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Sunrise On Mono Lake

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Last August I was camping in Yosemite with a group of Boy Scouts and was able to break away from that outing for a day and tour nearby Mono Lake, US395, the ghost town of Bodie, as well as doing some field investigation for Keep the Show on the Road! That road report can be found here. After I posted a sunrise shot of Mono Lake Keep! requested that I share some of the other photos from that morning. It has taken me a few months to get around to processing the remainder of those pictures but here you go.

 

Pre-dawn light and the silhouttes of the tufa towers

SC10_88_06.jpg

 

Sunrise across the Mono Basin

SC10_88_10.jpg

 

The morning sun shining on the South Lake tufa towers

SC10_88_03c.jpg

 

The morning sun shining on the Eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Range.

SC10_88_14.jpg

 

California Gulls feast on the multitude of brine flies along Mono Lake's shoreline.

SC10_88_21.jpg

 

Afternoon view of Mono Lake from the Visitor's Center looking north-east toward Black Rock Point.

SC10_88_23c.jpg

 

Roadhound

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Rick,

 

Wow and double wow! I know I have never seen better photos of Mono Lake. On a scale of 10, they are a 12!

 

Are you working to get these published? With winter coming maybe a few snow shots along with these and you have a calendar. I don't know that business, so I don't know the entry points or the economics, but I hope you are getting an agent.

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Rick,

 

Wow and double wow! I know I have never seen better photos of Mono Lake. On a scale of 10, they are a 12!

 

Are you working to get these published? With winter coming maybe a few snow shots along with these and you have a calendar. I don't know that business, so I don't know the entry points or the economics, but I hope you are getting an agent.

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Thanks Keep! Appreciate the compliments.

 

I wish I knew how the publishing industry worked. I've been trying to figure it out for a few years now without success. You would think that the calendar industry would be a profitable one for photographers but that is not the case. Photogs that I have talked to about tell horror stories of a lot of work with little profit. Typically the publishers make you pay up front for the printing and its up to you to find a distributor. Plus, you're dealing with a product that has a finite shelf life. There is an online service that will sell and print out the calendar on a as needed basis that I have looked into. All I need is the time to put the photos together, wait, don't want to wish for that, I need the steady paycheck that my current job provides.

 

The economic reality of photography as a career is that the percentage that wish they could get paid for taking pictures for a living is far, far greater than those that are. I make a few bucks selling my photos but it hardly covers the cost of gas to get to the location not to mention the cost of the equipment and everything else involved.

 

The way I figure it I've got 20 years until I retire. By then I should have quite a stockpile of photos and selling them can become my retirement job to cover the gaps in Social Security and the Pension plan that will have long since been raided by the corporation. I got it all worked out :wacko:

 

Roadhound

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Rick

 

I do understand that making a living as a photographer is a rare occurrence, and in all likelihood talent is only the first step. I’m sure for every photographer who makes a living doing landscapes, there are 10,000 who do weddings or school photos. But you do have a gift. And I think your strategy is on target. Having a passion when you retire is important. And having one that combines recreation, and a little cash, not to mention some recognition, should serve you very well.

 

Mono Lake is a unique subject. The lake has been the subject of some pretty serious fights to maintain the water level, as LA siphons off the water from the area. As a consequence the Lake has lots of advocates.

 

You know my fondness for the east side of the Sierra and the El Camino Sierra (AKA US 395) and my long family ties to the area. I think I mentioned that my grandfather spent a good deal of time at his employer's lodge just above Lee Vinning on the road over Tioga Pass, and in the mining sites (Bodie and Aurora) near the lake. Your earlier reports covered much of that area.

 

I didn’t ask before, but did you also get some images and stories about the Tioga Pass road? I drove that baby when part of it was still dirt, and honestly the road went up and over tree roots, it was that primitive. It is still a drive that some people really fear, especially as it comes down the long slope from the top to Lee Vinning and the lake. Imagine that drive when there were no guard rails! There was still a road like that in the Snake River country of eastern Oregon until just a few years ago. Driving on the outside edge was certain to leave you with sweaty palms and real relief when you reached the flatlands! Now it has guard rails in the worst spots...which I confess I appreciate.

 

Hope you take some more trips soon!

