Tough being back at work. But there are some pluses of returning… Delivered my presents to Spencer and we busted out our matching shirts, and had a little band practice (yes, there’s a Stax logo on that tambourine too).
Climbing up Lembert Dome
Yosemite! Basically paid $20 toll to drive across Yosemite so we could go through Rte 120 to get home, but even though we were in somewhat of a rush, it’s impossible not to stop and explore a little bit when you’re in Yosemite. It had been many years since I was on that side of the park, and it was as amazing as the first time.
Another amazing sunset.
After getting some gas help from the kind Deep Springs students, we realize we are driving straight for the Sierras. In all the mountains we had seen on the trip, hadn’t seen any snowcaps yet. Well, the Sierras changed all that.
We drove into yet another dramatic sunset. Tempted to stay at the campsite in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest near there we had originally planned to stay at, we decided that it would be nicer to get home earlier and to have a little more time at Yosemite. So we got a Motel 6 in Mammoth Lakes, watched the Charlie Sheen roast, and got a real shower.
On our way out of Death Valley, we stopped through Scotty’s Castle, and then continued on to see how far we felt like going. Now, upon entering Death Valley, we were warned about the importance of having your car full of gas and keeping plenty of water available at all times. We did a great job of both of those items. The part we didn’t factor in is that the way we exited the park - even though we were no longer in a national park - was still the middle of nowhere! So there was no gas to be found for many many miles.
After leaving the park, we entered into a series of windy mountain roads that took us up and back down, sometimes up a mountain and over or other times just quick hills and dips. The only thing that was consistently going down was our gas tank, which had now announced itself with the empty light. After going up and down two mountains and estimating we had another 30 or so miles before the next gas, we started to panic.
We passed the last spot we thought there was a long-shot of gas being available, and ended up atop another hill without many options. Right as we were discussing what we’d do if we ran out of gas, we approached a shaggy hair’d young man casually bicycling up the mountain on a red mountain bike wearing a t shirt and shorts. We slowed to a crawl next to him (didn’t wanna turn off and on the engine and waste gas) and asked where the nearest gas was - “27 miles ahead in Big Pine”. He read the look of dread in our faces and asked if we weren’t going to make it that far. We told him that was out of our range at the moment. The bicycle rider directed us to drive 4 miles down the road and stop at the college on the left, and they’d be able to help us with gas. We left amazed but skeptical as we were in the middle of nowhere. There were no houses let alone a college campus to be seen. But sure enough, after 4 windy miles, we approached a series of buildings set back from the road, and saw a street sign that read Deep Springs Rd. Drove back a 1/4 mile through a muddy road as sprinklers sprayed through our open windows. Arriving under a wooden arch with Deep Springs College carved unto it, we pulled up to a series of small buildings with a couple young people walking around.
I asked the first person I saw about gas (I had ulterior motives for my haste, as well, as nature had stopped calling and began yelling a bit back), and he said he wasn’t sure how to pump gas using the new setup but he’d find someone who could. A couple seconds later, a buddy of his jogged by and he said he knew how and would be happy to help us out.
He jogged up to a barn a couple buildings away and pumped 2 gallons for us. When I asked for the damage, he said they usually charge $4/gal but really whatever we had on us was cool. I asked him what the school was all about and he said it was a 25 student body, and a 2 year program originally started by an eccentric millionaire to get engineers and miners directly from the west coast rather than needing to import them from the East Coast. Whatever the story, major score for us and the journey continued.
(This is the school… we looked it up: http://www.deepsprings.edu)
Scotty’s Castle, Death Valley. In the 1920s, a con man got a millionaire couple to create an extravagant hope set up to be protected from the harsh elements for him to live in for his “gold mining operation” and they would use for a winter home. Intricate design in clock towers and wooden shutters, etc.