By Daniel Montero
We are on the road this week, in Las Vegas visiting our family (Renee’s mom and sister) and the afterward will be driving to San Diego for another family getaway, this time with my siblings and their families.
Due mostly to the storm that blew through Reno last week our plans changed a little and we were able to leave Reno on Sunday morning instead of Monday so we decided to make a 2-day trip out of it and to take a new route to Las Vegas, down 395 along the Sierra Front to Big Pine where we cut across the south end of the White Mountains, through Deep Spring Valley. Our first stop, a quick one, was a little north though. Passing through Bridgeport we stopped at Travertine, just off the highway for a quick break. It was busy, but we got a pool to ourselves and had a nice little soak.
We drove farther south, past Mammoth and down into the Owens Valley, down to Big Pine, and then east into the Whites. We’ve always had a real love affair with the Whites, and Coco and I had been down to this south side way back in 2006 or so, but Renee hadn’t been this wa, so it felt very new. The day starting to slow down we decided to try to find a nice, Prius friendly place along the road to the Ancient Bristlecone National Forest. The whole thing being impromptu, we hadn’t really thought about how fantastic this would be, but when it presented itself we certainly did jump to the opportunity. We drove a few miles up the road and then, just about to lose the sun on these ultra short days, we found a nice little undeveloped spot easily Prius accessible but off of the road a bit on a still sun-bathed ridge and with a nice little rocky outcrop just across a well-space juniper and piñon forestland. We scrambled up the hill for to the rocky outcrop for the last light on the Sierras and were treated to an amazing show while we did the Larry and generally raised a ruckus of being alive and in the world.
In the morning we decided to try to venture up higher toward the bristlecones. We’d been listening to a Louis L’Amour novel, The Quick and the Dead, as a sort of western reminder of my early reading list and for the tone and cadence of another Western project I’ve got boiling and we joked and laugh about a pretty corny line in the novel about being at “1o,000 feet!” We stopped at an overlook with the morning light just bathing the whole sierras and scampered and played. We wished my sister-in-law happy birthday via a video greeting. There had been a bit of ice and we were just a little bit concerned about the road up higher. And with somewhat good reason, in the deepest of the north shadows there was thick ice but the Prius took it like a champ and then we were out at the Shulman Grove Visitor Center, closed for the winter, but there all around us, young and old, we were among the ancients. In the quiet morning (we had it to ourselves for most of the time we were there) it was so easy to get lost in them, for me to learn more about them, for me to want to learn even more about them, but mainly just to respect life and our momentary little piece of it, just a slender breath, a whisper of the rings of even the young ancients. We were all touched by it, so of course we played as hard as we could, doing the Larry, hugging trees, attempting some elephant calls, and just really luxuriating in life.
But then onward, to family to dinner to, to slow-cooked tortilla soup and the next day Renee’s mom took us to her new haunts, the Las Vegas Wash.
A different experience, a different landscape, but no less wonder at life. We saw road runners! We saw cormorants, we saw great blue herons, we saw lots of wild fowl down in the wash and we got to enjoy it with our family. A great day!
I’m writing on the deck of Renee’s mom’s condo and today we are exploring on our own.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
This blog is dedicated to stories and ideas from our explorations. We hope you enjoy!
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