Category Archives: A-Z 2016

A to Z Challenge Reflection 2016: Without Silence

A-to-Z Reflection [2016]

Without silence, we could not distinguish the notes of the music. Even so, the music of the words that play within the walls of my mind is not the same as the sound of a voice that speaks aloud.

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote “At five o’clock he felt the need of hearing his own voice.” That’s pretty much how it’s gone for me every day, the 26 days in April writing my A to Z posts. But, I’m not living in a communal house on the Princeton University campus, so I can’t retreat to that house like Amory Blaine in Fitzgerald’s 1920 novel This Side of Paradise to see if anyone else has arrived. I am alone, sitting in my studio at my computer. I feel the urge to pick up the phone and call someone. But I conclude that’s hopeless. No one wants to listen, no one has much to say. Few like talking on the phone these days, anyhow. They text. I don’t text; but even if I did I wouldn’t be hearing my own voice. I’d be seeing elisions and acronyms, oft misspelled, standing in for words and phrases, arriving on a tiny screen with the size typeface and images made for 18-year-old eyes, and a keypad for 3-year-old fingers.

So I climb the rickety, winding staircase, with the peeling white paint on the walls, to the cupola of my blog. Maybe Moriarty has arrived. He is the Phantom of My Blog, a low talker, a thoughtful thinker, someone I can converse with, even if he doesn’t dust.

On the way up I’m ruminating on why I chose the theme I did for 2016, “From Sea to Shining Sea,” my landscape photographs from my travels across America, pictures of places where I have lived or visited. I thought it would be quick and easy: use photos already in my computer and then say a few words. Not so. I found that for each photo in my computer, to give a true sense of place, I had to scan in more. Plus, the photos are old, 20 years or more, so I had to research each place to update my facts.

My photos are old because I spent the last decade caring for my mother, at home, who suffered from dementia. I had no time to do much else. In fact, I started my blog in 2011 to write about our journey through her dementia. Writing this story not only served as a catharsis for me, but also as information and support for others in similar circumstances. My mother died on April 11, 2012, hence this month marks the fourth anniversary of her death. She was 97. Many of the photos I used in this A to Z theme are of trips she and I took together. So, for me, this theme was a journey into a place called Nostalgia; and because the photos are old, I felt that I was seeing my whole life pass before my eyes. Often that made me sad. I was sad to see all those lost loves that I could look at, but whose voices I would never hear again. Without silence, there is no Nostalgia.

I am favored nonetheless to have had those travel experiences, to have met the enchanting and the enchanted along the way and to have traveled with the greatest companions. So I thought maybe my readers on the A to Z journey with me and from around the world might like seeing places in America they had not seen. Out of the corner of my imagination I observed that the native peoples who originally inhabited Santa Catalina Island off the coast of California made me a box out of soapstone. So, climbing upon my soapstone box I achieved my Scheherazade Chronicles mission of storytelling about sustainability of the environment, wildlife and humanity, that whole ecosystem. I did so verbally in some of my posts and in photographs in all of my posts.

As a journalist for over 35 years I am used to meeting deadlines; therefore, for that aspect, I facilely met the daily A to Z post deadlines. I took the A to Z Blogging Challenge last year for the first time and I found the writing, reading and meeting new friends exhilarating. This year I wasn’t going to take up the challenge, because I knew I didn’t have time. I was already inundated with obligations. But, I did it anyway. I found out I can’t do it all. I’d drop some quotidian pieces, forget and then have to go back and pick them up when I’d stumble over them, and affix them into their proper places in the picture puzzle on my mind table.

My mind kind of looked like this (hover your mouse over the image for further comment):

Sea Foam 1

So, this 2016 A to Z series is a new journey upon which I embark and share my old journeys with you; old friends, fellow bloggers, have come with me and along the way I have met new friends with utterly fascinating thoughts and lives. I am always interested to know how others think and to hear their voices. These are the treasures I encounter on the journey from A to Z.

I watched Ken Burns’s The National Parks, which just happened to be showing on TV as I neared the culmination of my A to Z postings mostly about designated parks and landmarks, and I realized what I had done in my life, where I had been, what I had photographed and written about. I should like to continue this.

Ah, here we are at the top of the stairs. I hear a tap. I look around the cupola. Moriarty is here. He’s sitting in the light by the open window. The pale, yellowed gauze curtain undulates in the soft breeze. Moriarty is tapping his iPad. He’s reading my A to Zs.

I speak.

He interrupts me. “This series is a photo essay,” he says. “And, where am I? Not one mention of me throughout, let alone a picture. It’s like I’m not here.” He is silent for a moment. A shadow of sadness passes across his eyes. And then he continues, “So, would you please post a photo of me. Your readers think I am a figment of your imagination. And, I am not. I am real. I am a genuine Phantom. And, besides, they always liked me better than you.”

So, dear reader, I give you Moriarty, The Phantom of My Blog:



–Samantha Mozart
May 8, 2016

Inspiration: At five o’clock he felt the need of hearing his own voice, so he retreated to his house to see if any one else had arrived. Having climbed the rickety stairs he scrutinized his room resignedly, concluding that it was hopeless to attempt any more inspired decoration than class banners and tiger pictures. There was a tap at the door.

From F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise, 1920. BOOK ONE:
“The Romantic Egotist”; CHAPTER 2: “Spires and Gargoyles.”



What more could so fulfill the human spirit than the sound of waterfalls gushing,  wind dancing through the tops of the tall conifers, birdsong echoing, the scent of pine bark and incense cedars, crystalline air and high granite walls artfully sculpted into graceful formations that soar above you and embrace you in their splendor? It is as if a grand master laid it all out before you and with loving kindness said, “Here. This is for you.”

Yosemite Falls YS004

There are no words to describe Yosemite Valley. It exists to inspire awe in nature’s grandeur, to give inner peace and regeneration. I experience this place as heaven on earth. John Muir called it Nature’s Grand Cathedral, and so it feels. So, please hover your mouse over these images to identify them.

El Capitan Alpinglow 1 YS016

Half Dome Alpinglow & Royal Arches 1

3 Sisters

Intoxicated by the mystique of its scent, I stood beside an incense cedar and took this next picture:

Green Merced

They rode horseback into the great Central Valley of Alta California and the Sierra Nevada foothills. Lieutenant Gabriel Moraga and his expedition sought suitable sites for Spanish missions. Hot, dry and dusty, they had traveled long without water. Mercifully, on September 29, 1806, the thirsty men and their horses came upon the banks of the river. Gratefully relieved, they named the river El Rio de Nuestra Señora de la Merced, The River of Our Lady of Mercy.

