BajaNomad
Not logged in [Login - Register]

Go To Bottom
Printable Version  
 Pages:  1  2
Author: Subject: The passing of a true friend, Neal Johns aka "Aridologist" (memorial service 2-1-20)
John M
Super Nomad
****




Posts: 1576
Registered: 9-3-2003
Location: California High Desert
Member Is Offline


[*] posted on 1-5-2020 at 09:40 PM
Ken --


Ken, check your email. Please. JM
View user's profile
Ken Cooke
Select Nomad
*******


Avatar


Posts: 8775
Registered: 2-9-2004
Location: In my Jeep
Member Is Offline

Mood: ¡Todo Imposible!

[*] posted on 1-5-2020 at 11:14 PM


Here is a small collage I made with the photos from the Desert Explorers Newsletter. Neal was a lot of fun.

View user's profile
David K
Honored Nomad
*********


Avatar


Posts: 57819
Registered: 8-30-2002
Location: San Diego County
Member Is Offline

Mood: Have Baja Fever

[*] posted on 1-6-2020 at 09:38 AM
Text from newsletter...


Neal Johns
by Marian Johns
December 27, 2019

This is a sad day for me; I lost Neal,
last night – actually he died early this
morning. Even though his death was
expected, it doesn’t make it any easier
for me now that he’s actually gone.
Looking back, I wish I had had more
empathy for Neal and the ordeal of
dementia and prostate cancer that he
endured. Dealing with someone who
was once so independent and selfsufficient
was frustrating and I was too
impatient at times because of his
limitations and need for help.
Neal’s last four
days were
peacefully spent
in a coma; he
appeared to be
comfortable and not
suffering when the
end finally came.
I read that hearing
is the last sense a
dying person
retains even though
they can’t answer,
so I talked to him a
lot and told him
how much I loved
him. We were
married almost 30
years and I have no
regrets that I picked
him to be my
partner. We had
many wonderful times and adventures
together and now I have some wonderful
memories. I will miss him terribly. The
house is so empty without him.
I have planned to have a memorial
get together for his family, for our
Desert Explorer friends and for our Lytle
Creek friends...

Richard Neal Johns
1/19/1931 – 12/27/2019
Neal was born in West Plains,
Missouri. He was only three when his
dad died and his mother remarried a
railroad employee. Neal hated his
step-father because he was a mean
drunk. Consequently Neal never drank
– nor did he ever smoke.
When Neal was about eleven, his
step-father was transferred to a godforsaken
place near the
Glamis sand dunes
in Imperial County.
His mother thought
she was in hell
because the summer
temperatures were
unbearable.
Even though he
wasn’t motivated to do well in high
school, Neal was no dummy. He found
his calling in the Navy which he joined
right after graduating from Palm Springs
High School in 1948. The electronic and
radar classes he took in the Navy peaked
his interest and provided the motivation
he needed to excel.
During the Korean War, he was sent
to Japan. Then, in 1954, he was sent to
the China Lake Naval Weapons Base
(north of Ridgecrest, California) where
he was a first class electronic technician.
He met and married his first wife,
Louise, while there. In 1955 he became
a Chief Petty Officer – the youngest
Chief in the Navy. In 1956 he was sent
to Boston where
he worked on
outfitting the
Navy’s first
guided missile
destroyer – the
Gyatt. He was
responsible for
the guidance
radar system on
that ship. He
went with the
ship when it
was sent on a
trial run down
to Guadalupe in
the Caribbean.
Unfortunately,
he was not a
happy sailor
– he was sea
sick and didn’t
swim well.
Luckily that
was the only
time he was on
a ship “at sea.”
In 1958,
after two stints
in the Navy, he
and Louise
moved back to California where he went
to work for General Dynamics as a
guidance radar systems engineer. And
although he had not gone to college, he
passed the graduate engineering exam
for professional engineers.

