Posted by: TomA | 5 May 2007

Day 7 – Yosemite to Lone Pine

A long day of driving today, we covered around 400 miles having left nice and early (at, erm, 9:30am) and arrived in Lone Pine, near Death Valley about 9 hours later.

As the Tioga Pass was shut, along with the three mountain passes that run north through Yosemite, we were rather forced to head south for the days driving.

A couple of hours blast down the interstate got us past Fresno and the slightly dull scenery (nothingness, railroads, industrial estates, huge cattle ranches) and into some decent mountains.

The cliche is that you spend forever driving on dead straight roads and the scenery doesn’t change at all. While we had a few spells like that, they never lasted that long. Over the course of the day, we went from the lush green around Yosemite, through the industry around Fresno and Bakersfield, totally barren, rocky mountains, to sweeping hillsides populated by Joshua trees, before descending from 5000ft peaks to drive alongside China Lake (now dry and a US Naval Weapons testing area). China Lake was scary (far more so than the tight and twisty mountain roads with large drops earlier in the day) for the sheer scale and absolute flatness even before you factor in the paranoid (or not?) visions of US military testing zones.

We stopped for a brief picnic by Lake Isabella only to be freaked out by the hordes of RVs lining the waterfront. What would have been a great view became a bit pants. Remember, if you’re an American you’re unlikely to be able or bothered to park your gross RV and walk anywhere. In fact, why should you – this is the land of the free after all – do what you wish…

Picnic supplies were sourced from the store in the village down the road, which creeped me out a bit. No problem with stores selling fishing bait alongside groceries, but the store next door went several steps further. A pouch for your grenades sir? Bulk discounts on Israeli gas masks, all the better for hunting deer with our massive range of knives madam?

Lone Pine itself is a weird place. We hunted up and down for a suitably creepy motel, but they all ended up being a bit on the nice side. Not cheap either. Still, a motel in a small nothing town in the southern states is always going to be fun…



  1. Hi Tom. I am a Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiute and I am glad you are enjoying your trip around my home turf.

    If you go to the Yosemite Indian Musuem…it is all false.

  2. China Lake was once a Shoshone camp.

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