Sunday, May 5, 2013


Last September when we visited South Dakota, we saw a series of "pigtail bridges" in Custer State Park. By spiraling around and crossing itself on a trestle bridge, the road is allowed to gain 30 feet of elevation in a very small distance without having to go up a 10% grade. There were a series of these on Iron Mountain Road, a scenic drive through the park.

The same idea lies behind the construction of the Tehachapi Loop, a three-quarter mile long railway spiral a few miles outside the town. The railway climbs at a steady 2% grade allowing a 77 foot gain in elevation when the track crosses over itself at the end of the loop. We went and looked at this engineering wonder but no trains came while we were there and Vicki wasn't willing to sit and wait indefinitely. So I stole this picture off the Internet. The loop apparently draws railroad fanatics from all over the world and is probably Tehachapi's only claim to fame. They have turned their old railroad station into a railroad museum, which I would tell you all about if I had gone into it.

We also went and visited the local campground at Brite Lake. This is a really quite lovely little camping spot for eight or nine motorhomes and a somewhat larger number of tent campers surrounding a local reservoir. Because this is the town's water supply, you're not allowed to swim, wade or otherwise dip your body parts into the lake. Oddly enough however, you are allowed to fish in it and boat on it. Hey, I've seen the bottom of some boats and they are certainly no cleaner than my bottom.

Someone did a lot of wood carving of both live and dead trees in the park, giving them animal shapes and wizards' faces. There is an RV dump station marked by an outhouse with a bear peeking out the door, presumably so you can be entertained while emptying your sewage. We might consider spending a night or two here if we ever come through this way again.

So now we have to dump our tanks (with no entertainment to help the process) so we can hit the road for Coarsegold, near the south entrance to Yosemite, the next stop on our sojourn.

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