Thursday, September 30, 2010


On Sunday Oct 3rd, Germany will pay the last of its debt for WWI - yes World War One!  The original total amount of $20 billion was agreed by the victors at the Treaty of Versailles in June 1919.  The terms, and for then, huge amount were almost certainly a major contributor to the Wiemar Republic's financial difficulties in the Depression, and caused the rise of Hitler.

The reparations were originally designed to pay for the rebuilding of many towns and villages in Belgium and France, but today the notes are held by several US financial institutions.  The last payment will be for about $100 million.  You can read about it all here

Incidentally England payed her final "Lend Lease" debt to the US on December 31st 2006 - so don't any of you Yanks try and tap me up in the local boozer any more!  It's over!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


For motorists traveling back from Las Vegas along Route 15, you pass the town of Baker (Home of the world's tallest Thermometer!) and then a sign to Zzyzx Road - a curious name and one many people must wonder about.  It's my job to find out about these types of places and so I made the turn awhile back.

Currently it is the home of the Desert Studies Center and run by the State Education Department, but its history is quite interesting. 

The man made lake at Zzyzx
It was originally called Soda Springs, and was bought by a Dr. Curtis H. Springer in the mid 40's.  He was one of those larger than life evangelist/entrepreneur types.  He didn't like the given name, and as he was know to have the last word in any argument he invented the last word in the dictionary - Zzyzx!

For thirty years, Springer manufactured ointments and other odd health products, and also produced religious broadcasts.  However he had bought the place from the Federal government as a mining operation, but because he never mined there, the Feds confiscated it from him.  He was in some trouble with his taxes anyway.

Today, the center is used to study wildlife and the over 200 species of birds that come here to the underground source of the Mojave River.  It is also home to the Mojave Green Rattlesnake - not a nice chap to run into.  The pronunciation of the name is Zy as in Sigh; Zix as in Six - the accent on the first syllable.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


One of the more distressing stories I have had to do for The Sun was about five years ago.  I was aware of this phenomenon, Oktoberfest, going on in some undesirable part of the Valley, but I had never been to it.  I had an almost prophetic feeling that it was not for me.

But the call came: Would I go and "do" it?  Naturally being a "team player!!!!!" I went along and interviewed the originator, who professed to have been brought over from Austria by his parents, and began this about 30+ years earlier.  I have noticed that we have enormous numbers of Austrians out here and virtually no Germans, which is extraordinary!  I did the interview in the morning, and agreed to return later in the day to take some pictures.

It was simply dreadful.  There were hundreds of Americans dressed in lederhosen, with their women trussed into in the sort of frocks where the bosom is pushed up and out.  In the somewhat overweight this can be disturbing to say the least.  But perhaps the worst part was the appalling oom-pah-pah music being played by so-called musicians.  I could take the swilling beer, the bosom laden dresses, even the lederhosen - well maybe not the lederhosen.  But the bloody oom-pah-pah was enough to make the blood curdle.  And I though we had stamped out that sort of behavior in 1945.

Monday, September 27, 2010


I'm amazed to discover that I've just published my 100th post on this blog.  I started it on June 11th this year and I was not sure if I would rapidly run out of steam.  It seems not, as verbal diarrhoea appears to be in the character.

The first post I did was on our local Zipline and soon after there were rumors that it was being closed down due to some local code being broken.  Fortunately the ruling classes were mollified and the zipline continued.  Long may they zip.

My post on Wolves earlier was in fact the 100th post for anyone who is counting.  There are another two anniversaries coming up over the next four weeks.


Sunday's column was about the Wolf Sanctuary in Lucerne Valley.  We've touched upon this visit earlier and been amused at my grandson's reaction to Istas when the huge animal was let loose.  Quite an intimidating experience. You can read the column at

This picture is of Segoni, who is quite old.  He's seeing out his retirement at the expert hands of Tonya Littlewolf, who runs the sanctuary with its 14 resident animals.  Tonya is half Apache and half Sicilian and has run the sanctuary since 1976.  It's always an interesting place to visit.


I've always had a fancy for Jim Steinman's dramatic songs - Paradise by the Dashboard Light, Bat Out of Hell, etc.  This one is sung by Bonnie Tyler and Kareen Anton - two good looking birds belting it out!  Great to hear French as well.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


OK, I'll admit it; I do feel a certain sadness for poor Lindsay Lohan.  I know, I know she's a spoilt little brat who deserves what she gets.  But the prospect of jail for 30 days is pretty bad for someone who has lived in luxury with no discipline for a decade.  I'm unaware of the girl's resume, except that she's some sort of "star," and a little of my bolshie side enjoys the spectacle of the rich getting their comeuppance.  But can't someone help this poor creature?

