We had an early - well relatively - brekkie on the verandah, then set out to leave Yosemite. By the way, we brought some Aussie food with us, and yes, we had Vegemite at Yosemite.
The ride out on Hwy 120 is a blast. Firstly up and through three tunnels and lots more climbing. From 1500ft on the valley floor, we were soon at 7000ft. Then it curves around behind the Half Dome and continues to climb. There isn't much undergrowth here, just pine trees on granite which has been scraped into smooth curves by past glaciers. Sitting on the smooth rock are lots of large boulders, left there when the ice melted. Add some stunted pine trees that appear to grow straight out of the rocks and that's a lot of the landscape.
Then around a corner and there's a lovely large meadow, or perched dam. Lots of people here for the weekend, so all the parking spots are crowded with walkers, fishers etc.
We continued climbing and nearly made it to 10000ft but not quite. At about 9950 it topped the ride and we began to go down. And boy did we go down. Past a lovely lake first, where we caught up with some Kiwis travelling in an RV. Never thought it would be nice to hear a kiwi accent, but it is almost like home compared to the usual here.
Anyway, the 120 began to go downhill and we dropped 4000ft in only a few minutes. The road took us across a great rocky scree which has loose rocks coming down all the time. There is a front-loader on standby full time just to keep the road clear. Who'd want that job? There were no safety rails and big drop off on our side of the road. Scary stuff. Charleen was hanging on tight to me but still managed to get off a few shots.
We soon arrived in Lee Vining where we found lots of internet access and had a coffee and cake in a little cafe while I uploaded the last few days worth of photos and stories. Had a bit of a look around the town, then headed a short way south on 395, the road we had ridden up a week ago, then turned off and did the June Lake Loop. When we had travelled north, we had no idea this section was here, except for a couple of directional signs. What a lovely area. Several lakes, tall mountains of the Sierra Nevada range, heaps of accommodation places and snow in winter. It's be a nice place to visit then. In late summer as it is now, it is a bit hazy from distant fires in the west. But there's plenty of boating and fishing happening.
Back on 395 and 6 miles north and we continued east on Hwy 120 for a while. Interesting road this one. The country changes again. More hills but wide spaced. Lots of ups and downs on the road which would have made for fun riding with a bit of speed up, but there was a push-bike event happening with hundreds of them all along (and all over) the road.
Then we got to the end of 120 and joined US6 which is to take us further east for a while. We stopped for a drink at the corner garage and cafe at Benton and met a few trail bikies who had stopped in to fuel and quench. Most were riding full-on trailies but one was there on a V-Strom DL1000. All were in their fifties plus. I know someone who has a Strom but never gets it that dirty.
What can one say about US6 from Benton to Tonopah? Not much. It is 83 miles of a lot of nothing much. Good smooth road. Oh - there's a change of states so we are now in Nevada, where it seems there is a casino on every corner. Not many corners though.
So tonight we are in Tonopah, which is an old mining town, slowly shrinking in the desert. Lots of servos and lots of motels, at least two casinos. We had dinner in Tonopah Station casino. The food was cheap - thanks to the gamblers. They're pretty much the same as our clubs - put in the money, press the button, lose the money. Only difference is they still smoke here. We didn't stay in the gambling hall very long. The waitress was nice, picked us for Aussies straight away - I think it's the MMbear - dead giveaway that koala. She had visited Queensland a few years ago so was able to reel off names we recognised. Nice meals too - best salads we have had since arriving in the country. Crisp. Mostly they're not.
After dinner, Charleen and I went star gazing. In a week we haven't had much opportunity. Too many lights or too many trees. But out here in the desert we gazed on the northern hemisphere stars in full for the first time. We managed to pick out the well-knowns, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor with Polaris. We could still see Scorpios in the south west, setting with Jupiter near Antares. But we'll have to get a chart. No other planets are out in the evening at the moment and no moon this week. Heaps of planes though. Always at least three visible.
Anyway - off further east tomorrow - but that'll be another story, so here's today's pics:
|Rock tunnel beside the Merced River|
|Very dark for taking pictures, but that's us.|
|Merced River - the rocks get bigger closer to the top of the valley.|
|First of the three tunnels. That cleft in the rock to the left has the road at the base of it.|
|Tunnels are well lit|
|The pines seem to grow in bare granite|
|Looks like snow from a distance - but not this time of year|
|Lookout to the back of Half Dome|
|A model of the real thing|
|The perched lakes are all pretty|
|This is the downhill bit through the rock scree|
|Charleen chances a shot over her shoulder.|
|It goes for quite a while|
|In Lee Vining - lots of relatives|
|Heading down 395 - still a couple of snow drifts up really high|
|June Lake loop|
|Lots of silver birch|
|John and Kas on 395|
|On 120 again heading east away from the Sierras. Lake Mono.|
|A couple of quaddies enjoying the weekend|
|Getting more desert like|
|With little oases|
|Never seen Camo's that dirty|
|on the long roads|
|chasing the black bike|
|Interesting spread of sandy soils from in the hills|
|HP at work|
|Looks like a fun motel|
|Eating at the casino. The waitress loved MMbear.|
|A Banjola? It worked, John put in a quarter and it played. Not well, but it played.|