The time has come and gone to secure being Camp Hosts again for the most spectacular place ever: Lake George in Mammoth Lakes California.
We will not be Hosting this year but our dear friend Mona WILL be!
Lake George is NOT the same as other campsites in Mammoth.
I wanted to give you a few pieces of advice to ensure you have a VERY FUN AND RELAXING STAY.
First Come, First Serve.
Don’t bring an RV. They don’t fit and the campground was not paved for RV’s. Sites are graded for one tent. Max occupancy is enforced.
You will MOST LIKELY experience BEARS. Be smart: put EVERYTHING in your bear box. Putting it in your car is not a bear box and they WILL open the door to get the food. They can actually lift the handle and open the door OR they can bash out your window. Either way, your car will not be left in good condition.
DO NOT LEAVE FIRES SMOLDERING. You SHOULD have a bucket of water next to your camp site before you even START a fire. If you leave a fire smoldering you will have the privilege (which is what it is) of staying there revoked. The Camp Host is NOT an enforcer, it will be the Authorities on your case and they don’t mess around with this risky behavior.
There are winds and the best sites to avoid them are #16 and #15.
You get ONE CAR per camp space. Additional cars can be parked in the lot, no problem. You just can’t occupy another spot without paying for it. You get a Car Pass when you pay for your site. Be sure you post it on your rear view mirror.
I have no idea what the camp fees are going to be this year (2018). Check the Mammoth Welcome Center to find out if the camp is open (it was delayed in 2017 and did not open until July 17th.
Be nice to your Camp Host, she can accommodate most needs but the reality is she can only do SO MUCH.
The worst days to try to get a camp site are Thursday,Friday, Saturday. The best days are Sunday (when everyone is leaving) or Monday.
Checkout is NOON, don’t bug occupants for make “side deals”. You can take your sweet time packing up and leaving! Relax and ask anyone that bothers you to speak to the Camp Host. You paid for your stay and we want you to get every ounce of the experience.
Check In is 2pm. You must PAY for the site and OCCUPY IT. You are not allowed to pay for sites and not actually camp there. Don’t ask the Camp Host to break the rule for you. If your site isn’t occupied with YOUR GEAR then we are obligated to give it to the next person ready to move in. This is a big issue: people believe they can reserve/save spaces but you are not allowed to do that.
We do not have a Credit Card machine. Cash only. I forget if you are allowed to write a check (I don’t think you can).
You can stay in a site 7 days MAX. In 2017 the rule was you had to vacate your site before you could come back. That means there may not be a site after you leave so plan ahead. There are Walk-Up sites in Lake Mary and Twin Lakes. Be NICE to all Camp Hosts if you want help finding things.
Clean up your campsite when you leave. We understand that in the night you drop things and it’s tough to navigate around BUT in the morning when you are packing up you can definitely see your trash, fishing line and greasy messes left on the tables and bear boxes. DO NOT LEAVE A MESS, we are Hosts not your maid. Be a respectful guest and try to leave the place NICER than when you arrived.
Do NOT come to Lake George to get high, drunk, fight or play loud music. Seriously. The Mammoth PD patrol often (every day) and will remove you. PLUS people go to Lake George to get AWAY from this stuff. Want to “party”? There are plenty of other camp grounds you can find.
There are no showers at Lake George, only bathrooms with toilets and sinks. No electricity either. Oh, and the visitors to Lake George use the restrooms too (and mostly they keep it clean but they are also mostly guilty of leaving trash all over the place including fish guts).
You are not allowed to clean your fish at the water spigots. OR YOUR BODY.
There isn’t cell signal at the campsites. YAY!
Closest showers are Lake Mary or in town.
There is a small store at Lake Mary that has essentials (most of the time).
We usually had firewood for sale, $7 a bundle. Bringing exact change helps of course. I think the grocery store sold it for less.
Grocery shopping in Mammoth? READ YOUR RECEIPT if you shop at the only grocery store in town (big box). They overcharged me REPEATEDLY and it wasn’t until I’d been in there a lot of times complaining that it seems this behavior changed. I personally suspect they know people are only there for a few days and won’t take the time to fix the mistake. So BEFORE YOU LEAVE scan over your ticket and make sure it is exactly what it should be. If you see an error just go to the front desk and they will refund your money INSTANTLY when you tell them you were charged for items you did not have on the belt. I was told that this grocery store is #1 in the country for $$$ sales. They also are in the Top 5 of Shoplifters being caught.
