Hot, hot and hotter…
Who knew..109° in Hesperia, California, a heat wave no doubt but whoa (!!) way too warm for our one air conditioner..Ok if we were in the shade but when the sun hit the trailer it was frying time.
We left Santee and headed up the 15 through the Cajon Pass (113°…yikes) and into Hesperia. Trying to keep our road travel time to 3 hours to give the old kitties a break and not too stress them out too much. They are getting the hang of it..one hides in the airy travel tote, one sits in the kitty litter ( nervous pee-er no doubt;)…) and one rides between Mike and I watching what goes on through the windshield..the control freak in the bunch.
We spent two nights in Hesperia broiling away, purchased a fan and then decided we had to get the hell out of Dodge..whew..just too hot for our travel trailer. Took a side trip up to Silverwood Lake, with the heat the Park was at capacity, closed, so back to roasting in the trailer.
Picked up and took off up the US#395 North, what a relief to be off of the freeways. even the cats seemed happier with less vehicle whizzing by. We set our sights on Lone Pine and off we went.
Would have stopped at the AstroBurger but it was only 9:30..next time.. Kramer Junction came and went in a blink of an eye like many of the little towns that dot the 395.
The US 395 is an interesting mix of new and old as we wound our way North the scenery started to change as the Eastern Sierra Nevada’s rose to the West. Half deserted towns and buildings with the pastel hues of the mountains make for a nostalgic feel of what must have been a better time, pre-15 perhaps when the traffic came through the small towns and provided a living for the folks that lived there.
The temperature gauge on the truck did not change..103°…we were hoping for some relief bit it seems the Owens Valley was just not far enough North for us. Occasional patches of green appeared and went but mostly it is dry, very dry. Slowly the Joshua trees started to disappear and the sagebrush took over for as far as the eye could see. Little by little more and more green patches started to appear. Giant willows and poplars dotted the landscape and the mountains started to jut from the ground. Spectacular mountains and ridges and passes…stunningly beautiful landscapes.
Then came the smoke…low lying layers slowly filling the valley. Checked the USGS active fire maps and saw a large fire North of June Lake but this smoke was blowing all the way over the Sierra from fires on the Western side..massive ones…over 30,000 acres burned.
When we arrived at Lone Pine the air didn’t smell smoky but the haze filled the valley and changed the colour of the air. We pulled into the Boulder Creek RV Park and unhitched. It is getting to be a routine now. Remove the sway bar and then the stabilizer bars, get the electric plugged in and the AC going, it was 102° in the trailer..we were hoping for some evening cooling…it came..when 85° feels cool you know it has been warm. Leveling the trailer here was a challenge but we are slowly getting the hang of it with plastic blocks and bits of wood, the sight here was especially uneven and we were packed tightly in between poplar trees. With the three slide outs it is an adventure to get the trailer centered just where you want it. The staff seemed to want to put everybody in the same row even when there were other available areas..oh well…the sunset came and was spectacular. We read the fire forecasts and decided to stay another day for the northern fires and smoke to dissipate.
It took several hours for the AC to cool the trailer, the cats were flaked out, panting at times. I felt bad for them in their fur coats. We vowed to avoid this area and the heat in the upcoming years but this was our way North. We took a quick drive into Lone Pine for a bite of lunch and a stop at the local market. It seems Lone Pine
has strived for a nice old fashioned feel and the storefronts were quite lovely with the wild west feel going on throughout the town.
On the way back we took a beautiful detour through some of the Alabama Hills ( this here is Western Movie ville-from the 1920’s to the present..whoa! Gladiator and even Iron Man..very cool) and came upon a beautiful dirt road lined with sunflowers on either side, really stunning. As the sun went down a cold beer went down well as well. The smoke created intense colour as the sun set behind Mt. Whitney. The view made the heat worthwhile.
The next day we drove up to the Whitney Portal..at 8360 feet of elevation we were expecting it to be a bit cooler..but to our surprise the temperatures were in the low 90’s..still cool after 103°. The switch-back road and no guard rails had Mike white knuckled, he hates heights and I couldn’t convince him to go to the Horseshoe meadow-22 miles of switchbacks so convinced him this road was a piece of cake..only 12 miles..evil evil wife..I didn’t tell him I’d read about the road in the most dangerous roads in America..0_0..hahahaha..in winter;) What a sight coming closer to Mt. Whitney and those trees, ponderosas, jeffreys, spruce and incense cedars, what a gorgeous sight and smell. Mike forgave me. At the base there is a beautiful waterfall…forgot my tripod (grrr)..wanted to try my ND filter on the waterfall! We stopped and ate lunch here after venturing up the trail a few hundred yards..Mike in his Birks..what was he thinking? I chased the stellar Jays about with my camera (unsuccessfully I might add) near a small pond filled with trout and just took in the sights. I would love one day to do the hike to the Peak of Mt. Whitney but not in 90°:) I’ll add it to my list of things to do in this lifetime;)
The drive down was as spectacular as going up with the Owens Valley spread out below. The smoke haze was not as apparent as the day before. At the bottom we took the detour on the Movie Road in the Alabama Hills as we were checking spots for dispersed free camping for the future..in cooler times..what a beautiful drive..so many amazing rock formations and places to explore, we will be back.
Later in the day the smoke began to roll over from the West so we decided to move on the next morning and miss a few sights we wanted to see. Mainly the Bristlecone forest..between the heat and the air quality we decided to head for some serious elevation-Mono Lake and Yosemite..and that, my friends..is another chapter:)