It did seem to work for Robert Downey Jr.  He certainly hit rock bottom and appears to have turned the corner.  As Oscar Wilde said: "When you're laying in the gutter, all you can look at are the stars."  Unless of course, it's raining!

At the time of writing this, I note that Ms. Lohan was released from jail on a technicality, and I'm forced to wonder if the rest of us would receive such benign treatment.

Friday, September 24, 2010


We watched a BBC program the other day.  Called The Choir, it was about a conductor taking a group of people through to their first public performance - none of them had sung before.

It just so happened that the final performance for this group was at Watford Town Hall.  It's now called the Watford Coliseum, for Heaven's sake - you can put a pig in a kennel but it doesn't make it a dog!  I digress.  The point of this was that it brought back a long forgotten memory of my first and only trip onto the conducting rostrum - at that very same venue, and before it had the new lofty title.

At about aged 8, I was given the massive responsibility of conducting my prep school's percussion band in some local competition.  My mother watched as I mounted the stage, took my place at the brass railed rostrum, and gasped as I almost banged my head during my initial bow.  She was terrified that I might move my feet during the performance and get even closer to the rail.  Fortunately, I once again avoided it at my final bow.  We did not win, and I never again took hold of the baton.  The joy of "playing the big instrument," as I think professionals call conducting, was left outside my future resume.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Having just enjoyed the annual Rte 66 parade and celebrations in San Bernardino, many will have been in the vicinity of the very first McDonald's.  It's located on E Street and it was here that two brothers, Dick and Mac, had their small eatery hauled from Arcadia on a flatbed trailer in 1940.

Eight years later they tired of their diner type business, and switched to burgers and fries at 15 cents and 10 cents respectively.  The place really took off.

In 1954 a salesman, Ray Kroc, from Illinois, came by to sell them some equipment.  He was amazed at their business, and suggested to the brothers the idea of a franchise back in Des Moines.  Seven years later, he offered them $2.7 million for the entire operation, and the rest as they say is history.  Today the company says it sells 52 million burgers everyday in 100 countries; 70% of the businesses are independantly owned.  The current site however, is no longer a McDonald's restaurant.  It was bought and restored by a Mr. Albert Okura, who owns a fast food chain himself called Juan Pollo.  He wanted to keep the site open as a museum and a monument to the original company that stood here and was the catalyst for so many similar places.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Queen

I see that The Pope is visiting The Queen at the moment.  What an interesting thing to witness if you were the proverbial fly-on-the-wall.  Firstly, who bowed to whom?  Did they embrace?  I doubt it very much; after all no-one is supposed to touch Her Majesty, even though a large black lady in New York did manage a pretty big hug a few years back.  That must have caused ructions in the security detail.

Considering the the history going back 500 years to Henry VIII when the King broke with Rome in order to acquire a queen capable of producing an heir (fancying Anne Boleyn) - choose whichever version you like - it's not always been easy being Catholic in the sceptered isle.

Nonetheless when the two heads had a quiet moment, did they use English?  Perhaps German, or even French.  What did they talk about?  They dress alike, so maybe they discussed dress fabrics, and poured over swatches.  Is it me or does it all seem a little anachronistic?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


A friend emailed me the other day that he was fed up watching TV news because it was so depressing,  I thought that was a little too strong a reaction until I turned on the BBC for an international catch up.

In the 20-minute broadcast they managed to cover a stern talking to from the Pope about the secularisation of the world, then a statement from an obviously well-fed Pakistani politician that his people were not starving - this mixed with pictures of people fighting for food following the recent floods.

An interview with a Rwandan head of state insisted that there wasn't any real genocide in his country came just ahead of a piece on the stabbing assassination in London of a Pakistani politician in hiding there.  It looks like the Israeli/Palestinian talks have broken down again - what is that, the thousandth time in my lifetime?

The UN General Secretary (Ban Ki-Moon is it?), dressed in an immaculate silk suit, shirt and tie, (which I doubt he got off the rack at J.C. Penney) admonished us about the fate of starving people all around the world; he implied it was somehow my fault.  He was followed by an interview of a rather large woman, who was a member of America's new one in seven poor.  All in all an exhilarating roundup of news items.  Turning to the local channel I did see a story where someone had mixed up the DMV's office number with a porn site, which was upsetting callers who wanted to make an appointment to take a test.  So it wasn't all bad I guess!