In 1977, Louise divorced him. He
once told me that he was devastated and
thought he might go
crazy. So in order to keep
his sanity he bought a
new Toyota Landcruiser
and began his love affair
with the desert and 4
wheeling.
From General
Dynamics, he went to
work for the Navy as a
civilian in Oxnard at Port
Hueneme’s Naval Nemesis facility; he
worked at the Naval Ordnance Test
Station on the Terrier (radar) Missile
System there.
When I met Neal on a Backroad
Explorer trip in 1988, I had an old CJ5
Jeep that was “locked” front and rear. I
guess that Jeep and its driver (me)
impressed him because he became rather
attentive, helping me (a damsel in
distress) when my
Jeep broke down. By
1988 he had traded
in his Landcruiser
(and sleeping in a
tent) for a Toyota
pick-up with a
camper shell – so he
could sleep in it out
of the weather.
So, in 1990, I
ditched the Jeep and married him - and
his cozy camper.
~ Marian

Neal

Neal Johns’ passing marks the end of
an era, a free and beautiful era on the
desert that will never be again, a time
when one could see a dirt road leading
off into the desert and follow it just to see
where it led. And Neal did that. I don’t
believe there was a road in the East
Mojave that Neal had not been on.
If only we could follow
Neal into the desert again.
Sue and I met Neal at the
“Friends of the Mojave
Road” gathering in Nipton
in 1985. Yikes, how did 35
years go by so fast?
Anyway, as fate would have
it Neal was the first person
we met after we arrived in
Nipton that day. Neal
wanted to introduce Sue to Dennis
Casebier so he took her into the
Nipton Schoolhouse, where Dennis
was holding court, and proclaimed,
“Dennis, look what I found on the
desert. Can I keep it?”
Originally Neal had a Toyota
Landcruiser that had been
extremely well used and he was
living and working in Oxnard, or as
he called it, the “West Edge of the
East Mojave.” His Landcruiser was
so well used that navigating it down the
road was a bit like navigating a very
large ship. It required a lot of anticipating
which direction you would like to go.
Fortunately though, it did quite well on
dirt roads as the ruts helped to keep it on
track. And… Neal’s Landcruiser
“cuisine” was
unique. Instead of
just eating cold food
straight out of
cans, Neal would
take the labels off
the cans and mix
them up before throwing them in the
cruiser. This seemed to add an element of
surprise to his meals.
Neal loved Baja. Our trips to Baja
were many. On those trips Neal would
get up early and have a “Mountain Dew”
for breakfast. Then he would drive circles
around us honking his horn
to get us moving. He even
did this one afternoon when
we were sipping beer in the
hot spring at Puertecitos.
Neal hated getting in water
and wanted to move on. We
were forced to abandon our
idyllic spot late in the day
and drive a torturous road to
Gonzaga Bay. Such was my
relationship with Neal in
Baja that we almost always
came home at extreme odds
with each other. Time and
the desert would soothe the
nerves and our friendship
would survive, but we
always joked that when
things between us were
going too swimmingly, it
was time for a Baja trip.
When Neal met Marian his life moved
beyond “Hope” and his “Indian Guide”
(campfire stories). Though he still
maintained a list of “wives in waiting”,
he had been totally smitten. I believe it
all started on a 1987 trip in the when Marian’s Jeep lost
its rear driveshaft and
yet she still continued
on, using only the front
wheel drive. At one
point she even backed
her Jeep up a steep,
rutted hill rather than
allowing herself to be
towed. On a subsequent
trip into the Panamint
Mountains, the same
Jeep’s chassis broke and
the engine fan
chewed up the
radiator. After
field repairs to
the radiator
and using a come-along to hold the
chassis together, she managed to drive
the Jeep out and became Neal’s “woman
of considerable will.”
Aw Neal, we will miss your
outrageous and risqué
sense of humor. We will
miss your voice on the
CB and your unique way
with words. We will miss
your desert wisdom. We
will miss what made you
Neal. You can “Trust me”
on this. ~ Bob Jaussaud

