One month in Osoyoos, BC

Where to begin!

We began our adventure on October 12th, driving from Kamloops to Osoyoos  via Princeton and the Crows Nest highway, highway 3. We had every kind of weather on that day, sun, cloud, rain and snow!

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Osoyoos is situated in the Okanagan region of British Columbia. It is surrounded by desert, vineyards, orchards, lakes and mountains! Almost 1500 pictures prove it has it all!! I promise not to bore you with too many of them!

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Osoyoos means ‘narrowing of the waters, and as we drive into town from our ‘home’ on Lakeshore Dr, we are driving with water surrounding us on both sides! The population here is around 5000, but swells by 50,000 come summer time.

The fall colours were in full bloom when we arrived. Our campground is across the street from Osoyoos Lake so we take daily walks along the shore with Mickie, one day we turn right, one day we turn left! Repeat!

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Our first day trip was back west along highway 3 to Keremeos.

Keremeos comes from the Similkameen dialect ‘keremeyeus’, meaning ‘creek which cuts through the flats’, referring to Keremeos creek. Local legend claims the name means ‘the meeting of the winds’ and joke that the only time if is calm is when the winds are blowing equally from all 4 directions!

I am always on the look out for rustic, weathered old homesteads and I was not disappointed along the way!

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In Keremeos we visited The Grist Mill. In 1872 Barrington Price moved to the Similkameen Valley from England, to take over the Hudson Bay Company ranch land and trading post. In 1877 he opened a water powered mill to turn locally grown wheat (grist) into flour. It is now an historic site.

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Gorgeous scenery following along the Similkameen River on the way back to Osoyoos.

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On the return trip along highway 3, we stopped at Spotted Lake! An unusual site along side the road! Spotted Lake is a mineral lake, and a sacred site to the First Nations People, a revered place of healing.

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Our next excursion was to Haynes Point Provincial Park. Lakeside campsites and privacy make this one of the most popular provincial parks in the province. The campground is closed for the season but you are still able to walk around and enjoy the natural beauty.

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Haynes Point was named for John Carmichael Haynes. He was the tax collector at the Custom House, built in 1861. Haynes was also the first pioneer settler to obtain land along the Okanagan River. The remains of the Haynes Ranch are still there for all to see!

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And the Vineyards! Everywhere you turn!

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The Orchards! Everywhere you look the sights are awesome and the beauty, amazing!

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Our second trip to Keremeous brought us to Parsons Fruit Market. Although it too was closed for the season they had a wonderful display outside of amazing pumpkins and squash! So many old vintage vehicles and farm machinery, I was in photographers heaven!

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Mickie doesn’t often sit for pictures but she cooperated this time!

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We also got in a wonderful walk along the Similkameen River…

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and the return views were outstanding!

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The amazing gold colours were beginning to fade….the temps were getting colder…

Then it came……the first freeze and the first snow!

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Of course we had to visit some wineries and do some tasting while we were here. We found Road 13 vineyard, very unique in that the tasting room is in a castle! (very good wine too!)

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The heavy snow then came……

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We definitely feel the need to move on……soon! This is the fountain by the lake after the last round of cold temps! (all thawed today!)

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We have definitely enjoyed our time here in Osoyoos, the month has flown by with trips to Penticton to meet up with friends for lunch, and many outings around the local area.

I imagine the summer months are packed full of water fun and beautiful weather, but we really enjoyed the fall, the quiet crowds and the natural beauty of the area!

But….it is time to move on!

During this time I also began a new Facebook web page to showcase some of my images, with a link to my Fine Arts Website where prints, greeting cards, canvas prints, mugs, tote bags etc can all be purchased.

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Until next time……….

 

Where did the summer go?

Well, here it is October and the summer, as we knew it, has come and gone!

We arrived home mid May and the usual winter clean up chores began! The fields were beginning to show spring growth….

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The birds were returning….

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and the days were getting longer!

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One lovely (?) surprise we got when we took the boat out of storage was that it had been a nice winter home to some pack rats! What a mess! It looked like they had moved in the day we left.

