The weather here in Mammoth Lakes has been spectacular (for lack of a better word).
We’ve experienced rain, thunder, lightening, heat, chilly, breezy, blustery, extremely windy and a double rainbow (I was working and didn’t have a chance to take a pic…dang it).
Late last week a family pulled in desperate for a space. There were 9 of them and the space limit on our site is 6. That meant they’d have to get two sites.
It was Thursday and it was around 6:00am when we were awoken by the FIRST of three families on the hunt for a spot. Those were easy-peasy to handle. I got them quietly registered and asked them to wait in the Day Use Parking so the occupying family could take their time to pack up and leave. They had to plan on waiting 5 hours. I wouldn’t budge on this point – they have until noon to vacate and it’s got to not be a pressured experience for them.
The two first families happily agreed. Come to find out this is a great place for Law Enforcement to hang out which is comforting.
Anywho, as I was cleaning our last space this super excited mom and dad came rolling over (Site 15) and asked if it was taken. They were in luck and boy were they stoked! We got them registered and they were able to occupy immediately. Like I said, they had 9 and LUCKY FOR THEM Site #2 was also available.
You are probably wondering HOW and WHEN will I get to the Stand Up Paddle Boarding point?
Just a sec…
The family unloaded all of their stuff. They had a LOT! PLUS they had a lot of kids which was probably difficult to keep noise levels down (they did their best). Did you know quiet time is OVER at 6:00am? Doesn’t bug me but there are a few people that are NOT interested in getting up that early…they aren’t kids.
The dad popped over to grab his car tags and we all started jaw jacking about plans they had. He looked EXTREMELY familiar too. Come to find out he had run our White Bull Race with his brother. It was like a family member had moved in and we were so excited to talk about all that kinda stuff.
On Monday (our day off) he offered his two SUP boards to use! We felt so lucky! I am still terrified of doing this after having a few lessons. I’m about as comfortable as a feral cat getting a bath would be. “Relax” is not possible – I’m wound tight as a violin ON MY KNEES.
Randy, on the other hand, was smooth as a satin ribbon coasting all around Lake George. It was a blast!
I’d had enough on one lap. I stuck around the shore noticing that I could see the bottom of the lake easily. There was a neon blue fish that was about 12 inches long below me and it dashed away…then about 5 minutes later a fish as round as a Coors Light can of beer wiggled beneath me and it was longer than the neon blue fish. Kinda freaked me out but it is safe (I’m assured nothing will bite me in the lake).
If you haven’t yet tried to paddle board I encourage you to do it! It is very peaceful once you get your bearing and balance. You are like a leaf floating around on top of the water with the greatest views.
We were lucky with next to no wind at all.
Tomorrow is our second day off and we are planning to hike to Red Cones (I think that is what it is called) past Lake McCleod.
We went into town for a late lunch at Robertos – I got a big salad and…a MARGARITA!! Unfortunately, again, I began to get the rash and the breathing problems so Randy rushed out to the truck to get me a benedryl. It made me sleepy but the breathing normalized and by the time we got home I was OK.
Then our boss (well I’m not sure if they are directly our boss at this point – we are still getting settled in on things) stopped by to tell us about a few things we needed to improve on.
LESSON for today: Get your work done well before your day off and be nice to people! It could result in an opportunity you never even had on your radar.
Too bad there are people wandering this earth that feel they are above other people for whatever reason.
They’re more educated
They’ve traveled more
They’re on vacation and you are working
Who they know
What type of car they are driving
How old they are
What type of handbag they carry
Where they live
Their RV size
Their lack of impact on the environment
They are retired
The list goes on…these are some of the ones that have surfaced in my recent life.
I’ll share two of the most recent ones…maybe they’ll teach something.
Me: “Excuse me Sir. Can I get you to put your truck in the parking place marked for your site?”
Old Man, craning his head out of his trailer door making quite a production of this question… planning his reply.
He had filled his parking place (which came with his extremely inexpensive site price) with a BBQ, table and lawn chairs instead of his truck. He had his truck parked in a spot AND he had his awning extended making it impossible to park a car. BASICALLY he had 4 parking places taken up and I’m gonna take a stab at the fact that he was one of those people that “ask for forgiveness, not for permission.”
Just as a note: each camp site has a giant space with an enormous picnic table, loads of space for lawn chairs). Also, you get 1 parking place per site. If you haul a trailer you get 2. One for the trailer and one for the truck. That comes along with your camp price. Oh, by the way, if you are a Senior and have a Golden Pass you only pay $12 per night to occupy all of this! It’s such a great deal. The price right now is $10 for a Lifetime Pass. I have been told that goes to $80 in October I think.
Old Man: “Sorry, is something wrong?”
Me: “Ya, I just need you to occupy two spaces and it looks like you have your stuff in one space, your truck in one and your trailer too.” (I did not mention the OBVIOUS extension of the awning).
Old Man: “Well do you have someone that needs a parking place?”
