Friday, February 15, 2019

Sunrise on Juan The Sonorian

February 15, 2019
  Looks like another beautiful day. "Leave us all enjoy it," as a one-eyed, former governor of Arizona used to put it.

Good Morning, Cave Creek!

   Got up this morning and did a quick study of a key guy in the graphic novel I'm working on.

Daily Whip Out: "Juan The Sonorian"

Juan The Sonorian
   Juan is the Mexican guide who accompanied Dr. LeConte on his beetle search up the Gila in 1851. In my story, he is still alive, in 1900, and living near Yuma. Sharlot makes a point to track him down and find out what he knows about what actually happened to the Oatmans.

The Strange Case of Dr. Bugs
   Dr. LeConte (his father styled it as Le Conte, but the son preferred it mooshed together) had traveled by sea to San Francisco in 1849, where he explored the rich areas around San Francisco, collecting specimens of beetles everywhere (at some point he sent home to his father, 10,000 beetles preserved in alcohol). Then, from the Bay area, the good doctor traveled down to San Diego, by stagecoach, where he explored a dry lake bed east of San Diego, then, along with another physician, the two explored the Colorado River between the Yuma Crossing and the Gulf of California.

The serpentine Colorado River area below Camp Yuma Dr. LeConte explored.
It wasn't the safest place to be looking for bugs either.

And now, here he was, in February of 1851 with Juan The Sonorian, traversing the Gila River, looking for more bugs.

   You can't make this stuff up. 

   Studying his movements and his antics is mind boggling. I imagine he was exhausting simply to witness. He reminds me of a Roadrunner cartoon, shooting here and there, darting in and out, always on the lookout for his precious specimens, and, all of this, right in the middle of one of the most tragic episodes of the Westering experience.

   On the sixth day out from Maricopa Wells, the Oatmans were overtaken by Dr. LeConte and Juan the Sonorian, riding on horseback. In less than a week, the two had visited Tucson—close to a 100 mile run—collected specimens, returned to the Pima and Maricopa villages, then set out for the Colorado River where they ran right up on the rear tail gate of the Oatman wagon.

Beep! Beep!

   The Doctor and Juan discovered a depressing scene. The Oatmans were bogged down and their animals were almost collapsing and their food supplies were low. So, at Royce's suggestion, LeConte agreed to take a note to Major Heintzelman at Camp Yuma, beseeching the commander to come to the Oatman's assistance. Grabbing the note, LeConte and Juan blasted on down the trail.

   The day after they left the Oatmans, February 16, the two encountered four Indians on the trail armed with bows and arrows. Juan took them to be "Yumas" (Quechans) and, not friendly. Rebuffing their entreaties to parlay, the two tried to move on, but the Indians followed, then disappeared. The Doc and Juan made camp in a secluded canyon, and when they woke up their two horses were gone.

   LeConte sent Juan on to Camp Yuma on foot with the note from Royce Oatman while the doctor posted a card on a tree, warning the Oatmans of "the nearness of Apaches." A note they probably didn't live to see.

   When LeConte finally arrived at Yuma at the end of February (the Oatman massacre took place on Feb. 18) he demanded that Heintzelman send immediate help, but the commander pleaded he had no animals fit for the journey. When the commander finally relented and sent two soldiers out to reconnoiter—on two borrowed mules—they came back with the news that the Oatmans had all been killed. Heintzelman then angrily turned on LeConte saying he should have stayed with the Oatmans. In his diary, the commander contemptuously called LeConte "Dr. Bugs."

"Some people like charity at other people's expense."
—Brevet Major Heintzelman, referring to Dr. Bugs

  LeConte never stopped moving. From Arizona he traveled to Europe, Egypt and Algiers and he was in Honduras for the building of the Honduras Interoceanic Railway. He moved to Philadelphia in 1852 and became known as the father of the American beetle study.

"And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make."
—The Beatles

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Desert Cloud Waves And Old Man Totters On

February 14, 2019
   Have you ever noticed that sometimes sky patterns resemble the ocean? 

