Jetty at Lake Mudge
  • Jetty at Lake Mudge

Title: Desert Wind Graphics


Author: Sam Hallmark

From: Poway

Blogging since: April 2012

Post Title: Suicide Trip – 2012

Post Date: July 19, 2012

I belong to an exclusive group of gentlemen, “The Southern California Regional Organisation of Tough Individuals” (S.C.R.O.T.I.). Every year, we have our sabbatical at a secret location on the Colorado River. While “Lake Mudge” is not a real name, it is a real place, a place of fragile beauty and historic significance.

“Suicide Trip” is so called because we attempt to schedule our arrival on the hottest day of the year, sometime in late July or early August. If the temperature doesn’t reach at least 100°, the trip is considered to be a failure. 110° is good…and 115° is even better! What most city folks don’t realize is that out in the desert with zero humidity, 100° in the shade feels like 80° would feel back home in San Diego. Still, it’s critical to have a little breeze blowing both day and night to make it survivable. Once the wind stops, you start to fry and are pretty much driven into the water. The water in the lake is cool, even cold down deep. It’s a refreshing transition to get out of the lake and shiver in the wind, only to jump in again ten minutes later because you are hot and dry. We drink water constantly, usually rotated with some other beverage like beer or soda…or whiskey and soda.

We usually head out of San Diego early on Friday morning and stop for brunch in El Centro on the way to the river. I highly recommend you eat at Camacho’s Place, 796 West Wahl Road. You must try the Special “Puffy” Quesadillas.

Our days are spent in the lake, up to our necks or splashing about on our regulation flotation devices (inner tubes). It’s too hot to cook meals. Besides, open fires are against the law at the lake ($700 fine). So all our food is pre-made, things like deli-style fried chicken, pasta salad, chips, cookies…stuff that won’t spoil overnight.

  At night, strange lights fill the sky, perhaps due to the military base found nearby. UFO sightings are common. At evening-tide we conduct our most secret rituals, consisting mostly of telling lies, tall tales, and bad jokes. We also raise a few toasts in honor of those who have gone on before us. We sleep right out on the asphalt jetty under the amazing stars, sheltered by the cattails and palm trees. If the breeze keeps up, we sleep all night till sunrise, when that fat old sun chases us back into the water.

Post Title: Night on Ghost Mountain

Post Date: Lake Mudge Chronicle, Spring 2012 issue

On the far east end of the boulder mass, we found Marshal South’s favorite writing spot. Using homemade cement and native flagstone, Marshal had constructed a bench spanning two strategically placed boulders. This private theater seat was his favorite spot for the writings that would appear each month in old issues of Desert Magazine. The view to the east was incredible.

Suddenly, the city glow of El Centro seemed to be consumed by a boiling blood-red explosion! Rising above the city was a huge mushroom cloud of untold dimensions. It took us a few minutes to realize that what we were seeing was the rising full moon. It cast an eerie orange-red glow in the sky! When the full moon finally cleared the city lights and agricultural haze of El Centro, we looked on in relief. Apparently, it wasn’t the end of the world after all. I have never seen a full moon so big and bright and right in my face! It was like I was personally meeting Jackie Gleason, or Oliver Hardy, or maybe Charles Laughton!

As we tucked into our sleeping bags, I finally got a really good look at the stars overhead... The stars and planets pressed right down on us like they never do in the city.

And then the strangest thing happened! The full moon had risen to its apex and created a foggy haze that surrounded Ghost Mountain completely in all directions! The only stars visible were straight overhead. Everything else was immersed in a milky fog. Odds bodkins! Marshal South may have been trying to scare visitors off when he named his hill “Ghost Mountain.” It’s easy to see why...

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