Not too far from the town of Bridgeport off Highway 395, you'll find the Mountain Warfare Training Center. It's a hidden Marine Corps base where troops are training for high-elevation combat around the globe, include the war in Afghanistan.
Highway 395 runs from Southern California along the eastern edge of the Sierra. It leaves California south of Lake Tahoe, runs through Reno and then jogs back into California on its way to Canada.
On its way it passes some uniquely California sites. There are dusty gold rush ghost towns. The moonscape of the Mono Lake tufa. The highest spot in the lower 48 states — Mt. Whitney — and the lowest — Death Valley.
But what it doesn't have are the iconic visions of the California coast, or even cities you could pick out on a map. You're more likely to find stunted Joshua trees than elegant palm trees, and baking desert sand than cooling ocean beaches.
Still, the stops along the road represent who we are as Californians — both the things we celebrate and those we try to forget. Fights over water. The bitter history of internment. How we try and remember our shared past.
It may not always be the postcard version of California. The stops on the road may surprise you, and change how you see the state.