Pinezanita RV Park & Campgrounds: September 28-30, 2018

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Site 108

 

I have a theory about weekend getaways.  The older you get the tougher they become.  Two nights is no time at all.  When we were in our 20s and 30s we didn’t think twice about driving 375 miles one way for a quick weekend trip to Mammoth.  Now only two nights is almost a deal breaker.  This weekend getaway was digestible because Amelia took a half day off on Friday and we were able to hit the road at 1:30pm and our destination was only 44 miles away!

Pinezanita is 4 miles south of Julian and only 20 minutes from great mountain biking in the Lagunas and Cuyamaca.  It has been family owned and operated for 50 years and we had never heard of it until three weeks ago.  It’s a large facility with over 200 sites spread over 26 acres, so it doesn’t feel cramped.

I’m guessing at least half of the sites are part of their Cabins in the Mountains program.  RVs are kept year round on their site.  The owners use and treat them like vacation homes.  It was really interesting seeing RVs, not single or doublewide trailers, with lattices around the bottom.  Some had attached decks and/or patios, but all had personalized landscaping, patio furniture, and knickknacks.

When making reservations they do a nice job of putting all the families in one section of the campground and couples like us in another section far away.  It was really quiet in the evening in our section, even though we had neighbors.  If you plan on going without kids try to get one of the following sites; 108,110, 112, 114, 116, 118, or 120.  In our opinion these are the best sites, but they are only electric and water.  If you must have full hook ups, there’s plenty of those sites, but they are more bunched together.

Driving home through Julian at 1:30pm on Sunday was a real eye opener.  What a crowd scene!  It’s like a miniature Jackson Hole, Ketchum Idaho, or any other tourist trap.  It really made us realize we live in our own little bubble.  Oh well, as they said in the 60’s, different strokes for different folks.

 

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Everytime we bring the Airstream home to pack up for a trip Sara gets excited to see her expensive dog house on wheels.

 

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A good look at the grounds of Pinezanita.

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Amelia on Red Tail trail in the Lagunas.

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Itty Bitty Biker and DJP with Amelia on the observatory deck.  They have a sweet little forest service cabin in the Lagunas.  We met them there and they lead us on a nice couples ride right from their cabin and showed us some new dirt!

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The view from the observatory deck.

 

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The old Shasta trailers with wings are really cool, almost as cool as Airstreams.

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Who says there are no seasons in San Diego County?

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Forever the professional teacher, picking up leaves for a fall project in the classroom.

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An example of the Cabin in the Mountains program.

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Site 28 says Howdy, another Cabin in the Mountains.

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Team Ninja girls, Quan and Teri flying down Upper Noble Canyon.

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The four of us, myself, Amelia and the Ninja girls just came down Noble Canyon.  We were taking a break before the dreaded asphalt climb up Pine Creek Rd.

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She’s sad to be back in storage.

Remnants of the Summer 2018 Trip

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Smoky sunset Burns, Oregon July 6th, 2018

 

39 nights, 4,243 miles, $1125 on gas, and many untold stories that deserve to be told.  Here are some of the stories plus a few pictures that didn’t make it on their original blog.

Our most harrowing towing experience so far, was on our first day of travel to Cedar Breaks.  Going up a 13% grade, with a 35 mph headwind.  Pedal to the metal, second gear, and we were certain the truck was going to stall.  It was scary and a bad start to the trip.  The two signs below are on the downgrade at the top.  You might be thinking, how could we be so dumb to put ourselves in that kind of predicament.  Well, we relied on the Allstays app when researching the road.  The app had the warning symbol for a steep grade in the wrong place.  A technology failure.  Next thing we knew, we were in the middle of it with no escape.  If you go to Cedar Breaks do not take the Parowan route.  Go through Cedar City.

 

 

 

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Ancient Bristlecone Pine, Cedar Breaks National Monument

 

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Inferno Cone hike, Craters of the Moon National Monument

 

One of the craziest things we saw was on the U.S. Highway 20 between Hill City and Mountain Home, Idaho.  Unfortunately there was no place to stop to take pictures.  At first we thought there were rocks all over the road.  Then we noticed they were moving, hundreds if not thousands of them.  Then we started looking closer and we could see smashed reddish bug guts all over the road.  What the hell?  Amelia texted Doña and she told us they were Mormon crickets.  Lore has it an infestation like that means a big winter.

