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pitchers. - Adam
IMG_1976 Boundary Peak from US-6, Nevada/California.

I've been trying to keep up with LJ for the last few months. Very few people post anymore alas but kishenehn does and he's always posting lovely photos from the road and the mountains. I used to do that too.

I went to Las Vegas a few weeks ago, returning to Los Angeles via US-93, NV-375, US-6, and US-395. I've spent a lot of time in Las Vegas in the last year, partly because some friends are there and mostly because, mid-week, hotels are basically free (this being a particularly effective lever in the life of a self-employed internet hobo), but I'd mostly just been suffering back and forth through the boringness of the 15 and its traffic jams in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps an occasional detour through Kelso and Mojave National Preserve, but that's a long day back to Los Angeles. But it's summer and the high mountains are in good season, so this time I booked a couple nights in Bishop and drove through the ever-remarkably-empty central Nevada.

IMG_6855 US-6, Nevada/California.

Perhaps a different post about Nevada, but after a beautiful sunset coming around Boundary Peak on US-6, I was back in one of my favorite places in the world -- the eastern Sierra. Unfortunately it's also fire season, and one was burning over near Edison Lake on the western slope was filling the Owens Valley with extremely thick smoke, making it very hard to breathe. I got into the hotel and turned on the a/c and still woke up with a scratchy throat. I was fearing this trip had been folly, there was no way I could go for a walk at altitude with so much smoke in the air. Driving up CA-168 was not encouraging, you couldn't even see the peaks from Bishop, it was like the road went up a hill and off into the end of the world.

IMG_6949 CA-168, Inyo County, California.

But once at the trailhead at 9500ft, it was all good and blue and green and crisp and beautiful. I don't quite know how the smoke gets over the mountain without being at the top, but mountains are mysterious things. Being relatively inactive the last year, I had no idea how I'd do at 10k+ ft but in the end I did fine and it was invigorating to be up there again.

IMG_6953 Bishop Pass trail, South Lake, Inyo County, California.

But I'd gotten a late start and I was in fact tired, so after a while at Long Lake (10700ft, pano), I turned around.

IMG_6969 Bishop Pass trail, South Lake, Inyo County, California.

The last two times I was up there, last summer, were horrible (strenuous, hot, and worst of all, mosquito-ridden), so I'd been going through one of those depressive episodes about the mountains. But all relationships are complicated, and I think I'm over it. Back to the smokey valley.

IMG_7010 CA-168, Inyo County, California.

On the trail I'd ended up walking down with some older ladies who were literally on their last miles of an 80 mile, ten-day backpack. They were flower-hunters, spending their time looking for tiger lilly and such over in Le Conte canyon and Evo basin. They do similar trips every year, and were recounting their favorites and least favorites. Their obvious least favorite approach was Taboose Pass. I'd never been to that part of the mountains, so on the drive back to Los Angeles, I drove over to take a look at the terrain.

IMG_7049 Taboose campground road, Inyo County, California.

They were certainly right. The trailhead isn't as high but that means you have to do more on foot in horribly sweaty and rocky desert, completely exposed. No thanks. I'll stick to Bishop Pass, or Onion Valley, which I also took a drive up, not having been up there in probably ten years. Ridiculously pretty (if improbable) road.

IMG_7055 Onion Valley Road, Inyo County, California.

IMG_7069 Onion Valley Road, Inyo County, California.

(I kinda really want to buy my own car again, and am trying to find a justification that won't make me hate myself. The most reasonable being that driving around exploring the West is in the end probably a lower carbon footprint than flying to Asia three times a year. But mostly I just miss the road. It's empowering in a way that getting on airplanes is certainly not.)
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(Deleted comment)
midendian From: midendian Date: August 21st, 2013 04:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes on North-South. There's so much great walking to do around there.

Isabella is a crazy landscape. I've only been through Kernville once, a few years ago, after doing Sherman Pass from US-395. It also seemed like Bakersfield redneck-central...
kishenehn From: kishenehn Date: August 18th, 2013 05:31 am (UTC) (Link)
It's very nice to see you here again. :)

And of course the photos are wonderfully evocative ... though I'd expect nothing less from you. Now go out and buy that car!
midendian From: midendian Date: August 21st, 2013 04:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks :) I will try to post more often. Maybe even once a month! But that's ambitious.

darquis From: darquis Date: August 18th, 2013 07:44 am (UTC) (Link)
would "cars are fun" make you hate yourself? buy something completely unreasonable, use it mainly [I want to write "only", but I've been known to bring home heavier shopping in my AW11] for recreation, PROFIT. a sporty two-seater with just enough trunk space for a trip, or for something completely different a piece of 60s-70s US iron that swings and burbles.
midendian From: midendian Date: August 21st, 2013 04:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
yeah I want something super-tiny mostly just for roadtrips. I have no commute, so I'll still burn less gas than the average American, but it still makes me feel weird! I've proselytized the no-car lifestyle for a long time :P But it's really getting in the way of my enjoyment of life.
nibot From: nibot Date: August 18th, 2013 10:43 am (UTC) (Link)
You might also like yatpi, the intermittent sailing chronicles of a Norwegian dude. He's just sailed from Norway to Spain to the Azores to Iceland and I think he's currently en route to Greenland!

