John Page passed away September 2015. He was an iconic DE member.
Thoughts from friends on a terrific guy who is missed by all who knew him and explored with him.
Happy Trails Forever, my Friend
By Deb Miller
John Page was not the person responsible for introducing me to the Desert Explorers, but he received the baton in the running to keep me attending trips and ultimately, leading them. In fact, not only did he suggest I lead a trip, he was one of two members that showed up on that stormy day at Mojave’s Hole in the Wall on March 15, 2003.I will never forget that winning grin he wore. I ultimately had to shorten that trip (due to snow!) but John and I were immediate friends. Of all my new friends in the DE, John was the single most positive advocate for single gals like me and Nan Savage to go ahead and conquer the unpaved world with our vehicles. Believe me, the most important thing for a new driver, next to one’s own self confidence, is the positive cheerleading of your peers convincing you that you are capable of navigating a challenging stretch of trail. There were a few trips that I could not drive my employer’s truck due to uncertain conditions, so I was lucky to be John’s passenger . On one occasion, the group had stopped to camp on the trail and I began to seek out a suitable location to pitch my tent in an area that essentially was littered with historic cans. I said, John, I don’t mean to complain, but this place is a “real dump”, to which he immediately quipped “ Yeah, I really know how to treat the ladies right, huh?” John, aka Quesadilla King, was on the “phone a friend” rescue mission when Neal broke his vehicle in Baja and was in a certain creek without his paddle March 27, 2003. How many people do you know who will drop everything to embark upon a rescue mission (with a loose plan) for someone of questionable character (Neal) in the middle of nowhere? This began with a call from Bob Martin, “ Are you ready to go to Baja to rescue Neal?” John wrote later that the only reason he scrambled down to Catavina on a dime was because Saint Marion was stranded as well. A successful mission repairing a broken ball joint in the Mexico boondocks! ( worth reading about – see the May 2003 newsletter in the website archives) John had a quick wit to match his intellect, which made him an enjoyable member of any outing. Do you remember the funny nickname he had for our Newsletter? ( The Fish Wrapper!). He was one of those that entertained all with his comments over the CB channel. One particular trip in Anza Borrego had another member trying to convince John to scale a nasty rocky trail “ John, chicks DIG body damage..” without skipping a beat, he volleyed, “ But I already HAVE A CHICK, why would I beat up my truck?” John was a true friend and was always looking out for me. It was a tough blow for me to accept the ramifications of John’s stroke , which suddenly ended his participation in the DE trips. He was the former DE website administrator and guarded that asset fiercely. That is the primary reason why I took over the responsibility (with no training whatsoever) ; I knew he trusted me and he understood where my heart was. He had always “had my back” so finally I could adequately return the favor with something tangible besides gratitude. I now continue to serve the DE in this capacity as the “Webchick” (John’s word) in his honor. John believed in our club wholeheartedly as a loyal supporter. I love you John Page, you are irreplaceable.Happy Trails.
Though John Page and I lived some 2000 miles apart the last 25 years, I still considered him my best friend. We knew each other since the 60s where we were both metallurgists at Rockwell International. When I did a 5-year round the world back pack trip, John looked after administrative stuff for me (kept me out of trouble with the IRS). He introduced me to riding dirt bikes in the desert, including a legendary ride through flood-stage rivers from the border to Cabo San Lucas in the 70s. Getting gas in Baja at the time was always a problem, but on bikes with a 50 mile range and the washed out roads stopping the fuel trucks it was a real challenge. In the 80s we switched from two wheels to four and joined the Desert Explorers. I would fly from my home in Washington State with a small day pack and John would do his “Flying-Seal Pickup” (just like in the movies) at LAX Arrivals, his truck loaded with sleeping bags and all necessary camping gear and off we would go. Two memorable DE Baja trips that John organized were a mule excursion to visit rock art in an isolated canyon at a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Sierra de San Francisco and having a “meet the author and book signing” by rock art historian, Harry Crosby at the 1997 Tri-Centennial celebration of the founding of the Californias in Loreto, BC.
