Thursday, May 5, 2022

Last few days in Lone Pine

 We had three days left in Lone Pine and still so many things to do and explore.   Last Friday we drove a bit north to visit the Eastern California Museum in cute little Independence, California.    The town is filled with sweet houses, roses and picket fences.    

The museum is on a side street and is fairly unassuming from the street.    After we parked, and as we made our way to the entrance doors,  we came upon a very interesting (especially to me) path that led through an display of different rocks and minerals found in the area.  They were all identified as to their type, composition, time of creation and locations found.    A great way to start. 

The museum itself is quite small, only two rooms.   Outside there is a recreation "ghost town" and an entire field filled with "stuff" and mining equipment, trains, old vehicles, etc.    We didn't walk around and through either of them, we were completely overwhelmed by what was packed in those two tiny rooms inside.     Extremely well done exhibits covered every inch, from  the floor to the ceiling (and even on the ceiling in some spots).       Too much reading for me to take in during  one visit but what an interesting and lovingly cared for place.     From one of the largest displays of Native American baskets and beadwork I've ever seen, to a whole section on the nearby Japanese internment camp at Manzanar, examples of early settler's artifacts, clothing, home goods, saddles next to a very sobering section detailing the California water wars and the "liberating" of Owens Valley's water supply by "forward thinking" men in Los Angeles.     Wonderful sepia photographs perfectly framed showing us what the "olden days" in the Eastern Sierras looked like hung over an odd (oddly interesting) collection of bird eggs.   I mean a huge collection of labeled birds eggs.  

You can see how completely overwhelmed I was by the only photo I managed to take inside....on the way out the door.    

 Lots and lots of other stuff too, I can't even remember it all.   We finally said our goodbyes to the two lovely women docents and walked back to the Jeep past a native plant garden that we managed to miss on our way in.   Next time for sure.  

We continued a few miles north on 395 to visit the historic and beautiful old Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery, built in 1916.

The building is built of native granite, quarried within a quarter of a mile, it's walls are two to three feet thick.  The facility no longer functions as a hatchery, since a devistating wildfire and resulting mudslide wiped out the ponds and hatchery facilities in 2007.      The Friends of the Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery organized restoration work that enabled the beautiful building and it's display pond to reopen as an interepretive center in 2009.

We arrived around 4 pm and the center had just closed but we enjoyed a stroll around the beautiful and fragrant grounds.     A father and little boy were there also, quietly feeding the ducks and sitting beside the pond talking.    It would be a perfect spot for a picnic.

sniff sniff sniff....oh Dave


On our way back to Beluga we took a dirt road that led us into the desert and parallel to 395, but along the toe of the slope of the Inyo Mountains.    We always like to drive near the mountains to look for old mines, wildflowers or other interesting things.     We crossed the Owens River several times, always a bonus for us.

 Saturday we stayed home and took care of domestic chores.    Laundry, bills, vacuuming and other dust removal methods, food prep, etc.   Lewis does not always enjoy these chores, especially when they entail putting vaseline on his dry and crusty nose.....such is life in a dry climate.

Sunday, our last day in Lone Pine,  we drove over the mountains and into Death Valley for a little hike to Darwin Falls.    The paved road from Owens Valley into Death Valley is an "exciting" one.   Many switchbacks and drop offs and overlooks along the way let you know that you are entering an area like no other.    We stopped to look down into Rainbow Canyon, aka Star Wars Canyon, and once again marveled at the fact that combat jets and military aircraft scream down and through this narrow canyon on training operations.    We weren't lucky enough to be able to see one of these supersonic exhibitions but we're always hopeful!

At the bottom, near Panamint Springs we turned off paved highway 190 onto dirt and gravel Old Toll Road heading toward the canyon that holds Darwin Falls.    It was a long and very rough road but we knew we were heading in the right direction because we were following a large water pipe that draws water from the spring to supply drinking water for the Panamint Springs Resort.

The hike is not a long one, about 2 miles I think, and not a hard one.   It was pretty hot and the beginning of the hike was up a gravely desert wash.   I complained, as usual, about being hot, being sweaty, about having to wear a hat, about not remembering to bring sunscreen, bla bla bla.   The thing that kept me going, however, was the glimpse  of a lush green (shady) oasis ahead.    Wonderful Dave just keep hiking along just in front of me....

Once we neared the thick willow growth, I was a happy camper.    Green and cool, the sound of water maddeningly close.    We (I) sat down every little while and just soaked it all in.

We were accompanied by lots of small lizards and a couple that looked very  pregnant to me, I can't really say I know what a pregnant lizard looks like, but it is spring you know.   Red dragonflies flitted from reed to reed as we passed.

