The Great Southwest Trip 2017


Click on any picture to see it full-size.

Thursday, September 28

So, yeah, it got down to THIRTY TWO DEGREES last night, that was not so much fun. I was okay under all the blankets on the planet (and thank goodness I brought them!) but I had to stay completely still, because anywhere more than 1/2 inch outside the space I was in was WAY too cold. And anytime any part of my skin came out from under the covers it was like a block of ice falling on me. I didn't really sleep much til about 7 am, when it suddenly got warm enough...but then it was daytime, so I was up and out around 9:30 am.

I got to Tonopah around noon, and I thought, I really should stop and have some lunch...but I was holding out (for some reason) for Mammoth Lakes, so I didn't.

I did stop at a pretty good used bookstore, Whitney's, and also to take pics of the Clown Motel. Yes, I have actually stayed here, back in 2014, and it was okay. Just...clowny.

On the 120 going toward Mammoth Lakes, I went through a huge area of what I found out later was volcanic ash with trees, and nothing else, growing in it. Kind of surreal looking.

I passed the Navy Beach sign on the way to Mono Lake.

I had only been near Mono Lake once, and that briefly, so having some extra time I stopped there and walked out to the lake, which was actually very pretty. The weather was beautiful, so nice to be WARM.

Like Yoda the sign talks...

I asked a park ranger lady about this bird. I saw some black birds by the lake, I said, showing her a picture, what are they? Blackbirds, she said, like I was stupid. Okay, fine...
So I got to Mammoth Lakes and then the day started to go south. I was at the cheapest decent motel I could find (although NOTHING is cheap in Mammoth Lakes...!) but I was on the second floor, inside, which meant I had to unload all the stuff from the truck and bring it into my room, which took nearly an hour of schlepping...boxes of camping stuff and food, and stuff I had bought, and everything.

Then I had to go to the store for the next few days of camping at Yosemite.

Then I had to find a place where I could vacuum out my cars, because bears. And that was the real problem (and the fact that I had skipped lunch really didn't help.) I went to the car wash in town...and it was closed. I asked the guy at the front desk of the motel, and he said he goes forty miles south to Bishop to get his car washed, which really didn't help.

Then I started calling around...there was nowhere in Mammoth Lakes or Lee Vining (the direction I would be going in tomorrow) that was open...but then I started calling car repair shops and asking if they had a shopvac I could use, and Frank at the Bridgestone store was awesome. Sure, he said bring it in tomorrow morning, I'll bring the shopvac out to the back and you can use it. Thank goodness!

So then it was about 5:30 pm. I made some dinner, called all the people who were supposed to meet me in Yosemite, confirmed everything, ate my dinner...and it was all done. I had a long hot bath (aaaah), got in my jammies, and watched videos in bed til it was time to go to sleep. I love it when everything works out okay.

Friday, September 29

Another beautiful day in California. Even with snow nearby, it was lovely. I went to the Bridgestone store and Frank had the shopvac in the back in five minutes, and Boudika was soon clean as a whistle. I loaded up, got gas, and left town for Tioga Pass and Yosemite.

The Sierras were beautiful. And because I wasn't going to make the same mistake again, I stopped for lunch in Lee Vining; Yelp claimed that an ice cream joint there had the best burgers ever.

I don't know about ever, but the one I had was DAMN GOOD.

Tioga pass was open, and the drive was beautiful.
Olmsted point is one of my favorite places in Yosemite; in the first picture you can see Half Dome, the little pointy bit sticking up in the middle.
I got to the campsite around 2:30 and started settling in. I like Upper Pines in Yosemite Valley because it's right near a lot of trailheads, and also close enough to Curry Village to walk, about 1/4 mile. The campsites are not quite as tightly packed as parking places, but since you reserve them online, it's always a crapshoot. This time we had a decent space but the parking was tight; there was barely room for my truck and Diana's Honda Fit.
Diana has arrived and we're having a good time! Tonight is her turn to cook dinner- steak and grilled mushrooms, noms! And I just got screens for the plates, they seem to work well. The trees are quite beautiful.
And a tiny worm or caterpillar joins us for the evening. Sherry and Todd showed up around 8 pm, and Erica and Rey around 10. We pushed all the stuff in the bear box in the dark, any old way that would fit, hung out a bit, and went to bed, planning to have lots of fun the next day.