30th Jun 2012 - 1st Jul 2012
Yosemite & Minden
After our full-on day driving and walking around Yosemite Valley, our plan was to spend the next day looking at it from yet another aspect, this time from Tioga Pass Road, which runs roughly parallel to the valley on its northern side.
It was an excellent choice. We left the hotel in Oakhurst around 10:30 and, following a mind-numbing ¾ hour crawl to the park entrance, got on to the Tioga Pass Road. The initial part of this road winds through pine forest offering little in the way of views, but up high where the forest was thinner, we were stopping every few miles for a look at the spectacular scenery. So much so that it took us around four hours to complete the 60 or so miles to the Park exit.
The first part of the journey out of Yosemite is via a very good road that snakes downhill until it reaches Mono Lake. The only thing wrong with it is the miserable speed-limit!
We hadn’t booked anywhere to stay that night, thinking that we’d find somewhere either en-route to, or in, Carson City. We know from experience that, especially in the western States, just because there’s a dot on the map with a name next to it there’s not necessarily an identifiable settlement. There are several dots like this on the obvious route from Yosemite to Carson City, the first being Bridgeport. To our surprise, we found this is actually a town with a population of around 575. It has a few hotels, motels, restaurants and bars and, the day we arrived, a rodeo. We stopped at one of the motels, hoping to find a cheery receptionist looking after a pleasant, clean hostelry, with a pool and patio. The glum creature behind the front desk told us they did indeed have a room available and that it would cost $160 (plus tax). We looked at the stale-smelling room overlooking the tiny car park, said our thanks and left.
We kept going and about 45 minutes later arrived in a little town called Minden. This Minden is about 10 miles south of Nevada’s capital, Carson City and was named after the place in Germany. The Internet’s favourite free encyclopaedia has two things to say about it, the most interesting is that it’s one of the top gliding spots in the world due to the mountain waves that occur over the Sierra Nevada. These air currents cause lenticular clouds, perfect small examples of which we saw in front of us on the way from Yosemite. The other thing of great note? Well apparently it has ‘possessed’ a Post Office since 1906…
Stephanie’s research had already told us there was a Hampton Inn here (schoolboy joke number 392) and we called in to ask if we could be accommodated. We struggled to make ourselves heard over the noise from the wedding party who were encamped in the room next to reception, shouted our thanks and left to see what else was on offer. Just out of earshot (about a mile away), we found the Quality Inn.
Now, in my experience, things which announce themselves as Quality invariably aren’t. However, this place was OK. A friendly, helpful receptionist, showed us a room that differed from those you normally find in American motel room by being double-aspect – which in this case means it not only had a view of the car park, and to be fair, an actual park beyond, as well as the stairs to the second floor.
The included breakfast was what you expect from a cheap motel. You ‘dine’ in the lobby and the receptionist grudgingly replenishes the trough, whilst we dutifully consumed our share of the nation’s corn syrup. To add spice, the first morning we were there the TV was showing a programme about a fearless fire-crew rescuing a racoon, with its head stuck in a plastic bottle, from a tree. I tell you, the excitement never stops!
Today was a day of leisure. Having decided to stay in the middle of nowhere, we thought we should honour it by doing nothing. But you’ve probably already guessed that…