We interrupt our tales of Cookie’s travels in the Wild West for some “Breaking News”… For their next adventures, Cookie and her friends are heading North by Northwest!
Just like Roger Thornhill in Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller of the same name, we lived and worked in New York City for most of our lives before we decided to hit the road, heading for parts unknown. But unlike Thornhill, we’ve traveled across the country willingly, so we are hoping to avoid running into any nasty foreign agents… or being chased across the tops of National Monuments trying to evade Soviet spies!
All Come To Look For America
As we travel around this country, we are continually amazed by its tremendous diversity, not only in its landscapes, but most notably in the great rainbow of people, cultures and ideas that make up America, past, present and future. We’re from New York, where you can hear 110 different languages just by walking down the street. Steve Earle called it the “City of Immigrants,” and we firmly believe that in our diversity lies America’s greatest strength. The more we travel, the more obvious it is to us that this country, as it is today, was built by immigrants as well as by slaves. Likewise, the remnants we visit from the ancient American past reveal an even greater diversity of people and cultures, with thousands of languages, sophisticated trade, and advanced skills and knowledge in architecture, astronomy, agriculture and the arts. Despite all the efforts made to decimate them, they are still with us today, and we are the better for it.
Remember the Grape Boycott?
Our winter home is in the city of San Buenaventura California. We returned there for two weeks after our trip through the “Wild West” to plan our “North by Northwest” adventure. It’s the first time we have ever been in California in July! Ventura, as it is better known, is a diverse city that maintains its roots as farm country through its zoning regulations, so as you drive through the city, you will often pass fields with migrant workers before you enter the next residential area. So it should come as no surprise that only a couple of hours away, we will be visiting one of our newest National Monuments, the former home of Cesar Chavez, which still serves as the headquarters of the union movement he started and led, the National Farm Workers Association. We have wanted to visit Cesar Chavez National Monument since President Obama established it three years ago, but in a year when our Latino friends and neighbors are being vilified in a presidential election by a deplorable demagogue – from New York, no less! – it’s all the more important to recognize and honor the contributions of the hard working people we all depend on for our food.
This Monument is one part of a proposed National Historical Park that includes the Filipino Community Hall in Delano, CA where the five year long Delano Grape Strike and Boycott began in 1965, along with other sites associated with the fight for workers’ rights.
Appropriately, we will be camping in an orange grove our first night out!
It Could Never Happen Here?
Next, we travel north to Manzanar National Historical Park, the site of an infamous World War II internment camp, one of ten such camps where over 110,000 Japanese American citizens were “relocated” during the war.
This shameful episode in American history was the result of racism, bigotry and fear of “the other” during a time of national crisis. Some people today are spreading similar lies and fears and proposing racist “solutions,” but the history of Manzanar should serve as a cautionary tale.
We have heard that the National Park Service does a good job of telling the unvarnished truth about the harm done to so many loyal Americans by their own government and fellow citizens, simply because of their race and where they or their ancestors came from.
It’s important to remember what happened at Manzanar and places like it so that ignorance and fear never lead us to repeat such injustice.
Just up the road from Manzanar along the scenic US Highway 395, we plan to visit the Paiute Shoshone Cultural Center in Bishop, CA. We have visited many tribal sites and cultural centers on our journeys, and always find the stories of First Nations people to be fascinating.
Manzanar and Bishop are in between Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Death Valley, three fantastic National Parks we haven’t written about yet, but we will be camping right across from Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the “lower 48” states.
Oddly enough, you can’t see Mount Whitney from any of those parks because it’s hidden among other peaks in the Sierras, so we hope to finally have a few photos of the tallest peak to post, along with pictures of the incredible Sierra Nevada mountains that surround it.
There’s Gold In Them Thar Hills!
Scenic US Highway 395 continues north and so do we, to Bodie California.
Bodie was once a California gold rush boom town; now, it’s a ghost town, preserved as a California State Historic Park. We have heard from other “travelers” that Bodie is well worth a visit, and we plan to do so on this trip.
We’ll be camping on the shores of a reservoir for two nights, which might be the last body of water we see for a while as we head once again across the desert sands of Nevada. We’ll have more to say in another post about the journey we undertook last month on “The Loneliest Highway in America,” but that experience convinced us that our survival skills must be sufficient to brave crossing Nevada again, bound northeast to get to the Northwest this time.