Me: “No, I just need to keep folks in the spots they pay for.”
Old Man, descending his trailer like Shrek bothered by Donkey, followed by his 3 year old grandson.
Grandson: (inaudible question and I caught a few words that sounded like “why did I have a trash bag in my hand and what am I looking for?”)
Me to little cute kid: “I’m picking up the little bits of trash I can see.”
Old Man: “So this is what you do now?”
Me: “Yes. I am a Camp Host here. I love it.”
Old Man to his grandson: “See this is what you can do if you don’t go to school.”
Me: staring at him stunned…I say nothing.
Old Man to his grandson: “If you don’t go to school this is what you’ll do, Timmy.”
Me: “OK well let us know if you need anything. I hope you have a great day.”
I thought about that conversation a lot as I walked back to our beautiful home nestled in the middle of giant trees, sun was setting and our pets waited happily for dinner to be served (ALWAYS grateful for everything). I thought about the lack of stress being up here has brought us. The people we have met have been so nice and even better: EXCITED to have found Lake George and a place to spend the night.
Later on the same day I was preparing dinner for Randy and I.
That guy’s comments were intended to make me feel bad and he did get that result. I had to remind myself of the things I am loving so much about this and also that I’m not complying to the egos of other people.
Don’t do anything to satisfy somebody else’s ego!
I saw Old Man approaching our site and gulped then got real busy in the kitchen out of sight.
Randy was helping a few new arrivals get settled and Old Man waited off to the side sort of behind a tree. I thought he left so I went out to help a family that had been waiting to check in. As my foot hit the bottom step I saw him there…shit. Couldn’t turn around now.
He waited until I finished helping that family (and I dragged it out as long as I could hoping he’d give up and go away…but he didn’t).
Me to Old Man, “Hi there again. Can I help you with something?”
Old Man: “Yes I just wanted to apologize for what I said earlier. It didn’t sound right.”
Me: “OK thanks. I appreciate that.”
Old Man: “Yeah, I just didn’t find the right words. I was just trying to prove a point to my grandson.”
Me: “Uh, ok?”
He walked away satisfied at his courage to apologize and my acceptance.
I don’t think it dawned on him that he stuck the OTHER foot into his mouth.
Look: we all make blunders and can (and probably do) offend each other on a regular basis.
I believe this has EVERYTHING to do with the fact that we are all completely (as in 100%) different in every way. No two people could possibly be the same which means no two people could understand what the other feels or thinks.
My solution to this is to try my best to just be positive and see the positive in every situation, no matter how ugly it gets.
This has become easier living up here at 9,000 feet. Maybe it is the lack of oxygen?
Don’t judge people. Try living without needing to have your ego massaged. Try to just be nice and kind because that’s how you would want to be treated.
OH: and for CHRISSAKE don’t freaking pee on the public toilet seats and not clean it up!
Somehow I agreed to get up at 5:45am on Sunday to do a new workout Randy has been stewing over for about a week. I admit I don’t actually absorb everything he tells me and when he is excited the sentences seem to break and a new thought begins right I almost actually begin listening and understanding. Chances are this is a normal thing between spouses.
Most of you know that Randy is built for adventure. He can do almost every sport VERY WELL. I say almost every sport because I spanked him at air hockey and lawn bowling. He won’t technically “cheat” but he does know and use every rule to the very last edge always staying honest.
This desire to be active is built in his DNA and if it weren’t for him I know FOR SURE I would not get out and moving on this planet at the pace we are currently at.
So, last night as I sipped my greyhound using the last of the vodka I stared at the fire and my mind was on the bear (or bears) that were circling all of our campsites.
He yammered on about this and that, mostly concerned with getting his fish perfectly cooked with fresh herbs, spices and vegetables. Seems Craig in Site 13 “The Rock” has a few expert tricks up his sleeve and he brought a huge fish over that had to be prepared FAST.
The sun was setting, the skies were pink and the trees darkened against it. It is seriously peaceful about 5:00pm here until 7:00am (that’s when the parking lot of the Day Use starts to fill up with fishermen (and women and kids). ALSO there are the guys and gals here for rock climbing – a TON of them. Like it or not, each of these groups have a personality that I’m observing and (in most cases) doing my best to avoid.
Back to the workout at 6:00am…on Sunday…
It wasn’t officially called The Blaire Witch Project but after the first lap I decided that is what worked best.
We are at the top of a long road up. At the bottom is an intersection to take you to Lake Mary. The workout was a TRX circuit that Randy said would be a lot of “upper body”.
NOTE: TRX is not the easiest to set up on a mountain side, by a lake or in a forest in general for much other than “upper body” really. We tried to do abdominal and it nearly cost us a rotator cuff and new front teeth.
The Lap was half a mile. 45% of it is uphill, the remaining 35% is an extreme uphill to the TRX tree. There isn’t a path when we climb the mountain and it is early which is perfect to run into a bear (or four) or an early riser serial killer.
