The area north of Bishop and close to Mammoth Mountains is called Long Valley. About 760,000 yrs ago the Long Valley Caldera was created by a blast 2,500 times bigger than Mount St. Helens. The eruption deposited ash as far east as Nebraska
. It created a huge oval shaped depression (caldera) 20 miles long by 10 miles wide. Hot springs, fumaroles and mud pots also attest to a geologically active area (like Yellowstone National Park).
The Sierra Nevada mountain range to our left with sharp peaks and this valley we are traveling in was formed by glaciers. In some areas the moraine is clearly visible and you just need to watch for it. It is the ridges of rock, debris & sediment that was crushed & bulldozed downhill as the river of ice flowed, then is left behind as the glacier recedes.
Passing by Mono Lake there we saw some hoodoos
visible from the road. These ghostly spires are created by the alkaline lake. If you take time to stop, there are more impressive structures to be seen. Also the lake takes on beautiful hues of blue and green. The green is the algae that grows in this body of water that feeds the brine shrimp.
If you would like to learn more about this volcanic area of California here are a couples links: Visit Long Caldera Valley
and Visit California Volcanic Field.
There are several old cities along Hwy 395 that began as mining camps and grew into major cities. They all have lovely old courthouses of the late 1800’s. Then we began to follow along the Walker River, as highways often followed along river banks. In this verdant Walker River Valley there were farms & ranches, and beautiful Topaz Lake.
We stopped for lunch in Gardnerville, just across the Nevada border at Sharkey’s Casino. This was recommended by friends, and is a quaint old place with personality and good food.
As Larry drove, he could feel the winds building as we closed in on Reno. Then we started to see warning signs saying there are high winds ahead on US-395-A NB and I-580 NB and saying that high profile vehicles and trucks with trailers must exit. Great – how are we going to get to Reno?
So we pulled off at the exit indicated and while Larry got out to ask a local about the road, one of our two GPS units rerouted us around Washoe Lake (in front of us) to the East. Then we saw another RV going that direction, so decided to follow suit, only he turned into a campground on the lake just up ahead on the road. So we kept driving, calling this “an adventure”
, and low & behold it brought us into Reno.
The story we heard later is that they built a very high bridge connecting I-580 & US-395 right in the path of winds that whip down the deep gorge between the mountains. There are constant high winds in that area, and constant wind warnings now. I just wish their warning signs were more clear about what to expect, like saying, “take this alternate road around the lake to Reno”.
We settled into the RV park of the Grand Sierra Casino on the banks of the Truckee River, and headed over to visit with Larry’s Navy buddy Rick & his wife Kathy. Last year when we were in Nevada City heading north on California Hwy 49 (Gold Country) they drove 80 miles from Reno to visit with us in our campground.
We met and played with their dog, Ziggy, who is a lot of fun and a little strange looking since he is Lab and Basset Hound mix – imagine a Black Lab with really short stubby legs and long ears.
We had a fun visit and a great dinner at their favorite sports bar. They drove us around town, and up on the hills to get an overview of Reno. Just below the scenic overlook was a large ranch that they said belonged to the Harrah’s family (of Harrah’s Casinos). It was quite a compound.