After finishing up with helping crew Jeanni’s crazy race and hanging with a few of the SB peeps, we went on a little adventure of our own…
We rented a compact car to drive from SLC to Fresno, and we decided that it would be fine for a few days even though it had very little trunk space. Then we drove across UT on US-50, lost cell coverage almost as soon as we left I-15 (win), had difficulty finding any place serving dinner on a Sunday (forgot we were in Mormon-ville), and stayed in a motel just across the NV border, aptly named the Border Inn. It was cheap and sufficiently nice for an evening’s stay.
Luckily they had a restaurant since there was nothing else around. At breakfast Ali and I had an argument regarding if the guy across the room was talking on a satellite phone. Ali won, but it turns out that he was a helicopter pilot and it is normal for helicopter pilots to have sat-phones and to land in random parking lots to get a bite for breakfast. From there we drove into Great Basin National Park. It was really cool to see the flora change as you go up in elevation from the salt flats, to sagebrush, to pinion-juniper forests, to mixed-conifer Forrest, to alpine (we did not see the bristlecone forest between these last two zones, as that required a hike). The park also has some very nice caves with lots of cool formations that we toured.
We tried picking some pine nuts… we pulled two nuts out of a cone and when we pulled the two apart a big ol’ larva popped out. This, and the excessive amounts of sap involved, cured Ali of wanting to taste a wild pine nut! This park definitely deserves more than a four-hour visit, but that is all the time we had because we had many miles left to drive. We definitely want to go back and explore a bit.
Because it sounded like Ali’s type of road, with a destination of South Lake Tahoe, we continued across NV on US-50, which has been named “the loneliness road in America.” Again, we spent nearly the entire day without cell coverage (win), ate some tasty Thai food (thanks to Kelly’s recommendation), and spent the night in another budget hotel. We woke up, had some breakfast, loaded the packs, found an overpriced quart of white gas, and headed off for the woods.
We backpacked for three days in the Desolation Wilderness and had a wonderful time, except that we were plagued with the worst collective gas that our marriage (or probably any marriage) has ever experienced. I am not sure what we ate that caused this issue, but I couldn’t even cut a silent one ten feet ahead of her while hiking without receiving commentary. “Donkey, if that was me, you’d be dead!” and “my mouth was open and everything!” were quoted excessively. We hiked to Aloha Lake from the trailhead at Lily Lake the first day, which included a nice climb up an “unmaintained” trail (it was really not that bad) that got nearly all of our climbing for the trip out of the way in the first two miles.
We camped at Lake Le Conte the first night and Jeramy woke up for a beautiful sunrise while Ali chose to stay in her sleeping bag.
We got up and hiked to Lake Gilmore for our second night. Luckily the eye-searing fumes had mostly dissipated by bedtime. After waking up early to another beautiful alpine sunrise, we hurried down the mountain to get back to the car and drive to Fresno. In an effort to get to Megan’s place in Fresno a bit earlier, we changed the route to go over Sonora Pass instead of over Tioga pass and through Yosemite. This was definitely a good change. There was a sign at the beginning, “26% grade ahead,” which would get any biker excited. This steep, windy route is an absolutely beautiful drive if you ever have the chance.
We stayed at Megan’s for the night, met her special-needs yellow lab (when he gets excited his heart shorts out, his brain gets no oxygen, his eyes bulge out, and gets a goofy grin until he calms down and his heart returns to normal), and headed to Berkeley for Steve And Zoe’s wedding. They had a short ceremony centered around touching vows that they wrote for each other. The reception activities included mainly shenanigans. We got to hang out with ~15 of our friends from Ft. Fun and had a blast catching up with people we had not seen in a while. The bride and groom encouraged garden party attire which gave the Zimms a chance to get all fancied up. I purchased a seersucker suit to look a little more southern gent and Ali’s mom found her a dress made in the 1920s! The wedding had awesome food: a taco truck, a steamed bun truck, and cupcakes. Yummm!
Sunday’s arrival meant that we needed to fly home and pick the doggies up from their vacation, living with four grad students for 11 days (Austin looks fat!). It was wonderful to see the pups, but it was sad that our vacation had to end—it was a great vacation filled with quality time and a wonderful lack of internet connectivity!