate. As this is an issue in the entire Morongo Valley, not just Wonder Valley, this presentation will be relevant to people in other areas.

Many of the routes (green) in the graphic above are contiguous with private property. While most local OHV riders are responsible and courteous and good neighbors some people are concerned that people coming from outside of the area will be unaware of the boundaries and have a negative impact on residential neighborhoods.

Letter writing materials will be available at the meeting so please come and share your thoughts with the BLM, either for or against the Plan.

Coffee and cookies will be served.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wonder Valley artist curates show at Copper Mountain College

Ichiro Irie and Lucas Kazansky (IILK)
Wonder Valley's own Christine "Kiki" Seror, a professor at Copper Mountain College, curated Mirrors and Windows, an art exhibit at the Ada Hatch Center, Copper Mountain College, 6334 Rotary Way. The show is the first invitational exhibition of art by faculty from Southern California Community Colleges and runs through May 30th. Don't miss it! It's amazing.

Ichiro Irie and Lucas Kazanky (IILK) submitted Blood, Sex and Car Wrecks (above) using ink and acrylic on paper with an augmented reality component using a mobile device. An app allows the user to hold a tablet in front of the art piece and see different aspect of the image as well as altering artwork on the tablet. I could not look away.

Congratulations, Kiki!

Art Installation in Wonder Valley, May 23 - June 20, 2015

From May 23 through June 20, 2015, artist Carmen Argote, A Vast Furniture will be installed at the High Desert Test Sites in Wonder Valley. 

The first part of the show will be installed at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House in West Hollywood from April 17 – May 17, 2015.

From the catalog:
For Part two, Argote’s sculpture will be separated from its defining walls and precisely reconstructed in an open landscape in the Mojave Desert, at the HDTS Iron Age Road Parcel in Wonder Valley. Here, Argote theoretically realizes an off-the-cuff proposal made by Schindler protégé Gregory Ain at an early Schindler House preservation meeting: considering the monumental costs of restoration and accounting for how West Hollywood had so radically changed since construction, Ain suggested to put the Kings Road property on the market, let it meet its inevitable fate, and use the profits to rebuild the house exactly to original specifications elsewhere, as an architecture study center: “Why don’t you do what Schindler did, just go out in the desert and build one? It doesn’t belong on a tree-lined, apartment-house neighborhood. It was built to be in the desert.”*
In Wonder Valley, the traced line-as-object will carry the influence and sociocultural imprint of the house. Within the outlined perimeter of vast horizons, the architecture of both spaces will be simultaneously activated. Visitors will be able to take up residence in the ghost image of the Schindler House as the sculpture will function both to define a campsite and host conversation around home ownership, cycles of prospecting throughout the region’s history, and the meaning of the outskirts to a city like Los Angeles. 
Saturday, May 23, 2015
Opening reception, potluck, and overnight campout at the Iron Age Road Parcel, beginning at 6:00 pm (visitors may arrive at their convenience, but it is suggested to arrive at the site before sundown), with a guided tour at 7:00 pm. Sleep under the stars in the “Schindler House,” transposed to a remote destination in the Mojave Desert community of Wonder Valley.
Saturday, June 20, 2015 
Far Enough Away, a conversation about the concept of transposing the frontier, at the Palms Restaurant and Saloon, 7:30 pm. 
All programs are free and open to the public.

MAC Meeting - Monday, May 11, 2015

Hello, Wonder Valley!

I went to my second MAC (Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council) meeting last night and picked up my business cards - thanks, Gayl!  What follows is my take on the meeting – UNOFFICIAL in every way, and I invite correction for anything I got wrong.

Review the meeting for yourself, on YouTube on Bob Stepheson's channel.

Call to order: 6:30 p.m. by Chair Mark Lundquist

Roll Call: 5 members present = quorum. Mark LUNDQUIST, Joshua Tree; Lib KOENIG, Flamingo Heights; Pat FLANAGAN, Desert Heights; Teresa SITZ, Wonder Valley; Mary Helen TUTTLE, Copper Mountain MesaAdoption of the Agenda and Approval of Minutes from April 13, 2015

Public Comment:
David FICK:
spoke on Dollar General in Joshua Tree, that they have filed a notice to prepare an EIR. The comment period is open from May 8 through June 9. Asked that the MAC prepare a resolution to vote on for the June 8 meeting. Issues attached to the Dollar General have to do with traffic, the Joshua Tree Plan, and urban decay. If one is overturned they’ll all be overturned.

Donna LANDRY: Suspects that money is at the root of the BLM’s WEMO Plan and suggested that we “follow the money.”

