Sunday, July 8, 2012

Days 7-9 – Thursday-Saturday June 14-16

Travel days.
With the problem with the exhaust pipes I cut out my planned rides in the national parks in California (Sequoia, King's Canyon and Yosemite) and I headed to California and Jeremiah’s place in Mather for resolution of the pipes issue.
I left Springerville and drove west and north to Holbrook and then west on I 40 all the way to Kingman.  Map
In Kingman I stayed the night in a small RV park where it was necessary to plug in the electricity to have the AC going – it was only about 98º when I arrived at about 5:30!  Please note that was June 14th – not yet the height of summer!
I had to spend an hour at an AT&T store in Flagstaff.  My old iPhone was becoming very unreliable – it would take a crap in the middle of a call or when creating an email.  At times it would not connect to the cell tower and take a crap.  So that got old really quick – so it was time to replace it with something reliable.
This whole Summer Vacation trip can – and has been done – without a telephone by folks in past years.  But in this day and age a cell phone is so much more than just a phone.  It’s my MP3 player, my address book, my web browser and of course a telephone.  And yes, there are other apps installed, but those four are my main uses.
Unfortunately that comes at a cost.  The cost?  Over $800 for the upgrade to a new iPhone4 + tax of course!  But… Once again I have a reliable phone/browser/MP3 player/email multi-function device.
Up early on Friday morning and out of Kingman by 06:15.  Luckily I made it through Las Vegas on the fringe of the morning commute and had nothing but a couple of slowdowns.
On past LV there was nothing but desert.  Sagebrush, creosote bushes and not much more.
I was on US 95 heading north and took a left toward the west at Lida Junction on NV266.  It’s not too often that you see signs that strongly suggest that trucks and trailers with more than 25 feet between the 5th wheel kingpin and the rear axle avoid the road completely.
So yes, it was narrow, steep, with sharp corners.  But once in California I turned on to CA168 toward Big Pine.  
If NV 266 was narrow, steep, and had sharp curves, then CA 168 was its daddy!  Narrower, steeper, one-way blind crevices cut through solid rock!  Lower gears and slow speeds were the order going up and down!
Owens Valley at Big Pine
Once to Big Pine I turned north on US395 toward Bishop.  In Bishop I paid $4.10 for gas – prior to this  the highest was $3.90 at that ‘almost empty’ place on my MC ride a few days ago.  Before that most gas was in the $3.55-3.65 area, getting more expensive the further west I traveled.
Interesting storm over the mountains as I headed north – I experienced about 46 gigantic rain drops from this – just enough to mess the windshield.
Summer storm over Sierra's
All over the west coast there is evidence of how alive Mother Gaia is – this Long Valley Caldera was a gigantic blast just an eye-blink ago (in geologic time).  There’s a nice lake there now (part of the LA water supply now) that apparently has some nice trout therein.  I did not experience that myself.

I stayed the night in an RV park just to the NE of Bridgeport CA – a nice enough place if the wind wasn’t howling!  But as the sun went down the wind died and the night was very pleasantly cool – in the upper 40’s (9ºC).  Route map.

Then the final leg of the commute… Bridgeport to Mather.
This was accomplished over CA 108, Sonora PassWikipedia for Sonora Pass.
Another one of those roads where the recommended length is short – less than 25’ from kingpin to axle.
The F150 putted right up this narrow twisty road – not fast mind, but steadily.
This was my first real taste of the high sierras.  I do not count driving on I 80 over Donner pass as anything but an expedient route to get east of the mountains.
Texas mountains and rocks are predominantly brown.  Arizona mountains and rocks are predominantly reddish.  These California mountains are granite and predominantly grey-white.  Quite a contrast from the more usual I’ve so far encountered.
Upper Walker River Valley
CA 108 - Sonora Pass
CA 108 - Sonora Pass  
Insane Bicycle Rider on CA 108 - Sonora Pass
As I was going down the west side of the pass there were about 18 INSANE bicycle riders going up!  Now,  this isn't a small hill they're climbing.  The gradients are STEEP - I'd guess 15% to 20% in places and 8% to 12% pretty much steady.  That means that for every 100 feet of horizontal run the road gains 15 to 20 feet in elevation.  These folks were riding this steep road at elevations of 7500 to 8200 feet elevation.  INSANE!

CA 108 - Sonora Pass

CA 108 - Sonora Pass

Sierra Nevada Mountains - CA 108 - Sonora Pass

Then we finished up driving through the towns of Sonora, Angels Camp, San Andreas and finally on to Jeremiah and Jessica’s in Mather.  Route map.

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