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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I plead, "Can you help her? Please?"

The Starting Line

"On your mark, get set…" The starter’s words ring out over the public address system, "Bang!" He fires his pistol into the air.

Drivers snap their reins, sending a clear message to the teams. Shaking the ground, they sprint away from the starting line, twenty-four feet of horses followed by twenty more of iron, wood, and canvas.

Racing into the first turn, wagons squeeze together as drivers lean to the inside to keep their balance. Each expert coachman controlling ten tons of flesh and carriage thundering down the track. Racing through the turn, the wagons reflect the light of the sinking sun behind them. They pass the shadows of shade trees under western blue skies. Into the straightaway they sprint, a continuous stream of dust kicks up into the air behind them. Maneuvering for position, each team tries to take the lead.

The announcer calls out their order as they enter the last turn. "It’s the Hawker Ranch in the lead, followed by the Bond Farm, La Rosa Ranch is third, and bringing up the rear is the Quest Group!"

Coming through the backstretch and heading for the finish, the teams gallop four abreast. A mountain of wood and animals roar past the grand stands.

People are jumping up and down waving colored bandanas and hats. Everyone is standing, electrified, as the teams stampede by. My seat vibrates as if a clap of thunder has just hit nearby.

All of a sudden Crash! Boom! Bang! Comes from the finish line in an explosion. Clouds of dust rise above the size of hot air balloons, obscuring the finish, silencing the arena. Air Currents scoop up the dust and carry it away, revealing a mound of wagons and horse teams in chaos.

The dreadful image burns in my mind. Horses are tangled, trapped, raising their heads straining to be free. Two teams of horses are knotted together amid the pandemonium, and two lone horses are ensnared by wagons, held captive by their harnesses in the mangled wreckage.

What once were horse drawn wagons are now twisted metal, torn canvas, and splintered wood.

The crowd already silent, lets out a collective gasp, "Oh!"

A man behind me sighs, "They are going to have to destroy that horse," he points at a trapped horse.

I leap from my seat, crossing the blacktop and climb to the top of the arena fence.

A grisly sight, horses are whinnying and snorting, struggling to be liberated, gasping for freedom.

"Looks bad," a man near by whispers to his friend.

It’s a miracle, all the drivers and passengers seem to have escaped injury. A few can be seen, in shock, eyeing the devastation, not knowing what to do first.

Trainers, bronco riders, and calf ropers are risking their lives running into the wreck to rescue the teams of horses.

Men brandishing blades of steel cut agitated horses from their harnesses. Spooked, shaking their heads, one Appaloosa and an Arabian dash in opposite directions. They run erratically through the arena, each turning at different intervals, only to dart back from where they came.

More men rush to help. Carefully crossing the track, glancing in every direction, not wanting to be trampled by horses running untamed in the arena.

One team of six horses, wagon-less, is careening around the track eerily holding their heads high--manes blowing in the wind--bodies sweating--eyes bulging.

Someone shouts in amazement, "There goes Doc Cuthberson! Look at him climb into the wreckage!"

Another man yells, "He’s fearless!"

Before anyone can blink an eye, he’s in the middle of the debris grasping the reins of one ensnared horse, pulling it to its feet. Reaching to untangle another, he coaxes it to his side. Everyone in the bleachers is in shock, motionless, eyeing his every move.

Horses are still running loose in the stadium. Cowboys, with lassoes in hand are chasing them down. Wagons from the massive crash are being hoisted and towed from the arena by teams of men with trucks and chain.

Holding the horses, he perilously stands his ground, ordering the cowboys, "Pull there! Push that wagon! Now that one!" He yells, "Hurry boys, hurry."

Cowboys are yelling, shouting orders to untangle the wagons surrounding Doc and the two remaining horses. Working feverishly side-by-side, they thrust and heave, determined to free up the wagons. Finally, untangled, they are swiftly pulled away.

Smiling, almost laughing, Doc immerges from the chaos jogging toward the main gate with the two horses in his grasp.

Concerned owners and trainers run to him, eager to take their horses and calm them with familiar words and comforting strokes. Cautiously they inspect the livestock for injury, and then whisk them away to their stalls for further care.

Many in the crowd sigh, one concedes, "I’m glad that’s over with."

Another exhales, "That was a close call."

"Were any of the horses hurt bad?" I ask.

"Won’t know till Doc checks them out," someone responds in a hopeful tone winking and holding up two crossed fingers.

