As all best laid plans go, they are mere suggestions. In our ernest to get outta dodge by 1000, it turned into noon, and could have been later had we just not said “screw it”, let’s go. “Short” trips are the hardest to plan for. What to take, what to wear. How to organize it. Did we forget something? Do we have too much? (The obvious answer is “yes” to both questions).
Finally on the road, and in no time we were driving northbound on the 395 past the non-descript road to Kennedy Meadows where thick dark smoke appeared to be billowing from. A quick check of the Internet, showed it was the “Walker Fire” (a 25 acre fire in the Walker Basin area that after two days was only 30% contained). Fire season has begun! [As of today, the fire has been renamed the Chimney Fire, and has closed the PCT from Walker Pass to Kennedy Meadows. A major bummer for the PCT hikers]. Our goal was to get to the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center, that issues permits for Inyo National Forest areas, and pick up our permit and a bear canister for Trevor. We rolled into the Easter Sierra Interagency Visitor Center, which is located just south of the Lone Pine city limits, all excited and ready to document the receipt of our permits for this pending adventure. Our excitement was quickly, and summarily, dashed by “Tim” who told us with no exception we could not pick up our permits until “2 days” before it is to start. 2 1/2 days out will not work…no exceptions! “It’s all in your confirmation email”(which I can’t find…and may have deleted), explained “Tim”, like he was talking to a moron. (Ok, I know I’ve just opened the door for snarky comments from my friends…bring it…enjoy) Neither can we park a vehicle at the Whitney Portal if our trip does not start from there. “There is a list of shuttle services on that table over there”, “Tim” snarkily told us as he half-heartily pointed in the general direction of the table. He did give us a “hot tip”, that we should not come at 8, 11 or 2 as this is when the “walk-in” lottery for Whitney permits are held. Good to know. (These times are also published and widely known on the Internet). Maybe he thinks we don’t know how to use the Internet. Or, maybe he worked the holiday weekend and is on overload. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. We’ve all been there. We walked out of the office with our tails between our legs with a “honey do list” of things to do before everyone else arrived. Our first stop however, was the The Museum of Western Film History , until recently known as the “Lone Pine Beverly and Jim Rogers Film History Museum”.
For at least two decades we have driven past this place and either thought little of it, or thought that some day we should take the time to check this place out, however “cheesy” it appears. Today was the day…for two reasons: 1 – They have long term parking for hikers to leave their vehicles, and 2 – (best of all) Jody’s friend’s mother (Katherine Kravitz) is the curator of the museum…so we had that going for us. We walked through door and were greeted by nearly 20,000 square feet of amazing artifacts and displays expertly arranged, chronicling over 400 movies (from 1919 to present) that were filmed in Lone Pine, (generally in the Alabama Hills rock formations), or the nearby town of Bishop. Did you know parts of Django, Iron man, Tremors, Star Wars (the scene with the Ewoks – that were 8 year olds from the local elementary school, who had been paid a mere $25 a day for their work as “stand-ins”), Gunga din, Hop Along Cassidy, and my favorite…The Lone Ranger, to name a few were all filmed in the Lone Pine area.
Awesome! Kravitz described the purpose and significance of each display, the difference of “3” or “6” sheets film posters, and how the film industry evolved especially with Westerns’ in their portrayal of women. Before WWII, women wore bland “everyday”clothing – never in pants, playing submissive roles while the men wore flashy chaps, massive hats and rode on silvery saddles. This all changed after WWII. Women in stronger roles…more breasts and now wearing pants… tight pants. Stronger roles would have been sufficient. One thing with our planning, we found out just a little too late that we should have planned around the Museum’s annual fund raiser… “Concerts in the Rocks”, at the Lone Ranger (my hero) Canyon, which this year is on June 4th. Argh! A day early and a beer short!
As we were finishing dinner, Jan arrived and we headed out to the Lone Pine Campground which sits at an elevation of 6000 ft. After many a story, we bedded down under a stary night and a soft warm breeze. . Tomorrow we’ll see head to Whitney Portal for more acclimatization.