Hopping down the 395: July 21-24, 2018


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.


Rainy day, laundry day


Sara’s old home


She was going nuts!


I’m telling you, she remembers.


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.


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


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



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


Stormy shot of Mono lake


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.



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


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.


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


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


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.



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


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


Chris and his lovely bride, Erin


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!


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.


Our wedding day


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


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


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


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.



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.


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


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


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


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


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.


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.



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


Ho ho ho Merry Christmas


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!


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


Lassen Volcanic National Park: July 13-17, 2018


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.



Manzanita Lake early morning



Butter Lupine


Summit Lake, Lassen Peak in the background


Royal Beardtongue


Yellow Warbler before being banded


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


Bye bye birdie


Chaos Crags, one of the hikes we did.


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


White Veined Wintergreen


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.


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


Up, up, and up we go.



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


Mountain Pride


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


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



The summit!


Lemmon’s Paintbrush



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

Bend again: July 7-13, 2018


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!”


Full hook up



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


The lunch spot overlooking East Lake on the Newberry Caldera


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






Rock art


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


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.


The most brilliant Paintbrush any of us have ever seen


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


Action shot courtesy of Pat


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


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


Washington Lily


Benham Falls on the Deschutes


Bye bye Bend



Riding Bikes on a Trail in Ketchum


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.


Sheep facts


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


Sun Valley: July 1-6, 2018



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.



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


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


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.


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


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


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.


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


Loving our public lands



Our spot was way, way down in this valley.


Amelia on the Grinder Trail in Galena.


Senate Meadows, Galena



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


116 years between us and a lot of stories


Lynn and Amelia, spring chickens compared to their old men


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.


Having fun


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