Day 16 Continued: Carson City Nevada to Independence California, Not Santa Barbara, Plum Tuckered, Highs and Lows.


As soon as I left Carson City, Nevada the weariness began to grow on me. I began to feel weak and rode-hard. A chronic health problem I have is called Trigeminal Neuralgia. It’s a very bizarre problem (what else would I have?) that effects the nerves in one side of my face. I can feel pain in three places, singly, or simultaneously: the left side of my forehead, my ear or my teeth. I take medication every day but I can have flare ups. Most are handled with just increasing the pain medication. That’s what I’ve had to do the last four days. Today, my teeth took their turn. And when it’s in the teeth, I can’t eat. Frankly, after having this for about 10 years I’ve gotten used to it as does everyone with a chronic health problem. Anyway…
After all my planning to go to Santa Barbara, at the last minute instead of turning west I kept heading south on 395. El Camino Sierra. I just had a gut feeling to go this way. So glad that I did!
An amazing highway! Yesterday I was on the route that the Pony Express riders used to take and today’s is more of a ‘gold rush’ route.
Yesterday and today, I was dealing intellectually, emotionally, with the loss of a relationship. It was a good time to practice letting go of “what if’s” and resentments, trusting what’s happening, (Taoism, Christianity) and being in the moment (Zen). Taoism says that there will be highs and lows; take what comes graciously, let go of expectations and, in effect, enjoy the ride.
On Hwy 395, heading south, on my right, I had the magnificent Sierra Nevada mountains and the border of Yosemite Park. They were spectacular, snow still clinging brightly to the higher elevations. On my left were the White Mountains. Heading south I went through five mountain passes, including Deadman Summit, and peaking with Conway Summit at 8,138 feet (2480 m), the highest point on 395. The views were amazing and it was cold. I had my leather jacket on and my heated gloves. There were signs for elk but all I saw was a bear rambling across the road.
Once I got to the Tioga Pass entrance to Yosemite the road grew more familiar. This was the way that my buddy Jeff Stafford and I came last year (See earlier sections of this blog for last year’s trip.). Last year, however, we turned left and went through Death Valley while I’m heading to LA.
As I got closer to the town of Independence (ironically) I thought: “It would be great to stay at that motel Jeff and I stayed at last year, Ray’s Den.” It was our favorite motel of the whole trip! Well I stopped and saw Linda, the owner, who easily didn’t remember me at all from last year. I got a great room for a good price and hunkered down. (I need to take some photos.)
So here’s where I’m at this very moment. Sitting outside my room on a wooden chair, drinking a Golden Trout Pilsner Beer and glancing at old Mount Whitney, the highest summit at 14, 505 feet (4421 m) in the United States (The lower 48). Now, if you were to go just 84 miles east- southeast of Whitney you’d find (ironically) the lowest point in North America : Badwater in Death Valley at 282 feet below sea level.
That’s what this trip has been about. Experiencing, enduring and trusting the highs and lows.

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