I love car trips and we've done a lot of them. Today, I enjoyed driving through beautiful scenery so much I often forgot that we don't live in Berkeley anymore. That idea still isn't real to me. I wonder how long before I'll feel that home is someplace other than Berkeley?
Except for the dogs, this trip almost feels like a vacation. We never took the dogs with us before, and they sure do slow things down. You can't leave them in a car when its 108 degrees outside, and you can't take them into a restaurant when you stop for a meal. So at every stop, one of us has to babysit them under whatever shade we can find for them. Thankfully, many motels welcome dogs these days. And one kindly restaurant owner in North Lake Tahoe let them hang out under our patio table for lunch yesterday.
It reached 108 degrees today as we drove from Mono Lake to Las Vegas. Even in the shade, the heat was astonishing. But the scenery amazed us at every turn. Clouds trailed purple shadows across a landscape stretching endlessly in every direction. Pictures would never catch all of it, and we took very few of them.
The economy has not been good here. Whole towns are boarded up, and Mono Lake Tufa Reserve is among the 220 State Parks that Governor Schwartzenegger threatened to close in 2010. One article at Examiner.com suggests that the state parks might be saved by a new tax on car registrations. I hope somebody comes up with a reasonable plan because I can't imagine what the people of Lee Vining will do if the state closes the park at Mono Lake. I worry that some towns would not recover at all if the hard times should persist too long.
Things looked even sadder as we headed east across Nevada. Shuttered motels, barns, and gas stations lined the highway. The weather and the landscape chews up all the empty businesses eventually, but what happens to the people? Have they found a way to keep going or a better place to go? I sincerely hope they're fairing well somewhere.
Tonight, we're in Las Vegas. Maybe this is where the ghost towns sent their people? Sad thought. I volunteered to babysit the dogs while Mick and Leo go exploring the town because I am just not in the mood for 'Sin City' tonight.