Monday, May 5, 2008


"What’s your favorite place?” is a question we hear frequently. I can’t possibly narrow my choice down to one favorite, but the Owens Valley and the Alabama Hills are very high on the list. This is the perfect time of year to be here - moderate weather, wildflowers everywhere, blue skies.

If you double click on this picture and look closely, you will see Scoopy nestled in at the base of the rocks.

We arrived in Lone Pine before noon, envisioning a campsite at Tuttle Creek Campground (developed sites, but no hookups or water) for our 2 day stay. Surprise! The campground was PACKED, full of runners in town for a one-day marathon event!

The last time we were here, at the tail end of March, 2004, we shared the campground with about half a dozen campers - a small fraction of the sites were in use. This weekend, there were perhaps half a dozen campsites empty, but none of them suitably sized for us.

Even if the campground had been empty, we would not have stayed there this year. The access road is sand and dirt, a couple of miles long, and in bad condition this year - big bumps and dips alternated with washboards. We had the foresight to leave Scoopy in a big, flat lot in Lone Pine and explore in the Jeep, so we turned around and headed over to the Alabama Hills (this photo) to check out the dispersed camping (pull off any dirt road and set up camp).

Jackpot! We found a site just off the paved road that was long enough and flat enough for Scoopy. A couple hours later, we had made camp (read our review and see more photos here), facing directly towards Mt. Whitney and the snow-covered spine of the eastern Sierra.

There is something new (to us) in Lone Pine - the Beverly and Jim Rogers Museum of Lone Pine Film History. With Odel’s detailed interest in western movies and TV shows, it was fun a “must see” for us.

Besides great display of movie memorabilia, they show a 20 minute documentary covering the history of movie making in the Alabama Hills. We settled into the theater seats, the lights went down, the cowboy music started, and soon hoof beats were pounding in my ears. Odel knew all the cowboys by name, and he accompanied elbow jabs with loudly whispered commentary as his favorites galloped across the screen. “There’s Champion, the Wonder Horse!”… I swear, I heard the 6 year old inside the 60 year old in his excited whisper.

The list of what we didn’t do is so much longer than the list of what we did. I want to attend the Lone Pine Film Festival (Columbus Day every year); drive to the end of Whitney Portal Road and hike down the 4 mile trail; visit the new Manzanar Internment Camp Interpretive Center; visit the ghost towns on the dry banks of what used to be Owens Lake… and that is just in the Lone Pine area! One of these years, we need to spend a month on the east side of the southern Sierra.

But not now. Today we moved north up Hwy 395 to Lee Vining and Mono Lake. Four years ago, our cell phones barely had a signal here - today, we have 5 bars on the phones and broadband access on the aircard, so we'll catch up on email, the blog, and sports news. Vacation's over!


  1. That campsite is just gorgeous!!! And that museum sounds fun.


  2. Re: the photo at the museum in Long Pine...did you lose a bunch of weight? - BB