The road less traveled by

Friday, October 25

Upon finishing our breakfasts, the crew and I board the Perfect Tow Vehicle and rumble over the rock and sand lane that is our campsite’s driveway.  We leave Alabama Hills, turn left at Lone Pine’s lone stoplight, and head north on Route 395.

I don’t have a set destination.

Not far out of Lone Pine, I pull over and park the PTV to photograph this bucolic scene.

1-DSC01052I’m reminded of Old Master paintings.

1-DSC01051We continue northward through Owens Valley.  The Inyo Mountains are on our right.

1-DSC01059On our left the majestic Sierras . . .

1-DSC01061We pass a sign announcing that the Manzanar internment facility is up ahead on the left.  Several cars and RVs are in the lot.  Soon we approach Manzanar Reward Road that cuts across the divided highway.

I have a choice.

I can choose the way of most people.  I can turn left and visit the historic site, a place of sadness, fear, despair and shame.  Or I can turn right onto the less traveled road.


I turn right.

The road crosses an old airplane runway.  We come to a small bridge over a canal.  All around the colors are beautiful shades of autumn.

1-DSC01068“Okay!  Let’s get out and take a walk!”  Bridget and Spike howl with delight.  I run around and open the side door.  They spill out of the PTV.

“Over this way!” 

Bridget sees the lane and scampers ahead, her tail spinning like a propeller.  Spike trots behind her.  Those are two very happy pups.  I smile.

1-DSC01072I keep a close eye on Spike.  I don’t think this is a good place for him to soak.  Fortunately he seems to agree and keeps his explorations on the bank with Bridget.

1-DSC01079One golden tree catches my eye.  It’s way across a field.  I zoom in.

1-DSC01065We don’t walk far.  I know that Bridget and Spike will be ready to take their morning nap soon.

1-DSC01075Gee, I could be over at the interment camp on this gorgeous autumn day. 

I’d rather be here.

1-DSC01078I always put a spill-proof dish of water on the floor of the PTV before we go anywhere.  I set it on the ground for the crew. 

We continue further toward the Inyo Mountains.  Now they’ll nap and I can concentrate on finding photos.

1-DSC01098Each time I stop and get out to take a photo, I check the ground for a rattler who may have come out of the grass to sun himself.

1-DSC01096It’s impossible for me to be in a place such as this without being filled with gratitude for being alive.

1-DSC01100Spike is fast asleep.  Bridget watches earnestly from the passenger seat.

“Take your nap, honey.  I’m not going to leave you.”

1-DSC01087No one seems to be anywhere on or along this road.  The morning hours fly by.

1-DSC01112I’d wander here all day if not for the light changing.  The softness of morning light is replaced by bright sunshine.  Sometime near noon the PTV carries us back to our camp in the Alabama Hills.



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71 Responses to The road less traveled by

  1. Hotel California says:

    Oh, look! I made the first comment.

  2. Diane, Blue Ridge Mts. VA says:

    OMG Sue, photos…painterly is not the word, the shot of the cottonwoods and the white buds lower left, serpentine light (the third up from the end of blog) is or should be a universal print. It is gorgeous!
    I knew you and crew would take the road less traveled. Enjoy. We are all enjoying it with you.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Diane,

      I was enchanted by the scene you mention. It was a magical place. I took about ten photos of that one area. It was so lovely.

  3. Cinandjules (temp in CA) says:

    Your photos are absolutely stunning. The colors are so vivid yet the photos are soft. If that makes any sense to you!

    Somehow I knew you would choose the road less traveled!

    Bridget is leading the way? good girl Bridget. She’s looking back at you saying “come on”……take the picture already!

    I think visiting a place like Manzanar would be a place where one goes to just visualize …stand there listening to the wind and not say a word. Is that weird? I don’t know if it is actually even windy there.

    Enjoy your weekend!

    • Sierra Foothill Mama says:

      Windy is the Owens valleys middle name.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Cinandjules,

      Glad you like the pics! Yes, the photos are soft because the dried grasses and brush look that way. Except for one photo which is terribly out of focus but I like the way it looks, so I posted it anyway.

