We have been on the road for almost 7 weeks now and have finally made it through the desert after enduring temperatures of well over 100 degrees for weeks. The desert with all of it’s beauty, takes a toll on both the vehicle and the individual. Surprisingly, more people live in the desert year round than I would have ever suspected and they have figured out how to incorporate the heat into their lives.
It is impossible to capture or fully explain the vastness and beauty of California, 2 examples that come to mind are the Owens Valley which extends from the Mojave Desert to just South of Lake Tahoe. The valley was inhabited in late prehistoric times by the Timbisha, also called Panamint or Koso and by the Mono tribe. In 1845 John C. Fremont named the Owens valley, river and lake for Richard Owens, one of his guides. Camp Independence was established in nearby Independence, CA. The second is Yosemite National Park which covers an area of 761,268 acres and reaches across the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain chain. Paiute and Sierra Miwok peoples lived in the area for a long time before the first white explorations into the region. A band of Native Americans called the Ahwahneechee lived in Yosemite Valley when the first non-indigenous people entered it.
These 2 regions are so vast and diverse it is hard to grasp the lives of the thousands of years of inhabitants who have lived and settled these areas. Owens Valley is now a primary source of water for the City of Los Angeles and the subject of much debate. Yosemite has almost 4 million visitors each year. While we were there they had imposed a limit of 400 people a day allowed to climb Half Dome (The granite crest rises more than 4,737 ft above the valley floor.) because of the overwhelming numbers of people each year who brave the 8.5 mile ascent.
All I can say is that there is no place on earth quite like California.