Sun Valley to Bend is too long of a drive for us, so we decided to break it up.  We almost stayed in Vale, Oregon.  Well almost on paper, it was one of the options when we had when planning the trip, but after seeing Vale we are both glad we didn’t stay there.  Instead we spent one night in Burns, Oregon.  If Burns rings a bell, that’s because it’s the area where a bunch of militia, ‘we hate the government guys’, thought they’d take over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January 2016.  Even most of the locals got tired of their act, especially since the ‘we hate the government guys’ weren’t even from the area.  These things never end well.  On January 26th, in a confrontation with the authorities, the spokesman for the militia group,  Robert ‘LaVoy’ Finicum met his maker, 19 miles north of Burns on the 395.

If you are driving through the area and need a full hook spot for one night we highly recommend Burns RV Park.

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The bikers they are referring to were not us, but we still felt very welcomed.

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Yonder?

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It’s refreshing to see some people still have a sense of humor.

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A really nice one night spot, Burns RV Park

 

Sometimes you have a brief encounter with someone and it just sticks with you.  While we were filling up with gas in Susanville there was this old man doing the same.  He took one look at Sara and said, “That’s a great looking Puggle.”  I said, “Thanks, you must be familiar with Puggles.”  He said yes, his brother had been raising them in Louisiana for the last 15 years, but he died last year.  As he was telling me all about his brother you could just see the sadness he was carrying around.  I let him ramble on for a few minutes watching him getting misty eyed as he was petting Sara.  It was sad.

 

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Tomato plants, wink, wink

 

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English Bullmastiff meets Puggle at La Pine State Park.  At first Sara was a little intimidated, but the dog was a gentle giant.  They had identical heads with their short muzzles.  When in campgrounds I’ve found the three easiest types of people to identify are Euros, childless couples like us, and retired firemen.  This guy is a retired fireman.

 

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Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park.

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Lassen Peak

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In celebration of the 50 years of the National Trails System, the visitors center at Lassen was giving away these bandanas if you did three hikes.  Amelia really liked it since she turned 50 this year also.

 

 

 

 

I sampled many local beers on the trip, it’s one of the joys of being on the road.  Here’s the Top 3 IPA’s.  I’m still kicking myself for not stopping at Melvin brewery in Alpine, Wyoming.

 

A checklist is for naught if you don’t use it.  Mr. and Mrs. Fancy Pants thought they had packed everything and didn’t look at their packing checklist list when they departed, so they didn’t have their big road atlas.  We relied heavily on the iPhone maps app for navigation.  By the end of the trip I got so tired of that chick’s voice telling us to turn right, left, merge, etc, etc.  Smart phones are making us dumb.  I bet a percentage of the population would follow her directions even if she said accelerate and drive straight over the cliff.  If the Russians hacked into our navigation apps this country would be in big trouble.

 

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Vaya con dios mis amigos.

Hopping down the 395: July 21-24, 2018

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Coleville/Walker KOA.  A quote from Amelia, “Nothing like a crappy campground to make you like an RV park.”

 

Leaving Tahoe we went down the Kingsbury 9% grade into a smoke choked Carson Valley.  People in Tahoe were saying the smoke was worse in Gardnerville and they weren’t kidding.  We took three days to get home from Tahoe.  Our first stop was a ninety minute drive to Coleville.  The next day 70 minutes to Lee Vining.  The third night two hours to Lone Pine, with a quick stop to ride legs 1 & 2 of Lower Rock Creek.

In Coleville we had smoke, thunder, lightning, and rain.  I promised to take my girls three miles down the road to Walker Burger for dinner.  The story we were told when we rescued Sara from the Whitmore Springs Animal Shelter was that she was at the Walker Burger for multiple days begging and bugging all the customers for food.  Finally the owners of Walker Burger had enough and called the Mono County Animal Control to pick her up.  She spent a few weeks at the animal shelter in Bridgeport before being transfered to Whitmore Springs south of Mammoth Lakes.  One year after we rescued Sara, we drove by the Walker Burger, but I was insistent that we not stop.  I was afraid someone would claim she was their dog.  Four years later I decided it was safe to visit.  Maybe, just maybe, we are projecting, but she sure acted like she remembered the place. She was going nuts dragging Amelia around.

