Thursday, October 14, 2010

Driving the Long, Long Trailer Mountain Road - Mt. Whitney

Hi all, Dianne again.

If you are not a fan of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz (Is that even possible??), this blog won't interest you, unless you want to see some spectacular mountain scenery.

Roger and I grew up watching I Love Lucy, back in the '50s.  When we bought our little Sunline Trailer, I bought the movie poster shown above on Ebay, and framed it to hang on the wall.  (Our little trailer seemed huge to us at first.)  When we bought our motor home, of course we moved the poster there to a prominent place.

When the DVD version of the Lucy/Desi classic came out, of course I purchased one to take along with us.

  Once we learned that the famous mountain road scene from our favorite Lucy & Desi movie was filmed right here in view of our camp site at Tuttle Creek, we just had to explore!

We actually can see the road cut on Whitney Portal Road from our camp site.  It truly does switch back and forth, right on the edge of the mountain.  I'd never attempt it in our motor home!  We were even a little bit nervous doing it in our little Matrix.  Our thought was that we'd just go up a little bit, then turn back.

We kind of felt like this:

Poor little Matrix chugged along like the Little Engine that Could (I think I can...I think I can....)

Now and then we'd stop at pull-outs to photo the amazing scenery.  It was so pretty that we decided to just keep going to the 8000 ft. elevation Whitney Portal.  Whitney Portal is the base camp for those hardy souls who take on the 14,497 foot summit.

The scenery changed from desert to alpine.  At one stop we saw a Clark's Nutcracker, a high-mountain bird, eating pine nuts.  (No photo -- I was too busy with my nose in my western bird book, trying to i.d. it).

In the movie, the mountain road scene occurs near the end.  It's supposed to be their Rocky Mountain crossing.  What Desi doesn't know is that Lucy has collected (and hidden) large, heavy rocks in the trailer, complicating their mountain crossing.  Here's a shot of Desi throwing her rocks and jars of homemade jam out the door when the suspension breaks and he finds out what she did.

The movie is hilarious, whether you are an RV'er or not.  It takes on a whole new meaning if you've ever towed a trailer, fifth wheel, or driven a large motor home.  I first saw it for sale on, but I'm sure you can buy it in a lot of retail stores by now.  Here's a link to Amazon, if you are interested.  (I don't push products enough to get anything from it, so don't buy it unless you want it; this is just FYI only).

Once we were safely back home, I popped our DVD into our portable DVD player to see for ourselves if Lucy & Desi's Rocky Mountain road was actually Whitney Portal Road, as we'd learned at the Lone Pine museum.  I fast-forwarded to the end of the movie, and, sure enough, Roger and I could easily recognize Mt. Whitney and the scenery we'd just experienced.

Here's a still photo I took off our DVD screen.  Notice the mountain backdrop, with the snow-covered flat area and the jagged teeth of Mt. Whitney to its right.

Now, notice the same backdrop in this photo I took during our drive.  Yes, indeed-y, the mountain is still there!

When Lucy looks down and gets bug-eyed at the steep drop-off, here's what she sees (our photos of the same view from the movie):

Here's another view:

After much low-gear maneuvering and sighs of relief, we made it safely back down the mountain.

We bought our Matrix instead of a jeep thinking of gas mileage (it gets around 35 mpg) and light weight to tow.  Our frame of reference was roads east of the Mississippi.  We're learning that out west a high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle with a powerful engine would be more appropriate. 
 We love our little Matrix, though, and it was such a champ on our mountain trek today that I'm including a photo of it.  Many car commercials are shot in the Alabama Hills, so I decided little Matrix deserved a photo op of its own.

No, you're not seeing double.  My whippet photo of the day is actually a whippets + greyhounds photo of the day.  We spent one night back at Boulder Creek RV Resort after dry camping at Mt. Whitney, to empty our tanks, get a good shower, etc.   While there, I saw a woman walking two greyhounds out the window, so of course I ran out to meet them.  Roger brought out the "boys," and I took a couple photos of the four dogs together.  

We've now moved to the Escapee's Co-op, Park of the Sierras, outside Coarsegold, CA.  Tomorrow we will take our first trip into Yosemite National Park.  We'll be here for three weeks and will update on our Yosemite adventures soon!


Karen and Al said...

That's fun to see the same spot from the movie..and yes it is definitely the same exact area.

Are Whippets just smaller versions of Greyhounds?

Margie and Roger said...

Great post! That's one of my favorite movies. When Roger started collecting rocks in Utah, I got a little nervous. It's amazing - the mountain is still there after all those years! Ha Ha

Travelwithwhippets said...

Hi Karen -- Whippets are very much like greyhounds, but about half the size. We've heard that only royalty were allowed to have greyhounds in England back in medieval times, so the common folk bred whippets from greyhounds to be smaller and catch rabbits. Don't know if that's true, but that's what we've heard!