Your mind sure does funny things when you are alone and watched too many scary movies as a teenager. For my own protection I kept my eyes darting everywhere in front, beside and behind me. I felt something there: Chupacabra, lurker, clowns, bears, mountain lions, Freddie Kruger…it kept me motivated to go, go go.
One Lap then 60 rows. Push-Ups at the top of the mountain.
One Lap then 24 tricep curls. Last set was super tough after the push-ups. Push-Ups at the top of the mountain.
I meekly tried running up on my third lap. I was alone (I hoped) with 300 trees, 16 boulders, 10 fallen trees, 50 tiny ground squirrels and 1,000,000,000,000,000 mosquitos.
One Lap, Push-Ups at the bottom of the mountain then up to the TRX for 24 curls (3 sets of 8…AND IT WAS FREAKING HARD).
One Lap, get the Push-Ups over with and last hike up to as many Flys as my arms would allow.
For the record I held between a 160 and 181 bmp for each ascent. Thanks mosquitos and fear!
We wrapped up the last circuit at the TRX and it was there I noticed the heart of stones. Well, it was a circle that I turned into a more defined heart. This is for you Meg and Bob.
One of our campers just happens to be a White Bull Trail Racer! The Monnet family is visiting and upon registration and the usual jaw-jacking we engage in we discovered Ted and his brother ran our races and then became inspired to keep running trail races! That was a special thing to hear.
Ted dropped by before lunch and asked us if we wanted to borrow his stand-up paddle boards. UH YES PLEASE AND THANK YOU!!
So, to finish being “active” for today I spent an hour paddle boarding across Lake George.
Courage, a bright (neon) blue fish about 10 inches long swimming beneath me and the gorgeous surroundings made a peaceful finish to a harrowing and crazy start my Husband Unit created for us.
Just wondering, does this blog make my butt look big?
PS I have discovered the Lynne’s Garden of Eat’n has one of the most delicious black bean burgers I’ve EVER had. ALSO, as a bonus my photos and blog are uploading 2x faster than the library and the Black Velvet Coffee place. Now I have an entire menu of food for “dining out” when the time comes. YAY!!
We have been Camp Hosts officiallly for 14 days now. I am enjoying learning new things and wake up each day curious to find out who will be joining us for a night or two.
The challenges have been our learning curve and the policies that the company we work for has written. We work for a CONCESSIONAIRE and that means they got a contract to manage this camp site as well as many others in INYO as well as other places. In order to get this contract you have to have so many systems in place to comply with what the Forest Service (representing “the people” technically) want done.
The bottom line is that the Forest Service and National Parks Service want men, women and children to get outside and enjoy the planet. They have rules for guests that they enforce, not us. We just pay attention to what is happening and make sure the sites are excellent to give the guest a really nice place to experience.
There have been a few rules I did not know about and I thought I’d pass them on to you so you don’t get a citation for $300 or more. These might not all make sense but, believe me, after being here for over 2 weeks I can see they had forethought.
– Never leave a campfire unattended while hot or lit. EVER.
– Never leave your campsite with your pets unattended all the time.
– Never drip grease or food into your campfire.
– Never let drippings or food drop onto your bear box or table. Clean up your messes immediately. Bears will hunt the space down after you leave…not cool for the next guest.
– Don’t leave your children at your site unattended.
– Keep 100% of everything you bring that has a scent of ANY kind in your bear box unless you are using it. Note to those of you that like to wear scented products: leave them at home.
– Bears do not want to hurt people but if you surround them and make them feel concerned, they have a natural instinct to take care of business as nature would have planned. You cannot reason with them or tell them you are entitled to that bacon you placed on the grill or the stringer of fish you spent all day catching. Bears run 30-40 miles per hour and you cannot hide in your tent or truck. Just respect that they are the boss of the food situation and you control your experiences by leaving as little presence as possible.
– Bears are attracted to more than the scent of food (crap!). They have been learning how to survive! Now they also notice bright colors (people with bright tents beware!).
– Plan to stay at a First Come First Serve place? Respect the guests that are staying there and talk to the Host first. Most likely they know the status of their guests and plans to stay and add time to their plans or leave. Check OUT is noon and Check IN is 2pm. That gives enough time to clean a site.
– Bring cash to pay exact change.
– If you are Military make sure you bring your ID for a MAJOR discount in most places.
– If you are over 62 years old you need to get yourself a GOLDEN AGE PASS to get 50% off of each night you stay. You have to have the ID on you and you have to have your ID to match it. Don’t dillly dally on this. Check it out here.
– Do not try to sneak things past the Camp Hosts. They’re just the buffer between you and some major authorities you will have to negotiate your rule-breaking with (and you will lose). The local police department, Forest Services, Sheriff and/or National Park Rangers will basically stare at you watching you dance and explain why you snuck more than the approved number of people on your site, why you are parking more than your allotted vehicle or disturbing your neighbors.
