30 November 2009

Sleepy Hollow Recollections: Paul Nolan Hyde--Canyon Boy, 1948-1959: #3

Back in late September I received three vignettes from Paul Nolan Hyde, now a resident of Utah, but, for over a decade a denizen of Sleepy Hollow in the 1940s and 1950s. Having shared his recollections about glow worms and snakes, here is the third:


Stingweed plants, or nettles, were plentiful in the watercourse of the Creek. They were painful when brushed up against and I tried to avoid them whenever I could. My impression is that even when I was wearing heavy blue jeans, I would not venture very far into a patch of stingweed. There were wonderful myths the Creek boys told about stingweed; I think that they were designed for the gullible. One such myth was that stingweed would not hurt you if you grabbed a handful with a hard grip. I could not imagine anything much more stupid than that. Barely touching the plant inflicted great and lasting welts; I found it difficult to believe that an outright attack on the plant would bring some other result. Additionally, I could not perceive any reason why anyone would ever have an overwhelming desire to mess with stingweed sufficient to resort to grabbing fistfuls of it. I never tested the validity of the assertion made by my fellows.

Another claim made about stingweed suggested that if one were stung, that all that was needed to relieve the pain was to rub mud from the Creek on the welt. I learned for myself that that procedure actually worked if it were done quickly enough. I am not sure that there was any medicinal benefit from the sand and water; my guess is that the mud was abrasive enough to remove most of the needles. The best protection against stingweed, however, was to go near them not at all.

I sure hope Mr. Hyde will share more of his remembrances of life in Carbon Canyon from fifty to sixty years ago, so stay tuned!

29 November 2009

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #3443

With apologies to "Anonymous," who commented on my "On the Skids" post from the 19th that I need to "get over it" concerning what he or she determines is only a "complain, complain, complain" function of the series, here is the latest in the ongoing battle between driver and sign on Carbon Canyon Road.

This incident, on the eastbound side of the S-curve in Chino Hills, seems to have occurred sometime in the last four or five days, and is at least the third time this particular directional indicator has been dislodged from its post in the last couple of years.

The plain fact of the matter is that I would love to report more on the natural beauty and other positive features of the Canyon (and, of course, will; I promise), but posts that struck "Anonymous" as nothing more than useless complaining (and I fully acknowledge that what I consider to be the documentation of events like this might be useless in terms of official reponse) involve incidents that actually impact and degrade that natural beauty.

As do the housing projects that continue to be approved and built there . . . as did last November's wildfire which burned the entirety of the Brea side . . . as does the graffiti that appears from time to time. . .

If I don't cover (that is, complain about) these events, which have direct and important negative consequences to the natural features of the Canyon and, if all I do is deal with the natural and historical aspects of the Canyon, then I'm only looking at a narrowed aspect of the place that I've come to love in my short time of living here.

The truth is that I would be more than happy to not have to post incidents like this if I thought that all they were were isolated incidents that only affected those drivers and those signs. But, they don't. They are part of a problem of real significance that should concern those who live in and drive through the Canyon, and those responsible for its governance.

I agree with "Anonymous" that people will not slow down on their own, but only to the extent that this condition will continue in the absence of some meaningful enforcement. It is reasonable to hope that officials in Brea and Chino Hills use due diligence in making driving on Carbon Canyon Road as safe as is within their power. The problem is that they are not making that effort.

As to complaining, I, like "Anonymous" have tried raising the matter with officialdom, though it has been quite a while because I felt like the responses were crystal clear that there was no need or desire to change what was being done (or not) from an enforcement perspective. Maybe it's time to try again, if for no other reason than making some effort to do something about a problem, as opposed to just "complaining" about it.

So, believe me "Anonymous," I'd much rather not spend the little free time I actually have complaining about traffic problems in the Canyon (or housing issues, or fires, or graffiti), but I only do it because I care about where I live. That's the whole reason for this blog, the vast majority of which is, after all, about the beauty and history of the place.

But, I do want to thank you, because your comment motivates me to make sure that tomorrow I make some calls and send some e-mails and try to do something beyond complaining (or, as I would prefer to phrase it, "documenting" or "reporting".)

