Tuesday, August 09, 2005


When I left the conference, I debated whether to go immediately to my next research stop, Kingman Arizona, or return to the point where I left the loop several days before. Hmm. Sweltering desert interstate, or loop back through the Sierras on highway 120 again. Hard choice. Ha!

I took 405 and then 5 north, eventually climbing into the mountains. Before sunset, I had reached Yosemite and opened the top of the Jeep again for the scent of the forest and the granite mountains overhead. The route even looped through the valley and I refreshed my memory of Bridalvail Falls and many of the other vistas that make Yosemite so famous. Crossing over to the western side of the mountains, I spent the night on the shore of Mono lake. I'm really going to have to do a little research on that place. The rock formations in the water and on the shore look very strange.

Since I was up at dawn, and there were signs of rain in the distance, I took the familiar route on highway 190 down into Death Valley. I even stopped at the gas station that doesn't sell gas at Stovepipe Wells. For being off-season, they were doing healthy business. The guy behind the register remembered me from our previous visits.

The road out to Parhrump was completed and aside from the scoured look of the valley floor, the route out looked in good shape. The spring flowers were all gone, but there was a blonde fringe of grass everywhere from the rains. There was even water flowing down the valley. On the way out I saw a road crew scraping the mud off the new road, left from the overnight rains.

Once I reached Las Vegas, and attempted to rejoin the route my characters take, I realized a significant change I had to make. You can't drive trucks and busses over the Hoover Dam. I knew that, but I had forgotten while outlining the novel. I made the route change.

Rainwater was everywhere. Salt flats around Las Vegas were now shallow lakes, hundreds of acres in size. Part of Highway 95 was even closed because of flooding.

But I reached Kingman and attempted to locate the secret base. After a couple of false starts and checking the map again, I drove right up to it. It was perfect. I took some photos of the tall rock piles and headed down the road. I couldn't have chosen a better spot if I'd lived in the town.

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