Thursday, October 17, 2019


Waning Gibbous Moon

Today had a certain flow to it, beginning north of Bishop, tumbling through Big Pine, Independence, and Lone Pine, sweeping up past Keeler and down into Panamint Valley, up and over the Panamint Range, gushing into and out of Death Valley, rushing past Pahrump, squeezing up over the nightmarish pass and down into Las Vegas. It was a good day, but I felt like someone other than me was in control. I just kind of went along for the ride.

Maybe the best part was the homemade 7-grain toast I ate with my eggs at Jack's Cafe in Bishop. Wow, it was good. A clear and close second was the Eastern California Museum in Independence. What a great resource for all things Paiute (the indigenous people of Owens Valley), all things Norman Clyde (perhaps the most famous Sierra Nevada mountaineer), and all things Manzanar (the WWII Japanese internment camp between Independence and Lone Pine).

I managed a short but beautiful trail walk from the museum to Dehy Park and back before the museum opened (lots of deer and coyote tracks in the desert sand).

Then I spent about 45 minutes looking through the exhibits and the selection of books. One thing I have been studying lately is trade routes between the different bands of native peoples. How did desert folks get sea shells from the coast over two massive mountain ranges? One book at this museum caught my eye. When I get home, I will try to get my hands on a copy.

I couldn't get comfortable with things in Death Valley this trip. I guess it is transition season in the parks right now. Lots of the best campgrounds are closed and it feels like the humble tent campers are being shut out in favor of the RV crowd and the resort folks.

I get it. Those people are way less likely to get themselves into trouble and to require dangerous, expensive rescues. But sheesh, Death Valley has become a drive-to-the-overlook-and-take-a-selfie exercise. Herded sheep. Helicopter shepherds. At least the scenery is still pretty cool.

Anyway, I didn't want to pitch my tent in the RV parking lot, so I kept going to Death Valley Junction and took a new (for me) route over the state line to Pahrump, NV. Somewhere in there it got dark and as fate would have it, I found myself and Spugly leading a long line of travelers through a nasty, convoluted construction zone on State Route 160.

Up and over a mountain pass we crawled against a constant flow of headlights from oncoming traffic and frequent, aggressive troopers screaming around with lights and si-reens. I did my best St. Christopher impression and guided the impatient pack of compact SUVs safely to the other side. Not one single Kiasubhondaravhyunduru waved thank you when it was over. Wussup widdat?

I drove too many miles today (obviously) and consequently,  the flow chewed me up and spit me out. I hope I learned my lesson.

What about Spugly, you ask? A whopping 29.6 mpg is a pretty good day's work for a thirty-two year old mini-truck.

Peace, Love, and 4 Cylinders,

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