Rod's Four Corners Tour of 2008 travel blog

Mojave Desert

Snow In Mammoth

It was clear and cool again this morning. I packed up and cleaned up. Rena made some coffee that was one of the best cups I have had in a while now. Adam and I headed to a street mall in Hollywood to see the sights and get some breakfast. There all kinds of vendors selling everything from organic produce to hot cooked meals to Obama buttons. We had some tasty food there and I bought a button.

We drove around a little more and went up to the Hollywood reservoir for a look see. The architecture in the Hollywood hills is very diverse. We saw Spanish, contemporary, modern, Japanese and everything in between. Some houses are mostly vertical with several floors and elevators to get from the garage to the main living area. It seems that anything goes when building there.

I said my goodbyes to Rena, Rosie, Lucia and Adam. Rosie is almost 5 years old and a real cutie with an attitude. Lucia is 5 and a half months and never fusses. She is very attentive and gives lots of smiles. Adam has a very nice family. He is trying to escape LA and move the family north to Point Roberts WA, just a little south of Vancouver.

Adam led me to the highway and we waved goodbye while he shot a photo of me riding. A short while later I was heading to the desert. I pulled off to fill up but the station was full and there was a long line-up to pay. I decided to try another station further up the highway. I filled up but they had no restrooms so I had to stop again further up the road. The good news is that Chevron stations do not require a ZIP code if I use a their card.

Adam gave me some directions for some sights to see along the way. They were a little hard to read on the BlackBerry and I wound up missing the turnoff. That was really too bad because it was to a place where lots of old western movies and series had been filmed. I would liked to have seen it.

The highway ran through typical desert initially and then began climbing. It ran past Edwards Air Force Base but I could not see anything as I rode past. The highway climbed all the way to 4,500 feet and the temperature dropped. I stopped for lunch in Bishop at Erick Shat’s Bakery as recommended by Adam and had a huge sandwich and soup. I gassed up on the outskirts of town.

The desert was entertaining with lots of different rock formations and colours. I missed the turnoff to Mount Whitney at 14,500 ft. I was looking at lots of snowy peaks along the way and may have been looking right at it. The highway was playing touch and go with 7,000 feet ASL.

I took the cut-off to the Mammoth ski area. The temperature dropped dramatically as the elevation increased. The town reminded me much of Banff and Jasper with lots of chalets, condos and motels around. I rode on to see the ski hills. There was new snow on the hills and in the parking lot. I stopped to take a few pictures and continued on. The sun was going down and it was in the very cool shade. I had dressed for a warm day. After I passed 9,000 feet, I lit up the heated grips, closed the jacket zippers and vents. It was still cold so I turned around and descended down the road and took the scenic route back to the highway.

I continued on the highway expecting to see some information for Lake Tahoe but saw none. The sun was setting quickly behind the mountains and it was getting colder. I stopped to put on the electric liner and warmer gloves. What a difference that made. I kept going until I stopped to gas up with California’s most expensive gas yet at $4.49 a gallon. This was also the most expensive fuel of the trip, beating South Carolina by 43 cents. A short while later I entered Nevada and the price was a dollar a gallon less.

I stopped in Topaz Lake, Nevada for directions to Lake Tahoe. It was getting very dark and I could just make out the silhouette of the lake. I had neglected to upload a Nevada map so Aussie Karen was no longer routing me accurately. I thought it was unusual to see highway signs for Reno but not for Lake Tahoe. The sky was very dark and I could see lots of stars and a sliver of the moon. I should have been looking at the road but the sky was amazing.

The Westerner Motel looked inviting when I rode through Gardnerville, NV so I pulled in. The guy at the desk used to live in Vancouver a long time ago and asked me many questions about the region. He also said that the Three Flags Rally had a checkpoint at the motel this summer. By coincidence, the Southern California Motorcycle Association sponsors the Four Corners Tour and the Three Flags Rally. I rode the Three Flags from Nogales, Mexico to Whistler, BC in 1995 and would like to do it again some day.

The forecast for Gardnerville is a low of 39 tonight and 75 tomorrow. That is quite a temperature swing. I will ride in to Lake Tahoe tomorrow then head up past Reno to Crater Lake.

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