Route 395 along the eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas to Mono Lake

“RVSue? RVSue?”

Bridget and Spike jump out of bed.  “Just a minute!  I’ll be right out!” 

I pull off my jammies and throw on some clothes.  Outside our campsite at Washoe Lake State Park south of Reno, Nevada, I meet Mel, Gary, and their King Charles Cavalier Spaniel who live in Carson City. 

“Sorry to drop in so early.  We were afraid we’d miss you.  We brought coffee!” 

After a conversation at the picnic table, we say goodbye and I set about breaking camp.  The goal today is Mono Lake and Lee Vining.  Mel and Gary told me that I have a few high passes to drive through, lots of hills, and winding roads.  I take their advice and fill up the tank in Carson City at an ARCO station ($3.99 a gallon).

Once you’re out of Carson City area traffic, it’s a beautiful drive.

The cottonwoods are bright yellow streams flowing down the mountainsides.  Bushes in the wetlands are brilliant orange.  Of course, my Nikon digital camera quits on me, refusing to project its lens, the same problem I had with the previous Nikon I returned.  Exasperating!  Some of the most gorgeous scenery I’ve come upon in the past year and the camera is useless!

Halfway up a long, steep mountain grade, we encounter road construction.

Beautiful fall foliage and I get a pic of stalled traffic!


We sit for about a half hour waiting for the pilot car.  I utilize the time to work on and swear at my camera.  I don’t know if it’s the result of the former or the latter, but suddenly the blasted camera lets me take a photo of the line of traffic (!) and then dies again.  I miss photos of several stunning views.


The approach to the valley where Mono Lake is situated is breathtaking.

We stop at an overlook and inexplicably the camera decides to work long enough for a few more photos.  

The panoramic view is three times as wide as this photo.


Stickers cover the guardrail at the overlook.


See the tiny cars below?

Nina ( commented under yesterday’s post inviting us to stop by their campsite at Oh!Ridge Campground on June Lake.  I drive in but I can’t find their site among the many loops. 

June Lake is gorgeous with bright blue water like Crater Lake with turquoise water near the shoreline.  You’ll have to take my word for it because my stinkin’ camera . . .  oh, never mind . . . . Go take a look at Nina’s blog.

Tonight the crew and I are camped in the Inyo National Forest in Hartley Springs Campground (free!). 

It’s a few miles south of Lee Vining and Mono Lake.  The road up to the campground is narrow and topped with a layer of white volcanic dust.  Except for a truck camper, everyone in the campground is using a tent.  I draw the attention of several campers as I drive around looking for a site.  I can just imagine what they’re thinking.

“Who’s that crazy woman bringing a travel trailer up here!”




About rvsueandcrew

Fulltime nomad
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46 Responses to Route 395 along the eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas to Mono Lake

  1. Glenda Cornwill says:

    At least you got some photos…….darn camera……… frustrating. I have always had Nikons and not a problem with them apart from one which had the lens problem you are having…..but that was cuased by one young dog who decided that the charging cord was cool to play with…………..except it was attached to the camera at the time and the camera was pulled onto the floor with the lens extended and hey, never worked again and they told me it was cheaper to buy another camera than have it fixed.
    Loved the photos you did get…………..such awesome scenery!!!!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      I didn’t realize how important it is to me to be able to record things for this blog and for my future recollections. I look at something and I immediately start thinking of how I would photograph it!

  2. Rod says:

    Are you sure your camera battery is not out of juice? Sometimes a bad battery will act like that as it has enough to take a picture, and then needs to sit for a while and then will take just one more before dying again…

  3. Donna K says:

    So sorry your camera was acting up. There is indeed some gorgeous scenery along that stretch of 395. But you got to enjoy it with your eyes so that’s the important thing.

  4. Virginia says:

    I think Rod is right Sue. Get some new lithium batteries and you will see your lens fly in and out. They are pricey (around $10) but they last for a year or more. Got some for my camera in the summer of 2011 and they are still going strong. Love the Sierra Mountains (Range of Light). Only been there once like 40 years ago but the memory is still there. You are lucky to being paying $3.99/gal, heard there were parts of CA paying close to $5. At least when you get where you are going, the scenery is second to none and the rates are rock bottom.