Monday, September 20, 2010


This week's column was about the Nixon Library in Loma Linda, CA.  I have been there many times and this time I was able to look over the actual helicopter that flew President Nixon around - he made over 500 trips in "Army One."  I was also priviledged to meet the actual pilot of this restored plane - Col. Gene Bower.  Among the world leaders he flew were two British Prime Ministers, Edward Heath and Harold Wilson.

Col Bower at 81, was a most interesting and gracious host during my visit.  I asked him to pose outside the doorway where the famous photo of Nixon's exit from the White House took place.  He readily agreed, but he said he was not going to give the famous double "V" for victory sign that Nixon made his own.

It was a sad moment for the country when Nixon had to stand down as it created an atmosphere of distrust that we still endure today.

The Nixon Library is always an interesting place to visit as it is an entirely maneageable place to look around.

"I was born in a house that my father built," was Nixon's often said statement.  The actual house is erected on the grounds of the Library - it was built from a kit.  Nixon is also buried there alongside his wife, Pat. They are both in the Rose Garden.

You can read the entire column at


There is a new small feature called Trevor's Tirade at the bottom of the blog.  She Who Must Be Obeyed (S.W.M.B.O.) regularly has to tolerate my outbursts at various things that occur.  Am I the only one who shouts at the TV during news items? She mostly says: "Don't get yourself worked up!"  But in fact, it's one of the more enjoyable aspects of living a pretty long time - most of us older ones have seen it all before; and heard it too.

I note that there is no comment box available if you are upset at my thoughts in the Tirades, but please email me instead.  I'm sure there will be sufficient weekly outrage to keep this feature going - we'll see.


When I first saw the Fantasia version of Night on a Bear Mountain back in 1957 I had no idea I would be living a mile or two from a Bear Mountain in my life; such are the journeys we all take if we're lucky.

The word Bear is sometimes translated from the Russian as "Bald," so there is a little confusion.  Halfway to Los Angeles is a Mount Baldy so we're pretty much covered with the naming.  I like the comments on the You Tube page where someone says it's 19th century heavy metal music.  Also someone said that it was playing in their therapist's office, and it was distubing.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Route 66 Rendezvous

We've reached that time of year when the Route 66 Rendezvous goes on in San Bernardino.  I have some thoughts about the event.  Firstly, I only went on one occasion to see this parade of classic cars through the main thoroughfares.  It made me realize how bereft we Brits are in the business of classic cars -  unless you  talk about really expensive ones like Rolls Royce Phantoms and Bentley Continentals, of course.  Have you ever looked at a 1955 Ford Popular?  Or a 1957 Austin A30?  Probably two of the ugliest machines ever to be devised.  We're also responsible for the Reliant Robin!  Sadly a few of these horrors did struggle their way pasts the spectators when I was there - I cringed at a 1960's Hillman Minx.  It was surrounded by gleaming examples of Detroit muscle and put the little box in the shade.  I confess to once actually owning one of these Hillman's; it was in green and cream, and I liked it very much.  I guess it was a case of ignorance is bliss.

Having swallowed my pride over my old country's deficiency in automotive engineering, I nonetheless thoroughly enjoy the hype in following the Route 66 celebrations, as it is a part of America's birthright.  One of the famous stops along the way is Amboy, and the world renowned Roy's Motel.  Plans continue to make this the stopping place it used to be before the Interstate came through a half mile away and effectively killed their business.  It's in interesting part of recent history though.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I have to admit I do look at Facebook most mornings.  Often there are some nuggets of interest.  But could I possible appeal to people to cut down on the stupid stuff.  Perhaps it's an age thing, but do you really think anyone cares if you're feeling bad, or happy, or the other stuff that gets on the site.

I've seen horoscopes posted, illnesses misdiagnosed, religious offerings, hangovers talked about, or pregnancy pains dissected.

I know, I know I'm showing my age and my intolerance, but bear with me here; what the heck is getting old worth if you can't complain about stuff from time to time.  I have tried to get into Twitter, but it seems even worse for banality, and I don't understand it.  Any hints?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


This is the time of year when a visit to Oak Glen is worthwhile.  It's at the bottom of the S/Bernardino Mountains and is famous for its apples.  You can pick them yourself or buy any of the apple related products from the many shops along the road.
The entire scene at Oak Glen is reminiscent of Europe and especially rural England.  Horses also populate the many farms, and there is even a private zoo in the middle of the small town.  Nice place to visit.

