August 11, 2014 – Roadtrip to Saint George, Part I

Sometimes a drive is just a drive, but sometimes it is a ROADTRIP! John and I have probably made this trip 50 times over the last 11 years, but there is always something new and interesting every time we go. Today’s trip starts at home and ends up in Tonopah, NV. We will go the rest of the way to St. George, UT on August 11. Rather than a lot of text, our journey is narrated with pictures.

Since we need to break up the trip about an hour at a time, first stop is for some breakfast and gas in Oakdale, CA.
Since we need to break up the trip about an hour at a time, first stop is for some breakfast and gas in Oakdale, CA.

The Kiwi Tavern in Chinese Camp has been for sale for several years now.
The Kiwi Tavern in Chinese Camp has been for sale for several years now.

This is the first time we've ever stopped in Groveland. It's too early in the day for the Iron Door Saloon.
This is the first time we’ve ever stopped in Groveland. It’s too early in the day for the Iron Door Saloon.

Groveland is at the top of the Old Priest Grade, a really steep narrow road with a scary drop next to it.
Groveland is at the top of the Old Priest Grade, a really steep narrow road with a scary drop next to it.
There are even old timey wood boardwalks in Groveland. We stop at the Firefall Coffee Roasting Co.  and pick up a couple of sandwiches for a picnic later in the day.
There are even old timey wood boardwalks in Groveland. We stop at the Firefall Coffee Roasting Co. and pick up a couple of sandwiches for a picnic later in the day.

Reaching the entrance to Yosemite National Park, it is time to stretch our legs again.
Reaching the entrance to Yosemite National Park, it is time to stretch our legs again.

In the park there is still a lot of evidence of the Rim Fire from a couple of years ago.
In the park there is still a lot of evidence of the Rim Fire from a couple of years ago.
One of the perils of traveling through the park is that you can be held up by road work for 20 minutes at a time.
One of the perils of traveling through the park is that you can be held up by road work for 20 minutes at a time.
Although the scenery is spectacular, we are now in a long line of cars
Although the scenery is spectacular, we are now in a long line of cars
Storm clouds begin to gather
Storm clouds begin to gather
The park is packed. It is hard to imagine enjoying the wilderness with all these people!
The park is packed. It is hard to imagine enjoying the wilderness with all these people!
Uh oh, it's starting to rain and there's another traffic delay due to roadwork
Uh oh, it’s starting to rain and there’s another traffic delay due to roadwork
Finally we are out of the park and taking the scary road down to Lee Vining.
Finally we are out of the park and taking the scary road down to Lee Vining.
We've been here when the snow is still deep during the summer.  This year there are just a few patches left at higher elevations.
We’ve been here when the snow is still deep during the summer. This year there are just a few patches left at higher elevations.

After passing Mono Lake and driving the exciting rollercoaster road, we arrive in spooky Benton where we have never seen anyone at this park.
After passing Mono Lake and driving the exciting rollercoaster road, we arrive in spooky Benton where we have never seen anyone at this park.
There's a playground here that we've never seen any children play on.
There’s a playground here that we’ve never seen any children play on.
The basketball nets swing quietly in the breeze. No one shoots hoops.
The basketball nets swing quietly in the breeze. No one shoots hoops.

Here's what is left of Coaldale, NV. Over the last 10 years it has fallen into more and more disrepair.
Here’s what is left of Coaldale, NV. Over the last 10 years it has fallen into more and more disrepair.

Yay, we are finally in Tonopah, NV! It is after 5 PM. This has been an unusually slow trip. I think we'll pass up the Clown Motel.
Yay, we are finally in Tonopah, NV! It is after 5 PM. This has been an unusually slow trip. I think we’ll pass up the Clown Motel.
Wouldn't you?
Wouldn’t you?
We are staying at the BW Hi-Desert Inn. You always need reservations in Tonopah these days. A solar energy project and gold mining has made this place a boom town again.
We are staying at the BW Hi-Desert Inn. You always need reservations in Tonopah these days. A solar energy project and gold mining has made this place a boom town again.
There's only bad food in Tonopah. We settle for bar snacks at the recently renovated Mizpah Hotel.
There’s only bad food in Tonopah. We settle for bar snacks at the recently renovated Mizpah Hotel.

The hotel and bar has a real Victorian feel to it.
The hotel and bar has a real Victorian feel to it.

Time for bed. We still have about 5 hours to drive tomorrow!

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