Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Lone Pine, California

Mount Whitney and Alabama Hills

Roger here...  It was a two-day drive from Sedona, Arizona to Lone Pine, California.  As you can see from the two photos above, the two days of driving were well worth the effort.  

We spent our first driving day at Blake Ranch RV Park and Horse Hotel just outside of Kingman, Arizona.  It was a really nice park.  I had trouble finding a decent place half-way between Kingman and Lone Pine.  I ended up settling on a KOA near Barstow, California.  It was pretty much a pit -- and an overpriced one at that -- but it was the only show in town.  

Awesome Dog Park!

Boulder Creek RV Resort in Lone Pine is great --- very busy and hectic, but also very nice.  The dog park was huge, almost as large as the one at our home at Retama Village in extreme south Texas.  We intended to spend two nights here, but we extended our stay to four nights (more on that later).

We only had a general idea of what we wanted to do here.  We had been here before, and knew we wanted to drive through the Alabama Hills again, but the rest was up in the air. 

 The people at the visitor center in the picture below were very knowledgeable about backpacking and issuing backpacking permits and taking reservations for climbing Mt. Whitney (the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states).  However, we were interested in day hikes --- no sleeping on the ground for us.   We bought a book with suggestions for short day hikes, bought a detailed map of the area, and listened carefully to their advice for us.

Memorial Day Photo from  Visitor's Center - Lone Pine, California

One of our favorite stops was at the Alabama Hills Cafe.  I had read about it on the internet.  When I asked about it at the visitors' center, a young twenty-something guy took over the conversation.  He told us we HAD to eat there, even if there was a line.  I am not sure I have ever received a more enthusiastic recommendation.  It was easy to find, so we waited outside in line for a table, and ended up sitting at the counter.  We both ordered delicious breakfasts.  Dianne also ordered a piece of berry pie, which she gobbled down before her breakfast arrived.

Alabama Hills Cafe & Bakery - Worth the Wait!
Pie Before Breakfast for Dianne

California Eggs Benedict

Dianne's choice.

Camper's Skillet

My choice.  Dianne gave me her avocados, and I scraped up Dianne's leftover Hollandaise sauce with my homemade wheat toast.  No lunch that day for us, not much supper either. 

After breakfast, we headed for the Alabama Hills, located just outside of town.  This is such an interesting place --- filled with gigantic eroded boulders that are stacked on top of each other at the base of  Mt. Whitney.  Many, many movies and TV shows have been filmed here.  John Wayne movies, science fiction movies (Tremors and Star Trek Generations), Gunga Din, The Way West, and....

The Lone Ranger!  Look at the photo below and let me know if you find Tonto.  I was not able to find him.  Our original plan was to dry camp (overnighting without hookups) in the Lone Ranger Canyon.  However, when we saw the weather forecast that called for temperatures in the 90s, we booked two more nights at the Boulder Creek RV Resort.  We would not have had air conditioning and neither one of us sleep well when we are sweating.  It would have been fun --- another time.

Lone Ranger Canyon

Back at the campground, we enjoyed this sunset from the front window of our motor home.

Mountain Sunset


We could see the zig-zag road in the picture below from our campground.  During our visit a few years ago, we wondered where it went.  A lady at the Visitors' Center told us that the road was paved (really?) and that the views were amazing.  My newly purchased hiking book indicated that there was an easy 2.5 mile hike through Horseshoe Meadow at the top.  Since we had some extra time in Lone Pine, we decided to see what we might find. 

The slow drive to the top was as memorable as the hike to come.  Our little Matrix performed admirably as long as we stayed in third gear (occasionally 2nd).  It took over an hour to reach the summit.

The trip to the top was 19 miles (more than we anticipated).  The temperature dropped from 82 degrees at 9:00 a.m. to 58 degrees.  Dianne, as predicted, began worrying about the car's brakes failing when we traveled back down the mountain.  I assured her that our car's engine (in low gears) would be doing almost all of the braking.   (Dianne was also hoping against hope that there would not be an earthquake while we were on that road, or we would have been squashed like bugs -- D.)

It was after Dianne took the picture below, that she announced that she would no longer be looking over the edge.

Getting Close to the Top

As we neared the parking area for the trail head, we were greeted by this sign.  We still do not have bear spray, but we do have a hand-held air horn.  Oh, and since bears tend to stay away from us humans if they know we are there, I was prepared to sing a repertoire of bear-related songs --- much to Dianne's chagrin.

Horseshoe Meadow was surrounded by a very tall pine forest and snow capped peaks.  58 degrees there.  No sweating on that day.

Horseshoe Meadow

The dogs really enjoyed this flat and easy hike in the cool mountain air.  So did Dianne, except that she was tiring easily and breathing heavily.  The 10,000 foot elevation was the culprit.  Fortunately, it was not a long hike.

We enjoyed looking at this gnarly dead tree trunk just before we returned to the parking area and retrieved snacks that we had stored in one of the provided bear canisters.  Peanuts for us.  Treats for the dogs.
Gnarly Downed Tree

The photos above and below show the beginning of our descent in 2nd gear.  The swirly lines in the bottom picture are roads.  We were really up there.

We pulled off the road several times to take photos.  The lupines in the picture below were everywhere.

The photo below is very scenic, but it is also quite interesting.  If you look carefully, you can see pockets of water in the valley.  At one time that valley was a gigantic lake.  Years ago a Mr. Mulholland from Los Angeles conceived an idea to transport the water from that lake to L.A. through a series of aqueducts.  That project did indeed take place, providing drinking water for Los Angeles residents.  Mulholland (of Mulholland Drive fame) is still not very popular in this part of the woods.

As we neared the bottom of the return trip, familiar sites came into view.

View of Lone Pine, California from Mountain Road
Alabama Hills from Mountain Road

It was lunch time when we re-entered Lone Pine.  Dianne wondered if the Alabama Hills Cafe might have any of those cinnamon rolls that we saw in the bakery case the other day.  They did!  We brought two back to the motor home.  Dianne made this a healthy meal by taking a vitamin and pouring a glass of milk.

"Nutritious" Lunch from Alabama Hills Cafe & Bakery

Tomorrow, we travel 60 miles up the road to the town of Bishop, where more adventures and two special visitors await.

The pet picture of the day was taken at one of the photo stops on the descent from the mountain.  The dogs are on full-alert because a Belgian Malamute puppy is running around at the pull-out AND Dianne is actually petting this intruder.  By the way, the owner of the dog had three hang gliders on the roof of her car.  She was on the way to Yosemite to use them --- a very nice lady, a very brave lady.

1 comment:

Nancy and Bill said...

Way to go Diane.... Life's Short... eat dessert first and second!!! Pie and Cinnamon Bun by lunch... you go girl:o))

We are so enjoying your travels and hiking. We will be doing both vicariously through you as we had to cancel trip to Maine this summer. Mom has some health issues that require us to give her some help for awhile.

You sure are taking us to some AMAZING places!!!! Stay safe and keep having fun...