By Barry Zander, edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers.

As you may know but don‘t really care too much about, there is a cadre of your fellow citizens on the Hill who have accepted duties related to Mountain Disaster Preparedness (alias, MDP, and paired with a lot of other initials that you’ll never remember)

If you noticed a metal storage box in your neighborhood – and you’re probably one of the few who paid much attention to it – with initials like DAS (meaning Disaster Aid Station) or NCP-D painted on

This Disaster Aid Station is on Franklin in Pine Cove

it, you may understand that this container is filled with the items you’ll need in case of a major disaster, i.e., a fire, earthquake, etc.  If that were your understanding, you’d be wrong.

The DAS is set up and ready for a disaster situation

The supplies in that box are for me and the dozens of other folks trained to respond when disaster strikes.  None of it is for you!  But don’t get upset … it is there to help you indirectly.

Let’s go through the process of a disaster that warrants calling team members to their posts.  At DAS-Delta located at Town Hall in Idyllwild, Marshall Smith is the Commander, with Les Walker and me as his captains.  If any of us couldn’t make it, the others would show up and take charge as needed.  The same is true for all the other sites around our peaceful mountain, with their own teams of responsible neighbors.

Okay, so Marshall, Les and I are there to unlock the gate at Town Hall and then unlock the heavy-duty locks on the storage container.  We pull out tables, chairs, a big generator, papers and pens, various kinds of two-way radios and all the items we’ll need to fulfill our roles in this disaster.

Medics Treat a Role-Playing Pregnant Patient

The medical team will show up simultaneously and stand ready to help the injured as needed.  Others will form a team whose function it is to go around the area and find out what’s happening in the surrounding streets – looking for the injured, damaged homes, fires, gas leaks and other crisis situations, pets that are roaming at large, etc.  The members of that team are tasked with reporting back to the DAS center about the good, the bad and anything else of importance.

Our job then becomes to relay that information to the appropriate people, like the fire department, the Red Cross, the main medical center, maybe even animal agencies or volunteers like ARF.  We tell them what is happening and what we hope they can do to help

Let’s get back to that headline:  YOUR SISTER CALLED.  SHE WANTS TO KNOW IF YOU’RE OKAY.  That’s where you come in … literally.   When the DAS unit in your neighborhood opens, your responsibility is to go there.  Tell the person at the front table your name, address and your status – uninjured, injured, lost your home, lost your dog, whatever is relevant at the moment.

That information will be in our records so that when your sister (or other concerned acquaintance) calls the Red Cross asking about you, we can let her know how you are faring.  On the other hand, if you’re injured, a well-trained medical team, made up of local residents with various medical degrees including physicians and nurses, will be there to make the best of a bad situation.  Basic medical supplies are in that same storage box as the Disaster Prep team’s array of necessary items.  The more seriously injured will be transported to the MDP medical station.

Another valuable service you can provide is to volunteer at the aid station.  We need scribes to keep track of what’s happening, who has checked in and what skills are available.  We need

Staffers Keep Track of Where the Teams Are

able-bodied residents who know the area to join with teams surveying surrounding streets for problems.   At our last drill, we had no one except me checking in people for about 30 minutes, which created a major logistics problem.  When a gentleman from across the street volunteered to take over, the benefit to the entire operation was quickly apparent, and he said he felt good about helping.

By now you have put together your own home disaster supplies, complete with food, water, medicines, flashlights and any other items you’ll need in case of emergency.  That’s another way you will aid the Idyllwild effort if the need arises.

There are several training events for participating volunteers, which you can ignore as a non-participating resident, but we hope you will come by the nearest Disaster Aid Station when a community drill is planned and announced – and, of course, in case of a real emergency.

David Alt Reviews Procedures with Team

I want to cite David and Veronica Alt for their devotion to making all this work.  There are dozens of people all around you who are also part of this effort and who deserve credit for their willingness to participate, giving up a few Saturdays a year for training, etc.   I see these people as heroes, who, hopefully, will never be needed for this vital role.

All we ask of you is to come by the DAS unit nearest you when a drill OR THE REAL THING HAPPENS and tell them you’re okay.


ONE MORE THING.  If you are interested in having blogs posted on the Town Crier website, please contact me directly at the email address below.  I’ll be glad to talk with you about how you can participate.


Happy RVers, but At Home on The Hill

Barry & Monique

 Photos by Barry Zander.  All rights reserved.


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By Barry Zander, edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers.

This article is not written in praise of the work done week-in and week-out by J.P., Marshall and other contributors to “The Town Crier.”  Nor will it scorn the local newspaper for its shortcomings.  Rather, it is recognition of how fortunate we are to have a reliable source of local news and information about local businesses.

By way of qualifying myself for this task, allow me to mention that I have served as editor of three weekly newspapers after working for a metropolitan daily.  I graduated from college with a degree in journalism from a school that taught the fundamentals of the endeavor as opposed to those nowadays that dwell on social issues and the esoteric reaches of the profession.

As Idyllwild-Pine Cove residents, you live on what I refer to as an island surrounded by Southern California.  We are in an Edenic spot where 90 percent of what our county supervisors do, what the state

The community gathered for the Christmas tree lighting

Assembly does and even what the federal government does is of little concern to us on a day-to-day basis.

Other than our families, what does matter to most of us is what’s happening in our neighborhood.   We need to be vigilant about the threat of fire and infestations of insects in our trees.  Health issues, if not now, someday will affect us all – I would guess it’s the greatest cause of people leaving the mountain.

Most of us want to know about upcoming cultural events.  We are concerned with the incidents of crime that inflict themselves upon our neighbors.  We want to know about the health of our local business and about the comings and goings of shops and services.  For those of us with kids and grandkids, we are interested in the school news.  I leave it to you to add to the list.

