From Roseville to Death Valley is between seven and eight hours depending on how much you have budgeted for speeding tickets. The roads are well maintained but with artificially constrained limits and frequent speed traps.
You take highway I-50 East to South Lake Tahoe and then on briefly into Nevada where you turn on to 395 just south of Carson City. 395 is two lane and also fairly smooth but you will encounter small towns which depend on tourist driver impatience to fill the local revenue coffers. Naturally the CHP and the Nevada Mounties want their cut and know the best downgrades where you will find it nearly impossible to stay below the 65 mph posted speed limits.
The worst was Bishop, where block after block of the typically Western wide, four-lane streets, empty of pedestrians, bikes and traffic are crawling like a funeral procession at the posted 25 mph. When even the locals are in first gear you better take it seriously. I had to laugh. Bishop, you are so obvious.
I started at 9:45 and got as far as Lone Pine, the last town before you turn off to highway 136 into Death Valley, at about 5:30; about 350 miles. Gas in California was $3.15 when I left Roseville but averages $3.60 and up in the boonie towns. I topped off in Nevada where it was $1.99!
The motel I’m staying in, too close to the highway, is $54 single occupancy. I could have done better but stopped at the first place from fatigue. And I want to arrive at DV in daylight for the views.
Most of the way is at high altitude and my miniature Korean Hyundai, which I would name Deathwish Drang if I named vehicles, struggled. It seemed every altitude sign said 7,000 feet. The drought is very obvious with even the passes having only a dusting of snow.
Don’t count of getting any paleo food in Lone Pine. The closest I could get was the “Natural Hamburger” at Carl’s Junior. Said to be grass-fed with no antibiotics, it cost the proverbial six bucks and was fall-apart-in-your-hand greasy. But very welcome after a day’s beef jerky and canned fish.
The pictures are of Mono Lake, very reduced from the drought but still beautiful in a blasted, volcanic sort of way; and the nearby mountains. Tomorrow Death Valley.