Of course rosiedee has retired from LJ, but she's active on Tumblr, which shows up here as rosiedee101.
midendian From: midendian Date: August 21st, 2013 04:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for the recommendations! rosiedee was one of the most fun people to follow on LJ.
nibot From: nibot Date: August 18th, 2013 11:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Re: Carbon footprint of car vs jet

I saw a very informative lecture based on the book "Sustainable Energy – without the hot air" that addressed this.

His back-of-the-envelope numbers suggest that a jet flight consumes (per passenger-mile) the same amount of energy (/ produces the same amount of CO2) as driving a reasonably efficient car:

Page 35: jet flight consumes (12000 kWh/passenger)/(14200 km) = 0.84 kWh/passenger/km

Page 29: driving a car consumes (10 kWh/liter) / (12 km/liter) = 0.83 kWh per km

So both jets and cars are around 1 kWh per km.

As soon as there is more than 1 person in the car, the car wins. This assumes a car getting about 28 MPG.

He makes the point that one 10,000 km flight per year, amortized over the year, is still 1 kW of consumption. )-:

If this is true, it makes me wonder why jet flights are so cheap. Driving 10,000 km is 6,250 miles, which, at 28 MPG, would require 223 U.S. gallons of gas, which, at ~$4/gallon, would cost ~$1000, way more than the equivalent commercial jet flight. So either (1) jet fuel is much cheaper than auto gas, or (2) the above consumption estimates are incorrect.

AirNav tells me that the pump price for Jet-A in Los Angeles is around $4 - $8/gallon, so it doesn't seem like jet fuel is dramatically cheaper than auto fuel (although I think there was a news item last year about Delta(?) actually buying its own refinery(?) to supply jet fuel?).

Edited at 2013-08-18 11:20 am (UTC)
bluepapercup From: bluepapercup Date: August 18th, 2013 05:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, Delta did buy a refinery, I remembered that too. Here is a news article from last November, after they'd been using it for a while.
(Deleted comment)
midendian From: midendian Date: August 21st, 2013 04:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't know about the energy math, but assuming it's within +/-2x, it seems they're probably interchangeable for me. When I drove a lot and flew very little, I drove about 35k mi/yr, and I currently fly 50-75k mi/yr. A car, unfortunately, is probably still more expensive on an annual basis.

As far as "how do airlines make any money at that price", as I parse the industry, it involves vast financial trickery. If you look at airline profit margins over the last decade or two, you can tell they make or break based on the price+quantity of oil futures contracts they bought during the slumps (and not really on things like how many empty seats they flew). Airlines like SWA continued to make money longer than they should have because they leveraged themselves the deepest in futures during the recession. (The legacy carriers are always so deeply in debt/over-leveraged at all times that they can't always take advantage of these things like the upstart carriers (nor can they afford newer more-fuel-efficient aircraft, again because of over-leverage). This is really confusing to marketing departments who are convinced that airlines make money based on the quality of their product, when, really, who makes money and who doesn't is structural.)

Delta's investing in a refinery may or may not help them since, like futures contracts, there is a lot of money in geographic arbitrage that vertical integration will prevent you from doing. Also due to the nature of refining kerosene, you have to produce a lot of other (shorter and longer) products that you don't need, so you've fundamentally put yourself into businesses you don't care about but can't afford to throw away.
bluepapercup From: bluepapercup Date: August 18th, 2013 05:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Pictures! With STORIES! The stories are the best part. :D

Of course, the photos are stunning. The Eastern Sierras are my absolutely favorite part of California, and I usually lump DV in there with 'em. I shall have to put Onion Valley on my list.

If you end up with a car, we'll have to take a DV trip some day so I can show the you the hidden awesome spots in the Central Black Mountains that I discovered during my thesis work.

PS - I think having a car is awesome and it definitely encourages me to travel and explore in a way that commercial air travel does not.
midendian From: midendian Date: August 21st, 2013 04:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
I would love an Erika-tour-of-Death-Valley!

Yeah being in a car encourages a certain spontaneity that just isn't possible with airlines. You can get it back in europe and parts of asia due to trains and jitney buses but it's still not quite the same. Driving across India really made me realize, like, wait, roadtrips really are a unique and special thing, in any country.
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