In latter years we stayed in contact by telephone and usually an annual visit. When I find myself in a difficult personal situation I can calm myself and often find a solution by reflecting – “what would John do?” Rest in peace my friend.
Paul Ferry • October 25, 2015 • Point Roberts, WA
Our Memories of John Page
John Page was a good guy. It was always fun traveling with him and we traveled with him many times. We miss him.
An early memory of John is his “mini Jeep”. It was a Suzuki Sidekick or something similar. It was a good vehicle for back roads, but slow and small on the freeway. John seemed like such a big man for such a little, little car. We were happy when he bought a real pickup.
A lot of trips with John involved a quesadilla cook off. John was the quesadilla king.
John was the only person we know who ate kipper snacks for breakfast.
John tended to loose mud flaps off his truck and I collected them whenever possible. It got to be a standing joke between us.
John is the one who said “Leading a trip for the Desert Explorers is like trying to herd cats.”
The year we had our DE Rendezvous at Panamint Springs, John led a trip into the Saline Valley. He wanted to go up the Lippencott Mine Road, but was concerned about the difficulty. We had come to the road junction and were procrastinating about going up when we saw a vehicle coming down. As we waited, the vehicle grew in size and eventually turned into a class A motorhome. When it finally pulled up to where we were parked, we realized it was driven by two gals heading to the hot springs to get naked. No one dared complain about the difficulty of the Lippencott Road as we continued up.
John led Nan Savage in her Subaru from Eureka Dunes through the Marble Baths Pass to Saline Valley. We didn’t think it could be done. Once again, John made it happen.
John will always live in our memories.
Bob and Sue
Bob and I recall a planned two week Colorado 4-wheel trip with Bob and Marilyn Martin climbing many peaks on narrow old logging roads and at the end of the first day the Martins had to call off their planned leadership due to illness. Up for a challenge John Page and Paul Ferry stepped in and took over the reins and led us on one of our most memorable offroad adventures.
Bob and Shirley Bolin
Unfortunately, most of my photos of John Page go back pre-digital to 35 mm slides. I did locate this one as John peers tentatively over the edge of the famous dropoff in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. My favorite story is when Alan Rompsert and I led a trip to the Pinto Mts east of 29 Palms. We camped in a wash the first night, and as it turned out, like a dummy, I forgot to bring anything to eat for dinner. John had picked up a cooked chicken and some potato salad at a market in Yucca Valley, which he gladly shared with me. I felt beholden to him forever after, and enjoyed reliving the event every time we were together on a trip.
In 1903 I was off the map near El Marmol in Baja when my ball joint separated and stranded me. I called Bob Martin and asked him to find a friend and come rescue me’ He called John Page and they used my GPS points to find me and bring a ball joint. John was like that, always ready to help out a friend - never mind that for a few minutes, when they got near they chatted over the CB that they could not find me and were going home (as a joke). I almost peed in my pants when they could not (would not) hear my frantic CB calls. They finally relented and showed up just over the hill.
On a DE trip, the group had returned from a short hike, and John dropped his hiking poles by mistake, in my Tacoma that was parked next to his. I found them later, but it was several months before I was able to return them.
Another time, I had the pleasure of showing John a dirt road running along the ridge of the Black Mountains east of the river, and we had a pleasant lunch overlooking Lake Mohave. Time with John was always pleasant time.
I think of John Page and I think of a wonderful smile, a quiet man. I didn’t know him well, wish I had great stories to share – sorry, the barrel is dry. But I do remember is this great, warm smile and loving presence. Thanks for that, John! And thanks for the kindness of your wife, Anna, who brought you to our Christmas parties and smiled when she probably didn’t feel like it. Love to you and to the memory and for the good times.
