November 2012 
Thanksgiving Header
Tortoise Tales: Newsletter of the
Hi-Desert Nature Museum 
In This Issue
Veterans' Tribute
Winter Lecture Series
Holiday Craft Programs
MBHS Presents
Presidential Fun Facts
Gecko Gift Shop
Temporary Exhibit
Science Saturday - PhysicsRoller Coaster 
The study of physics is concerned with the properties of matter and energy and the relationships between them which means physics is an incredibly important part of our daily lives since these concepts are always surrounding us.  An excellent example would be the exciting construction of roller coasters.  They twist, turn, and spin upside down, but people never fall out of their seats thanks to the laws of physics.  Children will learn how physics is responsible for this and much more about the laws of motion during this fascinating Science Saturday taught by Museum Educator Crystal Mason.  
November 10th, 11:00 - 11:30 a.m.
FREE! No pre-registration required
Children should be of school age for this program 
Veterans' Tribute American Flags  
Join the Town of Yucca Valley as they honor Veterans past and present.  This event will include military and public safety static displays, Veterans recognition, community BBQ, and a flag folding ceremony by the Young Marines. 
Sunday, November 11
10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Community Center Complex
FREE to the Public
Breakfast served by the Young Marines, 8:00 - 10:00 a.m. at the Senior Center.  Breakfast free to veterans, military and public safety.  
Continue the celebration and enjoy the City of Palm Springs' 16th Annual Veterans' Day Parade at 3:30 p.m. in downtown Palm Springs
Winter Lecture Series
Santa's Workers: The Story of Elves  
Christmas ElvesHave you ever wondered when the elves entered Santa's life?  Elves have a long history in mythology and folklore, but the Christmas elf is a contemporary addition popularized during the 19th century.  Discover their story, and enjoy some elvish cookies, during this educational and entertaining lecture.  
Thursday, December 6, 
Starting at Noon
FREE to the public and coffee will be served
Don't miss "Cowgirls: Women of the Wild West" the Winter Lecture Series on Thursday, November 8, starting at Noon
Holiday Craft Programs Christmas Girl 
Adult Craft Program
Monday, December 3,
1:00 - 4:00 p.m.
Take some time out of your hectic holiday schedule and enjoy an afternoon at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum making crafts for friends and family while you sip a relaxing cup of tea.

Kids Craft Program
Saturday, December 8, 11:00 a.m. to Noon
Join us for craft fun!  Make a holiday-themed craft to keep or to give as a gift.

