Monday, August 19, 2013

August 10 thru August 12

8-10-2013 Topaz Lake, NV to Bridgeport, CA

Today was a little longer by design, but almost no traffic at all. The busiest part of the day was the Casio parking lot, which was full of motorcycles and people trying to get on the road. We cycled a couple of miles up to Nevada Rt. 208 to Wellington, through warm desert.

Off to the Desert on NV Rt. 208

The vehicles vanished as we got on NV Rt. 338. This road climbed very gently along the Walker River to the Sweetwater Summit. The Sweetwater Mountains are to the west of us here, and are very scenic.

Sweetwater range along NV Rt. 338

After the summit, we descend to the California border, then climbed back up CA Rt. 138 to the Bridgeport Reservoir. The Reservoir is pretty low this time of year, leaving a large meadow at the west end. At last we roll into Bridgeport, and find our room.
Bridgeport Reservoir  

We are staying in an old and famous hotel, the Bridgeport in.  It has community bathrooms, no AC, and really steep stairs up to the rooms. The price was right, and we ate at The Barn. It was recommended to us and it was good! I like these places that make big Burritos. After dinner we noticed that the old historic Court House was being taken over by swallows.

The Historic Bridgeport Courthouse and Jail

Maybe we should not have cut the government so much.

8-11-2013 Bridgeport, CA to Lee Vining, CA

Today we started out going south down Rt. 395 toward Conway Summit. The road was narrow, fast, and full of trucks again. We got so spoiled yesterday… We did get a shoulder as the climb started, and that really helped. Marty had two fun things happen today, one was his birthday and the other was a broken bike! I am using an old rear hub from a tandem, and it uses a freewheel, not a free hub and cassette like most modern bikes. I had been hearing a small knock every now and again, and did not find the source of it until now. The cassette somehow came off of the freewheel, and it came to a noisy stop. We did manage to get it back together. It does thread on, but it would only thread on a little, not all the way. It turned out to be good enough to get us to Lee Vining. Just after the Conway summit there is a vista of Mono Lake and the valley below.
Conway Summit Vista

Mono Lake Vista from Rt 395.

Along with the breath taking view of Mono Lake, there is a length of guard rail covered with stickers from around the world.
Guard Rail Stickers

As many people were taking pictures of the guard rail  as there was people photographing the vista. Lee Vining is a tiny town right at the base of the road up to Yosemite. We are in a nice little camp ground and will sleep on a lawn for the first time in weeks. Plush!

8-12-2013 Lee Vining, CA

Today we are taking a day off to rest up for the last push into Yosemite. And a nice day it was! Our endless streak of sunny days continues. We wandered around town today, which was only an half hour long walk, and had a big cup of coffee. I did improvise a spanner wrench to try and tighten my freewheel. I think it will last a few more days. Mono Lake is really interesting. It is very salty (2-3 times more salt than sea water) and is full of brine shrimp. It is a huge breeding ground for birds, with most sea gulls in this area of the country being born here. It is also in the middle of the California water wars. Years ago the rivers feeding the lake were diverted to supply Los Angeles, and the lake level dropped dramatically. Since then the water extraction has slowed down and the lake is rising, but not to original levels. The mineral rich waters also form limestone features called Tufas, formed as springs bring minerals into the lake and react with the lake water.
Tufas in Lake Mono

We talked to many people about the big climb up to the park (Tioga Pass, 9950’), and we found that the road is too narrow and too busy. We also found that the regional bus service will bring us up to Tuolumne Meadows inside the park for three dollars, bikes and all! That should make the climb go better!

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