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Rick

 

Mono Lake is a unique subject. The lake has been the subject of some pretty serious fights to maintain the water level, as LA siphons off the water from the area. As a consequence the Lake has lots of advocates.

 

You know my fondness for the east side of the Sierra and the El Camino Sierra (AKA US 395) and my long family ties to the area. I think I mentioned that my grandfather spent a good deal of time at his employer's lodge just above Lee Vinning on the road over Tioga Pass, and in the mining sites (Bodie and Aurora) near the lake. Your earlier reports covered much of that area.

 

I didn’t ask before, but did you also get some images and stories about the Tioga Pass road? I drove that baby when part of it was still dirt, and honestly the road went up and over tree roots, it was that primitive. It is still a drive that some people really fear, especially as it comes down the long slope from the top to Lee Vinning and the lake. Imagine that drive when there were no guard rails! There was still a road like that in the Snake River country of eastern Oregon until just a few years ago. Driving on the outside edge was certain to leave you with sweaty palms and real relief when you reached the flatlands! Now it has guard rails in the worst spots...which I confess I appreciate.

 

Hope you take some more trips soon!

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Thanks for the compliment DennyG. Always appreciated.

 

Keep!,

 

You may be pleased to know that the water level in Mono Lake has been stabilized as a result of the Lake's advocates. The laws around water diversion have been written so that the water level cannot be below a minumum level that keeps the islands within the lake isolated from the shore, thus keeping predators away from the nesting areas. The level is nothing near what your Grandfather would have seen, however, and the salinity level would be much higher too.

 

Next trip on the calendar is to Death Valley in November just prior to Thanksgiving. This will be another Boy Scout outing where I lend my vehicle to carry the gear but don't have any Scoutmaster responsibilities. I am hoping to break away for a day and explore The Racetrack and Eureka Sand Dunes if the scouts don't have that on their itinerary. There are also some charcoal kilns and townsites in the mountains west of Stovepipe Wells that have me interested too. The group may be small enough with sufficient off road capabilities that they may include those destinations in their outing. My son is the Senior Patrol Leader for this outing so I may have some influence in the schedule of activities.

 

I haven't yet done any road research for this trip and maybe I can get you to nudge me in the right direction. I know there was a toll road near Darwin that I have traveled a small portion of as well as some earlier roads that are visible coming into the park from the west. Other than that I have no clue about the early roads near the park. I'm sure you must have something in that vast library of yours.

 

 

Posted below is a shot from near the top of Tioga Pass. I drove down the Tioga Road in the dark and although it is still a steep descent I didn't have any of the views that would make my palms sweat. I put the truck in a low gear, and took my time getting down. Later in the day when I traveled back up I was on the side of the road next to the hill and was not subjected to any palm sweating views then either.

 

SC10_90_12.jpg

 

Roadhound

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I haven't yet done any road research for this trip and maybe I can get you to nudge me in the right direction. I know there was a toll road near Darwin that I have traveled a small portion of as well as some earlier roads that are visible coming into the park from the west. Other than that I have no clue about the early roads near the park. I'm sure you must have something in that vast library of yours.

Posted below is a shot from near the top of Tioga Pass. I drove down the Tioga Road in the dark and although it is still a steep descent I didn't have any of the views that would make my palms sweat. I put the truck in a low gear, and took my time getting down. Later in the day when I traveled back up I was on the side of the road next to the hill and was not subjected to any palm sweating views then either.

 

Roadhound

 

Roadhound

 

Great shot. You have the gift.

 

Now imagine that as a narrow one laner with nothing between you and that canyon but air.

 

Late November to Death Valley....What great timing!!! The early snow on the Sierras.....might still be a touch of color in the leaves. Glorious! Been there at that time...love it. Will you spend a night on the way? Can you go over the Tioga Pass that late? Probably not…so will it be via Tahoe, or down the Central Valley and over the Tehachapi.

 

We were in Death Valley last winter. First visit in 30 years. Not much had changed.

 

I certainly have some vintage maps...and I’m always full of something, perhaps advice. The old El Camino Sierra.....that is so much more interesting a name than US 395....

 

If you come down El Camino Sierra from the north, there is a lot more to see. Gotta stop at Manzanar.Internment Camp.....see of you can capture what it was like to be an innocent prisoner in your own country.....then on to the Alabama Hills near Lone Pine to join Roy Rogers and Gene Autry...Do it in the morning if you can as the sun rises, or at sunset.