Daily Whip Out: "Desert Cloud Waves"

   One of the things I do not like about my age group is the increasing prevalence of tottering. It's just so damn off putting to witness and so damn inevitable. 

Daily Whip Out: "Old Man Totters On"

   And speaking of tottering, a "friend" of mine (really?) sent me this reminder:

"I was so much younger then,
I'm close to tottering now."

   This is a photo composite from Allen Fossenkemper which he sent to me with the header: "YES I WAS YOUNG ONCE."

  The photo was taken by Kathy of me showing off my new John Weinkauf custom-made boots at Rio Rico, Arizona, in March of 1980, when I was 34 (and she was eight months pregnant with Deena).

   And finally, what does the Colorado River basin look like at 30,000 feet?

Daily Whip Out: "Colorado River Aerial"

"If you can talk about it, why paint it?"
—Francis Bacon

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A Prussian Paints The Mojaves

February 13, 2019
   I am fascinated by the Prussian artist Baulduin Mollhausen who accompanied the Whipple Railroad Expedition in 1853-4. When the expedition reached the Colorado River, Baulduin executed numerous scenes of the Mojaves and their surroundings. He reported in his diary that Mojave mothers lined up to have him paint their babies [must have this scene in the graphic novel]. 

Daily Whip Out: "Balduin Mollhausen"

    Heinrich Balduin Mollhausen was born in 1825 in Bonn, at that time a town in the kingdom of Prussia (today Germany). When he was 11, his father abandoned the family and fled to America. Balduin's mother, Baroness Elise von Falkenstein died in 1837 and the boy was then sent to live with an unmarried aunt. He left for America in early 1850, landed in New York in July and wandered through the Midwest, working as a sign painter, hunter, trapper and court reporter. In 1851 he met Duke Paul of Wurttemberg near St. Louis and was hired to be an assistant for the seasoned world traveler and amateur naturalist. After lengthy trips together Mollhausen learned the ropes of being an artist, although he was not a very good one.

   In the fall of 1852, the Prussian consul in Saint Louis hired Balduin to accompany a shipment of wild animals destined for the Berlin Zoo, and Mollhausen arrived there in January of 1853. 

   By the time he returned to America in May of 1853, he landed in Washington, D.C., just when Congress was ramping up several scientific expeditions to the Wild West. Through his connections, Mollhausen landed a job as "topographer and draughtsman," with Lieutenant Amiel W. Whipple's Army's Corps of Topographical Engineers who were assigned the task of finding a railroad route to the west coast, along the thirty-fifth parallel. Balduin was paid "$1,200 per annum."

   In mid-June of 1853 Mollhausen met the expedition at Fort Napoleon, at the mouth of the Arkansas River. Whipple's massive crew—12 wagons drawn by six mules—took off from Fort Smith on July 14, 1853 and traveled through present-day Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. He drew landscapes, camp scenes, river crossings, artifacts and botanical and zoological specimens. He also sketched and painted a number of tribes including the Choctaw, Shawnee, Delaware, Comanche, Waco, Kiowa, Navajo, Apache, Yavapai, Chemehuevi, Mojave and Cahuilla.

   The expedition made a detour in my home country—eventually Mohave County—going south via the Big Sandy to the Santa Maria River (there were rumors of great mineral wealth on this difficult route and, in fact, Whipple ended up leaving all of his wagons about half way to the Colorado River and they made the rest of the trip by horseback and mule).

   So this is how they looked as they approached the Mojave camps along the Colorado River.


   Whip Out to Come

   Another illustration I need to do will show the expedition riding up the river bank of the Colorado with Mojaves running along beside them and in the foreground is a crude hut facing us, but away from the soldiers who are advancing on the other side. Inside the hut, hidden in the back, is a very pregnant woman.

Water Lovers

   That pregnant woman is the subject of my graphic novel.

"Dear Diary, today is the first day of the 100 years war."

—A funny take on the absurdity of diaries

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The King of Irrigation In Cactusland

February 12, 2019,
   When my grandson Weston is in Cactusland we have a couple things that we do that are mandatory. The first thing we do is make a trek over to the cave to get some power.

