Back to the highway, hang a right and south it is. One good thing about having someone ride shotgun is they can be studying the map, maybe planning the next stop. We approach the Lincoln Highway with a stretch to the west called the “loneliest road”. We pass it by.
My 2011 edition of the Rand McNally Road Atlas points out many points of interest. I greatly enjoy studying it. It specifically points out the Lewis & Clark Highway, Lincoln Highway and Route 66. Living and driving in the Northwest you crisscross the Lewis & Clark Highway all of the time because Lewis & Clark crisscrossed the Northwest a lot. And who hasn’t heard of Route 66? But the Lincoln Highway? Honestly, did Abe travel over any of this road? Certainly not in Nevada. We flipped over to the Illinois map and at least it is there also. So is Route 66 and the L&C is so close, like a stone’s throw across the Mississippi, that I’ll give it to them.
Nothing stops us before we enter Tonopah. Here we eat dinner but should we also sleep here? There is no town bigger between here and Las Vegas. Rand McNally points out a green dotted road turning off just south of town. So, raise your hands. Who would rather wake up in the morning staring at a green dotted road or Tonopah? Us too. It is getting dark as we leave town.
I find a dirt road leading away from our green dotted road. Driving a ways I then find a smaller one. And then a place to park for the night. Among the great things about being out in the middle of nowhere, especially in the desert, is the sky. It is huge. It is sprinkled with a multitude of lights, some dim, some bright, some colored, some twinkling. Some even move. We are moved.
In the morning we are greeted by a huge desert. Huge mountains with a threatening cover are all around. I spend some time capturing the local plants in celebration of spring. By the time we leave she and I agree we have found another spot that fits our meme. We wind our way back to the green dotted road and continue the adventure. We travel through a very picturesque little valley with one little problem. The road we are traveling on dips, for a very short way, into California. And this valley sits in that other state.
If you haven’t noticed, I have a few peculiarities. Some I was born with, some I create. One of my current ones is a near boycott of California, at least in my driving. Let’s just say that having been born and raised there I no longer feel it supports my soul. But this road laughs at me and takes me there anyway, for a few moments. The highest peak in Nevada waves at us as we climb out of this little valley. If your life isn’t ironic, then what’s the point? Our green dotted road is about to end. We quickly consult Rand and decide to go back into California. Having lived in LA I had drunk plenty of Mono Lake, but I have never visited. Time to remedy that.
First we pass through some Michelin man hills, you know those kinds of rolly polly rock formations that you are just waiting for the eyes to open and a huge rock guy to stand. Up into a beautiful high altitude pine forest and then we are looking down on Mono Lake. The sky, battling as it is with the clouds is deep blue. Those clouds vary between white puff balls and gray storms. The lake is green. Google, if you were to ask, would tell you the lake is highly alkaline and very salty. Not normal. But if it were normal then we wouldn’t be here to gaze at the tufa towers, which we are now viewing. Amazing.
Mr. McNally is telling us we are just a stone’s throw from Yosemite. I look to the west, see some of the mountains but the rest are being hidden by an ongoing snowstorm. I look at her and smile. Remember, we are still rolling on snow tires. Further, I’d bet we still have at least half the studs still with us, even if their service may be a bit lagging. I vote yes, she abstains and mutters something. You can’t be this close to Yosemite and not visit. And we are on another green dotted road! It is not very many miles before snow is batting at our windshield. It is not very many more before I have to stop. Much to my displeasure there is a barricade stretching in front of us with the news that Tioga Pass is closed for the winter. I yell at it that it is the end of April and Yosemite is just 11 miles further on. She tells me to get back in the car.