Episode 250 Mojave Desert to Yosemite
One thing about Home Exchange, your expected to leave the place as you find it - if not better. Or at least that is our rule. On the last day f your stay you need to allow a few hours to wash the sheets and towels and clean the place. That translates into a late start on your day of travel. Exceptions can be made if there is an early flight or some other reason that calls for leaving the place less than how you find it.
A late start never bothers us. It is pretty routine for us to get going around 9 or 10 o'clock. We always take time in the morning for Tai Chi and a good breakfast. Sometimes we even include a half hour or hour bike ride just to see the area of wherever we might be staying. The day we left Tucson was no different. We got on the road around eleven.
This is Retirement Talk. I'm Del Lowery
Tucson was sort of the end of the line for our trip. It was time to turn the car around and head west and north. Our choice of roads was limited and we spent part of the day on an Interstate. Of course the miles flew by but that wasn't what we were really after. We spent the night in Needles, California on the edge of the Mojave Desert.
The terrain runs on in all direction in a dry and parched fashion. Not necessarily just sand. There is a lot of green growth; not trees and that sort but low shrubs and cacti. Lots of cacti. Then there are mountains that looked like dry rock with not a bit of life. Nothing green; not even any birds in the sky. We did find one beautiful railroad station that has been converted into a visitor center, museum and restaurant at Kelso; a beautiful building with palm trees growing on surrounding green grass. At one time this was a boom town with mining and railroading combining to make it a place where things were happening. It didn't last.
By noon we had driven from south to north across the Mojave. We found ourselves having a picnic lunch alone the road. Traffic was almost nonexistent. By one o'clock we were entering Death Valley.
We have been here perhaps three times before; the first time riding two-up on our old BMMW motorcycle. That was twenty odd years ago. It impressed me then and every time since. This is a place that truly deserves its reputation. The valley is not hospitable to human beings. It just gets too hot. I remember trying to navigate this on our motorcycle while dressed in leather. It wasn't fun. I'm glad we did that when we were younger. Today whenever I see motorcycles spinning down the road in the bright sun all I think about is how hot they are going to be whenever they stop.
But I love Death Valley. The road goes up so high and then down so low. It is the lowest place in the US. We saw caves in the sides of mountains soon after entering the park. We stopped and hiked up and took a look. Soot from many fires blacked the entrance to one. You just want to get into some good hiking boots with a good flashlight and explore a bit. We didn't. We let that one pass. We walked out on the salt beds; wet our finger and bent down to test the taste of the salt. Just like what comes out of the shaker.
Death Valley is a place where your glad to have a digital camera and not paying for film. It is also a place where pictures just don't do it justice. You have to rotate your head to take in almost any and every view. 360 degrees of color and connectivity mocks the photographers dream. You get beautiful pictures but nothing like what the eye sees.
That night we spent in Lone Pine, California. One of our favorite stops and on one of our favorite highways - 395. That's where the clip came from at the beginning of this podcast. We love this road.
We stayed on 395 the next morning all the way to Mammoth Mountain. We paused for lunch and a great bike ride. The mountains and Ponderosa Pine combine to make a bike ride really fun. And within the town, just along side of the bike trail was a fantastic, world class skateboard park. There were six boarders there and they were good. We engaged in conversation and admiration. They were dedicated boarders and they really impressed us.
That night found us in a little rustic 12 mile loop of a road called June Lake. Great little valley with a wonderful small town feel. A perfect place to spend the night and early morning.
Yosemite was our next highlight. We had been here before so we limited our stay to short hikes up a granite mountain side and a great walk beside a true, clear mountain stream. Again, we managed to get a little solitude. Lots of people frequent this park but finding silent spots is not impossible.
By early afternoon we found ourselves winding through the foothills of the Sierra's for a couple of hours before arriving at our daughter place in Sutter Creek, California. A week with grandchildren will consume this last major stop; a great way to wind down another magical road trip. I can't say enough about it.
This is Retirement Talk.