Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Old Postcard Wednesday--Weaverville, California, in the "Trinity Alps"

(If you have arrived looking for my Mag 80 it follows this OPW post...or click it. )


I was going to scan a postcard of the rugged Pacific Ocean coastline this week, as my husband and I will be at the Oregon coast on Thursday to celebrate our 16th anniversary. Because I am tired right now my thought was to post this card of the ocean and a simple Zen poem or haiku about the sea. The site I chose has numerous poems in that genre but I wasn't finding anything about the ocean as I scrolled. Then my eyes landed on the poem below (that has absolutely nothing to do with the ocean) and I felt it was a little message from my mother to post instead the Weaverville postcard that was right behind the Pacific Ocean card in my grandmother's card box.

My grandmother waited out the Great Depression up in Trinity Canyon with my mother (who was just out of high school) and my aunt (then a little girl) on some property owned by one of my uncles. They called it "the ranch," but the house was really a shack with an outhouse down the path. My mother nearly lost her mind at first, having come from Santa Monica, California, where they left all friends behind, and perhaps would have if not for trips on the winding road down to Weaverville. There they bought necessities not grown in their garden at "the ranch," and found a semblance of a social life through the Grange nearby. She grew to love Trinity County, where Trinity Canyon in the "Trinity Alps" and Weaverville gave her a hardy outlook on life that included her survival instinct and deep respect for forested mountain areas.

In October 2009 I posted a different Weaverville postcard and told my favorite story of my mother's Trinity County experience that includes the wonderful song Red River Valley. You can find it here. And, after the death of my aunt in 2008, I wrote a post about her life, including more on the years spent at Trinity County. That post has a photo of my mother and my aunt on a hike in Trinity Canyon, and I have decided to post it again here as an introduction to the poem about Trinity Canyon.


Trinity Canyon by Mike Garafalo

Shivering rafters
pull to shore–
the river moves on.

One by one
jumping into the deep pool–
a swinging rope.

Honking horns
echo down the canyon walls–
falling rain.

zig-zag walk
along the rocky riverside–
falling pine needle

I'm sitting, still.
The chanting canyon stream
is moving mountains.


While doing research about Trinity County and Weaverville, my eyes quickly scanning the search lists, I saw two words that really made me take a deep sigh: Lost Horizon. As that 1937 film about finding the mythical Shangri-La was my mother's favorite movie of all time (I am not kidding here, it really did just come tripping into my search), I will simply post the article that a Weaverville realtor shares on her website...and will wish you all a wonderful Wednesday and a terrific Thursday.

Incidentally, my mother would have gone absolutely nuts over this article but it was published four years after her death....

Unassuming Shrangri-La in Trinity Alps Weaveville blends mystic East, Old West in Gold Rush alchemy
- John Flinn, SF Chronicle Staff Writer, Sunday, August 1, 2004

Weaverville (Trinity County) -- In 1941, James Hilton, the British author of "Lost Horizon," was on a lecture tour of the United States. Inevitable, a reporter asked him: In all your wanderings, what's the closest you've found to a real-life Shrangri-La?
 
"A little town in northern California," the writer responded, presumably with a wistful, far-away look in his eye. "A little town called Weaverville."

I thought the comparison was pushing it a bit, but I started to wonder as I drove into this pretty alpine hamlet, which is cradled by snow-tipped peaks, and found a weathered string of Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags flapping along the main street. Then a pair of saffron-robed Buddhist monks, from the nearby Chagdud Gompa, came strolling out of a natural food store.

Maybe Hilton was on to something after all.

For most visitors, though, Weaverville's chief lures are that it's a wonderfully preserved Gold Rush town and gateway to the exquisite Trinity Alps, a miniature Sierra Nevada between Redding and Eureka.

Its Old West downtown has changed hardly at all since Hilton's visit, although a new conglomeration of strip malls and fast-food outlets is metastasizing a mile to the east along Highway 299.

In the red-brick downtown, the swinging doors of saloons still open onto wood-plank sidewalks, locust trees still line Main Street, and white metal staircases still spiral upward to wrought-iron balconies. . . .

Downtown's most intriguing feature -- and something that contributes to the Shangri-La aura -- is the Taoist Joss House, the oldest Chinese temple in continuous use in the state. It was originally built in the 1850's, when Weaverville had a sizable Chinese population from Guangdong Province, with their own stores, barbershops, theaters and gambling houses. The temple was rebuilt in 1874 after a fire and hasn't changed much in appearance since then. It's now a state park. . .

