Friday, July 8, 2016

7/8/16-Part 1, Alabama Hills Lone Pine CA 20160422-20160505

The Alabama Hills are located just outside Lone Pine, CA, at the base of Mt. Whitney in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Mt. Whitney has an elevation of 14,505 feet, and I will write more about it in my next post.

In stark contrast, the Alabama Hills are at an elevation of 5,354 feet, and are made of hills and rock formations covering 30,000 acres of desert. The entire recreation area is cared for and managed by the BLM and the Alabama Hills Stewardship Group.

Over my next few posts I hope to show you just how amazing this entire area is. One of the things I found most remarkable is just how many movies have been filmed in the Alabama Hills! It is a movie mecca known as the “Hollywood Back Lot.”

If you’re like me, you grew up watching old westerns. A great majority of them were filmed here because the director could shoot one scene on one side of the rocks, move to the other side. and it looked so entirely different it could be a different season, year or town. Or, as in the case of Iron Man, it could even appear to be in an entirely different country. Amazing!

There are signs all over the Alabama Hills that depict filming history, and there is also a film historymuseum in town which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Here is just a fraction of the list of movies made in this area (in no particular order):

Tarzan films, Rawhide series, Gunga Din, How the West Was Won, Hopalong Cassidy, Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and John Wayne movies, Lone Ranger series, Bonanza shows, Star Trek V and VII, Tremors, Gladiator, and Iron Man

As you look at the following pics as well as pics in the next few posts, try to imagine them as scenes in TV shows and feature films. Fun!

This was my first campsite.

Then when I moved sites I woke up every morning looking at a crocodile. Or is it an alligator? ;))

Here is the campsite from a distance.

And the same view at sunset.

Can you see Nonni in this next pic?

Hint: She's at the top of the hill between the rocks.

Coming back from a walk....

As we got closer I spotted a raven at our campsite. He stayed there until we got all the way to the van.

And this is just me being silly. Thank you, Tracy, for my wonderful parasol.

Here is a dust storm that rolled in.

And the clouds in the sky were constantly changing.

a FISHBON cloud!

Here are a few miscellaneous pics. I call the first one “falling faces.”

There are tons of campsites in Alabama Hills.

The rock face peering out in this next pic reminds me of something, but I can’t recall what. Any ideas?

I can’t help but wonder if this next one inspired some of the masks in the Gladiator movie.

Once again, me being silly....

And here’s a video of Nonni and Bentley being silly on one of our walks while at Alabama Hills. The old guy, Bentley (13) leaves Nonni (10) in the dust, but it doesn’t take her long to get turned around and catch up! They are having such fun. I love my furbabies!


I loved the Alabama Hills and Lone Pine, and can hardly wait to re-visit that area again one day, but it was also a stressful time for me – mainly because my relationship with Colvin was unraveling faster than I could catch up, and my symptoms were increasing. I’m not sure which affected which more.

It surprised me that even just changing dishwashing soap was a major ordeal for me. At the time, I tweeted that the change in color was very confusing for me. The new color was close to my DIY windex and often I found myself trying to wash dishes with the ammonia mix. Labels didn’t help. For whatever reason, it is gaps like that that my brain chooses not to jump over. I get stuck. I can sit there and hold both bottles (dishwashing liquid and DIY windex) in my hands and tell my brain over and over which is which, but until it decides to connect the dots, choosing dishwashing liquid over an ammonia mix can take me several minutes, every time. Still.

I also got lost while walking in Alabama Hills a couple of times. I would take a road (or a path) that I thought circled or went straight in and straight out, but I would end up having to climb rocks to get a good view and get oriented toward camp again. The very first pic in this blog post is of such an instance. I never went all that far, at least not like we used to, but the furbabies and I got very hot and disoriented one time so it was disconcerting.

A lot of the time it would just be silly things I would do – nothing life threatening, but I could tell things weren’t right in my head. (And yes, you can laugh about that. I do. Humor helps.) For example, one morning I was feeding the dogs. It was taking forever and I knew something was wrong with the way I was doing it, but I couldn’t figure it out. It turns out that I was using a teaspoon to scoop the dog food instead of their scoop. That’s not a big deal by itself, but the fact that I couldn’t figure it out was what bothered me. Yes, humor helps.