Before you get to Lake George (or any site) grab a map of the area if you plan to hike because there are no maps provided up here. You can get maps at the Welcome Center.
Be nice to your neighbors, they are probably amazing people that you’d like to stay in touch with years to come.
Be nice to your Camp Host! The pay is terrible and the hours are SUPPOSED to be 3 a day (that’s all we are paid for). We get woken up in the middle of the night for LOTS of reasons (none of them great), we get yelled at, people are disrespectful of the rules, WE HAVE TO CLEAN THE SHITTER! Give us a little kindness because it makes a difference and just feels nice.
If you would like to be a Camp Host, check out the company that we worked for: California Land Management. The pay is terrible but you do get to park your “house” on site for no charge. As a Host we did have “Full Hook Up”. The pooper was a mascerator (poop puree system) and had to be pumped UPHILL to the restroom.
I sure wish we were able to be there for the 2018 Season FOR SURE.
Being a Camp Host was one of my most favorite jobs ever for two reasons: LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION (we feel so lucky to have been chosen to run Lake George as well as Oh Ridge in June Lake) AND the incredible people we met on our journey.
Let me know if you have questions! And if you are reading this and were part of our 2017 Camp Season PLEASE send me an email so we can keep in touch! SaritaShoemaker@g m a i l.com (spaces added on purpose).
Check out our photos of our stay at Lake George – it was tough looking at those memories and not being sad that we aren’t going to have them again this year.
Larry McGee gave me some amazing bear coverage photos that I’ve included.
Maybe 2019 (fingers crossed).
RARE: A map of the campground.
Most evenings…Oh how I loved this peaceful existence.
You need this to park your car in the campsite.
Our first WEEK we met Cinnamon the bear.
Raking and perfecting my sites.
Houses on the other side of Lake George are OWNED by people.
I cook, they jaw jack and enjoy the fire side conversation.
The Mammoth PD coming to the rescue!
Have a map but…still getting lost.
Bike Path! Highly recommended.
Visiting with friends that were rolling through was so cool!
Geting Zoey to do more than lay around.
Mark your calendars! This was a tough one – we ran in SAND.
More Police presence. And they’re all super nice officers.
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.
We are at The Tiger Bar smack dab in the middle of June Lake’s little town…to watch the USC game. I have my back to the TVs and hubbub and Randy is engrossed in the game. I also have my headphones in but I can hear Eye Of The Tiger and Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town” (love that tune!) and Van Halen’s Hot For Teacher blasting over the pool tables into the old old cracks and crevices of this bar.
SIDEBAR: Randy was almost killed in this bar in 1986, 31 years ago. I really don’t believe he could have pissed off the Locals – but the party he was with DID and they surrounded them like a pack of wolves (there were 8 of them and 15 Locals). SOMEONE got mouthy and didn’t follow protocol for playing on the ONLY pool table in the joint. Obviously this required a beat down to “make sure this don’t happen again.”
They got out alive, no broken bones. I am gonna guess it was just ONE drunk friend that caused all of the problems.
You know, if you are someone that drinks (alcohol) would you agree that pretty much EVERY stupid thing you’ve ever done was preceded with alcohol? Think about that before you reply.
TODAY WAS INCREDIBLE
It’s Saturday. One of THE BUSIEST days in Camp Hosting. I’m learning so much! I’m also realizing how happy I am. My life is seriously SIMPLE. Not perfect…just SIMPLE.
Our days are PACKED now. We are working pretty much full time to help keep this campground humming with happy. Friday is the most busy day with people arriving to have a weekend of relaxation and “happy”.
I’m not sleeping that great these days. Every single night my arms go numb. I think this is because I am trying to NOT disturb Randy or Piper (who seems to plant herself…kneading into a nice warm cozy spot so keeping to the very edge of the bed trying to keep my limbs under the covers).
We wake up at about 6:00am. Randy gets the coffee rolling and all of the animals (me too) stay warm under our covers until he announces it is ready. I have no idea what he does for that period of time. I am trying to un-numb my arms most mornings. I think my pillow is too soft.
After coffee we get our uniforms on and head out the door (pets still in bed!) to clean rest rooms, pick up bits of trash and watch out for the deer that have been migrating.