Rising straight above town are the Trinity Alps, a compact and inviting mountain range filled with soaring pine forests, frothing streams, turquoise lands and castle-like granite peaks, some sporting tiny glaciers. The summits aren't nearly as lofty as the Sierra Nevada -- the highest, Thompson Peak, tops out at a mere 9,002 feet -- but because of the range's northerly latitude, its timberline high country begins at an easy-to-breathe altitude of 6,000 feet.

The Trinities are a renowned fly-fishing venue, and popular backpacking trails such as Canyon Creek get a lot of traffic on summer weekends, but it doesn't take much effort to carve out a little piece for yourself.

At the edge of town, I turned onto a dirt road that switch-backed up the side of a mountain for 9 somewhat jouncy miles -- it was fine in an all - wheel-drive Subaru Outback, and I'm told that, with a little care, normal passenger cars can make it -- to a fire lookout with 360-degree, king-of-the world views.

From a nearby turnout, I set out with my dog Tucker on a hiking trail that angled up to a little notch on a ridge and then descended sharply to a rocky amphitheater containing East Weaver Lake. Ringed with wildflowers and craggy buttresses, it was an unbeatable spot for a leisurely picnic, a long swim (Tucker)  and a siesta on  a sun-warmed granite slab (me). At an alpine lake this easy to reach in the Sierra, I would have had to elbow my way through a mob of hikers just to reach the shore. In the Trinity Alps, Tucker and I had it all to ourselves.

Back in town, I bought an ice cream and went for a stroll through the town's leafy back streets, past tidy old miner's cottages, a few of them festooned with strings of sun-bleached prayer flags. I wondered about a former colleague who had retired here years ago. Weaverville, I decided, would be a pretty great place to grow old -- or perhaps to not grow old at all.


John Flinn, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, August 1, 2004

: : :


More about the movie Lost Horizon at imdb.

This post describes yet another in my growing collection of ICMs (Ironies and Cosmic Messages).
Others: here, and here, and here.

.

20 comments:

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

beautiful image of the mountain

The name Shangri La brings up an odd image of Welsh Holiday Campsites that have seen better days for some reason - the sort of name that someone would give their home with the best of intentions.

Real life Shangri La's? You can do worse than visit Portmeirion on the bottom edge of Wales - the Lake District (especially around where Wordsworth lived)

My Great Uncle lived in Keswick for a few years back in the 80s, in the shadow of Scarfel Pike (3rd highest mountain in UK) - there's a picture of him at Surprise View that must surely be one of the prettiest places there is

mythopolis said...

This has been so fascinating to read. I love to hear/read about family histories. The shot of your mother and aunt is wonderful....is she wearing a pistol on her hip? I also enjoyed reading about JoAnn, and a wonderful picture of her there sitting on what perhaps is a lake bank.

Mimi Foxmorton said...

Your posts are quite beautiful......

And your header says it all......!

Stay creative!
;)

~Mimi

goatman said...

I wish we could post pictures on these comments. . . I have a card of my grandmother and her sister sitting in a pre-1915 REO (Ransom E. Olds) car. It was identified as pre-1915 because until that year the steering wheel was on the right side of the car. (to better see and stay out of the ditches I am told)
Perhaps I will post it on my blog with a bit of history.

The Gooseberry Garden said...

lovely mountain view.

The Gooseberry Garden said...

Hello, how are you?


Glad to land in your lovely land of wonders. Excellent talent!

Hope all is well.

Appreciated your support to The Gooseberry Garden, your inputs add light to our place, we would love to see you around weekly…

Random piece or old ones are welcome too.

Bless you.
Happy End of August.
Hope to see you around!
xoxox

Freda said...

Glad to have a little wander with you via various links and ended up happily listening to "Red River Valley" - what memories it evoked of long ago. Good to share your thoughts on your special women.

Lydia said...

Pixies~ More wondrous memories from you to enhance another postcard! I have seen the name Shangri-La on people's houses, now that you mention it.
The more you say about Wales the more I want to visit that place. And Surprise View (love that name) sounds beautiful. Thanks for sharing about these places.

mythopolis~ You are just great to view these posts about my family and to find them interesting (I share that interest in others' family stories with you.) Know what? I noticed that thing on her hip for the first time last night, and I wondered if it was a pistol too...or a camera case. I simply do not know. She did shoot up there, but I don't know if she actually owned a gun...and by the time she was my mother she was totally anti-firearms.
As for JoAnn, her story is unique to be sure. She was lucky my grandmother saved her. The photo you refer to was taken at Lake Tahoe, I am fairly sure.

