June Lake Brewing

We are hurrying to experience the different parts of June Lake…mostly based off of recommendations by people we meet or those we trust that have been here before.

On that note…we HAD to go to June Lake Brewing Company so what’s-his-name could get a beer.

I’m not really into beer but I am into having a good attitude and also into seeing my Husband Unit happy!

We heard a rumor of a Hawaiian Food Truck parked outside of a brewery and we JUST HAPPENED to need to go into June Lake to pick up our mail.

Now June Lake is all of 8 blocks by 4 blocks and bumps right up to the lake. It’s sincerely a beautiful little town (they don’t have a filling station but they do have a tiny grocery store with 14 aisles of essentials INCLUDING an organic section!).

You can’t get LOST in June Lake unless you are completely focused on drinking a cold beer sitting by the lake instead of actually replicating the clear directions given to you by a trusted friend. So we got lost SOMEHOW in a 8 x 4 block area. Luckily it was daytime.

After making 5 or 6 right turns we hit the T and there it was: June Lake Brewing Company.

If there were soundtracks with life this vision would be accompanied by the London Philharmonic Orchestra laying down Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue in an outdoor venue.

Sun blasted all around us.

The golden leaves on the trees surrounding the intersection glistened and waved in a very welcoming way.

I felt my Husband Unit breathe deeply in anticipation.

Time to park the big ass truck we have. Hmmmm….let’s see…there are plenty of options.

But tunnel vision took over again so we parked completely crooked in a beat up parking lot almost hitting two pedestrians and a brick wall. I kept my mouth shut and hesitated before getting out just to scan WHO SAW THIS ALL HAPPEN (how embarrassing!).

Once the coast was clear I joined Husband Unit at the Hawaiian Food Truck where he was staring and scanning at the incredible options available to us. The brewery was on the other side of the parking lot and there were plenty of happy beer-sipping people on the deck in the sunshine enjoying themselves.

We ordered (I got a vegetarian noodle thing with kale and a medley of other fine veggies…and a super hot pepper sweet sauce on the side and he got Poke Tacos with cold slaw). As he paid (which tax was included) he inquired about eating it with his beer over at the JLB. “Oh we’ll bring it on over to you, sir!” He glanced at me with complete excitement! “Wow that is freaking cool!” I told the young lady (everyone is young here, for the record).

Next stop: June Lake Brewing Company’s outdoor dining area “Sunshine Preferred”. It was a little chilly out (our nights have been in the 20’s and the afternoon has been in the 70’s).

We scooted into a table sharing it with a young (again, everyone is young here) “working out their personal problems over a brew or two”. Randy SPRINTED (practically) into the brew house as I yelled after him to just pick something out for me.

Cue Gershwin again as he returns to our perfect little table spot with two glasses of golden nectar AND within 2 minutes of sitting down our lunch was delivered. Timing!

My noodles were OK, I wasn’t actually hungry. The beer was “beer” with a ginger aftertaste…meh. But we aren’t here for me so I sipped politely and ate slowly.

Husband Unit, on the other hand, was in heaven. He wolfed down his first poke taco too quickly IMO. I’ve learned to stop trying to regulate the speed he eats (which is bionic).

In the old days, when I’d mention he might consider slowing down to give his taste buds a chance to TASTE the thing, he would reply, “my mom raised me to eat fast and we always ate fast…can’t have my food cold.” My retort was (I thought) common sense: “Honey, that was over 40 years ago. I think you could move on from that one.” To which he just smiles.

ANYWAY, one taco down and he began eyeing my noodles. I pushed my dish over and encouraged him to “give this a taste!” It was really flavorful, hot and filling. I pretended to sip my beer and looked around the deck giving him the opportunity to feel shovel huge Daddy-Size bites before pushing my dish back to my side of the table.

My appetite was satisfied and as he polished off his last taco I asked if he’d finish my noodles. Pointing at my paper bowl, “I’ll be getting THIS next time we come here.” He gulped down more cold beer visibly HAPPY and RELAXED.

