From left, this is my mother, Della Tranquilli, me, my sister Kelli Standlee, and her son Shane Standlee.
Here, Cheryl talks with my mother in the portable gazebo that Mom and her husband Vince put up so they can enjoy the outdoors without having to deal with so many of the darn mosquitoes.
This is part of the view out one size of the gazebo, looking down onto the stream on their property. This photo does not, in my opinion, do justice to how nice things are here.
This path leads away from Mom's house toward a pond on the property over the hill ahead. To the right is...
This tree fell over in a storm and took out most of this out-building. The area around here was previously covered in blackberry brambles and many years' accumulated junk before a heroic brush-clearing and garbage-hauling effort by Mom and Vince.
After leaving Mom's, I got it into my head to drive up to Challenge, which I had not visited in many years, so we detoured over hill and winding road up to my home town, where we stopped and had a look at my old elementary school and what I remember as my family home.
Some things about my old elementary school, like this sign, haven't changed much since I graduated in 1979.
Also mostly unchanged (except for being more overgrown) is this monument to the one-room schools that were merged over the years to form Yuba Feather Elementary, including the bells from four of the schools.
My first home that I can remember was a few hundred feet from that of my grandparents, but I think I spent as much time in my grandparents' home in my first five years as I did in my actual home. Alas, time has not been kind to the place, which my grandfather still owns, but which has sat unoccupied now for years and was hard used by tenants before that.
This is how the place looks from the driveway off the road.
Technically, this is the front of the house, although it faces away from the road and we never used the front door. Not that we could easily do so now, as the front porch is so rotten that it's a man-trap that almost captured me when I stepped onto it.
This old storage shed -- we called it the garage -- oddly enough doesn't look to me any more run-down and dilapidated than it did 35 years ago.
While I was taking these photos, the next-door neighbor, who knows my mom and grandfather and has taken a protective interest in shooing people off, came hallooing up at us, and not in a particularly friendly way. There's no way he could likely remember me -- I was at best a pre-teen the last time he'd seen me -- but I tried to reassure him that I was Della's son and Keith's grandson, and was just taking a look in at the old place. He was relatively placated by this, but I felt it was prudent to move along.
Besides my grandfather's old house, Challenge as a town is more run down and dilapidated than it was when I lived here. The town's main industry was the US Forest Service district office, which closed when the Forest Service consolidated districts on the Plumas National Forest. They still have a work station open -- part of the ranger station on which I lived for a couple of years -- but it's clearly a far smaller operation than when I lived here. The former ranger station administrative offices are now signed as the Challenge Professional Center, but it obviously has few tenants. Sad, really. Most of the development, such as it is, is down the hill in Brownsville.
Having engaged in nostalgia, we made our long, slow way back to Fremont via Marysville, Sacramento, Tracy, and Altamont Pass.
Edit, 16 May 2007 23:55: Reworded clumsy sentence about my original home relative to that of my grandparents.