John Muir called the Sierra Nevada Mountains “The Range of Light.” He called Yosemite Valley “The sanctum sanctorum of the Sierra.” Glaciers sculpted and polished the granite rock and then retreated 15,000 years ago leaving this pristine valley and its near twin in Yosemite, Hetch Hetchy Valley, 20 miles to the northwest, the Tuolumne Yosemite, as John Muir called it.

Yosemite Vly-Merced River YS003

So, tell me again … why did you dam the Tuolomne and fill Hetch Hetchy with water…?

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir & Dam 1

“These temple-destroyers, devotees of ravaging commercialism, seem to have a perfect contempt for Nature, and instead of lifting their eyes to the God of the mountains, lift them to the Almighty Dollar. Dam Hetch Hetchy! As well dam for water-tanks the people’s cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man.” –John Muir, from The Yosemite (1912), Chapter 15.

First chief of the United States Forest Service, Gifford Pinchot said of damming the Hetch Hetchy, “It is for the good of humanity. The greatest benefit to the greatest number of people.”

Half Dome YS005

Enraptured, I stood in the spray of Bridalveil Fall for a long time and watched it dance on the wind. Bridalveil Fall never runs dry in the summer like the other falls, because it is fed by a living glacier.

Bridalveil Rainbow YS001

Bridalveil Snowstorm 300 copy

Bridalveil Thru Trees YS010

Yosemite New 3

Yosemite Valley Snowstorm YS006

“I wonder if leaves feel lonely when they see their neighbors falling,” John Muir wrote to his daughter.

This day, after I took the above photo looking down into Yosemite Valley with Half Dome in the distance, barely visible just under the clouds, in the right center of the picture, my companions and I got into our car and left the valley. We drove the Tioga Road, high over the Tioga Pass at almost 10,000 feet. It was the month of May. On our way along the road snowflakes began to fall.

–Samantha Mozart








Thomas Jefferson stepped out onto his Monticello portico and gazed out across America. He called this country Eden. He didn’t see the need for a national park, for all America was, he perceived.

The years went by. Industrialization spewed out over the landscape and the people found themselves crowded into big, noisy cities where tall buildings cast long, sooty shadows over their canyons.

It was a time when the gap between the rich and those of lesser means began to widen. People such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Muir, Teddy Roosevelt, Frederick Law Olmsted and Stephen Mather saw the need to preserve American’s places of natural beauty for the people, no matter their income or station in life. The evolution and establishment of the national parks grew from the ground up. It was a grassroots movement.

Paintings and then photos were circulated, and the first tourists arrived in Yosemite in 1855. At first they came on horseback and by stagecoach, and soon, by train and automobile. My party of companions and I entered Yosemite 135 years later from the east at Lee Vining, near Mono Lake, and drove over the Tioga Road.

YS007W Tuolumne Meadows

One of the first places you see along the road after you go over the Tioga Pass at 9,943 feet altitude is Tuolumne Meadows at 8,619 feet. In the distance, back among the trees in this photo, you can see the Tuolumne River meandering through the meadow. The Tioga Pass is closed in winter, deep snow making it impassible. By sometime in May the snow melts and the pass opens. We came in the spring, May and June; and once in July, but by then many of the waterfalls had dried up, except those fed by living glaciers. The waterfalls are full in the spring when the snow is melting. The Tioga Road began as an Indian trail, was paved for cars in 1937 and realigned and dedicated in 1961. In winter you can get into Yosemite National Park, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias and Yosemite Valley through the lower altitude, warmer, western entrances.

Marmot & Tioga Rd View 1

This is the view of Yosemite Valley from near Olmsted Point, elevation 8,300 feet. Olmsted Point is named for American landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and his son Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. for their work dedicated to preserving the land and towards establishing a national parks system. We saw lots of Steller’s jays along the way, beautiful blue birds, and I’d like to tell you that this critter in the photo below is a hungry bear, but it’s actually a marmot hoping to be fed. I do not feed wild animals.

Marmot & Tioga Rd View

Over the Tioga Road we wound down into Yosemite Valley, along the way passing wildflowers and interesting rock formations, and around a bend, suddenly a small waterfall issuing through a crack in a granite rock. You can look down into the valley from a point near the head of Yosemite Falls, where Yosemite Creek spills over the edge.

Yosemite New 2

We came to Tenaya Lake on our way into Yosemite Valley.

Down in Yosemite Valley, altitude 4,000 feet, we encountered the awesome 1927 Ahwahnee Inn and ate lunch there in the cavernous, cathedral ceilinged stone dining room while we looked at mule deer in the grass just outside the window. Ahwahnee is the name the native people of the valley, the Ahwahneechee, gave to the valley: it means wide open mouth or “place of gaping mouth.” To me, such an opening means opportunity.  Behind the inn you see the Royal Arches rock formation.

Yosemite New 1

New concessionaires recently have bought the Yosemite Valley hotels, restaurants and outdoor activities and are changing the name of the Ahwahnee Inn to the Majestic Yosemite Hotel. This short Los Angeles Times piece tells the story. Yosemite is the native people’s word for “people who should be feared: they are killers.”

Half Dome Alpinglow & Royal Arches

These are the Royal Arches.

We also went to see the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias:

Giant Sequoia

Here I am standing in front of a giant sequoia.

And, below, is one of my companions going through the hollowed out trunk of a fallen sequoia.

The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, is located in the southwest corner of Yosemite. The tallest tree stands at 285 feet, the oldest tree is 1,900-2,400 years old. Bristlecone pines grow in the region, too. They survive in subalpine climates where there is little rainfall. The oldest known bristlecone pine in the world is located in the White Mountains in the Inyo National Forest. The White Mountains are not part of the Sierra Nevada range. They rise just to the east. This is the tree. Its exact location is kept secret to protect it from human despoilment. Its name is Methuselah and it has been carbon dated to be 4,847 years old. It is a Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva). This photo is from (Mother Nature Network Earth Matters Galleries.)