    • Emjay says:

      Yep. San Luis Obispo County is almost at that 5 dollar mark. Willed up yesterday at 4.89 a gallon. Very ugly. We have some independent stations that havae run out of gas because the brand label stations have contracts which the indies do not. It’s prudent of those who are traveling through small towns to fill up before their rigs get to the half-way mark and definitely fill up in populated areas. The small towns could see some shortages this week.

  5. Billy Bob says:

    Looks like camera buy’n time again. Here’s one you may be interested in check’n out. I use it and find it perfect for my needs. The viewfinder makes sunny day photos soooo much easier to see what ya gonna shoot.
    The photo overlook’n the highway below is the exact location I was at in 2002. Only everything was covered with snow. An’ it were freez’n cold I betcha.

  6. Glad you made it Sue. Isnt it just beautiful ? !!!! I was just there a few days ago !! If you linger in the area, try to drive up Lundy canyon and take a walk there.It is about 5 miles north of LeeVining, so you passed the turn off. Also, drive out to the SOUTH tufas. It is just another area on Mono lake but well worth seeing, especially if you go early morning. And, it looks like you are an early morning gal. also, the dogs are welcome there.

    • Chuck says:

      That’s a great area, Sue! I agree with Susan J, see it while you can, Mono Lake is about gone thanks to Lost Angeles. Any of the areas that are around Mono Lake should be seen now while it’s still there.

  7. I have to agree with Rod that it sounds like your batteries are the thorn in your side. Had an old HP that went through batteries like crazy so a friend recommended En-Loop rechargable batteries. They lasted twice the time new store bought batteries did. Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It’s about time.

  8. gingerda says:

    You are a great photographer, bad camera or not. I love the shots you got. I filled my car up today and paid $3.57…but I buy the cheap grade. I know the big stations are showing $3.79 (this is in Las Vegas). Calif. is really high right now, I’ve heard.

  9. Mick says:

    Your spare camera is waiting for an address.

  10. Ed Smith says:

    They’re not thinking crazy, they’re feeling envy.

  11. Mel (Melanie from NV) says:

    So nice to meet you this am, sorry it was a bit early! Kori wanted Spike and Bridget to know she was very happy to meet them too….. So sad to read about the camera and missing some great photo ops….now you have another reason to travel this way again…. Remember, the next time you are in our area, we will treat you to an Olive Garden dinner to make up for waking all of you up this morning !!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks for the tip on $3.99 per gallon gas. I saw it as high as $4.89 somewhere along Hwy 295. The ARCO station was crazy, people waiting four cars deep, but it was worth it as I only has a quarter of a tank. Nice to meet you, too . . .

  12. Timber n' me says:

    Wow, Great pic’s, Sue, How’d th PTV do on th’ hills? Bet it was fun.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      The PTV did great, Rusty! I was a little worried when I saw that the pilot car was going to take us up the longest, steepest grade I’ve ever tackled and at such a slow speed. The PTV didn’t get hot or anything, and we kept pace.

  13. Have to agree with the other folks about possible weak batteries or battery, depending on what model you have. Wondering if you got a battery charger with that camera. We loved the Lone Pine area on the east side of the Sierra Nevadas. Lots of great boondocking sites in the Alabama Hills there. Hope to return to that whole area one day again…………………

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi Al… I’m looking forward to the Alabama Hills. I’m hoping it’s warmer there. Kinda chilly on this mountain last night! I remember watching The Lone Ranger and being fascinated by the landscape.

  14. libertatemamo says:

    I’m sooooo sorry we missed you. We’re in site 30 which I totally forgot to mention (duh!). If you’re hanging around in Hartley for a few days we’ll drive over to see you.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      We’re leaving Hartley. It’s too cold! (I’m accustomed to perfect weather.) Maybe you’ll make a stop at the Alabama Hills?

      • libertatemamo says:

        I don’t blame you!! We’re actually making plans to leave ourselves (as soon as that darn UPS package arrives). Yesterday night was the coldest it’s been and looks like next week’s forecast is going down. We’re thinking we’ll hit Horton Creek BLM site next (near Bishop $5/night), and then onto the Alabama Hills (probably boondocking). Maybe we’ll see ya down the road.

  15. cinandjules says:

    Your camera might be malfunctioning because of the cold weather. I too thought it was the batteries…as my Sony Cybershot did the same thing. Lens wouldn’t go out or retract or sometimes got stuck somewhere in the middle. Happened also when I took it outside to capture pics of the snow. If it is cold…the lens will fog up. Tell tale sign. I kept switching the batteries…worked for awhile..then I got frustrated and decided to chuck the entire camera.

