Northern California Road Trip (Day One)

I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately. Not quite sure what to do with my time, and not quite sure when my summer break should turn into starting a career (as I just graduated college). So I asked myself what makes me happy, and I found my answer to be adventure and Jesus.

What I’m doing:

So I checked the budget, checked the time, and decided on a road trip. The only problem: I’ve got to go it alone. Now mind you, my top choice destinations are all National Parks, so even though I’m introverted and alone time isn’t a big deal to me, being in the wilderness by myself is a bit different. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of experience with hiking, camping, and traveling (this is a travel blog after all). It’s just that usually someone else is there to take turns driving, help me start the campfire, and chat with. Now it’s just me.

I know that this is intimidating for a lot of people, and to be honest I’m really not sure it’s for me either. But I’ve got places I want to see and I can’t wait around for the perfect person to go with… or else there’s a good chance I might never see these places. So I’m doing it. Plus I’ve day-dreamt about doing solo travel, so this is my test run. They say that the hardest part about putting your dreams into action is starting, so this is my start to see if I can actually enjoy some solo adventuring.

Road trip day one:

Today was mostly a driving day, which I why I’m mostly just introducing what I’m doing, but I did stop at Mono Lake. It took me six hours to get there, which felt like forever! I’m glad that I planned this stop in though, because I always say that I’m going to stop here eventually but then never do because I’m in a rush or I’m too into the driving groove.

History highlight of Mono Lake:

Mono lake is a million-year-old body of water that is surrounded by natural statues called tufa towers. These strange towers are formed under the water’s surface when carbonates combine with calcium from freshwater springs. Overtime they formed the structures we can see today since the water level has dropped. The salt water here is much denser than normal seawater, so if you take a dip it’s supposed to create an incredible buoyant feeling.

My experience:

I went to South Tufa to be specific because of all the online reviews that said I would find great structures there… and it’s true! They’re so close and so cool! They look like the giant version of when you make piles of wet sand at the beach.

This area has a visitor’s fee of 3$ by the way. The walk from the parking lot to the lake takes four minutes. Yet only two minutes to see the tufa towers. So it’s very accessible. I’d say that I spent a maybe 15 minutes wandering around the area and taking pictures. It’s not a day trip by any means but definitely a nice stop to break up a drive.

Tonight’s camp spot:

So I’m dumb (first mistake of road trip) and came way too late to find a campsite. My goal was to camp in Aspen Campground, which is just about 10 miles outside of the East Yosemite entrance (near Tuolumne meadows). But to my shocked and tired and frustrated self: all the campsites were full. So I parked in a parking lot inside the campground property, and crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t get kicked out by a ranger. I was super nervous about that though, but since I’m writing this later I can say that all turned out fine and well and I got some sleep! I woke up with the sun (6am) and had a nice breakfast by the creek before heading off to Tuolumne Meadows!

 

Have you been to Mono Lake before? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments below!

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