I refreshed the maps in the navigation system . . .
. . . packed up the Xterra . . .
. . . activated the speech-recognition and turn-by-turn direction features of the navigation system . . .
. . . and we hit the road.
Our first stop was the visitor center at the Rio Tinto US Borax mine outside of the town of Boron, California. A giant hole in the ground (California's largest open pit mine) can actually be quite interesting. The open pit is over two miles long, and even with my ultra-wide lens I could not get all of it in the frame.
They don't use the Twenty Mule Team rigs to move the borax these days, now it's giant haul trucks with 12' foot high tires.
I had to do it, the sign did say it was a "selfie station".
Later we stopped at Fossil Falls to check out the rather interesting geology. This geological feature was formed 20,000 to 10,000 years ago, when melting glaciers in the Sierra Nevada range flowed down over and eroded a basaltic lava flow from a nearby volcano.
We stayed at the Dow Villa Motel, which was built in 1957 alongside the older (1923) Dow Hotel. The rooms have been modernized, and this is probably the best hotel in the area, and very nice. It's also very well located, walking distance from several very good restaurants including Seasons, the Merry Go Round, The Grill, and the Alabama Hills Cafe, all of which we can recommend.
It was a little on the cool side (almost raining actually) on Tuesday morning, and our first stop was the Alabama Hills for some wandering and hiking in the rock formations. Film production companies have been filming here since the 1929's, and many famous movies and TV shows were filmed here, including The Lone Ranger, Gunga Din, Tremors, Star Trek Generations, Iron Man, and countless Westerns.
The Alabama Hills today are at about 4,500' elevation, and close to the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. On Tuesday when we were there the Sierras and the Inyos were pretty much covered in clouds and mist.
From what I hear you can frame a view of Mt. Whitney in this arch, which would make for a pretty cool picture. Not on the day we were there. It's somewhere in that direction, under the cloud cover.
Eventually the clouds started to break up, and the Sierra Nevada Mountains came into view, more or less.
We decided that was a good sign that it was time to get back in the Xterra and head up to Whitney Portal to check out the trailhead to Mt. Whitney. As we climbed in elevation the clouds came back.
Continued in Part 2.
This blog post is in five parts. Click on Older Posts at the bottom right side of the page if they don't all show up. There are links to galleries with more photos in the last post.