A Cotton Candy Sunrise, Overlanding On Movie Road, And Campfire Cooking In The Alabama Hills
After tearing through the American west, it is a relief to finally take a bit of time to relax in the Alabama Hills. Those familiar with the location are envious. Those who are not familiar probably question what a place called “Alabama Hills” is doing outside of the state of Alabama. But, I assure you, you are familiar with these hills, even if you didn’t already know it.
Overlanding On Movie Road
Despite past visits to the Eastern Sierras and our best intentions, we have never before made it out to Movie Road. This gravel path through the Alabama Hills directs you past many filming locations for Hollywood Westerns as well as settings for India, Afghanistan, and the terrain of distant planets.
Odds are, the movies have taken you to the Alabama Hills many times without even telling you! The large, dramatic boulders set against the looming Sierra Nevadas and Mount Whitney have served as the setting for The Lone Ranger, Star Trek, and even Iron Man.
Cotton Candy Sunrise
We settle in for two nights of camping in the Alabama Hills. The first morning, the clouds sit like pink cotton candy over the rosy Sierra Nevadas. Here we are in the Eastern Sierras: a land of turbulent winds, towering boulders, and brilliant vistas. And we experience it all with our Avion.
We see our camper in a new light. It may not be finished or even fully insulated. We may freeze in it every night and hastily bundle into layers every morning. Yet, to us, it is beautiful.
I don’t cook at every campground we stay. Sometimes the weather is too harsh or we are too worn out. But the best camping trips always involve nurturing that flame to life and setting up the dutch oven for some hearty cooking. Despite the fierce winds that blow through the Alabama Hills and the cold weather, I delight in the soothing actives of chopping and frying away.
The Whitney Portal
Mount Whitney is the tallest mountain in the lower 48. Whitney Portal is the highest you can drive a vehicle onto Mount Whitney. It is a narrow road with steep cliffs and sharp switch backs. We drove to the base, saw the sign advising people not to travel the road with trailers, and thought better of the whole endeavor.
Such was not the case in Lucile Ball and Desi Arnaz’s 1953 film The Long, Long Trailer where the two play newlyweds making small talk while determinedly trying to ignore the dangerously dizzying heights they are dragging their titular long, long trailer. Scenes of Lucy taking a big gulp while staring at the distant ground were shot on the Whitney Portal.
I would not be so bold as to attempt such an ascent in such a vehicle. While our truck camper theoretically could make the journey, we are still getting comfortable driving with the camper and are still assessing our tie-downs. So…maybe next time?
Instead, it is time to get back on the road to some, hopefully, safer climbs.