I love road trips.
The anticipation of arriving at your planned destination, the unanticipated challenges when faced with road detours and weather delays, all tied in with the pleasant surprises one sees along the way make for great memories once the trip ends.
At least in my book.
My family and I recently took an out-of-town road trip for the three day weekend to Northern California’s High Sierras for some family time and guaranteed snow play enjoyment (8 feet of fresh snow!). Along the way, we saw interesting things.
Although Los Angeleans are known to drive past the legal 55-to-65 mile per hour speed to keep up with the fast pace of freeway traffic, it was good to see that driving at 70 miles per hour was alright once we moved past the City Limits.
Then there was this sight:
“Are we there yet?” asked my daughter. “I can see snow!”
At this point of our anticipated five-hour road trip, we were only one hour into it. The snow apparently fell upon the Antelope Valley and Frazier Park areas. It was a tease, yet it was a beautiful sight to see. Could this be why the fields of poppies bloom on schedule during the late spring every year? Maybe.
I was unaware that wind energy was being utilized here. It certainly made for an interesting conversation with the hubby and kids. Why are they there? Where does the energy go? Did giants build these windmills? Do they always move?
As Highway 14 began to veer east at the 58/14 split nearby the town of Mojave, we were soon greeted to this interesting site:
I first heard about the Airplane Graveyard in the Mojave Desert when I was up late one night years ago watching television. Model and actress Brooke Burke was being filmed during her photo shoot for an annual wall calendar, and these magnificent airplanes were prominently used during this location photo shoot. It was interesting to see these airplanes unexpectedly while passing through many years later.
A quick internet search confirmed that the Mojave Airport is not open to the public for people to climb in and out of the airplanes to take photos (lucky you, Brooke Burke, for being able to come close to these older planes). However, the venue does host monthly “Plane Crazy Saturdays” wherein the folks at Mojave Air and Spaceport open their doors to the public for informational gatherings about the facility and Mojave Desert in general, followed by limited day access (between 10a.m. – 2p.m.) to some of parts of the airport itself.
I’ll have to make a mental note to plan a day trip for this event sometime this year.
We later noticed this mirage… or is it a mirage?
Beacon Solar Energy Plant is what this shiny thing is. Apparently it is USA’s first large-scale solar thermal power plant built within the last twenty years.
I was torn about this. For one, it was great that the State made efforts to explore alternative energy for us. However, I was worried that my kiddies will never be able to explore the Mojave Desert in its unencumbered, natural beauty.
That worry soon dissipated when I saw that portions of the Mojave Desert was designated as a state park, Red Rock Canyon State Park, to be exact:
Two hours into our road trip, we finally entered the gateway to the Eastern Sierra Scenic Drive. We decided to make a pit stop at the Coso Junction Rest Area off the 395. This Rest Area deserves honorable mention because of its clean restroom facilities, ample picnic dining areas and lots of free information about the general area (plants, points of interests, etc.). While my husband and I admired the beautiful mountaintops, our children marveled at this strange blue box with a telephone inside it.
“Can I call you on your cell phone with it?” asked our son. Another noteworthy conversation, indeed.
It took another hour of travel time before we reached the Manzanar Historic Site, one of my planned stops during this trip. You can read more about my Manzanar experience here.
I was hoping to reach Mammoth before sundown to refill our gas and to squeeze in a short touristy visit but alas, I underestimated the duration of our road trip. Bishop became our new destination place for filling our gas tank before our last hour drive to June Lake before sundown. Of course, we had to stop at Erick Shat’s Bakkery!
“No pictures, please, Ma’am.”
Ok, well this humorous photo will have to do.
Soon we found ourselves skidding off the roads around the Mammoth Mountain area. Time to put on our tire chains.
“Can we check out the snow now?”
“Sure, but come back when we lose light.”
We finally arrived at our destination of June Lake an hour later than anticipated, but after driving 25 miles per hour using tire chains to drive through icy roads, we considered ourselves grateful for being healthy, safe and alive!
While the highlight of our trip was indeed our experiences at June Lake/June Mountain (read more about it here), we really did enjoy the scenic drive to get there. There was so much to see, so much to do and so much to talk about. I definitely recommend the drive.
Antelope Valley Wind Turbines (Wind Energy by Element Power and NextEra)
Located West of Mojave in the Tehachapi Mountains, near the
Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve
15101 Lancaster Road
Mojave Air & Space Port
1434 Flight Line
Mojave, CA 93501
Virtual Airport Tour: http://tour.mojaveairport.com/
Plane Crazy Saturday Events (Tours of Main Flightline only): http://www.mojavemuseum.org/events.html
Beacon Solar Energy Plant
California City, CA
Red Rock Canyon State Park
25 miles northeast of Mojave on Highway 14
Cantil, CA 93519
Mojave Sector Office: 661-946-6092
Coso Junction Rest Area #47
US 395 (17 miles South of Jct. Rte. 395/190)
Inyo County, CA
GPS Location: -117.94637 / 36.04327
Erick Schat’s Bakkery
763 North Main Street
Bishop, CA 93514
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