– Be nice and respectful to the hosts. You never know when you’ll need them to bend the rules for you and if you are a jerk you can guarantee they will make sure every single rule is applied.
Ok that’s enough for now.
OH, and we have met some amazing other hosts that will be our friends for the rest of our lives!
We pigged out at Gomez’s (they have vegan options!!) and had so much fun learning about each other, our backgrounds, experience, plans and families. This is Mona, Bill, Mike and Betsy.
There are definitely certain things you should bring and wear on a hike ANYWHERE.
History has woven the best cloth of disasters and successes and most of it has been well published, documented and experienced by 3 out of 10 adults.
Today was a majestic “speed hike” to TJ Lake via Barrett Lake.
“What is a ‘speed hike’?” I quizzed Randy last night at about 8:00pm as we were getting ready for bed.
We were battling wind all day on our jobs and I was seriously exhausted. I was SO TIRED I could not get the energy together to squeeze my grapefruit and have a fresh greyhound. That’s pretty tired.
“It’s a fast hike but not running.”
“OK got it.”
Thinking to myself that I had just noted in my journal that I would prefer to meander along the trails and look at the sights rather than buzz through keeping my eyes out in front to avoid tripping and falling AND trying to actually breathe without making myself nauseous.
Yesterday we rode to Horseshoe Lake on our bikes and then ran the lake loop. It ended up being and out and back of 5.5 miles (bike and run) with a total calorie burn (I wore my heart rate monitor) of 650 k/cal.
Today was a grand total of 3.25 miles and 800 k/calls burned!!
That’s because it WASN’T POSSIBLE TO SPEED on any part of this plan.
We had tons of stream and water fall crossings, ascent from Lake George (which is 9,000) to 350 measly feet and I had to stop a number of times to get my brain, lungs and heart together in harmony (and to let the little black dots stop bouncing in my view).
I was hoping it would get easier being up here and pushing myself to try a little harder but so far, after 5 days, I feel like I’m still at Square One. I’ll just “trust the process” and keep at it.
We know of a few friends that have plans to be here which is inspiring us to learn these trails. The method used to mark the trails is not super clear once you are on them. I realized today that both Ansel Adams AND John Muir would not want to see “markings” in their views so it is OK with me to get lost here and there.
When we arrived at TJ Lake we hiked in about a half mile and Randy found a perfect place to do TRX. Of course I had to take pics. I took WAY too many (as per usual).
We followed the signage but ended up lost. TJ Lake “Loop” is not actually around the lake itself. That’s where it was confusing. At the intersection (of the split of the “loop”) we took a right and found the actual lake quickly. It is majestic! We hiked all along the path going up and down and up and down rocks, tree line and near the actual lake. It was chilly (because it was early) and it was perfect. We continued our trek and completely missed the turn off the loop. That took us to boulders that were unpassable (in my opinion) and lots of snow. We decided to turn the bus around and go back the way we came.
Just by chance I caught a sort of “path” looking like part of the trail but we had to go UP on a steep section. We didn’t have a lot of time to dilly-dally so we hustled up with Kona leading us. By pure chance we had discovered the closing portion of the “loop” and thankfully made it out in time.
We headed down past Barrett Lake again and hurried back to Lake George. BOY do I appreciate going downhill and I’m super happy my knees are holding up.
We got to Lake George and there was a guy fishing sitting out in the middle of the lake on what looks like a Lay-Z-Boy recliner. He had caught something and we could see his line tugging. Randy wanted to see (as did everyone else on the shore) what he had caught so we stayed there watching (thankfully in the shade, it was heating up).
Privately I was hoping the fish would get off the line and repeated that to myself in silence. That poor fish was just trying to swim around and likely has a family to get back to. The fisherman most likely lives within a few miles of a grocery store packed with food…so he really, technically, doesn’t need to catch a fish. I’m sure I’ll be revving up a lot of opinions on this point but that’s just how I look at it now.
Well, he caught the fish and it was about 12 inches long flopping all over the place. He got it in his net and we moved on.
Later in the evening we were winding down after our last rounds. I had dinner in the InstantPot (baked potato) and planned to top it with chili I’d made. We had time for me to take Piper on a walk so I got geared up. Taking her on a walk requires protective gloves, sturdy running shoes, a lead, harness on her and her cat carrier. I know I look like a weird Cat Lady and when I walk her I can hear whispers of disbelief that there is a cat at the end of my lead.
While walking her toward Site 1 a young man (like in his 20’s) came storming down the hill toward the Camp Host site. Randy was outside getting a fire stoked. The man was reporting that a bear (the same one) had invaded a family picnic and was eating everything WHILE THEY STOOD AROUND TAKING PHOTOS AND EGGING IT ON. Idiots. Serious idiots. Randy got his running shoes on and grabbed Kona to head down to the lake edge to check it out. We were not “on the clock” so checking into it as a concerned citizen.
Did you know that bears can run up to 30 miles per hour?