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Rainy day, laundry day

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Sara’s old home

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She was going nuts!

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I’m telling you, she remembers.

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Posing with Smokey

 

We had more thunder and just a little rain in Lee Vining.  Amazingly enough it was our first stop in weeks with blazing fast Verizon LTE.

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In Bridgeport and Lee Vining they absolutely stick it to you for gas.

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Cash or check only, no credit cards.  I love businesses that can pull that off.

 

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Mono Vista RV Park.  Not as spacious as the Coleville KOA, but still better than Campground by the Lake!

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Stormy shot of Mono lake

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Sara loving a Mono cone.

 

We really lucked out and didn’t hit any awful heat on the entire trip.  Lone Pine doesn’t count because it’s always hot in the summer and we knew it would be, sure enough 100 and humid.  We stayed at Boulder Creek RV park.

 

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Boulder Creek RV Park.  That’s our Airstream in the left corner.

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Around 7:30 in the evening when it cooled down we went for a drive through the Alabama Hills.  Amelia spotted this Great Horned Owl.  It was one of the few times I wish we had something better than an iPhone to take pictures.

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Tuttle Creek Rd, a must do drive through the southern half of the Alabama Hills.

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Moon rising

 

The gods were smiling down upon us when we left Lone Pine on Tuesday at 7:30am.  We made it through the dreaded Inland Empire on the I-15 without any traffic!  The summer trip is over.  Where and when we go next I don’t know, but I’m already anxious.

The good, the bad, and the ugly. South Lake Tahoe: July 17-21, 2018

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Smoky sunrise on Lake Tahoe

 

The Good

The love fest with my cousin’s three kids began the day Amelia met them over 20 years ago.  They aren’t kids anymore, but the love fest continues.  They have all graduated from college.  The oldest, Chris, has a son and he just got married on July 19th.  We had the honor of being there to witness the special day.

Way back in the day, when we were living in sin, every time we saw the kids they would always ask us when we were going to get married.  One visit Amelia told them, “I don’t know, but when we do, I promise you’ll be there!”  I told her, “Geez you can’t tell those kids that.”  Well, when we decided to get married we eloped in South Lake Tahoe.  We let my cousin in on it a few hours before the big event.  He helped us dupe everyone.  They all thought we were just going to dinner, instead we turned into the chapel and the rest is history.

Almost 17 years later we were present for Chris’ wedding.  One down, two to go!

It was fun seeing so many familiar faces and friends at all the wedding festivities.  But the best thing was seeing how happy and proud my cousin, Kahl, and his wife, Eileen, were.

It’s been too long since we’ve ridden Tahoe.  I’m happy to tell you the riding is still excellent.  We did four rides, one a new trail, but the best ride was the last.  We did Cold Creek with our friend, Matt, and his daughter, Marin, and had a blast!  After all the smooth flowy single track of Bend, it was so much fun to have some technical singletrack.  There’s nothing like a challenging rocky trail to keep you focused and grinning.

 

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Beginning of the love fest circa spring 1998. Thomas, Alex, and Chris with Amelia.

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Wow, look at Mr & Mrs fancy pants.  Way more dressed up than we were for our own wedding.

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Chris and his lovely bride, Erin

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When these kids were young we’d take a group shot every summer, back when we used cameras and developed film, hoping the picture turned out good.  We were so happy to get a group shot again!

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Group shot from our wedding trip in 2001 taken with a remote-controlled camera!  We thought that was something else back then.  That’s my mom next to me.

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Our wedding day

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The Tahoe Rim Trail, what a great system and they are still adding new trails!

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Heading out to The Bench.  You can see the sky beginning to get smoky.

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Amelia rolling a drop and stairs coming back from the Bench.

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Amelia with Marin and Matt.  You’ve never seen a father daughter combo ride like these two do!

 

The Bad

Lake Tahoe is like a popular national park.  The lake is drop dead gorgeous and the surrounding scenery beautiful.  But just like a popular national park it is crowded and the infrastructure at times is overwhelmed.  The crowds are bearable when the pay off is amazing views of the deep blue lake.  But throw in smoke from the Ferguson Fire, outside the western boundary of Yosemite, and the views are erased and all you have are crowds.  We knew it wasn’t a matter of if, but when we’d run into smoke.  It’s summer and we were touring the western United States.  Fires and smoke are now a given.

