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  • Sunset at Mojave Desert in Twentynine Palms, CA

Guest post written by Nalini “Ash” Maharaj, owner/operator of Harmony Motel, a proud Visit 29 Palms Partner.

The refreshing cool breeze and the warm sunlight strokes my skin gently; this magically rejuvenates and uplifts my spirits, whispering to me—the appearance of my most favorite season of the year. Yes! Bright, beautiful, and blossoming, spring  showcases, the awesome wonders of  the creative spirit of Mother Nature. Spring’s creativity provides immense joy for all nature lovers.

In the desert, spring can be unpredictable with the climate. Some days, she is light and breezy, or she can be cheerfully sunny; sometimes she gets moody and places a damper on your day (rudely interrupting your plans), by showing up overcast, rainy, damp windy, and cold.

Spring generally glitters and glows in colors—bright greens, purples, warm pinks, oranges, and yellows as she paints the desert landscape with sweet smelling wildflower blooms. She rejuvenates the desert wilderness with blankets of green grass, fragrant smelling flowers with picture perfect butterflies, sweet sounds of chirping humming birds, merry quail families, and over protective fussing doves that are nesting high up in the trees.

This gorgeous spring morning I am relaxed and comfortable on my favorite chair on the harmony patio, as I view the energetic critter activity in the harmony desert garden.  The  garden is always a delightful picture of my favorite desert critters buzzing with joy and love, obviously happy to meet all their friends at their favorite play place, after a cold, dry and some what harsh winter that they had just experienced.

I hear chatting from the critters.

Mr. Tortoise whispers to Mr. Bunny. “Did you notice, Ash is so happy? She did not even shoo Mrs. Red Racer away, when she found her in the garden this morning.”

“Off course she is always full of joy and happiness in spring because her favorite guests will soon be arriving,” replied Bunny.

“And who may I ask are they?” squeaked Lizzie.

“Oh come on Lizzie, don’t you know them,” replied Mrs. Red Racer in her husky voice.

“The famous ‘Hang Town Hikers’ are the biggest fans of the Harmony. They adore Ash, love the desert wilderness, and totally appreciate critter land. They have been coming to the Harmony for the last fifteen years; they are a merry crowd that is full of laughter and always in the mood for their happy hour celebrations,” expressed  bunny in a happy tone of voice.

“That’s right,” cried out Mr. Roadrunner. “I like them too; they love Joshua Tree National Park, always going on their long hikes, and they enjoy eating at their favorite restaurants in town. Every year they hike my favorite trail, the Boy Scout Trail,” explained chirpy Mr. Roadrunner.

“I wonder why they call themselves the Hang Town Hikers?”  Whispered Tortoise to himself, to which Bunny chuckled.

“On the last trip I heard Bob, the leader, explain the history of their name to Ash.”

“So it’s time for a story Bunny,” shouted Roadrunner delightfully.

Mr. Roadrunner than proceeded to instruct everyone to find a seat on the comfortable dirt.  Bunny cleared his throat and began to narrate the historical story of the name of the town Placerville—why it once was notoriously called Hang Town .

Bunny loved the attention from his friends, he squealed with laughter, as he began narrating the story with excitement in his voice. “As history explains, the discovery of gold in nearby Coloma, California by James W. Marshall in 1848 sparked the California Gold Rush, the small town now known as Placerville was then called Dry Digging’s —after the manner in which the miners moved cartloads of dry soil to running water to separate the gold from the soil.

Later, in 1849, the town earned its most common historical notorious name “Hang Town” because the miners quickly became short-tempered, and with the rising crime rate and the lack of readily-available law enforcement, they took the “law”—or lack thereof—into their own hands. Criminals were punished in short order, whether it be flogging or hanging, based on snap decisions made by impromptu courts with hastily-formed juries.

The first lynching in the camp, a triple hanging, came after a gang of five tried to rob a miner of his gold dust. However, someone in the crowd of 2,000 said he recognized three of the five—two Mexicans and one Yankee—that had been involved with a murder on the Stanislaus River.

The three suspects were hanged together from the huge oak tree in camp. The location of this well-used hangin’ tree is marked by an effigy dangling by his neck from the second story of the Hangman’s Tree Historic Spot in downtown Placerville. The stump is said to be in the cellar. That is how the Town Placerville acquired its historical notorious name “Hang Town” as there were many such hangings during this period in the town.”

Bunny continued, “So my dear critter land that is why our dear friends from Sacramento call themselves the “Hang Town Hikers.”

“I get it, they like the history of their town’s name,” whispered tortoise.

“Or maybe their name indicates that they will not tolerate bad behaviors from their hiking team, like the pioneers of their town,” suggested Roadrunner.

“Gosh I had better be on my best behavior the next time they are here,” stuttered anxious Mrs. Roadrunner .

“Yes, listen to Ash. You need to hide yourself  when her guests are around because they are afraid of you,” Lizzie uttered naughtily.

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