November 29, 2015

11/20/15 - London Bridge

London Bridge is falling fair lady.  Well, actually it isn't. It was going to--so what did the British do?  They auctioned it off to the Americans! The winning bid went to Lake Havasu City founder Robert McCulloch for $2,460,000 (that's 1968 dollars!) Then they took it apart, numbered every piece of stone, and shipped it to Arizona. From the River Thames to the Colorado River (actually a canal on Lake Havasu), total cost including shipping and reassembly was $5.1 million.

So like many other Americans, we went to see it.  And that, my friends, is the point exactly!

We were staying at a Parker Strip RV park on the California side of the Colorado, south of Parker Dam. There's a rather large population of wild burros on the BLM land (and in the campgrounds, private property, golf courses, etc.). Now we've seen warning signs on lots of highways about deer and other wildlife crossings--but around here when you see a sign about burros, you'd better slow down because there's a good chance you might see some.

Yes, there really are burros on the road!
And sometimes in the campground
After running the gamut of these really cute critters, we crossed Parker Dam.
We checked out Lake Havasu City a bit (standard Arizona destination for snowbirds who like to play in the desert on ATVs or water in PWCs), then headed to the bridge.  The gate at the entrance of the English Village came from a palace belonging to the Earl of Dudley in the 19th century. McCullough bought that too.  I guess if you're going to do the British thing, you might as well do it all the way.
Like the boundary markers of the City of London, a heraldic dragon marks the boundary of the City of London land in Lake Havasu City.
After checking out the Tourist Info Center, we continued to the walkway beside the canal for a close-up view of the bridge.
I don't think the Village is quite as nice as it used to be. I know it's off-season, but there wasn't much going on and rather a lot of empty buildings. We saw the little tour boat above, and a bigger one that goes to the casino.  In the summer, you can rent just about any kind of water toy you could be interested in. There's a resort on the man-made island across the river.
The path next to the canal makes for a nice stroll.  And you can see views of the bridge all the way. Pretty sure it was planned that way.
We climbed up the stairs so I could see the bridge from street level (looks just like a bridge, but with American and British flags, and really cool streetlights.)  However...there was a section of fence with love locks attached. (I had to check Google for that.)
So now we've seen London Bridge. I'm not sure where it was on my Bucket List, but now I don't have to worry about it.
As usual, there are more pictures.  Click here:  London Bridge 

November 26, 2015

11/8/15 - Alabama Hills

Alabama Hills Recreation Area is just outside Lone Pine, California. I couldn't get a movie map from the Film History Museum, but I did have a  BLM map of the area, with locatons for some of the arches and movies.

Alabama Hills was named after a Confederate warship called the C.S.S Alabama by southern sympathizers during the Civil War. The name was used for their mining claims and it stuck.

First thing we saw was this painted rock.  (I found out later that the locals repaint it occasionally...and they call it Brenda.)  I climbed up on top of it, but George stayed down by the truck--or in it, as shown.
It's just gorgeous out here with the big round rocks scattered all around, and the Sierra Nevadas in the distance.  That's Mount Whitney in the middle--the highest mountain in the lower 48--14,505'.  (I looked it up.)
We drove about a mile and a half and stopped at the Arch Loop Trailhead.  The trail starts off across the desert, but ends up in the rocks pretty soon.
The map showed this was the trail to Mobius Arch.  I was surprised when we found this one first.  It's called (ready for this?) Heart Arch.  It's such a perfect heart, it wouldn't have worked to call it anything else.
Next up was Lathe Arch.  The standard view is through it to the I took a picture of it with the mountains in the background.  Say what you want about cliches, they really do work well.
Just in case you don't know what a "mobius" is, I looked it up for you.  Webster's says a Mobius strip is a one-sided surface that is constructed from a rectangle by holding one end fixed, rotating the opposite end through 180 degrees, and joining it to the first end. Ye gods!  Here's an easier way to look at it:  take a paper strip and give it a half-twist, then join the ends together to form a loop. Then if you draw a line down the middle starting at the seam, you end up back at the seam, but on the other side.  Pretty cool.  So the twist on this arch is like the twist on a mobius strip, hence Mobius Arch. The view is Mt. Whitney again.  This is the traditional symbol for the Alabama Hills.
The view from the other side is of Lone Pine Peak.  I probably could have told you it was another arch and you'd believe me because it looks so very different from this side. 
Everywhere you walk along the trail are interesting formations.
And there are arches everywhere you look.  This is a pretty little one, but it is an arch nonetheless. From this angle, it almost looks like another heart but I think it's mostly shadows.
Here's Mount Whitney again.  The two peaks on the left that look like twins are called The Needles and make it very easy to identify Mount Whitney.
The clouds were doing really interesting things over the Sierras.  George got dizzy trying to take pictures of the F-15's from China Lake practice diving over the peaks, then pulling straight up.
After we got back to the truck, I tried to talk George into another hike to more arches or going to some of the movie sites.  He wasn't much interested. So I talked him into a drive up the Whitney Portal Road towards the mountains.
This is what the Owens Valley and the Alabama Hills look from the road up.
As soon as we saw the first snow on the road, George turned around.  Before we headed back down, I got one last picture of the east face of Mount Whitney.  I think it's another standard photo, but it's mine and I like it.
I wonder where the clouds went?