Now is my chance to see Doc Cuthberson--to save Neewa. I jump from the corral rails and sprint to the stables to find him.

Arriving in moments at a gigantic wooden barn between the arena and stables. I hesitate before entering. Slowly I peer around the corner and inside. Thick wooden timbers climb from the floor to the cross beams that traverse it’s length and width above me. Dim sunlight shines through a few tattered boards protecting the loft full of hay from rain and wind. Bowls of milk for the cats sit on the floorboards next to the green poison for the unwanted rats that will soon prowl through the night.

On the hay-covered dirt floor, horses held by their trainers, wait their turn for the vets assessment of every bump and bruise. Everyone is talking about the crash. Their voices are laden with concern. That’s when I see him, kneeling along side an appaloosa gelding of at least fifteen hands, examining, and gently patting his side.

Tears stream down my cheeks as I stagger up to him and cry out, "Dr. Cuthberson my puppy has distemper--she is going to die--you’ve gotta save her!"

I plead, "Can you help her? Please?"

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Adopting my puppy at the animal shelter.

It was early morning when Dad woke us up. Usually, when he tries to get me up on a weekend morning I tell him, “Leave me alone, go away, don’t bother me!”
Yesterday morning was different, getting up and dressed and being ready was easy. Finally we were going to the animal shelter to get the puppy I’ve been waiting for my entire life.
Jackie on the other hand was moving as slow as a snail. I stood at the door, tapping my shoe on the floor. Annoyed, I waited while Jackie had to have her morning bowl of cereal.
“Jackie let’s go, we’re late,” I plead with her to hurry.
“Christina shut up! I can’t hear the TV,” she replied.
“Dad Dad, Jackie is having cereal, tell her to leave it, I wanna go now,” I begged Dad.
Finally after a lot of yelling, we got in the van and left.
After we drove a while into the desert from town I saw the sign, County Animal Shelter. The arrow pointed up a long dirt road. At the end of the bumpy road was a dull gray building.
Around back was the kennel area. At this distance, the compound looked neat and tidy, with animal pens in neat rows. I could see some of the area where the dogs were kept. In the front were a few parked cars and a big front door with one window.
Loud sounds of barking dogs came from behind the building. No wonder they put this place way out in the middle of nowhere. But the closer we got, the noise got so loud it sounded like a fox hunt was going on in the back. And the building seemed to turn even grayer.
I was very nervous as I lead everyone across the stone parking lot. Jackie and Dad followed close behind me.
After knocking on the steel door, a man in black coveralls, hair slicked back, and parted down the middle, slowly opened the door. The barking got even louder and I was hit with a wave of the pungent smell of a dog pound. The older man with a kindhearted smile greeted us. My guess he’s the dogcatcher, his appearance and pale face made him look like Dracula, lacking only the makeup and cape.
“Looking for a pet?” he grinned.
“Yes,” I answer back.
“Right this way, you folks just look around,” Dracula said.
“Follow me,” I ordered.
I whispered to Jackie, “That guy looks like Dracula, look at his hair.”
We laughed as we walk through the hallway into the inner chamber.
Dad reminds me, “Christina remember we want a nice friendly, house-broken, and fully grown dog.”
“Poppy, Poppy, (I call Dad Poppy sometimes,) I heard what you said, now stop with the pressure okay,” Trying to get him to back off and leave me alone.
I wandered from side to side on the walkway between the large and small cages with big and small cats and dogs of all colors inside. Creeping through the maze, I looked left then right, checking each animal, yet pass one after another. Occasionally I hesitated for a moment to take a closer look, but continued my journey down the endless corridor of forlorn and cast-off pets. I was heartbroken looking at all the cats and dogs with no homes. Surplus animals, once loyal and loving pets, now no longer needed, discarded members of society wanting to be taken care of.
Dad whispered in my ear as if the animals were listening to him, “After sixteen weeks in the pound they will be put to sleep.”
“Put to sleep? What does that mean?” I blurt out loudly. Is he saying that they are to be killed or murdered?
“They have to be euthanized, destroyed.” He finished his thinking.
Instantly I became flush, my face red-hot. Each one of them needed a home, to be loved, before it’s too late. Gasping for air, I was horrified at the thought that any one of these animals would be destroyed.
Now my morning at the pound was no longer joyous and full of promise. It was more like a slow motion death walk in a horror movie. Frame after frame passing before me with animals being led to the gas chamber where they were to be taken care of all right.
