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Old 05-04-2009, 07:54 PM   #6
whitham_wannabe OP
Beastly Adventurer
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Joined: Feb 2008
Location: Mukilteo, WA
Oddometer: 1,077
Day Three - Lakes and deserts

What a wonderful world it is, when you crawl out of a tent with the sun shining through the pines and a steaming mug of tea in your hand! I took a celebratory self portrait - this is me smiling.

Packed and away, over the final ridge and we descend not very far to Lake Tahoe. We were excited to be there ...

What an amazing place this is, crystal clear blue lake, surrounded and contrasted completely by snow bound peaks. The lake itself is over six thousand feet above sea level, and as a monument on the north end of the lake states, contains enough water to cover the whole of California to a depth of 1 foot. Who works these statistics out? And don't they realise that's not nearly enough?

The drive around the Lake was not the best from a motorcycling point of view (too much traffic, too many speed zones), but was insanely picturesque. Scenery to make your elbows pop, as they say. The little ridge road south from Emerald Bay State Park was tremendous, the road is literally the whole top of the ridge, with steep drop offs on either side before it hairpins its way back down to the Lake.

After a three quarter lap around the lake, we hopped over the border to Nevada and over the mountains to rejoin 395. The border could not be any more obvious when you cross from picturesque Stateline ... they built a Harrah's casino right on the border, so the poor under privileged Californians need only stumble a few steps to the nearest slot machine.

Piling on the miles down 395, to the surprise view of Mono Lake ...

Neither Chris nor I are really the sight seeing sort, so we elected to hit northern Death Valley and avoid the National Park service trail of scenic vistas and points of interest further south. We turned off the 395 at Big Pine, then took the Death Valley Road over the hills and descending down into the valley itself. It proved to be the right choice, we hardly saw another soul the whole time we were in. The original plan was to push through on the dirt to hook up with the National Park roads, but a quick fuel calculation and a healthy dose of circumspection (it's not called Happy Valley, after all) led us to just spend the remaining daylight exploring the desert and playing around on our first real dirt. Ever.

Cue pictures of Chris and I pretending to be proper ADVers ...

It was the first time in the trip we had experienced any temperatures above 60 degrees, so it was a pleasant change to ride around in the 75 degree heat for a while ...

I always close my eyes when riding on gravel, and pass out completely when I see mud.

Chris got tired and had a little lie down.

"Where this GS falls, so we shall camp" Rather than head back to civilisation, we elected to pull the beached whale out of the sand and pitch camp in the bush. This seemed like a good idea at first, but then we started noticing the tarantula / scorpion / snake holes that were everywhere we looked. Images filled our impressionable english minds of waking up in a tarantula covered tent the following morning, but as absolute silence descended over the desert, the bats came out to catch their dinner and the moon and stars came out to keep us company, we both relaxed into the absolute peace of the desert.

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