Sunday, August 9, 2015

Day 32 - End of Trip: June Lake, CA

~ Just the Facts ~
Camping:  Driveway surfing at Liza's parent's place in Mountains
Activities:   Mono Lake Bird Walk, Gage's running camp, White Mountain Wild Horses

June Lake is a beautiful little mountain town in the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains.  It's at 7600 feet so the elevation takes some getting used to.  Gage was going to running camp in Mammoth for the week and we were staying at Liza's parents' home in June Lake.  What a spot.  

Acclimating is always difficult.  You have to make sure to drink lots of water and take pain reliever as needed and eat, even if you don't feel like it.  After a couple-three days, you will feel more like yourself.  Luckily, we'd been at 5,000 or so feet for a while so we didn't have that much acclimating to do.  

Gage spent the week doing two runs a week in preparation for a 10 mile run later in the week.  Mammoth is a bit higher at 8,000+ feet so he was working hard!  The kids got to have a lot of fun, too.  They visited local hot springs, swam in June Lake, and ate pies while very high in the Sierras.  

Liza took this panorama too far, making a straight beach look like a peninsula.  

While he was running, the rest of us were playing.  Liza went on a bird walk at Mono Lake, a nearby salt water lake that is a hot bed of birding activity.  

View from boardwalk at Mono Lake Cty Park
Mono Lake is an ancient inland sea.  It is the nesting place of millions of birds, including California Gulls.  

Liza and her stepdad, Igor, saw lots of amazing birds but I only included a couple here.  The magpie because they are such awesome birds.  And, the kestrel on the tufa tower because they were the most memorable bird of the day.  There was a family of kestrels near the parking lot and they flew around us all morning putting on quite a show!  

When we weren't watching birds, we drove out and explored the high desert of the eastern Sierras.  The best day was a drive out to see the wild horses at Adobe Valley.  They aren't exactly mustangs but they are wild.  The herd is managed to be around 75 horses.  We had just enough time to drive to the place they are usually seen and voila, there they were.  

Road shots by Greg

You see the horses in the shot, don't you? 

Greg enjoys taking pictures of the road ahead.  Liza enjoys capturing this view! 

We also went to see Ant-Man and ate out a few times.  We hung out with the parents and generally recovered from a long, but very fun, trip.  On Thursday, Greg and Ruth drove home early in the morning.  Liza picked Gage up from camp on Thursday night and we headed home on Friday morning, waving a sad goodbye to the parents.  

It was good to be home but there are many places on this trip.  The trip was awesome.  The journey really is the thing.  

Day 30 - 31: Carson City, NV

~ Just the Facts ~
Camping:  Driveway surfing at Liza's parent's place in Nevada's capitol
Restaurants:   San Marcos Grill, Pho Country

Leaving Likely, CA, we headed south to Carson City, NV.  Liza's parents have a house there and we were meeting her mom, Lee, to spend a couple of days before heading further south to June Lake.

It was fun to be in a city again after the quiet trip since Bend.  We ran errands, got haircuts, ate out, took showers and did laundry.  All the fun civilized things one does in a city.    Carson City is a great spot.   Both restaurants we went to were awesome.  Delish food.  Best part, hanging out with Mom.

Our last morning there, Greg and the kids headed off for June Lake and Liza and Lee followed shortly in the 4Runner.  We caught up to the FMC in the driveway at June Lake.  

Day 31 - Likely, CA

~ Just the Facts ~

In our quest to find unlikely (I couldn't resist!) RV parks, we stopped for the night at a most unlikely one:  Likely Place RV and Golf Resort.  In the middle of nowhere . . . really!, someone had the idea to build a lovely golf course and RV park.  

When I say the middle of nowhere, I'm exaggerating.  To get there, you head south out of Susanville until you get to the dot on the map called Likely (Don't blink!).  Turn left and drive for awhile until you see signs for the Likely Place RV and Golf Resort.  You drive through some ranch land.  

The cows are so used to seeing big motorhomes that they just don't care.  Yawn.  

Eventually, you get to the Resort.  Golf course, nice campground . . . beautiful.  There were a few other people there but we were very private and thoroughly enjoyed the views.  

