I started this trip with a swing by the car place to get everything double-checked and to get a couple new tires. Then it worked out that I could see Nancy and Jim in Santa Barbara for a little while. I could have enjoyed just sitting in the garden admiring the birds. But we also went for a walk, so good for us!
’21 May-Jun: Memorial Day Road Trip
LA-Santa Barbara-San Luis Obispo-Morro Bay-Pinnacles National Park-3 nights at The Ranch-San Francisco-Sacramento-3 nights at Lake Tahoe-June Lake, Mammoth, Manzanar, Home Sweet Home.
Strolling through downtown SLO I came across a tourist highlight, Bubblegum Alley. Wiki says this use of the alley was recognized either after WWII or in the 1950s but at least by the 1970s it was a well-established Happening Thing.
They’ve got a pretty big college here, the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, established in 1901, a golden oldie with 22,000 students enrolled. SLO, with a city population of around 50,000, does the 50k include the 22k? I don’t know, but in either case the population skews very young. This is evident by the downtown commercial properties being predominantly bars, restaurants, and clothes for college-age souls.
First I’m going to make a map. I ‘think’ I’ll have time for that before it’s time to EAT AGAIN. omg The Food here at The Ranch.
An overview of where Pinnacles is:
And a closer view to appreciate the long and winding roads.
I traveled 14 miles on a rutted dirt road with crazy-sharp switchbacks up and down through the mountain. What?! YES! I wanted to drive on roads unknown to me but maybe not quite that unknown.
Here’s a little wikipedia about the Park and why you might not have heard of it:
“The national park is divided by the rock formations into East and West Divisions, connected only by foot trails. The east side has shade and water, the west has high walls. The rock formations provide for spectacular pinnacles that attract rock climbers. The park features unusual talus caves that house at least 13 species of bats. Pinnacles is most often visited in spring or fall because of the intense heat during the summer. Park lands are prime habitat for prairie falcons, and are a release site for California Condors that have been hatched in captivity.
“Pinnacles was originally established as a national monument in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt, and was re-designated as a national park by Congressional legislation in 2012 that was then signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 10, 2013.“
Above, part of the olive tree lined driveway into the ranch, and below, the entry gate.
This was an unexpected and delightful addition to the program. Ian and Nana and their fabulous baby who I enjoyed Every Day came in from their home in Japan. Here is Nana making us all Japanese tea with a delicious selection of snacks she brought from Japan, and cookies she had made the night before, all served up in the new family dining room. You go!
And then there’s the spa! Lynn, Naomi, Marijke.
And below, Inside and Outside my front door.
Here’s me taking a turn. So even if we could find them to buy we couldn’t buy this view!
My swing through San Francisco was actually a few hours visiting with Roger and Sandy and I was so glad for it. I hope I didn’t do them in…both remarking upon their need for a nap!
The above picture is of Sandy’s recent work from a class, building art inside a small box. Of course Sandy being Sandy, she searched through antique stores to get just the perfect boxes. Below is a picture of a part of two of the many walls covered in her art.
Sandy gave me one of her paintings! She had done the painting years before and recently added the frame. I LOVE it! It’s Nancy on the left, me in the middle, and Sandy herself on the right. Isn’t it fabulous!
Looking for My Nitty Gritty
Still with the wounds that come with age
(and I’ve had my share)
Years of discovery and recoveries
Of digging and pealing at the truth
To get to the core, the heart,
My own Nitty Gritty
Years with my hands in the dirt
Scuffing and chipping my
Nails to behold the tuber
That started it all
I haven’t seen her for a while
My Nitty Gritty
I wonder, is she near, is she close?
Is she in something I do
In a painting, a collage, a drawing
Of a wavy headed girl,
In a poem I am writing?
In something I wear
That takes flight?
Like my Mexican twirl skirt,
A patchwork of colors, bold and muted
With ancient Aztec and modern designs?
Is she in the kitchen, in the fruit
That I sliced and put in a
Bowl to eat now or later
With crumbly cheese?
In the apples
Simmering in a pot with cinnamon
Is she outside
Wrapped in a tea towel
And left by the door?
What could be easier?