We had the whole area to ourselves, something we always hope for.   On the way back down the canyon, however, we passed several groups going up to the falls.   Good timing on our part.

We had a fairly long drive back home but I had seen what looked like a hole at the base of a mountain not too far off the paved road when we were on our way to the falls so I was on the look out for it.   A dirt track led back to it so we decided to go see.    No "no trespassing" signs, locked gates or other impediments were present to keep us out so....

We parked and crawled up to check it out.   We didn't go in too deeply, it looked old and we didn't want to take any chances of a collapse.   

Monday morning we packed up and made the long drive (63 miles) north to our next stop in Bishop, California.

The drive was beautiful with the snow capped Sierras on our left and the broad valley stretching along in front of us.

We're in Bishop until Monday morning (subject to weather changes that we're watching) and are staying at the Highlands RV Park.    We snagged a perfect and relatively private spot for us in a busy park by promising not to sit on the picnic table.....

all by ourselves......ah.

Our very first stop was Schats Bakkery for one of their fantastic turkey sandwiches (and their roses and their cookies).

Santa sandwich - roast turkey, bacon,lettuce, tomato and cranberry sauce
and....two pickles!


oh Dave.....(and, yes he did)

Their parking lot was full, as usual, so we parked across the street in the beautiful little town park and walked across the street for our goodies.

look at the huge lateral roots of this old Cottonwood in the park

So, now we're sort of caught up, sort of.      We've been busy since we got here, although today we took it easy, had second cup in the sunshine, a load or two of laundry, ran a few errands (we found a store with all the varieties of dog food that Lewis loves so we had to stock up) took an absolutely unavoidable nap and went out to a delicous dinner at the tiny Bishop airport's restaurant, Thai Thai!

not MonaLiza's Lumpia, but pretty darn good!

Dave applies a coating of pepper to his Drunken Noodles

Next time I'll show you what we've done and seen since arriving in Bishop.   I'm tired and very full tonight so I'll just say - stay tuned!



  1. Laurel (, 6:04 AM

    Looks like you're having a wonderful time and finding all kinds of new treasures. The first time we met you guys was when you came over for a campfire at our Tuttle Creek campsite near the Alabama Hills with Pam, John, Jodee, & Bill. Good memories.

    1. Dave and I were talking about that meeting when we drove past that campground! I so wish we had met earlier, before we all set down roots in the opposite ends of the country!
      Ah well....we can still "talk"!

  2. Thanks for the update guys! Who knew poodles needed Vaseline on their noses in dry climates?? Poor Lewis! That sandwich of Dave's looks delicious!

    1. Don't feel too bad for the old guy, other than that one indignity, he live's a pretty cushy life! Dave LOVES that sandwich. The turkey is freshly carved and is out of this world and the bread.....oh my

  3. Erick Schat's Bakkery makes up the best turkey sandwich on the planet! You're making me hungry! Thanks' for the tip on the Thai restaurant.

    1. It's a "no frills" restaurant to be sure, but the food is excellent and it's fun to be at the little airport!

    2. Really enjoying your Owens Valley posts, we really liked the times we spent there, must have, we 'cause we went there at least twice. What's not to love, the museum in Independence, the Manzanar Histroric site, the fish hatchery, and of course the hikes from Whitney Portal. All in all, one of our favorite places. Safe travels.

    3. This is our third time doing 395 in California (or 4th if you count a quick stop in Bishop/Lone Pine on our way elsewhere) and, as you say, what's not to love!

  4. It’s Gay…What a nice post Sue! Exploring, hiking, history and yummy food are always a great way to pass time. That is a keeper photo of Dave coming out of the cave. Love the building at the fish hatcher. And Lewis always puts a smile on my face!

    1. Thanks Gay, the bldg. at the fish hatchery was a real and unexpected surprise. We wouldn't have known it was there if it wasn't by a tip from Jeff. A lovely and quiet spot.
      Finding the cave was fun and the rocks were really interesting! Lew says you make him smile too.

  5. Such a wonderful area, we really must get back soon! Funny that you picked out the spin on the water wars from that exhibit at the little museum - I thought it was pretty brazen. Your pic of the hatchery with the mountains in the back is the best I've seen of that beautiful place!! Such a lovely place, I'm really glad you got to visit. Love the pic of Dave overlooking the barren valley below, like discovering a new land :-))

    1. This whole area is one to come back to again and again. Brazen is a good word for the water grab, clever is another.

  6. Love reliving this area and those wonderful sandwiches. Fun times! Lew is definitely loving that Vaseline...haha! Poor boy! I do like that photo of Dave in the mine opening. Great shot!