Cold snowy Sedona: December 29, 2018 – New Year’s Day

H%TjxIoWQg6E52pFAkSqWQ

New Year’s Eve

 

Of course we were tracking the weather.  MMRP was cold and we knew Sedona was going to be colder with a possibility of snow.  So when checking in to the Rancho Sedona RV Park we changed our reservations to three nights instead of five.

They say Sedona occasionally gets a dusting of snow, then it quickly melts. On Christmas Eve they got a few inches and five days later there were only small thin patches on some of the trails that never get sun this time of the year.  On New Year’s Eve day in six hours it snowed six inches!

New Year’s Day it was 12 degrees at 9am while we were laboring to get hitched up for various reasons, all related to it being 12 degrees with snow on the ground.  Finally we put the Tundra in four wheel drive and got out of that place.

Sedona is a beautiful area with a ton of great mountain biking, but boy oh boy is it ever crowded.  Too crowded for us.  But then again we always seem to be there on a holiday since we are on a teacher’s schedule.  One never knows, but we may not be back to Sedona until Amelia is retired and we can go mid week during the off season.

Once again, we had safe passage on the I-8!  Someone recently asked me if I use filters on the photos.  My response was, “What are you talking about?”

 

BIa+lOlSSeuRrLHaqeYUuA

There were many Airstreams in the RV Park.  This old beat up one was my favorite.

FEjBZIHXSXK56iOVHhvM9A

Bundled up, cold, and wanting Vitamin D

PnTlLv4zR6+U0NnbaOXDjg

Mescal Trail

oFvhbWj1QX2DuKZbxHTUaA

Sara said, “F this!”  And hauled ass back to the Airstream after peeing.

z6%yGQWDQqqiZLhOwqDSJQ

Not exactly our idea of bike riding weather.

8axbpu+jqjg3umpybtxlig

Century Plant

FWH5CKsWS72iuO3YGXC8Tg

Prickly Pear Cactus

VwCjcboQS6CsjPSnuq8DWA

Amelia just had to make a snow angel…

9P6T+otWSDyujfxpg45clw

…and a heart.

DZHg3tR1S2W4qBwn8greKQ

Amelia’s two Gregs

B3CVXT4UTGaULQuMgrxSvg

Rancho Sedona RV Park

G9PibE5mR6udIjwa1yD8Tw

Rock owls

Iq%rkdYxSK6Qjp4VAvGz+g

Cold beautiful New Year’s Day sunrise

8V96TQ3cSMS3R11+hrh5zQ

Taken through the passenger window while driving out of town

I25Og8H1T5GMxtlRdFM%OA

Swaths of Sand Verbena, Desert Sunflower in the foreground.  This was a spot on the I-8 between Dateland and Yuma .  We were lucky enough to be able to pull over and walk through the fields.  Four hours earlier we were freezing our you know what off in 12 degree weather.

 

Próspero Año Nuevo

 

 

 

MMRP Vol. 2: Christmas – December 29, 2018

VpvcgDzUS5CMbD48yIdGeQ

Merry Christmas sunset

 

Just like last year, we decided to spend Christmas at McDowell Mountain Regional Park (MMRP) in the Scottsdale area.  This time the Birches traveled with us.  So we figured safety in numbers and again risked life and limb and drove the I-8 along the border.  Once again we didn’t see hide nor hair of the Mexican Cartel or the Caravan.  Maybe they both take the holidays off from spreading disease and raping and pillaging the United States of America.  (This is when you are supposed to laugh.)

The little missus was adamant about not spending Christmas Eve and morning in the Yuma Walmart parking lot.  So we researched our options and found a decent spot only twenty minutes out of our way off of the US 95 by Mittry Lake Wildlife Area.  The next day we just continued north on the US 95, a stretch of road we’ve never been on before, through Quartzite, then east on the I-10.  We couldn’t believe all the blooming Sand Verbena and Brittle Bush.  Fields of purple and yellow were everywhere.  It looked like springtime, not Christmas Day.

Quartzite area was as advertised: a massive boondocking area packed with rigs of all types.  It made Clark Dry Lake out in Borrego look like nothing.

After over five years of Airstreaming we are calling MMRP our favorite campground.  It’s spacious, quiet, 360 degree views, no generators, and biking right from your front door.  The only thing it’s lacking is full hook ups, instead it’s just electric and water, but the free hot showers are great!