I Miss Neal, But I Will
Never Forget Him

There is so much to say about Neal
Johns that it is difficult to know even
where to begin. He was one of the
founding members of our club and
throughout the years he has been the
voice of the Desert Explorers. I think our
club membership will be writing and
talking about Neal for a long time. He
was that unique.
I would just like to share with you a
couple of my observations regarding
Neal and my direct experience and
interaction with him. The first thing that
comes to mind is that Neal was a
teacher. For instance, he took the time
on several occasions to teach me the
proper use of a GPS device. This might
not sound like a big deal but it required
considerable time on Neal’s part. He also
tutored me in other areas also. Neal was
willing to take the time to help so many
other people as well.
Another aspect of Neal that comes to
mind immediately for me is his sense of
humor. You probably all experienced
this. He was one of the funniest people I
have ever encountered. Neal was the
kind of a guy that as soon as you laid
eyes on him, you started laughing. Mr.
Johns could get away with stuff that was
outrageously funny. He was quite unique
in that regard.
One other thing I would like to
mention right now regarding Neal was
his outstanding book collection. I thought
I had a good collection of books on
Western History but it pales by
comparison to Neal’s collection. I can
only remember one time when I was able
to share a book that Neal didn’t have!
One final thing about Neal that also
needs to be said was his ability to find a
great wife, namely Marian Johns. Her
devotion to Neal and his devotion to her
was very touching over the years.
I could write about Neal for a long,
long time. There is so much to say.
However, I think others can do it more
eloquently than I. Nevertheless, I would
like to close by saying that the heart and
soul of the Desert Explorers is Neal
Johns. ~ Bob Jacoby

I always enjoyed listening to him and
following him on his “This will be easy”
4WD trips in the Backroad Explorer
days. ~ Bob Pelzman

Please extend my condolences to
Marian — And well said, he truly was
one of a kind and will be remembered by
all who knew him around the campfires
to come. ~ Dan Messersmith

So sorry to hear of Neal’s passing.
He will be sorely missed. We treasure
our memories of traveling all over the
desert and beyond with Neal and Marian
over a period of almost 30 years. Neal
was both knowledgeable and
entertaining. Always looked forward to
his antics. ~ Ted and Joan Berger

At dawn on my first outing with the
Backroad Explorers, I woke to the sound
of a revving engine and a honking horn
— inches from the door of my tent.
Neal Johns was ready to hit the trail and
he wanted to make sure nobody would
be holding up the trip.
He loved to be exploring, and going
with him was a pleasure and a wonder
and always an adventure. Sure, there
were breakdowns, some time spent lost
and chasing down sketchy directions,
fixing damaged trails so we could
continue on, but those were hardly a blip
on Neal’s radar. He had to go there, see
the place, walk the trails, know the story.
And he did this with an uncommon
grace, unassuming, and with a fun kind
of craziness that was completely
infectious. As fellow Desert Explorer
Stan Sholik put it, “Neat guy. Never led
us anyplace he was sure we could return
from. I admire that.” I agree.
After all these years, Neal is in my
thoughts and memories on every trip and
every trail. I will remember him when
things go sideways and when new vistas
and formerly hidden pieces of history
and natural beauty unfold unexpectedly.
He never let a dragon pass by without
pulling its tail. What a great guy. He will
be missed by all who knew him.
~ Jay Lawrence




"So Much Baja, So Little Time..."

Baja Missions On Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/bajamissions/

Over 70 Baja Bound Travel Adventure articles: https://www.bajabound.com/bajaadventures/bajatravel/

Visit Viva Baja, to help you plan your next adventure: http://VivaBaja.com

My 30 (2018) Baja Maps: http://forums.bajanomad.com/viewthread.php?tid=88771
View user's profile Visit user's homepage
DanO
Super Nomad
****


Avatar


Posts: 1908
Registered: 8-26-2003
Location: Not far from the Pacific
Member Is Offline


[*] posted on 1-6-2020 at 12:05 PM


A man of great wit and humor. He will be missed. DEP.



\"Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.\" -- Frank Zappa
View user's profile
TacoFeliz
Nomad
**


Avatar


Posts: 251
Registered: 7-22-2005
Location: Here
Member Is Offline

Mood: Exploratory

[*] posted on 1-8-2020 at 10:29 AM


The newsletter with photos and tributes to Neal will be posted soon at the DesertExplorers.org website. There is an archive of all of our newsletters going back over thirty years for viewing and downloading.
View user's profile Visit user's homepage
David K
Honored Nomad
*********


Avatar


Posts: 57819
Registered: 8-30-2002
Location: San Diego County
Member Is Offline

Mood: Have Baja Fever

[*] posted on 1-29-2020 at 10:59 AM
One more photo


Neal and Marian Johns met with us at the Erle Stanley Gardner museum exhibit in Temecula, in Nov. 2005... Neal and Baja Angel.

This weekend is the memorial service... Very sad day for us who knew this man who was always happy.



11-5-05 024-R.JPG - 39kB




"So Much Baja, So Little Time..."