Did you know they can and will open up your cooler and take your beer, soda and juices? They will pop them with their teeth and enjoy the nectar.
Did you know that it is just plain STUPID to get close to a bear in any circumstance and take photos ESPECIALLY?
The young man tried to get them to stop but they told him to F-off and that’s why he came to get help from us.
Randy found the scene with these people surrounding (EVEN BRIGHTER, RIGHT?) the bear chowing on their food. He begged them to PLEASE get away from the bear and the man there replied with, “my keys are on the table!” Makes sense to me! There are reports up and down the coast of bears taking advantage of people picnicking with their food spread out everywhere THEN taking their cars for a joyride.
Is this how “thin the herd” came to be something proven?
Randy returned to our trailer and called the Mammoth Mountain Police. No one (we know of) showed up and based on the lack of screams, nobody was hurt.
Friends: You will save yourself and save the bear if you just pack your stuff up, do NOT wear perfumes or cologne, dress in clothing that is neutral, stay in groups and STAY AWAY from them. They are learning bad habits and we are teaching them.
The day before a bear was walking along the edge of the lake taking all of the fish on these things called “stringers”. Those are when a fish is caught and the person is collecting them up. Again, who needs to do this? If it is a sport and you get excited catching a fish…seems to me you can just throw it back in and let it leave or be bear food maybe. ANYWAY, I was secretly happy to hear this was happening but then I read in my BEAR AWARE book how bad it is.
The less impact we have on the wildlife the better for their survival. When a wild animals gets pushed out of its habitat it has to deal with it the only way it knows how to. When this gets to bother a human then the wild animal either gets killed or “relocated”.
I went to bed dreaming about bears and saving them. TIPS I’M LEARNING – AND RECOMMEND YOU CONSIDER IF YOU PLAN TO COME TO MAMMOTH
SIDE NOTE: Did you know that having iCloud is MEANINGLESS to get your devices synced up if you do not have a solid WIFI connection and lock your phone for an extended amount of time?
SIDE NOTE: Did you know that you should not ever leave to hike without water, a compass, a whistle (this is Black Bear country…I’m reading my Bear Aware book plus it is posted at the park entrance), a long sleeve shirt, wear long pants (mosquitoes), a hat and a map? We get a C- on today having forgot a few critical things. Take a guess which ones. We DID pack a TRX system though and I’m sure we could have eaten is if we got lost in the mountains.
Got plans to roam? Get yourself some bad ass hiking boots. Save your money and get them from REI (they have a no-questions-asked return policy). My hiking boots are Merrell’s and I love them. They come up near my ankle and this came in handy today when we had to go on all fours to move forward on what we thought was a hiking path. They also have grip on the bottom unlike any trail running shoe I’ve worn. MOSQUITO BATTLE
They’re gonna win eventually. If you do not like spraying yourself with bug spray (which seems to NEVER really work) it is recommended you wear loose fitting clothing. I agree with this completely. In Bishop I was eaten alive (my legs were mostly) as we sat outside near a running creek. Here I have not had one bite and we’ve been outdoors every day for hours. DO NOT WEAR WHITE
Learned this the hard way.
We started on a trek to Crystal Lake (did I mention we got lost?) and I planned to wear a short sleeve completely white bummy t-shirt. Halfway up the start of the hike (I’d say a quarter mile MAX) my shirt had attracted these tiny black bugs – like 50 or more! They were no bigger than the tip of an eyelash. I’d have taken a photo but they would not have shown up they are so small.
Luckily I’d also brought my light flannel and after Randy brushed me off I buttoned that baby up to the top button…GROSS OUT…and made an open comment that I would be showering and washing my hair tonight FOR SURE.
We also discovered these little black bugs like white ANYTHING – like manuals and paper. While reading out Host Manual the pages were getting dark with these dang black bugs all over it. WORK SCHEDULE
We have been testing different schedules out.
Today we woke up at 5:30am to slowly rise and relax while sipping coffee and eating breakfast before getting our morning rounds started at 7:00am (which seems to be before most campers rise).
When that was all done (about an hour) we got the pets fed and walked then packed to go on our hike.
That’s about all today!
If you would like a copy of The Wanderlust Leaf you need to send a SASE to (follow this exactly):
Wanderlust Leaf Editor
PO Box 9158
Mammoth Lakes, CA
SASE is a Self Addressed Stamped Envelope
Last night I had a little attention on whether or not a bear would be visiting again.
I thought I’d given my BEAR AWARE book away because I could NOT find it. Not sure how I lose anything at all in this small space! Today, while getting the Dirt Devil out I found my book. Whew.
The percentage of people that have no idea what to do when a bear comes to their site is surprising. I mean, I had no idea and have asked Randy to pop-quiz me during the day just so I don’t freeze up. I did read about it earlier but I guess I just forgot plus if you don’t use something regularly there is just no reason for your brain to keep it in the cache right near other important things (like the billions of passwords we are supposed to remember along with our usernames!?!?).
