Friday, 29 June 2018

West Coast Road Trip 7

A Road Trip

West Coast 7

Flagstaff was our stop off point for the Grand Canyon. The plan was to travel early, get to the Grand Canyon and stay there all day to possibly watch the sunset. We did a few walks and filled in most of the day at the scale of this vista. It was getting colder still and decided we had had enough and that sunset could wait another time. The journey back was a bit more interesting as we were leaving a few small flakes of snow were falling. On the road we could see a weather front moving in with big black clouds over Flagstaff. The closer we came to Flagstaff the heavier the snow was falling and the roads were soon covered in snow with disappearing tyre tracks. Once in Flagstaff the volume of traffic kept the roads clear. The next day it was warming up but the car had a layer of snow on it. Today we were supposed to go to the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest but that there was no point as it would have been covered in snow! A day off and time to explore Flagstaff. Another town with a Route 66 sign.

It’s a boy’s town with small breweries everywhere and not much shopping for the ladies. It is also a ski resort. The snow was not enough to to get anyone interested in doing some skiing though. I had a visit to local emergency department at the hospital there as I had a painful swollen hand that required an xray and some antibiotics to get it on the mend. There difference between private health care and the NHS is unbelievable. No queues!

The next destination was Bryce Canyon with more scenery to be awed by, followed by Zion National Park. A drive through Las Vegas was all I wanted. The spectacle has to be seen even in day light. Shopping was on the list and another suitcase was bought from Macey’s for all the “stuff” purchased on the way. Just beyond Pahrump is Death Valley National Park and some amazing roads. 

Pahrump was a stop over on our way to Yosemite. Nothing much, but we were spreading the travelling to ensure the little one was not in the car seat for too long. In early May I chose to go up the east side of Yosemite which has a mountain range running north-south with only a few passes to get across. The one we wanted to take was on Highway 120 and all the reports said it was still closed. It was a gamble that when planning accommodation that the other passes along the 108, 4 and 88 would be open. We decided on Mammoth Lakes as a stop off which was closest to the shorted route the 120. As we had snow a few days before I thought that everything would be closed.

Leaving Pahrump we headed into Death Valley that on this day was a cool 43 degrees Centigrade. Taking the 127, 190 and then the 395 thorough and onward to Mammoth lakes. Once off the interstates these other major roads have bends in them and, for me, provide a lot more interesting driving. Death Valley is the place where aircon in the car stops you boiling. At one stop in the valley a group of German bikers on Harleys were on an organised tour. They looked hot. I could not think on anything worse than having to travel slowly with a massing engine roasting your nuts as well. Brave lads but no speed keeps you cool at that temperature. Death Valley needs to be seen but not for long and soon we were away from the desert and into greenery as we headed north through Bishop to Mammoth Lakes also a ski resort. The 120 was still closed so we had to do another 200 miles to get around the mountain range. Good news in that the 108 via Sonora to Mariposa was open other wise another 100 miles would be added to the journey. The 108 was a delight. Snow was still piled high on each side of the road as we climbed through pine trees up and over the pass. Not many people talk about these roads but they have all the features of winding country lanes, enough to test anyones abilities. There are some straight bits too!

Yosemite has changed over the years with commerce getting its way and it was worse that the Lake District on a Bank Holiday. Yosemite is a popular place and you have to see the sights. I could not believe that it was so busy. Most of it was viewed from the shuttle bus as it was the easiest way to get around. The final leg was back to San Francisco doing more touristy stuff visiting the “Hippie” area and just before getting on the plane, lunch in the Latin Quarter where the murals add so much colour to the streets. Back home I discover I have carpel tunnel syndrome from the infection and can’t grip anything. Reason for no recent postings, my excuse, can’t type!

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