We bid farewell to Santa Rosa but didn’t go across the Golden Gate and headed for San Jose instead to connect with the 101. It took us a couple of hours to get through the Bay Area traffic and were glad when the 101 finally narrowed. Otherwise the road was pretty non-descript except for the endless miles of agriculture and vines – this must be a place that supplies grapes to places like Gallo (I’m making that assumption as it looks like a mass production vs carefully cultivated vintages). We stopped for lunch in Monterey Bay (whipping up a salad and tea in the RV) in the Fort Ord area. Another beautiful day – we have been so lucky. We reached Morro Bay about 4:30 – it was warm and we are practically on the beach with a massive haystack rock right on the ocean known as Morro Rock. It’s really quite something. I put on my sandals, finally releasing my feet from their winter bondage. I had to peel down into a blouse as the weather was in the high 70’s; I couldn’t remember the last time I was in warm weather like that! We went for a sunset walk and then sat by the fire with a shot of whiskey – the temperature dropped quickly so we cozied back into the RV to read and further reflect on the day.
We woke up to a view of the beach and Morro Rock. As we had a long drive that day to Alabama Hills in Lone Pine we got it together early. We met up with one of Bob’s friends from his Adidas days and had a nice walk along the waterfront and paused to watch the sea otters lounging by the shore. It got warm quickly and I changed into my fair weather clothing. We drove the route to Bakersfield through endless commercial wineries and agricultural area. We heard on the radio that San Luis Obispo had the highest gas prices in the country as we realized when we took a few sips at $5.29 per gallon until we could find cheaper prices! We stopped off for (cheaper) gas on Highway 46 where the fatal crash that killed James Dean is memorialized. California had just lifted the mask mandate and it appeared most everyone got the message. The station had a large shop with “frogs balls” and Route 66 memorabilia even though we weren’t on Route 66…
We stopped in a ghost town called Bodfish and they had a USS Arizona memorial of all things with actual artifacts from the ship! I will be there in April to commemorate my father’s service so was rather excited to discover this gem in the middle of nowhere. I don’t know what possessed such a remote location to put these artifacts on display – which made it all the more impressive.
We reached the Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway with it’s basalt rocks tossed all over the valley and cones that could easily be mistaken for recent volcanic activity. It was barren and we couldn’t figure out what people did for a living outside of working at the power plants or China Lake. Then the Sierra’s started peaking out as we neared Lone Pine and we got excited when we spotted the first outcroppings of the Alabama Hills while driving along Whitney Portal Road.
We paid $8.00 per night for the Tuttle Creek Campground. There were not that many people around us. The place is clean and well organized with pit toilets and a camp host. The lovely creek was behind us and was the only sound as we watched the sun go down behind the Sierra’s. We are in a new moon phase and I got up around 2:00 a.m. to see if I could see the Milky Way but there was some cloud cover on the horizon. Otherwise the night skies were clear and I was blessed with a shooting star.
Then we woke up to this view.
What I love about BigB is we can switch on the 12v heater and as soon as the sun comes up the battery starts charging up again from our solar panels. We had filled up our water tank and have our LP for coffee, heat and the refrigerator. We are self-contained in this euphoric glamping world. When dry camping (or boondocking) we read and journal. I can work on my devices (including the internet if we have signal) and juice them up as needed with the inverter; our solar panels keep us well supplied. After two long days of driving we we are in no rush and can poke around the hills at our leisure #lovinthervlife
We are at an elevation of 5000 feet and the hills themselves are in walking distance though the walk back turned out to be a couple of miles of uphill terrain and it felt hot even though it was in the 70’s. The sky was a brilliant blue at this elevation and the sun was equally intense. I thought about the animals the inhabit the region and their solitude.
This place and time was like a dream come true, though no, it was really the beginning of a transcendence into a different reality. The creek by our campsite paid no heed to my toes and ears, yet soothed my ears; the sun was indifferent to my skin – I felt bathed in my entirety by the high Sierra despite the burn.
It was quiet, solitary much like the Redwoods but more distant, higher with thinner air and the absence of shelter except amongst the towering formations rooted beyond my imagination. All this while Russia lays siege to the Ukraine, we weep and pray for the people of the Ukraine; we wish them the same solitude, instead of the ragged remnants of what was normal, brought by unnatural moving thunder.
Inhaling the smoke of our fire, we recede as the sun sets behind the mountain range, exacting and reliable, we can always count on the horizons as if they say at least some things change but are not chaotic.
We finished the day with one of the oranges from Sonoma – a mixture of citrus and smoke like the many fine wines of the region.
Alabama Hills last day.
We stopped by the Gunga Din day use area on our way out of the hills. It has a large plaque dedicated to the movie that was filmed along the trail. Every angle of these formations connects in a different way and beckons exploration. It’s not a long trail unless you go want to go bouldering – then you have infinity at your disposal.
We stopped by the rather touristed Mobius Arch with Mt. Whitney perfectly framed in its portal; was it a chance display by nature or just how we humans interpret it? The trail was nicely laid out with more formations but these ones had caves honed from the sides and the backdrop of Mt. Whitney was clearer. The rocks were rounded as if smoothed by an artisan well versed in geometry.
The boys had to be in the shots of course as they rather liked the Alabama Hills.
We overnighted in Death Valley at Stovepipe (it’s a parking lot with about as much appeal as its name…. complete with generators going). it was 85 degrees and we were thankful we had decided to stay in Alabama Hills an extra night instead of Death Valley. It was warm enough so we turned on the generator for a little while and the AC to cool the cabin down. It was noisy but it worked.
We have certainly had the extremes – with Mt. Whitney being the highest point and Death Valley being the lowest – it is a bit like the circle of life