The morning was slipping away, there seemed to be more and more animals, and choosing just one became more complicated. I wanted to save them all. Maybe even lead a jailbreak and set them all free.
Jackie followed me through the aisles of animals while Dad was left behind somewhere.
Nearing the end of death row, I became full of fear and anxiety. Animals jumped toward me as I passed their cages, wanting to be saved from their ultimate fate.
If I reached out to one, it lunged to the side of the cage, crashing into the wire wall trying to kiss my fingers. It was as if they knew their fate and knew that I was their savior. But nothing could save all of these animals.
Unexpectedly, I spied a little white puppy curled up in a ball with its littermates. It looked up at me with pointed ears too big for its head and a shining black nose. It was the cutest puppy I had ever seen. It jumped up on the side of the cage letting out a yelp, calling me.
This puppy was so pretty, a German shepherd looking girl. She had the deepest steal grey eyes and a long snout on its big head. Her tail curled up over her hind legs like a Husky as she stood on her back legs up against the cage, nibbling on my fingers with her pointed white teeth. She was so beautiful, and had such soft ivory fur. And those big floppy paws were too big for her body, just like her ears. I hope she doesn’t grow into those paws.
Jackie,” I shrieked, “here’s the one, here’s the one!” Feeling joy that I have not felt for as long, long time.
Just then Dad caught up to us. I petted her through the cage as she ran around my hand like it was a toy to tease and chew on.
“Can we take her home Dad?” I looked at him.
“Hey,” Dad moaned, “I thought we agreed on a grown dog, one that’s already trained and house broken.”
Jackie stooped down next to me and the puppy licked both our faces through the metal mesh. It was love at first sight for her too.
“Jackie you want this one right? Say yes,” I pleaded with her.
“Dad let’s get this one,” she agreed.
“Dad, I want this puppy, she will be a good watch dog and protect Jackie and me. Grown up or not, please Dad,” sounding like a beggar but not caring.
Dad was reluctant to commit, something about it being too much work, or some other reason. I didn’t know and didn’t care what he was thinking. A long pause followed. He seemed to be weighing his options.
I didn’t see it as a difficult choice. On the one hand he could disappoint us and spend the rest of his days in hell, or take the puppy and win the Greatest Dad of The Day Award.
“Okay, Okay,” he says as he steps up to the podium for the Best Dad Prize.
Jackie and I disagreed on almost everything. But not this, the puppy was coming home with us. This was the first thing we had agreed on all week, maybe all month.
Dad was surprised there was so little paper work to adopt our puppy. He only had to sign a release and the puppy was free to go.
Holding her in my arms, we headed for the exit when Dracula, the dogcatcher, came from his coffin to wish us well.
I stopped and looked at him, “Where did she come from?”
He replied as if he knew the origin of every animal in the pound. “That one came from the desert. Someone found the three of them roaming around and brought them in.
They had no mom or dad with them. Not much chance they would have made it to sunrise out there in the dessert. Something would have had them for dinner. I think your Shepard pup is a coy dog.”
“A coy dog? What’s a coy dog?” I inquired.
He answered, “A coy dog is half coyote and half dog.”
Stunned by his answer, I feel my face flush and my eyes blink rapidly. Did he say coyote? Did Dad hear what he said?
“Thank you,” I hastily turned heading for the door.
Running, I cradled her in my arms and dropped my face into her soft fur hoping no one else heard what the dogcatcher had said. They might want to take her away. I’ve never heard of a coy dog before, never knew such a thing existed. But the dogcatcher said it, so it must be true.
After that, I don’t remember very much, just holding my puppy and running for the car.
“Hurry Dad, drive, drive,” I shouted, “I don’t ever want to lose her.”
He answered, “Don’t worry Christina, no ones going to take her away from you.”
A few minutes later we were driving home. I keep thinking about the news of my puppy being only half dog. Even our drive though more desert wasteland doesn’t distract me from worrying about her. I’m so tired of this place, nothing but desert everywhere.
The desert is a dangerous place compared to the place we used to live. Back East there is little risk of being killed by a scorpion, rattlesnake, or a pack of coyotes. Nor is it likely you will die from starvation, thirst, or exposure if you get lost. But out here in the desert you can die from any of these.

Monday, November 21, 2011

orbs?

“Did the camera get anything?” I ask Dad and Jackie.

Dad replies, “We are looking at the tape now.”