Verizon and I’m sure also AT&T, need to beef up their capacity for the influx of crowds.  It was ridiculous.  Phone calls were being dropped, texts and emails not sending, and forget about getting on the internet.  It made it really tough to conduct business.

 

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Our first ride was one of our favorites, an out and back to The Bench, to see the view of Lake Tahoe.  As we were riding the smoke was blowing in, usually the view is so awesome you just want to sit on the bench for a half hour and take it all in.  It was a dud view, and as we rode back the smoke got a lot worse, it made this pic look great in comparison.

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Same evening, you could only see a quarter of the way across the lake and none of the mountains that surround it.

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Our best view was on the third day from the Daggett loop.

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Smoke on the water, same morning as the sunrise photo.

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It took us 20 minutes to go less than four miles on Highway 50 through South Lake.

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This pic of the Lime Bikes looks nice, because they just set them up.  By the end of the night bikes will be scattered everywhere, tossed in bushes, left in the middle of a path, the baskets will be full of trash and empty beer and booze bottles.  Our campground was full of them and those dang electric scooters.

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Hello!  Nice upside down banner.

 

The Ugly

“Aunt Amy where are you guys staying?” asked Alex.

“Campground by the Lake,” said Amelia.  “We are in the F loop.”

“Oh no, that place is a shit show, especially the F loop.  I worked their once a couple of summers ago”

She wasn’t kidding.  What a shit show.  Every worker at the campground was acting like they’d rather be any place but there.  Distraught, with grim faces that couldn’t even fake a smile or respond to a simple greeting.  But hey, that was their issue not ours.  The F loop didn’t seem that bad to us, but we arrived on Tuesday and the only ones in our loop were Phishheads excited about the two concerts on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Super mellow, nice folks, easy to talk to.

On Thursday morning they cleared out and the shit show began.  There must not be a policy on the number of tents and people per site, because some sites had eight tents and a dozen or more people.  Families strung together 3-4 sites and set up mini cities under huge catering tents.  The camp host was worthless and did not enforce any rules.  I guess that’s not true, she did come by at 10 pm and told our neighbor the generator needed to be turned off at 9 pm.  She was nowhere to be found though as the loud partying went on until 12:30 am.  And these were not kids, they were at least in their late 30s.

Someone helped themselves to our sun shower one day when we were out.  I’m sure they enjoyed the nice warm water.  I saw two dogs gang up on one dog for a brief fight.  In the morning while walking Sara, we watched a 20 something year old spread his legs wide enough to urinate down his short pants leg, and the bathroom was only 50 feet away.

We will never stay at the Campground by the Lake again.

 

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Site F-11, on Tuesday.  Phishheads are cool.

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Ho ho ho Merry Christmas

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We woke up Saturday morning to find we had a new neighbor.  At least he was quiet when pulling in and at least he left enough space to squeeze by in between the two trailers.  But he loved running his generator!

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The only good thing about the campground, two basset hounds, Snickers and her daughter Lilly!

 

Lassen Volcanic National Park: July 13-17, 2018

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Upper Kings Creek Meadow, Lassen Peak in the background

 

Lassen Volcanic doesn’t seem to be overwhelmed by the masses like the more popular national parks.  In four days we barely saw any of it, part of the reason is there’s not a road that goes straight through the park.  The southwest and northwest areas are  accessible via the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway.  The northeast and southeast corners are only accessible by dirt road and in between is wilderness area accessible only by foot.

Denise, Rob, Rob’s daughter Leticia, and her two kids, Robin and Martin met us and camped a few sites down from us at Manzanita Lake Campground.  It’s always a pleasure seeing them.  Unfortunately Leticia and 18 month old Martin didn’t make it into any of the photos.  There’s no mountain biking in national parks so we hiked three days, with the highlight being Lassen Peak.  It’s an easy 2.5 miles up with 2,000 feet elevation gain and spectacular views the whole way.

We also went to a bird banding demonstration.  It was quite interesting how they catch the birds in a net strung across an area where they are known to fly back and forth.  Then they bag them and bring them to the banding station.  They identify the bird, sex, age, take measurements, put the poor guy upside down in a 35mm film container to weight it, band it, and then release it.