Baja Missions On Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/bajamissions/

Over 70 Baja Bound Travel Adventure articles: https://www.bajabound.com/bajaadventures/bajatravel/

Visit Viva Baja, to help you plan your next adventure: http://VivaBaja.com

My 30 (2018) Baja Maps: http://forums.bajanomad.com/viewthread.php?tid=88771
View user's profile Visit user's homepage
David K
Honored Nomad
*********


Avatar


Posts: 57819
Registered: 8-30-2002
Location: San Diego County
Member Is Offline

Mood: Have Baja Fever

[*] posted on 2-1-2020 at 07:56 PM
2-1-2020


Today we had a memorial to attend.
It was for one very fine human being.
He was loved by everyone who knew him.
There will never be another Neal Johns... at least in my life!

I first met Neal and Marian at a Graham Mackintosh slide show (at Discover Baja Travel Club) about the year 2000, I think? Since then, it was a lot of fun comparing notes on our Baja book collections (Neal had the best I had ever seen) and maps of Baja. We would meet up in Baja (on the trail) or attend functions. I spent a weekend at their home, after Baja Bucko had visited, and Neal showed me a Mexico West newsletter (1970s) he found, that both Teddi (Bucko) and I had written something in. He liked bringing people together... and getting them to go where he wanted to go, lol!

My last trip with Neal (and I think Neal's final Baja 4x4 trip?) was the Mission Santa María trip in 2010 that many of us Nomads were on. Sadly, Neal's trusted Tacoma's custom built differential gave out on the day we were heading home from the overnight at the mission.
In the end, it all worked out with Baja Cactus (Antonio's) assistance and Nomads that stayed behind, when others had to leave.

The service today was deeply heartwarming hearing all who came up to share their Neal story (some from hundreds of miles away). I think at least 4 or 5 'Wives in Waiting' confessed too (this was a joke of Neal's that he bestowed on all women he befriended). [Paulina claims the top honor of being W.i.W. #1].

Neal and Marian often made their home a welcoming retreat for us, over the years. My daughter would love to go and visit their huskies. Neal and Marian had several big, blue-eyed pups. When the 'Bajo California' film came out, egl and Barb came to my place and we caravaned up to Neal and Marian's, bringing Ken Cooke along, too.

Today, I think there were close to 200 in attendance at the Lytle Creek Community Center and everyone had strong loving memories of Mr. Neal Johns, the Aridologist. Some tears flowed, but mostly laughs and smiles from the wonderful stories told.

There is so much love for this man and so much appreciation for Marian's love and strength during Neal's final, trying year on this earth.

A wonderful spread of delicious food was served and Doug and I had the opportunity to visit with Nomads including John M, Taco Felix, and Ken Cooke, which continued out into the parking area where we had to admire Ken's new Gladiator Jeep Truck...



2-1-20b.jpg - 167kB
Ken Cooke and John M



2-1-20 Neal Johns.jpg - 145kB
BajaNomad (Doug), Leidy Laura Cooke, David K




"So Much Baja, So Little Time..."

Baja Missions On Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/bajamissions/

Over 70 Baja Bound Travel Adventure articles: https://www.bajabound.com/bajaadventures/bajatravel/

Visit Viva Baja, to help you plan your next adventure: http://VivaBaja.com

My 30 (2018) Baja Maps: http://forums.bajanomad.com/viewthread.php?tid=88771
View user's profile Visit user's homepage
Bob H
Elite Nomad
******


Avatar


Posts: 5853
Registered: 8-19-2003
Location: San Diego
Member Is Offline


[*] posted on 2-1-2020 at 10:17 PM


RIP Neal. Your Baja adventures touched us all!



The SAME boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg. It's about what you are made of NOT the circumstance.
View user's profile
David K
Honored Nomad
*********


Avatar


Posts: 57819
Registered: 8-30-2002
Location: San Diego County
Member Is Offline

Mood: Have Baja Fever

[*] posted on 2-2-2020 at 09:13 AM
Photos from Ken Cooke's camera...




2-1-20c.jpg - 180kB
Doug took this photo, includes Leidy (Ken's wife), John M & Barbara, and me.

2-1-20d.jpg - 168kB
Leidy took this nice photo of BajaNomad (Doug), David K, Ken Cooke, John M, and Ken's 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon.

