It’s like deja vu—I am back on the open road with mountains rushing past my window, my headphones playing both the perfect soundtrack for the passing scenery and the beat to my writing. The area is desolate, nothing but deep, green forests hiding the bald spots of the Sierra Nevada mountains. It reminds me vaguely of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco where I recently found myself in a similar spot—on a small bus winding its way through wide, open spaces and cutting a path to a destination beyond the hills.
This time around, I am traveling through California or (as I like to think of it) the “other California.” I’ve been to this state many times before, to the glittering west coast with its sun kissed sand and colorful cities. I’ve walked through eucalyptus-smelling parks in San Diego, brushed elbows with celebrities in Los Angeles, ridden trolleys in San Francisco but I haven’t been here—the backbone of the state—the darker alter-ego to California’s coast. Here, where the Sierra Nevada’s silhouette is speckled with sweet smelling pine trees, where the fog hangs thickly over a palette of blue-grey-green lakes; the feeling is complicated like looking into a painting that kicks up an array of emotion.
The scenery changes swiftly here—from fairy tale-like mountain lakes to desolate ghost towns to rolling sand dunes and striped canyons, leaving you feeling at once inspired, nostalgic and melancholy. I am making my way down Route 395; the overlooked cousin to Highway 1, that stretches from the Canadian Border to Los Angles—cutting a clear path through the Sierra Nevada mountains and Death Valley. As I type this I am bumping along a gravel road in Death Valley watching dark rain clouds gather over the landscape. Photos barely do the scenery here justice yet if a picture is in fact worth a thousand words than perhaps these seven photos will say more about the marvels found off Route 395 than I ever could.
Read more about the ghost town of Bodie and discover a guide to Death Valley all on The Pin the Map Project. Don’t forget to share you comments, questions and California travel stories below!
*I visited Route 395 as part of a press trip with Visit California. The Pin the Map Project does not accept freebies in exchange for positive coverage, as always all opinions & experiences expressed are my own.