Weston gathering Statue Power in the cave that Cave Creek is named for

   We've had quite a bit of rain lately so that means we have to wade across the creek both coming and going.

Weston Wading Across Cave Creek

   Since his shoes are already soaked Weston works on an irrigation project he has initiated in the back yard.

The King of Irrigation

   Then it's back out on the trail.

Weston In Cactusland

   Other times we just go along the creek bottom and admire the crazy shapes of the saguaros.

The Three Stages of Saguaros

 Since these saguaros are in the creek bottom, it gets colder at night and if it freezes, the arms turn downward. Someone said it takes 75 years for saguaros to grow their first arm, but I know this isn't true because I have a saguaro I planted in the front yard and it already has an arm.

First Arm, Thirty Years On

   When we get finished, there's always time for a little sunset celebration.

An A-1 Evening

"Grandpa Ha ha, tell me a nutty story."
—Weston at bedtime

Monday, February 11, 2019

A Lady In Red, A Fly Cowboy & Alamo Praise

February 11, 2019
   Finished another sketchbook and started a new one. Wanted an inspirational first page, so I went home for lunch today and did this portrait of a woman I admire.

Daily Whip Out: "Lady In Red"

   Ever see a photograph that looks like a Frederick Remington waiting to happen? This is a C.S. Fly photo, so it must be from southeastern Arizona back in the day. THIS is how I envision the Cow-boys!

Is that a machete stuck in his chaps?

The current Alamo and Golden Spike issue of True West is simply outstanding. Hats off to you and your entire staff.
—Brian Downes, John Wayne Birth Museum
Winterset, Iowa

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Weston Wows Wickenburg

February 10, 2019
   Drove over to Wickenburg yesterday morning with a little guy who has never been in a parade before. The first order of business was to teach him how to stand.

Keep the suspense up, then widen your stance and give us your best cowboy look.

"You talkin' to ME?"

   Then it's time to sit on the hood of the Jeep and load up on donuts.

Two-and-a-half donuts and counting

   At 9:50 we got into parade position and at this time Weston got to meet the horse we were going to be riding with:

Weston meets Concho

   Lee Anderson has ridden Concho with us every year for the past decade. Concho is a rescued race horse and Lee has had him for almost two decades (Concho is 19). The crowds absolutely love him and cheer like crazy when Lee and Concho do their thing: sideways dancing and prancing and even a horsified moonwalk!

Weston Poses With Lee Anderson
aboard Concho just before the start
of the parade.

   I told Weston he had to learn three waves. The regular, "Hi, everybody," then the rodeo-cupped-hand wave, and then, the Yahoo-both-hands-over-your-head wave. Weston basically stuck with the first one:

The Weston Wave: "Hello Everybody!"

   Full disclosure: as the parade went on,  I would walk ahead of the jeep and tell the bystanders on the sidewalk, "This is my grandson coming up in the Jeep and this is his first parade and I want you to make him feel good." Several would ask, "What's his name?" and then the entire sidewalk would erupt with cheers for "Weston! We love you Weston!" The funny thing is, the boy basically thought it was normal and kept up his "Hello everybody" routine all the way through.

   On the ride home he did confess to me he thought the crowd liked him more than me. I couldn't disagree.

Weston Wows Wickenburg

"Everyone loves a parade, especially if they're in it."
—Old Parade Saying

Friday, February 08, 2019

Wild Bill In Smoke and Tom Mix Regrets

February 8, 2019
   I was looking through some old photo reference this morning and found these shots of the late, great Doc Ingalls out at Pioneer Living History Museum north of Phoenix, AZ back in Feb. of 1996. 

Wild Bill In Smoke

   If Wild Bill was advancing and firing both his pistols, what would that look like? This was the effect I was looking for. Thanks to Doc, I got it. He passed last year. Great guy.

   Found an unfinished board in the studio this morning and gave it another go:

Tom Mix Regrets

   Yes, in my opinion, he had a few.

"In Germany, your average theater lobby hasn't been painted since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Why would anyone pay $12 to take your date to a place like that?"
—A frustrated German film distributor, as quoted in The Hollywood Reporter