MENTAL NOTE: I think it sucks that the MIGRATING OF DEER coincides with the HUNTING SEASON. I call BULLSHIT on the need to hunt deer. Seriously. If there is one animal that is overpopulating it is HUMANS and we don’t have a hunting season for them. Deer (and any other animal) are not hurting humans. It is always HUMANS screwing things up. Why is this so difficult to admit? They eat SAGE. When have you been concerned about your SAGE INTAKE?
Back to my work… we have to zip around in a golf cart and make sure camp sites are ready for arriving people looking for “happy”. Oh let me tell you how I sparkle a camp site. I am an expert at this now and can spot trash a half a mile away.
Today is when I realized how lucky I am. I would NEVER have felt this way 10, 20 or 30 years ago. Picking up trash!?!? As a JOB? Yes. I am doing that and I LOVE how little stress there is connected to this.
I do have a beef with the family that left a complete doorknob in the fire pit. WHY? Who brings doorknobs with them camping?
There are a few families of deer we have been bumping into on a regular basis. Today we met them THREE times. I feel so lucky when this happens. They are simply eating to live/survive. They are eating the plants and berries. There is a mommy and two fawns.
We take care of four different camp grounds (Bear, Duck, Squirrel, Rabbit, Coyote and Gull). Within those grounds are close to 100 campsites (maybe more, I’ll count another time).
Again, like Lake George, everyone is SO HAPPY to be there and enjoy themselves. We had 4 (maybe 5) wieners at Lake George. So far we have had zero here. On the flip size I think I met a distant relative! Like from the 1800’s. My Martz Family Line.
For lunch we had to zip to Silverlake to get our propane tanks filled up. That’s when I got to meet a bunch of duck. I tried to network.
We headed back after lunch to handle a final run through the rest rooms (cleaning) and any miscellaneous tasks our co-workers needed. Working with these new camp hosts has been super enlightening. They have been FULL TIME for over 9 years!! WHAT!?? Talk about experience and know how. I’m like a sponge when they have anything to say.
Our new boss (Karen) is off the charts AMAZING and we are happy to work to keep her happy.
Our new Camp Host friends are Dick and Sherrie (couple) and Loretta and Steve.
I also got to work in the kiosk and meet some pretty cool people – like these tourists from Germany rolling in on their motorcycles.
Those Germans know how to have a fun time!
That’s it on my update for today.
I hope everyone is having a great life. I will always hope you are working for your own dreams and not the ego of someone else as well.
Keep moving across the planet my friends!
Video of me trying to give the family of deer some water… Video by Randy
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.
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).
In my opinion, NBNW was hands down so much better than K2 plus watching it while eating pizza and drinking a glass of wine didn’t hurt. I expected Randy to be asleep within the first 30 minutes as well. This movie has suspense, action, romance… and plenty of confusing elements (like HOW can Roger O. Thornhill wear the same exact suit and tie in every scene…except the end…and also have a never ending pocket of cash?). Some scenes were shot in broad daylight noon’ish then the same scene (different point of view) shot nearer to the evening. I liked catching these things…without taking my mind off of the actual mystery that was unfolding!
The story was very interesting, the actors were all beautiful (even bad guys), the green screen work was HARDLY noticeable and the period of time (the 50’s) was before I was alive making it even more intriguing. I’ve never been to New York and some of the scenes were shot right in the middle of iconic locations. If you rent this movie be sure to listen to the commentary by Ernest Lehman as he takes you through the scenes. It’s actually very entertaining and as though he is sitting right there with you.
Randy did NOT fall asleep, I did! It was the wine!!! Not the movie!!
TIME FOR BED
We had the ENTIRE Lake George Campground to ourselves last night…and a bear.
FINALLY we had a bear visit us. I assume it is because there were no campers with all of their goodies to choose from. From the first day here Randy has repeated that we are safe from bears BECAUSE OF KONA AND ZOEY – they would alert us (at least) and scare the bear away.
I argued this point after reading BEAR AWARE plus knowing of all of the guests that had bear visits despite having dogs.
Technically he (Randy) had to eat a little crow when he discovered the mangled mess and evidence of a bear visiting WHILE THE DOGS SNOOZED.
We said GOODBYE to my favorite giant thermal zippable grocery bag. It held all off my reusable grocery bags (Kristi, need you to go to Hawaii asap for a new bag!) but no food at all. Just the essence of what had been inside all of those bags.
