Friday, September 21, 2012

Yellowstone Road Trip - Day 23

Our good friend, Ashleigh Brilliant, an extremely creative author of more than 10,000 Pot-Shots, has several that work well for our adventures. Here's one of them (#6941):

Last night the old buzzards took some sunset photos at the historic Tonopah Cemetery, and before leaving this morning Linda took a few more during the early hours. Departure from Tonopah was at 7:25am on Highway 6, headed west.  More straight roads and barren land but it does have a stark kind of beauty. Within an hour we were seeing Nevada's highest point which is Boundary Peak at 13,143 feet and soon crossed over the border into California. But, just before the border there were some really old deserted motels, service stations and restaurants so John had to shoot some photos of them. You know how he really likes old, delapidated things. We passed through the fruit inspection station with no problem, even though we are from California (land of fruits and nuts). We were all set to tell them about the 2 peaches and 2 bananas from Albertson's in Elko, but they just waved us through with “Have a good day, sir.”

 After a very few miles the scenery changed completely and we were in a forested area with rolling hills. Soon we were off Highway 6 at Benton and onto Benton Crossing Road, then Minnow Creek Road then on Highway 395 which took us to a helpful visitor center in the city of Mammoth Lakes. John found his foofy coffee fix in Mammoth Lakes at the Looney Bean Coffee Roasting Company. Fortified with caffeine, we soon found the Devil's Postpile exit off Highway 395. It is not a pleasant drive down into the Devil's Postpile. At least half of the 13 miles or so is one-lane narrow road with signs like..."Downhill traffic must yield to uphill traffic". For you mileage madness contestants it was 13 miles in and 13 miles out. The rest was on foot as we hiked 0.4 miles from the ranger station to where we could see the columnar basalt formations that make up Devil's Postpile. You can see them from both the bottom and the top in the photo gallery.

The postpile was formed from lava that erupted two miles upstream. As the lava cooled it contracted and cracked, forming the columns that were to become known as Devil's Postpile. The symmetrical vertical columns are different geometric shapes. Some are hexagonal, some pentagonal and some rectangular. These  formed because of ideal conditions: the lava cooled slowly and its mineral composition was consistent. Then many years later, a glacier flowed down and overrode the fractured mass of lava. The moving ice carved away one side of the postpile, exposing a sheer wall of columns 60 feet high. Some columns fell down later because of earthquakes and erosion and they are in pieces of the talus on the slope beneath the postpile. Fannie and Linda hiked to the top of the postpile where they saw a cross section of glacially polished columns that look like floor tiles. Some have grooves cut in them by rock-studded glacial ice.

The old buzzards had put Devil's Postpile on their bucket list a couple of years ago after seeing Huell Howser feature it on one of his California Gold TV shows. It is well worth the drive and there are lots of other interesting things in the area as well. You can view the National Park Service site for the Devil's Postpile by clicking here.

Our lodging was about 40 miles up Highway 395 just about 5 miles south of Bridgeport, CA. We are at Virginia Creek Settlement which is a restaurant – motel – campground. You'll enjoy their website by clicking here. Our room in the log cabinesque motel is very nice. It has at least 25 framed photos of cowboys from old TV shows and movies. There's an actual saddle and guitar mounted onto the walls. A lamp is carved out of log and is in the shape of a bear. It goes to a high ceiling in the center or there wouldn't be all this knotty pine wall space. It may sound hokey but it is really quite nice. We have an outside porch out back with a table and chairs and a beautiful view of (and the sound of water flowing from) Virginia Creek.

The campground consists of small basic buildings that have beds inside and various names of westerny things on the outside. There's even an Attornies' office called  "Dewey, Cheatum and Howe". Grills are provided outside for cooking and there's a campground restroom. It looks like a great place for a group campout or a family reunion. There is also a fish hatchery on site where they raise beautiful, healthy trout in a modified tomato bin using re-circulating well water. For more information visit the Bridgeport Fish Enhancement website by clicking here.  It would be a handy place to stay if you are going to Bodie, Yosemite, Mono Lake or Devil's Postpile.

We had dinner in the Virginia Creek Settlement Restaurant. John had the Brinn's Burger and Linda had eggplant parmesan. Both were excellent, as was the service. It was so nice to just be able to walk to dinner.

After dinner Linda took Fannie on a walk and got to feed the trout that are being raised for release into Bridgeport area waters.

And so ends another fulfilling day of travel. We saw new vistas and expanded our vision. And, as usually happens, we both took photos from totally different viewpoints. And, you can view those 66 photos in today's photo gallery by clicking here.

Happy trails!

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