Day 1: Lake Tahoe and Mono Lake


Now, there is a story about Mono Lake.

Often when I fly into San Jose airport I see a huge, blue and beautiful lake from the plane. One day I decided to find out which lake this is and then travel to it. Well, this lake is Mono Lake. And now I am on my way.

But before we get to Mono Lake, let’s back track to where the trip starts.

This is my 2015 vacation, a road trip to the West of Utah to see some of the most amazing sights to be seen. The first stop on the way is Lake Tahoe. It’s pretty and conveniently located on the route for a short overnight stop. We arrive in the evening and it’s already dark, but somehow we find our way to the lake where there is a beautiful boat house that serves beer. Hello, pretty world and thank you!

Before we continue our route west, we visit Lake Tahoe once more and stop at Emerald Bay, one of the most beautiful views of Lake Tahoe. As we hike a path downhill towards a beach, we hear the first suspicious noises of this trip. At breakfast we overhear the waitress tell about how a bear raided her trash can the night before. So, don’t blame me for hearing suspicious noises… No bears (at least none we see).


Lake Tahoe

Off we go, leaving Lake Tahoe behind us.

For lunch we find a small little gem: Mountain View BBQ in Walker, CA (on Hwy 395). The owners are from Houston, TX and they can easily compete with any Texas Hill Country BBQ place. Love it. Stop there if you are taking Hwy 395. Best BBQ I have found so far in California! A little far maybe for a Friday night drive.

Where was I? Yes, on my way to Mono Lake. As we drive down Hwy 395 we start seeing a suspicious cloud. As we are getting closer to Mono Lake we stop at an overlook and – OMG, Yosemite Park is on fire!


Walker Fire – just outside Yosemite Park

We stop at the Mono Lake visitor center and learn the fire is just outside Yosemite Park. Phew! But now comes the first disappointment of the trip: Mono Lake that always looks so pretty from the sky has a huge smoke cloud lingering over it. No blue sky, no pretty hills reflected in the still water.

Mono Lake - nearly as expected

Mono Lake – nearly as expected

So, we quickly turn our attention to other “shiny things” – well, actually the rangers do that and tell us about the Tufa. Not tofu, silly! Tufa is limestone that grows underwater to towers (some chemical reactions, don’t ask me). It can be seen at Mono Lake because water levels dropped so much here. It’s kind of pretty and looks mystical with all the smoke around.


Mono Lake – Tufa


Mono Lake – Tufa – looks nearly mystical


Mono Lake – Tufa – here it totally looks like an underwater reef


Mono Lake – despite the fire clouds it is so pretty


Mono Lake – looking through the Tufa

OK. that’s it for day 1. We are stopping at a tiny little place, called Tonopah (population of 2,478). There is a brewery across from our hotel. Good night, y’all.


Road Trip 2015

Day 1: Lake Tahoe and Mono Lake

Day 2: A long drive to the pretty part of Utah

Day 3: Arches, canyons and a beautiful sunset

Day 4: Have you ever stood in four US States at once?

Day 5: Sheer unexpected beauty

Day 6: Bryce Canyon which is not really a canyon

Day 7: Grand Canyon – The North Rim

Day 8: A rather disappointing Zion National Park