One of the biggest attractions at the park is the very dark skies.  They have a section of the RV park dedicated to setting up telescopes and viewing the night sky.  

We didn't really participate in any activities offered at the Likely RV and Golf Resort.  We had dinner and drinks and chilled.  

Kind of like the cows.  

Day 27 - 28: Lakeview, OR

~ Just the Facts ~
Camping:  Base Camp RV Park, Junipers Reservoir RV Park

Driving between Summer Lake, OR and Lakeview, OR, we had a little trouble on the road.  The FMC lost power and we ended up having to do a repair in a gas station on the side of the road.  Luckily, the gas station owner was very nice and admired the FMC and offered some tips and tricks.  We eventually got it going again and then headed on to Lakeview.  We had planned to camp 10 miles outside of Lakeview at a very cool RV park in the middle of a huge cattle ranch.  With the FMC having electrical issues, we decided that wasn't a good idea.  We found a park right in Lakeview.  Greg and I drove out to the cattle ranch and decided that if we could get the FMC fixed, we would definitely stay there for the next night.  

It happened to be Ruth's 17th birthday, too.   Wow.  We had homemade Pho for dinner which is Ruth's latest favorite food.  Then we went into town and had dessert there.  No cake for my girl, she had french fries dipped in chocolate shake -- her personal favorite treat!

In the morning, we took the FMC to a repair shop in town called Max's.  He quickly diagnosed the issue and helped us come up with a temporary fix that would safely get us home without worry or hassle.  What a great experience (for comparison, see the nightmare that was Wells, NV).

We drove out to Junipers RV Park and settled in for the night.  The park is absolutely beautiful.  We drove through the ranch to get to our site.  We could often see cattle in the distance.   There were birds everywhere.  After we settled in, Greg, Ruth, and I took a drive around the ranch on roads open to guests.  There is a huge reservoir there with tons of geese and shorebirds.  We saw rabbits and hawks.  It was really beautiful.  

In the evening, we had dinner before kicking back to watch this sunset with cold drinks in our hands.  

We will be back.  What an amazing place.  We couldn't help but wonder how many other unlikely RV parks there must be in the US.  

Day 26: Summer Lake, OR

~ Just the Facts ~

I'm not going to lie, leaving Bend was difficult.  We'd had such a great time there.  We planned a leisurely trip to Carson City, NV, cruising down 395, a section we'd never traveled before.  Our first night, we stopped at Summer Lake, OR and stayed at the Ana Reservoir RV Park.  It was totally delightful.  Great view, almost empty, and very nice people running the place.  We did some laundry, relaxed, and had a lovely afternoon and evening.  We particularly enjoyed the antics of the sheep in the neighboring farmland.  Noisy but amusing critters. This country is vast, beautiful, and empty of crowds.  We saw more sheep than people by a long measure.  

Monday, July 13, 2015

Days 21-25: Bend, Oregon

~ Just the Facts ~

Liza keeps a close eye on the weather as we travel using a couple of apps:  Weather (built-in to the iPhone) which allows for quick comparisons of temps for places we've been on our trip and places we are planning to go; and Dark Sky, which gives micro-forecasts for just where you are.  All of this is to say that when we left Walla Walla, we knew it was going to be cooler in Bend.  We were excited.  To get there though, we had a long, hot drive ahead of us.  Beautiful though as most of it goes through the Columbia Basin.  

We had lunch at Sonic in Pasco, WA (part of the Tri-Cities area).  But, then, the motorhome wouldn't start when we got ready to leave.  An hour of fiddling and cleaning connections and unhooking and re-hooking things in 105F heat wasn't as much fun as it sounded.  But, finally, the big engine roared to life and we took off in relief.  

We stopped at this WWI memorial which is a life size replica of Stonehenge.  Pretty amazing.  It was very hot up there and a hot wind was blowing up the river.  Delightful.  

We decided to stop for dinner, let the motorhome cool down some, and then push on to Bend.  Or as close as we could get to Bend.  We took Hwy 97 which goes up and up and then comes out in this beautiful high prairie with views of Mt Hood and Mt Jefferson looming.  The sky was amazing. 

