A Travellerspoint blog

October 2011

A Short Trip Over to Calif.

Day 1: Tonopah, Mono Lake, Bodie, Bridgeport

sunny 85 °F

My friend Chris came back from Thailand for the month of August. I have told him before that August is the worst month for Vegas and for traveling around the West. My advice fell on deaf ears as he came back July 30. Anyway, he suggested a short trip somewhere during August. We kicked around several options and finally decided on Mono Lake, Yosemite NP. I have never been over to Mono Lake and have not been through Yosemite NP in over 20 years. We picked a Monday late in August and started planning. We decided to stay in Bridgeport Calif the first night. I checked on the Internet and found out that all the motels were at $100/night or more. I called a few motels and made the decision to pre-book something. We got the last room that had 2 queen beds at the Redwood Motel. $105 with tax. There were cheaper rooms down in Bishop, but we would have to drive about 40 miles out of our way. Did not make sense, so Redwood Motel became the winner.

Our departure day arrived, sunny & hot. No surprise there. Vegas in August is going to be hot, perhaps some clouds/rain, but certainly over 100. Chris came over to my house and we used my car. We used his Mercedes for our Carlsbad Caverns trip so it was my turn to drive. Chris arrived at 7am and off we went. The best route for us was to take US 95 North. We stopped at the Amargosa Valley junction with hwy 373 to take a few photos. The Cherry Patch Brothel is here along with a gas station and a few signs. I wanted to go inside the brothel for prices/photos but Chris pointed out the flaws in this idea, so I passed. The Brothel Art Museum is just down the road, but we passed. We popped a few photos and headed North.

We pulled into Tonopah and loaded up with petrol. This is the last decent sized town until we hit Bridgeport. Chris did not have BF so we stopped for a burger on the way out of Tonopah. He likes family run places and a local at the gas station recommended Cisco's Tacos. Chris was happy because Cisco's had big, messy burgers and milkshakes. I had my granola bars, so I passed. Chris declared it a winner, so we were both happy.

We took 95/6 over the border into Calif. When we hit Benton we took CA 120. We stopped at take some photos of the burned out forest just a few miles from Mono Lake (ML). A forest fire went through this area, July 2010.

There is a dirt road off CA 120 to the South shore of ML. There is a Ranger Station here and we got our Senior Pass: $10. Now both of us can enter any National Park in the US for FREE! for the rest of our lives. Quite a deal for $10. We got our hats, cameras and headed for the South Tufa area of ML. It was just about perfect. Not too many other visitors, sunny but not really hot. We spent about 40 minutes walking the South Tufa area and decided to head for the Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor's Center. We talked to the Ranger about the ghost town of Bodie. We did stop at the North side of ML at Black Point. Pretty much a waste of time. There is nothing to see compared to the South Tufa area.

We took US 395 North to the road to Bodie, 270. The road is paved most of the way to Bodie. We were warned several times that Bodie closes the entrance at 6pm. It was now about 4:30pm, so we were in good shape. 13 miles off 395, the last 3 miles are gravel. It is not too bad, but certainly got all the cars covered in dust. We found out it was $7/person, NOT per car load. Calif. is broke so I guess I can see the logic. In 1962 the Calif State Parks System took over the administration of Bodie This is the first/last time I will ever visit Bodie. Not worth a return visit IMO. We got our hats, cameras and walked down the hill into Bodie. It is certainly in pretty good shape for a 'ghost town'. We were told Bodie is allowed to stay in a 'state of arrested decay'. In 1880, Bodie had almost 7K residents. Over the years, the price to extracted the gold ore became too expensive and the mills started shutting down. In 1942, the War Production Board ordered all nonessential gold mines to close. Bodie never mined gold again.

Chris and I walked most of Bodie, stopping often for photos. A few buildings are open and we poked our heads in several of them. It is interesting, but once was enough. After about an hour of walking around, my knee was hurting and we were ready to leave. Back on the gravel, over to 395 and heading to Bridgeport. We saw on the Internet that there is a Travertine Hot Springs South of Bridgeport. Chris wanted to see it, so we followed the map we picked up at the ML Visitor's Center to the hot springs. It is a terrible dirt road most of the way. My Avalon was protesting, as was I. We made it, but never again. The hot springs are a major disappointment. There were 5 people relaxing in one of the hot springs, but I would not get in it. The dirty looking water was no inviting IMO. After a few photos, we eased our way back on the dirt to 395.

Into Bridgeport, we found the Redwood Motel w/o much trouble. Bridgeport is pretty much a one street town. We checked in, got our key and took a look at the room. Not much, small, old. We decided to get something to eat before dark, so we just dumped our bags and went looking for a place to eat. Chris saw the Burger Barn, so he voted for that. They did not have a veggie burger, so I walked next door to the Jolly Kone. Kind of an old fashioned drive-in. They had a large menu and that included a veggie burger. I had that plus a milkshake, under $10. After we had eaten, we took at a look at the historic Mono County Jail. It was almost dark so the photos did not turn out very well. Back to the Redwood Motel, I took a shower while Chris started editing his photos on his laptop. I watched some TV while Chris showered and we both decided to call it a day. Day one of our Calif. adventure was over.

