Monday, September 13, 2010

desert ramblins - pt 2 (or oddities, ghosts, manzanar and mountain peaks)


when i left off, we were wandering around the tiny town of lone pine, on the eastern side of the stark sierra nevadas.
we found this tiny museum, a tribute to the village of darwin which has since become a ghost town.
knick knacks and oddities of the old desert days abound.
we also bought all five of the museum's leftover vintage 1980s tee shirts in green, red and yellow, ultra soft and thin, the best kind. 

the kind woman at the museum directed us to a semi-ghost town a few miles out toward Death Valley.

haunted old Keeler...where buildings have fallen into ruins....

and desert hermits have built themselves fortresses of sandbags and crates and rusty metal chairs....

and profusions of sunflowers and black-eyed susans


the interesting thing about this area, the owens valley, which beloved writer mary austin called "the Land of Little Rain" is that for almost a hundred years the city of los angeles has been diverting the area's water into their giant aqueduct. owens valley provides a third of the water that LA uses! crazy huh; residents there seem to have begrudgingly accepted the fact but claim the valley was once lush with greenery and are proud of their "water war." the article i linked to above says that the city is apparently now "returning" some of the water.

anyway, here is keeler's ghostly little joke, then, a "beach" on the shore of the dry lakebed.
just a dried up old junkyard of weird and interesting stuff.


from here we headed in the opposite direction, up the mountains on whitney portal road
looking back over that crazy valley from which we just ascended:


toward the jaggedy ridge of the highest peak in the contiguous united states:
(that's it in the very center)
i vow to come back here and climb whitney next summer.
and hopefully stay in this cozy cabin afterwards:
rambling around in the shadow of whitney:

back down in the valley, we headed to the haunting site of Manzanar, one of ten internment camps where Japanese Americans were removed to in the 40s during the war.
it starts to tear your heart apart, when you learn the solemn stories of families taken from their homes, closing up their businesses, giving away or selling their possessions, leaving behind family pets (for some reason that idea just kills me) and all their friends. carrying only one suitcase each, they boarded trains bound for the middle of nowhere and set up temporary new lives in crowded quarters with no privacy or, worst of all, freedom.



i got some of these images from this amazing virtual exhibit about manzanar; if you would like to check it out here.
people make pilgrimages here to pay homage to loved ones and stories of those who tried to build an interrupted life here.
there are thousands of paper cranes in vibrant colors all along the perimeter of the memorial, as well as trinkets and pennies left for tribute and love.

back in the town of Independence where we had camped, i had the joy of seeing the house that pioneering desert spirit, feminist and defender of native peoples, Mary Austin lived in and described in The Land of Little Rain.


this is a land peopled with gritty, fierce spirits of fire and earth.

in the Eastern Sierra museum we encountered an exhibit dedicated to the women of the west:
for more pure feminine inspiration of the sturdy, pioneering kind.
 this next beauty is my absolute favorite and i can't wait to learn more about her.

i have soooo many more photos and tales to tell of our ramblings through the eastern shadow of the grand mountains but for now i must head off for a photo shoot and lunch with hubby.

by the way, this little journey was for my sister's birthday to some of her favorite territory and the BIG southwest journey is still yet to come. sorry to overwhelm with all these details of my travelings but this old blog has become a scrapbook of sorts for me, a record of my learnings and yearnings.

6 comments:

Heidi Ann said...

I'll read and look at your scrapbook blog ANY old time, Heather - not overwhelming at all - quite interesting, in fact!!

Mountain Mama Jody said...

Keep it coming, I love it!

Amy Beatty said...

Let me know when your hiking and booking that cabin!!! I want in :) Your trip is too cool. Nana has messaged matt and I guess in the next town over in Art City they have some art I guess from that camp! We are going to check it out. Hope it has some paper cranes. I love those. There is just some thing about hem that make me want to have a bunch. I want to see these t-shirts you got. They sounds so comfy and cute.

bellisimama said...

i love hearing and seeing all about it. what great country! i love that sort of climate, and the color scheme! you look adorable. love the skirt with the boots. i posted a blog about your little package to me.

http://bellisimama.blogspot.com/2010/09/fair-feathered-friends.html

Cel said...

I totally enjoy your posts like these! I love the way you see the world and the places in it, and it makes me want to go traveling in the states. I've barely been outside of Ontario myself.

That country just looks absolutely amazing though. I've never been to a desert, or seen mountains, and the concept seems almost unreal to me.

I'm glad you're all having such a good time though, and what a great thing to do for your sister's birthday!

Missa said...

Wow Heather, this whole trip sounds like it was quite the epic journey, what a fun way for Addie to celebrate her birthday! And I can't believe you've got another amazing road trip comin' up too, I'm so jealous you lucky girl!

My sister-in-law Zoe has hiked to the top of Mount Whitney a couple of times and from her photos it looks like a moonscape up there with an AMAZING view.