      No, listening to the wind is not weird.

      Manzanar has a building where exhibits are shown. There isn’t much to see outside. It needs to be remembered and it’s good that people can go there. It might be helpful for those who suffered in the camp to go back and come to terms with what happened.

      But for me, I couldn’t see spending a minute there on such a beautiful day.

  4. Sierra Foothill Mama says:

    As a kid in the 50’s and 60’s I traveled 395 many, many times traveling from China Lake, on the western end of the Owens valley to my grand parents house between Carson City and Reno. The eastern sierras has a special magic that you captured so very well in your photographs. Thanks for sharing.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thank YOU! Your approval of my photos means a lot, since Owens Valley is a big part of your childhood.

  5. PJ Carr says:

    The “The Road Less Traveled”. This was a great choice and many cannot take this road. PJ Carr

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, PJ… That’s why it is a privilege to be able to share it with my readers, especially those who cannot see it for themselves.

  6. Deborah says:

    Your photography makes me take a very deep breath, letting go of all stress. Beautiful images but more than that, they are true art, able to change my emotions as I look at them. Thanks for taking us all there with you. Your photographic eye is well trained!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Deborah,

      I notice that readers respond to photos of the scenes that “stirred my soul” (sorry to be overly dramatic here) when I first came upon them, rather than simply good compositions. Interesting. To be able to relieve your stress . . . fantastic!

      Thank you for the very high praise . . .

  7. Dawn says:

    Sigh. Just what I needed after a long day at work! Favorite photo of this group? Loved the cows of course but was struck most by the fence post in the grass. And that one golden tree… 🙂

    HOWEVER, also loved that I could envision myself in that place, with the mountains on the Sierras on the left and the Inyo mountains on the right. Thanks for taking me on a mini vacation!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Dawn,

      You “got” the fence post! I wondered if anyone would see it the way I do.

      The golden tree reminds me of a scene in an Elizabeth Taylor movie, one of her earlier ones I think… “Raintree Country”? I don’t know. Anyway, she runs and sits at the base of this glorious golden tree. Being a kid who wandered the woods alone, I used to look for a tree like that.

      Thanks for the kind comment. It’s my pleasure to take you on a mini-vacation!

      • Eileen P. says:

        Ditto on the fence post photo — I scrolled back up to it after I finished reading the post. Very, very nice.
        Eileen in Phoenix

  8. Diann in MT says:

    Splendid photography! Splendid setting! Bridget and Spike benefitted so much from your decision to turn right. The day was too beautiful to not revel in Earth’s glory and count your blessings. Lucky, lucky you…Lucky, lucky crew.
    Continued bountiful options, Sue!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Diann,

      Thank you. Yes, what a beautiful place . . . Everything came together . . . the setting, the time of year, the day, a good camera, and sweet companions.

      Oh, and people to share it with!

  9. mary strasser says:

    How wonderful to have your photographic eye and camera in sync with each other. What a treat for your readers!

  10. Teri in SoCal says:

    I think that these are some of your best photos. They look like beautiful paintings.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Teri,

      I don’t intend on turning this blog into a photography blog. Sometimes I can’t help but share the beauty I find and also what this camera can do, even in the hands of an amateur. Thanks for the compliment.

  11. Deb from NJ says:

    Just have to agree with above….your photos are wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

  12. What I liked best was the at times mono-chromatic effect of the scenery. Yellows, beiges, soft colors in the soft morning light. I, too, especially loved the fence post scene. Several years ago I did a Vision Quest for three days and three nights in the Mojave. I spent hours and hours lying on the ground watching ants and other insects and spiders living their lives. It’s not often that I take the time to simply be an observer of the small flora and fauna in my life.
    Those photos were small, soft, delightful. Thanks for sharing, Sue.

