Monday, May 7, 2007

Part Three of a 35 Day Journey

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 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 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



jeadie05 said...

Your journey is amazing Iam really enjoying going along with you ,what beautiful sights you have seen Jan xx

labdancer51 said...

I agree with Jan, your journey IS amazing. Your pics make me wonder what the mining communities were like when they were thriving. Isn`t it always the way that when you have a great photo oppotunity you don`t have the camera handy? I would have loved to have seen the man with his mules.

Love Sandra xxxx

jonibooks1991 said...

I love it!  Now I know how you remember, you keep a journal.  Great idea and great pics!  I will try that on our little trip next week.  Joni

fasttrack58 said...

I'm so enjoying your trip and glad you kept track of each detail.... I want to go to the Joshua Tree park some time....
Have a good day!
Linda :)

radar446 said...

I love desert is rather exotic to me being in the humidity capital of the world.


gaboatman said...

I am really enjoying reading your naration of your trip.  The pictures are great, too.  Looking forward to the rest of it.

rbrown6172 said...

what beautiful scenery!  you are making me want a vacation real bad!!!  :) is making me want a just helped that feeling along.  lol  so glad you had such a wonderful trip.

queenb8261 said...

Wonderful pics and narrative of your trip. I'd never heard of Scotty's Castle. You should have gotten a pic of the Bordello. LOL I"ve never seen one (that I'm aware of.) Wow camping in the desert too. I would love to have seen the old miner. How  fascinating.  Thanks again for sharing.
Hugs, Barb

mariealicejoan said...

Once again you have me on the edge of my seat.  What wonderful photos and such a well written narrative.  I feel as if I am going on the journey with you!

jlocorriere05 said...

I saw lots of Joshua trees in Arizona, they're cute little trees, I love them too! Sorry you got to Scotty's Castle too late, kind of thing that happens to me! I'm really enjoying this tour with you! Jeannette xx