Mimi Foxmorton~ Your name sounds like a movie star's name!
Many thanks for your visit and kind comments. I look forward to visiting your blog soon. :)

goatman~ Oh, how fascinating! I didn't know that about the early steering wheels! I really hope you post it with some stories....please do! (And, since this is a week of vacation for my husband surrounding our anniversary, I may need to be reminded to come over to see it.)

The Gooseberry Garden~ Your delightful greeting brightened my morning (cloudy today). I will try to participate, as the endeavor was so interesting to me. Thank you so much.

Freda~ How kind of you to visit the posts linked and to comment about Red River Valley. It is such a beautiful song, and I am glad you share a love for it with me. :)

susan said...

Shangri-La was my mother's favorite movie too and one I longed to see for myself in those days before late night tv. I've sometimes wondered if my tendencies toward Buddhism weren't planted when I was very small after listening to her tell the story. The photograph of your mother and your aunt is quite amazingly beautiful. I'm sorry I missed seeing the town but your description is wonderful.

There have been many changes since we met last year. I hope you have a very Happy Anniversary.

Hattie said...

Thank you for this! I loved the photo, and the article makes me want to go see Weaverville for myself. I would like to take that hike, too.

Muhammad Israr said...

I wonder how could u write so beautifully on ur postcards? Make me long for the pre-internet age when we could send and receive these...
And I am definitely going to watch Shangri-la..yes I havent watched it though I undrstnd frm ur blog that I should have...I wonder how could u write so beautifully on ur postcards? Make me long for the pre-internet age when we could send and receive these...
And I am definitely going to watch Shangri-la..yes I havent watched it though I undrstnd frm ur blog that I should have...

Lydia said...

susan~ Wow, your comment was so meaningful to me. That our mothers shared Lost Horizon as their favorite movie, and that we met in in person through a blogging connection and have developed our friendship...well, it is all quite mystical to me. I can see the look in your mother's eyes when she described the film to you because I remember the look in my own mother's eyes when recalling the film. And then when it did come on tv and we watched it together it was a marvelous experience. I had never connected the movie and an interest in Buddhism, but what you say makes total sense to me. I have contented myself with my own spirituality that has a strong basis in Buddhism and now I understand why it feels so right.
Thanks again.

Hattie~ My pleasure, most definitely. This post had a heart of its own and seems to have made many of us wish to see Weaverville (we can have a blogger pilgrimage!). My mother took my sis and me there, and then on up to "the ranch" when we were adolescents. I remember it, but would like to spend time there now as an adult.

Muhammad Israr~ Thank you so much for your delightful comment. I love doing my Old Postcard Wednesday posts, as I love the research and learn so much about the places pictured in the cards.
I do hope you can find a copy of Lost Horizon (Shangri-La); check out the link I put at the end of the post for more information. I purchased a VHS copy long ago for my mother as a surprise and she loved having it, and of course, now that VHS is in my collection. I must watch it again! I wish we could invite you to our house for dinner and a movie.

Stickup Artist said...

What a great introduction to Weaverville! I've never heard of it, and the family history adds so much to the story. These 3 women waiting out the depression, the hikes, the natural setting in the old western town. The girls look like they really gained some altitude in that black and white photo. Well, I just have goosebumps! Would make a great road trip from SoCal. Enjoy your day at the beach!

Lydia said...

Stickup Artist~ Your comment made me smile. I would love to see the images you would capture on a road trip to and around Weaverville and Trinity Canyon...spectacular, I know. :)

Alice Audrey said...

I love this glimpse into your mother's life. It's a lot like what my grandparents lived.

Lydia said...

Alice Audrey~ Thanks, Alice. I am glad that they left behind their stories and old photos, as they are also the stories of our own lives, in part.

Brian Miller said...

smiles. very cool post...love the mix of pics, poem, memories...true that on the story of our lives...i miss hearing my grandfathers stories...

Lydia said...

Brian~ Ah, thanks. I like your smiles and comments always. :)

Muhammad Israr said...

ah..thats so nice of you inviting me for a dinner and a movie with your family..i wish only if i could come... thanks for the gesture :)

Lydia said...

Muhammad~ I wish so, also. Perhaps one day. Life is full of lovely surprises if we keep our hearts open to them. :)

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