I guess it’s time to go home – returning coast to coast: what did it all mean?

Piedras Blancas in San Simeon - Pacific Coast Highway

Finally, the cross country drive is coming to an end. Based on when this is published and when the events actually occurred, you can probably tell I have been a little busy (and slow to write the final chapter). As much as I like to travel, I think I need a little break after this journey. Hopefully in the future I can stay up to date on everything. Either way, I hope you enjoy the finale of a wonderful journey across, around, and back across the United States.

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Oh yeah I need my car – the return West and the desert

After a brief return to the East coast, I flew back to Las Vegas where I had ditched my car. I was on the east coast for a few days basically to tell my parents (with my girlfriend…well, fiance at this point in the story) that we were engaged. After just 3 days back on the East Coast, I flew back to Las Vegas to retrieve my vehicle. Luckily I parked Sally in the shade, so the 115 degree Vegas heat wasn’t too hard on her. When I got to the Las Vegas airport, it was 10pm and a chilly 98 degrees.

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Let’s keep going – Northern California coast – part 1

Disclaimer

What you are about to read is part 1 of a two-part series. Actually there is so much to write about, I didn’t want you to feel like you were reading a book, so I divided my exploration of “NorCal” into a northbound journey, and the return southbound journey. If you really enjoy this post, and you are thinking to yourself “I just gotta read the second part”, then check out the Northern California Coast – part 2.

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That’s the California I know – Big Sur and the central coast

After driving out of Sequoia National Park and through the Central Valley, I stopped in Paso Robles to get an early dinner at Jack in the Box and inquire about campground availability near the coast. The answer: there wasn’t any. I called the San Simeon Creek Campground which would be the first one I passed once I got to Route 1, and they said they didn’t have anything available. I then talked with an employee at the Morro Bay location and he said “sorry we don’t have anything from here to Santa Barbara, the entire coast is booked”. It was Friday, it was the weekend in July, but I thought there would be something open!

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Big trees, mountains, and waterfalls – Central Sierra Nevada

Liberty Cap and Nevada Fall

It seems likes everything is bigger in the Sierra Nevadas. The highest mountain in the lower 48 states is in the Sierras. I think the biggest waterfall in the US is in the Sierras. And the biggest trees (by volume) are in the Sierras. While we were wrapping up our hike in the Hoover Wilderness, I asked the guys if they knew of any place(s) to see nearby after our trip was complete. I think everyone I asked said “Big Trees” at one point. If you haven’t been to the Sierras, you would probably have the same reaction I did: “Big Trees? There are all sorts of big trees.” The Big Trees they spoke of is Big Trees State Park near Murphys, CA. It’s a beautiful park only about an hour or two from where we split off in Twain Harte.

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True Nature – 5 days in Hoover Wilderness

Gear list

This post covers 5 days of backpacking in the Hoover Wilderness, part of Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. I divided up the days onto separate pages. This will also allow you to stop reading earlier if you tire of my tale since the pages will be shorter. I still hope you make it through the whole thing.

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The gifts of nature – Buckeye Hot Springs, CA

After departing from Bodie, I stopped at the nearest active settlement: Bridgeport, CA. Bridgeport is a cool little town. There is not much going on, but Lenny (who I was meeting to backpack with in the Hoover Wilderness a few days later) recommended that I stop for a burger at The Barn. I was so hungry after a long day of driving and walking, I got a burger and then walked around the corner for a milkshake at Jolly Kone. Needless to say I didn’t need to make dinner after that.

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There’s Gold in them hills – Bodie, CA

I had a couple of days to kill before meeting my buddy Lenny and his west coast friends on the 4th of July for our backpacking trip through Stanislaus National Forest. One place on my list that happened to be nearby, is Bodie, California. Bodie is a California Gold Rush town located on the eastern side of the Sierras. It takes about 2 hours to drive from Tahoe to Bodie. Route 89 takes you out of South Lake Tahoe and over the Sierras which made the first half of the drive extraordinarily scenic. I turned off of US 395 onto route 270, which basically exists just to take you to Bodie. There is a sign as soon as you turn onto 270 that states that the road is rough after 10 miles. My GPS said 14 miles to Bodie, so the final 4 miles are gravelly. As soon as I got to the gravel section, some cars started turning around due to the rough road. I could only manage about 10 miles an hour with a lot of slowdowns for ditches over the last 4 miles. Eventually I crested the final hill and the tiny former town appeared in the distance.

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Cliff notes for Great Basin National Park, the loneliest drive, and the busiest lake

After crossing into Nevada, I stopped at the gas station/hotel/restaurant just over the border. I had about a quarter of a tank of gas left, but the distances around these parts are awfully long. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t stranded in the desert over the next two days. While I was filling up, a bicyclist rolled into the station. I asked where he was coming from and he stated that he was finishing up a 35 mile ride around Baker, his home town. I said that I thought he might be going across the country, although he didn’t have much cargo. He said no way that he would ride on route 50 to Delta (the direction I had just come from). He said that the climbs are long and the ride to Delta is flat and grueling for 40 miles. He had ridden to El Paso before. I’m assuming he did take route 50 to start (it’s basically the only way out of town). It’s funny because once again, this was the route I planned to take via bike. And after the following day driving through Nevada, I can’t imagine biking it.

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