We knew the cold snap was coming, and it came.   Lows in the 30s and highs in the mid 40’s with a biting wind.  A solid 25-30 degrees cooler than our last visit.  Not our favorite biking weather, but we certainly weren’t going to stay holed up in the Airstream bitching and moaning about it.  We had a special treat this trip: our mountain biking friends, Quan and EJ, from San Diego were in Scottsdale and we toured them around the trails two consecutive days.  It’s always fun riding with a group of friends.

 

0f5LGYtLRku%8xlcfDjgeg

Nice boondock spot before Mittry Lake and our one and only warm day.

YyYdleSqROA33grZZuXzQ.jpg

Cold MMRP, site 80

EKaDMGa6TSQ5Hy5ENtYNQ.jpg

Our Christmas present

btOaoPF6SXOaQzH2tZQadQ.jpg

Jackass Junction

YiWlMe4jTniqrhLuxTl+5w

A nice memorial tribute plaque at Jackass Junction

7hLn0BiPTJ6CClzo%bt6lg

Amelia and Old Man Birch

Jv2ug9SRsq4yJ60sflnog-e1546190686408.jpg

An early blooming Owl’s Clover

vkXMYasVRLO9Ebvj9UfcGw.jpg

Old Girl Sara and Old Man Birch

+p9tCro9R3SiEx%aiEuDyA

EJ & Quan

bkYbBX1hT2iLiCdxbKGFzw

Amelia

iRaMVaXjSCqPSWiZ7hM5Ug

Amelia & Quan

WgOmA37NRKe44fHFJHbpeQ

Even though it’s chilly the dark blue mat and Airstream radiate heat.

Y5vWAJEISPGIPo5csv8SzQ

The obligatory Saguaro shot

X1JyWiaNQnC9eWo8cONLCQ

Just another beautiful sunrise

 

Happy Holidays to all!  Now we are off to cold Sedona to ring in the New Year.

 

Crystal Cove State Park, Laguna Beach: November 17-21, 2018

G4TPvymSQjuiBCLvL855Pg

Hope springs eternal

 

It’s been a hell of a November in California.  The mass killing of 12 people at the Borderline Bar in Thousand Oaks.  Not too far from the mass killing, the Woolsey Fire started, and on the same day the Camp Fire in Paradise begin raging completely out of control.  The devastating pictures, news, and death from the Camp Fire just keeps coming.  It’s hard to pretend all is normal and we had a sense of guilt loading up the Airstream to go on a vacation while so many of our fellow Californians are suffering.

Crystal Cove is a small campground with only 60 sites.  Half the sites are full hook-up, the other half are dry camping.  We were in a dry camping site.  Like all coastal campgrounds, you need to book your dates six months in advance.  We had a one day crossover with Denise and Rob, which is too short, but it was still nice to see them in person.

This time of the year with the short days and the sun never getting high up in the air, four days is about the limit for solar, especially if you want to watch a movie at night.  Every afternoon the generator wars began and our neighbor was always the winner.  His was the loudest and he ran it the longest.  And he was a tent camper!  I tried to peek into the tent to see what he was running off the generator, but I couldn’t ever get a good look.  My guess—he was running a TV or maybe they were gamers.

We did two rides: Crystal Cove and Aliso and Woods Canyons.  Both rides have a lot of steep fire roads.  Of the two, Aliso and Wood Canyons was the best, but neither were single speed friendly.  If we lived in Orange County I would have to break down and get a geared bike.

When we are out in the Airstream we are pretty much attached at the hip.  This trip I had to go up to Santa Maria on Tuesday for a one day business trip.  I left in the dark at 5:20am and returned in the dark at 10pm.  Five of us went: I picked up three of the guys in Tustin, then we got the fourth guy at the Santa Barbara airport.

Here’s a pro tip: don’t lock your bikes to the picnic table, then drive away with the keys, like I did, especially if your wife has plans to ride.  It makes for a very unhappy wife.

 

dztDfQ4mReK1VF539nrxaw

Site #59

rbzsy7OvTzSLe5HYYOHFqg

There’s over three million people in Orange County, yet the beach was virtually empty, and this was Sunday.  That’s Denise and Amelia.

xlvkaRWvSNG681wkCXemPg

Sunset our first evening

IMG_3863

Shelli, myself, Bianca, and Amelia on a fire road at Crystal Cove.

immfles3tcadvgt8gprfq.jpg

Coyote Run Trail at Aliso and Wood Canyons

vT9jJ54kQbK08nuM%XxNsQ

Car Wreck Trail at Aliso and Wood Canyons.  One of the steepest and gnarliest hike a bike we have ever done.

fullsizeoutput_7c8

Her spot under the table.

