Friday, June 10, 2016

Mammoth Lakes --- the first days --- We could live here (in the summer)

Convict Lake in the High Sierras

Roger here...  I am starting this post with the sunset from our first night in Mammoth Lakes, CA.  It was a difficult day that ended well.  Travel days are always a little tense, even after seven years of rolling around the country.  Most days go well.  Some days present problems that are easy to solve.  Things were more than tense on this day.  

The drive from Bishop to Mammoth Lakes is only an hour, if you drive slowly.  Our check-out time in Bishop was noon.  Our check-in time at Mammoth Lakes was 2:00 p.m. --- strictly enforced in this particular park.  Where were we going to park this big motor home for an extra hour?  Options are usually very limited.  Our problem was solved when we started to pull out of our Bishop campground at 11:55 a.m. --- but the solution was not one that we invited.

The last thing on our take-off checklist is to check the turn signals and brake lights to be sure they are working on the motor home and on our tow vehicle.  This is usually a formality.  They always work.  Not that day.  We had brake lights, but no turn signals on either vehicle.  We quickly determined that it was not a connection problem.  The problem was in the motor home.  

We were going to miss our check-out time.  Dianne got out the owner's manual.  I opened the engine compartment and found the fuse box.  There did not seem to be an appropriate turn signal fuse.  I crawled under the steering wheel --- nothing that looked like a fuse box.  Fortunately, there was a tire/auto mechanic business across the busy street.  I walked over and described the problem.  One of the mechanics referred me to the boss who told me to drive the motor home across the street so that he could take a look.  

Several irritating events ensued that I won't go into; however, the owner quickly found the source of our problem --- not a fuse.  He wormed his way under the console, contorting his body in ways that the human body does not bend.  He then traded our emergency flasher doo-hicky to replace our failed turn signal doo-hicky.  He then sent one of his guys to an auto parts store to get a new doo-hicky for the emergency flashers.  He gave me the failed doo-hicky as a souvenir --- an object I would never have found.  The good news --- we found a way to kill the extra hour (and more).  The business was A & L Tire and Automotive.   I cannot say enough good things about this business and the owner who dropped what he was doing to help us.  

We drove uphill for an hour to Mammoth Lakes.  When we arrived at our new campground the frustrations continued.  We thought we would have full hook-ups for the next eight nights. Evidently I reserved a water/electric site without sewer to save money.  My bad.  Oh well, we'll go to the dump station after four days.  Irritating, but not that big a deal.  Guess what?  Our site was so unlevel that we needed to use the leveling ramps that we have on hand, but seldom use.  This was time consuming, but not the end of the world.  As I was getting the outside set up, Dianne told me that the cable TV did not work.  After a visit from a very capable campground employee, we determined that one of the components in the motor home has probably failed (yet to be determined, but seems to be the connector box).  The problem was solved by running the cable* though a partially opened window and connecting directly to the back of the TV.  The front TV now works (at least here). 

(*This 100-foot coax cable has been the bane of Roger's existence [taking up space] for seven years, but I'm glad we had it today.   Up in the mountains there would be no channels over the air, so cable up here is necessary if you want TV at all.)

 More good news...  No mosquitos here and the bears probably won't climb through the partially opened window to eat us).  

So, we are here.  We are safe.  The motor home is not damaged and continues to run extremely well.  We are level.  The restroom/shower building is very near (more time before going to the dump station if we use it).   The temperatures are cooler.  The views of the snow-topped mountains are amazing.  We have TV.  The proverbial cup is half-full.  Tomorrow is another day, and what the next day (and the day after) brought us helped us to completely forget the rare-for-us travel day hiccups.

After a night's sleep we decided to walk into town.  Looking at the local  "ski chalet" McDonalds we determined that this ski resort town might be a little upscale.  We walked further down the street and found a Bass Factory Outlet clothing store with 80% off all merchandise.  We spent some money.  We picked up our general-delivery mail at the post office.  We strolled to the Visitors' Center where a very knowledgeable employee gave us great hiking information.  The elevation here is close to 8000 feet.  It was time for Dianne to rest and adjust to the elevation, but....

  ... I was feeling pretty well, and the dogs needed a good walk.  Bandido, Tequila and I took one of the many local hike-bike trails under a tunnel (avoiding traffic) and through a Jeffrey Pine forest.  We followed the paved trail for a mile before returning to a refreshed Dianne.  (Must be his Hoppes Swiss heritage, but Roger seldom seems to be affected by high altitudes, while I'm huffing and puffing along; it's always been this way -- D.)

We have many things on our to-do list for this area.  Since the day was young, I thought it might be a good day to do the beer tasting  at the Mammoth Brewing Company that I wanted to do.  This was not a top activity on Dianne's list, but being the good sport that she is, we went.

I opted to sample the "spring flight", five two-ounce samples of seasonal beers.  Dianne is not a beer fan and does not like hoppy beer.  She had a glass of Golden Trout Pilsner.  It was fun tasting the different beers....

.... and the view behind the taps was amazing.  

OK, with only 10 oz of beer and a little bit of Dianne's, I was good to drive.

Instead of going back to the motor home, we drove out of town and up into the mountains for a few miles.  Wow.  With no disrespect to the state of Kansas (or our friends from Kansas) --- Bandido, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.

The next morning, we packed up our hiking gear, and the dogs and headed to Convict Lake for a highly recommended 2.5 mile jaunt around the lake.  It was a jolt when we first saw the turquoise lake surrounded by soaring mountain peaks.

We stopped several times as we circled the lake for photo ops.  It was difficult to decide which of the fabulous views warranted a photo.  

Easy, level hike today -- no huffing or puffing!

We were hiking in an alcove with mountains on three sides of the lake.  The rocky mountain on the south side of the lake dropped directly to the water.  The photo below gives a good image of the edge of the mountain.

As we approached the west shore of the lake, the multi-colored heights of the western mountain became more pronounced.  We could have opted to take an extension of the hike into the John Muir Wilderness canyon between the mountains, but decided not to attempt that difficult hike.

We found a boardwalk as we reached the west end of the lake where snow-fed Convict Creek rushed down from the mountains into Convict Lake.  The boardwalk was extensive as the creek's entry into the lake was expansive.

Lots of spring runoff right now coming down the mountains to the lake

We took one last look into the canyon before taking an eastward turn to follow the north side of the lake.

The north side of the lake found us walking among the dreaded foxtails.  NO, Bandido! (jerk on leash) Do not sniff the plants!  However, the turquoise color of the lake became more apparent.

Dianne's view always includes perky red ears leading the way.

As Tequila and the rest of us moved along the shores of the lake, Bandido showed us that I was not the only member of the family who likes to climb up on rocks.

This was a memorable hike.  The fact that it was flat and not strenuous in the altitude made it a joy. The turquoise lake and the soaring mountains that surrounded it seemed unreal.  This hike alone made all of the frustrations that we faced in getting here seem negligible.  

The Pet Picture of the Day...

Near the end of the hike Bandido made it very clear that he wanted to drop down into the lake.  Tequila reluctantly (at first) followed.  

Tequila checking for lizards on the way down

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