Tomorrow we will journey into Nature’s Great Cathedral, Yosemite Valley …

–Samantha Mozart

X Marks the Spot – Bodie Ghost Town

They said there was gold in those hills, and he struck pay dirt. He staked his claim. In 1859 William (Waterman) S. Bodey discovered gold in the central California hills, near the Nevada border. Mr. Bodey didn’t have much time to revel, though, for in November that same year he died in a blizzard.

Wall Wheel Flowers 300 copy

Today, Bodie State Historic Park, Calif., is a ghost town, “preserved in a state of arrested decay.” Interiors of the 110 remaining buildings are untouched as they were left. It looks like someone hollered, “Scram!” and they ran, leaving dishes on the table, coffeepots on the stove, a shirt across the bare springs of a cot, children’s toys on the floor.

Church-House Room-Store 1

Bodie plus

Even the store is stocked as it was.

Church-House Room-Store 2

Bodie, just north of Mono Lake, a salt lake, is located at Bridgeport, Calif., near the Nevada border, just below where the eastern border of the state bends to the right. Bodie is northeast of Yosemite and about 75 miles southeast of Lake Tahoe, on the high, open Bodie Hills. The 1973 Clint Eastwood movie High Plains Drifter was filmed at Mono Lake. The production company built a large façade town at Mono Lake just for the filming, and tore it down afterwards. No remnants remain on the site. But remnants of Bodie, a real ghost town, remain. Bodie’s a photographer’s gold mine.

Mono-Gull-Sun&Shadow 2

Bldg Cluster-Road-Graham

A House in Bodie

Bldg Cluster-Road-Graham 1

Ghost Town Scenes 1

Ghost Town Scenes 2


Bodie House 300

The photo above is the rich man’s house. None of the other houses in the town was as big.

In 1861 a rich strike was made at Bodie and a mill was built. Over the next years the railroad and the telegraph came and the population swelled from 20 to 10,000. It is said there existed three breweries, 65 saloons, an abundance of brothels, a Chinatown, opium dens and a Wells Fargo Bank. There were gunslingers and shootouts. It was a full-blown Wild West town. Bodie became the second or third largest California town and one of the earliest United States towns to acquire electricity.

Bodie Mine Close

The big strikes were soon depleted, though, and the town slid into decline in the 1880s. Miners moved on to Tombstone, Ariz., and other legendary places. Bodie was officially labeled a ghost town in 1915, after the last newspaper closed. The ghost town was designated Bodie State Historic Park in 1962 when the final residents left.

Bodie Mine & Street Scene 1

BD006W Church

BD005W Car & Gas

Bldg Cluster-Road-Graham 2

Even in its boom days, I wonder how residents survived Bodie winters. It is one of the coldest places in the U.S. Up in the Eastern High Sierra Nevada Mountains, elevation 8,375 feet (2,554 m.), where the winds sweep through (up to 100 miles per hour, according to Wikipedia), Bodie has a subarctic climate — temperatures even on summer nights can drop below freezing. The most snow recorded in one month was 97.1 inches in January 1969. Bear in mind, the snow doesn’t melt until spring. That’s when they discovered William Bodie’s body, in the spring. The population of Bodie is now a few park rangers and assorted ghosts. The rangers use snowcats to get around through the deep snow. The park is open in the winter, but only to those with skis, snowshoes or snowmobiles. I have visited Bodie in the daytime, in the spring, on a blustery day in May. I dream of returning with a digital camera to take a nighttime Ghost Walk.

Mono-Gull-Sun&Shadow 1

A California Gull came by to graciously pose for photos. Well, maybe looking to get fed.

Bodie Ghost Town is a National Historic Landmark.

Bodie Alley 300 copy.

–Samantha Mozart


Wrigley’s View

Avalon & Wrigley House

Avalon Harbor & Catalina Casino

Santa Catalina Island was discovered in 1542 by Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese explorer sailing for the Spanish crown. He christened the island San Salvador and claimed it for the Spanish Empire. Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino rediscovered the island in 1602, and since it was St. Catherine’s Day, named the island Santa Catalina. That was long after the Native American Pimugnans or Pimuvit and their antecedents had settled here around 7,000 years ago, as archaeological evidence shows. These were people of the Gabrielino/Tongva tribe. They spoke an Aztec related language and they paddled their plank canoes regularly between the San Pedro and Playa del Rey (Los Angeles County) mainland and the island for trade, particularly their soapstone for other items. The Pimugnans called the island Pimugna or Pimu. Of course, the Spaniards brought diseases which wiped out most of natives. Yet, there are people living in Southern California today who have Gabrielino ancestors. Eventually the island was transferred from the Spanish Empire to Mexico and later, to the United States. Santa Catalina is one of the Channel Islands of California.

Catalina Hilltop Views

Over the years the island served as a stop for the usual array of smugglers, gold diggers, pirates, hunters, the Union army, missionaries, a chewing gum magnate and sunbathers.

Catalina Beach & Boat 1

Descanso Beach, Avalon

After a series of owners and failed attempts to establish Santa Catalina Island as a resort, the sons of Phineas Banning bought the island in 1891. Phineas Banning (1830-1885), financier and entrepreneur, was born in Wilmington, Del., moved out West, founded Wilmington, Calif., and the Port of Los Angeles. He operated a freighting business and stagecoach company. The Banning Brothers established the Santa Catalina Island Company to develop a resort. They built the city of Avalon and established beach areas, a hunting lodge, a guest lodge and stagecoach tours. Then a fire burned down half of the buildings in Avalon in 1915. The First World War had begun the year before, and hard times ensued.

Catalina Beach & Boat 2

The Bannings were forced to sell the company in 1919. William Wrigley Jr. (1861-1932), the chewing gum founder, born in Philadelphia, Pa., bought nearly all the stock in the company without having seen the island. This event recalls those who, sight unseen, invested in and thrashed through Florida swamp with large fly swatters at about the same time. William Wrigley’s view when he finally arrived on Catalina, however, convinced him to buy out the other investors to become sole owner of the Santa Catalina Island Company.

Wrigley Mansion

Wrigley Mansion. The hillside beneath is shored up.

Wrigley invested millions in the island and in 1929 built the iconic art deco/Mediterranean Revival style Catalina Casino, which has the world’s largest circular ballroom. Besides the ballroom, the structure rises to the equivalent height of a 12-story building and houses a museum and a movie theater specifically designed for sound talkies. The island served as a military training facility during the Second World War and was closed to tourists.

