prune picker

This is the blog of a prune picker. (Native born Californian) Retired oilfield. I am an old man. (91) I blog a lot about my body and getting old. As I approach death life gets more interesting. More interesting is not good. I still drive. I attend sports, music, and civic events. I am writing my memoirs. I attend swim class three times a week. Some of my blogs might be interesting. A lot of my blogs are silly and trivial. None are very long.

Friday, October 9, 2015

I'll never swim Kern River again.

This morning I was sitting by the koi pond. Nicest time of the day. About 8:30 am. I was reading a manual for the new Windows 10. I was listening to an album of Merle Haggard singing his songs. Then Merle sang "I'll never swim Kern River again". This song almost always invokes strong memories. I have many memories over many years of the Kern River.

My nephew Don Mott and I walked from Weedpatch to the Kern River once. My sister Thelma picked us up. The walk was close to ten miles over hilly country. We played along the river often. Northeast of Bakersfield the river came out of the Sierra Nevada Mountains at the mouth of Kern Canyon. It ran so pretty and inviting on its way across the San Joaquin Valley to Buena Vista Lake by Taft. The river really looked inviting when the temperture was 115 degrees! Once Don (my nephew was 21 days younger than me) and I were in the river and were swept through some rapids. I know we were close to death. You were powerless in the strong current. Kern River was also called Killer Kern. Records indicate that 266 people died in the river between 1968 and 2012. That is about an average of five per year. The average was higher when Don and I were swimming in the the river in the 1930s. About 8 to 10 each year. The river was so pretty and looked tame but the curent was very strong. People will enter the river without any protective gear.

The Kern River does not make it to Bakersfield now. Buena Vista Lake has been dry a long time. I can remember driving along the Lake and my brother told me it was the ocean. You can not always trust your brother. The water is trapped and used for agriculture and civic use. I can remember driving up the Kern Canyon to the town of Kernville. A dam built on the Kern River in the 1950s put the town under water and made Lake Isabella.

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