You never know what you can find and see until you go and look. I used to do a lot of driving across the country, and I made a point of getting off the Interstate system as often as I reasonably could to do just that – see what I could see. I found one of my favorite places on Earth doing that, Little Piney Creek WY. Go see it, you’ll understand.
At any rate, channeling my Dad again, I convinced him, Mom, my baby sister and my wife and son to take a day trip to Lone Pine, CA. This is a place I have wanted to go for many years, since I first saw the film “High Sierra” followed by my parents moving close to US395 in Eastern Kern County of California. I have long wanted to trace the route Roy “Mad Dog” Earle (Humphrey Bogart) takes as he runs from the Cops to the base of Mt. Whitney. The film is famous for its fantastic cinematography, and the beauty of the Eastern Sierras come through even in glorious Black & White.
Finally I got to go and see the Mountain, the Alabama Hills and the local film museum which details all the movies and TV shows that were filmed in the area, from Fatty Arbuckle to Robert Downey, Jr., Roy Rogers to Star Wars. I even got to drive through Lone Ranger Canyon, where the iconic TV show was filmed. But for me, walking where Humphrey Bogart himself filmed one of my all-time favorite films was the connection.
So it was a pretty great day with my family.
Along the way though was an example of see things you’ve never seen before. As we passed a “Ghost town,” Dad pointed to it and told me that he had heard that its name was “Done Moving,” and although he did not know why, he suspected that it was because whenever the founders got there they were… well… done moving.
My Dad is a Ghost Town guy. Some people like bars, some like ballparks (me), my dad loves a good ghost town, and the more obscure, the better. we once took the family, and my Uncle Rogers’ family to the high Colorado Rockies to a Ghost Town named Bowman, Colorado. It was once a Stage Coach stop on the way to Aspen, and by the time our combined Bowman families spent a week camping there one summer all that was left was a chimney and a rusty Model T car. There was also a giant log which had fallen across the creek which we decided we would cut in half with our hatchet. As far as I know, it’s still there.
Dad and I made trips to the Alpine Tunnel and one famous trip to Hancock and Tin Cup, which somehow or another we managed to do on one of the coldest days in Colorado history AND we forgot to bring propane for the stove. Cold Spaghetti-O’s is still our private joke, a beloved memory and the reason that I never – ever – ate Spaghetti-O’s again.
So on our day trip to Lone Pine we drove past Dunmovin, CA, a California Ghost town. It was, in fact, founded, or at least renamed, by a couple of eastern Rock Collectors whose car broke down at the place, and they decided after years of driving the country collecting interesting rocks, that they were in fact, done moving. You can read about it, of all places, in a 1998 article from the Wall St. Journal.
I didn’t get any pictures of Dunmovin, but I got plenty in the Alabama Hills and headed up the Whitney Portal Road, which was closed, supposedly for winter weather, of which there was almost no evidence, as you can see. We ended up at my sisters favorite Pizza place in Lone Pine, and buying Ben a souvenir bag of rocks.
I sat next to my Dad as we drove home, looking at stars that are clearer and brighter than anywhere you can imagine and remembering a lifetime of trips and adventures that now continue with my own son.
Another Ghost Town memory with my Dad…