At 2am one evening thunder boomed and lightning lit up the inside of the Airstream like a disco strobe light.  It felt like it was directly above us.  It was absolutely magnificent.  Sara had a different opinion.  It scared the bejesus out of her.

 

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Manzanita Lake early morning

 

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Butter Lupine

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Summit Lake, Lassen Peak in the background

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Royal Beardtongue

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Yellow Warbler before being banded

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Lucky Amelia got to release the Yellow Warbler after she was banded.

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Bye bye birdie

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Chaos Crags, one of the hikes we did.

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Sacramento Waxydogbane, I swear I didn’t make that name up.  It’s relatively rare.

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White Veined Wintergreen

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The best kabob dinner ever!  Four different kinds; top sirloin, chicken, shrimp, and baby portabellas with green bell peppers all grilled to perfection over charcoal briquets.

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The base of Lassen Peak and the beginning of the spectacular hike.

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Up, up, and up we go.

 

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Golden Draba, found mainly on the summits of volcanic peaks in the Cascade Range

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Mountain Pride

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Amelia going through the last snowbank before the scramble up to Lassen Peak

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Lassen Peak Smelowskia, found only on the summit of Lassen Peak and the saddle between Lassen Peak and Chaos Crags.

 

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The summit!

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Lemmon’s Paintbrush

 

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The last supper, we just polished off a batch of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.

Bend again: July 7-13, 2018

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Pat, Vaughan, Amelia, Roger, and me overlooking Paulina Lake on the Newberry Caldera

 

Five years later we are in Bend again with the same cast of characters sans R and Dona. Pat still lives here, but in a new house, and is still a gracious host and great ambassador for her community.  Roger and Gail again came out from Portland.

We actually camped at La Pine State Park, which was a little further south than we imagined, since it was another fifteen minutes to the campground after turning off of the 97.  When we first pulled in we were both quietly anxious as we kept driving and driving, both of us thinking the same thing but not saying it, where in the hell is the campground?  Are we on the correct road?

We originally contemplated boondocking, but it can get hot in this part of Oregon in July so we made reservations at La Pine.  La Pine is one of those rarities, a full hook up campground.  Not a big dollar RV Resort, or a RV Park where they line you up parking lot style, but a campground.

There are many obvious benefits to a full hook up campground, especially if you are there six days, but one of the biggest benefits in our book is no one is using a generator. Kids having fun is fine.  We actually enjoy watching them doing laps on their bikes around the campground, but generators are no bueno.  The noise is disruptive, the expensive Honda or Yamaha whisper generators aren’t too bad, but invariably someone has a 5,000 watt Champion generator or some other huge industrial one that can power an entire building.  It would be quieter camping on the shoulder of the I-15 in the Inland Empire.  That’s my version of the proverbial old man standing on his porch yelling at the kids to get off the grass.

It ended up being a smart move on our part not to boondock. It was the first time for us to fire up the furnace in the morning because it was 37 degrees and then on the same day crank the AC as the thermometer pushed past 90.

Five years later, Bend is a little larger and unless my memory is failing me again, it has a few more roundabouts, but it still has the never ending flowy single track trails it’s famous for, albeit, quite dusty and breweries everywhere.

Pat took Roger and us on two rides.  A 20 mile ride with a decent amount of climbing around the Newberry Caldera and then a 32 mile epic from Mt. Bachelor to Bend.  We also did a couple of rides by ourselves, the trail system around La Pine State Park and the famous Ben, Pinedrops, Whoops, Phils loop.  Pat and her beau, Vaughan, also hosted dinner one evening in her beautiful backyard.  We’ve been truly blessed this summer to meet up with friends on most of our stops.

We rarely pay to have someone shuttle us.  The Mt Bachelor to Bend ride is only the fourth time, (and we didn’t even pay, Pat used her punch card) but we always seem to get a good story out of the drivers. They all seem to be cut from the same cloth. In Downieville, the driver referred to the Tahoe trails as “doinky doink.” A decade later we still reference that phrase when we do a really easy ride. Then there’s the famous Shuttle Bob in Kernville. He gives all the ladies a gift and a hard time to the guys. This trip we had Todd from Cog Wild. Amelia was sitting shotgun and got to hear about all the places he lived, in between listing places he drops the hippopotamus joke on her.

