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LAKE MONO & YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Beautiful Weather

sunny 90 °F

Hi!

Before I get into the Lake and the Park I want to add a couple sequels from my Carson Basin experience.

First the railroad -- As the work progressed on the Transcontinental Railroad by the Central Pacific Railway supplying the worksite with materials became more and more challenging. As they worked their way toward the Nevada/Utah stateline they came upon a dry lake bed and salt marshes. The dry lake was the recipient of flash floodwater from sudden thunder storms. In order to eleviate the danger to the railroad they built a 12 mile long causeway of fill on which to lay the tracks. In addition, they had to cross the salt marshes which required building an 11 mile long timber tressel to bridge the marshes. All materials had to be brought in from the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Carson Basin. Once this was accomplished they continued on to meet the Union Pacific at Promontory, Utah to complete the coast-to-coast railway. An amazing mini-story.

Now the Mint -- Yesterday I glossed over some of the detail in the production of coin money. The building which housed the Carson City US Mint was constructed of stone and had 9 chimneys on the roof. These vented the ovens and acid vats which were located in the basement and first floor of the building. When the dore' ingots were brought in from the mills these ingots were boiled in the acid vats to separate the metals. Once done the gold & silver (& other metals) liquid was poured into ingots for testing. The assayer determined its purity and when a 99% level of purity was reached for the gold & silver it was transferred into mini-ingots which were then extruded into metal strips of the desired width and thickness of the coin to be made. From the strip blanks or slugs were punched out, then these blanks were placed into the press for the imprinting of the coin. At that point it became money. At Carson City's Mint GOLD coins of $20., $10., & $5. denominations were made. (Respectively, Double Eagle, Eagle, Half-eagle). SILVER coins of $1., $.50, $.25, $.20, $.10, (Respectively, Morgan dollar, Trade dollar, Liberty dollar, Liberty half-dollar, Liberty quarter, Twenty-cent piece, Liberty dime). The Mint operated round- the- clock for 23 years producing coinage for the US Treasury. Hope you enjoyed the detail.

Leaving Carson City I traveled south toward Lee Vining, CA, my destination for the night. Lee Vining is a small CA town located at the Eastern Entrance to Yosemite National Park. About 5 miles from Lee Vining I broke over the hill to see a huge basin surrounded by arid hills. In the bottom was a lake, Mono Lake, which is completely void of vegitation. It looks like a lunar landscape. The lady at the campground told me about the US Forest Services' Interpretive Center which tells of both Mono Lake and Yosemite National Park. There I learned that the Lake was created by volcanic activity thousands of years ago. The water has a salt content of 10% which makes it uninhabitable for everything but tiny organisms including shrimp which grow to about 1/2" long. These shrimp are commercially harvested as feed for aquarium fish tanks. The rock formations around the lake are granite and pumice rock. The pumice was created when molten lava was mixed with air bubbles as it rose to the surface. At Lee Vining, the American Pumice Co. mines the rock. It is then processed for sale to the public in the form of an abrasive for removing foot calluses and corns, scouring, etc.

The next morning was a beautiful, but cool one with temps in the 40's at sunrise. By late afternoon it had risen to 97*'s. From Lee Vining I turned onto SR 120 to begin my ascent to the gate at Yosemite Park's entrance 7 miles up the mountain. After paying $35. to the US Forest Service as an entrance fee, I proceeded into Park. The 7 mile climb was a change in elevation from Lee Vining at 6,781' to Tioga Pass at 9,943' or 3,162' in a mere 7 miles. Believe me, the motorhome struggled up the steep and winding grade. At one point all I could muster was 19 mph with my foot to the floor on the accelerator! I commented on the incline to the Forest Ranger at the booth. She said we were at the highway's summit and it was downhill from there. Yes, it was about 90 miles down the steep, twisting highway with canyons of 1,000 - 2,000' along the road without guard rails! Harrowing to say the least. I used the engine and lower gears to save my brakes & to keep my speed in check. The beauty of the scenery is beyond description. I have never seen anything more beautiful. Yosemite National Park is 1,200 sq. mi. in size, so its huge. The mountain ranges are dramatic with sheer cliffs and deep canyons. The trees are huge, Sequoias, Redwoods, Douglas Firs, and a variety of others. Literature says that a Giant Sequoia has been measured at 25' base diameter, can grow to a height of 250', and live for 2,000 yrs. The Park literature divides it into 4 categories; High Sierra, Granite Cliffs, Sequoia Groves, and Valleys. To quote the pamphlet, "The High Sierra, with its smooth granite domes, craggy peaks, and spacioius meadows embody the character of this area. The Granite Cliffs are massive and challenge the mind to take it all in. A Yosemite guidebook from 1868 declared that, "The summit at Half Dome will never be trodden by human foot." Of course, it has been many times by the adventurous climber. The Sequoia Groves speak for themselves. The Valley is where most of the animals live. Home to deer, bear, mountain cats, and other animals, the streams provide bounteous food. Due to the drought conditions I learned that the famous water falls were dry for lack of water. Springtime is the best time to view them as water from the mountain snow melt feeds the rivers. There were many signs along the highway warning drivers of wild animals and to exercise caution. The only animal I encountered was a chipmunk who scampered in front of me! I left the Park with a sense of awe. If you ever have a chance to go, do it.

Coming out of Yosemite Park and driving toward Merced, CA the landscape changed dramatically. The land flattened out and I came into the Central Valley or Imperial Valley Region. I was totally amazed at the huge farms in the Valley. Crops of cotton, almonds, grapes, corn, olives and many others. This region is the 'bread basket' of the West and to the world with its exports. A fellow Elk at the Club told me of a nearby 10,000 cow dairy farm, and the world's largest cheese plant! Water is a serious issue in California. Farmers need it, the cities need it, and it is becoming more precious than oil. Incidentally, the price of California gasoline is $4.99/gal., a dollar more than Nevada!

My stay in Merced is for 2 nights at the Club's Elks RV Park. Located about 4 miles from the Lodge, it is one of the nicest I have stayed in thus far. A wealthy Brother Elk bequeathed the land and $500,000. to build this RV park for members, exclusively. Very thoughtful of him! Tomorrow I leave for Monterey Elks Lodge. There, I will visit my friends Patty & David Dormedy who live in nearby Pacific Grove.

Posted by dixter 09:49 Archived in USA

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