Thursday, July 5, 2007

Happy Birthday America. Love, Mammoth Lakes, California

Driving from Las Vegas to California was a long, hot experience, and even led me to start talking out loud in my car. Not talking to myself, mind you, just sort of thinking out loud inbetween glances at the map and adjustments to the radio.

Rt. 168 was so desolate that I parked my car in the middle of the road and set up my tripod about fifty feet away to try to play with perspective a bit. Despite the apocolyptic feel of the road, however, everytime I was about to take a picture, I noticed a car through the shimmering asphalt in the distance and had to sprint back to my car to move it in time. Doing this several times in 105 degree heat slowly wore me down, and the best picture from the set was the one taken with Black Betty on the side of the road.

I pushed on through the heat, cresting "mountains" of four or five thousand feet whose summits offered a slight reprieve from the heat, only to be dropped into the next valley, a sweltering abyss. By the time I reached California, I was finally out of the desert states and into more agreeable weather.

The locals must get really bored out here.

I finally finished the day in Mammoth Lakes, California, an upscale ski town with sufficient hiking and biking opportunities to see it through the rest of the year. The town had already had its 4th of July festivities in the afternoon, but fireworks would be provided at nearby Crowley Lake.

And so I joined thousands of Californians and their happy families, sitting on the side of a lake with the Milky Way above us, "America the Beautiful" playing on speakers behind us, and a spectacular fireworks display over the lake in front of us.

After Las Vegas and the shenanigans that abounded there, the patriotic fervor of my fellow Americans and the cool mountain air felt redemptive, to say the least.


Kirsten said...

The last time we saw such large swaths of the nation was aboard an Amtrak train in 1989 when you, Mom and I traveled from Philadelphia to California and back for Mom's story for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Of course, the train cars were air- conditioned and, from what I remember, we skipped the desert regions. It appears this second time around you're getting to experience the country a little more up front and personal, which is turning out to be uncomfortably hot. I assume San Francisco will be a lot cooler. Have fun at Susie's!

Dad said...

Just remember, when you get to the Hotel (in) California, that you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!

Rte 168 sounds like the road Mom and I took from Scotty's Castle in Death Valley back to the "main" north-south road to Beatty, Nevada on '05. "On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair ..."

I think there's a Philly cheesesteak place at Fisherman's Wharf. Let me know how it compare's to Pat's.

HOLLAmania said...

hey scotty

your dad stole my opening line...
i remember my trip from vegas to cali but mine was on a greyhound..

hope youre well...

bgibs said...

Scott - we were in San Francisco last week - had a great time - great bar in Fisherman's wharf area - Jack's (in the Cannery) - 85 beers on tap. Have fun!
We needed it after biking over the Golden Gate bridge!

Hoot said...

Keep these entries coming! I have enjoyed your exploits SO much. I especially liked today's photo with Black Betty in your hand! -Bill G