Today’s primary mission was to make miles, to support sightseeing ambitions of yesterday and tomorrow. I started with breakfast across the highway in Big Sur at the Roadhouse, where the furniture was great and the food good enough. The rain started just as I finished strapping down my luggage, and would persist all day.
“Forgive me father, for I have backtracked.”
I took Carmel Valley Road east, having no trouble with the numerous name changes by following good advice to just keep keeping on county road G16, dumping out on the 101 at Greenfield. At San Lucas, I exited east on the 198 to Coalinga, then the 33 to Black Wells Canyon, and east on 46. Driving through the seemingly endless groves of pistachio and almond trees was geometrically mesmerizing, and I passed a massive pistachio factory which was larger and more populous than several towns on my route. The area around Lost Hills featured an armageddon-like field of oil pumpjacks (Alberta, your pumpjacks are just scenic), the favela of Lost Hills itself, and as a cherry on top, an Interstate plaza. I kept east on 46 under the I-5 crossing, then south on 99 towards “Bakersfield, Next 12 Exits.” Happy to report that Bakersfield and environs still lives up (impressively) to my memory of it from a 2007 work trip as the undisputed armpit of the USA.
At the top of the river, I found gas in Lake Isabella. Connecting loose dots of street and business names, I’ll guess Lake Isabella is a manmade lake with a dam and much tourist fishing. The 178 took me up across Walker Pass (elevation 5,250 ft; temperature +1.0 C), and as dusk began, I glided out the unusually long, gradual descent down the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains, gauging the severity of the occasional small uphills and imagining an hour-long coast on a bicycle.
To wrap the day, I shot the crosswindy 14 up to the continuation of 178-E, and got off the road at the unlikely town of Inyokern, which seems from the dusky runway lights to have a massively disproportionately large airport for a place that TripAdvisor doesn’t even say has a hotel.
Day total: 589 km, 7h30m
Trip total: 5,561 km
Start: Big Sur, CA. End: Inyokern, CA.
Soundtrack: Mostly CW.fm (shuffle) again, with bits of silence and Disturbed.