High & Harbor 1 copy

Descanso Beach in Avalon Harbor

Many Hollywood movies have been made on Catalina, starting from the days of silent film.

Along the Road

Today the descendants of William Wrigley Jr. continue to own the Santa Catalina Island Company and carry on his vision to develop Catalina as a world class island resort. Eighty-eight percent of the island is protected by the Santa Catalina Conservancy, a nonprofit private land trust founded in 1972.

Catalina Hilltop Views 1

Avalon Harbor View

The Santa Catalina 2010 census human population is 4,096; the buffalo population is maintained at 150-200. The 14 original buffalo were flown in to be movie extras in 1924. The highest peak, Mount Orizaba, is 2,097 feet (639 m.) above sea level. The island is 22 miles long and eight miles across at the widest point. Boats carry passengers across the 20-26 mile Gulf of Santa Catalina from the mainland to the island in an hour, with up to 30 departures a day, year-round. Almost no gasoline powered vehicles are permitted on the island; there is a 14-year waiting list to bring a car onto the island. Residents and tourists roam the island by golf cart, bicycle or foot. Buffalo roam the hills by hoof.

Catalina Beach & Boat

–Samantha Mozart

Victorians & Menhadens – Cape May, New Jersey

Merry Welcome 300

Cape May is at the southernmost tip of New Jersey, separated from the mainland by a narrow channel. In 1878 a fire destroyed 40 acres of homes. So, the buildings were rebuilt in the Victorian style contributing to the charm of the town and attracting many tourists. In 1976 Cape May was declared a National Historic Landmark City.

Menhaden Rigging 480

Menhaden fishing boat rigging.

Anchor for Sale

Anchor for sale.

CM001W Cinzano

Let’s get together.

CM109W The Virginia II

The Virginian hotel.

And One Cat smaller

And one cat….

Flying A

Victorian Walk CM020

Merry Welcome Doors 300


Menhaden fishing boats.

–Samantha Mozart

Up Along the Appalachians

My mother and I took a road trip in 1995 up along the Appalachian Mountains from Georgia through the states of Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia, Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia, not far from Jefferson’s Poplar Forest retreat, though it was only just being restored and wasn’t ready for visitors yet. Here are some photos of our trip.

Dillards & Marble Angel

Dillard’s, a popular family restaurant, Dillard, Georgia.

Gatlinburg & Cove Field Ridge BR Pkw 1

Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Pidgeon Crk & BR Pkwy

This vista is at the junction of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. We drove through the Great Smoky Mountains, then through the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah National Park, with a stop in Asheville, N.C., to visit the Biltmore Estate and author Thomas Wolfe’s childhood home.

Gatlinburg & Cove Field Ridge BR Pkw

Cove Field Ridge, from the Blue Ridge Parkway, elevation 4,620 feet.

Pidgeon Crk & BR Pkwy 1

Pigeon Creek, N.C. My mother took this photo.

Biltmore House

An aspect of Biltmore House on the Biltmore Estate, Asheville, N.C.

Gargoyles & Hermit

“Spires and Gargoyles”: F. Scott Fitzgerald, who stayed at the historic Grove Park Inn in Asheville, titled his first novel This Side of Paradise and named the second chapter “Spires and Gargoyles,” after the architecture of Princeton University where he had studied as an undergraduate. Here is an apt excerpt from that chapter:

“The night mist fell. From the moon it rolled, clustered about the spires and towers, and then settled below them, so that the dreaming peaks were still in lofty aspiration toward the sky.”

Gargoyles & Hermit 1

The Hermit.

Finally, this side of Asheville …

Thomas Wolfe House 1

“My Old Kentucky Home,” author Thomas Wolfe’s childhood home in Asheville, N.C. This was the boarding house his mother ran. It figures in Wolfe’s autobiographical 1929 novel, Look Homeward, Angel as “Dixieland” in the fictional mountain town of Altamont.

Dillards & Marble Angel 1

This marble angel, a centerpiece in Look Homeward, Angel, is inlaid in the sidewalk in Asheville.

… a stone, a leaf, an unfound door; of a stone, a leaf, a door. And of all the forgotten faces.  –Thomas Wolfe, preface to Look Homeward, Angel.

–Samantha Mozart


Tufa Towers of Mono Lake

Mono Lake looks like a lunar landscape.

Mono Lake Tufa-Yellow Flowers half SN003 300

Mono Lake (pronounced moh-noh) is a salt lake located in central California close to the Nevada state line and near Yosemite National Park. The lake is one of the oldest lakes in North America, formed at least 760,000 years ago if not 1-3 million years ago. The surface area covers 65 square miles. The lake is three times saltier than the ocean.

Clint Eastwood chose the alien Mono Lake landscape as the location for his 1973 film High Plains Drifter.

Mono Lake has no outlet; therefore, the mineral content of the fresh water from the streams that feed the lake becomes salty. The tufa towers form beneath the lake when underwater springs mix with the lake waters. They are composed of calcium carbonate limestone.


In 1941 the City of Los Angeles began diverting water from these streams. Over the years the lake level dropped 45 feet, exposing the tufa towers. By 1982 the lake had lost 31 percent of its surface area. It was in peril of becoming a salt flat.

When Los Angeles diverted water from the lake, the lower lake water levels threatened the ecosystem imperiling the two million migratory birds who nest in the area and who feed on the brine shrimp and black flies (that also feed on the shrimp) in the lake. The black, brine flies that thickly ring the lake have no interest in humans, only in the shrimp. There are no fish in the lake.

The mineral content of the lake contains chlorides, carbonates and sulfates, similar to the content of your laundry detergent, high alkaline, a pH of 10. It is said you can dip your laundry into the lake and it will come out clean. The average depth of the lake is 56 feet but can rise to around 158 feet. The water level is notably variable, especially as measured by the height of the exposed tufa towers. In these photos of mine you can see the two major islands in the center of the lake — Paoha, the larger, and Negit, the smaller. The formation of the area is of tectonic and volcanic origin.


To protect the lake and its ecosystem, the Mono Lake Committee, a nonprofit, was formed in 1978 and through litigation, legislation, cooperation and public support the committee has been able to protect the lake from excessive water diversions to Los Angeles. The city has found alternate water sources, thereby drastically reducing the amount of water taken from the tributary streams. Consequently, the water level in the lake has risen from the lowest level of 6,372 feet above sea level (asl) in 1982 to 6,378 feet asl in 2015. Before diversion in 1941 the water level was at 6,417 feet asl. It is expected to take 20 years for Mono Lake to reach the stabilization level of 6,392 feet. At the stabilization level, the lake will be two times saltier than the ocean.

