Friday, April 15, 2011

Northward, Again...

Today the kid and I pile into the car for a repeat of last week's trip to northern California, this time for her Grandfather's memorial. My mom plans on a quiet, gently upbeat look back at grandpa's long and interesting life, which includes escape from East Germany in the early 1950's, accomplished by a small group running through the forest at night to reach the American side.

Grandpa had guts for days, he did, and was a staunch American patriot for the rest of his life.

I've left early enough to build in a few stops on the way up to break up the drive a bit for N. Google Earth with the 'Gallery' feature turned on (pictures) is vital for planning road trips, I've found. I'm aiming for some new things this time that we haven't seen before--Highway 395 overflowing with interesting things as it is! First we detour a bit through Randsburg, a famous mining town (mainly gold via the Yellow Aster Mine) that is embracing it's partial ghost town side...

A church, still there but leaning a wee bit, held up on one side (desert winds are fierce) with boards.

Charlie's Ore House!

This place boasts a E Clampus Vitus logo...

Various antique/junk shops abounded, sadly all closed today but I'm sure open on weekends and summer days.

Restored buildings stand right alongside unrestored.

Wait...what does that blue sign say...?

Oh, OK. Never mind, typical small-town hours. Carry on.

We tour the town by car, promising that we'd return when the shops were open and we had more time. Randsburg would be perfect to spend the weekend antiquing in.

Not all of the town is ghost town-ified, Lots of perfectly modern houses abound. But lots of typical desert folk decorating, including bottle trees (no less than 5 in this picture), yay!

The old jail sits right at the entrance/exit to town, acting as a prominent and pointed reminder to BEHAVE. It's fixed up as a tourist attraction, so we obediantly walk through it.

The huge tire is off a piece of earthmoving equipment, and ECV has been here to erect a monument, of course!

The 'skip' has seen better days...I think it had a close encounter with the bottom of a mine shaft by the looks of it.

We walk inside and see this:

The kid stares, puzzled. "Is that...a toilet?" I tell her it is.
"Why is it filled with cement?"
"Um...well, for exactly why you'd think it would need to be!"
She gazes. Her expression begins to change. "You mean...people would..."
I nod.
"That's disgusting!" Eleven year olds are easily profoundly struck by natural functions.
Yeah, well...I tell her. I'd hope it was mostly little kids that had to go and helped themselves while their parents were distracted, but you never know.

Several old samples of jailhouse paperwork hang on the walls. 'I want this man badly'...I wonder if the sheriff was one of this guy's victims?

Inside, the two cells are all fixed up.

One-Armed Annie?

The kid wandered too close to the door of this one and suddenly a woman's voice blared out, 'NOTHING LESS THAN A QUARTER, BOYS!' The locals amusing themselves with a motion-detector activated recording. They should stick a webcam on it and broadcast people jumping outta their damned skin.

On down the road a bit we stop at the Coso Junction rest stop, where we find this old sign. It's been there for as long as I can remember...

...with 'Ridgecrest' misspelled.

We continue north through Owens Valley. As we're driving along, suddenly a small shape darts out from my left, and just as I hear the small 'thud' of it impacting the front grill of the car, my mind IDs it as a Swallow. The kid and I both cry out at the same time.
"Mom, can we stop and check it?"
No, I tell her, that bird is dead for sure, given the speed of the car and how solidly it hit. I've only ever hit one other animal with a car, a sparrow a few years back that did the same thing--flew in front of me in such a way that I had no chance to react. It's upsetting.

At Lone Pine we stop at the awesome rock shop we'd had to skip last time, and it's just as great inside as we expected. I buy 'Land of Little Rain' by Mary Austin and the kid gets herself a desert coloring book and a geode to break open once we're home again. I also pick out some beautiful peacock ore. In Independence, a town which though thriving years ago, seems to be faltering a bit now, we stop by the Market street home of Mary Austin, a famous female author of the 1800's who wrote about the area, including the flora, fauna, pioneers and Native Americans. I've just started reading 'Land of Little Rain'.

We go for a drive up Onion Valley Parkway, a long road which heads up into the mountains.

Along the way we pass the museum, which looks completely fascinating (next time!) and a yard next to it filled with old vehicles, wagons and such. A fire truck!

Railroad cars...

God knows what this thing is, but it appears to be upside-down.

This old water tank saw long usage, it had a new spigot on it!

Now THIS...this thing BUGS me. What the HELL is it?!

It looks like Howl's Moving Castle. My best guess is 'some kind of harvesting machine' but LOOK at all the gears, pulleys, chain-drives and whatnot on it! I wouldn't put it past some evil prankster to just slap all that stuff onto an old wagon to make us tourists scratch our heads.

At the end of Onion Valley, we run into these signs, but it's time to turn around and head back anyway.

I love the rock clearing hours.

As we leave town I see yet another little old place that I'd love to buy and fix up...

Up the road we pull in at the Crestview rest stop just past Mammoth. Our friend Killer Snow Blob is still lurking on the roof of the restrooms, but is considerably smaller now.

This cute little teardrop trailer pulled in and dispensed a cool old dog named Daisy.

I find an old-fashioned water pump and have the kid try it without telling her what it does. She is surprised when water comes out, and I get to tell her what people did in the days before fancy indoor plumbing...not all that long ago!

We love this rest stop...

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