|Snow Crusted Sierras|
I decided I have been home for too long, so decided a car trip was what is wanted, so bright and early
I took off east, driving past Lake Tahoe, through sleepy little Markleeville, and on through a mountain pass to Mono Lake. Next I wanted to stop at a park I've had my eye on for ages but haven't gotten around to visiting yet - Devil's Postpile National Park. Well, it being winter, Mono Lake is pretty much shuttered up, so I was thrilled to find the Mono Lake Committee Center (Visitor Center) in Lee Vining open and staffed by a friendly woman. She looked up the road conditions the hour's drive on to Devil's Postpile for me; the road was shut tight. Rats. So I headed south to Bishop where I had a great stay at a motel that not only included a hot breakfast, but at 5PM serves up hot soups and at 7PM fresh baked cookies - ah! Paradise.
Next morning I was toodling down the east side of the snow crusted Sierras and I spied another park I have always meant to visit and which, I hadn't realized I was on a route that passed it - Manzanar National Historic Site.
I've known about the horrible imprisonment of American Japanese citizens. On short notice, entire families were notified they were going to be held captive, and they had only a few days to dispose of their property. They were only allowed to take with them what they could carry, and soon they found themselves in places like Manzanar - broiling in summers, freezing in winters. Still, the unjustly punished citizens maintained what they could of normal family lives. Considering that American citizens of German origins were not tossed into interment camps, it is all the more amazing that so many of our fellow Japanese-American citizens came out of the experience with far more grace than anyone had a right to expect.
I was there before the park really even opened, so I thought - incorrectly - that I'd have the park to myself, and I nearly did. I started my visit with the self guided auto tour.
The barracks were dismal. Mothers of the families that were barracked together hung curtains and bright papers on the walls to keep the setting as happy as possible for their husbands and children. One can only imagine the difficulty of keep a smile on one's face during such hardship
I was particularly touched by the sight - startling at first glance - of cherry trees, bright with rosy pink blossoms, contrasting the stark scenery.
|Two small cherry trees, planted by the American Japanese just outside the mess building.|
|The mess hall and vintage truck - the man in the |
doorway is a black & white photo of a cook
|View from the kitchen - screen with pics of life sized photos fill areas in the rear|
|Drop down screens with superimposed photo of the |
mess when it doubled as a dance hall
The auto tour route took me past some amazing things - some, such as places of worship are no longer standing, and others are shadows of their former glory, such as no less than two locations with inspirational water ponds.
|This inspirational pond must have been beautiful in its day|
The remainder of the day I thoughtfully drove south to Death Valley, but that is another post for another day.
|Another look at the brilliant cherry blossoms of Manzanar|