“This place rocks!”

Yes it does.

Yes, it really does.

Cheers!

Bouncing Off The Treadmill

Yesterday I was a little scatter-brained when we went to the gym.

It was another 8 hour work day and most of it spent in the kiosk helping people check in and answering questions over and over and over and over. I’m not complaining, I’m reporting.

Right after lunch there was a line of automobiles, RV’s, Travel Trailers and trucks about 10 deep. I got a little rattled starting right at that moment in time. I think we all know when things are out of our control (even a tiny bit). I think a little bit of “fight-or-flight” adrenaline leaks into the nervous system.

Being a Libra on the cusp of Scorpio, you will rarely find me backing down to fly.

Currently the computer I have to work on is from, I’m gonna guess, 1989. It is a Compaq and paint dries faster than clicking a mouse to close a screen. Prior to having my own business I spent 20+ years in the world of VAX/VMS then Windows. Today I alerted my boss to the many warning messages that pop-up when booting up in the morning. This poor workhorse is on it’s final days and so are we with this 2017 Season.

I am a snap-and-pop worker. I fill find wasted time and motion and remove it from any job I’m supposed to get done. When people talk about being paid “by the hour” or “by the project” I am will always choose the latter. This is something I am proud of – and Randy is the same way. We get shit DONE and do it well the first time (for the most part). We don’t complain. We WORK.

So, moving in slo-mo makes me anxious. Having a line of 10 people waiting to get help looks like I’m slacking off! “Flight” crosses my mind.

One lady, in a Mercedes Camper, felt she should not have to wait her turn. She sashayed up to the kiosk window and interrupted me IN THE MIDDLE OF A SENTENCE WITH A NICE COUPLE WAITING PATIENTLY TO COMPLETE THEIR REGISTRATION.

She PISSED ME OFF immediately. I really think it is one of the most awful things to interrupt someone and especially MID SENTENCE.

I have to keep my manners in though, so I let her know I’d be able to help her when it was her turn.

She didn’t give up. She remained there with her fancy sunglasses, hot red lipstick and perfectly coiffed hair. She asked me the same question and I dramatically set my hands down holding the paperwork for the couple and looked right at her and repeated SLOWLY but MOST DEFINITELY that I’d help her when it was her turn. I was not condescending or snooty (for the record).

She tried AGAIN! I realized this woman (who might be in her 50’s or 60’s) did not wait much for anything. This was extremely difficult for her to have to tolerate what was happening. I had zero compassion (which is very unusual for me).

I threepeated: “Ma’am, I’ll be able to help you when it is your turn. I cannot answer your questions until I finish each person in front of you.”

She looked exasperated as she said (with pursed lips), “Should I just go back to my car!?!?”

The couple, having witnessed this entire interruption but kept cool waiting, nodded YES silently.

I confirmed that she got it right, and it would be her turn soon.

She tried AGAIN, which would be a quattuorpeat, to have me answer her questions.

My jaw dropped, the couple in the car stared in disbelief as their jaw dropped and then there was just silence between all of us. The roar and rattle of the diesel truck engine humming seemed to fill the air more.

“I’m just going to go back to my car and let my husband know what’s happening.”

“That sounds good. I’ll see you soon.”

Thankfully (THANKFULLY!) my co-worker Loretta appeared in the kiosk to help me. Ahhhhhh….help has arrived!

Loretta is a BADASS ADMINISTRATOR. She knows everything there is to know about this campground and she is zen-like in all of the training she has given me. I didn’t get to tell her about Mercedes Lady being so pushy.

The couple got checked in and Diesel Truck Guy rolled up to the window.

SIDE NOTE: It is an unspoken rule to TURN THE TRUCK OFF when you need to engage in a conversation of importance. This is an important rule. If you have a Diesel engine, please remember it.

Diesel Truck Guy (DTG) turned off his truck (thank you!) and asked if “we had any spots available?”