L A County Fair

I'm not "doing" the LA County Fair this year as I did it last year.  It's quite a lot of fun and particularly so if you like to eat food that your doctor dissapproves of.  The Fair is a big deal out in Pomona and you can smell the calories as soon as you get out of the car.  Usually the temperatures at this time are on the warm side, so if you go be prepared.  Also wear comfortable shoes as you'll walk a long way

Now the food you will experience if you have the appetite is mostly fried.  Huge turkey legs, chicken, and frankly stuff that shouldn't be fried at all is piled on your paper or plastic plates - this is not a fine dining experience!  S.W.M.B.O. (She Who Must Be Obeyed) managed to find a salad there, but when she arrived back at the table, I was well into a large plate of highly flavored fried lard!

But it is an interesting place if you like that type of thing.  I always visit the animal areas at the fair.  They have a large building devoted to farm animals and I'm sure a lot of Los Angelinos have never seen pigs, cows, sheep and other domestic animals in real life.

Provided you haven't eaten too much you can also ride on the various gravity defying machines as well.  Also the Fairplex Race Track is open and you can watch mules in competition.  One day they even race dachshounds.  The Budweiser Clydesdales are usually there too, but they definitely don't race!

Monday, September 13, 2010


I'm pleased to see that we have our podcasts up and running again.  These are small three minute or so audio conversations with the famous Al Cuizon about the various places covered in Trevor's Travels.

They can be accessed at on the right hand side of the page.  I'm surprised to find out I've been doing them for over five years.  Sometimes technical problems stop them from going up each week, but if you're really, really bored, then you might find them of interest.

Brian Ranch

Sunday's column featured a very interesting place called the Brian Ranch.  It's about halfway between Victorville and Palmdale out in the high desert at Llano.  You can read the article at

Jack Brian is a retired aircraft engineer and he and his wife Felice bought this place some ten years before he retired.  He used to commute by plane to El Segundo, as the ranch is also an airfield.  Specialising in Ultralites, Jack still keeps good care of his Piper Tomahawk.  The ranch's Web site is


Frankly with adopting a new country, new wife and family. I didn't have a lot of time for music in the 80's.  It seemed to rather pass me by.  So I never really paid attention to the big-haired heavy metal sounds on the scene.  However as is usually the case, the best stays around while the most mediocre drops out of sight.

This track is from 1984, I think - a long time ago.  It's the Scorpions and I often hear it on jukeboxes in various establishments.  I'm still shocked that the musicians are German.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I try not to get into any political stuff on this blog.  Frankly I'm not to be trusted!  But today is the ninth anniversary of 9-11, and it would be odd not to mark the event.  I'm sure like me, everyone remembers this awful event in great detail, and trying to capture the emotion of it is a little outside my skill set.

I've recently been sent this link - an advert by Budweiser.  It's about a minute long and it only ran for a very brief period - some say only once.

It is worth watching.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Being Called Out

Now I have to say I don't often get called out on my pieces for The Sun.  But a short time back I was in a fine stately home - Yes we do have them out here! - and I happened to notice a picture of a woman in one of the entrances to the library.

She had held herself very erect for the painting which was in 19th century black, and I happened to mention to one of the docents that she didn't look like a woman to whom you would tell an off-color joke.  He laughed and agreed with me.

Unfortunately I allowed this frivolity to carry over to the article I wrote.  Back came a stern note telling me that this reader did not appreciate such comments about her mother!  Oh dear; have to watch that sort of thing in future.  The site was at the Huntington which has wonderful oriental gardens and pavilions.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Catching Up

Occasionally I find I've fallen behind society.  Things and customs move on and there has been the odd time when I was obviously staring out the window of life and not paying attention.

I was driving off the hill the other day and as I often do, I stopped at a filling station for a cup of coffee.  As I got out of the car I realized I had come out without any money.  Now, even though many years of marriage have accustomed me to pretty empty pockets, I normally manage to secrete some small amounts about my person.  But this time nothing - not a cent; I was skint!

My natural reaction was to accept my lot and travel on coffee-less.  But something nagged at me and I went into the shop and asked the clerk if I could pay for a coffee with a credit card.  He looked at me as if I had just climbed out of an alien space ship and told me "Of course!"  I payed $1.49 and his demeanour was such as to put me in my place as people no doubt do this all the time.  I don't think I've ever payed such a small amount on a credit card in my life.  It felt quite odd.


Could someone please explain to me why we start the football season in mid-August?  I know, I know it's not the real season, but for spectators, only the losers take any solace in it being the pre-season.  This judging by the extremely partisan crowds gathered around the local TVs.

Let's face it the real football season ends too soon - usually at the end of January and then we have the abysmal prospect of some game played by seven-foot tall black men pushing a ball through a hoop over and over again, and again.  The alternative - some game with angry white men sliding around on ice beating each other up with sticks.  Come February, no wonder we're gasping for baseball to start up its spring training.

