Friday 28 July 2017
Day Three - Bishop to Virgina City via Walker and the US-395 - 186 miles
This post comes from the impossibly photogenic Virginia City, up in the mountains of north Nevada ... so, how did I get here?
I left Bishop - after an enormous plate sized pastry at Erick Schat's Dutch Bakery - without expecting much from US-395. The aim of the day was to get north, so I could pick up the 'Loneliest Road', US-50.
Yet again, California conspired to confound me. It threw me a continual, relentless display of the best of the American countryside. Views, vistas, landscapes, one after another.
US-395 might have looked flat on my map, but because it hugs the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada range, it's actually a set of plateaus, separated by ridges.
This gives the effect of a slow motion roller coaster, never knowing what will appear at the top of the next ridge. We'd climb and climb, sometimes as high as 8,000ft, then the next landscape would appear. Sometimes a pine forest, sometimes a shimmering lake, sometimes a bright green alpine meadows dotted with black cows.
By this point, mother nature had tired of showing off and let the humans take over. I crossed the border into Nevada and the dusty suburbs of Carson City. The snow topped peaks of the Sierra Nevada receded into the distance as I climbed up into the yellow hills heading towards Virginia City.
It's a major tourist attraction now. The buildings may say 'hotel', 'fire station' or 'general store', but like Disneyland all the shops are the same within - each selling cowboy gear, salt taffy, armadillos-with-bottles, sepia photos of you and your family, Christmas decorations and Indian jewellery. Unlike Bishop, you couldn't live here - there's no deli, no stores, no book shops or suppliers of household goods. Unless you can live off taffy and beer of course ...
After a enjoyable light and tasty Mexican meal, I yet again find myself preparing for the next day's drive. Another major stage of the trip is behind me - I've left California and the US-395 behind me. Now I have a five hour drive across almost nothing ahead of me, on the Loneliest Road, the emptiest, least populated road in America. I can't wait!