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Getting Home 16 June 2021

2269 :

We awoke early and checked out of Cabin F at Red's Meadows Resort just after 9am with a full day and an uncertain endpoint ahead of us – maybe we'd find a good stopping place halfway? It's a loo-o-ong ride from Red's to Caspar!

About Red's: lovely place, and having it “to ourselves” because the road was officially closed was a gift. Red's was opening softly; the store had Häagen-Dazs, chips, maps, and logo glasses but wasn't fully stocked. D. J., the manager, was amazingly patient with our changes of schedule and welcoming when we arrived. Cabin F was a little removed from the fray, capacious, and well appointed. Calling it “glamping” would be an under estimate. 

2270 :

About altitude: for the first time in my life, I felt it. 7,500 feet and above, and I noticed that I had to work to breathe. Rochelle has always had trouble at about 8,000 feet, and staying this close to that limit required constant vigilance. Unfortunately, that meant that no matter how beautiful, neither of us could completely relax. 

So heading home, as usual, felt right.

We both had a sense of completion, having seen both of our primary sights. We agreed that we are sea level, coastline people, partial to islands; when it comes to mountains, we appreciate the grandeur, and understand how some folks feel about them the way we feel about oceans. 

2271 :
<p>Starkweather Lake in the morning</p>

Starkweather Lake in the morning

2272 :
<p>Farewell to the Upper San Joaquin Basin</p>

Farewell to the Upper San Joaquin Basin

2273 :

Up the windy forest road and over a 9,000+ foot pass, down through the weird Angeleno enclave of Mammoth that sits uncomfortably above an active caldera, and down to US 395, our car recovered 15 miles worth of EV driving. Traffic on 395 was much heavier than on Sunday, but it's a high speed road, and soon we were skirting Mono Lake...

2274 :

2275 :

I remember my father's Coloradan assessment of Sonora Pass – “engineered by a drunken sidewinder” – as a Californio I get it: these are young mountains that Gaia isn't done building, so roads on snaky ridgetops are a better long-term strategy than in Rocky Mountain valleys. I love the twisties, the sudden majestic monoliths and prospects.


2276 :

Except for the guy in the orange pickup (Nevada Plates), we were blessed, all the way home, with mostly empty roads and agreeable sight-seers. We found a good lasagna for lunch at Viney's Italian Kitchen in Sonora, and then headed along Highway 49 to the town of San Andreas – no relation to the fault. Thence through the foothills to Lodi and out across the broad Delta plain through Rio Vista, where the dashboard thermometer told us it was 104° – maybe let's not stay here?

Over the Sacramento at Rio Vista, the opposing traffic was backed up for miles, but miraculously we were heated the right direction. Even when we got to the Napa Valley and saw that Highway 29 was moving well in our northbound direction, we began thinking that we could make it home.

2277 :

But not without the obligatory stop, if it's mealtime, at Catelli's, a fourth generation family run Italian place in Geyserville that is one of our favorite eating places. Domenica, the impressaria of the place, found us an indoor table despite the crowded dining room – it was still in the high 90s outdoors. We shared a superb Caesar and penne with Domenica's secret spicy red sauce, and then hit the home stretch, the familiar bit of US 101 freeway to Cloverdale and back to our windy through-the-Redwoods “driveway” northwestward toward home. Sometimes called “the Yuppie Conveyer Belt” because on holidays the traffic from Marin and San Francisco is heavy, the drivers tend not to think of themselves as “slow moving” even if they are in front of someone who knows the tricky road ... but we were bent on returning home before sunset, and somehow the vehicles in front of us seemed to coincide with rare passing lanes.

<p>Penne with Domenica’s Sauce</p>

Penne with Domenica’s Sauce

2278 :

Good to be Home

A final brag about our little Prius Prime: with all the mountain driving, I expected worse mileage, but what goes up (from sea level) must come down, and regenerative braking is a gift. And after the heat of the Valley, our pleasant coastal 61° felt really good. 

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