The group switched to vampire mode as we rose before the sun topped the mountains east of Vegas. The plan was to beat the heat and avoid the searing sun—but it was still
86 degrees at 4:30AM. Nonetheless, it was off to the north through Death Valley. Desolate is an understatement.
It was easily miles before encountering any oncoming traffic and passing slower trucks as a complete phalanx was the norm. The vegetation further diminished and became more sparse. One would be hard pressed to find a bush of adequate foliage to hide behind if nature called. It would be easy to believe that nothing could survive out here, but that fact was belied by the road kill remains of some unfortunate night creatures. Everything was a shade of tan; brownish tan, greenish tan, grayish tan, tannish tan... You get the idea.
And the people who live out there are an eclectic bunch. At our first gas stop, we encountered Guy with the Thing Hanging from His Nose or Booger Man.
He bought a Harley in ’41 but didn’t like it. Rattled him too much. Sold it for a car. He was still talking to Lynne when we pulled out.
The Sierra Nevadas loomed large in the distance, snow capped even at this late date in the year. It was off across the valley floor and up and down some winding twisty roads complete with a one lane (both ways!) cut through a mountain. The temps began to drop to a wonderfully comfortable level as we arrived just after lunch in Mammoth Lakes. Gary, at the Quality Inn, was most hospitable and had our keys out waiting when we walked through the door.
He had gift certificates to Angel’s Restaurant waiting for us as well and couldn’t have been a nicer guy.
After a pause to freshen up, it was off to Devil’s Postpile National Monument. Again taking advantage of the shuttle, we visited Reds Meadows expecting to grab a bite to eat at the café. No such luck. They were busy and short staffed. We went to the General Store to grab a snack only to find they had a very limited selection available. But we nailed the major food groups. Corn chips, figs, jerky, hot bean dip with jalapenos, and cheese pop corn. We are having a “Who Can Be More Disgusting” contest tonight.
The Park Rangers—Brook Fisher, Pete Lundberg and Eric Johnson – were very nice and showed us where to stash our food in the bear proof food stashing thing. We hiked back to the monument and took pictures. Beware
the mosquitoes—they are as big as small birds up here.
Watch for Loose Cattle
Things we learned today:
• Crows will wait until the last possible second to get out of the way of an oncoming vehicle.
• You’ll eat just about any combination of food when you are really hungry.
We rode 314.9 miles from Las Vegas, NV to Mammoth Lakes, CA today and tacked on an additional 11.2 for a total of 326.1 miles.