I’m always here
Opening and closing cupboards and doors,
Sweeping and fixing,
Watering and wiping
Metal and glass
Back in the kitchen I sift flour with baking
Soda and salt
Whisk butter and sugar,
Eggs and vanilla,
Folding the wet with the dry
Kneading the dough
Still wondering –
Is she hiding under the sink?
Among old plant containers and worn out
Sponges, jars with lethal
Things you don’t want to touch
Or get into your eyes
With left over dirt
Like the stoic cat in a Repetitive dream
That hasn’t been fed or Brushed in years
But continues to live in spite of neglect
Am I the cat?
Am I the Nitty Gritty?
Am I the tuber?
Am I my thoughts? And wonderings?
Tired and spent
I rest to still my mind
Awakening to the fragrance of baking dough
I smile, forgetting my Nitty Gritty
I walk outside and squat in the Garden
Giving the half eaten pear on the cutting board,
Its flesh turned brown,
A new home on the compost heap
Above is the view from my hotel window. I had to change rooms three times but it was worth it considering the two other views were commercial roofs full of air conditioning units.
Rolling into Sacramento at 5:30p the temperature was 110. The following day it was 97. Nice as Sacramento is, but yikes.
My hotel is positioned exactly where I wanted to be, right between Old Town and the Capitol. Coming onto the plaza, here’s the divider:
Following under the gate to Old Sacramento we pass through an underpass..
..leading right into Old Town.
I stopped in Sacramento for a chance to have a visit with Christa, to have a rest day on the trip, the timing between destinations was good, and I like Sacramento.
Here is where Christa lives, her block, looking up the block and across the street. Sacramento, City of Trees.
Even the Capitol area is nestled among the trees:
The gang from my visit to Sweden reassembled itself here in Lake Tahoe! Jim, Baby, Rick, Lill, Tony. They drew that dog ‘tattoo’ on their arms to send to a friend who, during a game of Pictionary, drew this very dog for a dog…and will never Ever live it down.
WEDNESDAY June 2
I arrived from Sacramento just in time to join in for a late lunch and then we went to the nearby town of Tahoe City. As well as shops and restaurants, they have a nice public beach there and a very nice walking path.
Later in the evening we went down to the private beach connected to the complex where we were staying at Dollar Point.
The dock above belongs to the next door complex. I seem to have missed a picture of our beach I guess because I got too excited over this bird. ND found it on the internet, a sweet little Barn Swallow.
THURSDAY June 3
We left early to visit Virginia City, Nevada. These pictures are all from the internet because there were so many people and so many cars I wasn’t happy with any of my own. Virginia City was developed overnight in 1859 with the great silver discovery of the Comstock Lode and now it’s a full-on tourist town. Not like Colonial Lynchburg for example because the refurbishment efforts have been minimal which added to the charm (although I should note that all the trumpiness did give me a bit of a shiver).
FRIDAY June 4
We did two easy walks in the morning, chosen for me I’m sure because Rick, Jim, Lill, and Tony are Hikers: big boots, two walking poles, quarts of water, see you in several hours.
First stop, a lovely meadow boardwalk.
And our second walk was at Sand Harbor – Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park | State Parks. It was such a pretty public beach area although I can imagine it getting crowded beyond enjoyment.
A most unusual house across the street.
The back side of our unit. We had a four bedroom condo on three floors with everything one would need to cook in, which we did for all but one meal. What a good job you guys!
SATURDAY June 5
That’s our condo behind Lill’s head. Goodbye all, it was FAB!
Other People’s Pictures
Mono-June-Mammoth Lakes, Manzanar, the Alabama Hills and various amazing landmarks.
SATURDAY June 5
Leaving California at the north end of Lake Tahoe I took a very short detour once in Nevada to have a roll through Carson City knowing I’d get the cheap gas and in hopes of seeing the capitol building. Thumbs up on both goals.
After I drove away I thought I should have parked and had a stroll. But it was Hot, so there’s that. wiki: “The city is in a high desert river valley approximately 4,802 feet with cold winters and hot summers.” Truly true.
First stop, Mono Lake, from a view point off the highway.
It never hurts to try your Senior Lifetime Pass!
WIKI: “Mono Lake is a saline soda lake in Mono County, California, formed at least 760,000 years ago as a terminal lake in an endorheic basin. The lack of an outlet causes high levels of salts to accumulate in the lake and make its water alkaline.