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It took a major clean up and three washes with bleach to get it usable again. It was a harder job catching the ‘critters’ and ‘disposing’ of them, what a nuisance!

June brings high water, creeping higher than we have seen it in about 5 or 6 years!

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June also brings more wildflowers and spring flowers appear in the local parks!

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It is also the time the wildfires began. Locally, a human caused small fire in the grassland was left to treat as a controlled burn, it got away on them and burned across the only access road to our property!

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Very soon after it was controlled and declared ‘out’ the devastating Elephant Hill fire erupted, on July 6th, west of us in Cache Creek/Ashcroft area. It blossomed to 192,000 hectares and burned for 76 days! At the height of the fire 50,000 people were evacuated. The estimate is over 12,000 square kilometers of land was burned, and over 120 homes and buildings were lost. British Columbia had a record breaking wildfire season, surpassing the previous record from 1958.  The firefighting efforts have cost more than 500 million since April 1st! Over 1176 fires raged, burning over one million hectares.

We were very fortunate that the winds did not blow any in our direction but our hearts went out to all the displaced people and animals effected in this tragedy. There were very few areas of the province not effected by these fires in some way. For us it was the endless smoke filled skies.

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July did bring some days of fantastic summer weather but they were few and far between so we made the best of each one!

First up was Canada’s 150th birthday!

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We managed a day cruise around the lake with our friends…

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and a day trip to Falkland, east to Salmon Arm ,and a return to Kamloops. We would have been remiss to not stop and sample some of the local industry!

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Boating also meant fishing, and it was pretty good this summer, maybe the smoke cover kept the water temp down a bit so the fish were shallower, not sure, but we weren’t complaining!

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The only positive thing you could say about the smoke was it made for some stunning sunsets.

August brought more smoke into our area as the Elephant Hill fire grew.

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……and yes, this really is the sun!!

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Our local ski hill, Sun Peaks, on Todd Mountain, has the annual Blossom Festival. We headed up the mountain hoping to get above the smoke, it was better but not great. Again the plus side of the smokey air is that it kept the heat down so the blossoms lasted longer!

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The RCMP musical ride also came to Kamloops this summer, as part of the 150 birthday celebration! What a wonderful show they put on, it is amazing how well trained those horses and riders are!

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September saw the firefighters winning and the Elephant hill fire began to get contained. So much hard work by the men and women on those front lines. What a hot, dirty, exhausting job they do to try and keep people and their homes safe. I cannot praise them or thank them enough.

Their hard work brought back some sunny days with clear skies! One was a perfect day for a paddle in the kayak, breathing in all the local beauty(and clear air!)!

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September also brings a different feel to the garden, the flowers have a deeper hue to them!

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….and in September I begin to search out the first signs of fall, my favorite time of the year!

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September is also when we begin to think about plans for the winter! Not sure yet, but will spend a month in Osoyoos before deciding……

So next up…….OSOYOOS

 

 

The Palouse

People asked me why I wanted to go to the far south eastern portion of Washington state. Why? I don’t know. I think it was because of all the amazing pictures I have seen on Flickr and through Google of the wonderfully colorful fields and rolling hills, and red, white and brown old barns, and animals, historic bridges and flour mills, and …and… and…

We spent a week in this area at the beginning of May. It was a bit early for all the fields to be growing, but the scenery was still inspiring. I think it would be any time of the year.

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We stayed in Colfax, which we figured was pretty central to the whole area. Colfax population is around 3000 people, it is the 2nd largest city in the region, after Pullman. It is situated amidst wheat-covered hills in a valley at the confluence of the north and south forks of the Palouse River. The downtown is a National Register Historic District with buildings aging from the 1890’s to the 1930’s.