 

I can’t say anything about Darwin since I have never been there. But I have a recommendation for another stop.

 

The desert village of Keeler sits on the east side of Owens Lake. Keeler is what the 1940’s desert towns in Southern California looked like, those along old 66, etc. Half dead, with just a spark of life, deserted houses, and one or two well kept places. The kids have left, and now the old timers hang on. The abandoned railroad station is worth the visit itself. I have posted a couple of shots from this last winter to whet you appetite.

 

But there is more than photographic opportunity. In the old days the silver bricks formed from the silver that came down the aerial tramway from the Cerro Gordo mine were piled up to make shelters as the men waited for the Bessie Brady steamboat to take the silver across Owens Lake. The Cerro Gordo Mine site is open to visit, but alas, I have never been there. Fifty years ago (1957) a buddy and I tried to take the Cerro Gordo grade out of Keeler in a 1955 Chev with powerslush (some called it Power Glide). That 2 speed automatic got so hot, the Chev just stopped moving. Really!

 

We tried the next year in his 1952 Ford standard transmission but the road had so much washboard that we lost traction on the grade and had to turn back. His shocks were probably bad, but we never made it. So if you happen to take the road to Cerro Gordo….take a few photos for the gipper.

 

And of course Death Valley is a place all to itself...

 

I will next post maps from the Automobile Club of Southern California (ACSC) at HistoricalRoadMaps.Com. Dating them is a little tough but the cover panel shows a date code suggesting 1941. It is clearly post 1933 when Death Valley was designated a National Monument.

 

ARKeelerCamp.jpg

A not so subtle jab at Los Angeles and its water hunger

 

ARKeelerRailroad.jpg

Carson & Colorado Railroad Station in Keeler

 

ARKeelerMarket.jpg

Downtown Keeler – Market & RV Park

 

ARKeelerMap.jpg

1941 Owens Lake Map. (Also see HistoricalRoadMaps.Com)

 

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Keeler looks like an interesting stop if for nothing else than the quirkiness of the place. There are some photos posted on Google Earth that also show the yacht club and other beach related activities. My trip there and back will be both single day affairs with three days sandwiched in between. It will be about a 9-10 hour drive. Keeler is not to far out of the way from the route I would likely be traveling so I should be able to fit in a short detour. Cerro Gordo may have to wait until a future date.

 

The map shows Darwin Falls as well as the road between Panamint Springs and Darwin. Five years ago I traveled that road from Panamint Springs as far as the head end of the canyon that Darwin Falls is in. I didn't attempt to drive any further as the road got extremely rough and I was in a minivan at the time. I doubt that I would attempt to go all the way to Darwin today in my current vehicle.

 

Darwin Falls is interesting as well. It sits in a canyon about 1/2 mile back off of the road. From the road their is no sign of the falls or water for that matter. As you walk into the canyon you first notice that the ground is damp. As you near the back of the canyon it narrows and suddenly you have to hop across a small stream. In the back of the canyon is a nice, peaceful, waterfall. It would have been a nice place to sit and enjoy the quiet but my kids, 5 and 9 at the time, were more interested in throwing rocks and anything else they could find into the pond.

 

 

DARWIN FALLS

SC01_08_17.jpg

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That is fascinating!! I somehow would not expect a waterfall out there. Was it spring fed?

 

I looked up the area on a 1913 USGS TOPO reprinted in 1927 (at Chico State). I have the impression, but it needs to be verified, that the reprinted USGS topos updated roads to the reprint date. If so, it is interesting that there is no main road from Owens Lake to Death Valley as late as 1927. It also explains why my mid 1920’s ACSC strip maps show the road east from Owens Lake as going to Darwin, not Death Valley. I don’t think Death Valley was recognized as a National Monument until the early 1930’s.

 

I am going to do a little map research on the old road.

 

Thanks again for the photo and post!

 

Why not start a new thread with Death Valley in the title so we get some feedback on the area...

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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That is fascinating!! I somehow would not expect a waterfall out there. Was it spring fed?

