July 26, 2011
I am a lucky girl indeed. Last night I ate dinner in the mountains above Bishop, CA, today I ate dinner on the beach of Lake Tahoe. And in between, I had another wonderful riding day!
Hal and I left Bishop behind this morning and got on 395, headed north toward our destination for the day, Lake Tahoe. It was hot when we left town but soon we began to climb. I looked off to the left and saw the mountains where we had eaten dinner the previous evening. Then I paid attention to the road because it was winding its way through spectacular scenery – snow-covered mountains with peaks in the stratosphere. And there weren’t just a few. They stayed with us the entire day. Up and down we rode, a summit here, another summit there, in a roller coaster ride through the high mountains of California. I lost count of how many we went up and over, summits of usually around 7-8,000 feet. It got cool up on the tops, and finally, as I stopped to take photos of another spectacular geological formation, I put on another layer of clothes, although I was enjoying the cool air.
The volcanic fields of the Long Valley caldera, and Mono Lake, known as the Mono-Inyo craters volcanic field, were what captivated my interest. I had previously researched the area so I knew what I was looking at, and when I actually saw it, it was breathtaking. I stood at the side of the road shooting panoramas of it, and then we turned down the road along Mono Lake and behind them. Almost no one else was around and it was wonderful to enjoy the geology in peace. So many interesting geologic formations and volcanic ejecta, it was mind-boggling, especially if you know the long, cataclysmic story.
After that, we got back on the bikes and headed farther north on 395. Soon we stopped for a short break at another interesting place, on the banks of the Walker River. I read the sign there that told of a huge flood in 1996-1997 because of warm rains and heavy snowpack melt. It obliterated riparian areas along the river, and washed away a 30-mile span of the 395 where it shares the canyon with the river. The photographs on the sign showed the extent of the devastation, an entire roadbed filled with mud, and it is a wonder the roadway was able to be rebuilt at all. It was rebuilt, and in the short period of six months’ time! Amazing. As I enjoyed the area and ate an orange, I took a photo of a blue jay, and of course, the river, while I was there.
We kept going on 395, the river staying with us on the right hand side for a long time. It was an effort to concentrate on the road with the beauty of that turquoise river burbling along at my side. My eyes kept sliding over there to look at it and my riding suffered for it. It finally left us, and then we went through the little town of Walker. Soon, we turned onto 89, which is a curving road that we had been anticipating all day. We stopped at the beginning of it to turn on our GoPro cameras, and another rider pulled in behind us. I had seen him in Walker, and he asked if he could join us! He was touring on a Honda CBR, and I thought that was cool to long-distance ride on a sport bike! He was planning on riding behind me and I told him he could go first, but he said he wanted to be behind me and would pass if necessary. Apparently it wasn’t necessary because the three of us enjoyed the twisting road together all the way to Markleeville where Hal and I had planned to fuel up as we hadn’t since we left Bishop.
The three of us then rode together all the way into South Lake Tahoe, through some dreadful road construction that had us sitting with the engines shut down for 20 minutes or so. But the ride through the mountains was still great, and we parted company after Hal and I missed our turn on Pioneer Trail and had to go back.
After Hal and I parked our bikes at our hotel in South Lake Tahoe, we finally got to walk to the beach of Lake Tahoe! We were here at last! This trip has been talked about and anticipated for three years, and we finally made it!
We decided to treat ourselves to dinner on the beach in a small restaurant, and we sat and watched the sun go down behind the mountain range beyond the far shore as we ate. It was absolute heaven.
Tomorrow will find us on the way to Monterey and the California coast. I hope I have enough video cards left for the GoPro! I wouldn’t want to stop now. The trip is unfolding as one of the best we’ve ever taken, and I wouldn’t want to miss capturing the spectacular riding on video.