We discovered the Perkins House, a restored Victorian home built in 1886. The Perkins family occupied the house until 1968. By then it was totally run down and slated for demolition.  In 1970, the Whitman County Historical Society assumed ownership and began restoring the house. We were lucky to get a tour inside the house by a very knowledgeable guide who proudly showed off the colored glass panels above the inside doorways, the working musical instruments of the day, the old family photographs and belongings as well as the buzzing wall of bees believed to be descendents of a hive that found it’s way into the walls when the home was built in 1886! They have survived all attempts to remove them and so the historical society gave them ‘squatters rights’ and allow them to stay undisturbed!

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On our first day of touring we headed south towards Pullman and then Uniontown. Our goal was to visit the Dahmen Barn. This was probably the first place in the area I had seen pictures of that fueled my interest and desire to explore here.

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The barn was built in 1935 by the Steve and Junette Dahmen family and was used as a commercial dairy operation until 1952. Steve Dahmen had spent more than 30 years building a wheel fence on the property, using over 1000 wheels! The barn then sat empty until 2004 when the Dahmen family donated it to the Uniontown community.

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The Uniontown community got together and as a tribute to Steve, a folk artist, and his wife Junette, a water color artist, they transformed the barn into an artisan center! It now houses artisan studios, a shop where you can buy wonderful locally made items, a classroom space, and a ‘Hay Loft’ hall for exhibits and performing arts events.

Speaking of barns!!! There are barns around every corner, red ones, white ones, brown ones, new barns and very old rustic barns! The people of this area take great pride in their properties and do encourage tourists and photographers as long as you are respectful. We came across this well restored 100 year old barn, unusual in its design!

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We had to drive up a long driveway to ask permission to go on the property to take this picture. We found that everyone we spoke to was appreciative of our ‘manners’ and very happy to show off their heritage!

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Along the way, during our back road exploring, we discovered an old rustic covered bridge that was still in use for access to peoples home.

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Another days journey took us back west to the Palouse Falls State Park. The water falls 200 feet on its path down the Palouse river! Very impressive!

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One thing I do notice on our adventures around the United States is the lack of barriers where there are high drop offs or even dangerous waters. You definitely go to these places ‘at your own risk’. I thought this eager photographer was a little too daring for my taste!!  I got butterflies just watching him!

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The views in every direction in this park are stunning!

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The next day our drive took us a little north of Colfax, traveling through fields of blooming canola on our way to Steptoe Butte.

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Steptoe Butte climbs 3612 feet and offers a 360 degree view of the surrounding countryside! It is built of rock that is over 400 million years old!

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There were lovely bunches of flowering balsamroot on the hillsides.

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The higher you climbed the more expansive the view of the patchwork fields, with all their patterns and colors. I could only imagine how it would look a few weeks from then as the new growth appears!

Another days adventure took us north towards Oaksdale where we discovered this gorgeous old building, the JC Barron Flour Mill, built in the 1890’s. The Joseph Barron family owned the mill for over a century until 1960, when they found that their old historic flour mill could not keep with the new huge centralized flour factories. Many of these huge old flour mills were built in the Palouse area from 1870 to 1910 but this is now the only intact flour mill remaining.

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Further north in Rosalia we discovered the Old Milwaukee Bridge, listed on the National Register of Historic Sites. The bridge was designed as a concrete arch, unusual for a railroad bridge.

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And the barns! I couldn’t get enough of them!

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There were fields of the beautiful balsamroot as well!

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And the fields…..

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We had a week in this beautiful area and it wasn’t long enough. Everyday we went a different direction and each day we saw so many different and unique views. I would highly recommend a trip to this region of Washington.

Our winter trip was fast approaching it’s end, it was time to go home!

Until next time…….

 

 

Continuing North, Lake Tahoe, Redding, & Klamath Falls

We were very sad to leave the Bishop area but north we must go! Next up was a couple of days around Lake Tahoe. There was still a lot of snow in the area and most areas were still closed. The views around the lake were stunning though!

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From there we went west to Auburn, California for a long a waited family visit! Our niece invited us to park our RV at her ranch property and the views were amazing, California has so many different sides to her!

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Soon it was time to be off again! We chose Redding as our next destination, doing a day trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park and McArthur-Burney Falls. Most of the National Park was still closed but the side trip to the Falls was well worth the drive!

