Sunday, July 15, 2018

Yosemite’s Quiet Side

On Wednesday we moved north to Mono Vista RV Park in Lee Vining. Our favorite boondock site overlooking Mono Lake has been closed off, and it was too hot for no hookups anyway, so this is the only RV park near Tioga Pass Road into Yosemite. It actually wasn’t a bad place to spend a couple nights since we were under shade trees, and the bathrooms, showers and laundry room were nice.

Sites are close and it’s busy with rental RVs coming in every evening but it was pretty and green and we could just walk around town from there.


Mono Lake from our walk.


The next day we drove into the east side of Yosemite National Park. We spent several weeks in the area back in 2013 and had hiked most of the trails so I was looking for something we hadn’t done. Instead of doing one long hike, we did three shorter hikes in different areas.

First we climbed up Pothole Dome from Tuolomne Meadows. A trail skirts the meadow and goes along the base of the dome, then we just started going up the rock on the right side where it wasn’t too steep.


Well, maybe it was still a bit steep.





Next we stopped at the Olmsted Point overlook, where there is a trail that hardly anyone seems to take.


It brought us out on a rock outcropping with distant views of Half Dome and Yosemite Valley.






Our last hike was the trail around the very scenic Tenaya Lake, which can barely be seen in the above photo.







We really like the east side of Yosemite compared to the overcrowded Valley, and although there were lots of cars parked in some of the picnic areas and viewpoints we didn’t see that many people while we were out on the trails.

We left on Thursday and drove north just past Reno where we spent the night at Bordertown Casino RV Park. Other than stopping for some shopping we have not explored Reno, so we decided to drive downtown and take a walk along the Truckee River, check out a brewery, and have dinner. Sites are close but there is grass between them and trees. Not worth $40/night but that was the minimum I could find anywhere around Reno. If you sign up for a player’s card you get $5 of free play at the casino, plus we got a coupon at check-in for another $5. We were hoping to win back our rent but to no avail, which is why we don’t gamble. They fill up almost every night in the summer.



Since it was still in the low 90s when we got downtown, we stopped by Lead Dog Brewery for happy hour, where I liked all of their many IPAs. Luckily they had a Peanut Butter Chocolate Stout for Jim. We followed that with pizza at Noble Pie Parlor, then it was finally cooling off enough for a walk.


Reno has done a nice job with the Riverwalk, a paved path lined with restaurants, bars, shops and galleries, and they’ve engineered a portion of the river for whitewater. We saw quite an eclectic mix of people, seeming all the more so after spending time in a 55+ RV community where there isn’t much diversity.

20180712_200850                                                                                                                                                                                 Next stop, Lake Almanor, CA for a few days.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Trying to Escape the Heat

DSC09535                                                                      Rock Creek, CA

We finally made our way out of Jojoba Hills on Saturday morning. We learned one thing, and that is we would not stay there into July again. June was not bad, and we could tolerate the 80s and low 90s that we experienced, but when the heat wave hit and our last couple days were in the 100s, there was no way our AC could keep us cool enough. Maybe if we had a better insulated RV and one with dual air conditioners it would have helped, but no matter what it was hot. Luckily Terry and LuAnn invited us for happy hour Friday night at their place, which was cooler than ours. Yes, the 88 degrees was inside and the AC never cut off all day.


Before we left Jim managed to repair the toilet, and not only did he fix the broken foot pedal spring cartridge, but he also took the toilet off and replaced the flush valve and put on new seals. It’s the first time in years that our toilet has held water, which is taking some getting used to. I wisely went to Temecula for groceries so I didn’t have to be a part of that nasty job!

He also replaced the steering damper on the Lazy Daze, which was a relatively quick and easy job once he figured out where to put bottle jack to raise the front fend or better access.

I, meanwhile, cleaned up all the patio furniture and put it in the shed after moving stuff back into the car. Now that we have storage we have to be sure not to leave things behind that we might need.

We have what we think is an orange tree in our yard but the previous residents said it had never produced fruit over the four years they were there.


I noticed lots of little fruit a few weeks ago so we’ll see what they turn into this fall/winter.


We had planned to stop and visit friends Robin and Lydia in Ridgecrest on Saturday but it was even hotter there and we just couldn’t tolerate another triple digit day, so once we hit 395 we just kept going, waiting for the temperature to drop. Jim was worried about driving in such high heat but we had no problems. Passing through Bishop, where it was 102 degrees, we found a vacant lot about a block from Schat’s bakery and stopped to pick up a few Energy Loaves. We then continued on to Tom’s Place and French Camp forest service campground, at just over 7,000’ elevation and 85 degrees. Still warm but it felt great compared to the three previous days. Although the campground was only about half full, we could not find a site that was level and long enough for us so we drove another 6 miles up the road to Crowley Lake BLM campground. After 349 miles of driving we were more than ready to stop for the day.

With the senior pass it’s $4 a night, which gets you a spot of dirt with a picnic table, very clean vault toilets, potable water for filling jugs, a dump station, and some pretty nice views.


Driver side.


Passenger side.



We wanted to stay in this area to revisit Little Lakes Valley, one of our favorite hikes when we were here in 2013. It was late Sunday morning before we made our way up Rock Creek Rd to the trailhead at 10,200’. We were surprised to find a parking spot in the main lot, and no cars parked along the road or the overflow lot, but most people probably started earlier in the morning and had already finished by the time we got there. There was only a 20% chance of an afternoon thunderstorm so we were hoping for the best. And we didn’t know how far we would get considering we have not acclimated to the elevation and haven’t been hiking much lately.



It’s all uphill but not super steep so we just took it slow. Photo ops abound here.


After a half mile there is a junction where we stopped to catch our breath. We did this hike twice and both times continued straight towards Morgan Pass, so I asked a woman who was passing by if she knew anything about the other trail to Mono Pass. She said since we hadn’t gone that way before we should at least go to Ruby Lake, but she didn’t know how far that was. She said there was more elevation gain but the views made it worthwhile, so we decided to try something different.


Instead of being down in the valley passing by numerous lakes, this trail ascends rocky switchbacks up the eastern slope of Mt. Starr, where the views of the valley just get better and better.







0.3 mile spur trail to Ruby Lake.


The sky was getting dark and it sprinkled a bit, but we made it to the lake before the thunder began. Luckily it only lasted a few minutes and blew away from us. We had come 2.5 miles and climbed almost 1,000’ so this was a good place to turn back anyway.



Clearing skies made for some nicer shots on the way down. This was my favorite.




We were glad we took a new-to-us trail, in spite of it being more difficult. You really can’t go wrong as all of the trails here are extremely scenic.The funny thing is, although we haven’t been at elevation, we didn’t feel any worse than we ever do on these kinds of hikes. Last summer in CO we camped at 9,000’ for weeks and the hiking never got any easier.


Yesterday we took the bikes to Mammoth Lakes and rode the mostly paved Town Loop. It’s hilly and our legs were tired from the hike the day before, but we stopped along the way at several outdoor gear shops and only rode 7.5 miles, which was plenty.

Check out the height of the sign with the cross country skier. The snow must get pretty deep!




After the ride we went by Black Doubt Brewing Co, where we had a most excellent Peanut Butter Imperial Stout on nitro. Pam, you would have loved it!


We followed up our beer with dinner at Zpizza. Today we’re moving a short 36 miles north to Lee Vining to do a little exploring on the east side of Yosemite. It feels good to be traveling again.