 

ktZcwyUATFmlZPektemSgw

Rock and sand

T3yRGDxfQ%uJxoIGSumyxw

Sara and her old boyfriend, Osborne, had a date at The Stand Natural Foods in Laguna Beach.

5WLtl0LGSGiU4cG5itdRsg

Oops!  All locked up.

IMG_3859

About a hour before Amelia figured out I had the key to the lock, the Tundra had a tire blow out on the 405.

IMG_3860

We limped off the freeway and put on the spare at the corner of Sepulveda and Burbank.

IMG_3856

The Xperience Marketing team before our tour of Fresh Venture Foods. From L to R; Scott, myself, Katie, Vinny, Ryan, and Billy.

6COEB7XpQxWX2MudARnOcg

Just another Airstream adventure…

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

02Vw+UkQQH6qIeCY4auYcw

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.

 

FTsyCi2nQxWhQl6hRJF7Rg

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

 

df6xm6WGRR+EQeXNY6X5rQ

A good look at the grounds of Pinezanita.

t3wqnj5dslqcv5lamadolw.jpg

Amelia on Red Tail trail in the Lagunas.

YoXuW9BrRmeGGHSgZtED8Q

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!

tIJe9f%bSuWeFxZ8gEssWg

The view from the observatory deck.

 

y4Qo9cHQSRqauS%oQmlN9g

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

nisszug4rnsgqwdus8a11g.jpg

Who says there are no seasons in San Diego County?

toDeRQ%vTx6lQV9l7pUaIA

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

Qf6CIGYATsWNtF5t2ZbrvA

An example of the Cabin in the Mountains program.

whntl2zsuwhefecagzpa.jpg

Site 28 says Howdy, another Cabin in the Mountains.

gVX4zCgrQj6%Q13MrN8ctA

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

jNadaX8xRJy72TJMv8MZSw

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.

3l4lq4rqicxprax3norhg.jpg

She’s sad to be back in storage.

Remnants of the Summer 2018 Trip

ueOgPc0vTPOmMv0APraClA

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.

 

 

 

taUlJYSAR2KUHpOUFtnsuQ

Ancient Bristlecone Pine, Cedar Breaks National Monument

 

CqqvVCpJRomVK964AilTDQ

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.

jq4xjtb4slucdhji4mbmeg.jpg

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

hr78bFw7TfmlTv0gBSqqpA

Yonder?

CXqlsv%ATvOPDLkmUAb3Qw

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

RsnrFOFyTzWFJ4g4wMQ

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.

 

VetsCUAAS4edckcBg4eGPg

Tomato plants, wink, wink

 

mthghfmlsrewye9ezhkzzq.jpg

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.

 

ck5Wrby9RBumuwLBU7G0sQ

Manzanita Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park.

7V+S11fPQoirGFxuQEtWhQ

Lassen Peak

py4hwy5yqu6siwndfrb9tq.jpg

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.

 

tKQTDeeRT3+X%4OUSqna+A

Vaya con dios mis amigos.

Hopping down the 395: July 21-24, 2018

y9VhxGtjQweRhiwXrDg73w

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.

7ZdYPB6CT7u4QYzCHCaMoQ

Rainy day, laundry day

rpgxc3l7tmih2bdibrez7w.jpg

Sara’s old home

v5bh0wKmRGuD9jw8s9sSBw

She was going nuts!

6plzWQ0rRmmhyZBESWgmtQ

I’m telling you, she remembers.

M5nlO6bMQLioSYOiqirUTQ

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.

myxnisxt4cimf0t4lsptw.jpg

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

hy+Zm6bUSZ6CZuGo2+dq+w

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

 

jW0uoYLHS8Wwv3UbOBu9mA

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

YrRBJEJzR+27tuindAAEUA

Stormy shot of Mono lake

mo5tloqeqqyqxfw1eou52q.jpg

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.

 

+nt8hVzGSvK1QpMZEhafEg

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

fullsizeoutput_763

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.

ziBSIIcDQsKovdfwPAWZXQ

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

REU3QOncQsuKIOHG3u8lAw

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

hFjpM9BLTnCrWAn+6JGFag

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.