Next post: no complaints.

Postscript (1 a.m., Monday morning the 30th.) As a first step in "doing something", here is the text of an e-mail sent just now to the Chino Hills City Council:

Dear Council Members,
I wanted to bring attention to an issue that will be all-too-familiar with all of you: dangerous driving and traffic accidents on Carbon Canyon Road.

Within the last few weeks alone, there have been a half-dozen incidents involving cars that have gone off the highway and crashed into public and private property or overturned onto the road. Four of these events have occurred in Chino Hills, including an overturned vehicle in Sleepy Hollow a few evenings ago, two damaged CalTrans directional signs on the S-curve between Carriage Hills and Summit Ranch, and a car that crossed the highway and left the road east of Summit Ranch.

While, thankfully, there have been no serious injuries and no fatalities, the concern here is that any one of these incidents could easily lead to those results. I might add that, within that same period, I was nearly rear ended trying to make a left turn into my Sleepy Hollow neighborhood--this is the fifth time I've had to accelerate to avoid being hit in five and a half years of living in the Canyon. In that same time, though it has been quite a while since the last one, there have been at least eight or nine fatalities that I know of in the Canyon.

When I last contacted the Council by e-mail, about three years ago, I was referred to then-Community Services Director Michael Fleager. At that time, Mr. Fleager, who was professional and courteous, indicated that the morning and afternoon patrols for speeders were all that could be expected. Since that time, the economy has gone into recession, so I imagine that the explanation would likely be the same now and that financial considerations are even more restrictive of a change in policy.

Yet, these incidents and the many others that have happened since are about fundamental life-and-safety issues which form the primary reason for the government of our city. Surely, there is enough money in policing appropriations for a modicum of effort to patrol the Canyon periodically beyond the standard morning and afternoon scheduled times? Shouldn't there be ways for the city, Sheriff's Department and CalTrans to address what is obviously a recurring and potentially significant threat to those of us who live in and drive through Carbon Canyon? Will it take the serious injury or death of an innocent person, much less a reckless driver, to bring about even the most modest of changes in policy concerning the patrolling of Carbon Canyon Road? Doesn't it stand to reason that, as more development occurs in and around the Canyon, and more drivers use the highway, that incidents like the ones I've described will increase and thereby warrant a greater police presence?

When I was nearly rear-ended two weeks ago, my first thought was for my five and seven-year old sons who would have been most at risk in the event of a collision. Please give due consideration (and I'm sure the vast majority of Canyon residents would agree) for all of us who are potential victims of dangerous driving on Carbon Canyon Road.

Why wait until something terrible happens before acting?

Let's see what happens.

24 November 2009

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #3319

Here we go again!

About an hour ago, the sound of sirens rang through Sleepy Hollow as another accident occurred at that prime location where Carbon Canyon Road meets Rosemary Lane in front of the Sleepy Hollow Community Center.

At first, a few of us looky-loos who tramped down the hill to take a look-see saw a motorcyclist stopped next to a fire truck and Sheriff's Department vehicles and thought maybe the rider had taken a tumble on the tight curve. A little closer inspection, however, revealed that there was a red truck turned onto one side after having ridden up a short embankment just east of the Rosemary Lane intersection.

We couldn't see if there were any other vehicles involved further down the road, although as a tow truck pulled closer there was a blue car on the flatbed, so maybe it was a multi-vehicle incident.

The driver of, presumably, the red truck was standing on the side of the road, shivering in the chilly night until a Good Samaritan from the neighborhood brought a blanket and a hot beverage. In the last few moments, traffic has started moving freely again as the truck was removed from the road.

As one of the neighbors here said as we watched the proceedings, an accident like this probably won't even merit a mention in our local paper unless there was a fatality. This echoes what has been said here more broadly about whether our local officials even see a problem worth patrolling for when the accidents wind up being little more than an irritant and an annoyance. I have to say, though, three consecutive posts in this little ol' blog about cars leaving the highway and leaving some form of damage ought to mean something, eh? And, we haven't even reached the rainy season yet, if there'll be much of one this winter.