“There, there,” Jackie exclaims, “That’s a floating orb!  There’s another and another!”

“This place is paranormal central!”

“Did you see that?” So excited, Jackie sprays spit on me.

The hair on the back of my neck stands up, “What are they? And what do they do? Why would anyone call floating bubbles, orbs?” I sarcastically add.

“Christina cool it! Give me a second.  I’m watching this,” Jackie says perturbed by my interruptions.

Staring at the screen, she finally answers me as if she is reading from a textbook.  “The orb is energy being transferred from a source such as, power lines, heat energy, batteries, or people, to a spirit… or orb, so it can manifest.  It may not even be a conscious act.  The spirit is doing what it does.  It’s the way they get their energy.”

Really excited Dad jumps in, “Finally we got something on film.”

“Look! Six floating orbs! It’s an orb hotel out there!” Jackie shouts, “Dad they could be animal spirits.  They don’t have to be people spirits, especially since he’s a vet.  I’ll bet a lot of animals die out there.  And the ones that haven’t crossed over yet, well they are still there,” Jackie whispers.

Standing behind her, I visualize cattle and horses floating through the air.

She pulls herself closer to the laptop, focused on the screen.  “I’m going to import this video into my movie maker program.  I’ll be able to look at the video and audio tracks separately.  Maybe we captured one of those orbs trying to speak with us.”

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Chapter 3 - Ghost at Donner Pass


Dad is reading the newspaper at the kitchen table when he bursts out, “Hey a ghost was seen at Donner Pass.”

Confused I ask, “What and where is Donner Pass?”

Dad looks over at me, “Donner Pass is in the mountains about three hours south of here and the Donner Party disaster was a historic wagon train headed west that got caught in a blizzard and most of the pioneers died.

Dad reads me the article. “Mrs. Eleanor Waldo of Phantom Hill, Texas told her story. She said she and her husband were stopped at the overlook rest area, sitting at a picnic table when she saw it.

It was a ghost all right. It looked like a thick cloud of smoke with a head. But it was a woman with a stone face and a broad smile. She hovered right in front of me, staring at me.

The ghost asked me, “Would you like to come to dinner?”

I followed it up the mountain as it kept saying, “Come with me, I would love to have you for dinner.”

Interrupting Mrs. Waldo I asked, “Wait a minute, the ghost said I would love to have you for dinner?”

Mrs. Waldo looked surprised at the way I phrased my question as she replied, “Oh you don’t think she meant I am the dinner do you? Oh my, maybe she did.”

Mrs. Waldo squealed, and continued with her story, “I followed it up the mountain and when we started down the other side, I saw an old rusted out car with a skeleton sitting at the steering wheel, driving.

As I got closer and closer to the car, a great gust of wind blew right through me and kicked up so much sand, I had to close my eyes. When I opened my eyes I gasped, the skeleton was gone.”

She said she heard her husband calling her to come back. When he caught up to her she told him about the ghost.

He exclaimed with frustration in his voice, “That’s nonsense, its ten o’clock at night and one hundred and nine degrees Elle, It’s the heat. You didn’t see anything."

She told her husband to hush up, then sat in the old nineteen thirty-five Buick for a while. It’s a nineteen thirty-five Buick. My family had one of these when I was a child.”

Mrs. Waldo continued her story saying, “I checked out every nook and cranny of that car. My husband and I checked the car from its headlights to the taillights. Under one of the seats we found an old empty bottle of whiskey.”

She said that she was feeling around under the dashboard and found that hidden compartment she and her sister had stored stuff in when they were kids. In the compartment were chips, poker chips, lots of poker chips.

Her husband counted them up. There was twenty thousand dollars.

“Twenty thousand dollars!” He said again and again.

Mrs. Waldo cried out, “Can you believe it?”

The newspaper reporter asked the casino manager how much the twenty thousand dollars in poker chips are worth?

The Casino spokesperson said, “The chips are worth twenty thousand dollars at our casino.”

Dad puts down the paper saying, “Mrs. Waldo was lucky her husband followed her over that mountain and caught up to her. I don’t think it was a good ghost that appeared in front of her and wanted to take her to dinner. It could have been an evil ghost from the Donner Party. I’m sure Mrs. Waldo saw something, she could never have made that story up.”

Spirits use ghosts to trick humans and take possession of their body and soul. After the body dies the spirit lives in the wind, or earth and seeks the body of a human. That’s when it posses the body, returning from that supernatural world to the natural world.