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California has had so much more rainfall and snowfall this last winter, they are finally out of the long drought…….

The next destination was Klamath Falls, Oregon, where we planned to visit Lava Beds National Monument and Crater Lake.

The Lava Beds were amazing!

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It was so overwhelming to think of the force of nature of these long ago lava flows!

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There were so many areas of the park to go underground and explore the lava tubes! If you go unprepared, as we did (!!), they loan you flashlights to take into the caves!

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It gets pretty dark in there when you get away from the entrance!

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The next day was another highlight for me…Crater Lake! This was our second time of trying to get up to see it. The first time was the year of the strike on all the National Parks, this time we got lucky!!! It was well worth the wait!! Outstanding!

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As you can see we found our fair share of snow on the way home!!

The final stop for this installment was Redmond, Oregon. Our planned trip from here was John Day Painted Hills, part of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. I wasn’t really sure what to expect there. This was our first glimpse!

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They didn’t lie, the hills really look painted!

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The views were outstanding and they placed a few benches to rest on and drink it in!

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Think that is enough for now! We are getting near the end of our journey north, from here we spent a week in the Palouse region of Washington State. This area has so much to offer I will save it for another day!

Until next time……

Bishop to Mono Lake, & Owens Valley, California

Now it was time to explore north of Bishop!

I think I mentioned before that even at this time of the year, mid April, many roads and destinations were still closed. Their snow had arrived late in the year but had come fast and furious!

This day we turned north up Highway 395, with more superb views of the Sierra’s!

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First stop was Convict Lake, elevation of 7850 ft, with stunning dramatic mountains, including Mt Morrison, surrounding it!

The lake was named after an incident on September 23, 1871, where a group of convicts escaped from prison in Carson City. A posse, from Benton,  encountered the convicts near the head of what is now Convict Creek. Posse member Robert Morrison, a Benton merchant , was killed in the encounter, and Mount Morrison was named after him. (wikipedia)

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Next up was Mammoth Lakes. Mammoth is mainly known for 2 things, a fabulous ski hill in the winter and amazing hiking and outdoor activities in the summer! Tourism is the #1 industry. We drove through the town and some residential areas. We saw some signs of the ski hill but there was a lot of traffic this day and parking was almost impossible! We did manage to find a restaurant with a few spaces and had a wonderful lunch before moving on up the road!

Next side trip was the June lake Loop, passing June Lake, Gull Lake, Silver Lake and Grant Lake. Mickie loved June Lake, she got to chase sticks and play on the beach!

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Grant Lake was equally as fantastic!

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The Grant Lake overlook offered some incredible views of the river valley leading to the lake.

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Our last destination on this day was Mono Lake. It was something on my bucket list for a while. I had seen many amazing pictures of this strange landscape and wanted to experience it for myself!

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We learned that Mono Lake and the Salton Sea have a lot in common. Neither has an outlet, which causes high levels of salt to accumulate. It also has a productive eco system and brine shrimp thrive in the water. This lake provides critical nesting habitat for two million annual migratory birds that feed on the shrimp and blackflies.

However, “The city of Los Angeles diverted water from the Owens River into the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913. In 1941, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power extended the Los Angeles Aqueduct system farther upriver into the Mono Basin. So much water was diverted that evaporation soon exceeded inflow and the surface level of Mono Lake fell rapidly. By 1982 the lake was reduced to 37,688 acres (15,252 ha) 69 percent of its 1941 surface area. “[By 1990, the lake had dropped 45 vertical feet and had lost half its volume]” relative to the 1941 pre-diversion water level. As a result, alkaline sands and formerly submerged tufa towers became exposed, the water salinity doubled, and Negit Island became a peninsula, exposing the nests of California gulls to predators (such as coyotes), and forcing the gull colony to abandon this site. “(wikipedia)

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The California State Water Resources Control Board issued an order to protect Mono Lake and its tributary streams on September 28, 1994. Since that time, the lake level has steadily risen. In 1941 the surface level was at 6,417 feet (1,956 m) above sea level. As of October 2013, Mono Lake was at 6,380.6 feet (1,945 m) above sea level. The lake level of 6,392 feet (1,948 m) above sea level is the goal, a goal made more difficult during years of drought.