    PS: I think I learned this in school: The Sierra Nevada is singular – it’s a mountain range. They are the Sierra Nevada mountains. Just info for trivia buffs.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Mary-Pat,

      I, too, enjoy the soft colors. As gorgeous as the dramatic, colorful fall display is in places like Vermont, my excursion in Owens Valley showed me an equally lovely display. The glow of dried grasses and bushes in morning light . . . exquisite!

      Thanks for writing and for the encouragement on my photography.

    • Ed says:

      Mary-Pat Sherman got it almost correct. Sierra is singular and means mountain range, however Sierras may also be used if referring to mountain ranges in the plural.
      What irritates me, and is a very common mistake, is to say Sierra Nevada Mountains. This is the same as saying Snow Covered Mountains Mountains. It is such a prevalent mistake that it has become common usage and generally acceptable to non-spanish speakers.

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        So if I’m understanding you correctly, Ed, I shouldn’t say “The Sierras are west of us” but rather, “The Sierra are west of us.”

        However, I’m wondering . . . Since I’m not communicating in Spanish, the anglicized use of the word might be “The Sierras are west of us.” Your thoughts?

        • Ed says:

          “The Sierras are west of us” would be correct in English. The Sierras = The Mountain Ranges (plural)
          In English “The Sierra are” would not be correct. Sierra= The Mountain Range (singular)

          There is no Spanish word “Sierras”. The Spanish would probably say ‘dos sierra’ for two mountain ranges or ‘mucha sierra’ for a lot of mountain ranges. It is our use of Spanish words and forgetting what the translation means that allows us to say Sierra Mountains or “Mountain Range Mountains”. Not all that important but it offends the ear of the people that have lived in the shadow of the Sierra(s) for any length of time.

  13. Donna P says:

    Wow, these photos are impressive. It seems as if your photography is getting much better. Must be all the practice you get…or do you have a super duper camera? Good job.

  14. Pauline says:

    Beautiful pictures as always. I really love the one with the fence post. It is so calming to look at your pictures. You see beauty that most people are too busy to see.

    My reconstruction surgery went fine. I am not Dolly P but I feel more complete than I have in a long time.

    Love you Susan, happy trails.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Pauline,

      Oh! The surgery is over. Thank God! You have been incredibly brave and upbeat through a long, scary ordeal. I’m sure you’ve helped many women along the way by your example. I’m very proud of you, Pauline! I love you! You should have a ta-ta party . . . 🙂

  15. Betty -Shea says:

    Hi Sue,These photos are beautful! They will certainly be favorite “Rearview Mirror” treasures.:).You are blessed….keep enjoying and sharing!:).

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks, Betty. That’s what’s great for me about blogging. I can return to places I’ve been with the crew.

  16. Allison says:

    I know how you feel about depressing monuments, but Manzanar is an exceptional telling of the story. There is the first building details the hatred and political intrigue which resulted in the internment of the mainland Japanese. This did not happen in Hawai’i because their labor was needed for the war effort. The best building was the mess hall, where they describe how the internees took a wretched place of exile and built the gardens and pools that provided beauty in a harsh environment. The mess hall also describes how difficult it was to maintain family cohesion.
    There are many stops along the 3 mile drive that have been excavated, with pictures of what it used to look like. We went three times and left with a feeling of shame for what the racist government of the time perpetrated, and admiration for how well the Japanese coped with the situation. The Park Service has done an outstanding job of curating the facility.
    Where you were driving is near the sewage treatment plant that was built for the camp. Water came from the Sierras, flowed through the camp, through the treatment plant and on down hill. We looked at that, as well.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Allison,

      How very interesting… I appreciate you sharing information about the place and what happened there. I don’t mean to discourage people from visiting the Manzanar site. My blog is an expression of me, including why I do the things I do and go where I go. I avoid places that stir up my feelings, just as I avoid certain music that has a depressing effect on me.

      I’m glad you took the time to describe your experience visiting the site. You give balance to the presentation of the Manzanar historical site for me and readers of this blog.

