We have enjoyed our stay here in the Owens River Valley so much we decided to stay one more day. The weather in this location between the Sierra Nevada mountains and the various mountain groups that rim Death Valley is fabulous at the moment and probably very nice year round. In the valley it is warm enough to wear shorts right now, which means it's probably very hot in the summer. But no problem. Each canyon that indents into the mountains has a road going up it. Today we traveled from 5,000' to 9,000' in about a twenty minute drive. Hiking trails and small campgrounds abound on each of these roads. Many of the campgrounds do not have many services, but many towns have spots to empty holding tanks, take on fresh water, or take a hot shower. A camping mecca.
The extra day allowed us to visit a few more spots. The Mt. Whitney fish hatchery was constructed in 1915 and planned to "match the mountains, lasting forever and being a showplace for all time." The walls 2 -3 feet thick made of uncut granite rock gathered in the area. A flood damaged the actual hatchery, but the magnificent building could hold its own with any vineyard building in Napa Valley.
We visited Manzanar National Historic Site, a recreation of another location where Japanese-Americans were interred during World War II. I wrote about this topic when we visited Minidoka
in Idaho. Here there are more extensive recreation of the buildings where innocent people lived their lives in limbo, waiting for the war to end.
Today this spot is god forsaken arid land, but every so often we find ourselves driving along or crossing the Los Angeles aqueduct. This big ditch was built in 1913 to bring gravity fed water from the Owens River valley over 200 miles to the thirsty south. The stealth and deception used to obtain the region's land and water rights became grist for books and movies that portrayed the dark underbelly of Los Angeles' formative years, and inspired deep-seated suspicions about the city's motives that linger to this day. The aqueduct took all the water from the 62-mile-long Lower Owens River. It also denied water to the river's massive catch basin, Owens Lake, which evaporated into salt flats prone to choking dust storms. I keep wondering how this area would look today if the decision to build it had not been made. I imagine metro Los Angeles would look a lot different, too.
We ended our day in Bishop at the Chocolate Art Walk. Stores in the central business district gave out chocolate in various forms while visitors enjoyed the art for sale on their walls and listened to local musicians. It was a good excuse to get people like us to stop by and maybe even buy something. A lovely way to end our stay in the Owen Valley.