, Batallion Chief of San Bernardino spoke. He was married on March 27 so has been away. He said that in April there were 242 responses: 6 fires, 105 medical aid, 22 calls of service (cats in trees type of stuff), 39 good intent investigations (like smoke scares), 4 false alarms and 1 miscellaneous (undetermined).  He said we are in the vegetative fire season and suggested we maintain a 30’ vegetative clearance around our properties in the flats, more on the hillsides.

said that tomorrow is the first day of the nationwide “Click it or ticket” campaign regarding seatbelt compliance. A first ticket for not wearing a seatbelt is $142 for an adult and $445 for a child. The Age Well drivers course is taking place. Seniors 55 and over can sign up for the free course. There is no driving test. Some insurance companies may offer a reduction in rates for those who take the course.

Captain Dale MONDARY
is being hired by Desert Hot Springs. His last day here is June 12. He will be at the next MAC meeting. No word yet on who is taking his place.
Almut FLECK asked about the arrest of Pastor Stephen Burns who was recently charged with terrorist threat.
MONDARY could not comment on the ongoing investigation.
Teresa SITZ (I) asked about the charge of “terrorist threat,” that I associated the term “terrorist” with terrorism and wondered how the term became associated with “threat” which is a crime as it is.
MONDARY said it originated with the legislature and that it had been problematic. Minorities had been beaten in jail when others incarcerated learned they’d been charged with “terroristic threat.” He believes it may have since been changed to “criminal threat” and will look into making sure they are using the correct term.

ACTION ITEM – Approved unanimously.
MAC Resolution 013, May 11, 2015

Teresa SITZ, Wonder Valley The Wonder Valley Well Owners Association met on Sunday, May 3 with 28 people in attendance. Clarence Chambers, president, spoke on the state of wells in our area, water levels remaining unchanged. He advised people to secure a small generator, pump and tank so they would have access to their water in the event of an electrical outage.

The neighbors then moved to the topic of community safety. I was able to speak on efforts to arrange a meeting with the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department who have agreed to come address various issues including dumping, crime, Citizens on Patrol and setting up a Neighborhood Watch.

Kip’s Hi-Desert Book Club met Monday, May 4th at my house and many of our Wonder Valley neighbors attended.

We had a Meet and Greet this morning at the Community Center with 7 people attending. Many issues were discussed.

The Neighbors of Wonder Valley will meet on Saturday, May 23, at 11:00 a.m. for a presentation on the WEMO Plan given by Pat Flanagan. Everyone is invited and welcome to attend. I am distressed to see a new ORV route adjacent to my own property, fronting 10 acres of pristine BLM desert with intact desert pavement. The BLM is unwilling to answer questions regarding this route. I urge everyone to write and send their letters before June 4th.

Issues of crime, dumping, access to social services, road safety and access to representatives top the list of community concerns.

My own goal is to raise the profile of Wonder Valley. I am blessed to have met many of my neighbors and find them to be some of the finest people I have met anywhere. We have world-class musicians, artists, academics, engineers, and fine retired folks living in our area. They embody the pioneer spirit of independence and interdependence, resilience and creativity that formed this area into a community so many decades ago. I count myself very fortunate to live in Wonder Valley.

I’m also happy to see that WV attendance at this meeting has doubled – thank you almut and donna for attending.

Thank you.

ADJOURN 7:30 p.m.

Where's Heather?

Wonder Valley's own artist, Heather Johnson, is riding her motorcycle to the other end of the Americas. She's made it as far as Playa El Cuco, El Salvador. From Heather:

Decompression Day.

Stunning beaches with huge swells. Walled, razor-wired compounds. Lush, uncut jungles. Guys with iguanas on sticks. "No guns" stickers on store windows everywhere. Love hotels. Cows walking freely at 4pm (sharp). And wise, calm, beautiful people who have seen more tragedy than I can comprehend. This has been my El Salvador. 

Tomorrow - Honduras and two border crossings. Today I stare at blue-green waves. — at Playa El Cuco El Salvador.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Who DOESN'T love Wonder Valley?

MAC Meeting, Monday, May 11, 2015

Dear Neighbors,
You are all cordially invited and welcome 
to attend and participate in the

Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council Meeting

Monday May 11, 2015 at 6:30 p.m.

