I recently headed out to US Route 395 in search of fall colors in Mono County. It was a horrible, horrible drive. When I left home at 2:30am the lightning storm was just settling down without dropping any rain. I didn’t realize that I was headed into the big storm. The further northeast I drove, the bigger the flashes of lightning. I was storm chasing! Out on the desolate stretch of road, the lightning put on a scary yet beautiful display. I so wanted to find a turn off and get some awesome lightning photos, but decided against it since the strikes (for me) were a little too close for comfort. I almost turned back and went home, but I drove on. Really? What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Lightning Out My Back Window

The lightning finally tapered off and that’s when I found the rain, the pouring rain! I’m not sure what’s more scary, fearing being hit by lightning or skidding off the road never to be heard of again. Feeling your tires lose contact with the road for a second will definitely make your heart skip a beat. I white knuckled it and kept driving. This is gonna stop at some point right?

I reached the town of Lone Pine shortly after the darkness lifted. I pulled into the McDonald’s looking for a restroom and a little breakfast. And got my first look at the Eastern Sierras from the parking lot. The storm was looming over the peaks and there was fresh snow! I grabbed a quick shot with my iPhone as I got out of the car. So cool! Except for the crap blocking my view.

From The McDonald’s Parking Lot

As I headed back out to my car with my breakfast, I decided that I’d grab the “real” camera from the back of the car and get a shot that maybe I could clean up. One of the locals, who I hadn’t seen follow me out of the restaurant, must have read my tea leaves! Before I had made it to the car, he says to me… I can tell you how to get beyond the small hills to get a photograph of the mountains. Yes! Yes! Tell me how! He proceeds to tell me to go up to the next stop light and hang a left. So… I thanked the gentleman, grabbed my camera from the back and headed out to see what I could find!

And find I did!!


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That road led past the Alabama Hills (which I need to go back and explore) and then up to Mount Whitney. I wish I had gotten that guy’s name, without him I would have eaten my sandwich and headed up the road and back into the storm without having seen the awesomeness just beyond the hills.

Will the storm ever break? Will I find the color I went in search of? Stay tuned!!

~L

To see full sized images from this post check out my gallery Here

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