Back at my Winter Hide-Out (1995)

It is now the middle of December 1995 and the weather has become quite bad. Lots of snow and blizzards and it is certainly the worst winter I have ever experienced.

As a result, I have just completed arrangements to fly over to Gordon in California on January 1st 1996. I am taking Marsha along. She has a week's leave of absence from Safeway, her employer, and the break will be so good for her. 1, however, will remain with Gordon and return when the Canadian weather improves in another 2 to 3 months. Marsha really enjoyed her weeks stay in California. I took her to some of my friends and we went touring and sight-seeing with Jim and Bea Knibbs. Arna lent us her white 1996 Honda, and Marsha did the driving. We visited Chico, the nearby university city and had a great meal at the Home Style Buffet. Later in the week, Arna took Marsha to "Bidwell Park", carrying two bicycles in her pick-up, and they had a great time cycling there. The only Saturday (Sabbath) she spent in California we were taken to the S.D.A church in Gridley. Gordon did the driving. Both his and Arna's cars are 1996 Honda Accords, with all the latest accessories.

We were sorry to lose Marsha at the end of that week, but she had to go back to her job in Canada. I hope to remain in Paradise until the winter passes, which will probably be in early April 1996.  

Having sold his clinic in Paradise, Gordon is now employed by the State of California to be one of a team of doctors appointed to take care of the thousands of prisoners at a new prison in Susanville, northern California. Gordon had become rather tired of the effort involved in operating his own clinic, and getting a good price for it, he now does not have the various chores and responsibilities of taking care of training and paying his own staff, bothering about such things as malpractice insurance, finding his own patients and keeping them well and happy. These things are now the problems of the State of California. The pay is adequate and the perquisites excellent.

The Susanville prison is a high security correctional centre and is in North California, about two hours car ride from his home in 'Yankee Hill'. At the moment, he is making adjustments for re-locating his home nearer to his work place, and in the meantime, has rented a small apartment close to the prison.  He comes down to his Yankee Hill home at weekends.

The two-hour drive from Yankee Hill to Susanville is truly spectacular. As for all Californian highways, the surface is perfect, and the highway to the prison is along the Feather River Canyon, a winding highway around mountain after mountain with spectacular curves and the several branches of the Feather Rivera lot of the way there. As you progress around the mountains, the altitude changes, rising to 5,000 feet at the highest point. You do go through several tunnels and across quite a few bridges, with the rushing frothy water just pouring off the mountain sides as melted snow. There are quite a few hydro-electric stations and the effect it produces is quite something to see.

The location of the prison is in what is described as high level desert. It sits in a plateau about twenty miles in diameter, with a surround of snow-capped mountains at the present time. I am told there are four to five thousand prisoners there, and Gordon is one of a team of five doctors who take care of their medical needs.

On Sunday next, 24th March 1996, I am going along with Arna to spend three days with some of her family (mother, sisters and brothers) to Blythe, in south-eastern California, quite close to the Arizona border.

Blythe is another type of desert, hot and humid in summer, but very pleasant and invigorating in spring, which is why I choose to visit it now, especially since I'll be returning to Canada in a couple of weeks. Talked to Michael by phone. He was in Los Angeles doing some sort of lecture. He was only there for a weekend. He and Joan still live in St. Lucia in the Caribbean where they are both employed - he as professor of Drama and Art, and Joan is engaged at the Academy of Music, where she is responsible for the teaching of this subject in this delightful island in the Caribbean.

The three days I spent at Blythe were very rewarding. It was a pleasant break from Yankee Hill. We enplaned from Sacramento to Ontario (California) airport, where we were met by one of Arna's sisters (Zita) and taken to the home of Lisa (another of Arna's sisters) in Blythe. The drive took all of 21/2 hours and it was fairly hot.

Quite a few of the Robinson family live and work at another prison there. Riva, (Arna's brother) is one of the many doctors there, and Lisa is in charge of the laboratory at the prison. Her home was quite recently built. It is a very attractive place and quite modern. I was very comfortable with a delightful suite all to myself. While there we had the opportunity of seeing the newly discovered Japanese comet, but it was quite faint and close to the handle end of the "Big Dipper".

800px Hyakutake Color

While there, I also used the driving range of the very modern golf course, and spent a full hour hitting balls in an effort to get back in shape after my return home.

The last evening spent at Blythe was used to visit the Colorado river which separates the two states of Arizona and California. We also inspected Mario's orchard - (he is another brother of Arna) - in which he grows successfully some real tropical fruit.

On the drive back to connect with the Ontario (California) airport, we had a nice visit with Gordie, my grandson. He was very helpful in locating one of my colleagues, Bill Robinson, with whom I was associated at Loma Linda University when I was employed there just over 23 years ago. Gordie also took a running video type interview of me in front of my former workplace, (L.L.U.) as well as an account of my boyhood life, early marriage, and a sort of light family history, which he said he will later edit and send me a copy. I was quite impressed with his demeanour and general conduct and behaviour.

On the way back to Yankee Hill from Blythe, we stopped in at Loma Linda and followed on to the airport in Ontario. Due to some delay in Loma Linda, we just missed our flight at 12.00 noon and had to wait until 2.00 p.m. for the next one. But we finally made it, and got back to Yankee Hill at about 6.00 p.m.

As the time for returning to Canada approached, I began getting my things together, and often wondered how I would be able to make the trip back home alone without Marsha's help in managing my luggage as well as changing planes, since the return trip involved a shuttle flight from Sacramento to Los Angeles, then finding my connection in this huge airport with more luggage than I could handle. My golf bag being part of it. 

Even after discarding a lot of older and well-worn clothes, including old shoes and slippers and some heavy books, I was still ten kilograms overweight and being on a charter flight which is quite strict about weight, I was quite concerned about the excess.

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