I have read about people who imagine seeing ghosts. In fact they saw moonlight reflecting off a rock or a broken piece of glass. What they saw may have looked like a ghost to some people.

People high on drugs or alcohol have vivid imaginations when it comes to seeing ghosts. There are always stories in the newspapers about people seeing ghosts in the desert or mountains. They see a shadow and think it’s a ghost. Their imagination causes them to see things that are not there. They make mistakes, people always do.

Smiling I give Dad a hug, “Dad can we go to Donner Pass and find that ghost. We have to go right away while the trail is still fresh.”

Dad seems distracted as he replies, “Oh, Yeah that sounds good, I’ve been working with a brand new thermal scanner for the hurricane search planes. It’s going to be installed in all of them if we can only get it to work right. It’ll read the temperature inside the storm within a hundredth of a degree. I’ll bring it home on Friday, we can use it for the weekend, but I have to return it by Monday morning.”

Dad always tells the boss the truth, he tells him, “I’m bringing this equipment home to run some tests.” But he doesn’t tell him what tests we are running and he especially won’t tell him we use it to hunt ghosts.

Later at dinner we plan our up coming trip for this weekend. I’m so excited, this is going to be so cool.

Oh no, I just realized we’re gonna be in the van together for three hours.

Dad tells Jackie and me, “Okay this is the plan, we’ll camp out Saturday night at the Donner Memorial State Park. Before sunset we set up the equipment where Mrs. Waldo’s saw the stone-faced lady. I think that is the most likely place to catch that ghost. That is also where the Donner Party was trapped in the winter of eighteen forty six.”

“Okay Dad, Jackie and I will pack our stuff, you make a list of everything we need and we can check it before we leave,” I add.

When we go on a hunt we bring all kinds of equipment. Not all of it is ours. Some of it comes from Dad’s work.

An absolute must is the electromagnetic field meter and the infrared thermometer, which detects infrared energy and converts it to a temperature reading. Two more devices measure the electricity in the air, the electrostatic field meter and the air ion counter. We also have a radio frequency (RF) field strength meter that detects electrical fields like FM radio and microwave transmissions from .5 MHz to 3 GHz, and expresses the strength as power density (.001 to 2000 microwatts/cm2). It measures the electricity given off by stuff like transformers, computer screens, telephones, and electric motors. For extra safety we bring a Geiger counter or radiation monitor that detects dangerous alpha, beta, and gamma rays.

I ask Jackie, “Did you pack the motion detectors? We need them for the cameras we will set up on the trail. If anything moves in front of one of them, the camera will turn-on and we will catch that phantom.”

My new digital video camera has audio capability, which allows me to record every sound. The recordings are important because we can capture electronic voice phenomena (EVP’S), or footsteps, knocks, and banging during the event.”

Temperature changes like uncommon cold or hot spots can be detected with our infrared thermal camera and the infrared thermometer. Both of them will detect variations in temperature signaling the presence of a spirit.

Difficult to document events like telepathic communications, odors, and scents like sulfur, ammonia, perfume, and flowers are written down in my notepad. I take a writing pad with me on every investigation.

If I’m checking out a house haunting and someone is still living there or a past resident is near-by? I like to interview them to find out if they’re having nightmares, apparitions, seeing moving objects, or even just having simple electrical problems. All the notes from my interviews have to be written down in the notepad.

“Jackie, You packed the anemometer? That’s the weathervane looking thingy with the four cups. It spins and records wind speed.”

“I’ll get the spectrometer which analysis light intensity and somehow figures out what an object is.”

This weekend we are bringing the cameras, motion detectors, EMF meters, digital thermometer, night vision goggles, light meter, anemometer, radio frequency field strength meter, and a spectrometer.

Of course we always have flashlights, cell phones, a laptop to view the video we take, and our camping stuff. We try to bring all our equipment, but it doesn’t all fit in our backpacks. It makes no sense taking more then we can carry.

Hunting the Donner Party ghost is going to be scary for two reasons. First, this ghost is active. It’s trying to lure someone for some reason. Mrs. Waldo almost fell into its spell. Who knows what would have happen to her if she had followed it to “dinner?” Second, some on those people in the Donner Party died horrible, agonizing deaths. I think this ghost is still in pain and is dangerous.

