As it turned out, I arrived on the day before the guided tours would be closing down for the season, early due to the State’s deficit. Grand homes have been a theme throughout my travels not only because I like to imagine them as my abodes, but because there is always a lengthy story that goes along with them. This one was no different.
Throughout my travels, I have come to learn about some fabulously interesting women. Knight is yet another surprising gem. Born into money, she was extremely generous, putting the children of most of her staff through college and daring to financially support the post graduate education of several young women of her acquaintance. She also happened to fund Charles Lindbergh's 1927 non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic. And, at sixty, and without a husband, she built a castle in the sky.
This was a woman who obviously believed in dreams, in pursuing and expanding upon the inspirations of the heart in spite of skepticism.
The Castle consists of the three story tower, two story turret and two side wings with sod roofs. The hexagonal foot print encloses a courtyard with a reflecting pond.
On special occasions, she’d arrange for a tea party out on her island. The granite tea house on Fannette Island was constructed at the same period as the Castle, although she used it only a few times a year given the production involved in getting everything and everyone over to the island just for tea.
In the late eighteen hundreds prior housing Knight’s tea house, however, Fannette Island, a protected nesting ground for Canadian geese and the only island on the Lake, was home to an eclectic captain. The eccentric Englishman apparently built a chapel there into which, as fate would have it, he would never be interred since he had the misfortune to perish at sea.
Sitting in the mid day sun looking at the map software installed on my Mini, I decided to tackle the mountain passes and head over to Mammoth Lakes because I don’t like to return the way I arrived if I can at all help it.
Coming down off the mountain pass into a Rock Monster-like canyon, the view opens up onto a wide open valley as far as the eye can see, the Great Basin, the largest watershed in North America.
|Tufa Towers at Mono Lake, CA|
A fault block geological formation, the contrast of the smooth, creased lowland hills of the valley to its jagged un-weathered eastern peaks called the Needles was pronounced as the sun began to set.