These Things We Do

One of my favorite military unit motto’s is, “These things we do, so others may live.” I like it because it’s not only simple and direct, but it says so much about the character of those service members who are the U.S. Air Force’s Pararescue.

Time and again I see it after a disaster: Us opening our hearts, our homes, and our wallets to help others – in most cases complete strangers. On a smaller scale – we help each other in times of need, even rising up to commit acts of heroism when the situation calls for it.

We all have it within us the ability and the want to help others. I find it sad to see that this is forgotten until disaster strikes.


Ghost Wrecker

We were heading east on Highway 70, somewhere between the small California settlement Chilcoot and Hallelujah Junction, enjoying the scenery, when I noticed the light blue wrecker, its yellow-orange light bar flashing above its cab. It was steadily gaining on us and I was preparing to slowdown and pull to the far right to let it pass.

Jus’ as I looked back from my rearview mirror to the road in front of me, fear washed over me as a four-wheel drive truck came rushing head long at us. The vehicle was passing a row of six cars as it bore down on us.

With little time to think, only to react, I dropped off to the right of the two-lane highway, giving the larger pick-up jus’ enough room to speed by. As soon as it passed us, I gently pulled back onto the asphalt, counting my blessing at having avoided what I felt was a certain fatal accident for us.

Then I looked in my rearview mirror to see if the four-wheel truck had completed passing the row of cars. While it had, it surprised me to see that the wrecker that had been there a minute ago, was no longer in sight.

“Did you see a turn-off anywhere back there?” I asked Kay.

“No,” she answered, “But then I wasn’t really paying attention to that.”

My curiosity piqued, I made a u-turn in the middle of the roadway and drove back beyond where we’d driven off the road. There were no turn-offs, side-roads or even pull-outs along the highway.

I still have no idea where the wrecker disappeared too, unless like Kay suggested, “It was never really there.”

Being Kind

There are three things important in life.
First is to be kind,
The second is to be kind,
And the third is to be kind.

My doctor has taken a pledge, “First do no harm,” but I can one-up the profession by taking this a step beyond: First, be kind. I’ve decided to come into every situation, stressful or not, looking for a way to be kind to the other person.

As I see it, even if my kindness isn’t returned, I’ll be setting an example for others. I think of it like this: Today, I’ll do at least one kind thing for someone else and expect nothing in return.


It’s a hard history to acknowledge, but my Grandpa and his son, my dad, did not talk or see each other for years.  Then suddenly, Grandpa died and it left a hole of grief in Dad’s heart afterwards.

A little over 15-years later, a nearly identical situation carried itself out as I learned my dad had passed away.  We had not seen each other in over 12-years, though I was able to reach him for a while at his job and I sent him letters and cards.

Now, I’m seeing my son gravitate away from me, as I did with my father.  It’s a family history I don’t want to see repeated and yet have no idea how to halt.

Out Run By a Girl

Throughout high school I was known for many things, some good, some bad, but mainly as ‘fast.’ That’s because since 7th grade I was a race-winning sprinter, setting several records and even getting an invite to the 1976 Olympics track and field try-outs.

It could have all been very different though, but for one thing, a girl who could run faster than me moved from Klamath before she realized her talent. I’m talking about my friend, Brenda Crump.

At least three times she out raced me for one reason or another. Her stride was not only longer than mine; she had a naturally powerful start, something I had to work at time and again.

As a 12-year-old boy, I refused to acknowledge this. Simply put, I was afraid of being teased about being out run by a girl.

I bet she can still out run me, still.

The Second Expedition

While European expeditions along the Northcoast remained rare during the 1500s and 1600s, a number of their ships did pass by the coastline of Del Norte. Most notably among them were the Manila Galleons.

These ships formed a trade route that connected Acapulco and the Philippines and brought the riches of the Indies to Europe. In 1565, the Spanish discovered the Japanese Current that made their travels across the Pacific considerably easier. Sometimes as they turned south, they spotted the fog-laden Northcoast.

With English piracy in the Pacific on the rise, the Spanish decided to set up a harbor on the Northcoast that the Manila Galleons could use as a refuge. So sailing from Manila in 1595, Sebastían Rodríguez Cermenõ passed into and sailed about Trinidad Bay.

Afraid of rocks, however, he decided not to anchor and went south to Acapulco. Eight years later, Sebastian Vizcaíno led another Spanish expedition to explore the Northcoast.

Illness and poor weather prevented the expedition’s two ships from fully surveying the coast. Mapping of the northern coastline never was much of a priority for the Spanish.

Though claimed by Spain, this section of California was remote, and the Spanish found themselves preoccupied with conquering South America, maintaining their colonial holds in Mexico and fending off piracy across the Caribbean and Atlantic. The second Spanish expedition whose mission was to formally claim lands north of Alta California for that nation’s crown, brought Bruno de Heceta and Bodega y Quadra past the coast of what would later become Del Norte County.

Silver Tailings: The Name Behind the Badge

Elko County’s famous Flying Sheriff, Jesse “Jess” C. Harris is the son of Sheriff Joseph C. Harris, who headed the same office from 1910 to 1936.  The younger Harris came into office in 1950 and served until 1974.

Between Joe and Jess, they served 50 years in the 20th century as the county’s sheriff.

And though he’s not related to Jess and Joe, Neil Harris, took office in 1990, serving for 17 years. That means one Harris or another had been sheriff for 66 of those 97 years.

As Howard Hickson, Director Emeritus of the Northeastern Nevada Museum in Elko, writes, “Good name to have when running for sheriff in Elko County. Statistically, there was a Sheriff Harris 69-percent of the time.”