More pictures of the Alabama Hills.

November 24, 2015

11/8/15 - Lone Pine Film Museum

The official name of this place is "Beverly & Jim Rogers Lone Pine Film History Museum".  It's subtitled "Where the Real West becomes the Reel West".

The further south we go on US 395 in California the more snow we see on the Eastern Sierras. This is the view from the street by the museum. I like it even with the power poles--we've obviously been in some really flat places this year.
The western film museum is in this little town because it's very close to the Alabama Hills, where umpteen-zillion westerns were filmed.  (I think the number is more like 650, but you know what I mean.)  I thought we should stop by the museum to get the feel of the place before we headed to the rocks.
Starting with Tom Mix in 1923, Hopalong Cassidy, Tex Ritter, Roy Rogers and Clint Eastwood are just a few of the old western stars that made movies nearby.  There are movie posters and pictures, props and memorabilia all over the place.  
They filled TV westerns in Inyo County too...I liked the poster of The Lone Ranger.  And the chronology they have on the wall.
They didn't just film westerns in the Alabama Hills--they filmed science fiction movies there too--like Star Wars and Tremors.
Can't have westerns without guns and saddles....and hats.  Lunchboxes too, I guess.
It's kind of interesting, but unless you're a real western movie nut, it won't take long to wander through the exhibits and displays.  Lots of these old cowboys were so old I didn't really remember anything except reruns, and some I'd never heard of!

I'd planned on getting a map of the movie locations, but the lady at the museum told me they'd run out.  So, even though we really didn't know what we were looking for, we headed for the hills!  That-a-way....

More pictures?   Go here:  Lone Pine Film History Museum 

November 21, 2015

11/7/15 - Manzanar NHS

"Manzanaar National Historic Site was established to preserve the stories of the internment of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II and to serve as a reminder to this and future generations of the fragility of American civil liberties."
-- US Park Service Brochure
Manzanar National Historic Site

Manzanar War Relocation Center was one of the ten camps where Japanese-American citizens and resident Japanese aliens were interned during WWII.  It's located on US 395, just north of Lone Pine, California.  On the eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas, it's in a lonely desolate place.  With snow on the mountains behind, it's beautiful--but I can leave anytime I want.
They may have called it a "War Relocation Center" or an "Internment Camp", but don't the guard towers convince you that it was a prison?
Manzanar was laid out in 36 blocks, each housing  200-400 people.  Most of the buildings were dismantled after the war, but a couple of barracks have been reconstructed and now house exhibits so we can see how the people lived, and give us an understanding of the issues as they were during the war.
We went on a tour with a very well-informed ranger.  There was a Japanese-American couple in the tour group who had been interned in relocation centers as small children, met years later and married.  They were as interested about the place as we were, only they were a whole lot more subjective, remembering things from when they were young or stories they'd heard from relatives and friends.  Gives you a whole different perspective.
Looking out of the screen in one of the barracks, back towards the auditorium--now the Interpretive Center.  The barracks were hastily built and poorly made with little insulation, and the internees from California and Washington were not used to the desert climate.  They were only allowed to bring what they could carry 
After the tour of the buildings, we met out at Merritt Park. An internee who had been a nursery owner convinced the park director to furnish supplies and equipment for a community garden.  They decorated it with pools, waterfalls and rock ornaments.  More than just an oasis in the desert, it became a place of peace and tranquility for everyone.   
Next stop was the cemetery.  Although 150 people died at the center, only 15 were buried here, and six remain.  Paper cranes are tied to the fenceposts around the cemetery and around the Obelisk.  The monument was built to honor the dead. 
The lady in the center was an internee here; she's here with her family.  It's a very emotional place.
After the cemetery we headed to the Interpretive Center, having scampered through it in order to join the tour.  The museum was very interesting, with lots of personal information about people who lived here.  
Flags from the 10 War Relocation Centers
The history of the US is varied and not always commendable.  Places like this can help us remember that we're all just people, and it's how we relate to each other that counts.  

More pictures of Manzanar NHS:  Manzanar