My photos of Mono Lake are not nearly as dramatic as many that are out there. For example, here is one, with no photo credit, I got from the Internet:


Here’s a link to an informative, short blog, with photos of Mono Lake and stills and story of High Plains Drifter

To film High Plains Drifter, the filmmakers built the town of Lago, the town the stranger painted red, on the Mono Lake shore and then dismantled it after they finished filming. Here is an 8:34 minute video taking you step by step through where the movie was filmed: “The Return to Lago: The Great Silence”. You only have to watch the first few minutes of the video to get an idea of the alien landscape that Clint Eastwood meticulously selected for the film site.

You can view a stunning slide show of the lake in all seasons at Mono Lake Committee images.

Here are some additional links, if you’re interested, with more detail and dramatic photos of the lake.

Amusing Planet

Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve

–Samantha Mozart

Southern California Surf and Sunsets

I took a lot of photos of the beaches, high surf and sunsets around where I lived in Southern California. If I still lived there, I’d be taking more.

Rat Beach 300

In the photo above, I stood on the hill in Palos Verdes and captured this scene of an unusually low tide at Malaga Cove, just south of our Torrance Beach, and the people exploring the tide pools.

Below, is a photo my daughter took recently of the ramp down to Torrance Beach by where we used to live, where she grew up. That’s my older granddaughter in the lower left corner of the picture.


Redondo Beach-PV

This is Redondo Beach looking south towards Torrance Beach and at the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

RB Library & Pier

My centering spot for many years when this was the Redondo Beach Library. You can see the ocean on the right through the trees. I’d enter the room on the right, walk to the back past the stacks and sit in a chair by the tall, open window in the sea breeze and read. I could hear the gleeful people on the beach, the seagulls, the surf breaking on the shore and the bell buoy dinging.

The city built a new library. This is now Veterans Park.

RB Library View

On the right foreground is a historic Moreton Bay fig tree. Out in the water is the Redondo Pier.

I shot two series of photos, one of Redondo Beach at sunset, and one of Hermosa Beach storm waves. The following are the Redondo sunset photos:

95 Steps

Just 95 steps down to the beach.

Two Palms

Cat & Palm I

Cat & Palm Sunset Light - Cat 300

Sunset Splash

Seagull Silhouette

Gnite Jon 300dpi

I call the one above “Goodnight, Jonathan.”



These next ones are my Hermosa series.

HB120W Wave

These two images, above and below, are waves I photographed from the Hermosa Pier.

HB130W Hermosa Waves 13

Following are more images of my fascination with big waves.

HB010W Hermosa Storm Waves 1

HB110W Hermosa Storm Waves 11

Here, below, are a few photos of Manhattan Beach.

MB Surf & Tanker

Above is a view of Malibu and the Santa Monica Mountains, taken from the Manhattan Pier, with an oil tanker in the distance, probably coming from the Chevron facility in El Segundo.

Manhattan Beach from Pier

Above is Manhattan Beach taken from the Manhattan Pier.

Manhattan Pier Fishermen

Fishing from the end of the Manhattan Pier.

Me & MB 2

Me on Manhattan Beach with the Palos Verdes Peninsula to the south.

–Samantha Mozart

Restore Hetch Hetchy

What if you went to Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park and found the valley filled up with 300 feet of water?

It happened to Hetch Hetchy Valley in northwestern Yosemite National Park, the near twin to Yosemite Valley, a second glacier carved valley, a cathedral of granite cliffs and rushing waterfalls, a mere 20 miles away. In the early 1900s, after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and subsequent fire, that city decided they needed access to more water. So, they got the United States Congress to legislate the Raker Act, building the O’Shaughnessy Dam to hold back the waters of the meandering Tuolomne River at the mouth of the valley by creating the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. To fill the valley with water, they had to clear-cut stands of ancient trees; pristine waterfalls were buried beneath the rising reservoir waters, all the wild grasses (hetch hetchy is what the native people called these grasses), the wildflowers and the shrubs gone.

Proclaimed naturalist John Muir when he encountered the High Sierra, “As long as I live, I will ever after hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near to the heart of the world as I can.”

The ensuing love affair between man and nature saw Muir devote a lifetime to preserving the awesome wilderness he had found and to the birth of Yosemite National Park. Ah, but the fruits of Muir’s untiring devotion could not extend far enough into the political wilderness to save Hetch Hetchy. President Woodrow Wilson signed the Raker Act into law on December 19, 1913, and though John Muir continued the battle, he died, devastated, a year later. The Congress immediately recognized their tragic error. There had thus far existed no coherent policy for national park management. So that such a travesty would never happen again, Congress enacted the National Parks Service Act of 1916. Since then, ecological and engineering studies have found that there are more efficient sources of water for San Francisco, and including damming the Tuolumne at the western end of Hetch Hetchy rather than at the mouth of that valley; and that if the reservoir were slowly drained, within five years, as the Tuolumne reclaimed its original channel, native wildflowers and grasses would grow in the valley and wildlife would return. The bathtub ring would gradually disappear. In 100 years the valley would be completely restored. There is a grassroots movement on called Restore Hetch Hetchy, raising public funds towards the restoration.

I wanted to see Hetch Hetchy. So, while my friend Cheryl and I were visiting the Eastern High Sierra and Yosemite Valley in August 1992, we decided to drive over to the western slope of the Sierra and up through the Stanislaus National Forest to Hetch Hetchy.

We drove through Coulterville, a gold rush town where gold can still be found in the creeks. I took a photo of the historic Hotel Jeffery.

MMH & W. Sierra - Cheryl & Me 3

On November 12, 2014 a fire destroyed much of this hotel. It was the fourth fire in the Hotel Jeffery’s history, three occurring in the late 1800s. The hotel has since been restored and, from what I’ve read, apparently to better than before the fire — they exposed the original adobe walls and pulled up the carpets and sanded and polished the original floorboards.

When we traveled to Hetch Hetchy, a recent fire had burned much of the forest, so this is the landscape we encountered.

Stanislaus Nat'l Forest

Stanislaus Nat'l Forest 1

Jeffrey Pine

A Jeffrey pine.