I learned about the Donner Party in school. They were settlers headed to California in a wagon train in eighteen forty-six. There were about ninety people of all ages. Winter came early and heavy snow trapped them in the mountains. Not all of them lived through it.

The wagon train didn’t have enough food and blankets, and many of the settlers died of hunger, exposure, and frostbite. Those few settlers that did live told stories of terrible hardship, and horrible acts. They did things that people are not supposed to do.

I’m pretty sure this ghost we are going to hunt is not resting in peace, if you know what I mean.

***

Finally it’s Saturday morning. We are packed and ready to go. A three-hour ride will give me plenty of time to do my homework. I have to finish writing a book report about ghost hunting. I’ll do my math and chemistry after that.

Let’s see I have Neewa’s bowls and a chain to keep her tied up. I’m sure Neewa will love hiking the trails, camping, and ghost hunting. She loves to play with me-- this trip will be fun for her too. I feel so much better, just having her around.

As I carry the last of our gear out to the van Dad announces, “Okay we’re ready to go, all aboard. Jackie you sit in front, Neewa and Christina in the back.”

“No Dad, I’m sitting in the front I called it. Jackie, you get the front seat on the way home.”

Jackie scoffs, “You always say you called it, but I never hear you. That’s okay, I get to sit next to Neewa, ha.”

We all get in the van and drive off to Donner Pass on our ghost hunting adventure. Driving on the interstate is fun because the speed limit is eighty miles an hour. This is so cool. We will be driving over mountains, through deserts, and valleys. Small towns about the size of swimming pools dot the highway.

When we get to the Sierra Mountains it’s going to be just like back east, all green with lush meadows and streams. Nothing like this boring desert where everything is flat and faded beige with nothing but sand, sagebrush, and empty wasteland.

Driving along the highway, I get to see a lot of places I want to visit. There are huge cattle ranches, and casinos near every gas station rest stop. Located about half way there is a gold mine where you can take trips into the mine and see just how it was a hundred years ago. And near that is the military base where they supposedly keep the bodies of the aliens that have crash-landed on Earth.

After driving for hours and sleeping most of the trip, I realized we have traveled almost two hundred miles through the desert. Ahead in the distance, I see the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. Peaks the size of Mt. Everest jutting into the blue sky. Donner Pass is right under one of those peaks.

As we near our destination I see small meadows hidden here and there, fluorescing green, blue, and yellow. Then amazingly we pass this huge marsh that goes on and on forever to a distant mountain. The whole swamp is blooming purple at this moment. Deep lavender flowers on pale green stems blanket the landscape. Endless color as far as the eye can see. Miles and miles awash with heavenly violet flowers so thick they look like a carpet extending into forever.

We’ve left the desert and start our way up the lush mountainside entering a steep gorge on the two-lane road. The route leading up to Donner Pass goes through a gorge so narrow the road has no shoulders. It switches back and forth, meandering up, rising steadily, an endless path disappearing before us into the forest.

Back on the desert the colors are so dull, with beige sand and brown dirt all muddled together with an occasional clump of pale olive sagebrush. Except for a rare grove of green scrub pine, there isn’t any color to see all year round. We have to travel twenty-five miles to a nearby canyon to get away from our drab surroundings.

Only after it rains does the desert come alive with budding flowers, grasses, and the wonderful desert smells of wet sage and sand. Too bad it only rains a few times a year.

Dad points out the window, “That road is a runaway truck escape ramp for heavy eighteen-wheelers that can’t stop. Sometimes they lose their brakes coming down the mountain and they have to take that fork or they will crash.”

Shooting off of this road and going in the opposite direction is a mile long ramp carved into a rocky ledge. It starts upward slowly and then the grade rapidly rises above the trees until it ends abruptly at a pile of sand and a railroad tie barrier.

“That ramp saved a lot of lives,” Dad adds.

“What do they need that for?” Jackie asks.

I add, “Jackie, if a truck is coming down the mountain and loses its brakes, it can turn onto that ramp which is so steep it slows the truck down, even if it has no brakes.”

“Yeah, so what does he do when he starts to roll backwards toward the road?” Jackie counters.

“Yeah that would be a big problem, hopefully he slows down enough that he is able to stop his rig somewhere on that ramp,” Dad chimes in.

“Yeah hopefully,” I comment.

Red cedar and white pine trees reach up into the blue sky. I can see the sap leaching through the bark, reflecting the sunlight. Little bubbles of the stuff drip down the tree creating a stream of juice that eventually forms a droplet. The dribble grows until it is a blob, and the blob to a glop of sap, so over sized it drops to the ground. Plunk.

