November 26, 2011
Before driving to Mono Lake directly from Lee Vining, we made a small Juno lake loop in order to enjoy the Sierras some more. The mountains there are amazing!
Or so it seemed to us coming from very hot weathers in Southern Utah, Nevada and major parts of California. The air was crisp and refreshing, it was wonderful!
And then we reached Mono Lake which is a State park now, but may loose its funding from the feds because of the budget cuts and then the access to its unique formations and shores will be forbidden:
Mono Lake is the saltiest lake in the US and also the largest of this type of a lake. It used to be as high as those formations we see. They formed around on the springs that come from the bottom with lots of Ca salts and combine with other minerals in the lake water to become nature’s sculptures of different shapes:
The lake doesn’t have inlets or outlets, therefore its water is saltier that sea water many times…it is so salty. that only one type of flies live there, that lay their eggs in the shallow waters and then only one type of tiny shrimp feed on the larvae. Therefore Mano lake is Eden for birds. Lots of California seagulls and other birds come here to nest and spend winters.
And that was it – a long way through Nevada deserts towards home…the whole day of driving…on Rt. 120, then Rt. 6 and then the Extraterrestrial Highway 375, and then on Rt. 93, Rt. 319 to Utah.. But on the way still in California we saw a cute B&B by the town Benton – they had their own hot springs and some bath tubs or other kind of tubs for the guests to soak – they were not seen from the main area. Then we stopped at Tonopah, which had similarities with other Nevada mining towns and finally stopped at a place which was even not a town – just a small restaurant Little AleInn in the desert and some wagons with people living in them:
Yes, the theme was poor extraterrestrials who as if have landed here in their flying soccer in secret circumtances years ago…
I don’t envy those several people who live there…But maybe they enjoy the greatest possibility of solitude…And they don’t look like monks or nuns…
That is all about this trip. Till next trips.
After a night in Lodi we drove East – towards Rt. 4 which crosses the Sierras. The winding road, big trees on the sides, beatiful vies when the forest opens, till we reached the top of mountain chain with lakes on it, like on shelves:
Seems that the stones platforms on the tops are so dense tat they keep the water intact. The air became cold and we saw snow by the road, which meant that that snow was possibly not going to melt this summer:
The amazing part – once of a sudden while driving by that lake- it ended and we found ourselves almost on an abyss – the narrow winding road going down by steep drops. It was a little scary to drive – only for those who are used to mountains and mountain roads . And there we started wondering – how come that lake doesn’t drain into those deep crevices…
After landing the main part of the range we turned left a little towards Grover Hot springs on Rt. 89 which we saw on the map – to relax a little after such a hectic travel. But the views from there were nothing special, just two nice medium pools in a simple environment. And after soaking for a while we drove towards our destination – the Mono Lake. This is a view while going down the East side of Sierras.
And some more:
Then I got to know that there are wild hot springs in Bridgeport area, but it was too late. We reached Lee Vining just before the sunset. Found a motel there and decided to see Mono Lake on our trip’s last day.
The next day we again drove towards the ocean and drove north on Shoreline Hwy Rt 1 till we reached Point Reyes National Seashore, which is on a peninsular. From the visitor’s center we drove only to Limantour beach:
It very much reminded me our seashore in Lithuania. Except for those lines of thick clouds encasing certain parts of the shore in a mist:
It was a wonderful walk – almost no people, waves, sky, sand and some flocks of pelicans…
This is a walk from the parking to the shore – with a little winding stream and lots of bird songs. There are very many hikes and trails in this park and one can spend a week there, easy, having different places to see each day…But we had no time, as usual. So we drove up notyj still on the same Rt 1 and at some points we dived into the mist:
Then again out of it:
And even saw a colony of seals or sea lions taking a nap:
That same day the fun was basically over, for we drove inland from Jenner through Calistoga (a very cute hot spring town) and the rest of Napa valley, seeing the wineries only from our car, there was no time to stop…Till we reached Lodi for sleep.
The next day was a travel from Fresno, where we slept – a lot of motels (actually – too many to fill up…), to the North shore from San Francisco. We decided not to drive through the city – too slow, too much traffic, too much tension. So drove around the waters and bays on Rt 101 then Rt 37 to San Rafael and from there to the ocean, to Muir beach:
There were pretty many people on this windy evening on the beach and some were even splashing in the waves…An eagle or a hawk was circling over our heads all the time we stay there to be precise it was not circling. but hanging over our heads – flying towards the wind and to our eyes – standing still in the air:
Another wildlife showed itself to us:
And we finished the day by driving a little North to an overlook where they used to have some military outposts during the II World War:
San Francisco is seen in the far distance under a line of clouds which are usually coming precisely on the city, making it cool all year round.
November 7, 2011
As I am writing this blog already in autumn – two giant 1000 year old sequoias fell down literally on a trail in Giant Forest – the popular hiking part of Sequoia N.P. Just fell down in all their 100 m (App 300 feet) length for no particular reason…A ranger was saying – maybe the soil got too wet?.. Well, it wasn’t wet enough for such a fall for 1000 years. Interesting. Must be trees like people have their fates.
So as I mentioned in my previous blog – we slept a night at the foothills and again drove all the way up to the Western Sierras to Kings Canyon which is connected to Sequoia NP. For a long time I was curious to see it for Europeans used to mention it as a very spectacular hidden secret off the beaten path. It was not disappointing at all:
But first of all we walked around some giant sequoias in General Grant Grove close to Kings canyon Visitor Center:
And I thought that I am tall…:-)
Yes, sequoias usually die by falling down because their root system is very shallow, and because their red wood is so resistant to elements – they lie their for everyone’s curiosity and enjoyment:
The trunk of this particular sequoia at different times was used as a shelter, as a bar and a souvenir shop. Right now it is just an empty hollow trunk to pass through:
This following view is taken from Convict’s flat – convicts used to do lots of the works in the canyon while the road was being built:
The water in Kings river enchanted me – so fast, so clean, green and transparant:
Andrei even cooled his feet:
THere were enough waterfalls. This particular one is called Grizzly Falls:
Then we drove to the very end where the road ends and the river is even more amazing -the waters are calmer and deep and green with some signs of its not so calm character:
This picture is my favorite of Kings canyon…From there on – lots of long trails start and lots of backpackers are off to meet their adventures and be more intimate with nature. Not us. We visited Boyden Cave on the way back, which is by that same Kings Canyon scenic byway:
For our guide there most of the formations looked like food – hamburgers, bacon, chicken leg. But this particular one as if looked like a Christmas tree or a wedding cake.
With our eyes full with beauty – we called it a day/ Still had to drive around 2 hours till we reached Fresno, the orchard capital of CA, for a night. Fresno has too many motels- hotels, not enough travelers to fill them. So to find a place to stay – no problem.