  17. Bill & Ann says:

    Beautiful. Wish we were there. Our old stomping grounds as teenagers.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Bill and Ann,

      I can easily imagine you two as teenagers . . . 🙂 I wish you were here, too. We have to get together this winter!

  18. Wow, Sue, beautiful pictures. And what a coincidence, I just finished a blog about visiting the graves site of Robert Frost, the man who wrote the title of your blog today.

    You can read my article here:

    You are such a brave spirit to travel these kinds of roads. Yet you are also so richly rewarded. I hope I can be like you when I finally get to retire and hit the open road.


    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Rosemary,

      Lovely blog! Very informative, interesting and great pictures. I particularly enjoyed the recent post about Bennington, VT. That’s the area of my childhood. Thanks for the link.

      I’m not brave. Other people are scared which makes me look brave. 🙂

  19. Cari in North Texas says:

    I know you said you weren’t going to turn this into a photography blog, and I appreciate that. However, your pictures add so much to your words that I hope you continue to include them! This post has some beautiful shots – my favorite is the closeup of the golden tree.

    I lived in San Diego for awhile back in the 80’s, and my brother was in Ridgecrest, south of where you are now. I remember visiting him and seeing some similar landscapes. Desolate in one way, but attractive in another. Looking at your photos I get the sensations of the dry air I remember feeling when I was there, and the absolute quiet.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Cari,

      If I remember correctly from our trek south last fall, the area around Ridgecrest is more “desolate” than here, but as you pointed out, it has it’s own appeal.

      No, I’d never give up my original story-telling, canine-caper format of this blog. Too many readers love the crew! Strange as it may seem, the photos sometimes help me write a story. In other words, they tell me where to start and where to finish, and some of the sequence in between.

      • Sierra Foothill Mama says:

        I was raised in China Lake, the Navy town right next to Ridgecrest and it true that is drier than the northern Owens Valley. As a girl scout we would go camp along Owens valley’s creeks and canyons with cottonwoods in the spring and fall. In the 50s and 60, when it was still legal my mom and dad took us on treasure hunts looking for old bottles in mining camps. I still have the bottles we found in my home. In the fall we went gathering pinion pine nuts. What a wonderful smell of that pinion pine pitch that stuck to everything. I can smell that strong pine scent and the wonderful smell of sage to this day.

  20. Hi Sue – we did visit Manzanar, and were also impressed (as one of your readers commented), with the quality representation the National Park Service has delivered at this historic site.
    The area you so stunningly photographed indeed brings back the “flavor” of the old masters. And oh my goodness…your crew is just as cute as cute can be!!!! Look forward to your posts and loving your photos!!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, JoAnne,

      Bridget and Spike were so cute when we went on our walk along the canal. They are such good buddies. Spike is so emotionally reticent. He’s like the kind of man who can only tolerate one friend. Bridget is it! Watching both of them excited about a new place warmed my heart.

      Thanks for the compliment and enthusiasm for my posts and pics!

  21. I now have your golden cottonwood tree as my wallpaper! I love it! Tonight we are camped at Lake Columbia Arkansas, near town of Magnolia. Feeling the south here, cypress trees in the lake turning autumn orange, beautiful magnolia trees. This is a small county park with maybe 20 sites W/E for $12 per night. There are only 6 or so other campers here. Nice! Your photo eye is really tuning in to some beautiful images! Photography is so much fun! Hugs to the crew!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Geri,

      Cypress and magnolia trees… You must not have far to go. That’s a good deal, water and elec. for twelve bucks.

      Hugs to the Doog and Radar… Stay safe!

  22. Chuck Hajek says:

    Lone Pine has a STOPLIGHT now?????? Well, it has been awhile since I’ve been there….great pix.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Yep, Lone Pine has a stoplight. And it has three colors: green, yellow, and red. It’s at the corner of the main street and Whitney Portal Rd.

  23. ronaldesears says:

    Boy have I missed your posting. My comp. took a left turn somewhere and put a security alert on your page and would not let me in until now..Almost a full month and it looks like you have been busy. Hope you are well and I will spend some of this weekend reading what you’ve been up to.. Be safe..Ron

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Ron! Great to have you back!

