Tuesday, June 26: Great Basin to Yosemite
A long day of driving
Eventually the sun came up, and it got bright, so we got up and broke camp. We drove to the visitor’s center to try to get into a cave tour, but we got there around 7:30, and they opened at 8:00. So we drove to Baker (not far), and had breakfast at the other restaurant. Michael actually ate most of his.
We got up to the visitorís center at maybe 8:45, but the 9:00 tour was already booked. So we bought tickets for the 11:00 one, then drove back up to the top of the mountain. We wanted to do the loop hike past some small lakes, but we only had an hour to hike, and the loop was 2-4 hours. So we did the end of the loop, out and back the way we came. We figured to hike about 30-35 minutes, and then turn around.
Of course, going up at 10,000 feet was a bit slow. We managed to make it to the first lake (in the direction we were going in) just at our turn-around time. We spent about 5 minutes there, then hiked back (which was rather faster than hiking up). We got to the car, drove down, and got to the tour with about 3 minutes to spare.
The cave was neat--much bigger and with more stalactites and stalagmites than the ones in NY. Even Michael like it (it was his first cave). The exit was a long straight passage with thick doors at each end. For effect, the ranger turned the lights out, then thumped the door. There was a strong echo, with a fairly long period. It was nifty.
We had lunch at the cafe at the visitor’s center, then we (rather later than we had hoped) left for Yosemite. We left around 1:30, and we expected to get to Yosemite around 10pm. That give us an hour of slop as they stopped accepting people in at 11:00.
I had thought that Great Basin was a sort of insignificant blip in the middle of nowhere, but we could easily have spent 2 or maybe even 3 nights there. If we were “winging it”, I would have wanted to stay longer, but the first portion of the trip is choreographed, so we needed to get to Yosemite that night. (I suppose we could have burned one of our days at Yosemite and stayed another day at Great Basin, but we didn’t.)
Amy is now driving, and I am typing this.
We just passed a large wind farm--the kind with the large three-bladed props. Strangely, even though the wind seemed to be blowing very strongly, the windmills were all just barely turning. At first we thought they were motionless, but then we could see them very very slowly turning over. We didn’t understand.
It is strange to think of being at 5000 feet as being in the lowlands, and the passes at being at 7000 feet. It isn’t like that back in New England.
The interminable drive across Nevada continued. We stopped for dinner at Tonopah which was the biggest thing between Eli and the park. We found a Burger King where we could also top off the gas tank.
The rest of the drive across Nevada was as interesting as the first part (i.e. NOT). There are lots of N/S ridges in this part of the country, so the pattern is to drive across a wide flat, rise up and through a pass, drop down to the next flat, and repeat.
Things seemed to get more civilized when we crossed into California. The terrain wasn’t quite as arid and barren. Crossing the first set of mountains, we found a strange road feature. There would be a number of gentle rolls in the highway. It was almost like a roller coaster, you would dip down, rise up, dip down, etc. It was a bit nerve wracking as in the larger ones you couldn’t see that far ahead of you.
We were fighting the clock, as the Bug Resort closed to admittance at 11, and we were guessing that we would arrive between 10:30 and 10:45. This was compounded by not knowing exactly where we were going, so the GPS value was rather suspect.
It took us over an hour to just drive through the park, pushing the speed limit a bit. Then we had to contend with a one lane road with lights, which held us up for a ways. But we got in around 10:50 or so.
We just checked in and crashed. We had a private room with bath for the first two nights.