The Whoa Nellie Deli in Lee Vining, overlooking Mono Lake, was a great place to stop for a late lunch -- it features live music, beer and wine, an eclectic menu and a full-service gas station.
|My day's journey began in Arnold (A), ran through Yosemite and the Tioga Pass (B) to Mono Lake and ended up at a Motel 6 in Bishop (C). Click the map for a larger image.|
Half Dome seen from the north, poking up above Yosemite Valley.
|At an overlook, visitors examine a bronze model of the surrounding mountains, including Half Dome.|
|A couple of fishermen try their luck at Tenaya Lake on the road through Yosemite to Tuolumne Meadows and Tioga Pass.|
|There is a beach at Tioga Lake in the Yosemite high country where you can catch some rays at the timber line, 9,000+ feet.|
|At this point, the Tioga Pass Road becomes the Great Sierra Wagon Road which winds its way down to Lee Vining and Mono Lake.|
(Eventually, after complaining to Motel 6 HQ, I got a letter of apology that offered me a 10 percent discount the next time I stay at the Bishop Motel 6. Yeah, ... right.)
We know about Manzanar in Hawaii, since the interning of Japanese Americans during World War II in what amounted to concentration camps was a big issue in the 50th state, too. Many Hawaii families still remember having friends and relatives put in camps, even as the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, composed almost entirely of American volunteer soldiers of Japanese descent, fought with distinction in Italy, southern France and Germany and became the most decorated infantry regiment in the history of the United States Army.
|The first sign of the Manzanar concentration camp one sees from US 395 is this replica of one of eight watchtowers that were equipped with searchlights and machine guns pointed inward at the prisoners. The replica was built in 2005.|
|The barracks at Manzanar, seen in 1942, when more than 10,000 Japanese were imprisoned in the camp.|
|Today, two replica barracks are among the few structures at the national historic site. They are sheathed in black tar paper like the originals.|
|Except for the replica barracks, an auditorium and two sentry posts, all other buildings and areas that served the 11,000 residents are marked by simple signs. The only signs of life during my visit were jackrabbits.|
|The Manzanar camp cemetery includes a monument built by one of the prisoners 1943. The inscription reads "Soul Consoling Tower." 15 prisoners were interred at the cemetery, but just five graves remain as the others were relocated.|
|Visitors have left strings of paper cranes on this forked post, the monument and gravestones to honor those who died relocated far from home.|
Death Valley wasn't as I pictured it. I suppose I had visions of the Sahara but found instead a lunar landscape -- gigantic, dark, ever-descending. I thought I was well into the valley when I passed a sign that said I was still 2,000 feet above sea level.
By the time I reached the junction of Hwy. 190 and Scotty's Castle Road, it was only 8:30 a.m., but the temperature already had reached 100 degrees and I had to choose between visiting Scotty's Castle or Furnace Creek, population 24, elevation minus 190 feet. Friends had told me Scotty's Castle was the highlight of their visits, so I turned north, stopped at the castle, which wasn't open yet, took a few photos and headed for Las Vegas.
|Descending into Death Valley, this was the view from the road at about 2,000 feet above sea level.|
|Click the photo for a larger view of the road leading into Death Valley. At 7:30 a.m., the temperature was already approaching 100 degrees.|
|Here at sea level, there were giant sand dunes -- an unusual feature. Most of the valley was gravel dotted with mesquite.|
Cycle Gear agreed to mount the tire on the rim if I took the wheel off the bike and reinstall it. I got there about 9:30 a.m. when there was still some shade on the walkway in front of the store. I had the wheel off in five minutes and 40 minutes later I had the wheel back with the new tire. Then the fun began.
Reinstalling the rear wheel was one of those jobs that's a thousand times easier if you only had a third hand. As the sun climbed higher and the shade disappeared, I struggled with the brake rotor, spacers, chain, sprocket, etc., trying to get the cumbersome wheel into position with all the pieces in the correct position so I could slip the axle through. Eventually, dripping with sweat and covered in grease and chain lube, I got it and headed back to Southpoint as the thermometer crested at 114 degrees.
A few days later, with the V-Strom tucked away, I was well-rested and over-fed and caught the shuttle from Southpoint to the airport and the flight home. It was time to reconnect with home -- and think about the next ride.