(September 18 – written by Nancy)
We hit the road today again after a short break at Hank’s house, our Warmshowers host in Porterville. We had a nice break there, and did a lot of planning for the weeks ahead to get us close to the US-Mexico border. We went out for a nice meal with Hank last night to a local Thai/Vietnamese restaurant – it’s been a while since we had some good pad Thai!
We knew we had quite of bit of climbing today so we rolled out from Hank’s house at 7am and stopped at the Starbucks in town to get coffee and some breakfast. Hank helped us pick out a route to get us up to Lake Isabella and back on the ACA Sierra Cascade. Whichever way we went, it was going to be uphill, as Porterville is at about 460 ft and Lake Isabelle is at 2513 ft, with a high point to get over at 6100 ft.
The first part of the ride continued the theme from our ride into Porterville – the road wound through lots of groves of oranges and lemons and even what looked to be grapefruit. It looks like it isn’t quite the season yet for these fruits, as most of the fruit on the trees is still pretty green. After about 10 miles we transitioned from groves into rangeland – lots of dry grass, rocks and cattle. The climbing started once we hit Old Stage Coach Road – a bit of a goat track but with very little traffic.
The road wound its way up into the hills, and we climbed for most of the next 30 miles. We had a section of about 10 miles that was at a pretty good grade, averaging about 6%. Fortunately it was not too hot – I think the temps stayed below 90 the whole day, which helped us with the climb.
We reached Glennville about 1pm, and stopped in at the Saddle Sore Saloon for some lunch. From Glenville it was another 3700 feet of climbing to get to the top of the pass and we knew there was a small motel in Glennville so we decided to save the additional climbing for tomorrow. Unfortunately we had to go downhill 2.5 miles to get to the motel, so we added some more climbing to tomorrow’s ride.
The motel is, well, how to describe it? I guess it is technically open, but we are the only ones here and it doesn’t look like it has had many guests for some time. The room is not too bad, but could use a vacuum cleaner… It’s one of those places where you where your flip flops indoors. Unfortunately the advertised Wi-Fi is not working and our phone gets no cell signal so we are without internet here. Oh well, there is a TV so we have spent the afternoon watching movies and now are watching the news.
The other slightly negative point on the motel is that the water from well that services the motel apparently has nitrate levels that exceed the recommended limits. There are notices posted in the room that children and pregnant women should not drink the water. I asked the owner if it was okay if we drank the water and he said he drank it but he could not recommend that we drink it. Hmm, seems a bit odd to rent out rooms without drinkable water but, oh well, we are here so I ended up buying 2 gallons of water at the store (which the motel owner also runs…).
We won’t be eating at the attached restaurant but will cook our own dinner on the expansive porch area – I don’t think there will be anyone around to care!
We’ll make an early start on the remaining climb (and exit this lovely hotel) so we should get into Lake Isabella at a decent hour. Dave’s got an RV park picked out in town so hopefully we’ll have some internet access tomorrow. And no, this motel does not count as one of my hard-earned motel nights… (Junior Editor note: every night counts, every night…)