Posted by vegasmike6 11:15 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Yosemite NP

Spending the day in Yosemite NP

sunny 85 °F

We got up at about 7am, packed and set off for Yosemite NP (YNP). The Redwood Motel is OK, but would not recommend it. Not worth $100/night IMO. No BF either. We took 395 back to Lee Vining. turned on 120 and head uphill to Tioga Pass. Snow still visible the last week of August. We stopped at Tioga Lake for some photos and pulled up to the Tioga Pass Entrance . Since we got our Lifetime Senior Pass at Mono Lake yesterday, we were waved in by the Ranger. The Tioga Pass entrance is not open in the winter. We stopped at several overlooks and then pulled off for Tenaya Lake. Tenaya Lake is just beautiful, worth pulling off and walking the shoreline IMO. Great photo ops.

We continued on until we hit the Southside Drive, a one-way road that takes you to the Yosemite Valley Visitors Center. First stop for us was Bridalveil Falls. It is not a long hike to the viewing area, but it is steep in places. We got out photos and continued on. Many cars are stopped along the Southside Drive and decided to stop as well. With a short walk, you can get a good view of Upper Yosemite Falls. A few more photos and we head for the Visitors Center.

We decide to park at Curry Village, got some candy bars, water and waited for the shuttle bus. The shuttle will take you to the trailhead for Vernal & Nevada Falls. Our plan was to hike as far as we could up to Vernal Falls (VF). This was where 3 hikers died in early July. 3 young hikers climbed over the metal guardrail at the top of VF. Fellow hikers urged them to come back over the guardrail, but the trio wanted better photos of the falls. All 3 were swept to their deaths over the 317 ft falls. One body had been recovered when were there late August. It is doubtful there other 2 bodies will ever be recovered. One foolish decision can cost you your life, even in beautiful YNP. The Ranger at VF told us an average of 12 people per year die in YNP. The hike is only about 1 mile to the falls, but it is mostly uphill. We both had to stop numerous times to rest. We made it to the bridge over the Merced River, used the bathrooms and talked to the Ranger stationed at the bridge. Chris and I debated if we could make it to the top of the falls. After a 15 minute break, we decided to try. I made it to where the stairs start that take you to the very top. My knee was killing me and I turned back. Chris went on, but he did not make it to the very top either. Too many steps and he decided it was not worth the effort. I should have done this hike 20 years ago! It took us a long time to get back to the trailhead. Going downhill is not easy on a sore knee, that's for sure. I limped onto the shuttle bus and knew I was done for the day. I took some Advil, and hoped it would help. That was about all the walking I was going to do today. We wanted to stop at the Visitors Center, but the parking lots were packed. August is NOT the time to visit YNP. We headed out, stopping for Lower Yosemite Falls. The Lower Falls is easily the most used location for waterfall photos. An easy walk from the parking lots. Last stop at the Valley View exit. Great last look at the valley.

Now we just headed for Fresno, taking SR 41. We decided to stop at motels south of Fresno, along SR 180. We saw a Denny's and stopped for dinner. It was after 6pm by now and we were both hungry. I had BF and Chris had a burger, no surprises at Denny's and good value IMO. Alongside Denny's was an Ecno-Lodge. Since it was right there, we went in for a quote. She quoted us $50 using AARP discount plus tax. I am sure there are better places to stay, but it had 2 beds, pool, BF. Good enough after a long day. We paid cash and headed for the room. Basic but clean. I wanted to shower and get off my sore knee. Chris wanted to look at his photos on his laptop. A couple hours of TV for me, photo editing for Chris and we called it a night. Day 2 of our Calif. adventure was over.

Posted by vegasmike6 23:55 Archived in USA Tagged parks national Comments (0)

Off to Sequoia NP

Last day of our Calif. Adventure.

sunny 85 °F


Chris and I got up at 7am, cleaned up and got ready to leave. Headed over to the BF room. Weak BF, but we had a few donuts, tea and took some bananas for lunch. Loaded up with gas and head over to Sequoia National Park (SNP). State Highway 180 East is the direct route. About an hour later we entered SNP. They are doing a lot of road construction in SNP this summer. We had to wait several times for the road crews. The road is down to one lane and you take turns following the pilot truck passed the road repairs. We head over to the Grant Grove Visitors Center. We got our maps and decided to walk the General Grant Grove first. It is not a difficult walk, but both Chris and I had sore knees from the killer hike yesterday in Yosemite NP. We completed the loop and got the photos we wanted. The Fallen Monarch and the Lightning Trees are interesting as well as the standing giant Sequoias. After General Grant we had a choice: take the 2 hour loop over to the Cedar Grove Area or head South, hit the General Sherman area then head for Vegas. We both voted NO on a 2 hour drive to see more of the same trees. Off we go to Lodgepole Visitors Center, then over to the General Sherman area.

We cheated a bit and used the handicap parking area, much closer to the trees. I have a handicap placard from years ago when I had a broken leg. My knee was hurting enough to justify using it. We toured the General Sherman area, got our photos and I limped back to the car. Chris and I agreed to call it a day and head for home. We waited almost an hour for road construction on State Highway 198 exiting SNP. We linked up with 99 and stopped in Bakersfield for gas. Took 58 through Tehachapi, home of one of the largest wind farms in Calif. Hundreds of wind turbines spinning makes for a nice photo.


We took 58 until it hooked up with I-15 at Barstow, got home about 7pm. Our 3 day adventure to the Calif. NPs was over.

Posted by vegasmike6 11:58 Archived in USA Tagged parks national Comments (0)

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