Many of these Tufa’s remain out of the water at this time…

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…but there are a few areas where you find them emerging from the lake!

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Our final outing in the Bishop area was driving the back roads through the Owens Valley, it is such a gorgeous area and was just coming to life after the harsh winter! I am going to let the pictures speak for themselves!

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Our week had come to an end and it was time to continue on our journey home! I will miss this area for sure!

Until next time………

Alabama Hills & Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

The Alabama Hills are such a unique place found in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains and in the shadow of Mt Whitney! The rounded contours of the Alabamas are a incredible contrast with the rugged peaks of the Sierra’s.

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Starting with silent pictures, Hollywood has loved the landscape here. It was close to them and the scenery was stunning. A perfect area to represent the ‘Iconic American West’ in their films.

The first movie totally filmed here was The Roundup (1920), a silent Western starring Fatty Arbuckle! Over the years all of the Hollywood studios have filmed here. The Alabama Hills have appeared in hundreds of movies and TV shows beginning in the 1920s and continuing to now, mostly American Westerns – although for many films, they have stood in for India, the Middle East, the Gobi Desert, China and even Africa in two Tarzan Films. Sci-fi producers have found the Alabama’s “out of this world,” for movies like Star Trek V and VII, Deep Space 9; and a perfect landscape for the backdrops of Tremors, Gladiator and Dinosaur. Countless documentaries, product commercials for TV and print have used the areas unique rock formations and valleys as a palette for their products.

There was some filming happening while we were there but not in our immediate location. However we did get to see some signs of ‘the old west’ come through! They offer trail rides through the hills, what a fabulous way to see them and feel as though you could almost be in an old western movie! Maybe John Wayne would ride around the next corner!

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Alabama Hills are also well known for dozens of  natural arches. The most well known, and widely recognized in film, is the Mobius Arch. It was an easy, and gorgeous, walk in to the arch!

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As with other areas there were many wildflowers blooming also. A wonderful contrast to the natural colour of the rock!

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Our next day trip from Bishop was to drive to see the Bristlecone Pine Forest. From Bishop we went south to Big Pine, then went east on Highway 168 through the Owens Valley, to the White Mountains.

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These Great Basin Bristlecone Pine trees grown at elevations of 9800 to 11,000 feet!

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On the way up into the mountains we stopped to enjoy the view and discovered all the lichen blooming! It was a beautiful carpet of undisturbed nature! I made sure I left it that way!

As it was still early in their season, the road was only open until the Sierra View overlook, at 9271 feet!

 

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When we got there I spoke to a photographer who was just leaving with his drone! He said the pictures he got from that elevations were outstanding, I can only imagine! It was spectacular with just my camera!

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Further along the road is the Methuselah Grove, the location of the  ‘Methuselah’, a Bristlecone Pine that is 4,848 years old! For many years, it was the world’s oldest known living non-clonal organism, until  the discovery in 2013 of another bristlecone pine in the same area with an age of 5,066 years!! ‘Methuselah’ is not marked in the forest, to  protect it from vandals. Not sure we will ever get to see that marvel as our time in the US is limited to the winter months.

It was time to turn around and head back down the mountain, to the valley floor. The Owens Valley, at 4000 ft,  is such a gorgeous area with the majestic mountains framing both sides!

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I loved this ranch that had all these hides drying on the fence post and the White Mountains in the background!

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Next trip we explored north of Bishop. Convict Lake, Mammoth Lakes, June Lake and Mono Lake!

Until next time…….

 

Back in the USA- Ridgecrest, Ca to Bishop, Ca

Once back in the USA we spent a couple of days in El Centro to restock! Then we were back on the road again!

