Sunset in the Coconino National Forest, looking northeast toward Sedona, AZ, 4/17/15

Friday, July 22, 2011

Good Eats on US-395

I had several friends and family tell me I should check out Erick Schat’s Bakkerÿ in Bishop, CA.  It is right on US-395.  They are well known for good food.  When I got there, just 10 minutes before closing, the Deli was closed.  So, instead of dinner, I had dessert ... oh, darn :-).  The pecan pastry was very good.  I'll remember Schat's and go back again.

The sign for the Mobil Gas Station/Restaurant overlooking Mono Lake
from the Gas Mart's picnic area.
The other eatery that I'll return to is in a Mobil Gas Mart, as odd as that sounds.   Someone at the Inter-Agency Visitor Center recommended it to me.  It's at the corner of US-395 and CA-120 (to Tioga Pass and Yosemite) in Lee Vinning, CA.   And Whoa Nellie Deli was no secret.  When I got there around 4pm on Sunday, there was already a line up of 6 people back to order at each of the 2 registers.  By the time I left to go, the line up was at least 20 people back.

I got their "World Famous Fish Tacos" and wasn't disappointed.  They have a very unique menu that's more akin to what you'd find in a nice sit-down restaurant, including lobster toquitos and pork tenderloin.  They also had less expensive wraps, pizzas, and sandwiches.
Picnic area of the Mobil Gas Mart, listening to a couple of musicians.

I took my tray of tacos and beans outside to eat where about 50 other people were scattered on benches, rocks, picnic tables and the grass.  We were all listening to a couple of folk/country singers on their banjo and stand-up cello.  Such an odd scene for a Gas Mart.  Such great food for a deli.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

National Park Sites off of US-395

I took US-395 on my way north to Washington State from Southern California, beginning at I-15 and ending at I-90.  During the 5-day trip, I explored several National Park sites on my way north -- Manzanar National Historic Site (CA), Devil's Postpile National Monument (CA), and John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (OR).
Memorial at Manzanar Cemetery “Erected by the Manzanar Japanese,
August 1943”, the front reads “Soul Consoling Tower.”
Manzanar was the location for 1 of 10 WWII Japanese Relocation Centers.  Over 11,000 men, women and children were removed from their homes and required to move into this military-style camp.  This barbed-wired enclosure was located in the "Owens Valley at 4,000' elevation, at the eastern base of the Sierra Nevada ... Summer temperatures can soar over 100 degrees. Winter highs are usually in the 40's. Nighttime temperatures year round are 30 to 40 degrees less than daytime highs. High winds are common in any season." (
Two barracks restored.  Hundreds of barracks were sectioned into "blocks." 
Many families shared a single barrack, using bed sheets for some privacy.
After exploring the museum and touring the old camp roads, I was struck by two realities that I had not previously considered.  One was the very non-private nature of the accommodations, including shared housing and shared showers.  The other was how the evacuees continued to support their country, even tho' their country had locked them up.  At this camp they wove camouflage netting for the troops.  Some of the young men even enlisted.
Morning at the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River near the Devil's Postpile
Devil's Postpile National Monument was my next northbound stop.  Here I shared my campsite with a mule deer, moved my food to the bear locker, and snuggled down for a good night's snooze.
View on hike to Devil's Postpile

One section of the Devil's Postpile, a columnar basalt rock formation.
The next morning I explored the banks of the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River, watching folks having no luck at fishing.  I then joined a ranger on a short hike to the Devil's Postpile formation.  She talked about the native flora and fanua, some natural history, and the geologic processes that made the formation what it is today.  Scientists believe that 100,000 years ago lava pooled to 400' deep at that location.  Because it cooled so slowly, the basalt rock naturally formed into columns, mostly 6 sided.   It is one of the best known examples of columnar basalt.
A view of some curved columns,
believed to have cooled more quickly than the other columns.
Currently the Devil's Postpile is 80' high, after being worn down by earthquakes, freeze-thaw cycles, and most especially by glaciers that receded about 15,000 years ago.  Very cool.
Another section of the Devil's Postpile
John Day Fossil Beds in Oregon was my next stop.  This site has 3 units of which I visited 2 -- Sheep Rock and Painted Hills
View from Mascall overlook, looking north into the Sheep Rock Unit. 
Hwy 28 in the distance goes through Picture Rock Gorge created by the
John Day River erroding basalt rocks from 17 different laval flows.
The peak in the distance is Sheep Rock Mountain. 
The fossils found here help scientists understand the changes that happened once mammals inhabited the planet, as well as the climate changes.  The John Day area mammals lived in a very wet climate 30 million years ago, lots of rain, humid, tropical jungles.  The animals that lived then were mammals like us (vs. dinasours), but were mostly different from the animals we know today.  Then about 15 million years ago, the climate in the area became more like the eastern part of the US, hardwood forests.  Again, populated with mammals; and again, largely different from the animals we know today.  The John Day area today would be called desert like.  So, during the course of 30 million years, it's gone from a wet jungle to dry desert.
Sheep Rock Mountain in the rain -- basalt rock top, dark band from lahar,
and various colors and layers created by volcanic ash
During the 30 million years, the John Day areas has experienced multiple basalt lava flows, volcanic ash covers, and lahars (hot mud flows).  Scientists explore layer upon layer of ash, lahar, ash, and lava in order to discover the fossils of animals and plants that tell their stories, millions of years old.
Cathedral Rock in the Sheep Rock Unit
In the Sheep Rock Unit, the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center is a must see.  I first watched an introductory film, then walked through the exhibits that tell the 30-million-year story through fossil displays and murals.   Another area of the museum provides a large picture window to watch paleontologists working on fossils.  Further exhibits explain their methods of unearthing, preserving, cataloging, and understanding the artifacts.  Way interesting.
Colorful formation near picnic area in Sheep Rock Unit.