A manzanita bush.

Road to Hetch Hetchy

The road to Hetch Hetchy Valley.

There are ample other resources, other reservoirs, data shows, to supply San Francisco with water and hydroelectric power. Yet the city refuses the dismantling of the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. The battle goes on.

Stanislaus Nat'l Forest 2

From this high point in the road you can see the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.

Road to Hetch Hetchy 1

This is a view, above, of the Tuolomne River on its course below the dam.

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir & Dam

The O’Shaughnessy Dam.

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir & Dam 1

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. Since we were visiting here in late summer, the waterfalls had dried up, as they do every year, except for the ones fed by living glaciers.

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir & Dam 2

You can get an idea of the drama of nature that lies beneath this 300 feet of water, even waterfalls below the surface.

Here’s how Hetch Hetchy looked before the building of the O’Shaughnessy Dam.  This, of course, is not my photo. I got the following photos from the Internet.



This one, above, was taken in 1912.


Hetch Hetchy Valley clear-cut.


I got this image from the Internet, too. Wapama Falls is 1,080 feet high and, like Yosemite Falls, has three drops. Kolana Rock has an elevation of 5,774 feet. By comparison, in Yosemite Valley, Yosemite Falls is 2,425 feet, El Capitan has an elevation of 7,573 feet and Half Dome, 8,884 feet. The falls and peaks in Hetch Hetchy Valley are still some of the longest and highest in North America.

Here is the link to some short Restore Hetch Hetchy  videos and a 21 minute one by Harrison Ford.

–Samantha Mozart

Question: What Will Be the Verse You Contribute?

Red Canoes & T-Dock, on Noxontown Pond

Finding Middletown was the first thing I did when I came to Delaware for a visit in October 1995. I spent six years of my childhood in Delaware and a few years as an adult, but I had not heard of Middletown. I watched a movie when I was living in Southern California and I thought, “Where is that? The scenery a canvas so natural with broad fields, white with snow or barren brown in winter, sweet green in summer, and thick woods, and a pond pristine in its beauty.” It seemed the perfect place for a poet and a curious wanderer such as I. The movie was Dead Poets Society, and it was filmed in 1989 at St. Andrew’s School in Middletown.

Founders Hall & Cloister

Trefoil-Evergreen-Dogwood 1

In 1928, when founder A. Felix duPont purchased the 360-acre Comegys farm, he purposefully selected a site some distance from urban and suburban life. Then, that site was a comfortable two miles from Middletown and, since he, himself, was a rower, on a body of water suitable for rowing. Noxontown Pond, which Thomas Noxon dammed for his grist mill around 1740, shapes the heart of the campus. Over the years the trustees have expanded the buffer zone to include the present 2,200 acres.

Noxontown Mill Historic

Noxontown Mill historic photo, courtesy Hope Motter, 83 in 2007, whose family owned the mill since her grandparents’ time.

Noxontown Pond

Looking across Noxontown Pond to St. Andrew’s School boat dock.

Noxontown Mill

Noxontown Mill

Noxontown Mill & Cider House

Noxontown Mill and Cider House

Noxontown Pond SAS Raft

Raft on Noxontown Pond


Boathouse trefoil.

Green Door & Steps

Steps down to boathouse and dock.

Green Door & Steps 1

Boat dock.

St. Andrew’s School has long been committed to graduating young men and women with a deep commitment to environmental stewardship. The mission of the 270-student Episcopal secondary boarding school states “St. Andrew’s is committed to the sustainability and preservation of its land, water and other natural resources. We honor this commitment by what we teach and by how we live in community and harmony with the natural world.”

Founders Hall Bike Rack

Founders Hall and Bike Rack

The campus is a protected wildlife habitat covering a broad share of the Appoquinimink watershed. The campus is situated on what has become the largest open green space in New Castle County.

Founders Hall

View from Noxontown Pond to Founders Hall


Scan 1

Cloisters – Founders Hall

SAS Campus

Campus and staff homes.

“St. Andrew’s serves as a model, like a table-top model an architect would make.” said Michael McGrath, then Delaware Department of Agriculture director of farmlands preservation for the state in 2007, now a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and secretary of the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture. “It is a microcosm of the world,” he went on. “It is in itself a little village. The school has to deal with sewage, water; they live there, eat there and they are surrounded by farmland. They have to be self-examining, reflective about suburban agriculture and sustainability.”

Yet, today, with unsettling property rights trends kicking up, it could happen that, notwithstanding the founders’ and trustees’ foresight, “Someday Rodney Point [on the campus] might look like a good candidate for open space acquisition via eminent domain,” wrote St. Andrew’s alumnus Tim Abbot in a St. Andrew’s Magazine Winter 2007 essay.

Noxontown Pond SAS & T-Dock

T-Dock on Noxontown Pond

Paving Paradise: Overnight, the impervious surface has spread to the edges of the pastoral campus that served as the setting for  Dead Poets Society, rendering the campus as what Headmaster Tad Roach terms a precarious outlier. At the time that movie was filmed, the population of Middletown was around 3,800. By 2020, housing starts are expected to spawn a population of more than 30,000.

Housing developments encroaching upon Middletown farmland.

Housing developments encroaching upon Middletown farmland.

Housing rising out of former farmland rushed at St. Andrew’s gates, rapping at their door, perched to stay, its prophetic plume ravenous, gobbling up acres of farmland.

Noxontown Mill Bridge

View of Appoquinimink River from boardwalk along Noxontown Mill sluice.

Throughout the school’s history, St. Andrew’s students have done daily farming chores, raked leaves, played football, lacrosse, whiffleball, engaged in rowing competitions on the pond, tended an organic garden, adorned tables in their dining hall with flowers they had grown, picked and dried, engaged in community service, enjoyed mountain camping trips, or simply sat on the T-Dock on the pond and contemplated the ripples in the water glinting rose and gold in the sunset.

Hope Motter's View

Noxontown Pond: I sat on Hope Motter’s porch while we drank iced tea and chatted and overlooked this view of the pond. We held common interests. She was a former journalist. I am honored to have met her and shared a lovely spring afternoon with her. Sadly, she died in December 2012.

In his September 9, 2006 convocation address, Dr. Peter McLean, environmental coordinator and biology and environmental sciences teacher at St. Andrew’s, encouraged students to appreciate “what is most significant in our lives; that is, to appreciate what God has granted us – each other, and a beautiful and remarkable natural world. So continue to sit and contemplate,” he said, “appreciate the silence, breathe slowly and deeply, focus inwardly. For in so doing, appreciating yourself begins. For me, it best happens in front of a stream or ocean or fire, or after a long run or hike or from just being outdoors; I find such solace and truth there as nature has such integrity and beauty.”

T-Dock & Red Canoes

And, indeed, it is not uncommon to find a math class held outdoors under a river birch.

Twelve years after I visited the campus that first time in 1995, I published several newspaper and magazine stories about the school. In keeping with their rigorous curriculum, for research material they sent me home with stacks of books and other publications they lent me, and I had the honor of attending classes with the students and eating dinner in the dining hall on family night followed by attending a chapel service.

Hope Motter's View 2

Noxontown Pond and, under the trees, Hope Motter’s boats for hire.

Thus, I contemplated what would be the verse I will contribute to life. I contribute by my pen, my sword in life, so I offer you this story for your own ruminations. For, you see, the ravaging of our environment first hurts the poorest of the poor.

7 Everett Theatre Closeup-037-17A

The historic theatre in Middletown used in the movie “Dead Poets Society.”

The title of this post comes from the subject of a Walt Whitman poem, that Dead Poets Society‘s John Keating quotes for his students, from Leaves of Grass.

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?

Red Canoes

–Samantha Mozart


I had a home in Redondo Beach overlooking the Santa Monica Bay. From those Southern California days here are some of my photos of the piers along the South Bay beaches between Santa Monica and San Pedro.


This is the Redondo Beach Pier and Harbor, with the Santa Monica Mountains across the bay to the north. The Redondo Pier is horseshoe shaped and the water around it is clear and green as an emerald.

RB Pier - kites

Below are photos of the Hermosa Beach Pier. Hermosa Beach is the next city north of Redondo.

HB Pier II V

Hermosa Pier III 400

HB Pier III V Piers at Sunset


HB060W Hermosa Storm Waves 6

Next, this is the Manhattan Beach Pier. Manhattan Beach is just north of Hermosa.

Light Shafts 300 copy

On the MB Pier

MB Pier 1

Me & MB 3

MB Pier

MB Pier 2

View from End of MB Pier

Above is the view from the end of the Manhattan Pier.

If you’ve been following this series of A-Z posts, you’ll know that I also lived for a while in Naples, Fla., on the Gulf of Mexico. Here are my photos of the Naples Pier.

Naples Pier

Naples Pier peach clouds

Naples Pier 1

Naples Pier 3

Naples Pier 3 1

Naples Pier at Sunset

–Samantha Mozart

On Marco Island, Florida — Part II

In the summers of the 1990s when the farm stand where I worked in Naples was closed I worked on Marco Island for a real estate rentals agency.

Marco 2

Marco Island is known for its crescent shaped beach of sugar white sand. I took these photos at the south end of the island. I’ll always remember the sailboats out on the sparkling Gulf during the day, the gentle morning rain on the Marco River as I drove across it to work, the peaches and pinks of a Marco Island sunset on a summer evening.

Marco Beach Chikees

Inhabitants of Marco Island differ from those of Naples. They come mostly from the Mid-Atlantic states and are laid back, come to Marco to beach and boat in winter and then go back home to Jersey and Delaware shores to beach and boat in summer. Marco Island lies just south across the Big Marco River from Naples. It is one of the Ten Thousand Islands and has a total area of 22.8 square miles. In the early 1900s a clam digging industry and two canneries thrived here, on the south end of the island at Caxambas Pass. On Caxambas Island I climbed Indian Hill, the Calusa Indian shell burial mound. Flying tribes of big, black salt marsh mosquitoes attacked me. When you swat them, they spring back. Think what you will about the spirits of the dead. I got out of there.

Caxambas Indian Hill 1

The above is a view of Caxambas Pass from Indian Hill.

Marco Island, situated in the Gulf of Mexico 90 miles west of Miami and 157 miles south of Tampa, is built upon a cluster of mangrove islands. I’ve seen overhead photos of when Marco Island, as such, was not there, just the green mangrove islands in the blue water. The Atlantic Coast Line Railroad ran across to the island from 1927 to 1944. Major development took place on Marco in the 1960s, led by the Mackle Brothers of the Deltona Corporation. My mother and stepfather owned a home here in the 1970s. As a result of the development across these mangrove islands, many Marco Island homes sit on waterfront properties with boat docks, connected by a series of canals leading to the Gulf, and when you drive around the island you go over a lot of little bridges.

Sea Oats & Sand Bars

Sea oats on Tiger Tail Beach at the north end of Marco.

NM002-1W Sea Oats


My Chair on Marco

This chair is reserved for you.

Yet what you see next fascinates me more than anything in the region — the sinking Cape Romano, once on the southern end of Caxambas Island, connected by road, is now only accessible by boat. See more photos and read the story about these mysterious dome homes. This vintage photo below is copyright Kristian Maples.


Photo taken around 1982. Once there was an exhausting walk to the beach, they say. Successive hurricanes took their toll.


Photo in 2014, above, from

Below, from the Coastal Breeze News,  printed on September 7, 2012, from an intriguing story of this house, titled “Cape Romano Uncovered” — are photos of before and after. Two other houses on Cape Romano are of note, a stilt house and a pyramid house.

I am deeply intrigued by this story, infinitely fascinated. This part of Southwest Florida holds an enigmatic quality that only the natural elements and those who live there know, like they’re all part of some secret cult, a collective with a discrete shape of mind. Maybe it’s just the humidity. However, if you are so compelled to learn more, you can see many more before and after photos plus videos and family and news stories on the Cape Romano Facebook page, on the Abandoned Florida website, and on the blog of Kristian Maples, grandson of dome homes designer Bob Lee.



Talk about having that sinking feeling….

–Samantha Mozart

Naples, Florida — Part I

Naples Pier

Naples Pier, on the Gulf of Mexico.

Pelicans at Naples Pier

Pelicans at the Naples Pier.


I left Southern California in October 1994 to spend a working winter vacation in Naples, Fla., where my mother owned a villa. I stayed seven years. This is the farm stand where I worked in Naples. The farm is no longer there; the land has been developed, a place called Treviso Bay. I wonder if you can still hear the zzz-ing of the cicadas in the adjacent woods.

Founded in the late 1880s as a fishing village and vacation winter resort serving mostly the elite from Kentucky and Ohio, Naples, on the Gulf of Mexico, way down almost on the southwest tip of Florida, began to grow as a city in the 1920s when the railroad came taking fish to market and bringing in tourists. Barron Collier, a New York millionaire, arrived in 1923 and bought up the land. He bought the Rod & Gun Club in nearby Everglades City, too. There he hosted foreign dignitaries and U.S. presidents. Ernest Hemingway came. The newly arrived traveled a lot between Tampa and Miami and they soon realized they needed more than a couple of sand ruts upon which to drive. So, federal funds in tow, they set up their supply depot at Everglades City and, beating their way through the jungle with machetes, shovels and fly swatters, set to work building a road connecting the two cities. When the federal government ran into a financial snag, Collier offered to finish the road in return for the new county being named after him. He made Everglades City the Collier County seat. The new road, the Tamiami Trail, now U.S. Route 41, opened to great fanfare in 1928.


This is the train that brought them to Southwest Florida.

Naples Depot Lamp & RR Logo

Everglades City is Ernest Hemingway’s Florida. It is Key West and the Keys 70 years ago. After Hurricane Donna struck in 1960, ripping out the torso of Everglades City, older than Naples and too weak financially to rebuild, everybody conceded that Naples, just up the Gulf, was the more important trade location at which to build. Since then, Naples has blossomed into home for not only vacationers but home for the retired from jobs of intrigue such as the Secret Service and the FBI, retired prominent figures and the wealthy. Stephen King is said to have a home here. He is said to have a home in several Southwest Florida cities. Fans have sighted him all around the area, even at Publix, the supermarket chain. I think I might have seen his Mercedes once. Other celebrities have magnificent homes in the area, too. And, many Canadians, Europeans and Russians visit. Here are some photos from around town:

Painted House

The Flower House: A historic home on the beach in Naples, painted with flowers.

Painted House 1

Naples Depot & Fifth Ave S

Fifth Avenue South, the heart of upscale Naples.

Naples Depot & Fifth Ave S 2

Historic Naples Depot.

ACL Logo & Caboose

ACL Logo & Caboose 1

Luggage Cart & Gulf Bch 1

Below, Naples Pier and the Gulf of Mexico.

Luggage Cart & Gulf Bch

Banyon & Coco Palm

A banyon tree near the beach in Naples.

Banyon & Coco Palm 1

A nearby coconut palm.

Below are two photos I took at the 729,000 acre Big Cypress National Preserve, a short drive east of Naples:

Big Cypress Swamp 1

I visited Big Cypress mainly to see the black and white photography of Clyde Butcher and his Big Cypress Gallery and studio where he explained how he develops his black and white photographs. Big Cypress was set aside in 1974 to protect the flora and fauna and recreation in this region and particularly the importance of the Big Cypress watershed to Everglades National Park. The park was established in 1934 and dedicated in 1947. Big Cypress refers to the vast cypress strands spanning this area.

Big Cypress Swamp

Pictured above, Spanish moss in Big Cypress National Preserve of the Everglades at Ochopee, Fla. Big Cypress is located on U.S. Route 41, the Tamiami Trail, about midway along the 125 mile route between Miami (on the Atlantic coast) and Naples.

In 2000 I lived in a little apartment on Henderson Creek, a tidal creek in Naples. My neighbor across the creek had a mango tree that became so laden with mangos in June that he had to hire a group of Mexicans to come pick them. I wished I could just swim across in the night and pick a few mangos. But, then, there were the alligators….  This is the boat dock outside my apartment (I didn’t have a boat.)


My next-door neighbor here had basically one item in his wardrobe. Eponymously, I called him (not to his face) Loincloth.

mangrove roots

Roots of the mangrove trees next to the dock.

Morning Reflection 300 copy

The view above is from the screened lanai of my mother’s villa.

–Samantha Mozart

Mammoth Lakes, California

Twin Lakes MM007

Twin Lakes, two of the lakes at Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

Mammoth Lakes, Calif., has an elevation of 7,880 feet and higher and a population of just over 8,200. Mammoth Lakes began as a gold rush town in 1877. By 1880 the mining company had shut down and the population dwindled from a peak of 1,500 to 10. Nonetheless, by the early 1900s the economy of the town shifted from mining to logging and tourism. The first people to inhabit the area were the Mono people and the county is named after them. (Mono is pronounced with a long “o”.) Mammoth Lakes is located in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains near Yosemite National Park. The town is named for the woolly mammoth, remains of which have been found in the area. It is believed the woolly mammoth became extinct about the time the glaciers receded at the end of the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago.

MM010W Lake Mary & Boat

A motorboat on Lake Mary.

Silver Lake Canoes

Fishing boats for hire at Silver Lake.

The Mammoth lakes are a chain of glacial lakes above the town in the Inyo National Forest connected by plumbing — a system of pipes and faucets running down the mountainside regulated to provide water to the town and to California. It is somewhat disconcerting to be hiking in the Inyo National Forest when you round a bend to find a waterfall and, then, round the next bend to find a lake with big faucets, gauges and pipes leading to the next lake.

Lake Mamie & Lake Mary Boats 1

My friend Roland standing at Lake Mamie Dam, elevation 8,898 feet.

Lake Mamie & Lake Mary Boats 2

Lake Mary boathouse.

Lake Mamie & Lake Mary Boats

Lake Mamie and Crystal Crag.

Lake Mary & Crystal Crag + Motorboat

Lake Mary and Crystal Crag.

Lake Mary & Crystal Crag + Motorboat 1

Boat on Lake Mary.

Twin Lakes & Crystal Crag

Twin Lakes and Crystal Crag.

Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort is the primary economic sustainer of the town. Mammoth Mountain is a lava dome complex located in the Inyo National Forest. Dave McCoy founded Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort, when he, a member of the Eastern Sierra Ski Club, noticed that Mammoth Mountain consistently held more snow than the surrounding mountains. He borrowed a portable tow rope from the Ski Club in 1941 and the skiers hauled themselves up the mountain and skied down. The first ski lift was built in 1955.

Here are some of my photos of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area:

MMH Mtn Ski Area

MMH Mtn Ski Area 3

MMH Mtn Ski Area 1

MMH Mtn Ski Area 2

–Samantha Mozart