For the first time we had coyotes screaming in the Day-Use parking lot at 2:00am. Piper was up and active on that one standing at the window (ON RANDY) growling. She really believes she is something fierce, all 8 lbs of her.
Then there was some sort of “hum” like a car engine running for hours off and on. I felt like I was being deprogrammed and tortured at the same time. I woke Randy up (not knowing he’d been waking up over and over) to ask him if he heard that low droning sound. No. He turned and began snoring within 5 minutes. I decided that was better than the humming.
And we made a HUGE mistake switching sides of the bed so Randy could be closer to the window for fresh air.
THE FIRST PHOTO IS NOT MINE, IT IS FROM A GUEST NAMED LARRY “THE BEAR GUY”. He has been visiting Lake George for decades and has become a go-to guy for anything “bear” related. The SECOND photo shows the aftermath of a bear visit and I did take this photo. The guests DID NOT HEAR A THING.
THE LAST NIGHT, FOR REAL
Tonight is our LAST NIGHT at Lake George. We, again, will be the only inhabitants of the campground.
Randy spent today scrubbing and cleaning and preparing the outside of the The Lorax and I’m inside making sure every surface is dusted, vacuumed and ready to roll. Nothing like sparkling your house with your own hands (something I enjoy).
We plan to burn the remaining fire wood and I’m cooking a chili feast, cornbread included.
We have a bottle of wine ready, 1000 Tales. It was the most expensive bottle of wine we have purchased in over 3 months. I hope it tastes good!
First thing in the morning we close our slide-out, hook up the truck and trailer then do THREE walk-around laps to make sure we didn’t forget anything…and we’re off to June Lake. Not sure about the hours yet but we do have a Full Hook Up place to live just above the actual June Lake. Yesterday we took a few bulky items to our site and realized how HOT it was compared to Lake George. The view of this lake is right out our dining window and the emerald green and deep blue hues were exploding. We have ONE tree to work with for shade. Our fire pit is 4x as large (so I think Randy will be having some giant bonfire levels evenings).
IT WAS AMAZING
We did not expect much on this journey. I think that is why everything that happens can be looked at in a positive way.
Having the pets has put limitations on our adventures but that is really the only downside. Seeing the dogs bouncing around excited about everything makes it all OK.
I began writing Chapter 4 of my book – but it is sincerely impossible with any sort of job responsibilities (plus we lived in the middle of a lot of activity which was very distracting).
Our new digs and work camping gig is much different. We believe we will be needed to work double the hours.
If you are stuck in a rut of life please realize you don’t have to sit there stewing in it. Make a zig or a zag out of it! You can count on yourself to make sure you will be OK.
Look into work/camping! Www.workamper.com (if you sign up be sure you mention this number 215013 so we get 2 months added to ours) or just google “Camp Hosting”. There is also a forum we bumped into a year ago called “Make Money And RV” on facebook.
Even if you just did something like this for a short amount of time I think you would LOVE it.
I bounced off of those rocks then onto my back in the middle of the trail (I was wearing a back pack filled with two jackets, two baseball hats, a bike repair kit, two moleskine note pads, a pen, my reading glasses and the house keys).
Everything stopped as quickly as it had started.
Then I felt the pain.
My First REAL Mountain Bike Crash
Mammoth Rock Trail got some of my DNA
I spend most of my time thinking about how to accomplish things as safe as possible. I’ve always been a “safety-first” type of person. My personality is A. Things are normally very structured and organized BEFORE I even begin any sort of project.
That type of personality breeds STRESS so I’ve been working on letting GO of the desire to control so much and let the cards fall as they will. That has not been easy and I have had to bury my tongue more than once.
Stress has normally preceded some sort of tragic problem with my health or in my life. I figure if I can lower it, I’ll be happier and healthier. So far, so good.
On that note, I agreed to a beautiful mountain bike ride with my best friend yesterday.
Predictably he did not have ALL of the answers to my safety questions. I trusted his judgement on my ability as a new mountain biker. I did feel that I was improving just based off of NO CRASHES and riding on manicured and unmanicured trails.
From FAR FAR away he pointed out the trail and I imagined the simplicity of it matching the Uptown and Downtown trails on Mammoth Mountain.
We started out on the fresh and awesome Mammoth Bike Path toward Twin Lakes. This is pretty much all downhill (since we began at 9,000 elevation) winding back and forth through the trees, past the horses (forced to carry humans of all sizes through the woods…another subject later maybe) crossing bridges over creeks. Super easy and super fun.
Since we’ve been here I have seen a dozen deer in the woods or crossing Lake Mary Road. I’ve seen three deer hit by cars and left by the road side. One was a baby!! It is because people speed that these beautiful creatures are dead. The mommy deer was hanging out further down the road WAITING for her baby to join her…think about that for a second. It’s awful and why I silently put curses on anyone I see speeding on Lake Mary Road (or any road in Mammoth).
SIDE NOTE: The speed LIMIT is a LIMIT not a minimum. If you are a person that just can’t stand going the speed limit I think you are a FOOL. I would hope you’d feel awful if you hit and killed a baby deer.
We got to Twin Lakes in less than 10 minutes without any bear or deer sightings, crossed Lake Mary Road to The Old Mammoth Road to bomb down (SERIOUSLY FAST) to the trail head entrance. A hairpin turn forced me to slow WAAAAAY down as two cars navigated up it and one passed me at a crawl. I didn’t mind.
At the trail head I noticed the rocky beginning.
Single track with extremely sharp rocks scattered all along embedded in the dirt.
It was an uphill start which I actually like better than down for the heart pumping challenge on my legs.
Randy ran the path with Rob Winterburn a couple of weeks ago and RAVED about this trail. He repeatedly (and excitedly) insisted he take me on this trail because it was just SO GOOD.
“Will the entire trail be this rocky honey?”
“I didn’t remember it from running, you’ll be fine.”
I accepted this and made it to the top of the first section.
He was ABSOLUTELY right: the views were spectacular plus we had storm clouds forming which created a creepy feeling in the air. I snapped a few pics then looked forward to where Randy was riding.
More single track fun…oh goodie gumdrops. Ugh.
The first descent was maybe 300 yards. There were plenty of softball size rocks randomly blocking the trail. These rocks were NOT smooth looking river rocks. They had corners and edges and reminded me of giant teeth. Thankfully I had two options if I lost my balance: off the edge of the mountain or into green plush crass on sandy knolls. That was a relief and I SORT OF relaxed a bit.
Randy would wait for me after a semi-technical section I’m guessing to make sure I survived it.
This got my mind racing a little worrying that the entire trail we would be CRAWLING and really not get the fun part of going downhill. I also had the feeling that I was in WAY over my head so I would slow down a little more and try not to think about how much further we had to go.
After four “wait for my wife” sections we came upon four hikers going up. They were super nice and chatty. Randy had passed them first and told them I was coming down next. The front hiker cheered me on as they passed telling me “your friend said you were doing awesome”. Hmmm…that was nice of them to pass along as I crept past them in slo-mo.
My confidence boosted a little bit more after that. THEN we hit sand. OMG what is the DEAL with sand sections? They are super difficult to just ride through, you have to pay close attention to what is BENEATH the sand plus peddle, peddle and peddle.
I navigated SUCCESSFULLY through a 100 yards (ok 30) of sandy single track with a rocky wall on one side and a very steep hillside spotted with green foliage, rocks, boulders and downed trees on the other. The only option was to “keep the rubber side down” as John Parks often reminded me (and Marguerite).
The confidence was building but there was one challenge that kept appearing: rock ledges ON the trail. I still don’t know the proper technique to take and at the time I practiced different methods…each of them successful (because I did not fall off my bike).
My back, arms and hands were tense. I had been engaging all of the muscles tightly since the first descent and the fatigue began to set in. I had to let my muscles relax because I couldn’t hold on for much more.
That’s when I approached this perfect rock ledge (see photo).
There were two option (again). The left rock or the right rock. I hadn’t looked down the trail for a while but knew Randy was long gone. The last two times he waited for me I almost just told him to wait for me at the bottom and that I would be ok but thankfully I did not let that slip out of my over-confident self.
The trail at this point was a rolling downhill but I noticed the number of ledges and softball size rocks jutting out from the trail was increasing and that made me nervous.
I chose the rock on the right (from your point of view it is the one on the left).
I chose it going way faster than I should have been going (for my skill level). Suddenly MORE rocks appeared right where my tire was supposed to go (on the left side of the trail) and I turned my handlebars hard to the right to avoid them…too late. Too late.
My front tire must have hit those spiked devil tooth rocks sideways and I gripped BOTH brakes as hard as I could to stop resulting in me actually FLYING off my bike toward a small pile of devil teeth rocks combined with the roots and base of a fallen tree. Do you see that pointy rock at the top near those red flowers? That was what I saw coming at me in an instant and all I could do was put my arms up to not smash my face into it.
My entire body landed across that pile of devil teeth and I skidded forward feeling my feet above my shoulders grinding my chest downward.
I didn’t have a chance to scream. All I said, out loud and just above a murmur, was “oh no!”.
I actually felt like what was happening WASN’T actually happening for a split second.
I bounced off of those rocks then onto my back in the middle of the trail (I was wearing a back pack filled with two jackets, two baseball hats, a bike repair kit, two moleskine note pads, a pen, my reading glasses and the house keys).
My helmet hit the ground and then it all stopped as quickly as it had started.
The pain was everywhere! I couldn’t decide which part hurt worse – arms, legs, left hand, neck, knees, belly…how did everything hurt all at the same time? I began to sob and the anger crept in quickly.
I reassessed my body parts to make sure things moved properly and that’s when I saw the GIANT black ants roaming around me. No way was I ALSO going to be covered by ants! I sat up and felt pain rush into my left hand first so I push my ass skyward using my right hand and arm (which seemed to be ok). I was in a one arm down dog for about 10 seconds and walked my hands toward my feet to stand up.
By now I was crying LOUDLY shouting for Randy to help me.
30 yards beyond (may as well have been 1,000) the trail was covered in trees and then disappeared leading east…or right. My yells were weak and I realized Randy was far further than ear shot.
I walked over to my bike (which was 8 feet back on the trail) and attempted lifting it with my one “good” hand. My bike gloves hid whatever injury was beneath causing a searing pain with every movement. I decided NOT to look, plus my left hand was pretty useless anyway.
Shit, shit, shit, shit!!!!
The twisted wreck of a bicycle would NOT stand upright. I was a little dazed but rubbed my two remaining brain cells together trying to figure out what the problem was. My tire was not bent but the handlebars were.
In my launch I must have flipped the front end around completely and jammed it as it smashed to the ground.
Here I was being a big sobbing baby ALONE on the trail and now my bike was broken. Should I go back or forward? I stupidly had no idea how long our course was and looked at my Garmin…3.35 miles…FROM HOME, not from the trail head. Mostly downhill of course. I decided to move forward and push my bike as best I could. I was really thirsty and Randy had our water bottle.
I walked and cried for about a quarter of a mile when Randy appeared riding back uphill.
My injuries began to scream now. I was just so thankful I could walk. This must be what a cage fighter feels like right after losing a fight. Everything was raw and filled with dirt.
Randy sized me up and gave me the obligatory “oh honey!!!” Attempting to hug me to make me feel better. I shrugged off the hug because it pressed on all of the parts that were hurting and cried out, “this trail was way over my head!”
I just hurt in so many places and didn’t want to actually LOOK at them.
Because my left hand hurt so much I was pretty sure I’d broken it.
We decided to not clean my wounds with the only water we’d brought but instead just head down the trail as best we could. I’d managed my bike with one hand with a lot of difficulty but knew the only way this was going to work was to force my left hand to work.
After walking for half a mile (which felt like 4 miles) the trail seemed safe enough to ride again.
“Safe” because if I fell off it wouldn’t be sliding off the side of the mountain.
Randy wanted me to go in front of him, which didn’t make sense but I was not into complaining or arguing about anything. I just focused on getting off of this awful trail of pain.
I saddled up and SLOWLY (gripping my back break with all the strength I had left) peddled forward. I have two gear changing mechanisms: left hand is 1, 2 and 3 and right hand is 1-6 (I think). I crashed in 2-3 and that was where it was gonna stay.
Here is where I realized I’d lost my bell. It can be seen in the dirt just below the pile of rocks I’d landed in (scroll to that photo, see if you can see it).
That bell was special and given to me by a special friend. I imagined telling him how I’d lost it as I scooted slowly down the trail.
It seemed like EVERY rock ledge scared me enough that I did not want to ride down or over them so I got off of my bike and walked it then saddled back up. This off and on continued for another 6 rock ledges. Randy was behind me trying to talk to me and take my mind off of my pain.
My left hand was becoming more useless and that forced me to only use my right and I began skidding down the trail out of control AGAIN. We hit more sand and pushed our bike.
FINALLY there was a trail head sign and I could see a parking lot with two cars in it. My spirits rose a tad and I continue pushing my bike through the sand.
