We didn’t sleep well last night due to the uncomfortable warmth. I woke up, and actually GOT up, at 6:30 AM. In a hurry to go north (up US 395) before the temperature managed to get into the triple digits, we left the RV park at 7:45 AM where the temperature was already 82 degrees.
For the first couple of hundred miles the geography was much like it had been the day before. Nothing but desert, stunted scrub brush, rocks, and heat. We crossed through a portion of the Mojave Desert and into Owens Valley. Just north of Lone Pine, CA we passed by Manzanar National Historic Site, a concentration camp where Japanese Americans were imprisoned during WWII. The heat must have been horrible in the wood and tarpaper barracks buildings. Lone Pine is also noted as an access for both the highest point in the lower 48 states, Mount Whitney at 14,505 ft. above sea level, and the lowest point in North America, Death Valley at 282 below sea level.
As we drove north we began a gradual climb that included 4 passes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The first was Sherwin Summit at 7,000 ft., followed by Deadman Summit at 8,036 ft., Conway Summit at 8,138 ft., and then Devil’s Gate Pass at 7,519 ft. In other words, we drove up, over, and down a mountain 4 times. We passed several overheated vehicles that had not been able to make the long, steep grades. We did fine, keeping the engine temperature under control by downshifting to keep the RPMs high enough for the radiator fan to keep the engine from overheating. As a result of driving in 3rd and 4th gears up the mountains, our speed averaged only 48 mph, but we still got a respectable 7.5 mpg.
The air was much cooler at the higher elevations but then we would descend back into the valley and its much hotter temperatures.
We stopped at the Mount Whitney Rest Area/Visitor’s Center and snapped a few photos of the mountain. It was quite impressive.
After 7 hours and 342 miles we decided to stop at the Meadow Cliff RV Park in Coleville, population 495. The elevation of the RV park is 5,200 ft., yet the temperature was 107.5 degrees and the relative humidity was 17% when we arrived at 4:30 PM (Pacific Daylight Time). Now that will dry out your mucous membranes!
We only have another 50 miles to Tahoe but our reservations don’t start until tomorrow and there is a 12-mile climb on U.S. 50 beginning near Carson City, NV at 4,600 ft., climbing over Echo Summit at 7,377 ft. We plan to unhitch the car and drive both the motorhome and car to make sure the motorhome doesn’t overheat. We’ll let you know how it goes.
Lake Tahoe is at an altitude of 6,225 ft. The high temperature forecast for tomorrow is 73 degrees and a low tomorrow night of 41degrees! I can’t wait!