Day 2 – Lee Vining to Needles


Tufas - Mono Lake

Today’s route took me from Lee Vining to Needle – 419 miles. A pretty good bit of driving IMHO. Not too bad, considering I spent about an hour in Mammoth and 3 hours visiting Mt. Whitney Portal.

!st, coffee (a really nice organic Ethiopian) from the Latte Dah coffee shop in Lee Vining, then brekky (breakfast) along the way to Mammoth Lakes.

Breakfast Along the Sierras

This was a very important day for me. Mt. Whitney was, according to our family’s history, named for one of my ancestors on my mother’s side. I remember my grandmother telling stories about my Great Grandfather Whitney. Today’s visit was really 30 years some-odd in the planning.

Mt. Whitney from Lone Pine

Mt. Whitney on the Portal Road

In the above photo, Mt. Whitney is centered in the background. gd

Snow Plant - Mt. Whitney Portal

The Whitneys come from Whitney, N.B., Canada and there’s a lot of family pride with such an impressive mountain having been named after the clan that bears my son Joshua’s middle name (or versa visa).

Mt. Whitney’s elevation is 14,505 ft. above sea level – the highest mountain in the contiguous U.S. and for years it’s been a dream of mine to climb to the summit. Well today, I didn’t summit (there’s a lottery system in place to obtain one of the cherished permits to do so), but I did make it to the starting point of the Mt. Whitney trail – 8,365 ft.

I hated leaving but, with the brakes still giving me problems, I had to push as close to Needles as possible (they were just worked on and there’s a warranty station there).

Traveling South on 395, I had to stop several times along the way through Inyo. Years ago, I spent a lot of time hiking in the high country just behind these mountains and just seeing the names of familiar trails brought back a lot of good memories. There were also a few interesting towns along the way – with a few oddities to photograph, too.

The Inyo Covnty Covrt Hovse

Dropping down into the valley from 7,000 ft., temperatures climbed to 107 degrees and I reluctantly turned on the AC. The drive to Barstow and beyond isn’t the most picturesque but I managed to find a few segments of old Route 66 to follow. Seemed like (and I may be dating myself here) I should be driving along in a red Corvette convertible.

Route 66 Motel

Route 66 RV park

Finally got to Needles at about 8:45 and recognized a motel Clynda and I had stayed at a few years back on our way to a  Laughlin Bike Rally. Home sweet home – for tonight.

Tomorrow, brakes in Kingman and then I’ll decide if I still have to cut out the loop through Zion National Park. One alternative might be to head up to Hoover Dam, then back around to the Grand Canyon. We’ll see.

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About Gary's Road Trip

Television Producer and Professional Photographer working with humanitarian organizations on behalf of the world's impoverished.
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