Thankfully we had NO BEAR VISITS last night. I still didn’t sleep great worrying about all of our campers.
TOUR OF OUR CAMP SITES
When we got this job I immediately tried to get a feel for what and where we were going. I had not been to Lake George and never visited Mammoth Lakes in the summer. My winter visits were also limited to the road to Mammoth Mountain and the rental condo we stayed at…and the visit to the grocery store.
Our visit in April was a bust because the place was still under 20 feet of snow. We did have an incredible trip, met our Operations Manager and the Camp Host that had taken care of Lake George for (I think) 4 years in a row.
Because I couldn’t find anything it dawned on me that a little photo gallery plus description of each site might be helpful. So, here we go!
The campground sites are on a loop. They are nicely spread out yet close enough to the two restroom facilities (no shower) which are kept extremely clean.
Right outside of the campground is Day Use. This fills up quickly with people out to fish mostly. I’ve never seen so many fishing rods! Day Use has a restroom but the people always seem to use the one meant for the campers. It is plumbed and the other is not. The Campground restrooms have no electricity, so bring a flashlight in the evening.
Nearest to the restroom (about 30 yards) this site has the closest access to the actual lake. There is a picnic table, fire ring, giant bear box and very manicured space for a tent. The space is large enough to have a few lawn chairs which are critical for full relaxation! You can also see the sky clearly at night and take in the magic as comets whiz by.
Coming up…Site 2!
OH AND CAN YOU HELP SPREAD THE WORD: Lake George at Mammoth Lakes is OPEN!
Question: If a bear shits in the woods at 9,000 feet elevation on a side of a mountain, how long does it take for a 11 year old loving chocolate lab to find it and begin snarffing it down (at least 4 bites make it) before his owner catches up to him?
Answer: about 3 minutes.
The fun continues in our plan. Today is a SPECIAL DAY for both of us. This is the actual date that we set (7-17-17) to be completely untethered and experiencing a new life out on the planet…moving across it (albeit slowly) and soaking in all that we can. We talked about it for years and then, on a birthday camping vacation near Cambria, we decided to stop talking and PICK A DATE. Boy did that help us a lot. Every single motion, action, penny…energy… we could focus it on our goal. When things would get hairy and unfun, we reminded each other: 71717. Then we’d laugh off the problem knowing that we were going to make this goal happen and dream about what was next.
On that note, it is NOT exactly what we were dreaming. Well, factually I can only speak for myself. Randy will have to get his blog rolling with his thoughts. I know he is having a great time (except for Kona eating bear poop this morning) because he is so dang relaxed, calmer than ever, anxious to be productive and do a good job at our current employment.
Back to “not exactly what we were dreaming”.
That has everything to do with our beloved pets.
Having two dogs and cat makes it difficult (especially when we were baking in Bishop on stand-by for Lake George). Zoey got really sick and we had to visit TWO vets within a week. The heat was just too much for her and we couldn’t find much relief (carrying her is a joke – she’s way too big for a backpack….we tried) so we can’t go far distances. Piper (the cat) was bored to TEARS in Bishop so we began taking her with us on our visits up to Mammoth. Come to find out: SHE ACTUALLY WOULD JUST PREFER TO SLEEP ON THE FLOOR NEAR THE COOL AIR THAN JOIN US ON A TRIP. Kona is just Kona. He has one marble in his brain and when it falls out of the socket for “balance” and “good choices” we are doomed to find out the repercussions (thus giving us ANOTHER lesson in the same subject we are schooled in over and over and over). We decided to leave him in the travel trailer (in Bishop) with the air blowing and a movie on (Uncle Buck). We just needed to get groceries and stop for Wifi use at the only local brewery in town. The entire living room, kitchen, den, office (sounds big, right? It is about 20′ by 30′, furniture included) was strewn with the trash that WE FORGOT TO TAKE OUT. I think our brains were fried and that had to be why we made such a dumb mistake. Took look at it on the bright side: we had talked about making a checklist of things to do when leaving…and that got done THAT DAY. Haven’t had the problem since.
Now we’re up in Lake George where it is 5O degrees cooler!! 50!!! I am glad I kept a few long sleeve shirts. Zoey’s recent trip to the vet was not cheap but it has resulted in a happier pup just bouncing around enjoying herself again.
Our jobs are officially titled CAMP HOST.
We have our travel trailer parked at the entrance area of the Lake George Campsite. Question for our experienced RV friends: WHEN WILL BACKING A TRAVEL TRAILER BE EASY AND STRESS FREE? This one was super tough. We did not have much room for error at all. It took us about 8 attempts but we/Randy got that sucker tucked between giant pine trees, next to a bear box and picnic table PLUS far enough in to connect up the water, power and sewage. Yep, he’s getting STUD POINTS in my book. That. Was. Not. Easy. I’m thankful we won’t be doing it again for a while.