We did not make it to Bend, however.  We drove until about 10:30pm and called it a night at the Cow Canyon Rest Area.  We nestled in next to the big rigs, locked the doors, and slept until morning.  Worked great.  

We were so glad to arrive in Bend.  We stayed at a really, really nice campground (RV Resort!) in Bend.  We had decided to splurge for this part of the trip.  Beautiful grounds, spacious sites with paved slaps, storage for your personal items, hot tub, steam rooms, etc.  We arrived in mid-morning and after we set up camp, we took a drive to figure out what Bend was all about.  We had lunch at a fantastic Pho place and explored downtown and along the river.  We found a spot to rent kayaks and SUP (stand-up paddleboards) for the next day and made those arrangements.  Bend is a cool town.  For dinner, we tried the HIGHLY recommended Crux Fermentation Project.  Greg and I did a flight of beers and both found a beer we really liked.  His was the X Bock, a wheat bock beer and mine was Impasse, a saison farmhouse ale.  YUM!  The food was great.  The atmosphere too hip for us.  We loved it.  

Our friends on Instagram pointed out that Greg looks like the Most Interesting Man in the World here.  Certainly drinking a more interesting beer!  

Greg and the kids rented kayaks and I tried SUP.  I don't have as many pictures as I'd like of this adventure because SUP is fun and fairly easy but still took a great deal of care and coordination and taking pictures just wasn't high on my list.  :)  I did get up on my feet for several minutes but the first time I tried I did a fairly spectacular back flop into the very chilly Deschutes river.  It's probably best to try this sport for the first time in water that isn't moving so quickly.   I absolutely loved it though!  Greg and the kids had great success in the kayaks, of course.  A hugely fun adventure that we'll definitely try again sometime! 

I loved SUP! 

Ruth kayaking with me.  The boys left us so no pictures of them!  
After collapsing in a heap for a while, we went to the High Desert Museum which is part museum/part zoo.  We thoroughly enjoyed it.  Most of the animals at the facility can't be released back into the wild and are living their lives in the museum.  We got to see one of their bird handlers show us an adorable Kestrel who came to them when the falconer who was raising her realized something was wrong.  She was malnourished and therefore very small for her age.  She's healthy now but not a full-size kestrel.  So cute though.  

Burrowing Owl

American Kestrel

Bald Eagle

Barn Owl

Close-up for our kestrel friend

Porcupette (baby porcupine) getting ready for bed.  

Chickens at the pioneer living exihibt

Chippity-munk helping himself to some water

Our favorite display was the river otters.  They were awesome.  Obviously people have fed them as they were blatant beggars.  They are so cute and playful.  

Another big day was heading out to Smith Rock State Park north of Bend.  It's a great hiking and climbing area.  The Crooked River cuts through some remarkable rock formations and there are great trails throughout the park.  Rock climbers love this place and you can sit and watch people doing amazing things.  Greg and the kids set off to hike.  I set up a base camp near the rangers station with my camera, spotting scope, binoculars, and settled in to watch birds.  I saw lots of amazing birds including nesting Peregrine Falcons which was very cool.  

Greg and Gage walked down into the canyon and along the river.  Ruth decided to hike the trial known as Misery.  It climbs 1000 feet in 2/3 of a mile.  The views are amazing.  I was able to digi-scope her (using my iPhone camera in conjunction with my spotting scope) as she sat at the high point of her hike.  Amazing kid! 

Fish-eye lens on iPhone -- just for fun

Ruth at the top of Misery, enjoying the view! 

Greg and I walked down to meet her as she returned -- clearly she was doing great.  

Greg and I went back to Crux that evening.  The kids opted for leftover pizza and chillin' in the FMC.  Date Night it was. 

We had an extra day in Bend as Crown Villa was able to give us one more night.  We moved sights and had a chill day on Friday.  Greg got some work done.  Gage and I went into downtown to get him some new running shoes so he'd be ready for running camp in Mammoth.  We grocery shopped and got ready for the rest of our trip down Hwy 395 to Carson City, June Lake, and dropping Gage off in Mammoth.  

New territory ahead so we're excited!