 

fullsizeoutput_7ac

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

H2ftDD6kRLKr9pB+VFbaiA

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

owyrfeybsvy9bg8gxtnwq.jpg

Chris and his lovely bride, Erin

fullsizeoutput_753

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!

fullsizeoutput_7a3

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.

SwlvTdL+TWqoGpshy+skYA

Our wedding day

K4nzQJ74Q9uEVMipsg%dMA

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

sIjUHG7VT5GLpWyDpdhDcg

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

fullsizeoutput_737

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

T7DMU3tYRh+WMKUhKWgfjg

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.

 

oQOt6SKZQfeH8OSMIRx7IA

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.

rIhdKrnoQIu4xxxfQmevXw

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

eoSY7OjDS0SbgN7xEswU9A

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

J+8fWkjHS2W0pgWWnkZZSA

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

3LTChNGvR+Kn8KqtzvSCNA

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

y7egbairvygctdzkw4ow.jpg

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.

NM64QIrvRriz7eb5rqetqg

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.

 

rhomnlI+Rr2cEMStzO4Aaw

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

0oX2bOzrThOrTioI88wBaw

Ho ho ho Merry Christmas

ApMehRF4Q3uWQR7Kl5whsQ

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!

vghlgb4mrawllvmem0s9nw.jpg

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

 

Lassen Volcanic National Park: July 13-17, 2018

RPoc+oiiRFyfzfIGq3tlnw

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.

 

j0p2yAQlTbGKbrQBCtddug

Manzanita Lake early morning

 

VILi4pfURRekXuc024AI1Q

Butter Lupine

%va6mxM4Quec7sWz5R6C9g

Summit Lake, Lassen Peak in the background

3qjnxyJlSPS1WIydEbyQYw

Royal Beardtongue

30uyrukvsi2q81syduqwwq.jpg

Yellow Warbler before being banded

RZrmD6DXTt2gzkKoeUtKBg

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

HVxeL+yvTWmSN2SWuegR6w

Bye bye birdie

H%L9n5YXR52bH0TyKvCi7w

Chaos Crags, one of the hikes we did.

bymtpyryweqey7nisksg.jpg

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

ercmorsxr0wf2vkhfoa0ea-e1532267158501.jpg

White Veined Wintergreen

wGJYE9AwSH2sfq6D9Grvtw

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.

QMm3LszKTYO1zFvGL9J4Aw

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

bqpkSUZRQsCHXbGUVzoMwA

Up, up, and up we go.

 

espxjjxfrnin2msotvrnaa-e1532267215352.jpg

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

iaLM3ELEQzOYb00eFbAr8A

Mountain Pride

zMMlpw+aRryOyNIKk2prdQ

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

QZnta8KORvKJvJqmijwyxA

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

 

RkCLmP5qRy21gSVdmvqY0A

The summit!

59UnqHP9Q+yhlKna56CkGw

Lemmon’s Paintbrush

 

y1vaiu6gQtyNQuo4tndBew

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

Bend again: July 7-13, 2018

IMG_2850

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!”

9XjhwctTRm6NWovnzWbPlA

Full hook up

 

dhOAEbpNRrGeSUhJEwomMg

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

DgBQW+IrQNqQVpdxnRw2NQ

The lunch spot overlooking East Lake on the Newberry Caldera

dRd3c0b7SH6Qv7mgvYAb3Q

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

r%PF63uOS1+Kvc5cYomRvQ

Pinedrops

2rOZiOVQQIS7T6o5J9bQhA

Pussypaws

x7RaBRC2QV+1RTws3xK31A

Rock art

jOxDboCGQYOqCCq3UkIyhg

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

Jcb+3QkCTf+ADJuCDQq43A

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.

9K2cTbiTRmmpB+ovY0oLUA

The most brilliant Paintbrush any of us have ever seen

IMG_1401

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

IMG_2840

Action shot courtesy of Pat

fullsizeoutput_6ad

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

5+F1QDnnSlCqTEmmjbjSLQ

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

5AOVkb%ZSV6%Sf9qZgyySw

Washington Lily

ZNGHgkylT5ycbaTs8hQZbw

Benham Falls on the Deschutes

6PS1JlZZRK2rtOF9ADmO+A

Bye bye Bend

 

 

Riding Bikes on a Trail in Ketchum

6JzAIvpzSaKfXNjTOgrsFg

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.

kBzDM5sMSvqvDtYbfAk42A

Sheep facts

9fmw8CLVTiSaEb0NgBezgQ

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