The steamy air carries the fragrance of pine to my senses. The little needles float down to the ground in the wind. Layer after layer fall, creating a soft bed of yellow and rust.

The forest begins to thin out, only small clusters of trees dot rocky terrain as the timber line, above which little grows, comes into view. A huge peak with a waterfall pouring over its rock face is revealed as we climb to still higher elevations.

Nearing the crest of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, we are about to enter Donner Memorial State Park. At the entrance stands a statue in memory of the settlers who lost their lives on that fateful wagon train trip west to the promise land.

Dad pulls over near a sign on the side of the road that reads Elevation 10,000 Ft. We get out to stretch and have a look around. Neewa runs into the woods for a quick sniffing adventure.

It’s ninety degrees, unusually hot for this late in the afternoon. There is little breeze to cool us down and an unusual amount of humidity in the air.

My face is flush and red from the heat. I always turn red when I’m out in high temperatures for a while, especially when I play tennis. It takes a lot of time for the redness in my face to go away.

Dad gets all paranoid, “Tina your face is red, do you have a fever?” he touches my cheek.

“Dad stop it,” I tell him, “I’m fine.”

I look up at fifteen-foot of statue depicting three pioneers: a man, a woman, and a child. The embossed bronze plaque on the monument reads, The Donner Party Memorial.

I wonder if the ghost that Mrs. Waldo saw is the woman in the bronze sculpture? Tonight we will be looking for that one.

It’s peaceful around the monument. Whispering breezes curve around the contours of the statue as a trickling stream in the background is feed by the snowcaps still remaining on the highest peaks. I hear a woodpecker tunneling in the hollow tree, gathering bugs.

After exploring around the monument, we drive to the camping area. The Donner State Park campground is about a half-mile in the opposite direction from Donner Pass--where we are setting up our equipment to catch that rogue spirit. Before entering we pull up to the large wooden welcome sign at the entrance for a paper copy of the layout with all the rules, regulations, and warnings to campers on the back. The picture depicts a circular dirt road with forty campsites. In the middle of all the numbered areas is the common bathhouse with showers.

Picking a campsite is no easy matter. There is a lot to be considered. After parking in one of the driveways, we walk around the circle assessing the pros and cons of the various available camping locations. About three or four of them are taken and have tents. There’s not that many people up here for some reason.

Each site has a driveway that leads to a small flat picnic area with a table, barbeque, tent platform, and a sunken campfire surrounded by rocks.

Jackie, Neewa, and I pick out the site with a view of a small meadow and the most shade trees. Dad begins unpacking and setting up the tents, while Jackie and I unload our stuff.

It’s still light out, time to go exploring for the best location to set our trap to catch that phantom.

Next to our picnic table is a sign with the word warning in big letters across the top. Below that is a picture and description of the many possible visitors that might be lurking around the park during the night. I’m least concerned about bears because Neewa will bark at them and keep them away. Besides we’ll put our food in the metal bear-resistant food locker provided at the campsite. But the scorpions--they give me the creeps. Good thing our tents zip up tight. Funny thing though, the sign doesn’t say anything about ghosts.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Neewa the Wonder Dog and the Ghost Hunters

Volume I The Mystery of the Indian Medicine Woman is Revealed! Adventure and mystery in the uncanny spirit world captivate the young lives of fourteen-year-old Christina and her sister Jackie, eleven. When the family moves 1500 miles from their home in New Jersey to the desert of the American Southwest, they encounter many spirits—some good, some evil.
Out West the family seeks out the paranormal, hunting ghosts with the latest most sophisticated devices. Their searches take them to several eerie places, including a remote forest, a ghost town, and a sacred burial ground. They also explore an isolated Native American stream and investigate an Indian Pow Wow.
Not long after settling into their new home, Christina adopts Neewa, a half coyote female puppy with a mysterious secret. But when the puppy becomes deathly ill, the girl is determined to find a doctor to save her pet. When a shaman vet miraculously turns up, he supplies a charm, a potion, and an incantation for Neewa to save her spirit.
Danger lurks around every corner but the sisters surprisingly find protection in most unusual ways through a medicine woman, mythological animals, herbs and other mystical means.
Throughout their extraordinary experiences the young sisters face various dimensions of fear and joy.

http://neewathewonderdog.com/