 

I looked up the area on a 1913 USGS TOPO reprinted in 1927 (at Chico State). I have the impression, but it needs to be verified, that the reprinted USGS topos updated roads to the reprint date. If so, it is interesting that there is no main road from Owens Lake to Death Valley as late as 1927. It also explains why my mid 1920’s ACSC strip maps show the road east from Owens Lake as going to Darwin, not Death Valley. I don’t think Death Valley was recognized as a National Monument until the early 1930’s.

 

I am going to do a little map research on the old road.

 

Thanks again for the photo and post!

 

Why not start a new thread with Death Valley in the title so we get some feedback on the area...

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

From what I have been able to discover Darwin Falls is a year-round spring fed waterfall. There are a couple of more falls further up the hillside that require a bit of rock climbing to get to. I didn't go any further than the first of the falls.

 

I will certainly open up a Death Valley thread soon, after I re-edit some of my pictures. Last time I was there I was shooting a combination of film and an early point and shoot digital. I'm not really satisfied with the pictures I currently have up on my website and would like to make them look just a bit better before I start linking to them.

 

I am certainly interested in anything you dig up regarding roads in and out of Death Valley. It is probably safe to make the assumption that most of the early auto roads in the area were geared more for access to mines in the area and not tourism.

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I am certainly interested in anything you dig up regarding roads in and out of Death Valley. It is probably safe to make the assumption that most of the early auto roads in the area were geared more for access to mines in the area and not tourism.

 

I think that's a good guess. I did an overlay of the 1927 USGS Topo map on a Google Earth map and saw some interesting alignments. The current State 109 is certainly not the 1927 road...but segments are. I'll see what it takes to make the overlay accessible and post directions here.

 

As a bit of an aside, I put up a 1913 American Motorist magazine on the historicalroadmaps.com site which should interest you. It discusses the routes across Utan and Nevada, including a mention of an Indian encampment at Tippetts! You should also recognize the photo that leads the Midland Trail piece. Look for the magazine in Exhibits on the front page.

 

I found it interesting that the Midland was recognized before the Lincoln. The two are contiguous in western Utah and eastern Nevada as far as Ely.

 

I look forward to more Death Valley photos.

 

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Rick,

 

I did an overlay of the 1927 USGS topo of the Keeler Darwin area on the Google Earth map. Unfortunately I don’t know how to share a live version, so you will have to look at jpgs. None the less, the road alignments are interesting and might provide a few reasons to turn off the modern road.

 

www.pair.com/justfolk/AR/Darwin1.jpg

www.pair.com/justfolk/AR/Darwin2.jpg

www.pair.com/justfolk/AR/Darwin3.jpg

 

I hope you enjoyed the 1913 story of the Indian woman and the camera at Tippets. You know Rishel was instrumental in getting the Lincoln re routed via Wendover.

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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Rick,

 

I did an overlay of the 1927 USGS topo of the Keeler Darwin area on the Google Earth map. Unfortunately I don’t know how to share a live version, so you will have to look at jpgs. None the less, the road alignments are interesting and might provide a few reasons to turn off the modern road.

 

www.pair.com/justfolk/AR/Darwin1.jpg

www.pair.com/justfolk/AR/Darwin2.jpg

www.pair.com/justfolk/AR/Darwin3.jpg

 

I hope you enjoyed the 1913 story of the Indian woman and the camera at Tippets. You know Rishel was instrumental in getting the Lincoln re routed via Wendover.

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

 

Keep!,

 

Those maps are fascinating as was the story. I am always amazed at the resources you have at your fingertips (or in that pile in the corner as the case may be) and thank you for sharing them with us. I guess the question to be answered is going to be whether those roads are still there and are they driveable?Google Earth should help but nothing beats an onsite inspection.

 

I opened up another thread specifically for Death Valley.

 

Roadhound

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Keep!,

 

Those maps are fascinating as was the story. I am always amazed at the resources you have at your fingertips (or in that pile in the corner as the case may be) and thank you for sharing them with us. I guess the question to be answered is going to be whether those roads are still there and are they driveable?Google Earth should help but nothing beats an onsite inspection.

 

I opened up another thread specifically for Death Valley.

 

Roadhound

 

Full disclosure demands that I note the 1927 USGS was from Chico State's website. My only contribution was to do the overlay. The 1913 magazine was mine.

 

I'll start tracking the Death Valley thread.

 

Keep the Show on the Road!

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