Our plan had been to travel from Beatty, Nevada, to Minden, Nevada, in one day -- just like we did last year.  Then, we changed the destination to South Lake Tahoe, California.  Last time, we were here on a week-end, and figured rooms would be hard to get; this time it was Tuesday.
We packed up and left Beatty about 5:30 am.  Having decided the only way home was through Death Valley, we had to get an early start to beat the heat.  Our timing was great.  We got through the park by about 6:45 -- and we still weren’t overheated.
Breakfast at Panamint Springs was the reward we promised ourselves for this early start.  The restaurant didn’t open until 7:00 am, but we were only 10 minutes early.  We relaxed, took some pictures, and shook our heads over the price of gas.  Then we had a delicious “Sunrise Special” breakfast.
As we paid our check and got ready to leave, the other couple having breakfast began to chat.  They were from Italy, and were on their first trip to the States.  When we explained where we had been on our motorcycle, they were surprised and impressed.  They will have a picture of the crazy Americans to show their friends; unfortunately, we would have had to unpack the camera again....
We continued west to Lone Pine, all the time noticing how smoky the air was in the valley.  Apparently, the smoke from all the wildfires in California gets caught in Death Valley, even though there are no fires close to here.
On our way north on Highway 395, we spotted the memorial to Manzanar, the “War Relocation Center” where Japanese-Americans spent World War II.  We had passed this on previous trips, but this time we drove through the sentry gate and looked at the remains of the administration building, town hall, post office, internal police department, and (ironically) the Manzanar Free Press.  There’s not a whole lot left of the original buildings; just enough to remind us of what Manzanar really was.
We continued north through Bishop, Lee Vining, and Walker, California, (where the highway rest stop was the town’s park).  Then we were back in Nevada, and went through Gardnerville and Minden.  Heading through the mountains, we ended up in South Lake Tahoe.  Cathy agreed to continue on the road, as long as she could sit down and have a reasonable lunch.  Ron had planned to stop for lunch at Bert’s Cafe.  Unfortunately, all the restaurants in Tahoe appear to close at 2:00 pm, and it was now 2:15!
We decided to continue out the other side of Tahoe toward Sacramento, and found a great little restaurant called the Getaway Cafe in Meyers.  They should probably have closed at 2:00 pm, as well, but Diane welcomed us and fed us well.  Ron had a blackened chicken Caesar wrap, and Cathy’s turkey club included applewood smoked bacon, avocado, and cranberry mayonnaise.  Fantastic fuel for our run down the mountain.
It was only 3:00 pm when we finished our late lunch, so we figured -- even with traffic -- we could be home by 8:00 pm.  We headed downhill to Sacramento (98 miles) and then north to home (160 miles).  Stopping every 40 or 50 miles to refuel or refresh, we still made it home by 8:15 pm.
Another milestone accomplished...  A few things we learned along the way:  Ron can float, Cathy can eat pecans, and chicory coffee is actually pretty good!
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Don’t run out of gas in Death Valley...