“Do you know why you never see hippos hiding in the trees here?” pause… “Because they hide really well!”

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Full hook up

 

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What’s wrong with a morning nap with your dog?  Some people think it’s funny and take a bunch of pictures of you.

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The lunch spot overlooking East Lake on the Newberry Caldera

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Common Blue Butterfly on Amelia’s hand, doesn’t that mean good luck?

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Pinedrops

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Pussypaws

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Rock art

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Cog Wild shuttle van, that’s Pat and Roger on the right

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A few miles from where Todd dropped us off, Mt Bachelor in the background, bug spray in hand, the girls are ready for the mosquito zone.

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The most brilliant Paintbrush any of us have ever seen

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As you can tell by the expression on Amelia’s face it was a barefoot cold water crossing.  And no time for dilly dallying around when putting your shoes back on because the mosquitoes would get you.  Photo courtesy of Roger

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Action shot courtesy of Pat

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Sara the killer got a chipmunk.  Amelia got the assist.

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Sulpher Flower Buckwheat with a calm section of the Deschutes River.

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Washington Lily

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Benham Falls on the Deschutes

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Bye bye Bend

 

 

Riding Bikes on a Trail in Ketchum

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You don’t ride over rivers on cool bridges in San Diego.

On the trail Greg is almost always waiting for me. Mostly he is out in front, but occasionally on a technical section or a blazing downhill he says, “Amelia you get out in front.”  But on climbs, I get out of his way.

In case you didn’t know, he rides a single speed.  He talked me into riding a single speed and I did it for a couple of years.  I got stronger, but not any skinnier because as the saying goes: one gear, more beers.  Now I ride a full suspension geared bike and I don’t drink beer, but sadly I still am not any skinnier.  But I digress.

So, he rides a single speed and he’s a guy which means he rides faster than me which equals waiting for me.  On new dirt (code for new trails) he stops more often, “To keep you in my sights, Amelia.”

On our first ride in Ketchum about half way through the ride I came upon Greg waiting for me and said, “It sounds like there are people ahead of us singing.”

Not ten minutes later, there he is waiting again. “Listen, it’s not people singing, it’s cows mooing,” he said.

Half way up some steep ass grueling switchbacks that had me panting so hard I couldn’t even register what Greg was saying to me. (BTW, he does that to me a lot…talks to me at the top of a climb where he has caught his breath, but I am completely out of breath doubled over panting like a dog.)  Anyway, I catch my breath and look to where he is pointing.  Sheep.  Tons of sheep.  And of course, there was literally one black sheep.  On a steep ass mountain.  Bleating.  Eating.  Bleating.  Maneuvering over the steep ass terrain as if it were a walk in the park.  All the while bleating!  We laughed at our discovery and their funny bleating.  Then we mimicked them as we rode away to finish my favorite ride of our summer trip so far.

On other rides at the trailheads we read about the sheep, but did not get any pictures of the sheep on the trail.

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Sheep facts

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Greg waited until I caught my breath to take this picture.

 

Sun Valley: July 1-6, 2018

 

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Our best boondock spot yet

 

Boy oh boy did we stumble upon an awesome spot.  It’s so good we can’t tell you where it is, except that it’s in the Sun Valley area. 🙂  We had done our due diligence, researched boondock sites for the area, got on google earth to get a clear picture, and defined our top four spots.  The spot we landed on we didn’t even know about, but a fellow traveler, who took our first spot, told us about it.  While on the road, for the most part, it’s refreshing how good natured and kind hearted most people are.  The same thing happened to us at the Valley of the Gods, so we naturally try to do the same, we’ll tell you in person about this site, but we are not going to send it out on the world wide web.

Again we shared the enjoyment of friends, Doña, originally from San Diego, now living in Boise, came out to visit for a couple of days.  And Acomb and his girl Lynn, flew out from SoCal to spend his birthday with us.

As for the mountain biking, there’s a crazy amount of steep climbs, breathtaking views,  well marked trails, and a lot of gulches.  And we had a couple of cold mornings for July, cold like 28 degrees outside and 43 degrees in the Airstream!  And lucky Amelia, she saw a Pileated Woodpecker.  The biggest woodpecker we have in North America.

 

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One of the best signs ever.  This was behind Castle’s Corner Exxon Station in Carey, Idaho.

