California’s Eastern Side
California’s Eastern Side
The drive home from my tiny Palm Springs home can become a boring routine — either I-5 or 99. After closing up for the summer, I decided to drive 395 instead making it a two day trip. It’s been five years since I was on the Eastern side of California and during my drive wondered why it had been so long. From the high desert landscaping to the beginning of the high Sierras to the growing towns the entire route holds fascination for me.
When driving through the high desert I thought about Harriet Chalmers Adams as she rode horseback through miles of this landscape. When she was 14 years old her father decided to take her on a year long horseback trip along Eastern California from the Oregon border to the Mexican border. They started in the spring and went through the high country during the warmer months, all on horseback in 1889. Think about how long riding horseback each day was plus the weather and conditions. No wonder Harriet was such an intrepid explorer.
My overnight was in Lone Pine with a balcony room overlooking Mt. Whitney. The weather was beautifully clear with those high peaks etched against a deep blue sky. Obviously, I spent much of my time admiring the view plus remembering three young men who climbed Mt. Whitney in the early eighties. Sons Jay and Rich along with Doug Mende rose early from their 9500 foot campsite and climbed up and back in one day — enjoying it all. I had hoped to make a similar climb but my life took a different turn — and now that is out of the question. No regrets — because at this age I’m happy I can still so much.
Up early the next day because I wanted to drive through Bishop before the start of their Mule Days parade (it was Memorial Day weekend). Snow on the eastern mountains showed the storms of past weeks were strong. In 2011 I had gone to the Bristlecone Pines east of Big Pine and realized that at 10.000 feet I probably couldn’t hike there right now. The parade in Bisho hasdn’t started so cars were able to drive through but the parade itself was forming with the twenty-mule team getting ready to take the lead.
Many changes have occurred in this upper section of 395. Bishop is much larger, Crowley Lake and Tom’s Place is crowded with second homes, and you’d be amazed at the amount of hangars at Mammoth Airport. The Walker River is running higher than seen in a few years with many campers and fishermen taking advantage of it. Topaz Lake is also full with a bountiful crowd at the Topaz Lake Lodge. When I arrived at Gardnerville/Minden I saw more building, both housing and commercial including a huge WalMart. People continue to move to Nevada — perhaps enjoying the “more wide open” spaces.
Final destination was the Ridge Resort at 8,000 feet above Lake Tahoe. Here I now sit, relaxing among the towering pines and taking time to think about a wonderful road trip. The Eastern California drive should be taken with time to view all the spectacular scenery and praise our Lord for His workmanship — which certainly tops that of humans.
Have a great day and week.