Sunday, June 5, 2016

Bishop CA --- Robyn, Atul, Pastries, and Stunning Alpine Scenery

Middle Palisade Glacier Near Big Pine California

Roger here...  If you have not noticed, as this blog has evolved, I have been doing most of the writing.  It is not necessarily evident that Dianne takes more of the pictures.  She also edits them.  She is very good at that.  Occasionally, she adds comments, and sometimes I insist that she write about the things that most interest her.  Anyway, the opening photo makes it very clear as to why Dianne takes most of the pictures.

Since arriving in Bishop, California some very good things have happened to us.  The best thing was that we were able to spend an entire day with our daughter, Robyn, and her boyfriend, Atul.  Robyn had a week off from her busy schedule.  She and Atul decided that driving from L.A. to Bishop for a day to see us was how they wanted to spend some of that precious time.  One of those things that make life important.

We started the day at Erick Schat's Bakkery.  This is a tourist attraction, but it is also an excellent place to have breakfast.  There are more amazing pastries and breads here than you can possibly imagine.  We sampled several of them....

.... including this giant mule doughnut.  Mule Days is a gigantic festival in Bishop.  We missed it by two days.  Rodeos (with mules), parades (with mules), artistic booths, food. Ronald Reagan was the grand marshal of the parade one year.   We missed all that fun, but we did not miss the giant mule doughnuts. 

 After breakfast, we drove several miles up to and into the mountains for a hike.  What a surprise.  The nice lady in the Cardinal Cafe gave us a trail map to find an abandoned gold mine.

One of the directions on the map said to cross the creek on a bridge that might not look safe, but it is.  This looked like the described bridge, but it was not.  We were soon lost.  I was leading the way in the wrong direction.  This has happened quite a bit lately.  

Atul and I did the initial navigation. At one point, Robyn grabbed the map and took over, and...

.... we soon found the abandoned gold mine.  On the way back to the car --- Robyn and Atul took pictures.  Robyn and Dianne attempted to photograph an elusive mallard duck.

.... and selfies were taken from the genuine bridge that looks unstable, but is not.

Robyn thinks her hat is more stylish than mine --- she is right.

Lunch spot, Breakfast spot (across the street) and Robyn snapping a photo
We were hungry after the hike.  The Holy Smoke Texas BBQ in Bishop was highly rated.  Atul grew up in Texas. Dianne and I live in Texas.  It seemed like a good choice, and it was.

Dianne said that the chili made with brisket was the best she had ever had.  And, they had the official beer of Texas, Shiner Bock.  

After lunch, we visited a unique bookstore and a wonderful photo gallery featuring the work of Galen and Barbara Rowell, Mountain Light Gallery.   If we had disposable money and wall space, we would have spent some money there.    

 We then spent some quality time (that means pee and poop time) with the dogs before returning to Robyn and Atul's hotel, The Creekside, to sit by the brook, drink mango mimosas, and enjoy the early evening before dinner.  The pictures below are courtesy of Robyn.

We bid a sad farewell to Robyn and Atul from the bakkery the next morning as they returned to their busy lives.  We are both so grateful to have been able to spend such a wonderful day with them.  

Dianne here:   I am known as a shameless promoter of my daughters.   If you find yourself in Chicago between now and the end of July, check out Robyn's hilarious and very successful show 
#Date Me at Chicago's Second City Up Comedy Club.  (click on link for more info).   Robyn created, produced, and performs in this show, which still sells out and gets rave reviews.  It just ended its spring run (that's how she got a week off), but will start up again next week and run through July.   

The remainder of the day we poured over brochures from the Bishop Visitors' Center to decide what we would do with our remaining time here. 

 The following morning we readied our hiking packs and loaded our neglected doggies for an adventure.

We drove south on 395 to the small town of Big Pine, and climbed (come on little Toyota --- you can make it) up Big Pine Creek Road for 10 miles to the trail head near the Glacier Lodge for the North Fork Hike. 

The first leg of the hike was a little rough for us, even though it was visually stunning.    We were definitely going up (more effort), the altitude was high (shortness of breath), the trail was narrow and rocky (careful foot placement), and we had our dogs.  In the photo below, the reddish plants crowding the trail (not the bright red Indian Paintbrush flowers) were foxtails.  They were everywhere.  Unfortunately, they can be very unhealthy for dogs.  Their barbed seed heads can work their way deep into a dog's nasal passages or embed into their paws.  We were continually admonishing the dogs to NOT sniff the plants, and occasionally stopping to inspect their paws.  

Indian Paintbrush

The good news was that the temperatures at that altitude were in the 70s and that the trail description said that we would be entering a pine forest (no more foxtail?).  And, as I mentioned, the scenery was beyond belief.

Ok, Bandido and I are wondering why Dianne and Tequila are so far behind.  Looks like a picture taking session of a thistle?  Now that I see the picture, I truly understand.  She really does have a photographic eye.

Remember the opening picture of the Palisade Glacier?  This is a view of the southern-most glacier in North America from our hiking trail.

Ok, enough of this jaw-dropping scenery.  We were still going up through a tunnel of foxtails and admonishing the dogs, when we spotted picnic tables below us.  Maybe we could detour and go back a different way?  After a lengthy discussion we took the zig-zag trail down that you can see on the upper left side of the photo.  

The picnic area was next to a bridge that crossed the north fork of Big Creek.  With some coaxing from Dianne, I looked at the trail map.  We could get back to our car by crossing the bridge and following the gravel road to the Glacier  Lodge, then walking down the road for 1/2 mile.  
We decided to do that to avoid the foxtail, but first we wanted to enjoy the mountain stream....  

... or at least I did.  We found an easy access to the stream.  Look at that rock in the middle.  It would be easy for me to get out there!

And I did  --- at least part of the way.  Unfortunately, two young couples, each with their dogs, arrived just as I found my balance on the rock.  Bandido wanted to investigate the dogs.  I wanted to stay dry.  After a short time, it all worked out.

We let the young kids and their dogs enjoy the stream as we moved on.  There was plenty of time to take pictures along the gravel road, especially since we were now going downhill.

Quaking Aspens lined the road
Nice gravel road! Downhill!  We will be back to the car in no time....

Ok, what happened to the nice gravel road.  This is not an actual photograph of how the road changed, but it gives you the idea. 

 Uh-Oh!  What's this?  The gravel road obviously crosses the creek, but where is the bridge?  It would be a l-o-n-g uphill hike back to where we were.  We would need to retrace our steps (I hate retracing steps).  If we cross the rushing stream we might fall down, getting our cell phones and camera wet, and --- our hiking boots would get wet.  Dianne hates that.

Bandido said, "You babies!  I love getting my feet wet!  We are NOT going to fall down.  The stream is not that deep."

We put our electronics in zip lock bags and sucked it up.  I ended up dragging Bandido across (he turned out to be not as brave as he thought).  Tequila was even more hesitant, but Dianne really had no trouble forcing her to cross.  The picture below shows the ford that we reluctantly managed to cross.  Wet, sloshy feet for us.  Oh well.

The rocky road transformed back into gravel.  It was time to resume our reverie after our wet adventure.

In a short time we arrived at the Glacier Lodge cabins.  We loved this stone "casita" with the dart board on the chimney.  What a great place to spend some time with friends/family.

Walking through the cabins, we soon made it back to the paved road for a short walk along the road back to the parking area and our car, the little Toyota that could.

We still have two full days in the Bishop area.  We have plans.  Stay tuned.

The pet picture of the day shows Tequila with Dianne just before we discovered that we would need to ford the creek.

Boots and doggie feet still dry at this point!

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