As far as when to act if the problem intensifies, why wait? As the old saying goes, "An ounce of prevention . . ." Then again, our society is more geared to treating the problem when it is already occurred (there's far more money to be made that way), rather than in preventive measures. Even in this poor economy, there were enough patrol cars out in Chino Hills this evening for three of them to be sent out in response to this accident.

Is it too much to ask that one of them come out to patrol the Canyon once in a while and try and let drivers know there is an enforcement presence, rather than continuing to allow what is essentially free rein?

Wait, wasn't that a rhetorical question?

23 November 2009

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #3268

Here is what appears to be another very recent example of someone who somehow just couldn't manage to stay within the lines on Carbon Canyon Road and took a little off-road excursion onto the shoulder.

This is westbound at Olinda Village, right below the shopping center between Olinda Drive and Olinda Lane. The vehicle left an array of its body parts, ranging from portions of a fender to plastic headlight segments and shards of shattered glass. A reflector sign up on the slope was also pitifully pretzelized courtesy of our wayward wanderer.

Before this incident, which I hadn't noticed last week, and the one in Chino Hills that was the subject of a post a couple of days ago and which also seems to have happened last week, it had been a little quiet as of late.

Alas, we'll continue to document these little diversions and hope that nothing major occurs that leads to an innocent person's injury or death, at which time we can assume local officialdom will take notice.

19 November 2009

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #3172

It is really astounding that, given all of the incidents were cars have crossed lanes and gone off the road in Carbon Canyon over the last year or so, there has not been more than a fatality or two in that time (at least not that I'm aware of.) Here is another example of a driver drifting across Carbon Canyon Road and leaving the roadway, evidently without major injury or damage.

This one appears to have taken place as late as last night, since I noticed it this morning but not any of the preceding three mornings as I drove eastbound on SR-142.

It actually appears as if there might have been two cars involved here, because there looks to be two distinct sets of skid marks.

Moreover, when looking at these images of the dirt area off the shoulder of the highway, it looks as if there were two different terminus points: one on the dirt area and another further back toward the trees.

So, we'll see if there is any mention of this latest incident in the local paper, but, more than likely, there will be nothing said, given that it is apparent that little else occurred than some burned rubber, displaced dirt, and a crushed leaf or two on a tree, perhaps.

Yet, here's another incident to add to the catalog of dangerous driving that happens on Carbon Canyon Road on a very regular basis, incidents that evidently raise no concerns among officialdom and won't, most likely, until an innocent victim is claimed.

May I also add, as a postscript, that, yesterday, for at least the sixth time in the five-and-a-half years I've lived in the Canyon, I almost had someone literally rear end me as I was waiting to turn from westbound Carbon Canyon Road onto Rosemary Lane in Sleepy Hollow near the community center.

When I say "almost," I mean that, as in the other five or so incidents, I had to do a quick acceleration to avoid being hit. I long ago learned to turn on my turn signal before the sign indicating the Rosemary Lane intersection and to start braking by pumping my breaks to flash the brake lights. Yet, there are some people who just want to think (or aren't thinking at all, perhaps more likely) that no one ever turns off the roadway.

Vigilance is the only safeguard those of us have who have the audacity to make turns off Carbon Canyon Road where there is no turn lane, especially when there are two little kids in the car!

18 November 2009

Carbon Canyon Historical Artifact #21

Here is another very cool image of La Vida Mineral Springs Resort from about the early 1930s.

The view is from the west, just about directly south of the existing water tank that was in back of the main bathhouse at the property. To the right is Carbon Canyon Road and it is notable that on the south side of the highway, there is a graded area above the road with a sign and what appears to be fence poles and there is a picnic bench, as well as sign simply reading "EAT."

Directly ahead in the line of sight of the photographer is a picnic area with perhaps ten or twelve picnic benches laid out beneath the shade of some towering eucalyptus trees. some of which are still standing (albeit charred from the fires that broke out exactly a year ago last weekend.)

It appears that something was added to the base of the trees up to about six feet high, possibly to keep critters from climbing the trees? Back behind the trees is a parked car Finally at the far left there is a portion of what appears to be one of the several small cabins that were placed next to Carbon [Canyon] Creek.

