After our night at Chris Flat campground (Nevada) we packed up and headed south. Soon after, we crossed back into California on highway 395. As we neared the vista point for Mono Lake I missed the picture opportunity of a lifetime. There along the other side of the highway was an old bearded man, walking along the side of the road with 3 mules (loaded down with his mining gear, no doubt) and his dog. It was like we had a very brief glance back into the 1800's. There was a lot of traffic along that stretch of the highway and no place to pull over so Bob decided to not turn around and go back. I not only wanted to get a picture but I thought we could have made him a sandwich and supplied him with some bottled water. Anyway, we kept trucking and neither of ever got that old gentleman out of our minds.
We made our usual stop at the official Mono Lake vista point. There's a huge store/gift shop/restaurant/gas station there, but the place was still closed for the winter season. This is also the spot where the road to Tioga Pass heads west up into the east side of Yosemite National Park. However, the pass was closed and I'm not sure if it's even open at this time. Usually Tioga doesn't open until the middle of June. After we reached Big Pine, California we headed east on highway 168 towards Death Valley. To get there from this point you have to watch the map closely...as you change from this highway to another on several occasions (sort of like getting around on the freeway system in the Los Angeles area). We drove for what seemed like hours and finally reached another junction and we knew immediately we were back in Nevada as there was a very large bordello on the Nevada side of the junction. Bob asked if I wanted him to stop, so I could take a picture and I said "no, I'll pass." I was thrilled when we started seeing Joshua trees. I love them, they remind me of my grandfather (my dad's father) Smith. He lived in Ridgecrest, CA (out in the Mojave Desert) and had a printing business called "Desert Graphic Arts." On all of the stationary, etc he printed...next to his company name was a little Joshua tree. So when I see a Joshua tree, I immediately think of a grandfather who was very dear to me.
As we continued on it was getting warmer & warmer. We already knew the air conditioning in the truck was not working and it would take lots of gas money to get it repaired. We decided if it got too unbearable we'd make the decision to either turn around and head back or grin and bear it and pretend we were pioneers heading across the desert in our "covered wagon."
Finally, just a few minutes before 6pm, we came to the famous Scotty's Castle. Unfortunately for us they were closing for the day and the very nice park service people at the gate didn't even let us in to get a better picture and snoop around for a few minutes. We could have come back the next morning but it was our plan to drive thru Death Valley to the other end, so decided...we'd pass. Later I was able to purchase postcards and a couple books about Scotty and his famous castle. As I was talking to the park people, I noticed a large cross up on the hill behind the castle and they said that was where Scotty & his dog are buried. We asked about a campground and they informed us there was one about 8 miles down the road so we headed in that direction. It was interesting to me that there was a location called the "Grapevine" at this location too. For those of you you have traveled down I-5 to Los Angeles, you know about the famous Grapevine along that route. (We've been down that Grapevine at all times of the day & night and in all kinds of weather). Finally, we reached the Mesquite campground, right down in Death Valley. The area around us looked almost like a moonscape. There was a warm breeze blowing and we found a vacant spot and settled in. I cooked a real dinner that night. I warmed up some frozen homemade lasagna, I'd brought along and cooked a big bunch of fresh broccoli. Wesat out by the campfire and ate our dinner, all the time enjoying the antics of the different families camped nearby. I imagine it was probably at least 75 degrees at this point and the wind became quite fierce. But during the night the wind picked up and the temperature dropped and it got a little cold (again thankful for that extra blanket I grabbed on the way out of the house.)
I woke up early Easter morning, peaked out the window of the camper and saw the most beautiful sunrise....I had my own little Easter sunrise service right there.
Until next time........Linda