First stop was Ridgecrest for 3 nights. It was my goal to travel home along highway 395 in California. Usually this route is still experiencing winter when we begin our trek north but as we were able to head home a little later this year the ice and snow were gone!

Ridgecrest is just off highway 395, a little west of Death Valley. For our first day trip from there we decided to head east towards Death Valley as I had heard of Ballarat Ghost Town in that area. I love ghost towns and will seek them out!

Ballarat served mining camps from 1897 to 1917, but all that remains now is a few ruins.

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and a few old cars!

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There is a caretaker on the property so we visited with him for a bit. He said the Ballarat area really comes to life on warm spring and fall weekends, it is a very popular spot for ATV’s and off roading and camping…..and partying! He said Easter weekend is a very busy time with sometimes hundreds of people showing up….short of physical harm he said, anything goes! (note to self…don’t think we will be camping here! lol!)

Also in this area are the Trona Pinnacles. They are also known as Tufa pinnacles and were formed under water 10,000 to 100,000 years ago in the now dry Searles Lake bed.

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The pinnacles are mostly made of calcium carbonate, same as the calcium in our bones and in baking soda!

Over thirty film projects a year are shot among the tufa pinnacles! From movies to TV shows to commercials, you may recognize this unusual landscape!

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The next day we decided to head in the opposite direction, southwest to the Red Rock Canyons state park. The park is located where the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada converge with the El Paso Range.

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During the early 1870s, the colorful rock formations in the park served as landmarks for 20-mule team freight wagons from Death Valley, that stopped for water.

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We were very lucky to get there as the wildflowers were beginning to bloom! As with everywhere else it seems, they too had a wet winter and the spring bloom loved it!

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It seems like the geology changes around every corner here, from the beautiful orange colored rock faces, to tall spires and slot canyons!

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I found this one formation very interesting, it looked like a big mushroom!

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Time to continue north on Highway 395, next stop is Bishop, Ca for a week. I fell in love with Bishop and felt I could easily live there! I don’t say that about too many places as I really do love where I live in Kamloops, but Bishop called to me! You are surrounded by majestic mountains!

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With peaks like Mt Tom at 13,652 ft, Mt Abbot at 13,715 ft and Red Slate Mtn at 13,163 ft to the west in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and Blanco Mtn at 11,278 ft and White Mtn at 14,246 ft to the east in the White Mountains between California and Nevada it is awe inspiring! Nestled between these 2 fabulous mountain ranges is the Owens Valley.

Mt Whitney, the tallest peak in the contiguous United States at 14, 491 ft, is just south of Bishop.

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We had a week of beautiful spring weather and a map in front of us, what could be better! Some of the areas I wanted to see were not accessible yet due to snow but we were able to get to many of them.

Day one was to retrace our path to a small town we drove through on our way north, Lone Pine, population of approximately 2000.  On the way we stopped to see the Mt Whitney Fish Hatchery, in Independence, about 3/4’s of the way from Bishop to Lone Pine.

It was built in 1916 from 3500 tons of granite! It is one of the most beautiful fish hatcheries in the USA!

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The stones were not cut but sorted and sized , the walls are 2 to 3 feet thick! It was designed to match the mountains and to last forever!

When construction was completed in 1917, it was the largest and best equipped hatchery in California and could produce 2,000,000 fish fry per year.

In July of 2007 a large wildfire burned upstream to the west of the Hatchery. As a result, a year later, on July 12, 2008, a heavy thunderstorm caused a massive mudslide in the fire-scarred Oak Creek watershed that swept downstream, severely damaging the ponds and water supplies of the hatchery, as well as two employee housing units. The main building escaped major damage.

The Friends of the Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery organized restoration work that allowed the interpretive center and display pond to re-open on May 30, 2009. However, the future of full-scale hatchery production is uncertain.

One of the main attractions in Lone Pine is the Movie Museum. The Alabama Hills are in Lone Pines back yard and have been the setting for over 400 movies beginning with silent films to today’s block busters!

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Before this blog gets too long I will end it here! Next up: Alabama Hills!

 

Until next time!