From the daily archives: Friday, August 12, 2011

Steve Larson
  If you have spent any amount of time in Imperial Valley, you know that the first few weeks of August can be one brutal month for weather.
Temperatures soar past 110 degrees, air conditioners break down regularly, school is closed, businesses are closed, even some government services are closed.
So what’s a body to do under these circumstances? Do what most other people do – leave town.
Or leave town for a cooler climate. That’s the reason so many people can be found in the mountains around the Valley and why it is a lot more fun and lot less expensive to travel to points west on the weekends.
We’ve spent the summer tracking the adventures of our staff and their families through mountain trips, desert trips, lake trips and San Diego trips.
With school set to open in just a couple of weeks, the summer trips will have to come to an end and we will have to get back to writing about serious news and some weighty social events, as well as football, volleyball and fall sports in general.
But until that happens we are going to continue to bring you just a few more small adventures before the school bells ring.
We set off for San Diego this Sunday for  a one day break from the 109 degrees temperatures. The fact that most of the streets and highways around Imperial Valley were just about empty told us a lot of other folks had done the same.
We headed for Mission Bay and the Seaside Village. A great place to people watch and see a few sights you might not get to see anywhere else.
Like the Stars & Stripes 60 meter yacht that competed for the America’s cup sailing through the waters around Coronado.
We chose another trip to the USS Midway museum as the best way to wile away the hours under azure skies. It also turned out to be one of the most exhausting trips we’ve taken.
The Midway attracts over 100,000 visitors a month during the high tourist season.
Congested would be the only way to describe the traffic around the area. Trying to find a place to park is a major adventure in itself and after being shuffled from one full parking lot to another we gritted our teeth and paid $10.00 to park our car in a lot about two blocks away from where we wanted to be.
The Midway is a spectacular sight. It’s conning tower rises some seven stories above the sea and with radar antenna it tops almost 10 stories high.
Getting on the ship involves negotiating a steep flight of stairs and a shaky walkway, all that will get your adrenaline flowing.
But once on board, the people working there are friendly and helpful. And mostly volunteers.
You can take a walking tour with a set of earphones and your own recorder. Or you can make up your own tour and have just as much fun exploring the massive ship. It was home to 4,500 sailors during its duty at sea.
As we discovered, they were probably short people because of the cramped walkways, low ceilings and steep stairways that had to be negotiated to visit the interior of the ship.
Visiting the bridge and the conning tower involved climbing four flights of step ladder sized steps with chain railings and ducking your head to get through the opening to the next level.
But you got a firsthand tour of the bridge of a major war ship that made it all worth the trip. There was also a guide who explained all the workings of the vessel as you went. You even got to see the forerunner of a GPS tracker, a rather large and clumsy looking box about the size of an old portable television.
Then it was down four flights again and out onto the deck. There you could view dozens of vintage aircraft that flew off the Midway during its duty in three different wars.
We decided to take a look at the crew’s quarters below decks, which meant four more flights of stairs down and four more up.  I think I know why you never see any extra heavy seamen on a ship. The exercise regime is built into everyday life. You’re always ducking your head and high stepping the hatches.
But once down there you get a look at a small city on the ocean. There is a barber shop, a dry cleaners, a laundry, a chapel, a sick bay,  sleeping quarters arranged by  rank and eating facilities also arranged by rank.
If you’re at the low end of the pecking order, you eat in groups off aluminum trays. If you’re a senior officer you eat off bone china with crystal stemware. According to the material handed out on the ship, the kitchen turned out 13,000 meals a day.
The crew consumed 10 tons of food daily, including 3,000 potatoes, 1,000 loaves of bread, 4,500 pounds of beef and 500 pies.
The ship had 225 cooks, five doctors and three dentists.  But only 200 pilots.
The remainder were support personnel.
Walking back up to the main deck was a major chore, especially for some of us out of shape old guys. I couldn’t help thinking  just how difficult this must have been when riding on a moving ship that was churning through rough seas.
Walkways along the outside of the ship were not for the faint hearted either and it was easy to see how easily someone could get pushed over the side. Did that happen? Who knows?
The Midway had a distinguished record  from being put into service in 1945 through being de-commissioned in 1992.
For a summertime trip and a good way to learn something about the Navy, it makes for a good, cool trip. Just watch out for the stairs.
The cost is $18.00 per person for adults, but seniors and children get a little break.


By Chris Furguson
Tickets are now available for the 2011 Cattle Call Rodeo taking place on November 12 and 13 at the Brawley Cattle Call Arena.
Ticket prices and seats may be found at
This year’s Cattle Call will begin on Friday, October 14 and Saturday, October 15 with the annual Brawley Cattle Call Queen’s competition.  The horsemanship will take place at the Cattle Call Arena on Friday and the Judging and Coronation will be held at the Lions Center the following day.
Cattle Call Week really kicks in on November 5 with the Chili Cook-Off at the Cattle Call Arena, followed by the Dia De La Fiesta on Sunday, November 6.
Monday, November 7, will see the annual Chamber Kick-Off Mixer at the Brawley Boys & Girls Club grounds for  Chamber members and invited guests.
Tuesday, November 8, will have Cowboy Poetry night at the Stockman’s Club with Wednesday, November 9, for Mariachi Music at the Cattle Call Arena Park.
Thursday, November 10, will have the annual Cowbelle’s BBQ Benefiting the Brawley Union High School sophomore class.
Friday, November 11, will see a Veteran’s Day ceremony at the Brawley Wall of Honor next to the city’s Council chambers, which will be followed by that evening’s Bell Game in El Centro’s Cal Jones Field.
Saturday, November 12, will see the annual Brawley Cattle Call Parade and the start of the three-event Brawley Cattle Call Rodeo.
For more information, please call the Brawley Chamber of Commerce at (760) 344-3160.

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