Yes. We do.

“For three nights?”

Enter screeching tire sound.

It’s Thursday. Probably the SECOND worst day to try to find a campsite. Friday is even WORSE for people without reservations. Very risky. VERY RISKY because it’s almost the weekend plus all of the campsites in June Lake are SOLD OUT! The Tioga Pass was closed due to ice and snow…people are turning back.

I want to help this nice guy and his family.

“Actually I need to get two sites and need them to be next to each other. I also need space for an extra car.”

My stomach drops.

His wife leans over to add, “can we have a place with trees for shade too?”

I hope so. I WANT to give them their wish.

But here’s the thing: I have to use my slo-mo computer to run a search then write down the sites that are available (forget any detailed parameters like trees, extra space for a car and side-by-side).

I enter in the algorithm and press SEARCH.

Waiting….waiting…waiting…

Glancing out the window to see how bad the pile-up of waiting guests is I notice 3 more added and now I’m pretty sure we are backed up into the Pine Cliff RV Resort now. CRAP!!!

Yes! Results. I tell them I have three options and they can drive around then choose which works and come back up to pay. The man, BLESS HIS SOUL, ignores his wife and says BOOK ME IN THE ONE YOU THINK WORKS THE BEST. Ahhhhh…. thank you thank you thank you!! Sites 90 and 91.

Done and done.

He rolls off and I’m ready to punch-out for the day mentally. This is how Thursday Kiosk Work seems to be. I have done it enough times now to see the pattern.

My mind is on getting OUT of the kiosk and onto the golf cart to do some rounds cleaning restrooms. Yes, I would rather clean restrooms than stand in a little box for another two hours. Loretta takes over and I’m out of there like a long arm through a short sleeve.

Randy put the pedal to the metal and off we putted toward Squirrel Loop. The wind in my face and the sun on my arms felt GOOD!

TIME TO GO TO THE GYM…AGAIN

We have been hitting the gym every day and now I’m getting to crave it…sort of. I knew we had to go today for sure just to move that Mercedes Lady out of my mind.

After sparkling the 6 restrooms we changed into our gym clothes, put a couple of potatoes in the oven and set off to the spa/resort/gym.

Things were hurried because of the potatoes in the oven!

I got my locker all situated and rushed up to the treadmill with my ear buds (yes Eric…I am using earbuds).

A young lady, maybe 19-20, was running on the treadmill Randy normally uses which is on my left. He chose the one on my right and had it on an incline. The entire thing was shaking and slamming on the ground with every step. It was like Shrek on a treadmill. He was bothered by this and I guess I have to admit I sort of ignored him.

Normally I look at him and say, “I”m putting earbuds in…is there anything you need to tell me beforehand?” Since I know he gets super bothered with people wearing earbuds (they ignore you when you talk directly to them).

I didn’t do that. BIG mistake.

I plugged into the TV monitor thing and hit AUTO START. Began moving.

After about 2 minutes Randy turned to me and started talking – but I couldn’t hear him.

So I reached up to pull the earbud out of my head when it popped off and hit my treadmill bouncing onto the girl’s treadmill next to me.

This is where things began to SLOW DOWN.

Randy is yammering on behind me, I’m watching my ear bud bounce away into vapor nothingness and disappear so I THOUGHT I’d hit the STOP button while turning to step off to grab the bud before it bounced completely out of sight.

That’s when I did it.

I joined that club of “Funniest Videos: Treadmill Face Plants”.

I knew, a split second TOO LATE, I’d made a huge huge mistake.

My right foot went down on the left side facing backwards. It just flipped me all the way UP and into the air and then I landed HALFWAY on my treadmill (which was STILL ON AND ROLLING) and that 19-year old girl next to me (who had headphones on and was ignoring me the entire time).

That girl didn’t miss a beat in her steps.

Randy, on the other hand, smashed my STOP BUTTON and yelled out, “Oh no HONEY!?”

