After hearing so many good things about driving up highway 395, and then seeing equally gorgeous photos, I finally made my way up this iconic stretch of road that hugs the Eastern Sierras. Let me just say, that if you're looking to get away from crowds, this is a fantastic way to do it. I was lucky enough to escape the extremely hot temperatures during the late summer, too!
Everything was going great, until there was this detour due to road work. This actually worked out in my favor though, because in the process of making a wrong turn, I happily stumbled upon this gem of a dilapidated boat! I rarely turn back while driving, so the fact that I made a U-turn for this boat is very telling. Coupled with the dramatic clouds that were starting to form in the sky, this was a real treat to shoot.
There are so many random, weird, and awesome things to shoot on this stretch of highway. One of the stops that I heard about from watching YouTube videos is this beef jerky spot. The jerky was tasty, but check out the prices below and what you get for that price! This was my first introduction to highway 395 pricing. Any type of food is a tad on the expensive side!
Expensive, but I wasn't going to pass this up - take my money!!!
One of the stops people recommended to me was the Manzanar War Relocation Center memorial/museum. This is a great stop - especially if you're into history. It'll add to what little you already know about it from your high school history class about this period of American history during World War II.
I suggest going through the museum first, and then doing the auto tour, where you can drive your car around this one way only path. The path takes you to a display of what the living quarters were like, and also some markers of key spots when the camp was still intact. Towards the end, you'll see the memorial (which is also a cemetery).
Oh, did I mention you'll also get bonus pictures of my dog, too? Lucky you!
There were a couple of small towns on the way towards Bishop, where I was staying. I loved some of the older buildings that just screamed small town in the middle of nowhere.
One of the places I was excited to eat at (which just happened to have an outdoor patio) was Holy Smoke BBQ. It was good, but definitely not $24 a plate good. I think you would probably get more food at Lucille's or Famous Dave's at this price point, but it was still worth trying.
So there must be a Schat family that pretty much owns a lot of the businesses in Bishop, and Erick Schat's Bakkery is just one of them. It reminded me of the scene in "The Proposal" where Sandra Bullock's character realizes that Ryan Reynold's character's family owns everything in their small Alaskan town. This bakery was recommended on many YouTube videos. It's basically bread/pastry heaven inside. It's also SUPER crowded. You've been warned. It seemed that everyone that was passing through or staying in Bishop was at this bakery.
The Schat family has a wine cellar!
They don't have their own park, but there was this lovely park across the street from the bakery. There's a dog park there, too.
I was most excited about seeing Convict Lake. This is the road that leads to the lake. I absolutely loved driving around this area. People observe the passing lane and drive at reasonable speeds. It's basically the antithesis of SoCal traffic! 😆
Unfortunately, the dramatic clouds stuck around and then became overcast, resulting in anything but the golden sunset I was looking for. Nonetheless, this is a beautiful lake, and it easily made me want to own an RV and go camping here.
With the exception of one place, most of the accommodations in Bishop are older looking motels like these. I loved their signs though!
Tried to get some light trails, but there just isn't very much traffic at this hour in Bishop!
I've seen countless photos of Mono Lake from photography friends who had been, as well as all the photos on Instagram. Regardless, I still found my first view of the Mono Lake Tufas absolutely breathtaking. This area is so calm and peaceful. I could've sat at the benches for hours just looking at the stillness of the lake - and sitting still is not normally my thing!
This was also the first time I used my Wandrd Prvke 31L backpack. More on this in a later post!
The gravel road will take you to the southern portion of Mono Lake where you will see the best Tufas. This is easily accessible by a non-4WD car.
There's a little boardwalk that leads to the main tufa area.
I love how the weather plays such a huge role in how something photographs. This looks completely different than what my friends who had been here shot. To me, this makes a place fantastic for photos, because there are so many possible interpretations of it.
This is another instance where I felt pulling off on the side of the road was totally worth it.
Here is Convict Lake on a different day and a slightly different sky!
Don't ask me why I was looking for Asian food on the 395, but let's just say I found a spot called Merry Go Round in Lone Pine. It is a hole in the wall Chinese restaurant that I found quite interesting. The food was okay, minus the ribs that were extremely salty. This establishment is a trip, and it's hard for me to give it a poor review because the food was okay, yet other reviews of it are 4+ stars - so clearly, someone is digging this place. Hey, they had outdoor seating, so beggars can't be choosers!
It did, however, have a great view of Mt. Whitney from the outdoor patio area!
There is no doubt I would do this drive up the 395 again. I still have a few spots that I didn't get to check off, including Bristlecone Ancient Pine Forest, and the Hot Creek Geological Site. Those involved small hikes, and that just wasn't in the cards on this road trip for me. Nevertheless, it's an excuse to go back!
Thanks for reading, and happy shooting! 😀