Monday, August 16, 2010

Friday...SJSU here we come!

To make up for the clear skies (no weather), we focused on hydro on this last part of the trip. Namely, discussing the streamflow off the eastern Sierra, Lake Tahoe's drainage, Mono Lake, snowpack etc. We also discussed potential impacts on the region from climate change.

To set the mood, we did a short detour to see Mono Lake, remembering that many of the students haven't visited the eastern Sierra. And then up and over Tioga Pass {though Yosemite}. Along the way, we stopped to look at the sharp terrain, and talk about the Washoe Zephyr wind of the eastern slope. Lunch in Tuolomne Meadows, and a mandatory walk down to the river to take our shoes off and wade in. Masses of lupines in blossom! We also stopped to see some mountaineering fools climbing up some rocks, and also for a fast peek at Half Dome. After which, full speed ahead for home!

Got back to SJSU at 6:30 pm - not bad at all!

Come back later to see photos!

Thursday: looong drive

Thursday = splitsville. Sad to leave, but also all looking forward to being home.

We needed to turn in the helium tanks, which delayed blast off 'till 8:45, but that's not bad!!! Last year, the Flagstaff-Bishop drive seemed to take forever, so this year we pushed. Which included no stops at funky middle-of-the-desert restaurants! Skies were 100% clear, so there was no real weather to distract us, but we did need to stop in Needles again to see how hot it was and gas up. The gal at the gas station claimed it was 130 a couple weeks ago. As if.

In the spirit of not stopping long for lunch, we decided a fast trip to the golden arches in Bartow was in order. Well - who knew Barstow is on the main Vegas-LA route? If only I'd looked at the map closer. Anyway, turns out the McD's there is pretty cavernous - perfect for the multiple long lines inside: so much for a fast lunch stop. But we ate fast and pushed on.

The Barstow-Lone Pine segment wasn't as grueling as I recall from last year, and this year, we found it necessary to actually stop along the way at the "best jerky in town" hole in the wall (last year we flashed by). Which is how I got to taste jerky for the first time in my life! See - I had always thought of jerky as chunks and strips of some meat left out in the sun to dry, i.e., weird and nasty. Turns out - I was right!!!! Vile and disgusting. So - that's crossed off my bucket list!

With a weird taste in my mouth, we found ourselves now in that truly awesomely beautiful country that is the northern half of the Owens Valley, and in the van I was in, we had a great guide in Craig Clements who has hiked and fished this area extensively. Finally rolled into Bishop around had the drive at 9+ hours non-stop, and we did it in that time with stops :-)

After dinner, and failed efforts to connect to the hotel wireless {probably one of those hotels where you get free wifi provided you are near the office!} BTW, this town is such a fishing magnet that the hotel offered: (a) a freezer in which to store your catch; and (b) a location at which to clean your fish! The freezer was fairly ancient looking, and I half expected to find body parts in there just like in the movies. And as for the fish was right next to the pool, which...

11 pm found most of us on a dirt track off the road west out of town going up to the mountains. Reason? Annual Perseids meteor shower! We had a fabulous view with zero clouds and zero moon, and saw some pretty decent shooting stars. None really amazing, but I'm glad we looked! We barely made it 'till 12, given the long day.