      So I’ve been a security risk? It’s probably something I said. I make trouble that way.

      You be safe, too . . .

  24. Lacy G. says:

    Absolutely breath taking. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  25. mary strasser says:

    Tie down the pups and the antenna, the winds are a’coming your way.
    Hope you don’t get caught up in the storm.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Mary . .. Here in Lone Pine we’re looking at showers tomorrow (Mon.) along with wind. Cooler weather is on its way…

  26. Miss Sheri Forget Mr. Ed, he's hiding under the platform bed. says:

    Hello Sue, my name is Sheri and I am a newbie at this road traveling and have quite a dilema and some of it may be a little personal. I know that you don’t know me but I need help. I’m not sure of the kind of clothes to bring or how much. Especially intimates long pants sweaters . jackets, that kind of stuff. Shoes socks you know, to keep a warm weather girl warm How many times do you go to the laundry mat ?
    Mr.Ed is laughing his ass off at my dilema. He thinks I only need one of everything
    Here’s my itinerary: Texas Gulf coast in January, then meandering to Arizona,lower Tuscon, Ojo. Then in Feb. March April and May, up 395 Calif. the same route you’re taking and going to Northwest Oregon for the summer. If you don’t want this out o n the we, here is my e-mail address: Thank you for any help you can give me. Miss Sheri

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Miss Sheri,

      I want to be helpful but I don’t know how much I can be. I’ve been to the places on your itinerary. However, I haven’t been to them during the seasons you will be. So I really can’t advise you based on personal experience. I also don’t know how limited or expansive your storage space is.

      I can offer these suggestions: Most importantly, have plenty of socks and underwear, like a month’s supply. One pair closed-toe shoes, one pair sandals. I like to layer clothing — I have cotton camisoles, tank tops, tee shirts, long-sleeved button-up shirts. A couple of pants (long, capri, shorts). A vest with big pockets is handy for in-between weather. You could leave coats behind if you bring a sweatshirt (jacket or crew neck), so you can layer during cool mornings and evenings in southern AZ in Jan. Keep in mind that I don’t wear anything dressier than camp clothes.

      That’s a great itinerary. Have fun!

  27. Evelyn says:

    Sue and Miss Sheri, I too have wondered about the clothes question. Thank you for the advice on underwear and socks. That is a good idea, a months supply, at least. I also wonder if you feel safe at night? Have you ever had to go bailing out of you rv in your ‘night cloths’? Is it a good idea to sleep in something that one could wear outside just in case, or is that something that we don’t need to worry about, or am I worrying about that unnecessarily? Love your pics. And my new Benchmark California road and recreation atlas came yesterday, so I can now follow along with the rest of the class(classroom humor there) ha.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Evelyn,

      It’s strange how I’ll think of something and then the next morning, I go online and read a comment about what I was thinking. That’s what you did!

      I almost included this in my reply to Miss Sheri, but I didn’t because it was a long reply: Yes! Buy “pajamas” that you can wear in public.

      About two years ago I found thin, stretchy, cotton pants on sale at WalMart (where else) for $3 each. I bought 4 of them (solid color in black, burgundy, tan, and white) in a size that fits loosely. I have several sleep shirts of varied weights to go with them.

      A person wouldn’t need that many, but I have the space in the PTV, so I stocked up.

      Especially when camping in a campground with two dogs — one that has to go out immediately upon waking — it helps to be able to run out the door and look dressed. Sometimes I lounge in them at a boondock campsite well into the day.

      You have a California Benchmark! I saw the order. Thank you. Now go to the head of the class!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi again, Evelyn,

      I neglected to answer your question… “Do I feel safe at night?”

      Yes! I feel as safe as I ever did in a house sitting in a neighborhood. Actually I feel safer.

      When we boondock we usually have absolute silence at night which is divine. Any noise has an explanation and is nothing to fear — an owl hooting, creaking branches, leaves rustling in a breeze, a coyote howling, a train rumbling in the distance, whistle blowing . . .