I also visited the Painted Hills Unit.  Here you have regular desert hills covered with sage; but, among the regular hills are the painted hills of red and yellow.  Fossils were found in this area as well; but, I focused on the hills.
View from Painted Hills Overlook
"The red in the Painted Hills is from rusty iron minerals, oxidized by long exposure.  The golden layers reveal of mix of oxidized magnesium and iron, metamorphic claystone minerals.  Black hash marks are rich with manganese.  Each color represents a different geologic process." (from infomation board at overlook)
It rained hard off and on all day in the Painted Hills
I took a short hike around the small hills at the Painted Cove.  To keep the hills as untouched hiker's tramples, the park service built a boardwalk.
A couple of hikers on the boardwalk at the Painted Cove
Close up of a yellow & red hill with pooled rain water
Close up example of black manganese hash mark
Rain runoff at Painted Cove
The Painted Hills were totally amazing.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Indulging in Some Reminiscing

While in Southern California for my uncle's funeral, I wanted to visit with each of my 4 brothers.  This left me with a bit of extra time to check out some personally significate places within the City of Orange..

I am fortunate that a fellow traveller opened her Orange County home and beautifully treed driveway to me and my "Prius RV."  Her home is in a perfect location to accomodate my wanderings within the City of Orange. Thank you VJ for your generosity and hospitality!  I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with you.

Here are some pictures I took while traveling "Memory Lane."

A Giant at Orange Hart Park: an old Moreton Bay Fig tree
planted around 1875 by horticulturist Henri Gardner.
As a kid, I would climb this fig tree ... now, it's way too big and I'm way too creeky to climb ...

The roots at the base of this tree always looked so cool ... even more so now ...
I learned how to swim at Hart Park, taking lessons at the
"Orange Plunge" ... it looks the same now as it did then ...
The inside view of the pool area.
My first classroom, Kindergarten at Sycamore Elementary
Portola Middle School (was Junior High) ... music/chior room on right
Orange High School ... took math classes in this building
The first house we lived in after getting married.  We were fixing it up.
Under the old wallpaper was old newspapers (for insulation),
and under the newspaper was the exterior board and batten ... amazing. 
After I got prenant, we decided home renovation wasn't for us :-). 
Our second house after getting married and where we raised our daughter
Elise for a year and a half before moving to Washington State.
It's fun to remember.  Thanks for letting me indulge myself by sharing these pictures.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Trip for Uncle John

Uncle John, November 2009

On the 4th of July I got the call that my Uncle John had passed away.  His funeral was the following week.  After rearranging my committments in Washington State, I drove down I-5 and arrived in Southern California within 2 days.

I was born in LA and grew up in Orange County.  My mother and her two sisters were native Californians.  Holidays and summer picnics were spent together with the 3 sisters, their husbands and us cousins.  The sisters had such fun together, they made us all laugh with their silliness.  Of the sisters and their husbands, only my Aunt Opal and her husband John had remained ... and now Uncle John has died too..

Uncle John is a jewel among my childhood memories.  He always expressed such delight upon seeing us.  He made me feel loved.  He laughed a lot and he made everyone else laugh at his fun-loving ways.  So, on Tuesday the families of the 3 sisters gathered again to say goodbye, find comfort in being together, and remember the joy and love he brought into our lives.

Uncle John was 88 years old, married for 65 years to his childhood sweetheart, had 2 children, 6 grandchildren, and 15 great grandchildren.  He served in the Marine Corps and was honored with a military funeral.  I will miss him dearly.
Before Uncle John's memorial service,
2 of my brothers (Gary & Ray) and I
paid our respects at the grave sites of
our grandparents, David and Elma Blair,
the parents of the 3 sisters.