A lot of people tell me they have brain burps all the time. I suppose the difference is, for me, that I have to concentrate every waking moment of every single day to minimize them. Nothing gets to be involuntary or automatic anymore. I have to think about everything

The Rest of the Story

I spent a lot of time alone in the Alabama Hills because Colvin would get frustrated and just leave. As my stress level increased I even found myself screaming at Colvin – all in frustration and fear, and totally out of character. (Those of you who know me can vouch for that.) I’ve read a lot about dementia and Alzheimer’s, and my sister has been recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s so I'm very familiar with the progression of those illnesses, but no one knows what to expect long-term with my brain injury. So, to be honest, I was getting really scared that my symptoms were escalating out of control much like dementia or Alzheimer's. Loss of temper and/or rage can be signs of final stages in brain disorders so I couldn’t help but wonder if my days of being independent were coming to an end.

I left Alabama Hills on May 5, and Colvin and I split for good on May 10. After that, I had a month of horrible symptoms but I am happy to report that my symptoms seem to have stabilized. They’re worse than when I hit the road last year, but so far they are manageable (more to come on that). For now, I just want to say that I have never felt more blessed or more loved in my life than I do these days.

I know without a doubt that I would be in assisted living if it weren’t for the loving, wonderful people in my life I call my tribe. You know who you are. Thank you for getting me through all of this. Thank you for being patient with me as I learn what I can do, what I can’t do, and who I am as it continually changes. My light shines bright today, and as always, life is good – no matter what.

Live the life you want to live - now. Namaste.


  1. This looks like my kind of boondocking area!! Days upon days of not seeing anyone.....bliss! And I know I don't have to tell YOU this, but every day is truly a gift.

    1. You would love it there, John. Solitude camping yet minutes away from a marvelous, historic town. Awesomeness all around. The day I left there was a movie crew settling in and traffic was picking up (tremendously, insanely so), but other than that it was nice and quiet. And yes, every day, every minute, is truly a gift.

  2. awesome and stunning photos, those views are beyond amazing and also i am an avid lover of all things westerns and all the movies you listed i have seen... so sorry your symtoms have escalated. some of them sound a lot like dementia and altzheimers and i was glad to see you realized that... i know you dread the time will come that you have to be assted. God bless those that are helping. be careful on that getting lost thing.

    1. Thank you, Sandra! When I go back I will get pics of specific film sites just for you my dear. :)) You and I have never met in person and yet you get me and are so in tune with me, as I am you. Thank you for "seeing" me. I sure hope I get to meet you in person one day my friend. And no worries on the getting lost thing. I no longer travel by myself or camp by myself and rarely even take walks by myself anymore, but it's all good. Life out here is awe-mazing and I am truly blessed. Grateful for every moment. Big hugZ to you!

  3. I adore that first photo. I know you were lost and stressed when you took it. But, what a view! You really captured my memories of the Alabama Hills in that pic. I love you and miss you. Consider you and your furbabies hugged from me.

    1. Hello beautiful friend! I love that pic too. Yes, I was lost and stressed, but I was so darn proud of myself for figuring out I could climb the rocks and get my bearings. Up until that moment I was getting really scared. So now when I look at it I remember that I felt brave. :))

      I love you and miss you too! Write when you can and let me know how your trip went. (You're back, right? LOL. If not, *when* you get back, write. Ha!)Consider yourself hugged as well, always. xoxo

  4. Just gorgeous! I am so glad that being out in nature is healing for you. ♡♡♡

    1. Thank you, beautiful earth angel mine. Without you, I wouldn't be here. I love you!

  5. Wow those are some amazing pictures, can't wait to visit there. Glad to hear you are doing better, love your smiling pictures. :)

    Take care,


    1. Thank you, Tinabeane! The weather was perfect while I was there. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Thank you too for the encouragement. Happy trails!


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