Thursday, June 14, 2018

Mammoth Lakes California to Topaz Lake Nevada

We were up at 6:00 AM. Sherm was not thrilled with the 44 F temperature to start the day. They were forecasting a low of 36 F and a high of 69 for the upcoming weekend. It was already up to 64 F when we left Mammoth Lakes at 8:00 AM.

Mountains overlooking Mammoth Lakes California

We were heading for the Whoa Nellie Deli in Lee Vining for breakfast. On the way, we convinced Sherm to stop and smell the ponderosa pines at a pullout. Amber Rose had told us on the train to the Grand Canyon that these trees smelled like vanilla and butterscotch, which we confirmed at Bearizona. When I got out of the car, I could smell the trees heavy in the air. Sherm had to get up close before he said he could smell them, but I don't know if he was just humouring us.

While we were stopped, I realized that I had lost the lens cap for my camera. It could have caught on something and pulled the elastic band right off the lens. In any case, I had a new quest for the day.

US 395 north of Mammoth Lakes California

Sherm worshiping a ponderosa pine

Typical Sierra Nevada scenery

Typical Sierra Nevada tourists

We crested Dead Man Summit at 8,036 feet and then dropped down to more desert around 7,000. A very snazzy looking LuxBus passed on on our way to the deli. The number was 1111 if anyone has been watching that TV series.

Skirting the edge of the mountains

LuxBus 1111

Near Lee Vining, we could see Mono Lake to the east. Like the Salton Sea, Mono Lake has no outlet and so is very saline. The difference is that this lake has been here for over 750,000 years. Brine shrimp thrive here and migratory birds nest on the shores. In 1913, the City of Los Angeles diverted waters feeding the lake to their aqueducts, resulting in a drop in water level that damaged the bird population. Local activism in the 70's resulted in the state issuing an order in 1994 to protect Mono Lake.

Mono Lake

Negit Island in Mono Lake

After all we had heard about the Whoa Nellie Deli, I had expected a big place. It actually was a food counter in a Mobil gas station with a few tables. I ordered an omelette with no potatoes or toast but asked for it with bacon, ham, sausage and mushrooms. The result was very tasty and probably half again too much food. Sandy had scrambled eggs and very good bacon. We were back on our way at 9:20.

Lee Vining - as close to $5.00 as you can get

The sign said No Stopping - Falling Rock

Welcome to Bridgeport

Big Meadow

North of Bridgeport, we encountered our first flagger of the day. We waited about 15 minutes for the pilot vehicle to come along with a line of slow southbound vehicles behind it. Then we got moving, going past workers stabilizing the banks that looked like they should slide down onto the highway.

One lane road - hill stabilization

This needs stabilizing

Our pilot vehicle

This was a picturesque house

Still following an Acord in an Accord

All that snow

West Walker River

The highway follows the canyon the river carved

Near the Nevada line, we encountered our second flag person. Here, they were shaving the asphalt and laying it down again. Our wait here was longer but we eventually got by.

Shaving the highway

The man at the controls

Waiting for another truck

And repaving right away

Southbound traffic lined up waiting

Topaz Lake

California Agricultural Checkpoint

We're in Nevada now

Our objective and rally central

We arrived at Topaz Lodge at 11:20. Check-in wasn't until 3:00, but we stopped at the desk and asked if they could let us in by 2:00. Then Sherm parked his car and jumped in with us. We headed for Gardnerville to see if Walmart had a lens cap for me and if they could get the back onto his watch after the battery replacement.

Burn area

Descent to Gardnerville in Carson Valley

Walmart had no lens caps. The kid suggested a camera shop on Carson City. Sherm could not get his watch fixed because he left it in his car back at Topaz. We pushed on to Carson City.

We miss Slots

Construction on US 395

In Carson City, we found Gordon's Photo Service. Jim was working the counter and gave me a lens cap that had a tether attached. Just what I needed and more. I bought two of them and had a pleasant chat about the area. Then we stopped at the Walmart where Sherm bought a new watch and Velcro band. By the time we got back to Gardnerville, he found the watch was defective and returned the whole thing to the Walmart we had stopped at first.

This was a very good camera shop

Arriving back at Topaz Lodge just before 3:00 PM, early check-in wasn't an issue. Sherm had requested a ground level room in the new building and that was what we got. Room 80. As we were bringing all our luggage in, organizer VSP arrived followed by Six Pack, his brothers-in-law Dirt Digger (Carl) and Mud Turtle (Lonnie) as well as Wild Rose. They were all from the South East USA.

Wild Rose, Lonnie (trike) and Carl

Six Pack Jack

Soon, Cranky, Mac Guy and his oldest grandson Payton pulled in. They had arrived yesterday but had been out on a ride.

Wild Rose, Sherm, Mac Guy, Six Pack and Payton


Payton, Mac Guy, VSP and Sandy

There are actually some Vulcans there

I know who John Galt is

Wolf (in mask) arrives

Sherm took his watch and went back to the Gardnerville Walmart where they were able to successfully put the back on. In fact, he did the actually tightening of the vice that put it together because the lady who worked there was afraid she would break it.

After he got back, the group decided to have supper at the Lakeview Coffee Shop in Topaz Lodge. I tried to be good and had a Cobb salad that was absolutely HUGE.

Heading for supper

They managed to get us all at one table

Gigantic Cobb salad

After supper, Mongrel and Donna pulled in on their Spyder.

Mongrel and Carl

Donna, Lonnie, Payton, Mac Guy and Six Pack

These are the guys responsible for the ridiculous split speed limits in California

Sandy and Cheryl got the idea that we should go over to the Lodge and get our free drinks. The bartender poured me a hefty shot of bourbon neat. Sandy had rum and coke. Afterwards, we came back to the room and retired early.

Tomorrow, I am supposed to lead a ride to Lake Tahoe and Virginia City.

Today's Route (172 Equinox miles):

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