Thursday, July 30, 2015

Overnighting in Nevada and Northern California.

After Zion and before Death Valley, there was Las Vegas.

well, okay, first there was this...

... and this ...

... and this

We are not Vegas people, and we are usually not 113° people, but we are "catch up with traveling friends" people. We had hoped to just be able to meet up with Jen's kayak buddy from Antarctica and her partner to share a few hours of good conversation - we didn't expect to be treated to a homecooked meal, delicious wine (not from a box!)... and an invitation to stay in their beautiful home as long as we liked.

we were also treated to Dean and Frank's goofball presences

We seriously thought about it. (Did I mention our friends had air conditioning? And do you see that pool?)

After almost 800 days of travel, we'd been noticing that being temporarily comfortable made it very difficult to adjust back to life on the road. It wasn't just that, though. Utah really took a toll on us - it was absolutely stunning but the heat, the dust, the dry, the constant movement, the overloads of people and the overstimulation from all that beauty just exhausted us. Suddenly we were in a clean, comfortable, quiet space at our friends' house. If we stayed one more night we would seriously never leave.

So we left in the morning... begrudgingly.

On our way out of town we stopped by Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. It was still about 113° so we mostly toured the park from the comfort of our car. It was really beautiful and we bet it's amazing in the fall when temperatures aren't so ridiculous.

best sign we saw all week

13 miles of scenic drives - the east side

13 miles of scenic drives - the west side

we were here

And then we went to Death Valley National Park, and that was good.

On our way north from Death Valley we stopped at Manzanar National Historic Site. At one point during World War II over 10,000 Japanese Americans and immigrants were held in this internment camp; many were held for over three years. The visitor center was very thorough and the ~3 mile tour of the grounds gave some perspective into what life would have been like.

Manzanar cemetery

Like many things we saw internationally as well as domestically, it was pretty harrowing to be reminded of this side of our country's past. Without getting overly political I'll just say I know this type of thing is happening elsewhere in the world as I type, and I hope people recognize that and work to change it, and I also hope this is a history that doesn't repeat itself within our own borders.

Anyway, from Manzanar we continued north. Our goal was Mono Lake - but that was a pretty lofty goal as it was also Friday afternoon on a gorgeous weekend - so we decided not to press our luck. We stopped at Mammoth Lake instead, camping at the Devils Postpile National Monument campground and exploring that area for a bit over the next 16 hours.

super cool, like the tessalated pavement
we saw in Tasmania (only not really like that)

side view of the postpile (60 feet high!)

the most relaxing view we'd seen in weeks


more Trader Joe's precooked brown rice for the win

bearproofing the food

morning hike to Minaret Falls

Minaret Falls

another amazing national monument

A few more pictures of all of this here. After our morning hike we continued north, passing Mono Lake...

save Mono Lake!
(is that still a thing?)

and Tahoe
(completely under construction, apparently)

... and we stopped briefly in Truckee to decide if we wanted to push on to Lassen National Park. It was 5pm, we'd been on the road since about 10am, and Lassen was another three hours of driving. Stopping around Truckee would mean weekend Tahoe(ish) campers; pushing on would mean more time in Lassen.

Shirking our whole "slowly" motto, we pushed on and endured the longest drive day of the past two months. Aventura! (Sigh...)


  1. That tortoise crossing sign is awesome! I would imagine that as nice as the air conditioning, pool, and leisure time at your friends' place was, it would be a challenge to get back on the road. Great pics again!

    1. Thanks Marlynn! Yes, if we didn't have a Portland deadline we would've dragged this trip out and relaxed a lot more than we did. We'll definitely go back and visit our friends again (and stay longer next time!).

  2. I'm just impressed that you got out of the car and into the 113 temps!

    1. Oh, you know, it's a "dry" heat. Haha.

  3. "and I also hope this is a history that doesn't repeat itself within our own borders. " ME TOO. Oh my gosh... I think that people are way to far out of the realm of realizing how far we've come and how we need to actively work to prevent those atrocities from happening again. The news from around the world makes me feel very lucky for where I am living, but I know that even without those things happening, a lot of bad stuff is happening and it will take a whole bunch of people and change to make a difference. I feel like traveling opens your eyes and broadens your world. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks for your candid comment, Jenni. It was just so weird to realize that this was less than 100 years ago in our own country. We saw some heartbreaking stuff in Vietnam, Lao, Cambodia, Nepal too... These days it's the things we *aren't* hearing about that worry me the most. Traveling abroad broadens your knowledge and also gets you away from US news (which is 99% garbage). It's so nice to have regular access to unbiased news sources that talk about world events that have nothing to do with the US. Anyway, thanks as always for reading. :)

  4. that sounds HOT! this 104 temp is already too much for me. phew!

    1. Yep, but at least in Nevada you kind of expect those extreme temps. I am done with this crazy Portland summer...!

  5. Replies
    1. It definitely was... Beautiful but haunting.

  6. Having lived in Nevada for four years, I would be hard-pressed to revisit it. Photos of the blasted landscape confirmed that. That said . . . catching up with old friends is worth it.

    1. Yep, they're the only reason we even *considered* stopping there. If they move out of state, we're happy to never go back!