I guess it must have sounded like a steer falling sideways and landing HARD to the people below.

I put my hand down to break the fall and the belt was still rolling so THAT was dumb.

My face, shoulder and arm slipped out from that idea and down I went…again.

How could this happen so fast and TWICE?

I prioritized instantly.

FIND. EAR. BUD.

Spider-like I began roaming the carpet looking for my bud.

Randy joined the search.

The girl STEPPED OVER ME to leave. She wasn’t phased and also couldn’t care less.

Bud was GONE.

Got my phone out and used the flashlight to scope beneath her treadmill.

Not there.

Continued looking and BY CHANCE saw it had somehow landed near the stairs leading down to the gym.

GOOD NEWS

Despite falling and being shot off the back of the treadmill…twice…

1) I didn’t hurt myself

2) I found my bud

3) The girl left which gave me more space

4) I finished my workout

5) Falling asleep was easy…laughing about what happened was easier.

Camp Hosting is still fun and I look forward to tomorrow.

The Longest Day So Far

Today was the LONGEST work day I’ve had in YEARS.

Physical labor. Not much sitting down at all. Moving moving moving.

My feet are tired, my little corn on my left toe is screaming (ok, whining) and I’m just POOPED but I loved pretty much every minute.

We got up at 6:30am to get a jump on the bathrooms. It’s just not right to wait to clean a bathroom “between visitors” you know what I mean? So our goal was to clean those puppies BEFORE anyone woke up.

It was 34 degrees when the sun broke over the mountain and slightly illuminated our bedroom.

Randy hurried over to flick on the heater and then get coffee roaring. Ahhhh….I love our little house because the smell of the coffee just pours into the bedroom (which just happens to be 10 feet away).

Small House. Little Living. Trailer Life. I am still enjoying it despite the few things I am also missing (can’t lie).

We got our morning chores done and reported to The Kiosk to find out how many campsites would need to be cleaned (a job I really enjoy). It’s been averaging 20-30 sites every day with people coming and going. We are responsible for about 125 campsites and 6 bathrooms (9 toilets, 12 sinks and 3 urinals [gross!!]). This was the first shocker when we took this new job in June Lake. Our Lake George campground had 16 sites, two bathrooms (6 toilets).

WHAT AM I MISSING?

As a day rolls by I realize old habits or comforts that I am missing. Today I had plenty of time to remember them as I did my zen-raking on each campsite.

Manicures and pedicures. The weather here is dry and being at 9,000 elevation (Lake George) put a strain on my cuticles something FIERCE. I have been soaking my feet and caring for my fingers and toes but there is NOTHING like a Spa Mani/Pedi from Tammy at The Nails Spa in Simi Valley, California. If you live there don’t be a fool…book an appointment. You’re welcome.

Internet. We did NOT plan this very well. Ever heard of throttling? Yeah, they really do that if you exceed a certain amount of data.

News. I can’t believe I miss news. Like LOCAL stuff and then super broad stuff. I am overwhelmed when I finally GET Internet and then have to choose from 200 places. I just want actual FACTS not blown up inflated opinions. So, I guess I’ll never get that.

Music and Current Movies. WHAT IS HAPPENING?? I need more Apple money I guess. They want to charge so much to get a movie and we are on a tight budget which has resulted in watching Tombstone 20 times. Thankfully I found a thrift store and within it discovered three amazing movies! 50-cents each. WHaaaaa??? We get home and pop them in only to discover they are the “Disc 2” filled with…NOTHING I AM INTERESTED IN. Back to square one. If you have a movie/DVD and don’t want it anymore feel free to send it to SARITA SHOEMAKER General Delivery June Lake, CA 93529. I will pay it forward and donate it to a good place.