While Neal Johns would not approve of anyone buying a Jeep over a Toyota, I think he would be happy for Ken.

The day was beautiful, with many people getting together all for the wonderful way Neal Johns inspired us to explore Baja and the desert.

Adios Mr. Aridologist!




"So Much Baja, So Little Time..."

Baja Missions On Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/bajamissions/

Over 70 Baja Bound Travel Adventure articles: https://www.bajabound.com/bajaadventures/bajatravel/

Visit Viva Baja, to help you plan your next adventure: http://VivaBaja.com

My 30 (2018) Baja Maps: http://forums.bajanomad.com/viewthread.php?tid=88771
View user's profile Visit user's homepage
Paulina
Elite Nomad
******




Posts: 3733
Registered: 8-31-2002
Location: BCN
Member Is Offline


[*] posted on 2-5-2020 at 08:44 PM


Thank you David for posting.

WIW#1 >*)))><




\"Well behaved women rarely make history.\" Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
View user's profile
El Camote
Senior Nomad
***




Posts: 511
Registered: 9-7-2003
Location: Above the clouds
Member Is Offline

Mood: y Blues

[*] posted on 2-5-2020 at 09:55 PM
A huge loss...


So sad to read about Neal. He was one of the good ones. He had a kind heart and incredible sense of humor which was always gentle and often self-deprecating. I regret never visiting him in Lytle Creek, I know his invitation was genuine. My heart goes out to Marian.

Can't recall if I've ever posted this crowd-pleaser before but here's a few brief glimpses of Neal. Unless you're waiting for paint to dry or medication to take effect, skip to 10 minutes in for the Neal sightings to begin.

https://vimeo.com/389613694

(I'll be damned if I can figure out how to embed it!)




Knowledge is good. - Emil Faber
View user's profile
David K
Honored Nomad
*********


Avatar


Posts: 57819
Registered: 8-30-2002
Location: San Diego County
Member Is Offline

Mood: Have Baja Fever

[*] posted on 2-6-2020 at 09:13 AM


Thanks Mike!
Fun to see again but sad so many of us Amigos de Baja (before we were Nomads) are no longer here. In addition to losing Neal Johns, we also lost Bedman, Debra, Brandi, Mike Humfreville, and we don't see M, jeans, and others lately.

We are only here for a short time. Let's make the best of it, see all we can see, help each other, too.

Neal Johns was a real treat to know! That you put his slapping the monument scene in at the very end was terrific. Thank you, El Camote!




"So Much Baja, So Little Time..."

Baja Missions On Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/bajamissions/

Over 70 Baja Bound Travel Adventure articles: https://www.bajabound.com/bajaadventures/bajatravel/

Visit Viva Baja, to help you plan your next adventure: http://VivaBaja.com

My 30 (2018) Baja Maps: http://forums.bajanomad.com/viewthread.php?tid=88771
View user's profile Visit user's homepage
Paulina
Elite Nomad
******




Posts: 3733
Registered: 8-31-2002
Location: BCN
Member Is Offline


[*] posted on 2-6-2020 at 10:00 PM


El Camote,
What a blast from the past. That was 19 years ago, crazy!
Thank you for posting.

Still happy as a clam,
P>*)))><




\"Well behaved women rarely make history.\" Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
View user's profile
 Pages:  1  2

  Go To Top

 






All Content Copyright � 1997- Q87 International; All Rights Reserved.
Powered by XMB; XMB Forum Software © 2001-2014 The XMB Group�






"If it were lush and rich, one could understand the pull, but it is fierce and hostile and sullen. The stone mountains pile up to the sky and there is little fresh water. But we know we must go back if we live, and we don't know why." - Steinbeck, Log from the Sea of Cortez

"People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care." - Ivan R. Misner, Ph.D

"You can easily judge the character of others by how they treat those who they think can do nothing for them or to them." - Malcolm Forbes

"Let others lead small lives, but not you. Let others argue over small things, but not you. Let others cry over small hurts, but not you. Let others leave their future in someone else's hands, but not you." - Jim Rohn







Thank you to Baja Bound Mexico Insurance Services for your long-term support of the BajaNomad.com Forums site.







Emergency Baja Contacts Include:

Desert Hawks; El Rosario-based ambulance transport; Emergency #: (616) 103-0262