OMG this is stunning
09.05.2014 - 10.05.2014 4 °C
This track has been following us around, so to get you back into the "on the road" mood, here it is (not by Avicii who happens to be appearing at Wynns):
What is spooky about that is that is exactly the desert scenery we've been driving through!
Oh, and Louise wins the prize for guessing "Lost in Space", the TV programme that robot was in. They actually used it for several programmes/films but no others that we knew. The robot was the best actor in Lost in Space, and why did Will Robertson never get any older?
Your Golden Nugget pen, Louise, we will give to your Mum & Dad when we meet up with them in Benidorm in October. Remind us!!
Friday, May 9th 2014: Room 36, Lakeview Lodge, Lee Vining, California
Amazingly, we are possibly in the same room of the same motel we came to in 1981. We were not sure this was the old Best Western when we booked it and we were not sure when we got here, but the geek from the Simpsons behind the desk confirmed it used to be the Best Western. So we found both of our old motels on Highway 395.
The room is much the same as it was though then it would have been quite new and really luxurious for the time. I remember being impressed by the rack of towels in the bathroom. Back in 1981, we were joined in the rather posh restaurant by Sheriff Mono. Now it's just another motel room, I'm afraid, but with conotations!
On our last night (Friday) in Vegas we went to Fashion Show Mall, somwhere we'd not been to before. Right on The Strip, we'd assumed it was full of designer shops. But it's just another Mall and past its prime. But we were on the trail of a new suitcase. We'd bought one last time, a hard Delsey, for less than half the price in UK or Spain. We had checked out several stores and all the new cases have zips. Ours just has clips.
No one had any except Macy's in Culver City who had a bright blue one. We left it for later. The other Macy's in Vegas we tried had none, neither did any of the other stores. So we were pleased to find the exact same case as ours in the Macy's here. It was "half price" and what's more, sales tax is a lot lower than in LA. So the young male assistant was pleased to have such an easy sale. He gave us a further 10% "visitors' discount" so we ended up paying $147, less than £88 for a case we've seen going for over €270 in Corte Ingles.
Over the road from The Mall was this monument to Mr Donald Trumps' vanity.
After dinner in a very pleasant 4 Queens restaurant where we sat next to a long table of Brits who, we worked out, were over for a wedding, and all ordered the "Rib Aah", then a bit of therapeutic video poker, when we both finished UP for a change, even John, we went back to the Golden Nugget to prepare for the resumption of our journey.
Spotted in Vegas before our departure. Arthur did not have time to go:-
Out of Las Vegas on US95, we soon leave the swirling traffic behind and are once again out in the arid Nevada desert.
We stop for refreshments at one of those towns on a crossroads which exist just to provide for the travellers on the roads they sit on. This time it's Beatty, Nevada.
Our route back to Highway 395 takes us back into California and across Death Valley and the even more dramatic Panamint Valley, in this direction at least. Though some of the journey was on the same road, it was totally different in the other direction, as were the weather and the light.
Before we knew it the Sierra Nevada was back in view and we spotted some wild horses.
Then US395 exactly where we left it and back through Lone Pine and on northwards with the snowy peaks our constant companion on the left.
Bob did a lot of the driving as it was one of our longest drives. We really wanted to make it to our old stomping ground of Lee Vining.
On the way we stopped for coffee at a gas station and spotted this wizened old guy going back to his pickup. Nothin' odd about that? Except he was wearing a dress, and not the sort you'd wear to a drag ball. Looked more like his wife's castoffs. Could not get the camera out in time to catch this but here he is driving off..
Approaching Lee Vining, the Sierra is as stunning as ever and, judging by the jet trails, this is a major flightpath, probably into San Francisco etc.
Settled into our motel and yes, it was, or used to be the Best Western we stayed at in 1981. No longer a Best Western as they probably don't meet their latest standards, but fine for us.
It was down to 40 degrees F and so, for the first time, we needed a fleece or sweater to walk down to the only restaurant in town:-
OK, OK, this was the special and I'm starting 7 days of salads only:-
Finally for this day, Stan banned Arthur from putting this picture in but somehow it has crept in, without any comment. But will Judge W***** be calling Marshal Sheriff and Sheriff Marshal?
Room 920, Harrahs, South Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Never finished the Blog last night. It was a long drive and we were both very tired.
It is snowing heavily outside. As we are down at lakeside, it is not settling but it must be increasing the snow on the already snowcapped mountains that surround this huge lake, which is mostly in California but, where we are, also Nevada, where there are casinos and resort hotels.
The drive today made us realise something we had not quite really appreciated before. First, how big Callifornia is. (Tomorrow we spend the whole day driving the Northern part just to reach Oregon). Then the massive variety within the state. The sandy wastes of Death Valley, the giant high deserts with their yuccas and Joshua trees, and then the massive snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada and the giant pine woods we have been driving through today. Yes, this is our 13th trip but we can still be amazed at this country.
Cannot see the lake now from our massive bedroom window the snow is coming down so thickly. Good job we have a 4x4!
Today was a multiple "OMG" day. Nearly every pass we climbed, every corner we turned, every town we passed through, we realised Highway 395 has been a great choice. Way beyond our expectations already.
As there were few towns on the map until we crossed back into Nevada, headed for Virginia City, we stopped at the next but one town after leaving Lee Vining for breakfast. As mentioned this sets us up for the day and we won't be eating (salad) again until this evening.
We found a nice family diner full of locals enjoying a Saturday breakfast. Starting the healthy eating week off with a bang, John chose "oatmeal" or porridge (sorry McNorma), with almonds and raisins. Bob had the "world famous" hot biscuits 'n gravy. He said they were light an' fluffy an' delicious.
Back on 395, which is now just a 2-lane road, busy in places as people head for Yosemite for the weekend,
but mostly pretty peaceful and seemingly leaving the Sierra behind.
This is Topaz lake (lake in California, town in Nevada).
Near Carson City, capital of Nevada, we divert from US395 to climb through old mining towns up to Virginia City. This, and its neighbour, Silver City, once had a population of 25,000, all hoping to make a fortune from the rich gold and silver ores found in the Comstock Lode.
We last visited Virginia City NV (up in the hills behind Tahoe and Carson) in 1990 where John bought a T Shirt in the Bucket of Blood saloon. We were a bit shocked to find a "special event" going on. A "Chilli Cookout" with the main street full of stalls offering chilli. Despite that, we managed to park and found the town much as we left it. All of the buildings are in good and original condition with the boardwalks just as they were. We managed to grab a drink at the Bucket of Blood bar. A nice town, well run.
It started to snow as we arrived!
A long descent from Virginia City took us back to Carson, then another climb into the mountains that envelope Lake Tahoe, where we reach the snow line. Then a steady descent with glimpses of the lake, through the various skiing resorts, now closed for the season of course. But judging by the snow that is still coming down thickly outside, they could be re-opening!
The resort casino/hotels, owned by the big Vegas corporations, are beginning to show their age but, as a result of being mature, this one is at least, is very comfortable. We are at Harrahs and all the rooms have two bathrooms. The room is even more ridiculous than our one in the Golden Nugget. I am getting exercise just walking to (my) bathroom.
Tonight we will try and increase our winnings Bob is still holding from our last night in Vegas. Night night.
STOP PRESS: From our window now...