We work for a company called California Land Management (or CLM). I have learned that the National Parks (I hope I am getting this straight) contract private companies to manage the campsites. Just want to give a SHOUT OUT to these companies because I am now learning how much work is involved with giving you (the camper) an excellent experience. I am halfway through our company handbook and I’m just amazed. I had no idea what it took and now that I’m part of it I want to beg you: BE KIND TO THE PEOPLE MANAGING THE PARKS (whether they are at a private company or working for the Forest Service, National Parks…whatever).
While it sucked waiting in Bishop to begin, the fact is that it was NECESSARY so the place would be absolutely SAFE for visitors to camp at our site. The winter dropped 20 (at least) feet of snow on the mountain and it is still there melting. The forest service people that I’ve met have been really professional. I got to see a tree chopped down (John) and the inside of it was hollow. Now I’m not going to be sad when a tree is chopped down “for a good reason”. That tree would have killed someone and it was right near the pathway. Those Forest Service people have their jobs cut out for them. The water is another situation that had to be handled. You can’t just drink the water! Well, you CAN but it is risky. There is a government entity that actually takes responsibility for this being safe and as annoyed as anyone wants to get: they aren’t going to let you poison yourself. I met another Forest Service worker yesterday named Jack. He was getting the potable restroom cleaned then trying to get the bear boxes working (they were bent closed and no matter how hard I tried I could NOT get it open for a Day Use person who was trying to abide by the “don’t leave food in your auto” laws. (Hey Johnny!)
Lake George was supposed to open up on June 1st. That got bumped to end of June. Then it got bumped again to “mid-July”. A lot had to happen between the day we applied to be Camp Hosts to the day we got ourselves settled up there. I think CLM runs 12 different sites and they are doing their best to get them all open (refer to the paragraph above). Actual humans have to get things done and there is only so much time in a day (and Mother Nature doesn’t really care about routines, schedules or plans). Everyone with reservations had them cancelled (for the reservable sites) until the 27th of July. I was told that they were all notified but of course there are people that do not read their mail and showed up with their entire rig and families to be turned away. It would make sense that there would be emotions pouring all over. Guess what: the CLM workers had to take that pain and they just kept working as hard as possible to get the place open.
Which brings me to THE PEOPLE running the camp sites at CLM. Seriously COOL PEOPLE that just want one thing: you to have a great experience. I’m not kidding either. I’m still learning the ropes and the rules and expectations but the seasoned men and women I’ve met have been SO HELPFUL getting us rolling.
Our Boss: Dillon
Service and Maintenence Team: Mike, Justice and James
D/Ops Manager (I’m still learning): Cindy
Recycleables Manager: Wendy (I think)
June Lake Host: Karen
Coldwater Camp (I think) Host: Betsy
Lake Mary Host: Mona
We met the Operations Manager for INYO (Justin) back in April when we came up to see about what things looked like (and it was covered in snow and we snowshoed out to Lake Mary.
Dillon visited us to get us rolling. Cindy gave us all of our paperwork and also helped Dillon give us quick training so we could open. At 3pm on July 14th we were allowed to have a camper! Our FIRST camper! It was sincerely exhilarating.
We have one book to read between the two of us and it is about 3 inches thick of rules, guides, tips…etc. Randy finished it on Day 2 in between helping people and our tasks. I am mid way through it as of yesterday.
We need to make rounds in the camp three times every day. Depending on the circumstances (like a bear came around on our first and third day) we do this at 7:00am, 2:00pm and 7:00pm. We cannot work more than three hours each and it is a scramble to make that happen. I think the biggest task is maintaining good relations with the campers answering questions. We also get people from the Day Use Only area coming over with TONS of questions.
I don’t have it memorized but our goal is to work with the US Forest Service to help the citizens enjoy this beautiful park. People need to feel welcome! That means having awesome conversations with anyone and everyone that wanders to our trailer. I think I’m going to go into town and pick up a few area maps or something to help them find the trails (we are no experts on these trails at all…and we got lost (that pic at the top is of Randy trying to figure out how to get us to Crystal Lake…the trails still have snow covering them).
People are up here to camp, fish, hike, picnic and enjoy the weather.
Our first night (July 14th) we had a bear sighting by a camp guest in the morning.
We were told a few stories about how bears 🐻 behave in these parts and they were PROVEN last night.
A lady was making bacon for her family on the grill and a bear walked into her camp site and up to the grill and took all the bacon and at it right there while she was frozen.
A family was eating their dinner at Lake Mary and a bear came up (without Reservations!) and ate all of their food while they screamed and yelled (and probably took their phones out taking pics) helplessly. That was at dinner time!
Last night at about 7:00pmwe had done our final rounds and I was preparing dinner. We planned to eat our on our picnic table with a fire going. There was a Father and Son that had joined us from Germany and did not speak a lot of English. When I checked them in I noticed they did not have a lot of food and I thought they might be hungry. Randy encouraged me to walk up and invite them over for dinner so I started up the hill to their site (which is #8, the best view of the lake).
