Where Marion got off his horse and drank his milk

Eastern Sierra Madres to the left, Death Valley to the right…and here we are stuck in the middle together at Lone Pine and the atmospheric Dow Villa Motel. We just got checked in less than half an hour ago by the man in the video. You won’t know what I mean until you go to the website. This is the motel of ‘The Duke’. John Wayne. Marion Mitchell Morrison. Where he stayed between shoots in nearby Death Valley where several of John Fords Westerns were filmed.  The icon of the tough guy. America’s western hero made in its own image. Without a barely coherent Native American in sight.

The Upper Falls of Yosemite Falls…running a little dry at this time of year…as seen from Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, CA

Go on. Do it now. stick your index finger into you mouth, Make a sound and wobble it around. Presto. One ‘Red Indian’ Extra.  (Bloody hell this beer’s strong). Images and Cultural Icons don’t really stand up to analysis.

It seems to be partially a matter of faith over interpretation. Pookaverse grew up with John Wayne as a male role model or as a female protector. Taciturn. Rugged. Monosyllabic.Honest. Straightforward.

However he is an awkward,  difficult icon to integrate into these ‘modern’ politically correct times. “Why-yi-oughta”. Slap some sense into her.

He played to his limited strengths as an actor and succumbed to his weaknesses as a social commentator. A masterful performance as the embittered civil war her0 Ethan Edwards looking for his lost niece in John Ford’s masterful The Searchers.  A laughable, anachronistic hawk playing Col. Mike Kirby in his custom-made combat fatigues in The Green Berets  – co-directed by Wayne – as his personal statement to the ongoing, and at that time, unpopular war in Vietnam.

Capitan, my Capitan…El Capitan as seen all the way down here in Yosemite Valley

His views simplistic. The image he projected. Simple ways for simpler times. Perhaps not enough time has passed. RIP Marion Mitchell Morrison. RIP John Wayne – for a little while longer.  Pookaverse likes the motel you used to stay in.

It’s Friday Night in Lone Pine. As the  Dow Villa Motel is located on Lone Pine Avenue and Lone Pine Avenue is the only game in town then Pookaverse walked down one end of Lone Pine Avenue’s 1 Pub and 4 Restaurants (2:36) and then to the other end of Lone Pine Avenue’s 1 Pub and 4 Restaurants (2:36). And when they were only half way up we were neither up nor down.

So we went into Jakes Saloon without review, ordered two pints of ‘Micro-brewery’ chilled pale ale and paid $10. The second highest round- after the round in St Pauls Minnesotta for $10.50 – since landing.  There is a Union Jack on the wall with about half a dozen signatures from perhaps British soldiers thanking the bar for the ‘Resupply’.

Their purpose here unknown. This topic – a dead end. There were quite a few German couples (always a Good Luck charm for Pookaverse. Seriously)  in the bar travelling together. All smoking. Yes, smoking is permitted in certain parts of California.

Then came the table tennis. Two bats, a ball and an unmarked brown wooden table. No lines. Just an imagination. Rohan kept losing as he spent much of the time thinking about that sequence in A Matter of Life and Death where Conductor 78 (Marius Goring) stops time and Dr. Frank Reeves (the always excellent Roger Livesy) and June (Kim Hunter) are in the middle of a table tennis game.

Rohan remember’s seeing them blink, particularly Roger and wondering how this could be possible. Least of all the fact that a supernatural deity had cancelled the fourth dimension so he could have a chat about chess and heavenly fumbling with David Niven (Squadron Leader Peter Carter).  I mean how would you want to spend your unmade time?

Half-Dome, half-baked in the afternoon sun…the bear was below much closer and faraway…

Which, you know isn’t synonymous with playing a winning shot in a game of table tennis or using your imagination to see the green regulation table with white lines. Does the ‘Server’ have to alternate from one side to another? Can you win a point when not serving? Are at least four examples of  not playing table tennis when you have the bat in your hand and the ball is looping towards you.

Next it was over to one of the local diners where the twenty-something waitress seemed to be suffering from clinical depression or perhaps she was on slave wage for two burgers that noone was interested in making, served by someone who wasn’t interested in serving and eaten by two customers who, as it happens,  weren’t very interested in eating it. It is one link after another forged into a ‘chain of sorrrow’.  However. She did have a voice like Madaleine Kahn and a hungry, pinched and acquisitive face ONLY when it came to the tip.

At Tenaya Lake for lunch and a rest break

But, as you say. What has this got to to do with Yosemite National Park? Absolutely bugger all.

So. Today has been spent travelling through this historic park and visiting, amongst the many photo-stops, Yosemite Village. A plain brown conurbation cosily ensconced in Yosemite Valley below El Capitan. And the three brothers. To name just a few of the nearby formations. The scenery is truly spectacular.

And it is difficult to convey the spectacle in words and pictures. There is no electronic device capable of capturing not just the image, but the smell, the heat, the thin air of 9587 feet at Tioga pass and the emotion of seeing these formations and the associated forests, deep canyons and strangely flat prairie meadows that form this unique landscape.

Powell Mountain (9545 feet) and the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest beckons across the Tioga Pass (9,943 ft) the eastern exit point from Yosemite National Park, CA

Pookaverse preferred it to Yellowstone withoutappearing to present another tiresome polemic that forms the basis of modern late-night television or the circle-jerk of political commentary. It seemed less intense, less developed. Less like a conveyor belt and more sedate.

And Alison saw a Bear. and Rohan caught just a glimpse as it loped across a smooth rock bed nearly 200 feet below where we stopped under the brilliant sunshine to view and photograph Half-Dome. A black bear, quite large possibly 3-5 years old. Sex undetermined. At a safe distance. But there. In plain sight.

Tomorrow its Death Valley featuring Lake Badwater followed by Pahrump, NV. And then…we’ll let you know what happens.


One Response to “Where Marion got off his horse and drank his milk”

  1. Rach Says:

    Wow!!!!!!!! It’s look amazing guys – and what beautiful weather!
    I remember what the sun looks like – i think I saw it this year in Engalnd……well once maybe……or perhaps I was just drunk or feeling mentally ill:-)

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