Joshua Tree Community Center
6171 Sunburst Avenue, Joshua Tree, California, 92252

Documents for the meeting are attached below.
MAC AgendaMay 11, 2015
MAC Resolution 013, May 11, 2015, addressing the BLM WEMO Plan
MAC Resolution 013, Attachment, May 11, 2015
MAC Draft Minutes, April 13, 2015

The Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council Meeting represents the unincorporated communities of Wonder Valley, Joshua Tree, Landers, Pioneertown, Yucca Mesa, Flamingo Heights, Desert Heights, Morongo Valley, and Copper Mountain Mesa, reporting to San Bernardino County Supervisor James Ramos, District 3.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Desert Trail Column, May 7, 2015

Our Basinwide MAC representative Teresa Sitz will hold a Meet & Greet at the Wonder Valley Community Center, 80526 ½ Amboy Road, from 9 to 11 am on Monday, May 11. Everyone is invited. You may reach Teresa by email at, on her website at or on Facebook at the Wonder Valley Community Page. She urges everyone to join her mailing list at

The monthly Basinwide MAC meeting will take place at the Joshua Tree Community Center on Sunburst from 6:30 to 8:30 pm on the same date, May 11. Teresa will present our concerns to First District Supervisor James Ramos.

This week we’re sending out Belated-Rainbows-of-Diamonds-and-Sweet Peas to Diane Brooks who celebrated her special day a couple weeks ago. We hope you had a really great birthday, Diane!

Karen’s Commentary:  Here’s a collection of “Single Sentence Comments.”
  1. Thank you, Jan, for the used stamps and the nicely-cut-out coupons.
  2. What about vinegar killing the goathead-weeds?

  3. Thank you, Annie, for more nicely-cut-out coupons.
  4. I am now $602 ahead with my casino system.
  5. Did you notice that the circus was “back in town” on Godwin Road from December to February?

Darlene’s Commentary: Have you ever needed help with laws and legal information? I want to share with you a great bunch of books that provide information and guidance for the common people (like you and me) when you need some help with legal procedures. NOLO BOOKS has a large library with legal solutions, forms and answers to questions, and clearly defines things in plain English. I have used several NOLO books over the years that were indispensable in opening and running a small business, learning how to write contracts and how to probate an estate in California. They are available at the library, or you can buy them used at places like

If you have a comment or question about road maintenance, call 760-367-9880 to leave a message for Tim, our “road guy.” Also, we would like to personally thank Tim for keeping Blower Road wide in the area coming up the hill from the wash. It’s really scary when the road gets so narrow there because you can’t see what’s coming over the top of that hill, and you can’t get far enough to the right to avoid whatever might be coming.

Handy Hint:  Spray kitchen scissors or knives with nonstick spray before chopping sticky foods such as raisins or dried apricots.

Thought for Today:  “Ninety per cent of our lawyers serve ten per cent of our people. We are over-lawyered and under-represented.” – Jimmy Carter

Until next time . . . remember to take time to enjoy the WONDERs all around us.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Upcoming Community Events

Upcoming Events

Monday, May 11, 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.
Meet and Greet with MAC Delegate Teresa Sitz
Wonder Valley Community Center
80526 Amboy Road, Wonder Valley, 92277

Saturday, May 23, 11:00 a.m.
WEMO (WEst MOjave) Plan
a presentation with MAC delegate Pat Flanagan
Questions and answers to follow.
Wonder Valley Community Center
80526 Amboy Road, Wonder Valley, 92277

Please see:
BLM West Mojave Plan - IMPORTANT, please review

New OHV Routes in Wonder Valley - ADJACENT to Private Land

Everyone is invited and welcome to attend and participate in these events.

I'm still working with the Sheriff's Department to arrange a meeting to discuss the formation of a Neighborhood Watch and other issues.

Wonder Valley Well Owners Association Meeting Notes

My husband Ken and I went to the Wonder Valley Well Owners Association biannual meeting on Sunday, May 3, at the WV Community Center. There were 28 people in attendance. Mary Quamme read the minutes from the last meeting of November 2014. At that time there were 92 members. We joined today so that brings the total to 94.

Clarence Chambers presided. He’s drilled most, if not all, the wells in Wonder Valley, including ours. He told the group about his recent work in the San Joaquin Valley and how the drought is affecting people there. It’s very bleak.

In contrast, Wonder Valley does not seem to be experiencing any more drought than usual. Our water table has not diminished. Water levels remain stable.  But then Wonder Valley has no agriculture or industrial or commercial wells. The EPA has deemed our water, Clarence told us, unfit for human consumption. Most people out here have reverse osmosis filter systems. Clarence told the story of an old-timer named Wetzle who drank unfiltered Wonder Valley water his entire life and lived to a ripe old age.

