Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Halfway between Reno and Bishop ~

When I got back from Germany, I worked for a couple of days and then turned around, loaded up the car with some running gear and the dogs, and hit the road!  US Highway 6, to be exact.  Through my beloved central Nevada (shout out to Tonopah!) and then meandered through the creepy town of Hawthorn, NV (if you have never been there, you should put it on your bucket list.  Just one visit.  I promise, it will make every other locale you have ever been to look like absolute paradise.  Hundreds if not thousands of ammo-bunkers out in the Nevada desert with a dilapidated military town.  It's sadly impressive.)

So after about 10 hours of driving and stopping to run a couple of times along Hwy 6 (at Ward Mountain, which is a great little trail system west of Ely, NV; and Radar Rd, a little used road up to some radio towers north of Tonopah, which was one of the places I used to run a lot when I lived there three years ago) I found myself in Bridgeport, CA.  It's a very small town on the east slope of the Sierra Mountains, between Carson City, NV and Lee Vining, CA.

The first thing I thought about Bridgeport was, "quaint".  The second thing I thought was, "look at that view.  It's like Austria is just a few miles to the west."  And the third thing I thought after several days of meandering around town a bit and going out to several of the restaurants, bars, and the local market was, "Wow.  The people here are so friendly and nice."  Like, really nice.  Lean over the fence and introduce themselves nice.  Stop on the street to chat for 5 minutes about the weather kind of nice.  Genuinely just good folks.

I went for a run in town one morning (it's about one mile from one end of town to the other) and crossing Highway 395 I was thinking like I usually do... "Gotta pay attention, run across the road when there's a break in the traffic."  And as I looked both ways, I realized there really wasn't that much traffic and the cars that were moving were going the posted speed limit of 25 mph.  I casually sauntered across the road like I had all day... and didn't even come close to any one of the cars.  Wow.  I could get used to this.

Walking the dogs on the Twin Lakes Road just south of town, people slowed down and moved into the opposite lane of travel so as not to come to close.  Wow.  Courteous.  What a concept.  And several of the drivers waved, too.  Sheesh ~ can these people be for real?

I went running in an area called Leavitt Meadows for the better part of the day one day.  It's up past the US Military Mountain Warfare Training Center at Pickle Meadows on the Sonora Pass Road.  Words cannot describe how beautiful this area was.  I had initially planned on running for three hours, but ended up doing four and a half hours just because it was such lovely running and I thought to myself, "What else do I have to do today?  Eat when I'm done, maybe take a nap... "  So I kept running and enjoying myself.  And yes, I did eat meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and a slice of cake afterwards.  It was totally over-priced at the Bridgeport Inn, but the server was so nice and attentive but not overly-pushy and there was a nice view of the quiet street from the bar windows that I thought it was worth it.  Hell, I was on vacation anyway, and sometimes I just sign the credit card slip and walk away when I'm on vacation.  No sense in ruining my good mood.

Four days in Bridgeport and the surrounding area and I did not want to leave.  I did take a side trip to Lee Vining to meet up with a friend from Bishop at the Mobil Mart's Whoa Nellie Deli for lunch (and I bought some beer, and I hung out with the people who worked there for a bit because they were super-cool and friendly).  The Tioga Pass Road was not yet open and they were enjoying their last few days of quiet before the busy season starts up.

The trip was not all fun and games.  On a hike to Barney Lake with the dogs, Vernon decided to turn around and run three miles back to the car, through the on-leash-only campground and scare the crap out of me that I thought I had lost him forever.  Franklin jumped in the creek the same day when I wasn't looking and didn't come when I called him, only because he had jumped into a deep hole in the creek and couldn't get back out because the granite rocks on the bank were to slippery.  We never did make it all the way up to Barney Lake.

When we got back to the car in the parking lot, Vernon was taking a nap in the shade underneath the car.  Thank God.  Then while I was hugging him and thanking him for sticking around, Artie jumped into Twin Lakes and went swimming with her leash still attached, and then couldn't climb back up over the 4-foot seawall to get out.

The next day, on a reconnaissance mission to check out the running in the Leavitt Meadows area, Artie decided to jump into the West Walker River and nearly drown herself.  She got out unscathed before the next set of rapids.  I also noticed a red rash developing on my right knee at the site where I had been bitten by a tick two weeks previously in Germany.  I was pretty sure it was Lyme disease, and put myself on antibiotics after getting back to Salt Lake.  I talked with an Infectious Disease doctor up at the University, and he agreed with me that it was likely Lyme.  I haven't had any problems other than the rash, which seems to be resolving after a week on antibiotics.

I took I-80 East home to Salt Lake and drove in a thunderstorm most of the way.  It was the type of driving that makes you think to yourself, "What am I doing?  I should have stayed in Bridgeport."  But I had to get back to go to work the next day.  It's ok ~ I'll go back soon.

Now for the photos ~

Dogs are loaded up and ready to hit the road! 
Rush hour in Tonopah, NV ~ I was glad to see
that the Mizpah Hotel has been restored.
The always-creepy "Clown Motel" in Tonopah, NV
Difficult to see, but this is the ammo-bunker area
near Hawthorne, NV
Mono County seat, courthouse ~
Bridgeport, CA
Dogs love trucks!  This is what the dogs did
while I was running in Leavitt Meadows ~
Lane Lake, above Leavitt Meadows
Upper West Walker River

Big, beautiful trees ~
View of the West Walker river valley
and Leavitt Meadows ~

Secret Lake ~
West Walker Rapids ~
View of the Sawtooth Ridge from
the Twin Lakes Road ~
I swear that is Austria behind the dogs ~
Dogwalk near Lee Vining ~
The happy crew ~
Silver Lake on the June Lake Loop road
Mono Lake ~
Nice quiet night in Bridgeport, CA ~
My co-pilot did not want to leave CA, either.


  1. I love it!! Adventures are the best! I'm glad the dogs made it out OK. They are so smart and so goofy all at the same time!

    1. Gosh, I think I would have had a mental breakdown if something had happened to the dogs.