Follow the Sun - a western sabbatical! travel blog

Natural bouquet - the yellow sunflowers on the right cover the hillsides

Scraped on the trail - guess I'll have to soak in the...

The massive valley after climbing over Monitor Pass just before reaching US...

Partially frozen alpine lake on Rt. 4 about 9500 elevation

The Miller kitchen in Bodie - an old gold mining town in...

Downtown Bodie - it is now a state park with about 5%...

Gene next to one of the old mining wagons

Sunbathing Marmots - too cute for words!

Half dome in the distance taken from Tioga Pass

Mono Lake with the tufa formations - very salty, very alkaline


We left Lake Tahoe heading for Grover Springs State Park because it has a natural geo-thermal hot springs which we thoroughly enjoyed. The park had a beautiful, well- maintained campground with large meadows surrounded by mountains. We hiked to an overflowing waterfall cascading down the mountainside full of cold water from the melting snow. It was glorious. We hiked back and soaked in the hot springs and then left early the next day to trek back to Highway 49 to see the gold mining town of Jamestown.

We really enjoyed our drive over, travelling east on Hwy. 4 where the elevation reached about 8500 feet and then back over Hwy. 108 with elevations over 9000 feet. We ate an interesting lunch at the Willow Saloon which has been in business since the mid-1800s. Gene had the special meat loaf and gravy while I had a Calzone stuffed with Prime Rib strips and barbecue sauce. Very filling meals! Snowdrift was heavy in the passes and some of the alpine lakes were frozen at their peaks. We made it back in time before the hot spring closed for another nice soak.

The weather was due to change back to cooler so we got up early yesterday and headed for Mono Lake and a lower elevation which would hopefully make the weather a little warmer. (We really are fickle about our weather, aren't we?) The drive down Hwy 395 was so beautiful- huge valleys with green pastures and snow covered peaks surrounding them. Photos cannot do justice to the vastness of these areas. We visited the ghost town of Bodie on the way.

Bodie is an old gold mining town that has been made into a state park. Approximately 170 of the original buildings remain, and that only represents about 5% of those that were there in the town's heyday! The property is maintained in a "state of arrested decay." We found the Miller house with the dishes still on the table. It appears as if they just left everything in place when they walked out. Lots of furniture such as trunks, iron beds and cabinets still remain. It was fun trying to figure out how all the old equipment laying around was used. It was so cold and windy, we didn't stay as long as we would have liked, but really enjoyed the town.

After our arrival at Mono Lake, we learned that Tioga Pass across Yosemite would open today. We had hoped the pass would open before we had to leave the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevadas and we weren't disappointed.

Of course, we were up early to travel across Tioga Pass, and enjoyed every minute of the drive, stopping for overlooks, a few brief trails and a picnic. Capping the day at the bizarre Mono Lake, which has several creeks which drain into it but no outlets. The lake is said to be 2.5 times saltier than the ocean and very alkaline.

By an amazing reaction of salty lake water with fresh water springs in the lake, calcium makes the tufa formations. Walking amongst them we felt like we were in another world because of the shapes and colors of the structures. The lake is home to millions of brine shrimp and the sea gulls were everywhere feeding on them. Because of the salinity and high alkalinity, no fish can survive in the lake. The color is a beautiful emerald green and adds to the unusal scene. What a place!

Unfortunately we must leave California, so we plan on continuing on down Highway 395 across Death Valley towards Las Vegas-I have $2 to invest!



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