A community without a viable newspaper is like a person deprived of several of its five senses.  The ancient form of news-telling, word-of-mouth, and the newest contrivance, the Internet, are news sources — but they are inadequate substitutes for what we find in our newspaper.

I remember my days of always having a red pen on hand to edit the work of staff members.  We would work 50- to 80-hour weeks to provide as complete a coverage as we could about government, community and social doings, sports and business, etc.  We would write what needed to be written, and what didn’t fit into the pages was left out until the next issue or permanently.

But, OH, what if there wasn’t enough news to fill the paper?  Unlike a daily and a few weeklies, we didn’t have a wire service like the Associated Press or Reuters to turn to for additional stories.  Our primary sources of revenue — advertisers and subscribers — would not have been pleased if we left large portions of pages blank.  In truth, it never happened that we couldn’t fill the paper with legitimate news items, feature stories and opinion pieces, and as a quasi-outsider, I would assume the same to be true at the outpost of news assembly on Village Center Drive.

Idyllwild -- Small town: World of Entertainment

True newspaper journalists in every corner of America are dedicated to producing a product each day or week, often at pay far below what their efforts deserve, but they carry the responsibility of communicating what they feel is most important to the people who they feel are most important.

The economic reality of newspapers is that everything that goes into putting that paper into your hands costs money.  Of course writers, managers and behind-the-scenes staff members who put the paper together, the salespeople, the folks involved in distributing the paper and other unseen individuals all expect to be paid for their services.  The printer demands payment for his paper, ink and time.  Those newsstand boxes cost money … it’s not a cheap operation.   Unlike postings on the Internet, we all have an important financial stake in keeping the newspaper functioning.

Among the greatest strengths of our community is professional communications.  Think about that when you scan your Town Crier and PLEASE give credit where credit is due.

Happy RVers, but At Home on The Hill

Barry & Monique



We in Idyllwild have a window on natural beauty year round -- this was a scene through ours.

Photos by Barry Zander.  All rights reserved


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By Barry Zander, edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers.

Mardi Gras Day 2012 in New Orleans was perfect.  The weather was warm, mostly sunny, and revelers in the Downtown area and French Quarter were in good spirits – some drinking those spirits, but we saw no evidence of rowdiness during our eight hours of being part of the crowds

Monique was relieved.  She, like many who have never been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, feared the crush of people to be suffocating, despite the assurances by acquaintances and me.  We walked down legendary Bourbon Street in the Quarter, looking at costumes and catching beads thrown from wrought –iron-framed balconies.  When the easy flow of costumed bodies began to get thicker, we veered off and found a corner restaurant which provided us with 1) an excellent muffaleta (a New Orleans specialty – one sandwich is enough for a couple; 2) a tasty Bloody Mary; 3) reasonable prices, and 4) a table along the sidewalk where we could continue to ogle the passing parade of

Monique prepares to enjoy her half of a muffaletta


I haven’t heard of anyone in our group of 90 who was dissatisfied with their stay, and keep in mind that our rally was made up of folks primarily of retirement age.  Most elected to participate in French Quarter walks at every opportunity.

You never know what you'll see in New Orleans at Mardi Gras

Now for a few random thoughts.  First, lots of people — I among them — hoped the RV rally we were participating in would include a swamp tour.  It didn’t for good reason.  Alligators, the star characters in swamp tours, and other reptiles prefer to spend their winters hibernating.  Plus, the gorgeous, eerie cypress trees and much of the other vegetation are not at their best in winter.  We’ll try again later.

What is in season, however, is Louisiana seafood.  Monday night Monique boiled blue-claw crabs and I opened raw oysters for our quiet little dinner together … well, not so quiet when I put in a Cajun music CD.  It’s a real treat when these two favorite Louisiana seafood delicacies are sold just about everywhere, and added to that is our other must-have crustacean, boiled crawfish.  This has been the pinnacle of New Orleans eating, especially when our muffaleta was placed before us in the Quarter.

Wrong time for the swamp tour.  Missed the huge, internationally recognized Jazz & Heritage Festival, which kicks off April 27.  The good news for thoroughbred horse racing fans is the Fairgrounds Race Track is going strong.  And, with weather like this, the golf courses are no doubt doing well.

“Wood Eternal” and “shock the roux”!  What am I talking about?  Those are two expressions I heard for the first time this visit.  We learned that cypress is “the wood eternal,” because it can last for hundreds of years.  It’s prevalent in many of the plantations and other structures around South Louisiana.

A ”roux” is a kind of gravy used in creole cooking, so many chefs begin their classes by saying, “First you make a roux.”  It consists of fat and flour that is allowed to slowly brown.  To shock it is when you add the stock too fast or the stock is cold.  This will cause it to separate and curdle.

We had chartered buses taking us into town.  Parking and traffic isn’t that difficult except around Mardi Gras.

Legendary Jazz Clarinetist Pete Fountain leads his Half-Fast Marching Club for the 50th year

Here’s a good one:  the best way to start a conversation with strangers at a campground is to tell them about how the GPS misguided you.  When we left New Orleans on our way to the Acadian Heritage Center in Thibodaux, Louisiana, our GPS instructed us to “turn left on Puerto Rico 211.”  “What did she say?” I asked Monique.  “Puerto Rico 211,” and then the GPS repeated it.  We deciphered it:  “PR 211” means “Parish Road 211” – remember, Louisiana has parishes, not counties.  Our GPS was taught P.R. means Puerto Rico!

How could we ever be anything other than Happy RVers, but At Home on The Hill

Barry & Monique


© All photos by Barry Zander.   All rights reserved


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