    Ah hah…just another reason to stop at the next Wally world. Hopefully you saved the reciept and can move on to another brand/model.

    Nice pictures…sticker art is called “slap tagging” a form of graffiti.

    It’s getting cold here too……chance of snow this week. Yikes!

  16. Timber n' me says:

    It’s been real hot til yesterday, like above 100 n’ cookin on th’ hood, not usein’ th’ stove, but it’s down to th’ 90s at 12:28pm, n’ cools down et nite. th’ weatherman ses 70s soon, Timber stay’s under th’ truck, with the new awning faceing east. we play n’ go fer walks wen it cools in th’ evenins, but ah’ think we’r gona get an indian summer? like last year? keep yer powder dry n’ yer mocs warm.

    • Mick says:

      Hi Rusty, a pleasant surprise to see you post. You have lots of friends here.

      • Timber n' me says:

        Hi mick, I got this lil’ tiny “aspire one” just after lossin my buddy to try n’ fill n’ get my aakin’ heart ta quit hurtin’. and after findin out how he was found n’ by who, well ya know, Ah just had ta get me a air card., n’ call up some mountain bros on how to get on line,,to blog,n’ learn new means of comunicaion, So far ah been to th’ moon, saw apalo 11s site, gone to mars, looks like Idaho to me, n’ found out my kids,( th’ Donkies) are still in Big Bear, by th’ “paint yer wagon” cabin, at 1420 Sha Road. n’ ah can go see em any time ah’ want. th’ lady who got them wen ah retired ta livin’ mountain mans life, was goin’ ta take them to Hewiee ‘ , where Perle Harbor is, well th’ Vet or somethin’ chainged her mind, Betsy always ask me, if ah’d come n’ see em, ah’d say wen they build a bridge, ooooooo look et th’ time, sorry, time goes fast wen yer haven fun. see ya.

        • rvsueandcrew says:

          You found your donkeys? That’s wonderful, Rusty! So they didn’t go to Hawaii after all. I like your comment that Mars looks like Idaho! Glad you’re enjoying being online. It is a big help for fulltimers like you and me!

  17. Timber n' me says:

    Hi to all, from us n’ thanks fer timber n’ all th’ neet goodies, ’bout my pass’d sescion with Mick, So Sorry, Ah’ sometimes get carried away by things n’ ah’ don’t wanna take away from sue, like AH’ said ah’m new to this way of talkin, so if you want ta reach me n’ timber, we’r at ah’ hope thats OK, ah’m a one butten pusher at a time, so it takes me a while to say something………….God Bless,,,,,,,,,,see ya

  18. Bob says:

    Sue, Watch out for higher ethanol % in the ARCO, it use to be a higher % in Calif, than the other major brands and my mileage always drooped off with it. All pumps should be marked with ethanol content, also watch your heat on the engine with this stuff.
    A lot of areas are changing over to winter formulas so who knows what you will get now.
    I like that little Canon camera mentioned above as I have the same problem w/ a Olympus digital, but I do have that view finder on mine, it is great to use in full sun.

  19. Timber n' me says:

    Howdy, Sue, gas is 3.69 ta 4.09 in Arizona, thats chevron to mavric,but Pilot’s or Love’s or T/A’s less priced. look where the truckers go, All these stop’s use’aly have good gas too, thats what we do when were on the road……..see ya

  20. Mary Ann says:

    Hi Sue, sorry your camera is acting up, but even the “stalled in traffic” photo was interesting. The Mono Lake photograph….wow, it’s really breathtaking scenery. But I think my favorite photo is the one one taken of the Crew’s new condo–the look on Bridget’s face! As if she’s saying “You know how these boy’s are!” I don’t always comment, but I always read your posts & enjoy them mightily!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Mary Ann… Yeah, Bridget can get the funniest expressions on her face. And Spike gives her plenty of reasons to make faces! I’m happy you enjoy the photos and my posts.

  21. Kellee says:

    Sue – we have had this problem with our Nikon too. Glad to hear it might just be the battery! Enjoy the Mono Lake/Lone Pine area. I used to ski Mammoth a lot back in the day and I loved the drive up 395. Enjoy CA!!

  22. David Horst says:

    Love ur blog..ttys

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