No one has yet to explain why we cannot have a football season that starts say in mid October and goes through until March.  The prospect of games in Green Bay in mid-February is fascinating!

Monday, September 6, 2010


Once again Big Bear is inundated with visitors for the Labor Day weekend.  The smell of Bar-B-Que's is in the air and traffic is jamming the boulevard.  Sadly, a lot of our visitors seem to leave their brains on the way up - perhaps there's a depository at Running Springs where they can retrieve them on the way back down.

One particular little trait of visiting motorists is to indicate left and then go right - a regular occurrence, and one which could well have wiped me off the Harley the other morning if I hadn't been in full alert mode.

Most of us locals have a sort of mental switch we can activate at these times, or we would never survive.  Ah well, it's just one of the little setbacks for an otherwise perfect location.  Enjoy the holiday!


This Sunday's column was on the town of Hesperia close to Victorville, CA.  More importantly it was about the upcoming Hesperia Days with accents on parades and the regular Huck Finn performance.

Part of Hesperia's draw is the lake at the far end of town.  This was formed mostly by accident when a flume carrying water broke and the lake began.  Today it's a haven for fishermen and ducks; it's quite an oasis out in the high desert.

The record for a fish caugtht there was over 250 pounds!  It was a sturgeon.  Not the sort of chap one would want on the end of the line; but at least it had no teeth - sturgeon don't.  Maybe they just suck you to death!


Ever since she strutted onto the scene in the mid seventies, I've always loved Blondie.  She still seems to be doing her thing, although the attitude has diminished a little.  I think she's about 66 now!  This track always gets me going.  "Maria" done in the late nineties, I think, but she can still belt it out.  I saw her interviewed a few years back and in spite of all the fame and fortune she didn't strike me as a happy person.  Such a shame.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


I mentioned the other day to a friend that maybe they should consider writing a book of experiences of their lives for their grandchildren.  Shortly after my grandson, Evan, was born, I saw an interview with Charlton Heston.  He said that he had written a number of ideas down for his grandson and it gave me something to think about.

The result is that I wrote a series of essays for Evan and had them printed and bound.  The book is in red leather and about 300 pages long.  It was not as expensive as I had thought, and I had three copies made.  The subjects cover everything I felt might be of interest to him in say 25 years time.

I wish that I had been left something from my grandparents other than the usual small items.  It would have been very interesting to hear what they thought about the issues of the day and the changes that were going on around them. 

The most important thing for anyone thinking of doing this is to start.  Just begin, and then the rest will fall into place.  Keep the essays down to about a page and a half and don't let up.  It will be worth the effort.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


It's started to get colder earlier in the week.  It went down to 45 one morning, and this a week after it hit 97 on my deck one afternoon.  Maybe I'm just one of those difficult people, but I don't seem happy when it gets very cold or very hot.  If I had to choose I supppose I would opt for the cold weather as you can always put another sweather on, or get out those thermals.

Soon however, we'll be over the heat and through the fire season which arrives usually in October.  Then it will be hard to imagine walking around in T-shirts and shorts, as we keep our heavy gear near the door.

Just to remind us of what's coming here's a picture from last winter - it snowed a bit!  Always good to recruit a wife who knows how to wield a shovel.  Good girl!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


S.W.M.B.O. and I went out for a quiet drink the other evening.  Being English we often indulge in that sort of behavior. Going to the pub is something that many people of our age have done all our lives.  And yet it seems that all is not well in the publican industry.  The clientele are getting smaller and the age of it is growing older.  Young people prefer to drink at home or perhaps partake of other stimulants.

Of course, the concept of a Public House has become outdated, and here in the US, mostly no one lives over the shop, but lock the place up when closing and go elswhere to live - these are taverns.  They don't have quite the same atmosphere, as they are not someone's home; just a business.  Even worse the owner sometimes doesn't even run the place - usually a disaster!

Years ago when a publican or a landlord, as they usually called in the UK, left his pub and moved away there was often a small wake held. No matter how good the new landlord was it would never be the same; and the locals mourned that.

There is a constant battle in England as to which is the oldest pub.  Two main contenders are "The Trip to Jerusalem" in Nottingham, which is dated from sometime in the 14th century; the other, "The Fighting Cocks" in St. Albans.  This claims to have had a hostelry on its site since the Romans arrived there in AD 49.

I wrote a column about this subject some years ago; with a little digging, you can find it in the archives at www.sbsun/trevorstravels  There's also a podcast if you fancy.