My memory gets a bit hazy on the details as I dragged myself through a sequence of relatively sleepless days, but eventually I woke up early enough to shoot a timelapse sequence of the sun rising over the Bodie Hills off towards the horizon.
The Bodie Hills are among 14 areas being considered for National Monument status. Many of them are rarely-used areas of BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land, which enables you to go use them to your heart's content with minimal restriction. National Monument status could close them to maost use, except in developed campgrounds. You'll then be charged for the "improvements" (the sound of adjacent generators and drunken rednecks blasting country western music... sorry, just my recent experience in campgrounds during the past 2 weeks...), they'll probably charge National Monument/National Park $20-25 fees instead of the BLM's mroe typical $2-3 (when there's a fee at all), and the added attention will ensure that the lands get far more trampelled and whatever endangered wildlife allegedly needs "protection" there will be more challenged and endangered than ever before.
Don't worry though, there's a group of people in Washington who believe that their sole purpose in life is to obstruct anything that the President does (never mind that meeting in the middle is often the healthiest approach for citizens of the country), so eleven lawmakers have introduced a bill to block the administration's ability to create monuments. I'm clearly no knee-jerk supporter of converting these lands to monuments, but I have huge reservations about blocking the ability to create them when appropriate (and when that symbolic move won't actually cause worse problems). Isn't the two-party system supposed to result in rational, middle-of-the-road compromises which actually make sense? Why do we seem to have a recent rise in extreme polarization and rampant dysfunction? Is it simply a case of "because it works" (to make politicians bribe-rich), combined with a gradual erosion of adequate controls to punish people when there's excess?
We didn't venture into the Bodie Hills on this trip though. Instead we stuck along highway 395, heading up to Big Meadow near the town of Bridgeport to meet with Tom Lowe of www.Timescapes.org. We found a nice patch of iris growing in an irrigated pasture (replacing the ubiquitous sagebrush in the area), we explored some side roads where I shot some "sundog" rainbows in the sky, and we watched some large young hawks sitting in a nest on a power pole, while "Mama hawk" circled overhead, watching us.
We finished the day back in the iris field, with Tom filming my daughter walking in the warm light of the setting sun.