Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4


Olive groves near the Olive Pit.

May 1 - Wheels up at 6:46 AM and I’m off. This was nearly a non-stop day blasting 660 miles straight down Interstate 5 to Corning, CA. Home of the Olive Pit and the only reason I stayed on I-5. This place has the best olives on planet earth. Well, at least I’ve not found any others that come close. They only sell their product in their store in Corning and on the internet. I pulled into the parking lot just as they were putting the “CLOSED” sign in the window. Rats!

May 2 - I got up the next morning bought a case of “Dynamic Duos” (jalapeño and garlic stuffed olives) plus an assortment of other new flavors and hit the road. I drove east over the Sacramento River (with views of Mt. Lassen off in the distance) on Hwy CR-A9 to SR-99 and then southeast through Chico, where my in-laws spend time each year on their annual trek down south.


At Marysville I turned east onto SR-20 and the rolling foothills. I entered Tahoe National Forest just before entering I-80 about 20 miles west of Donner Pass and followed it all the way to Reno, NV and finally Carson City.

  May 3 - I drove west on a beautiful road through Toiyabe National Forest on SR-431 which provided my first glimpses of Lake Tahoe with the Sierras in the distance. At Incline Village I turned south onto SR-28, another beautiful road, and followed the eastern shoreline of Lake Tahoe to Spooner Junction.

Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Mts.

The Ponderosa Ranch
Busted by the “Fashion Police” for wearing a Hawaiian shirt in a cowboy town

The Ponderosa Ranch

Along the way I stopped at the Ponderosa Ranch. The stage set of the famed TV series that ushered in color television. Ah, it brought back childhood memories of going over to the neighbor’s home to watch television in COLOR! Wow. Not only was all of the old stage sets there but also the final resting place for Ben, Little Joe, Hoss, Adam, and even Hop Sing. I was busted by the “Fashion Police” for wearing a Hawaiian shirt in a cowboy town and later went totally cowboy in the saloon!

The Ponderosa Ranch

Spooner Summit areaCarson City Virginia City
That afternoon I drove back via US-50 passed Spooner Summit. The road was very steep but the views were awesome. I followed this until SR-341 where I turned north to Virginia City, NV. It’s a cool old town that just has the feel of what an old west town should feel like.


May 4 - That morning I left on Highway 395 and followed it 260 miles to Lone Pine, CA. Starting around the Topaz Lake area this road is mile for mile probably the most consistently beautiful stretch of highway on the whole trip.

Near Topaz Lake

Highway 395 near ....
  Traveling through the Toiyabe and Inyo national forests it’s just one beautiful vista of the Sierra Nevada Mountains after another.
Bodie ghost town

Along the way was one of the trip highlights. Bodie ghost town has lots of buildings standing and most filled with furniture and supplies. Since most of the builds are locked I had to shoot photos by sticking the camera up to the window or finding a hole in a wall, door, or window. I some cases my photos provided a better view of the inside of buildings than what I saw with my own eyes.

Bodie ghost town

  The town was really cool but the views on the 13 mile road (in and out) were an added bonus. This a side trip well worth taking.
Bodie ghost town

SR-270 (The Bodie Road)


Highway 395

I encountered my first two disappointments of the trip. I had planned on entering Yosemite National Park via the east entrance but that road was closed for another couple of weeks. Bummer! I was not only looking forward to the famous “Valley” but also seeing the Mariposa Grove of Sequoia trees

Mono Lake

The other disappointment was the wind near Mono Lake. I had planned on paddling around the hoodoo-like limestone Tufa towers and mounds. Unfortunately it was so windy the that it was just plain unpleasant being outside and the forecast was for more of the same.

Mt. Whitney - 14,491 ft. The tallest peak in the continental US.
My day came to an end with Mt Whitney standing regally among a long line of other lofty peaks.
SR-136 with Mt. Whitney in the background.
May 5 - I said goodbye to Highway 395 and unknowingly also to my cable to the digital camera that I accidentally left behind in my room. More about that later… I headed east on SR-136 and SR-190. As the snowcapped peaks became smaller in my rearview mirror the desert became more pronounced and the temperature rose.

Skink on my backdoor patio.

I was far more impressed with Death Valley National Park than I expected to be. As I first entered the park the Sierra Nevada Mountains could still be seen behind me.
The valley 'before' Death Valley
The extreme elevation differences seen in one spot is amazing. I stopped and took a panorama photograph of what I thought was Death Valley but it was just a “warm up valley” getting me prepared for deeper and better things.

Death Valley

Once I dropped into the “real” valley I was astonished by the wild temperature shifts.

107° at 200 feet below sea level

Death Valley
At the top of the rim the temperature was in the upper 70s but the deeper I drove things began to heat up.

The last 1,000 feet the temperature rose 1° per 100 foot drop. I was 107° at 10:30 AM on the valley floor BUT it was a dry heat. It’s true! It really didn’t seem that hot. Thirty minutes later I had driven from 200 feet below sea level to the top of a pimple like hill in the valley (about 3,000 ft.) where the temperature was back down to 78°!

The only thing hotter than the valley floor was the price for gasoline. Yikes. I had to pay $3.09 per gallon. The rest of the drive wasn’t anything much to write about as I took Stateline Road out of Death Valley Junction to Pahrump and then SR-190 on into Las Vegas and Henderson, NV. I stayed out near Sam’s Town in the eastern Vegas area. I lost about $50 that first night. Grumble, grumble, grumble.

May 6 - I just kicked around the strip and visited Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay. That was pretty cool but unfortunately I forgot my camera and my “Frankenstein ankles” weren’t willing to walk back after it. Later that afternoon I found a shop to do routine maintenance on my Jeep (just another wild day in Las Vegas). That night I did a little better, I won $200 dollars. When I went to bed I was $150 to the good as far a gambling went and decided I’d leave town the next morning while I was still ahead.

Continue to page 2 ---->

Home Page - Page 1 - Page 2 - Page 3 - Page 4
More Travel

Revised December 15, 2007