Anne and George Stoll
In November 2013, the Philippines was hit with a devastating super typhoon (cyclone) Haiyan, locally known in the Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda. I was trying to reach my immediate family members in Cebu but Internet/telephone lines were out. John called and left me a message, saying he was so appalled and saddened by the devastation and deaths of thousands of people in Tacloban in the island of Leyte. He wanted to know if my family was okay. John’s concern and love meant so much to me. I was touched by his gesture of reaching out to show that he cared. John’s positive thought made a difference especially during that time of uncertainty and chaos. My immediate family members in the islands of Cebu and Batangas (south of Manila) were all safe and accounted for. Thank God!
During the time I have known John, I have always felt
“I’m included or I’m a part of his circle.” He was welcoming and would always find time to say hi to me. I especially admired his demeanor during trips that he expertly and flawlessly led or participated in, during Desert Explorers meetings, and during Christmas parties. For the last 13 years or so that the Desert Explorers have held Christmas parties at our home, John, together with Anna would come with gifts for exchange and John would don a Christmas-themed outfit. His spirit was always upbeat, even during the past years when he had some health issues. I will miss John. In fact, I am missing him already. As I recover from my surgery, I can’t help but think of him. Farewell, My Friend. May you rest in peace!
By Ding Elnar-Wicker
I remember getting the first newsletter from the Desert Explorers after I joined. I looked through the list of upcoming trips and picked out one that looked really fun - in Death Valley. I contacted the leader, John Page, to see if I could come along, seeing that I had a vehicle with only all-wheel drive, not 4WD. John said, “Sure, of course you can come. My wife had a Subaru when I first met her. That vehicle can do more than people think. It’s a lot about how it’s driven. I will show you how to drive.” And John did. He showed me how to drive, where to place my tires, what angle to take, and how to drive off camber. I remember we went up Dedeckera Canyon on that first trip with no problems at all. It was the start of a wonderful line of adventures for me, and I thank John for his confidence in knowing that a lady can learn to drive well, safely, and have fun.
Another memory: My daughter and I went to Telescope Peak on another trip with John. We were quite pleased with ourselves, because we were new to camping, and so we had set up a beautiful bed under the stars with a lovely inflated air mattress and a warm down comforter. It looked like a fabulous luxury suite bedroom under the beautiful night sky. Unfortunately, during the night, suddenly the heavens opened up and hail began to descend down upon us - hard. As fast as we could, we had to gather up all our things and stuff everything into the back of the Subaru along with the two of us. I think we slept in a pile for the rest of the night. The next morning John felt a bit sheepish, I think, because he apologized for not coming out during the the night to help the ladies in distress. Instead, he had stayed snug in his truck. We thought it had all been extremely funny and had no worries. John announced, “You ladies can come camping with me anytime!”
Nan Savage Healy
This is an example of John's particular brand of humor:
The story behind the picture:
In April, 1998, Bob and Marilyn Martin's truck got stuck in mud in a remote estuary of Baja California while on a DE trip led by the Johns. Others on the trip were Alan Romspert, Dave McFarland with Janice Gruetzke, and Paul Ferry with me. The rescue involved some serious pulling with tow-straps, which led, eventually, to a strong aroma from overheated clutches.
Bob, in a moment of giddy weakness when we finally pulled him out, assured us all that he would cover any damage done to our vehicles as a result of the rescue. He did send us new straps to replace those that were damaged.
My passenger, Paul, lives in Vancouver BC, and owns a Nissan SX, that, coincidentally, was showing signs of clutch distress, even at that time. So, immediately upon his return, Paul (jokingly) e-mailed Bob that the SX clutch needed work and would Bob stand behind his promise to pay for damage?
Bob replied (jokingly) that if Paul could prove that the SX was at the scene of the rescue, Bob would pay for clutch repair.
A year later, Paul and I decided to doctor up the proof, and lay it on Bob and Marilyn, along with a claim for clutch repair, at their 50th Wedding Anniversary.
Paul sent me a picture of his SX (lower left, above) from Vancouver, and the claim. I did the doctoring and I did lay the composite photograph and Paul's claim on the Martins at the anniversary party.
I'm afraid that Bob and Marilyn will figure out a way to get even with us.