One of the things I love most about photography is finding new and unexpected places to visit. When you think of parks to visit while in California, the places that come easily to mind are Yosemite, Sequoia and Death Valley. Those places are awesome for sure and are not to be missed when visiting the Golden State. But, there is another place that doesn’t get much press, at least I hadn’t heard about it. In planning my summer road trip, I discovered Lassen Volcanic National Park and within it a place known as Bumpass Hell. How can one go wrong in a place with “volcanic” in it’s name and a trail to “hell”?
There’s one place I’ve wanted to visit for the longest time, that place is Bodie Ghost Town. Located northeast of Yosemite and just 13 miles off of California’s SR 395, Bodie is a bonafied gold mining ghost town. Waterman S. Body hit paydirt in the hills north of Mono Lake in 1875 when a mine collapsed and revealed a large quanity of gold.
As part of my summer road trip, I spent 24 hours in Yosemite National Park. Although I’ve lived in California pretty much all of my life, this was just my second visit to the park. It’s a shame really. Yosemite is easily one of the most beautiful places on earth. There is nothing quite like coming into Yosemite Valley. You emerge from a long tunnel cut into the mountain to see one of the grandest views on earth. The valley is laid out before you with three of the most iconic landmarks standing tall: Bridalveil Falls, El Capitan and Half Dome.
One of the things I love so much about road trips is that while there is always the destination in mind, there is the journey. The journey itself is just as satisfying as the destination. I have yet to get in my car for a trip and not find anything interesting along the way. Whenever I go somewhere, I always have to tack on a couple of hours to whatever “drive time” is expected. There’s gonna be stops! There’s gonna be U-turns. You just never know what you’ll see out there on the road. Side trips and welcome distractions are everywhere!
On my quest for fall colors on Route 395, the June Lake Loop was at the top of my destinations list. I had been on part of this loop over the summer and just knew it would be a great spot for fall color since the aspens were everywhere along the road. The June Lake Loop, also known as highway 158, loops from US 395 past June Lake, Gull Lake, Silver Lake and Grant Lake before merging back into Route 395. It was still raining as I arrived at a small parking lot along Silver Lake where there was a stand of Aspen Trees and a small trail over looking the lake.
I recently headed out to US Route 395 in search of fall colors in Mono County. It was a horrible, horrible drive. When I left home at 2:30am the lightning storm was just settling down without dropping any rain. I didn’t realize that I was headed into the big storm. The further northeast I drove, the bigger the flashes of lightning. I was storm chasing! Out on the desolate stretch of road, the lightning put on a scary yet beautiful display. I so wanted to find a turn off and get some awesome lightning photos, but decided against it since the strikes (for me) were a little too close for comfort. I almost turned back and went home, but I drove on. Really? What are the chances of being hit by lightning?