Bend to San Diego – Traveling South On The 395

Upon our return from Southeast Asia we arrived in Bend to a fridge stocked with beer, kombucha and a few groceries to get us through our first day back in the US.  The kindness of our friends was much appreciated!

Our winter adventure wrapped up and we were itching to get back in the RV.  We love the travel, love having our ‘home’ with us and missed many of our nomad friends.  When planning, we decided that 10 days upon return from Southeast Asia to unpack, recover from jet lag and pack up the RV would be plenty of time.   Yeah, we under estimated how much work we had to do.

In reality, we were slammed with RV repairs, rental issues with our Bend home and friends we wanted to see.  Oh and did I mention the shock of going from 85 degree temps to 30 degree temps.  We managed to squeeze in visits with as many friends as possible.  And of course tossed back some yummy local microbrews and local food that we missed (tacos).

Thankfully with all the snow Bend has seen this past winter, the rig survived with no permanent damage.  However, we did have a number of water issues on all the faucets – the kitchen sink was blocked, the bathroom sink was leaking into the cupboard below and the shower had sprouted a pin hole leak in the faucet and the toilet sprayer cracked from not properly winterizing (whoops). We are pretty disappointed with the winterizing fluid we used and think it contributed to the issues.

So between Dave making all the necessary repairs we squeezed in trips to Crux, Boneyard and Deschutes as well as evenings out with friends – pizza parties, coffee dates and happy hours.  We had a blast and the time flew by.

We pulled out of the driveway on April fools day and made it a whopping 2 miles to a friends driveway (thank you Moody’s).  Our house is rented out and we really wanted to get all the way out of there.  So sleeping in the Moody’s driveway was the next best step. We needed a few more hours with Brian and Nancy before we split.  We had a great dinner, tons of fun and the famous ‘Nancy Breakfast’ before we hit the road.

Our goal – Mission Bay, San Diego by April 9th.  We chose the picturesque route down I395.  Beautiful scenery and wonderful out of the way spots.

Our first night out at an empty BLM campground in the Lassen National Forest.  Really wet around some of the sites, but the road was in good shape to get in and out. 

Our second night out in Mono Lake –  pronounced Moan-ahh  (I had no idea that I have been pronouncing it wrong for all these years).  Mono is just outside of Lee Vining a cute little town with access to tons of fun things.  However, the road to the ghost town Bodie was closed. So no visit there.  The famous dinner at the gas station (Whoa Nellie Deli) – which EVERYONE told us not to miss, was also closed.  Tioga Pass (the entry to Yosemite) was also closed as we were too early in the season.  Well at least we figured out where we want to go next time! 

Mono lake is full of funky features called tufa’s as a result of the lakes salinity.  Sad story about how the lake was lowered to give Los Angeles water and has never been fully replenished.  As a a result the lake is very salty, and many of the tufa’s have been exposed.The alien appearance of this salt lake is fun to see!  

From there we stopped in Bishop and enjoyed just about the best Burgers I have ever had! Thank you Burger Barn. You will think your GPS app has deceived you, but your nose will say, ‘wait I smell burgers’.  It is the most unusual setup with a drive through right through the place – literally.  And if you are an electrician with OCD, you probably won’t be able to handle it.  But believe me when I say the reports are true – simply amazing food!

Next stop, Alabama Hills tucked under the shadow of Mt. Whitney (the highest peak in the US at 14,505 feet) we loved the alien landscape.  We drove and hiked the area and visited the movie locations and several natural arches.  Over 400 movies have been shot there and many of the formations we hiked looked vaguely familiar from The Lone Ranger, Star Trek to Iron Man and Gladiator. Unfortunately we didn’t see any of Tribbles. 

We also made visit to Manzanar National Historic Site, one of the 10 concentration camps for Japanese Americans from 1942 – 1945. I so hope we learn from history and strongly recommend everyone make a visit here.

Sadly the portal to Mt. Whitney was closed due to a land slide.  So we looked at Whitney, but never got close.  Darn, I guess we will have to push off the summit until another time.

The weather continued to chase us with unbelievable winds coming through the area.  At one point I wondered if the top of the RV would peel off or it would blow over. The 395 was shut down and semis were blown off the road! 

Daybreak brought a slight break in the winds and we shot down the road to try and get away from the weather.  Next stop – San Diego sunshine please!

I395 is filled with exciting places to visit.  There is much to explore and now I feel like we have a great plan for our next visit (which will be later in the year so we can avoid all the early season closures).

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