Thursday, 5 July 2007
So much like Australia
Ended up having a hard decision just which way i'd head but finally decided a circular trip was the way to go. The thought of a couple more days in Yosemite was so tempting but after Saturday's experience of the valley being 'shut' was a bit wary still no idea of the reason but if to do with crowds was likely to be even busier with Independence Day holiday and if to do with backburn forecast was for even hotter conditions. So after 5 nights at my Mammoth Lakes home away from home (www.sierralodge.com) it was off down Hwy 395 heading South, first big town Bishop and then worryingly next little town appeared to have all accommodation booked out (was assuming the reason being that the town was called Independence and seeing that the next day was July 4). By then more magnificent mountains were looming more precisely Mount Whitney (at 14,494 feet highest in continental USA), damn next visitor centre i'd have to stop and see what chance of getting up there (those people out there who know me well realise i'm a man of addictions - love the surge of adrenalin i get when racing, love the buzz of a good live concert, love being out in the bush just man and nature and with that last addiction an insatiable urge to reach the top of every big mountain i see - best explains why i'd enjoyed so much the previous 2 days between Mammoth Mountain, The Devils Postpiles, Ansel Adams Wilderness and Shari's gigs i'd found 2 out of 3 ingredients for my idea of bliss all now i needed was a race to compete in). Lone Pine visitor centre (at the end of Death Valley Rd - all that gave me an urge to come back some time and the Badwater Ultra even now it was 110 degrees), gave me the info i needed not good unfortunately only a certain number of hikers per day given a permit and that booked out months in advance. Possibly wondered whether i'd been out in the sun too long when he said it was an 8 to 10 hour walk (which i immediately countered with 'so i'd knock it off in 5 going by estimates of hike times i've done here so far'), nevertheless despite my inability to get what i wanted it was a fascinating Visitor Centre (you get this feeling one day i'd be back). Back on the road again, mountains to my right desert plains to my left felt just like i was back home but with better roads. One jet fighter overhead (just like Top Gun) was the most notable thing for the rest of this highway. Turn off to hwy 178 and different scenery big cactus type plants growing on steepsided mountainous desert (pictures explain better) then off into the Kern Valley (reminded me of Bright). Lunch at Mesa Creek (smaller the town the better the coffee and even stranger cheaper ?). From then on simply followed the narrow winding road (which follows the mighty Kern River) to Bakersfield. Town with a population of 300,000 (shame i didn't note that when drooling over all the $40 motel listings. Still very easy to find my way around with streets numbered 1 to 24 one way being crossed by streets lettered A to Z (okay i'm not sure how my motel is in Union St). Very cheap (and big) supermarket nearby (this may be explained by the fact it appears to be the Mexican area most signs are in Spanish ?, though at least the plethora of 'Bail bond places' have English signs as well. Looks like another hot day coming up so i'd be guessing the next stage of this trip will be seawards (even if it means dearer hotels).