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Someone looks happy on her first ride in the Sun Valley area, Fox Creek.

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Evening pic of our awesome spot.  The sunset was around 9:30pm and it would be light until 10pm.  Because of the steep mountains around us we would be in the shade at 7:30pm.

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This deer seemed oblivious to us, walking around outside of our dining room window.

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Adams Gulch ride, right from the get go it was climb, climb, climb.

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Doña & Amelia.  I don’t know if it’s true or not but rumor has it they were the first women mountain bikers in San Diego.

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A view of Sun Valley Ski Resort from the White Cloud Trail

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Loving our public lands

 

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Our spot was way, way down in this valley.

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Amelia on the Grinder Trail in Galena.

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Senate Meadows, Galena

 

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The creek below our spot, I can’t name it because that would give away our spot.

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116 years between us and a lot of stories

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Lynn and Amelia, spring chickens compared to their old men

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You can take the girl out of Clairemont, but you can’t take the school crossing guard out of the girl.  True story, Amelia was on safety patrol at Longfellow Elementary in Clairemont.  Ketchum has flags at many of the crosswalks, so we were all having fun.  Some of the rich folks in their fancy SUVs had no sense of humor.

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Having fun

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Amelia collects heart rocks, so we had to get a picture of Heart Rock Ranch

Craters of the Moon National Monument: June 29-30, 2018

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Squeezing out of the Buffalo Caves

It was nice to get Idaho Falls in the rear view mirror.  Heading towards Arco we saw antelope on both sides of the road and the Three Buttes were getting larger.

One of my classic childhood stories involved the Craters.  My brother and I, to say the least, weren’t the biggest fans of our paternal grandparents, Beaumont and Mildred.  It wasn’t until later we found out Mildred wasn’t even our dad’s mom.  They always seemed to be around, Sacramento, Idaho Falls, and San Diego, they were close by.  They wanted to see their grandkids, but when it came to taking us someplace they could only handle one of us at a time.

On this particular occasion I was the unlucky one they wanted to take on an overnight trip to the Craters.  It was a hot summer day and Beaumont had the AC going full blast in his blue Chevrolet Caprice.  Both of them were smoking cigarettes like chimneys, with the front windows cracked just a little for the smoke to escape, but plenty of it still engulfed me in the backseat.  We spent the night at a motel in Arco, where they smoked in the room until it was lights out.  The next morning we had breakfast at a diner, where they smoked straight through the meal, and then afterwards the waitress kept refilling their coffee cups and they kept smoking and sipping.  I remember just wanting to yell, “Let’s go!”

We did the Craters and and then came home in the afternoon.  Something happened and they had to leave which meant Eric didn’t have to go on an overnight trip with them.  He was ecstatic about it, but acted like he was bummed in front of them.  To make up for it they gave him $50 cash!  Once they left Eric was running around laughing and shaking the money.

The park is in great shape.  The rangers and volunteers do a wonderful job. At over 750,000 acres it’s big, but feels small because of what you can actually access.  It is perfect for a two day visit, especially if you are lucky enough to grab one of the first come first serve spots in the 42 unit campground, which we did.  The resiliency and stark contrast between the black lava and living plants is awesome.  It’s an other worldly experience.

You are allowed to go unguided in any of the five caves, you just need a permit, which is free and amounts to only answering a few questions.  We took a group guided tour.  Which is something we usually do not do, but may have to more often because it was really fascinating.  The Ranger did a great job talking about the volcanic activity and different types of lava, how they formed, and answering questions.  After the guided tour of Indian Tunnel  we did three more caves on our own.  Well, really two and a half, we started to go into Boy Scout Cave but got the heebie-jeebies about how dark it was and how low you had to crawl through some of the passages.  The iPhone flashlights are only so good, we would’ve felt more comfortable with our 800 lumens mountain biking lights.

My favorite was the Beauty Cave.  It was darker than dark, but no low ceilings, and at the very back there was ice!  I still can’t believe they let you trounce around in the caves unguided.  Even more amazing, we never saw any graffiti.

Craters of the Moon, a really different place worth visiting.

 

 

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Caves make me think of Tom Sawyer.

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It can certainly be spooky in the caves if you let your mind get the best of you.

