(Jan) For years we have heard people talk about how great it is traveling north on Highway 395 on the eastern side of the Sierras. This spring we are headed to Seattle for a family visit, so it fits our plans just perfectly! We left Yuma’s 90 and 100 degree days for weather in the 50’s and 60’s and nights with temps down to 32. Perfect sleeping weather!
Lone Pine, California sits in the shadow of Mt Whitney, the highest point in the continental US. Driving the Portal Road takes you to the 8,000 ft. level where hikers/climbers begin their 6,000+ ft. ascent of Mt. Whitney. With it’s dramatic twists and turns and panoramic views, it’s well worth the drive. Lower down on the mountain lie the Alabama Hills. These rugged and picturesque rock formations, were the back drop for hundreds of western TV episodes and movies in early film history and movies such as ‘Tremors’ more recently. One can almost imagine the bad guys lurking behind the rocks or the monster plunging up from under the sand! Also, at Lone Pine we enjoyed the Visitor’s Center and Museum and strolling and shopping on Main Street.
Manzanar National Monument is north of Lone Pine. In 1942 10,000 people of Japanese ancestry, nearly two thirds of them American citizens, lived here in an internment camp during World War II after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Housed in 20 by 100 foot barracks that were divided into 4 living areas, eight people lived in a 20 x 25 foot space. Manzanar was a fully functioning community with schools, a newspaper, a church, temples, orchards and a net factory; everything but freedom. When the war ended, the residents were released with $25 each to start a new life. The auditorium is now a museum that tells the story of their lives behind barbed wire.
Our friends Larry and Connie are working out of Mammoth Lakes, California this year managing several dozen National Forest Campgrounds. We joined them at New Shady Rest CG for some top notch chili one evening and several lively games of Pegs and Jokers. It’s wonderful to have great friends! While in their area we did several scenic drives; Twin Lakes with it’s beautiful water fall, the June Lake Loop with three gorgeous lakes surrounded by mountains and Hwy 120 going towards Yosemite NP. The drive to the east entrance of Yosemite has breathtaking vistas, lakes, streams and waterfalls. Snow still covered much of the ground at 10,000 feet elevation and Tioga Pass into the NP was still closed for the season for snow removal.
|Ellery Lake, elevation 9538 was still snow covered.||The gate going into Yosemite NP at Tioga Pass was closed.|
(Chuck) Mono Lake is an interesting lake in a broad basin in Mono County, CA that has no outlet. Dissolved salts make the lake very alkaline and has salt content that varies from two to three times the salt content of the ocean. It is a unique area in which many migratory bird species flourish. A large, interesting visitor’s center documents the lake, ecosystem and the surrounding area.
The town of Bodie is now a California State Historic Park. It is located about 75 miles south of Lake Tahoe at an elevation of 7379 feet. In the mining glory days of 1879, Bodie boasted a population of about 10,000. Murders, robberies, stage holdups and street fights were nearly daily events in this town of 30 mines and 65 saloons. Very harsh winters added to the difficulties of living in this mining community. Twenty feet of snow, 100 mph winds and 30 below zero temps were the demise of many who were unprepared for this environment. There were at least two major mining advancements used in Body. First in 1890 was the newly perfected cyanide method of reclaiming gold from previously discarded mill tailings. The second was in 1893; a hydroelectric plant was built about 12 miles away that utilized the first long distance transmission lines to power a 20 stamp mill. It developed a maximum 130 horsepower and 6,600 volts of alternating current. This technology was so new that the long distance power lines were built in a straight line as it was thought that the electricity might not be able to turn corners.
Today the town is in the state of “arrested decay” as nearly all of the buildings were simply abandoned as fortunes dwindled and inhabitants moved on. It was a very interesting experience to walk up to the locked buildings and peer in the windows to view books, beds, furniture and many other daily used items which were simply left in place decades ago. Most of these photos were made through the windows which were stained with dust on the inside.
(Jan) We stayed in Carson City, Nevada on our way north so we could drive up to Lake Tahoe. We drove the 70 miles around the Lake. Although highly developed in areas, there were many state parks with access to the lake. Unfortunately we were met with ‘closed for the season’ signs on most. We did manage to find three different areas to see magnificent Lake Tahoe; a lake which straddles the states of California and Nevada and is the largest alpine lake in the US and the second deepest at 1,645 feet. It’s intense blue color surrounded by snow caps peaks is worth the drive.
North on Hwy 385 through northern California and Oregon is our direction now.