Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Epic Weekends and Grandiose Hyperboles

A few weeks ago marked the end of my "real job", and a return to an old one. To celebrate the transition, Ted and I took a trip up to Mono Lake.

Along the way, we stopped at the Cottonwood Kilns

The acoustics inside were amazing, so the two of us stomped around and made music.

And then, we headed up to Manzanar . . .

Thanks to my Uncle Kuni, I've been reading up quite a bit on the internment camps. The experience of being at one of them took my words away. I still have difficulty accepting that it really happened. Japanese Americans, regardless of age, health, citizenship or character were packed up and shipped off to the desert. Not knowing what to prepare themselves for, they had to survive the harsh elements with shoddy buildings to shelter in. Stripped of their privacy and dignity, they managed to survive and make the most of their situation.

In addition to cultivating gardens for food and trees for shade, they created gardens to walk and sit in like this one. You can see the cement laid for streams and a pool.

(Ted managed to find a gap to jump)

My grandparents, both American citizens, met and married at the internment camp in Poston. When I've asked my grandpa about camp, all he would ever tell me was stories about the things he made out of trash and how good he was at martial arts. When I asked him if it made him angry to have been forced to move to camp, he answered "If it wasn't for camp, none of you (me and the rest of our family) would be here."

From Manzanar, we drove to Bodie. . . "A town from the 1800s that stands today in a state of arrested decay"

At one point, Bodie was larger than Los Angeles

"Goodbye God, I'm going to Bodie"


And then, finally, we made our way to Mono Lake. . .

Our plans to paddle out to the island in the middle of Mono Lake, and camp on it were thwarted by the severe winds. However, the park ranger was super nice, and told us about a few "secret" places where we could pitch our tent.

We chose this one:

I started working on dinner. . .

And Ted made fire. . .

Almost every meal on this trip consisted of quinoa with different combinations of vegetables.

This particular evening, we feasted on quinoa with corn cut from the cobb, fire roasted red bell peppers, sea salt and black pepper.

We got up early the next morning. . .

And explored the tufa. . .

We learned about the simple food chain of Mono Lake: algae>brine shrimp>sea gulls
And about Paiutes people who used to live here. They were called "Fly Eaters" (Kutzadika), because they would eat the brine fly pupae. . .

Which supposedly taste like bacon bits.

Later that evening, we splurged on gourmet grub at the Whoa Nellie Deli, inside a gas station. . .

These were Ted's fish tacos, one with mango plum pineapple salsa and the other with ginger coleslaw, served with a side of Brazilian black beans.

We got up early the next morning for another trip to the Tufas

And then we set off for the Travertine Hot Springs

The source!

On our way home, we stopped off at the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

(The tree above is not a bristlecone pine, but it is beautiful nonetheless.)

We hiked for four miles amidst the oldest known living trees on earth.

Some of them are over 4,000 years old.

The most amazing thing about these trees, is that they thrive in the harshest environments.

Often, only a thin strip of living tissue will run through the tree, bringing life to a few branches.

Almost anything the environment can dish out, these trees can take. . .

and transform into something beautiful.

(Tricky Ted)