Cinder Garden of Dwarf Buckwheat, Dwarf Purple Monkeyflower, and a few Primrose Monkeyflowers

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Primrose Monkeyflower, the itty bitty tiny little flowers are something else.

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Dwarf Purple Monkeyflower

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Dwarf Buckwheat

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Huge pressure ridge

Cushion Wild Buckwheat

Wax Currant

Limber pinecone

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It looks like someone splattered yellow paint all over this lichen covered rock.

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The hard to photo Blue Copper Butterfly on a Cushion Wild Buckwheat

My two girls enjoying the morning sun.

Atop the Inferno Cone looking east

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Southern view

 

Blazing Star

I once lived in Idaho Falls

 

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I once lived in this house.

 

As a child you kind of live in your own world and are oblivious to your surroundings.  If you are lucky you’re just a kid having fun, that was me in Idaho Falls.  We moved there in the middle of 5th grade and left for San Diego at the end of 8th grade, what I consider the formative years.  My recollections of that time are a lot of camping, fishing, hunting, learning to ski, and picking wild asparagus along the irrigation canals.

My Grid Kid football team (just like Pop Warner, but for some reason it was called Grid Kid in Idaho?) got to play in the Southeastern Idaho championship game on AstroTurf at the Idaho State University mini dome in Pocatello.  This is when AstroTurf was a big deal.  Our little league baseball had four teams.  The blue hats, light blue hats, red hats, and green hats.  I kid you not!  I was on the green hats.

I learned to play the trumpet and was even in the marching band.  I also remember the biting cold and having to walk to the school bus stop.  One time we all waited and waited and the bus never showed up, so we went home and school ended up being canceled.  The busses could not start in 20 below zero weather that day.

During the winter, the city would make ice skating rinks on the empty lots in the neighborhoods.  They would just snowplow the snow to form a rink and then the water truck would come by to fill it, it would freeze, and we would skate.

The last time I was in Idaho Falls was 1994, and before that 1978.  In the 44 years since we moved a lot of changes have occurred in the world and Idaho Falls.  My childhood memory of Idaho Falls was not meshing with what I was seeing and feeling.  I guess it’s silly to think it would, but it still brought me down.

It seemed like a clean, neat little Mormon town when we lived there.  What I saw was run down, dirty, and a rough crowd with a bad element.  I’m sure it didn’t help that our first stop was downtown to find a place for dinner.  Driving there we passed payday loan stores, vape shops, smoke shops, liquor stores, and seedy bars with rooms above.  Maybe that stuff was always there, minus the vape shops, but I don’t think so.

After dinner we drove down E 17th St.  The farmer’s field my brother and I used to walk through to go to Albertson’s to eat free donut holes (that’s right free, they hadn’t yet figured out yet they could sell them) was now a mile of strip centers and a Sam’s Club.  Amazingly enough the Albertson’s was still there.

All the old houses on the north side of the street looked worse than their age.  The backstops for the little league fields where still behind the old KID tv/radio building, but you could tell the fields haven’t been used in years.

I called my dad and told him what I saw, he confirmed my thoughts.  Back when we lived there it was a clean, neat little Mormon town.  I had plans to see all my old haunts but after one evening I saw enough, so we stayed around the Ririe area.  And I worked on getting my head screwed back on.  We didn’t go back to IF, we just drove through on our way to the next stop.

 

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Field of mustard seed heading into Ririe

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Sara chilling while we were setting up

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Sunset over Ririe Reservoir

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We did a short ride at this trailhead.

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This part of Idaho is not known for mountain biking trails.  There’s a lot of shared use with ATV’s.

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Osprey are a dime a dozen along the Snake River.  So many, that special platforms are built for their nests.  This couple was making a colorful statement.

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Where I learned to ski, Kelly Canyon Ski Resort.  I can’t believe they are still in business!  It hasn’t changed a bit, still a rinky dink four lift ski area, heck still the same old slow chairs.  I guess 40 minutes from Idaho Falls is what keeps them in business.

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An evening stroll on one of the docks at Ririe Reservoir.

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Juniper Campground, a Bonneville County Park.  It was really quite nice, full hook ups, spacious and no mosquitoes.  It was also quiet mid week, but apparently it fills up during the weekend with loud water enthusiasts using Ririe Reservoir.

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Utah’s state flower in Idaho, a Sego Lily