The Hawaiian shirt is an awesome touch.
An old Nevada license plate reinforces the buckboard seat. Reuse!
There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the red eyes light up.
There is also a bucking horse weathervane spinning happily in the breeze.
Farther south we again stop at the Mono Lake overlook, which is a BIT more hospitable this time, though still too cold for the kid.
One of the surprisingly serious EVC markers.
Stickers and graffitti from all over the world.
'This is not a photo opportunity.' Ha!
Down below is where the road will take us.
We stop for a bit at the Mono Lake Center, filled with cool Mono Lake exhibits and a nice museum shop. Although the bear-proof trash can had clearly taken a hit from Smokey during the night...
Just outside the entrance, the kid found this:
She frowned at it, and I could clearly see the gears working in her head. She knew it couldn't be, but HAD to ask anyway. "Mom, are there bears in there?"
I'm standing behind her, ready. "YES!" I roar, dropping my purse and scooping her up, pointing her headfirst at the black, round hole. "Stick your hand in there and see!"
She's laughing. "Nooooo!"
I relent and release her, but she still doesn't wanna stick her hand in there.
Also outside the entrance is this big chunk of Rhyolite, looking like lumpy, poorly mixed bread dough.
Inside, the kid does her best Tippi Hedren (seagulls abound at Mono Lake).
Hint: IT FEELS LIKE SANDPAPER, DUMMY!
We came around the corner and unexpectedly came upon this gigantic fellow. The kid shrieked, "Do they REALLY get that big?!"
No, I told her, they don't.
The museum also had an awesome Native American beadwork & willow basket display.
Leaving the museum there was this cute sign.
Mono Lake itself, with some of the famous Tufa pads (which we have always called Tofu pads) on the right.
Leaving Mono Lake we turn off on Highway 120 going east, where I tell N. I have a surprise for her (Google Earth with the 'Gallery' feature turned on, to the rescue!). Here's what she very shortly sees:
...to which she squeals with delight. "It's a Whee-Whee Road!" Yes it is, and it's deserted. No big trucks to slow you down, which happens so often near Adelanto on 395. We have the road to ourselves and thoroughly enjoy flying through the dips for about 10 miles.
The icing on the cake is the large, 2-3 foot deep, pristine snowfield we find next to the road, which of course has to be played in. It's a clear, lovely day, about 72 degrees out.
Heading back towards 395, we stop at Mono Mills, a historic sawmill site which still has remnants of the old works...and of, course, an ECV marker! Properly smart-ass, of course.
The kid finds, to her irritation, one of the heavy picnic tables tipped on end, leaning against a tree. She huffily strong-arms it back into a normal position, muttering at the idiots who did such a thing and apologizing to the tree.
I do believe this to be the world's oldest picnic bench.
Pardon the picture-of-a-picture, but I found it interesting to compare the old pic of the sawmill skids:
With how they look today--you can still see them on the left.
The trees have made a tremendous comeback and now the site is lovely, a great place for a picnic.
Although a forest fire had taken some of the trees.
Back down the road...never, never lose an opportunity to take side trips down state routes when you can. They are some of the most beautiful, yet unknown and untouched, areas there are--and most are RIGHT THERE next to the big main highways!
On the way back to 395 the Sierras were banked in clouds.
Soon we are back on 395 for a bit before exiting again at Hot Springs Road, going to tour Hot Creek--a natural hot springs. You might recognize this area, parts of the original 'True Grit' was shot here, as was 'North To Alaska', both John Wayne movies. The road is partly dirt, but graded well. The parking area runs all along the cliffs overlooking Hot Creek, you hike down to it.
Signs warn idiots of the scalding water in some spots, plus other fun hazards such as arsenic. No swimming!
When they put up a sign showing an ever-changing death count, consider yourself warned.
Weirdly, fly fishing is allowed here if you use barbless hooks and do the catch and release thing. The kid makes several 'pre-cooked fish' jokes.
This pool is the prettiest, what with the colors and the waterfall. It was also the deadliest-looking, with plenty of steam and evil smells. The whole place reeked of sulpher and had a 'Mouth of Hell' vibe to it. Or at least a 'Day Spa of Hell' thing.
On down the road near Bishop, we pull off 395 to get a shot of this cool retro sign:
Just before we get there,we happen upon this little oddity, placed in front of the closed Mill Creek Station...
Which, as it turns out, is a memorial to Warren J. Harding, famous climber!
The kid just had to stick her finger up his nose, though.
Apparantly Mill Creek Station holds a small museum dedicated to Harding, and there is more garden/ampitheater out back. We'll have to try again when the place might be open. Off we go again, and I spot one of my favorite road signs:
'You know, the valley is OK but that road can just go straight to Hell!'
We stop at Schatt's in Bishop and grab a lovely fresh ham sandwich, taking it across the street to the park. Near the creek, where the ducks are doing what ducks do...
Very soon we are New Bestest Friends with every hungry bird in the place. We, of course, feed them.
Awesome ham and cheese sandwich from Schatt's Bakery right across from the park.
Especially these pretty little things.
Even the ones who don't follow the rules. Breakin' the law, breakin' the law...
On the way out I pick a sprig of lilac, I can't resist. I got to smell it the rest of the way home, it was heavenly.
From here on out the weather got really nasty--super high winds, even for the high desert. We stop at a neato sculpture between Pearsonville and Brady's, the site of a defunct Tungsten mine.
The huge horseshoe Joshua tree was created by J. P. 'Skip' Gorman, a local artist from Ridgecrest. I read online that he wanted to mark the site somehow after it had closed, so the tree, sign and two little cabins are his salute to the mine.
The thing is truly gigantic, and mesmerizing.
He's got a small box at the base of the sculpture for donations, which go to help rebuild the USO building in Ridgecrest (the labels need replacing, though). Cool guy!
After this we get to Red Mountain & Johannesburg...
...and begin a grueling last leg of the trip--fighting a Chevy in high winds for hours, then driving through Gorman in heavy clouds at 3 mph with the hazard lights on for 20 miles, THEN the rest of the way home in rain...NOT my idea of fun. Bleah.
But home we got, where a gorgeous husband and cute baby chicks awaited us!