FREE, and materials provided, but space is limited
Pre-registration required for both craft programs
Please call (760) 369-7212 to reserve your space or Register Online 
MBHS Presents: The History of Firemaking Tools  
Fire TextFire has many uses, both ritual and practical, and plays an important role in our lives.  In Africa, evidence for deliberate exploitation of natural fires dates back as far as 1.5 million years.  From these early beginnings humans developed the skills and equipment necessary to make and sustain fire.  Join Tom O'Key as he shares his extensive knowledge of this fascinating topic.
Wednesday, November 14, 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. 
$5 donation to the MBHS at the door 
Presidential Fun Facts  
Presidents * Abraham Lincoln is the only U.S. president who was also a licensed bartender.  He was co-owner of the Berry and Lincoln, a saloon in Springfield, Illinois.
* The only president to be unanimously elected was George Washington. He also refused to accept his presidential salary of $25,000 a year.
* Grover Cleveland was the only president in history to hold the job of a hangman.  He was once the sheriff of Erie County, New York, and twice had to spring the trap at a hanging.
* The "S" in Harry S Truman doesn't stand for anything; therefore there is no period after his middle initial.
* James Madison and Thomas Jefferson were once arrested together for taking a carriage ride in the countryside of Vermont on a Sunday, which violated the laws of that state.
* Andrew Johnson is the only tailor ever to be president.  He would only wear the suits that he made himself.
* "Teddy Bears" were so named when Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt refused to shoot a small bear cub one day.  The incident was reported in the news, which inspired a toy manufacturer to come out with the stuffed animal.
* Presidents George Washington and John Adams never lived in the White House.  It was built 1792 - 1800, and Thomas Jefferson was the first president to move into the residence in 1801.
* James Garfield was the first president to ever talk on the phone.  When he spoke to Alexander Graham Bell, who was at the other end 13 miles away, he said "Please speak a little more slowly."
* The term "O.K." comes from President Martin Van Buren who was known as "Old Kinderhook" because he was raised in Kinderhook, New York.  "O.K." clubs were created to support Van Buren's campaigns.
* Grover Cleveland is the only president to be elected to two nonconsecutive terms.  He was the 22nd and 24th president.
* Martin Van Buren was the first president to be a U.S. citizen.  All previous presidents were born British subjects.
* Herbert Hoover gave his White House servants strict orders to hide from him whenever he passed by.  Those who failed to do so were at risk of being fired.
* Ronald Reagan won the Most Nearly Perfect Male Figure Award from the University of California in 1940.
* James Garfield could write Latin with one hand and Greek with the other hand simultaneously.
* Andrew Jackson was reportedly involved in over 100 duels, most to defend the honor of his wife, Rachel. He was shot twice.
* Robert Lincoln is the only man in U.S. history known to have witnessed the assassinations of three different presidents: his father Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield and William McKinley.  He vowed he would never again appear in public with an incumbent president.
* Some historians claim that John Hanson is actually the forgotten first president of the U.S. because he was the first president under the Articles of Confederation.
* At 325 pounds, William Howard Taft, who was dubbed "Big Bill," was the largest president in American history and once got stuck in the White House bathtub and staff removed him with butter.  He installed a larger tub.
* Every member of Teddy Roosevelt's family owned a pair of stilts, including the first lady.
* George Washington made the shortest inauguration speech at two minutes and William Henry Harrison made the longest at one hour and 40 minutes.
Gecko Gift Shop
 Hummingbird Fly Through
If you are looking for unique gift items come to the Gecko Gift Shop at the Hi-Desert Nature Museum.  We carry a variety of desert-themed novelties, books, apparel, and souvenirs.  The gift shop also offers a selection of educational toys and games and beautiful jewelry and art created by local artists.

Temporary Exhibit

Ride 'em Cowboy! The West in Popular Culture

 Tim McCoy 
This exhibit presents information on the romanticizing of the West since the Louisiana Purchase and its influence on American popular culture including western movies and television shows, some filmed locally in Pioneertown.

On Display Through January 19, 2013
Elections & the Electoral College
George Washington 
As you head into the voting booth today cast your thoughts back to the founding fathers of the United States who departed from the monarch tradition of Britain and created a system in which the American people have the power to select their own leader. Under this new order, George Washington, the first U.S. President, ran unopposed and was elected in 1789. At the time only white men who owned property could vote, but the 15th, 19th and 26th Amendments to the Constitution have since expanded voting rights to all citizens 18 and over.
Have you ever wondered about the Electoral College?  When voters cast their ballots in the presidential election, they are not voting directly for their preferred candidate but for a slate of their state's electors to vote for that candidate.  The Constitution assigned each state a number of electors equal to the combined total of the state's Senate and House of Representatives delegations.  In each presidential election year, a group of candidates for elector is nominated, usually at a party convention or by the party state committee.  It is these elector-candidates, rather than the presidential and VP nominees, for whom the people vote in the November election.  The slate winning the most popular votes is elected; this is known as the winner-take-all, or general ticket, system. Electors assemble in December to vote for the candidates they represent.  A majority of electoral votes is required to win. If no candidate receives a majority, then the President is elected by the House of Representatives, and the VP is elected by the Senate - a process known as contingent election.  This has happened twice in U.S. History.  The Electoral College was conceived to reconcile differing state and federal interests, give the less populous states some additional leverage in the process, preserve the presidency as independent of Congress, and generally insulate the election process from political manipulation. 
Visit the Museum
The Hi-Desert Nature Museum is located in the Yucca Valley Community Center Complex at 57116 Twentynine Palms Highway.  The museum is open Tuesday - Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Admission is free; donations support the educational mission of the museum.  The Hi-Desert Nature Museum is operated by the Town of Yucca Valley. 

For more information on our programs and events contact the museum at (760) 369-7212 or visit our website at 


To view a full schedule of Yucca Valley events, sports programs and recreation classes visit the Town's website at