Tuesday, December 21, 2010

And to the other side of Death Valley

We've now arrived back at our lot in SoCal, just south of Corona and are "enjoying" the rains, 4 days and it's still coming down. A wonderful treat for the dry southwestern deserts, but not too great for areas scarred by the summer wildfires. Fortunately, we're only inconvenienced by a few roads closed by seasonal high water.

Before we came south last Friday, we managed another side trip 180 miles across Death Valley National Park to the Owen's Valley and to the Lone Pine and Independence areas along the eastern Sierra mountains. We enjoyed sunny and cold weather, snow on the peaks but none of the notorious winds usually so prevalent. One of our interests was to visit the Mazanar Internment/Concentration Camp which was now a national park. This camp was one of 10 that was used to "intern" Japanese-Americans during WWII. At it's peak Mazanar was designed to hold 10,000 men, women and children from the coastal areas of southern and central CA. The exhibits and buildings showed a stark world brought to life by the internees on this windswept valley. It also showed an hysterical and prejudiced nation which felt it necessary to "protect" itself from these people, many fellow US citizens. It also showed examples of many Americans who supported their Nissei friends and looked after their properties until the internment was over. Overall it was a very sobering experience. And quite chilling as well to read newspaper columns and opinions from then which can almost be seen today by simply substituting "Muslim" for "Japanese". But we have come some way since then, there are no more Mazanars being built, though Guantamo Bay may come close.

Later we went on up to Independence and the Museum of the Eastern Sierras. There we enjoyed the excellent collections of the historical society on the history and peoples of the Owens Valley, the controversial takeover/theft of the Owens River and Lake systems by the LosAngeles
Power and Water District in the early part of the 20th century and an incredible collection of over 400 baskets by the Piute and Shoshone. All manner of burden, storage and fancy baskets were on display. Very definitely worth the visit. ( (Monument Inscription at Mazanar cemetery: the "Soul Consoling Tower")

Our last stop in the area for this trip, was the Alabama Hills. A wide open geological tumble of granite at the base of the sierras which was the site of over 300 films, and most all of the early westerns from Republic Studios. You know, the ones we watched faithfully on Saturdays with Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and the rest. A lot of the early John Wayne movies, along with classics like High Sierra with Bogart and Gungha Din with Cary Grant were also set there. A relatively close 4 hours from Hollywood and a world apart it made for a great backdrop...and we enjoyed the views. Happy trails and Happy Holidays wherever you roam.

No comments: