Friday, October 26, 2012

More Arches in the Alabama Hills, and Where to Find Them

We visited a couple more arches on our trip to the Alabama Hills. Above: "Eye of Alabama." There's a fairly steep uphill walk to this arch, but the view looking back at the Sierras is spectacular--see below.
Above: Heart Arch, which is easily visible from the same parking area on Movie Rd. where you go to visit the Mobius and Lathe arches. It's the rock opening on the left, and it's much more visibly heart-shaped in person than in this photo.
If you're interested in finding these arches, and many more, the book to get is "Arches of the Alabama Hills." As the cover says, this is a complete guide to "72 arches and 23 other features of the Alabama Hills, including GPS coordinates, 10 maps, and 71 color photos." A photographer friend told us about this book, and we were glad she did. The author is a retired schoolteacher named Orlyn Fordham, who self-published this book and did a very thorough job.
Thing is, as of this writing, there is nowhere to buy the book online. You'll have to go to the Rock and Gift Shop on Main St. in Lone Pine. This store is worth a visit in any case--loads of books, gifts, and rocks. I came away with a piece of petrified wood that had been struck by lightning--black in the middle and completely crystalized on both sides.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mobius and Lathe Arches, Alabama Hills

One of the highlights of our trip was getting up before dawn and walking in the dark to the site of Mobius and Lathe Arches in the Alabama Hills. Getting up was harder than actually getting there. The last time we were there, around eight years ago, the path wasn't marked. Now, the entire path from the parking lot on Movie Rd. is lined with stones, and a cairn marks where to find the arches. Easy! Above: the Eastern Sierra through Lathe Arch. (Mt. Whitney is just out of the frame, to the right) Below: Mobius Arch.
After standing around for between 2-3 hours in the chilly air, we got back in the 4Runner and headed up Whitney Portal Road--a drive we'd never taken. We had the road to ourselves that early, and the climb was both picturesque and steep. Thought we might have breakfast at the top, but decided against it--the menu was too climber-oriented for us, consisting basically of three choices: hubcap-sized pancakes, "meat" (unspecified as to type) and lots of eggs.
So, craving a hot breakfast, we headed back to town and the Alabama Hills Cafe. This proved to be just what we were looking for. Bill got his usual two eggs with potatoes, which came with toasted fresh-baked sourdough (the best bread we've had in a long time); and I had my usual oatmeal. This was the really good stuff, steel-cut--not your typical cafe goop. It's a mom-and-pop place, super-friendly and welcoming. While we were there, a giant apple pie came out of the oven. This was the highest apple pie I've ever seen--the Mt. Whitney of apple pies. When we go back, I'm getting pie!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Macomber Rotary Engine Exhibit at Rand Desert Museum

We just got back from a week's vacation in Lone Pine, Death Valley, and Tecopa. Our first stop along the way was the Rand Desert Museum in the ghost town of Randsburg. Historian Bart Parker (right) has recently put up an exhibit about my great-grandfather, Walter G. Macomber, who worked in the Rand area between 1899-1909--first, as an engineer in the Croesus and Ratcliff mines owned by his wife's uncle, W. W. Godsmark; and later, at the Randsburg Water Company. While employed by the water company, Macomber invented a rotary engine for use in airplanes and cars.
The exhibit takes up three display cases in the back room of the museum--photos above and below. It includes items such as a biography of Walter Macomber, the engine's specifications, and an investors' prospectus for the Eagle-Macomber Car Company, which had a factory in Sandusky, Ohio.
Here are a couple of detail shots from the exhibit--above, an article about the engine's use in early aviation; and below, a promotional ad for the Eagle-Macomber car.
More information about Walter Macomber can be found on previous posts of this blog and also on the Rand Desert Museum website by clicking here. We are very interested in locating an actual Macomber rotary engine and an Eagle-Macomber car. If anyone out there has any leads, please contact Bart Parker at the Rand Desert Museum by clicking here, or contact me through my website,

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Poetry During Hwy. 62 Art Tours and Beyond...And, A Deal from Blurb

The annual Hwy. 62 Art Tours are almost here! It's the last two weekends in October--the biggest two weekends of the year for art lovers in the Morongo Basin. You can check out the open studios of over 100 artists by clicking here.
On Friday, Oct. 19, I'll be taking part in the "Pop-Up Salon" at the Red Arrow Gallery in Joshua Tree, 6:30-9 pm. The event will feature over a dozen authors reading from their work. I'm scheduled to read from "In the Mojave" and "A Bird Black As the Sun" at 7 pm. All of the featured authors will have their books for sale at the Red Arrow that evening and also throughout both weekends of the tours.

On Saturday, Oct. 20, between 2-4 pm, artist Ellen Hill is featuring dramatic readings at her studio in Joshua Tree. I'll be reading poetry around 3 pm. Kristine Waters, actress and storyteller, will lead off with a reading of "The Mightiest Heart," and Ellen herself will share a Sami yoik (song) titled "Star Girl" and talk about Sami myths and symbolism.

More poetry coming up: on November 8, I'll be reading at Copper Mountain College's new library at 12 noon, along with poets Phillip Rosenberg and Caryn Davidson.

 Finally, here's a chance to save 20 percent on the print versions of my books "In the Mojave" and "Shared Visions." From now through October 23, just go to and use the code FANS at checkout. You can find my books easily by clicking on the Blurb logo that says "Check out my books" at the bottom right of this blog's sidebar.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Crow and Raven Poets in Riverside

We've held 10 poetry readings all over California this year for "A Bird Black As the Sun: California Poets on Crows and Ravens." The last one took place on Sunday, Sept. 30 in Riverside at Back to the Grind Coffee House. Above, back row: Southern California poets Ron Alexander (Santa Barbara), Halie Rosenberg (Los Angeles), Jackson Wheeler (Oxnard), Noreen Lawlor (Joshua Tree), Amy Floyd (Riverside) and Ruth Nolan (Palm Desert). Front row: Cynthia Anderson (Yucca Valley), Enid Osborn (Santa Barbara), Mary Fitzpatrick (Pasadena), and Maureen Alsop (Palm Springs).
Ruth Nolan--desert advocate, professor at College of the Desert, editor of "No Place for a Puritan"--organized the event, and brought in Mike Cluff--poet, professor at Norco College, and author of "Elegant Worry"--to help. Mike gave his students extra credit for attending. Thanks to Ruth and Mike--and also to the Inlandia Institute for their support.
Artist/writer Amy Floyd of Riverside created the art for our title page as well as the image of a raven in a circle that appears on the cover. Thank you Amy!
We met a wonderful group of Riverside-area writers and artists who participated in the open reading, including Joan Koerper and her poetry dog, Gilligan, above (her book, "Threaded Hoops," is available at; Celena Diana of OceanMoonSpirit Designs, below; and Cindy Rinne ( Thanks to everyone for being there and for making us feel welcome.