  28. trekon5 says:

    Sue and crew,

    I just found your blog a couple of weeks ago – finished reading from the start to current this AM. What an awesome adventure you are on!!! We stay primarily in public campgrounds (state parks, COE parks, regional parks) with hook-ups but reading about your boondocking makes me want to get solar for our MH!! Thanks for sharing your experiences and allowing the rest of us to come along for the ride.


    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Sue . . .

      Welcome to my blog! Thank you for reading our travels from the beginning. I always take that as a huge compliment.

      As you know, I love solar power. I don’t miss all the appliances — microwave, hair blower, etc. Solar fits nicely into a simple lifestyle, plus it’s quiet!

      I hope you will stop by and comment whenever the mood strikes you or when you have a question. If I can’t answer, my readers are very helpful.

  29. Trip and Lisa says:

    Hey Sue,,,Your never gonna beleive what I found tonight,way cool.
    So on our trip to the local Wally World store,there is was,,,,no Sue,,,Not those chickens on a spit,altho,I’m sure they were there as well,this was better.
    There is was,setting center isle as if to reel me in setting there in between the Haloween Candy,,,all boxed up and ready to go.
    It was a chicken on a spit roaster Sue with a picture of a nice juicy chicken roasting on the front of the box.
    Well,who do you think I thought of when I saw that thing Sue?.
    49.00 bucks Sue and it might just fit somewhere in the PTV for use when you want it.Why,you could even do Pork with it Sue,like they used to make back home in Georgia.
    I gotta go Sue.Gonna run back up there and get one for our 5er before they sell out.
    Next winter you can stop by our place somewhere out in the desert for a spit chicken.
    Have a great week Sue,Woof,Woof,that would be me,lol.
    PS: I better see how many watts that thing uses first,huh?

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Trip and Lisa,

      You are so funny! No, I don’t want to carry around a rotisserie. 🙂 I hope you got the deal though!

      You know how RVers have cards made up with their phone number and email address? Well, if I ever do that, which I probably won’t, but anyway… I’ll have a fat chicken on a spit as a logo in the center of the card.

      Gee, maybe this will catch on and first thing you know, you’ll go into Safeway or WalMart and you’ll see a sign… “Today only! RVSue chickens only $6.99” or “RVSue hot off the spit — $6.99!”

      I can hear kids whining around dinner tables … “Oh no, not RVSue AGAIN! ”

      Enjoy your new cooker!

  30. Miznoah says:

    You said once you wanted the CD “Through a Dog’s Ear, Music to Calm Your Dog in the Car.” Did you ever get one? I have one I would be glad to send you. Our littlest dog was having trouble traveling for a short while, but in the end I think it was the car and the noise it was making. She travels now without any problems.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Miznoah,

      No, I never got that CD. Spike and Bridget don’t need it. If anything, Spike needs uppers when we make a long move to our next camp. He sleeps all day.

      Thanks for the offer. I’d rather you give it to someone with a nervous dog. I’m glad your pup is fine on the road now.

  31. Personally, I think it’s well worth visiting Manzanar. It’s an important part of our shared history, and it’s important to remember what we did to some of those among us, in the hope of preventing a repeat in the future.

    There is an altar at the site that is covered with momentos and well wishes from Japanese visitors. I found that very moving, and the energy around it was very uplifting rather than depressing.

    I’m a 40 year lover/hiker/skier/biker/visitor of the Eastern Sierras. One day my husband and I plan to hike the John Muir Trail in it’s entirety to completely immerse ourselves in this incredible region.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Tamara,

      Wow! That would be an incredible hike! I hope you and your husband do it.

      Yes,I agree. It is very important to remember that shameful part of American history. Other readers have commented also that the site is worth a visit. I tend to pick up sadness very easily, especially in places where it originated, so in order to protect my well-being, I have to avoid sites like that. I’m glad you were able to go and found it uplifting.

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