Lauren Ell took this photo of new members Ken (orange shirt) and Teresa Sitz at the meeting.
Grey water systems were promoted and those in the room who had hauled water before they got a well shared stories. Grey water is nothing new for Wonder Valley many people having practiced it for 30-50 years. Clarence said he knew people who survived on 2000 gallons of water a month.
There was a general consensus that the non-potability of our water is a positive that keeps powers and principalities from wanting to get their hands on it.

We were reminded how lucky we are to have wells and everyone agreed with the assessment. Clarence did remind us that if and when the power grid fails many of us will not be able to access the water in our wells. He encouraged everyone to get a small generator (about half the people in the room already had them), a Shurflo pump, and a tank for water storage.

The meeting changed gears and the issue of crime and starting a neighborhood watch was discussed. I took a straw poll and found most people do want to meet in the daytime so a Saturday meeting will be arranged with the Sheriff’s Department to discuss issues of crime, dumping, forming a neighborhood watch, and to learn more about the Citizens on Patrol program.

At the end of the meeting neighbors chatted. After awhile Mary Quamme, keeper of the key, turned off the lights, a subtle message that we didn’t have to go home, but we couldn’t stay there.

Summer's Eve, Saturday, Palms, Wonder Valley

12 bands for $5.00 starting at 5:00 p.m.! Palms Restaurant and Bar, 83131 Amboy Road, Wonder Valley.

CY DUNE // JT (member of Akron/Family)












Order and times will be announced soon.

Indoor and outdoor stages. Free camping.

The Palms serves dinner at night and breakfast in the morning.

Important Survey - Please fill out.

This is our chance to tell our county about the services we need in Wonder Valley. Please fill out this survey. It only takes a few minutes.


Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino County (CAPSBC) is conducting a 2015 Community Needs Assessment for San Bernardino County.

Please complete this survey by May 15, 2015.

Thank You.

Kip's High Desert Book Club

We bought our house in Wonder Valley last August, at the worst possible time – during the height of monsoon season. It was 120 degrees the day we came to inspect the well. I almost fainted in the beating sun walking from the house to the garage. There was no air conditioning on at the time and the refrigerator was unplugged, so there was no way to cool down. Still, I could see the charm of the house and we moved heaven and earth to buy it.

Today, nine months later, I’m sitting in my airy bedroom with the windows thrown open. A cool desert breeze traces over my arms. The air is clean and fresh. A rooster crows dreamily a respectable distance away. American gold finches and tanagers play in the trees. I cannot believe my good fortune to live Wonder Valley.

Last night we hosted Kip’s Hi-Desert Book Club. Though Kip lives in Joshua Tree he sometimes works at the Palms and is no stranger to these parts. Two dozen people showed up to discuss Point Last Seen, written by Hannah Nyala, a former tracker in Joshua Tree National Park. The book is two stories interleaved: one, a story of desert tracking that spans two continents; two, a story of the domestic abuse endured and escaped by the author and her children.

We moved everyone out to the patio and discussed the book as the sun set and the moon rose. Heat lightning flashed over the Cockscombs and a warm breeze brought a promise of rain that never materialized. Jupiter and Venus winked at us over the eaves of the house.

There were quite a few people from Wonder Valley present: Mary and Laura Sibley, Bob Tellefson (the most interesting man in Wonder Valley), and the artist Jill Reinig, among others. People drove out from as far as Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley and no one got lost (as far as we know). They were all impressed by the quiet and the sweeping vistas and mused about looking for property out here.

When I get up before dawn each morning, I walk down my drive way and there’s one point where I can see no lights, just the dark mass that is the Pinto Mountains and it seems I am lost in time. It could be 1680, 1780, 1880, or today. Wonder Valley is a place where time holds a weak grasp and people are able to be, to a greater extent perhaps that other places, whoever they want to be.

Where's Heather?

Wonder Valley's own artist, Heather Johnson, is riding her motorcycle to the other end of the Americas. She's made it as far as San Pedro La Laguna, Lago De Atitlán, Guatemala.

Heather writes, "Another day has passed, brightened by total strangers.

"To pass some time I worked on piece number 9, in the central square of San Pedro La Laguna, a town built into the southern mountainside of Lago Atitlan. 5 beautiful women appeared out of the church there, all wearing densely colored colored skirts with matching hand-embroidered tops. They gathered around the center of the park, taking pictures of each other in front of a statue of a saint and his rooster - so I offered to photograph all of them together. Before long, we were all taking pictures of each other with one anothers' cell phones, admiring each others' stitch work. And suddenly I didn't feel out of place any more. — at San Pedro La Laguna, Lago De Atitlán, Guatemala."

Follow Heather's journey at: In Search of the Frightening and Beautiful