Thursday, June 30, 2011
Benton Springs, CA to Bishop, CA The Official End of Current US Route 6
Benton Springs, CA to Bishop, CA
The Official End of Current US Route 6
I’ve got good news and bad news regarding my photos. The good news is, I took them. The bad news is that I’ve maxed out my allowed “storage space” on Blogger, which means that I can’t upload any more on my Route 6 blog for all time (or until Blogger increases its storage space. More good news, however, is that I can still make and upload my videos – so I will somehow create a very fast slide show out of my still pictures, post the slide shows to YouTube and post them on my blog. At least you’ll be able to see them. Now, as I prepare to fly home to New York, I present the last three blog posts:
It’s just 36 miles from Benton to the end of current US Route 6, and for the first time since I began my road-trip in Provincetown, MA, I drove due South with the rising sun to my left. I was in the valley between two mountain ranges – one craggy and snow-topped, the other wrinkled and grooved as a litter of Shar Pei pooches. I entered a stretch with plenty of ranches and well-irrigated farms and with them the feeling that I was coming into “civilization” again. That feeling was reinforced when I saw the mileage sign; 280 miles to Los Angeles.
In Bishop – a lovely tree-shaded and mural-rich town popular with mountaineers, rock climbers and anyone who wishes to head into the Eastern Sierras with a guide and pack mules – two welcoming, friendly and terrific women met me under the “Route 6; 3,205 Miles to Provincetown, MA” sign. Fellow Connecticut native, Patty Holton, President and the Bishop Mural Society and Ceramic Professor at Cerro Coso Community College, and Susan Olson, VP of the Bishop Mural Society, escorted me around to see some of the exceptionally skillful art-painted-on-the-side-of-buildings. The newest soon-to-be-debuted mural is actually made up of ceramic tiles created by students and parents and represents the landscape, animals and flora and fauna from the 4,000 ft. elevation at the valley floor to the 14,000 ft. summit of Mt. Whitney. It is a striking creation, and one I caught just being completed and grouted. My photos barely do it justice. All I can say is that it should be a tourist attraction.
Mules figure prominently in Bishop; they now provide the brawn for overnight camping trips, but years ago, they were used in mining talc, silver and tungsten (used in light bulbs). One mural is a mining map of Bishop. Another shows a 1904 22 mule team pulling a massive water wheel as electric generator for Power Plant #3. Interesting to learn that modern technology of the day made use of such primitive means of transport. No surprise that Bishop celebrates its hard-working donkeys with a Mule Days Festival every Memorial Day weekend.
Melting snow from the mountains around here supplies most of the water for Los Angeles; a contentious subject in these days of water-wars. Locals must get their water from wells, and a complex aqueduct carries the precious liquid nearly 250 miles South from the hills.
Though I didn’t eat or stay in Bishop, Patty and Susan passed along suggestions for dining and lodging. Jacks for breakfast, Whiskey Creek for lunch or dinner and the Creekside Hotel, they say, is “the nicest, swankiest place in town.”
Posted by Malerie Yolen-Cohen at 10:10 PM