“The desert lake has an unusually productive ecosystem based on brine shrimp, which thrive in its waters, and provides critical habitat for two million annual migratory birds that feed on the shrimp and alkali flies. Historically, the native Kutzadika’a people ate the alkali flies’ pupae, which live in the shallow waters around the edge of the lake.
“When the city of Los Angeles diverted water from the freshwater streams flowing into the lake, it lowered the lake level, which imperiled the migratory birds. The Mono Lake Committee formed in response and won a legal battle that forced Los Angeles to partially replenish the lake level.”
This is a good discussion of the Tufa Towers.
And here’s a little excerpt: “All tufa at Mono Lake forms underwater. Beneath Mono Lake, calcium-rich freshwater springs seep up from the lake bottom and mix with lake water rich in carbonates (think baking soda). As the calcium comes in contact with the carbonates in the lake, a chemical reaction occurs, resulting in calcium carbonate, or limestone. The calcium carbonate precipitates (settles out of solution as a solid) around the spring, and over the course of decades to centuries, a tufa tower will grow. Tufa towers can grow to heights of over 30 feet underwater.”
Not my pictures: Grant Lake with a small cabin complex and accessible beaches; June Lake that I remember as a beautiful and peaceful alpine retreat was none of those things; one of the Mammoth Lakes that I never found.
SUNDAY June 6
I left the Mammoth area around noon having spent the morning trying to get through the Lake Tahoe pictures and then decided on a visit to Manzanar.
Both Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams spent many months at war-time Manzanar making photographs with very different outcomes. They both worked under strict regulations, no photos of barbed wire or guard towers or military police or anything negative really. Lange was first and from what I read much more gritty and also censored whereas Adams’ work was widely criticized for being simple propaganda.
I got all these off the internet of course, and here is an article I found particularly interesting about “How the Photography of Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams Told the Story of Japanese American Internment”.
This photo’s caption from the link above:
“Dorothea Lange, “Manzanar, California, Dust storm at this War Relocation Authority center where evacuees of Japanese ancestry are spending the duration” (July 3, 1942). The area was subject to extreme seasonal temperatures, with dust a constant presence due to the high winds. Incarcerees often awoke mornings covered in a layer of it. (photographed by Dorothea Lange for the WRA, courtesy the National Archives [Archives Identifier 539961])”
Having several times visited the very extensive exhibitions at the Japanese American National Museum in downtown LA I wasn’t particularly anxious for more Manzanar but actually I’m glad I went.
The visitor’s center was closed but the driving-around tour was open and you could get out along the way. It was standing there that was so physically overwhelming much like the photo above – so hot with a furious hot dusty wind and I got a more visceral feeling for the enormous scale of the place (only 5th in population size of the 10 internment camps).
It looks mostly like this now, with a very few buildings, mostly desert and signs about what was there during the war.
Instead of trying for the Alabama Hills this afternoon I decided to check into my motel in Lone Pine and find a nice big western dinner, full service, wine, lots of courses.
And I did. And these walls? There were more!
MONDAY June 7
The last leg of the trip, before home sweet home tonight. But first I want to take a spin through the Bureau of Land Management recreation area called The Alabama Hills, but first before that, I missed the turn off and ended up at the Mount Whitney trailhead!
UpUPUP. I knew at about 7,000 feet that I had made a mistake but why not follow it through to the 8,600 feet trailhead. I left the motel at 5:30am (that’s right, HEAT) so when I got up there it was still early enough to see Hearty Youth packed up for the assent to 14,500 feet.
On the way down I found the turnoff and spent some time admiring the formations of the Alabama Hills.
“The Alabama Hills are a formation of rounded rocks and eroded hills set between the jagged peaks of the Sierra Nevada and the geologically complex Inyo Mountains. Both geologic features were shaped by the same uplifting occurring 100 million years ago. Visitors enjoy touring film sites, photography, rock climbing, exploring natural arches, and viewing the swaths of wildflowers that bloom every spring. Horseback riding and mountain biking are popular activities.”
And after 5 stops to pee (remember? Drink More Water?) I was Home Sweet Home!