Having married a man whom was born and raised in Lake Tahoe, it goes without saying that I have made many road trips from LA to Stateline, NV.
Growing up, I was not a fan of long car rides. I was the kid that kept asking, “How many more minutes until we get there?” and groaning at whatever answer I received. Of course, I wasn’t completely miserable the whole time — I loved singing along with my three siblings to James Taylor, The Police, and Garth Brooks [I know, eclectic] and I was pretty good at the license plate game.
Now, I’ve learned to embrace the journey instead of just focusing on getting to the destination [I know there’s a life lesson in there, right??]. The 8-hour trip to Tahoe is now one of my favorite parts of the trip, because Brett and I have created some favorite stops and traditions along the way. Now, instead of just looking forward to making it up to his parents’ home, I get to look forward to little adventures along the way.
Are you heading up to Bishop/June/Mammoth/Tahoe/Reno any time soon? Here are our must-haves and favorites along the way — what are yours?
- Early-morning start :: This is seriously critical for me! I am much more motivated and excited to start a road trip if we are in the car before the crack of dawn. Watching the sun rise while comfortable in my favorite road trip outfit [yoga pants, a loose/soft t-shirt, my favorite sweatshirt, and sandals or Ugg boots, depending on the weather] is the best!
- Pupp-uccinos :: Thank you Starbucks for this little pick-me-up that my dogs love! Sure, it’s a cup of whipped cream, and sure, one of my dogs definitely vomited in the car after having too much… lesson learned. But watching them enjoy it is so much fun.
- Breakfast on the road :: I rarely eat fast food, but when I do, you can bet that it’s a breakfast sandwich and some hashbrowns at the beginning of a road trip.
- Mojave :: make sure you’ve got a full tank of gas before you leave here, because it’s slim pickings after this stop! Also, on the drive home, Brett’s parents always tell us to stop at the Carl’s Jr. here for a “hand-scooped milkshake!” After leaving Mojave, now’s the time to turn on your audio book and settle in for a couple of hours.
- Olancha :: If you blink, you might miss it — but, the Crystal Geyser plant is out here, and if you look off to the west, you will see the actual Crystal Geyser mountain! Anyone else excited about this?? … moving on…
- Lone Pine :: The town at the portal to Mt. Whitney is so adorable — but, to be honest, we rarely stop here, unless it’s for a bathroom break. Don’t forget to slooooowwww dooowwwwnnn — you will feel like you are crawling at the pace of 30 m.p.h., but there are lurking police officers ready to hand out tickets to even the mildest of offenders!
- Manzanar :: I’m a little bit of a WWII nerd, so one trip I made Brett take the self-guided driving tour through Manzanar, the Japanese internment camp that opened in 1942 [not a pretty mark on USA’s history record, I must say]. Definitely something to do at least once!
- Independence :: Another place to slow your roll! Also, we stop with the dogs here at Dehy Park [the one with the big train out front]. Would be a great place to stop with kids, too, as there are bathrooms, a large grassy area, a playground, and a small creek.
- Bishop :: I look forward to Bishop the whole way up, because a) it’s over halfway to our destination, and b) SCHAT’S BAKKERŸ.
- I could probably make a whole post just on this place, but I will try my best to make this brief. Here’s what you need to know:
- If you leave early in the morning, you will get here just in time for lunch — which means, their amaaazing sandwich shop [yes, it’s worth the long line!]. I recommend the Hot Pastrami, The Mule Kick, or the Turkey Salad Sandwich. Comes with a free cookie and a pickle!
- Get some stuff to go! Our favorites include: Sheepherder’s bread, Honi Squaw, Cheeze bread, Chilli Cheeze bread, Chileno Cheeze bread, Bacon Cheeze bread, Dutch Crunch Pull-Away bread, Original Coffee Cake, apple fritter, and so many more that it would be impossible to write them all down.
- You can also order a side of turkey at the sandwich line — this has become a tradition for our dogs, too. They love getting a treat, and it keeps them from begging for our sandwiches as we eat them in the car!
- If you go to the back of the bakery, near the hallway leading to the bathrooms, you will find the discount rack — this is where they put day-old baked goods that didn’t sell, at up to 60% off original prices! We’ve gotten some amazing breads here, and you can’t even tell the difference.
- No photos are allowed inside the bakery, so you will just have to visit to find out for yourself!
- Paiute Palace :: The cheapest gas is at the end of Bishop, near an old Indian casino. We’ve never set foot in the actual casino, mostly because it gives us the heebie-jeebies, but it is a great place to fill up, and take your dogs to the bathroom! Just make sure to bring your own bags so you can clean up after them.
- Mono Lake + Lee Vining :: after passing the turn-off for Mammoth and June Mountains, you will come upon this lake that looks like it belongs on the moon, with its cool salt formations and eerily-calm water. The town surrounding, Lee Vining, is another super-cute town that boasts delicious ice cream cones and an unlikely gourmet restaurant in the back of a gas station (I’m looking at you, Whoa Nellie Deli!)
- Bridgeport :: we never stop here, but hello, adorable town! Very middle-America, patriotic, and hosts a freaking amazing 4th of July festival.
Where are your favorite places to stop on this (or any) stretch of highway? What are your must-have road trip essentials?? And, most importantly, HOW GOOD IS SCHAT’S BAKKERŸ?!
xx, Nicole (Team LL805)