We never intended to spend quite so much time traveling along 395—not that we didn’t want to, but we needed to get to Florida by Thanksgiving, and with only six weeks to make the cross-country trip (and having already burned through a week of that) we didn’t have the luxury of lingering.
But there was one more stop along 395 that we just couldn’t resist—a play date in Lone Pine with friends Pam and John (Oh The Places They Go!), fellow full-timers, avid hikers, and excellent trail companions—we first met up with them last winter in southern Arizona for a hike, and have been plotting to reconnect ever since. An extra added attraction in Lone Pine was getting to see Jodee and Bill (On The Road Abode) again, and meeting up with Sue and Dave (Beluga’s Excellent Adventure) for the first time. Our planned one-night stand in Lone Pine quickly turned into three.
One of my biggest reservations about traveling full-time was leaving behind our community of friends in Ashland. If I could have talked them all into joining up into one big caravan, I would have. (Believe me, I tried.) Alas, none of them were ready to take to the road full-time. But we were, and despite my worries about being lonely on the road, we embarked on our journey. Little did I realize just how rich this gypsy life would turn out to be.
As we’ve traveled full-time over the past two-and-a-half years, we’ve found friendly, interesting, fun loving, adventurous, and generous people along the way. We’ve developed friendships with people who happened to be our next door neighbors for a night or two, striking up conversations that led to happy hour or a hike, and then to planned meet-ups on the opposite side of the country in our circuitous journeys. We’ve established enduring friendships on Lopez Island, where we’ve camp hosted for five summers. And much to our delight, we’ve made a number of friends through our blog. Our community of friends now extends across the country, and my fears about being lonely in our journey have been assuaged. If anything, our concerns now are more about arranging our travels so that we can join up with the many good friends we’ve made on the road.
And so we found ourselves in Lone Pine, meeting up for a fun day of hiking with Pam and John—first along a four-mile downhill section of the steep Mt. Whitney trail (starting at the portal and heading down), followed by a late afternoon adventure into the Alabama Hills in search of the Whitney Portal Arch. We had a blast! The Alabama Hills are a playground of boulders and arches, with winding paths that lead to beautiful panoramas, rock scrambling, and treasure hunts in search of hidden arches and movie sites. Hollywood has been using this intriguing and scenic landscape for movies since the 1920’s, with films from Gunga Din to Star Trek shot here.
In our couple of days in Lone Pine, Eric and I hiked and explored from daybreak to sunset, visited the interesting little Lone Pine Film History Museum (where Eric reconnected with his childhood hero, Hopalong Cassidy), and enjoyed a sunset campfire and happy hour with the sociable and fun-loving Lone Pine gang at our rustic and beautiful site at Tuttle Creek BLM campground, right next door to the Alabama Hills. It was a delightful diversion in our cross-country journey—our only regret was that we needed to move on far too soon.
About the campground: This is one of the most beautiful campgrounds we’ve stayed in. The amenities include spacious sites, gorgeous vistas of spectacular mountain peaks (including Mt. Whitney, the tallest in the lower 48), a terrific location at the doorstep of the Alabama Hills, dark night skies, peace and quiet, sweetly scented sagebrush, and good Verizon coverage. All this, for a mere $2.50 per night ($5.00 for those not yet eligible for the Senior Pass). The downsides: no hookups, most sites require leveling skills, and although there is supposed to be water available until the end of October, the hydrants were padlocked when we arrived. Which is a good reminder to always arrive with full water tanks! It’s also a good idea to arrive fully stocked with provisions—the only grocery store in Lone Pine is wretched.
Next Up: Getting Our Kitsch On Route 66