Washer and Dryer. I think we washed clothing every day when we had the set. Now we do laundry when we have ONE pair of underwear left or we get a whiff of the dog beds. I think we did pretty good on the amount of clothing (and we have uniform shirts which helps) needed. I will need to purchase another pair or two of my favorite Kuhl outdoor slacks for the winter and some long underwear too. On the flip side: I should begin a page of all of the Laundry Mats we have used since we began, their prices and cleanliness. I do like getting ALL of my laundry done within 60 minutes!

MY FREAKING CLOUD! What is the use of having the Cloud (MAC) if you don’t have WIFI to UPDATE THE FREAKING THING. Right now I have two devices NOT talking to each other properly. I did not realize how valuable The iCloud was until we hit the road. Dang it.

Bathtub. My entire life (sans being locked up in Scientology) I took a bath every single day of my life before bed. My mom wouldn’t let us go to bed without one. I spent a ton of time sitting with my mom while she bathed talking about “stuff”. The bathtub is something I long for and realized that I would only get if we stayed at a hotel. WELL WE PLAN TO STAY AT A HOTEL SOON AND OMG I AM TAKING A BATH ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL DAY AND NIGHT!!!!!! Ha ha ha ha!! I can’t wait. Meanwhile I figured out how to wash my hair, shave the necessary lady-parts and cleanse my face with my favorite face cleanser without using ALL of the hot water. Randy says things will sure be different when it is below freezing EVERY day. Oh yes, that’s a fact JACK!

THINGS I’VE LEARNED TO LOVE AGAIN EVEN MORE

I also had plenty of time to reflect on what has grown in width and depth (maybe that is because I spend more time appreciating things than I have before).

Weather. So far we have had every type of weather except snow (which is coming!). I watch the skies more and can smell the weather changing. When I open my eyes in the morning (and my bed is 1 foot from a window that we always keep open) I take a deep breath in through my nose keeping my eyes closed to imagine what the weather will be.

Deep and sincere friends. I grew up in an age where we passed notes (wish I had some of those), made SLAM Books, had parties, went to foot ball games and talked into the night about the cutest boys ever. Then I went off the rails and became part of a cult where trust was only with one person. Friends did not exist! No, I am not kidding. I learned how untrustworthy people were when I joined that dumb cult. The result has been no friends. Except I think I have a few sprouts starting up again and write to them telling them my deepest thoughts. It is still an uncomfortable part of my life but I am stepping out slowly hoping that the people I call my friends really ARE my friends and would be there for me (I would be there for them).

Doodling. I love doodling so much that the ink in my art pens is almost out. I included a few doodle cards above. I’m not sure who I will be writing to with them! I’m making my own line of stationary. I write letters by hand, address them in handwriting and put a stamp on them. I fill them with personal thoughts and ideas! They are special for each person and on top of that I like to make the envelope fancy (because who doesn’t love getting a fancy letter compared to a bill these days??).

Campfire. We get a bonus pretty much every day of people leaving but not taking their firewood. Today we scored a bunch of hardwood which makes the BEST campfires ever. I love when Randy is excited and that is one thing he gets excited about: hard wood. He makes a giant production of getting a fire going and the result is I get to be a Princess and enjoy his work. I’m writing my blog sitting by the fire right now.

Pet time. We have three “fur kids” that make it exciting to rush home to spend time with. I had them in my life before we started this adventure but nothing like this. I spend more time taking Piper (the cat) on walks now than I ever did. I just love seeing them enjoy themselves.

Reading. Without internet I’ve picked up more books to read. I’d like to send a BIG HUG AND SHOUT OUT to Lucy Leyda for Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I finished it and felt very deeply inspired. Thank you so much. Right now I’m reading Louis Lamour books. A camper gave us 10 of them! This is the author I read when I became a mom. I had my son with me and read as many LL books as I could. Good memories of quiet time with my little baby who was a mystery to me.

Manual Labor. I have done so many jobs in my life that required manual labor. I love the exhausted feeling I have after working all day. Seriously. If you have a desk job I would highly recommend you get a second job or volunteer doing physical labor. Your back will hurt, you’ll break nails, you will be starving within 2 hours and you’ll figure out a “zen” system. I love feeling exhausted at the end of the day! I love being the opposite of a White-Collar worker stuck in a cubicle or at a desk.