I was about halfway up and it was dusk. I was wearing my progressive glasses, not my contact lenses. Distance isn’t the greatest. Dusk doesn’t help either. The moon was out and all I heard was the flip and flop of my sandals. I breathed in deep enjoying the space and glancing around the sites as I passed them. Then I heard it, “GET OUT OF HERE!!” Over and over. Site 10 (at the top of the campground) nicknamed “Utah” (he was a dad from Utah) was dealing with a bear blowing through their site toward my German Family site!
I stopped and tried to remember WHAT TO DO. Mike (maintenance) had just told me what to do but I was panicking and could not remember. I saw the shadow of the bear moving along the ridge toward my other sites. CRAP!!! I had to protect my people! But HOW!? I squinted again toward where the yelling was coming from and realized it was only 30 yards away from me. I could not turn and run away (but boy did I want to). Then it hit me: MAKE NOISE. They don’t like it (and I’m sure it is more like a mosquito buzzing around them because technically they could squish us like bugs) and move on. This was a new bear just recently kicked out by its mama and trying to survive I was told later.
One of my MOST IRRITATING qualities is that I can make noise. I learned how to whistle and it impresses (read: irritates) anyone directly in front of me. I began to whistle over and over to warn Randy and hopefully help get the bear moved on. I was really worried it would decide to head in my direction then I’d have to figure out what to do next (stand there and whistle?). I heard Utah yelling at the other sites to STAY IN YOUR TENT over and over. In a flash I realized that a tent was really not much of a protective dwelling – especially if there was food in it! Those bears have a keen sense of smell and you really can’t outsmart them.
Then the bear disappeared over the side of the mountain toward the lake. I ran up to the site and talked to Utah. He was one of the campers that was disappointed he’d missed the last bear pass through (it was a rumor). He wanted some ACTION and he got it! I think he slept better than any other night satisfied he’d gotten his wish. I approached Site #8. “My German Friends! Are you OK!?” I yelled out. There was the sound of a zipper and out popped Dad. They were fine (whew). I asked if they were hungry and that I had extra dinner if they wanted some but they’d eaten and were just settling down for the night. Well OK then, everything was good (except my heart was racing from all of it.
Well, that’s the latest (as of last night) and I’m sure I’ve missed a lot.
We are on a break in town and I’m sitting at the public library using the wifi trying to get things updated on my phone through iCloud which has been a complete JOKE.
I sent out the beginning of my Wanderlust Leaf envelopes. Please let me know if you got yours. I sent out a bunch of post cards and letters over the past two weeks but I have no idea if people are getting them. The Post Office here has low ratings and all of the reviews are because they lose things. Fingers crossed my stuff wasn’t lost! I can’t even remember who was in my last batch of post cards: JK? Neema? Anitha? Manzoor?
Running at 9,000 ft elevation is a REALITY ADJUSTMENT. We are getting up early every day to squeeze in a little true heart-pumping exercise.
We ran from Lake George to Lake Mary and were going to head into town (go right) but there were three deer on the path on Lake Mary Road so we turned left toward Horseshoe Lake. Getting up and out before 6:00am helps you see some pretty amazing stuff.
We hiked toward Crystal Lake (photo above) in the afternoon and got lost plus we had to hurry back to get our final walk through of the site done. AND mosquitos were suddenly buzzing around.
We rode to Horseshoe Lake and tried to ride Mammoth Lake Pass but it was WAY too technical for me and ruddy so we opted to do the Horshoe Lake path. It was covered with snow, water crossings AND on our way in a hawk dive-bombed Randy coming INCHES from his head as we rode past. I could NOT believe what I was seeing! When we finished that out-and-back we did some push-ups on a log in the empty parking lot (and helped a lady that let her dogs off leash and they were running around in those dead trees…which are all dying because the CO2 is elevated in this area…pets have to be careful!).
IN CLOSING…FOR NOW…
This has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
You can do this too.
No matter what your circumstances there are plenty of roads to travel and places to explore. Don’t wait until you are too old, too weak, to tired…DO IT NOW and feel the energy of this beautiful planet fill in so much good space and squeeze out the negativity!
Do things because you want to, not because of someone else’s ego! That’s key in my opinion. Read or listen to (even better) Stuart Wilde. He is a philosopher with a great accent and an even greater sense of humor.
Currently we are slotted to work until our trip to Ireland which is mid-September. Our pets will be living with their Aunt Cherril in Simi Valley while we are away.
That’s the plan as of today and it isn’t solid and it might change and I’m OK with that.
I love and miss all of my family and friends!
🙂 xo Sarita
PS: I’m posting this and I think it will go to Facebook. I cannot get to Facebook at all and only get an hour here and there when we come into town for groceries. SO: if you want me to see your comment please leave it on my blog here. Also, our address is still the same. PO Box 9158 Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546-9158 (make sure you leave the -9158 on the zip).