Layne's new gig

My favorite job used to be to roam around upstate California and Nevada looking for stories, then try to write them onto the front page of the newspaper. Highways WestI would return more often than the news warranted to the scenic wedge of high desert, junction towns and volcanic debris that lies easterly of the Sierra Nevada. It's the best open road driving in California, remote from most of the state. Sometimes my soul still needs to take a drive up there on highway 395, so I'm jealous of Ken Layne's new venture. The co-founder of the old L.A. Examiner blog is now the Editor and Publisher (and writer and ad guy) for a pretty new website called Highways West. He drives around the West, does stuff, and tells us what we should know. I came in via his road report on Bishop, Calif., one my favorite Eastern Sierra spots:

Bishop is one of the best towns in California, and I plan to write often about its founders, history, Paiute & Shoshone Indians, crazy murals all over town and magnificent setting in the Owens Valley beneath the Eastern Sierra Nevada. After the Los Angeles Dept. of Water & Power sneakily bought up all the ranchland a century ago to send the Valley's precious water south to thirsty Angelenos Bishop had no choice but to become a tourist stop. Yet it's a particularly pleasant tourist stop, serving a steady stream of outdoor travelers headed to Yosemite, Mammoth Lakes, Tahoe and the abundant fishing, backcountry skiing, birding, hiking and hunting lands in the immediate vicinity.

Mono InnI hope that Layne, who lives in Reno, discovers and passes along some great new places to eat along 395. I've enjoyed a few culinary gems, especially the Mono Inn at Mono Lake, a wonderful sunset spot managed by Ansel Adams' granddaughter. But too many aren't even inviting as roadside dives. You want to pull the manager aside and suggest that fresh ingredients and homemade soup would go a long way. I hear there's supposed to be a real French place in Olancha...

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