Nevada is huge, so we’ve booked an overnight stay in Winnemucca (where??), and another overnight in Eastern Oregon, before we finally get to another National Monument, the John Day Fossil Beds. We never heard of this place until we discovered it on a National Park Service map, but pictures and descriptions of the area convinced us that it will be worth the trip.
We certainly hope that’s true, since it’s in such a remote area of Oregon that we had to veer away from a direct route to the Northwest for the previous two nights just to get there!
Picking Up Sacajawea’s Trail
After two days at John Day, we’ll be heading for another National Historical Park, this one on the site where Lewis and Clark camped in 1805 just before they got their first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean.
They never would have gotten there without their Shoshone guide, Sacajawea. It’s important to understand how much the earliest American explorers and pioneers depended on the help of native people. We’ll be camping at Fort Stevens, a Civil War fort that is now an Oregon State Park.
It has the distinction of being the only place in the United States that was fired upon by a foreign power – a Japanese submarine – during a time of war, since the War of 1812, which was fought against Great Britain.
Along the way to Lewis and Clark NHP, we’ll follow and camp along the Columbia River, just as Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery did over 200 years ago. Unlike them however, we’ll have full hookups for water, sewer and electric!
Finally, We’re Roughing It!
We have one more National Park visit planned before we start heading back south for the Fall. That’s a three day stay at North Cascades National Park in Washington State near the Canadian border.
We’ll be dry camping in the national park along the Skagit River… that means no hookups for water, sewer or electric for three days, so we’ll be running our generator and filling our holding tanks! We started off tent camping 35 years ago, so by camping, even dry camping in an RV, we’ll be a lot more pampered than we were in our tent or even in the pop-up we had for 20 years!
The Suspense Is Over… The “MacGuffin” Is Revealed!
On the way to North Cascades, we have an overnight stop planned in Kent, Washington, about ten minutes from our son Jesse and his wife Sheila. They promised to bring dinner!
After North Cascades, we’ll return south to a campground just north of Seattle for another visit with Jesse and Sheila, this time for five days. Our primary motivation for this whole trip … i.e. the mysterious reason that prompted our North by Northwest Adventure… is to visit our family! Jesse and Sheila recently bought a house we haven’t seen yet just outside Seattle, and our niece Carrie just bought a house in Capitol Hill in Seattle.
My sister Katherine is planning to fly there to see Carrie’s house, so we coordinated the dates to be there at the same time. This is the first year in our lives that we won’t be in New York, so we wouldn’t otherwise get to see Katherine, who lives in New Jersey. We’re really looking forward to this visit!
No More Unexpected Plot Twists… Please!
Once again this fall, we will be volunteering as camp hosts at Carpinteria State Beach in California.
We’ve done this every year but one since 2008, and it’s always great to spend three months on the beach, meeting and helping other campers and working with a great group of rangers, park aides snd othe volunteers.
We have just about a week to get back from Seattle to Southern California, but we’ve managed to fit in a few interesting
stops along the way, at Redwood National Park, Point Arena Lighthouse National Monument, Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park, and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. It looks like the five year drought in California is making this year’s wildfire season worse, so we’ll be keeping an eye on the California Wildfire Map
as we return south in the hope that our North by Northwest adventure doesn’t end up in a thrilling nail-biting climax!
The Moral Of Tonight’s Story Is…
If you haven’t done so yet, it’s not too late to start traveling around this country. Visit our National Parks and Monuments, our Historical Parks and Landmarks. They really are “America’s Greatest Idea.” And don’t forget the State Parks, the State Historic Parks, and the Tribal Parks and Cultural Centers – they are truly rich in the local history and cultures that make America so unique. If you have the time and the opportunity, by all means take to the roads – you can’t retrace the routes of Lewis and Clark, the Pony Express, the California Gold Rush prospectors or the Mormon pioneers; you can’t cruise Route 66, or really see America from the sky! But even if you can’t drive or fly there, or even leave your house to get there yourself, you don’t have to miss the bus! Come look for America, come travel with us, as we Travel With Cookie!