Monday, July 22, 2013

More From the Chronicles of Wasted Time

Since I wrote my last “Notable People” post I've remembered a few more.  I've been waiting some time to post this as I sincerely hope that this will be the last post of this sort.


In the Fall of 1992 I was finishing up my University of Nevada journalism degree by serving as an intern for two aviation magazines, Private Pilot and Kitplanes.  These magazines are both owned by the same publisher and, at that time, worked out of the same office in Orange County, California.

A lot of interesting things happened while I was there, but the most memorable thing was when an editor from each of these magazines and I were sent up to the Santa Monica airport to do a story on Dick Rutan and a new high-performance aircraft he was investigating.

Rutan is well-known for piloting the Voyager – the first plane to fly around the world without refueling.  It was designed and built by Rutan’s brother Burt and the aircraft is now displayed in the Smithsonian.

Anyhow, we flew up to the Santa Monica airport, met Rutan and the builder of the Berkut, an aircraft based on a design by Burt Rutan.

We took of in a three-plane formation – the Berkut, piloted by Rutan, a video camera plane and we were in a Grumman Tiger taking stills.

We talked with Rutan quite a bit as he and the designer were explaining the Berkut’s features to us.  The conversation was mostly technical and we did not share a lot of “small talk.”

Rutan was running for Congress in the election that fall (he lost) and he had somewhere to go as soon as we landed.  Until I was investigating this story online I had forgotten that I wrote the story that appeared in the magazine about this subject.


Sometime around 1990 I went to Ohio for an extended visit.  I decided to take my dog, Morgan, with me, so I purchased a travel cage for her.  Just before she was taken into the baggage I gave her a sedative so that she would sleep.  I had a couple of hour layover in LA and I made arrangements with the airline to have her brought out to the luggage retrieval area so that I could take her for a walk during this time.

Morgan & her daughter Muzo at McLeod Lake near
Mammoth Lakes, California
As I was walking through the LA terminal I noticed two blond young women cross the walkway some distance ahead of me.  As I neared where I'd seen them cross they came out of a shop and now I was close enough to them, about 20 yards, to see that they were twins and uncommonly attractive.

They went on their way and I mine.  I retrieved Morgan and let her out of her cage.  Putting the leash on her I headed outside to find a place to walk.  As I approached the door I heard a woman behind me say, "That's a beautiful dog."

I turned to thank her and saw that it was the twins.  I stopped and they gushed over Morgan for a few minutes.  We exchanged pleasantries and after a few moments we went our separate ways.

I'm not sure how long after this, but it wasn't long, these twins, their names are Sia and Shane Barbi, were on the cover of a major magazine and featured prominently in a story inside.  They also had best selling swimsuit calenders for several years around that time.


In 1974 when I started teaching skiing at Sandia Peak in the Cibola National Forest in New Mexico.  There was a Forest Service Snow Ranger working there named Pete Totemoff.  Some of my co-workers worked for the Forest Service in the summer (as I would come to do).  They told me that this Pete was a somewhat well-known character.  Sports Illustrated had named him one of America's top Skiers a few years earlier. 
He was one of the Forest Service's top winter sports experts and had laid out a lot of ski areas built on National Forests in Colorado and New Mexico, including Taos Ski Valley.  There is a run named for him at Taos.

He was also a top Fire Boss, being sent to put out forest and brush fires all over the Western U.S.

I skied with him a few times that winter although he wasn't at Sandia often.   Then, the following Spring, when I was hired as a Forest Ranger, he ended up being my boss's boss.  Again I didn't see him often as he was frequently gone on some other assignment.


I finished up my Bachelor's degree in journalism at the University of Nevada, attending classes there from 1988 to 1992.  Bob Laxalt, the author of Sweet Promised Land, was associated with the J-School as he ran the University of Nevada Press.

Bob was the son of a Basque sheepherder and a very friendly guy.  His book is about his immigrant Father's return to his Basque country homeland in northern Spain after a fifty year absence. 

Bob and I got along well.  He knew I was a Forest Ranger and when we spoke he would "threaten" to come up to Truckee and show me some Basque Tree Carvings which would "knock my socks off."  (These carvings have a reputation for being somewhat risque.)

Bob was the brother of Paul Laxalt US Senator from Nevada and Reagan's campaign manager for his Presidential runs.


Click here and here to see the other posts about notable people.

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