This card is labeled at the bottom, "La Vida Mineral Hot Springs, Calif." and the number (probably a series number) "7" is at the bottom right.

Postally unused, the item has space on the reverse for correspondence, an address and a stamp box.

Other cards from the same period that make for interesting comparisons and contrasts are found in posts from 15 June 2009 (Carbon Canyon Historical Artifact #16) and 18 December 2008 (CCHA #10.) As always, clicking on the image will zoom it in so that you can see greater detail.

This is item 2009.10.1.1 from the Carbon Canyon Collection.

17 November 2009

Chino Hills State Park Visitor Center Work Restarted?

Last Thursday and today some workers were observed on the site of the stalled Chino Hills State Park Visitor Center next to Carbon Canyon Regional Park in Brea.

A bond-funded project, the visitor center had some initial concrete and steel structural work completed before the economic meltdown shuttered the project months ago. Meantime, the work fence was largely toppled and weeds grew back on the property.

So, whether the workers were there to clean the place up a little or if they are back to resume substantial work on the center remains to be seen. It was only a matter of weeks ago when it seemed quite possible that the Governor was going to shut down most of the state parks, although that terrible scenario has been forestalled for the short term.

An eye will be kept out to see what further work might be done with the Visitor Center.

13 November 2009

Carbon Canyon Landslide Mitigation Measures

Among the work recently conducted by CalTrans and/or its contractors along Carbon Canyon Road (State Route 142) has been the shoring up of a very steep hillside cut (made years ago when the highway was moved from the canyon bottom along Carbon [Canyon] Creek) on the north side of the highway, just west of Olinda Village in Brea.

The project consisted of attaching netting (what appears to be steel and some fibrous materials) to the hillside to prevent rocks and dirt/mud from sliding down onto the roadway. This is in anticipation of what could be a heavy rain year due to El Niño conditions expected in the Pacific Ocean this winter.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):

Expected El Niño impacts during November 2009-January 2010 include enhanced precipitation over the central tropical Pacific Ocean and a continuation of drier-than-average conditions over Indonesia. For the contiguous United States, potential impacts include above-average precipitation for Florida, central and eastern Texas, and California, with below-average precipitation for parts of the Pacific Northwest.

Obviously, the crucial wording here is "potential", but should heavier than average precipitation occur, there is the factor of last fall's Freeway Complex fire, which burned a considerable portion of the Brea side of the Canyon. With only a limited amount of plant regrowth thus far, it is possible that a major drenching in upcoming months could cause substantial sliding.

Whether the measures taken in this project will work or not, of course, remains to be seen.

12 November 2009

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #3058

Just minutes ago, as I finished the "Olinda Village Signal Update" post, I heard the familiar squeal of tires and the churning of dirt. Sure enough, a car heading westbound on Carbon Canyon Road took the sharp curve too fast here in "downtown" Sleepy Hollow and decamped from the roadway, although only onto the shoulder and atop the asphalt berm put up by CalTrans last year after a couple of vehicles veered off the roadway and down the steep embankment toward Carbon [Canyon] Creek. Because of the berm, tonight's stray traveler was able, after a few false attempts to reverse out, to hit the gas hard enough to extricate themselves from the spot and head off on their merry way.

It is probably more than relevant to mention that we have had a few drops of light rain this evening and, predictably, there are always those drivers who see absolutely no compelling reason to change their behavior, even when common sense dictates that roads become "slippery when wet," as those inconvenient traffic signs often announce.

By Carbon Canyon standards, this was just about a non-event, but it is a reminder that, if heavy rain does occur this winter as some are forecasting, we might well have a significant spate of accidents to contend with.

It could get interesting!

Olinda Village Signal Update

As the accompanying photograph shows, it appears the below-ground and surface-level portions of the Olinda Village traffic signal project are completed. The eletrical wiring seems to be all in, cement sidewalks and access ramps poured, and the cement bases for the signals and advance warning signs placed.

At the moment there is a lull in the work, likely because the signal fixtures are on their way. Sometime early in 2010 the project should be completed and then we'll see what kind of impacts the signals will have on Carbon Canyon Road traffic.