Strangers. The people we meet are normally on their best behavior. It’s part of our nature to have good manners for the most part. When someone arrives to camp there is a feeling of accomplishment and relief! They have been thinking about this moment for weeks, months if not an entire YEAR. They made it! They’re checking in to have time away and mostly unplug from whatever their lives were before. Meeting people in these circumstances makes it easy to strike up conversation and become quick friends to help them along. Of course there are the folks that just cannot or will not be satisfied but that is eclipsed 10-times by the happy people.

Habits in conserving. Ahhhh….never EVER thought I’d be capable of this level of change. Having a Full Hook Up site has been dreamy for the three necessities: water, power and waste “management”. That doesn’t change the fact that our tanks are only 46 gallons fresh water, 64 grey water and 42 gallons black water. Once the grey and black are filled up 75% we start to smell them which is just damn gross. I never leave the faucet running. Try it! It’s a tough habit to change. I wipe off my dishes before cleaning, showing isn’t easy (or that fun) because my hair is long but I’ve got a system of rinse, suds, rinse, suds, rinse which works great and I plan my cooking in advance (space issues also contribute to this need). I don’t know when the last time I took a bath was but that’s all I could THINK about when we checked into a hotel room. The volume of water, the unlimited hot water, the tub…boy do I appreciate all of that even more.

Dining out and Dining In. When we go out to eat it is actually special! We’re too far away from a convenient (lazy) solution of someone else doing the cooking and cleaning. I now look closely at every item on a menu to choose something I could not make myself at home. When we are eating at home I am limited on what I’ve got to work with. The other day I threw together an incredibly DELICIOUS meal with kale, corn on the cob, quinoa (love red quinoa by the way) and beans. I still do not plan ahead very well and we have “Shoemaker Tapas” which is chopped veggies, hummus, chips, quacamole, salsa, cheese, crackers… basically finger food easy combos. Working more hours now means we are both pretty tired.

JOURNALING

This has become more of a diary and journal for myself!

Time is zooming past. Someone posted that Costco has Christmas decor already on display.

I am all about slowing down and noticing the subtle changes in my life without any sort of solid plan.

This idea and concept is so far from my past life I am surprising even myself.

Does my blog provide you any sort of entertainment?

PHOTOS BY ME

From the top

1) Z. Alexander Brown vino (currently in my Top 5 list) and my latest doodle creations. Who will receive these? I’m not sure yet.

2) A secret path we were given to June Lake where we can bring the dogs without violating any rules or regulations.

3) Laundry Day! Piper came along on this trip. We spend an average of $21 every 10 days on laundry. Not including soaps.

4) Big storms show up on MyRadar. This one was semi-scary because the skies turned into tornado weather which I had plenty of experience with in Ohio.

5) Randy’s fire ring is triple the size so that means the quality of our campfires is triple as well. I like sipping a cocktail by these babies.

6) Silverlake Resort has a dining room. When we arrived it was packed (lunch time). Very limited seating, large portions and veggie options! Yay! It seems most places here also have wine and beer on their menu for those folks on a vacation (not having to get back to work after lunch).

Hosting Is THE BEST

Living and learning how to be a Camp Host. Liking it.

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.

Mona, Bill, me, Mike “aka Aladdin”, Randy and Betsy.

Lake George: The Fun Continues

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”.

The Vet and his Assistant were INCREDIBLE. I will post their info later.
Zoey on the rebound. Had to use one of my headbands for a body suit to help her stop scratching.
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!)

Our Digs

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.  
OUR ROUTINE

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. 

BEARS!

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).

Lake George Campground Map
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.  

Site #8 Lake George Mammoth Lakes. Tent only. First come, first serve. View of Crystal Crag. DOESN’T SUCK!!
This is right before I walked up to Site 8.
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?
EXERCISE

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).