The beginning of our road trip has been fraught with difficulties, but on Weds around 3 we were finally on our way.
Due to the lateness of our departure we had to skip a planned excursion to Calico, but it is well within driving distance of LA at least. Some other time.
Our first stop was Fort Tejon, mainly to stretch our legs and let the B & B we were going to be at for the night know that we'd be a little late. While there I read up about a failed attempt at a Camel Army of some kind.
"The Camels proved ill suited to the to the American southwest." I would imagine so, but I guess sometimes you have to try something to be sure?
We hit the road again and headed up the 5 to the 99, and then onto the 178, a road I had never traveled before. Instead of heading up parallel to those mountains, we headed straight for them. It was exciting.
And the silver lining of not going to Calico was taking the 178 through the southern end of Sequoia National Park. An ominious set of signs warned, in both spanish and english, that 242 people had died since 1968. The signs went by so fast that I wasn't sure entirely how they had died, but I was worried anyway.
I'm guessing it was these winding, rocky roads that did all those people in. We were rather cautious, pulling onto turn-outs quite a few times to let more confident locals wiz on by.
Though he looks calm and collected, Tech Support was quite exhausted at this point. As soon as we found our adorable little B&B by the Kern River, he was done.
The Innkeeper seemed to think we might want to go out and eat and get beer or, I don't know, take a walk. She let us know when the back door would be locked (9:30pm) and that we were free to come and go out the front door as we pleased.
This was all moot. We'd eaten dinner at an In-N-Out at some tiny little town a few hours ago, and we were officially done. We tucked ourselves into the bed and were getting ready to sleep around the time Virginia locked the back door.
The next morning we got up and had our breakfast, a feast prepared by Innkeeper Virginia. There were three other couples staying at the Inn the night before and it was fun to chat with them about their travels. One older couple had traveled back and forth across the US several times and seemed to have been everywhere.
Another couple from Colorado told us about a deadly curve in the road near where they live, where someone went over the edge and when they went to retrieve them, they found another car and the body of a man who'd been missing for 5 years. Sounds like the great opening to a novel, doesn't it?
We went back up to our room and were joined by one of the locals who wanted to do an inspection of our luggage.
Max, the local 3-legged kitty, was afraid we might have tried to smuggle kitties across the Los Angeles County Line. No reassurances we could offer would appease him until he had carefully sniffed the entire bag.
Then he had to relax a bit.
Unfortunately for him we had to kick him out so we could take a walk.
The Kern River was directly across from our Inn. It rushes by and is a very popular place to go rafting.
The mountains surrounding the area are also quite impressive.
But the cuisine is not.
We said our goodbyes to the kitty and the Innkeeper, and hit the road again. The long, empty road.
In search of ice, we first stopped at a tiny convenience store where Tech Support went in solo, and came out reporting the electricity was out so there was no ice. Also, the clerk and a local had been discussing whether she should keep drinking or perhaps do drugs instead. She wasn't into the latter idea. After about 30 minutes of more empty road, we stopped at the loneliest little gas-station/subway combo I have ever seen, which was filled with a group of Italian Tourists who'd just come off their bus. Ice acquired, we carried on until we reached the next part of or trip.
Can you imagine being removed from your home, your business, your city, and taken here to live instead?
The mountains are beautiful, but it is hot and dusty. Tech Support pointed out how impermanent their structures were meant to be, very little remains except for occasional cement foundations.
The High School Auditorium, which later became more of an events area for those interred here, is now the Interpretation Center.
Which you can see behind me, but in front of the majestic snowy Sierras. Inside was an impressive, well kept and well air-conditioned set of exhibits. It was interesting to read about how the camp members built their own little city under the watchful eyes and night-search-lights of the guards.
There was also some information about the people who'd lived in Manzanar before, the Piute Indians who'd been pushed out and then returned, and then were pushed out again with the farmers when Los Angeles decided they needed the water.
We came out and discovered that despite being covered in a thick sheen of splatted bugs and sap, Tech Support's new car had made a friend.
We took the auto tour of the place, which was mostly more scrub, occasional cement foundations, and signposts for where various buildings had been. There were a few occasions to step out and meet the natives who'd stuck around during all this turmoil.
I was impressed with the coloration of the lizards, which was the same light color as the rocks all around. They could also run very fast, though they weren't too shy about stopping a few minutes to be photographed.
We got out at the cemetery, which is probably one of the most photographed parts of Manzanar.
So far so good.