For the residents of Olinda Village and the Hollydale Mobile Home Estates, there will be infinitely easier access to entering the highway. The crux will be the effects manifested in the busiest times as the flow of traffic is slowed and stopped by the signals allowing the ingress of vehicles from sidestreets.

It may well be that the presence of this first signal in the 95-year history of Carbon Canyon Road will not be that dramatic. As Chino Hills, however, plans on adding signals at two locations (Canon Lane and Canyon Hills Road), the prospects for significantly lengthening the commute along the highway are certainly much greater.

It will be interesting to see what changes occur when the signal is up and running.

10 November 2009

On the Skids in Carbon Canyon #2929

This latest example is actually a fairly old one, dating back several weeks, but is an impressive and lengthy skid that is on the westbound lane near the centerline of Carbon Canyon Road on the downslope from the summit at Olinda Village in Brea. I have no idea whether there was an accident linked to this or not, but it is pretty clear from the substantial distance of the skid that the driver must have been flying down the highway at a goodly pace.

The photos were taken this morning and the lines at the far right are not skid marks, but, rather, shadows of the power poles on the south side of the street. By the way, it seems quite obvious that the Orange County side of SR 142 is increasingly in need of some repairs, with the cracks in this photo being only some of the many that are appearing and widening over time.

Incidentally, a Carbon Canyon couple recently were in a head-on collision about two weeks ago with a motorcyclist who strayed into the oncoming lane, right in front of the old La Vida Mineral Springs property, also in Brea.

Also, a week ago last Sunday, the 1st of November, an Edison crew was working on a power pole in an area that has had a number of driver-induced downings of these poles in Sleepy Hollow, on the south side of the highway, just west of the Canyon Market (formerly Party House Liquor) and just east of the Rosemary Lane/Hillside Drive intersection.

This was a Sunday, so it seems highly unlikely that it was a routine scheduled maintenance, and was more likely an emergency. As to whether it was traffic-related is only a surmise, but if anyone knows more and would like to comment, any information would be welcomed.

Finally, the directional sign that was plowed down on Carbon Canyon Road in the midsection of the hairpin curves in Chino Hills at the end of last month has been reinstalled by CalTrans within the last several days, although it is no longer standing on a wooden pole, but with a brand new steel one. We'll see how long it remains upright.

06 November 2009

Sleepy Hollow Recollections: Paul Nolan Hyde--Canyon Boy, 1948-1959: #2

Here is the second of three short remembrances sent to me by Paul Nolan Hyde, a Utah resident, who lived in Sleepy Hollow for a decade in the 1940s and 1950s. This relates to a matter that most of us who've lived in the community and the Canyon for at least a few years generally have experienced.

Snakes in the Garden

The Canyon was filled with rattlesnakes, but during the ten years that we lived in Sleepy Hollow, I can only remember seeing one alive. That happened at the Old Cabin, just shortly after we arrived. I saw the snake trying to make its way down to the creek by way of the dry water course that ran from Oak Way Lane down to stream bed for a drink. I do not remember being afraid, but I think that I provoked my mother to that emotion when I announced to her what I had found. I remember my mother going out to see for herself and I think that some of the neighbors became involved in the fray. I do not remember if the snake escaped; I hope that he did. I have come to believe that rattlesnakes are, for the most part, mostly reclusive and seldom invade human space save for an occasional sip at a stream or a lake.

Garden snakes in the Canyon were abundant as well as King snakes and Queen snakes. These latter two were natural enemies of the rattlesnake. We did not kill these kinds of snakes, but we certainly made use of them. Hardly a month would go by during which a snake was not taken to school on the bus. We generally kept them in our jacket sleeves with their heads in our hands so that we could easily terrorize one or more of the girls during the thirteen-mile trip to Chino. We were gloriously successful. On Snake Days, we boys pretty much had the back of the bus to ourselves. Even the bus driver left us alone. I am not sure what happened to all of those snakes which were transported to Chino and then confiscated by teachers, counselors, principals, and custodians. My guess would be that there is a dearth of rattlesnakes within the Chino city limits even today.