Tues 16 Sept – Griffith Observatory and Driving inland

I was up and out relatively early today, and out to Griffith Observatory.   It’s an art deco (?) building high up on the hill in a park.

You get a  good view of the Hollywood sign from there, plus amazing views right out over LA.

The building itself doesn’t open till noon on Tuesdays, which I didn’t wait around for.  But I was mainly there for the architecture and the views, and to take some photos.

Stunning place, and I probably would have stayed longer and maybe had a look inside, but in the ridiculous heatwave that LA has had the last couple of days meant that according to the car thermometer it was already 107F (almost 42C) at 10:30am.  Despite the fact that I was wearing a hat, on Bertha and therefore not walking, and drinking heaps of water (over 1L in less than an hour) I quickly started feeling the early symptoms of heatstroke so I beat a retreat to the car aircon and got on my way inland!  Click for my route for today (ignore the grey lines, the blue one is the one I took)

 Thankfully the traffic wasn’t too bad and it didn’t take me long to get out of town (I was already on the right side of LA to start with, so that helped).  Unlike yesterday when I criss-crossed the place today’s itinerary was a little more efficient.  And the good roads here really do help – the maintenance often isn’t great, but they built them well, with plenty of capacity, good cambers, wide lanes, etc.

 I stopped for a break in Palmdale, which I thought was a little pipsqueak place but turned out to be pretty big, with multiple huge shopping malls.  I did the last of my shopping there – I needed a paper map (can’t rely on Google everywhere, much as coverage is pretty good these days) and a few other things.

After that I had to decide – do I go to Death Valley or not?  Given that I’d just nearly cooked myself in LA, and that it’d mean at least a 200 mile (320km) detour off my route, I decided against.  Most of my trip is pretty relaxed but I’ve got a deadline to meet in Yosemite on Friday – I’ve got a full day photography lesson booked.  So I headed on up the highway.

An hour or so later I came around the bend to see this:

The photo really doesn’t do it justice, this huge field of wind turbines just kept going left and right, and way up and over more hills to the left.  There must have been thousands of them. From some googling I think it’s Tehachapi Pass Wind Farm.

California geology is made up of a series of mountain ranges all running parallel to the coast – I’m guessing they’ve all been created by the Pacific tectonic plate diving under the America plate (ie the San Andreas fault and others).  But it means that as you go West to East you go over mountains, through valleys, then over the next set of mountains.  Each valley is a little dryer than the last, as each mountain range stops more rain from reaching inland.  The main one (Central Valley) is east of the Sierras and grows a majority of the USA’s fruit and veggies.  I’m passing that one by right now and heading for the one behind the Sierras, which is pretty dry (especially now with the drought they’ve got here).

So once I’d passed those turbines I turned North, going through a valley with mountains on either side.  At sunset I had this on the left (Appalachian hills with Sierra Mountains behind).

And this on my right (not sure what it’s called but it’s the next mountains over).

Believe it or not this place was called Lone Pine – a name with totally different connotations for us Australians.  And co-incidentally, as I pulled up to take some photos, I got an email from  Bill )my photography teacher for Friday) who was wondering how my trip was going, and that I should stop at Lone Pine to take some photos!

Pretty spectacular stuff!  Once past that I started thinking about where I was going to sleep.  My next objective tomorrow is Mono Lake and Bodie (a ghost town), just up the road a bit.  But I need to find somewhere to sleep first.  Mobile internet to the rescue again (once I found some wifi at a McDonalds) – hotel all booked at Mammoth Lakes.  Job (almost) done – another 90 mins up the road and I can get some sleep!