We heard a screaming behind us and a lady on a fatty-tire bike approached. She had a dog running behind her with its tongue hanging out long and low. He or she looked exhausted but she did not. I moved off the trail as she passed – no “thanks” and her dog came up close behind her. It was a terrier of some kind, white with a black splotch. I wish I’d taken a photo.
My problems became second priority as I worried about this little dog trying to keep up with his bitchy owner who had been screaming at him to hurry up. Oh I wanted to catch this woman now and focused on her blue shirt. I finally got to the road scanning left and right to see where she was then spotted her and we took off in the same direction.
Mentally I was deciding how I was going to talk to her. I would offer her dog water then ask her how old he/she was and its name. I would do my best to keep her talking to give the dog a break. I would sneak a photo of her and find out if she was a local or visiting. For SURE I would put a curse on her for treating her dog so badly.
Well, that never happened because she made it to the main road and took off. I cursed her anyway from a distance.
Back to reality and my bashed up bell-free bike and body!
We made it to civilization pedaling super slowly up Old Mammoth Road toward Main Street where I figured we would drop my bike off at Footloose. I could not switch the gears at all now and had 2-2 as my only option. The face of my gear device was smashed and twisted around. I asked Randy if he could fix my bike and he was pretty sure he could.
When we got to Footloose he wanted to check my bike while I waited on a soft patch of grass and shade.
The rain clouds were rolling in closer and it was getting windy and chilly. I decided to just lie back and close my eyes while he checked the bike. Two minutes later he returned and confirmed, “you really did jack your bike up” to which I replied “yeah, I thought so,”
The forearm cuts began to pulse and my right knee had some deep cuts. I just stared at them hoping for the best.
Randy took my bike into Footloose and they fixed it for free then gave us directions to the Mammoth Trolly if we preferred to ride it rather then bike up the hill to the 80/50 Lodge area to transfer to a trolly that would go all the way back up the mountain to Lake Mary.
THANK YOU to the individual that created this trolly system and making it possible to ride for free.
We glided toward the bus stop and were happy to find out the next ride would be in less than 11 minutes.
The small building had a bear box trash and recycle system inside it and a small bench. It smelled awful so we opted to stand outside and breath better.
That’s when we saw a woman stumbling across the main road. She had a big smile on her face with did not match her circumstances. The sun illuminated her gorgeous blonde hair she had in a messy bun. She was stumbling because SHE HAD ONE GOOD LEG AND ONE LEG MADE OUT OF METAL. It took her double the time and she was trying her best to hurry keeping that smile on her face the whole time.
Randy and I looked at each other and did not even need to say a word. My troubles were NOTHING and it put things in perspective real quick.
I’m going to call her Rosemary, she looked like a Rosemary with that smile.
She made it to the trolly stop – STILL SMILING and said, “I hate making people wait for me.”
Both Randy and I were overwhelmed with her comment and let her know we were impressed at her agility and speed. We also suggested that there was no way anyone waiting in their car was bothered seeing she was making it happen with one good leg…and I asked her what happened to lose it.
She told us she “got polio from the vaccine and after a dozen surgeries attempting to correct it she opted to have it cut off.” We stood in silence and in awe.
What a brave woman. What an incredible attitude. I noticed she was wearing a DIY vest and decided she must have just gotten off work.
We boarded after Rosemary and discovered there was ONE more trolly to Lake Mary for the night, 5:00pm at the 80/50. What luck. Seriously.
Rosemary disembarked at the next stop and we said goodbye. I felt like giving her a hug goodbye. She sized up the next distance she had to cross in order to go home (which was a big hill) as the trolly took off. We sat in silence after that.
Arriving at the 80/50 with 30 minutes to kill we chose to spend them at Gomez Restaurant’s Happy Hour for a margarita and IPA. Sadly my margarita was weak, Randy’s beer was cold and good.
I was not complaining at all. Rosemary helped me with that.
I sucked down my blasé margarita and we stood up to leave.
That’s when the four hikers we’d passed earlier on the trail pre-crash passed by our table. They were just as friendly again. Randy told them I’d eaten it on the trail and they (as well as the folks sitting at tables nearby) all began sizing up the blood dripping down my arm and legs.
I would be just fine once I got home to clean up…the margarita was an attempt to numb it up beforehand.
I made it into a special club according to a Mammoth Mountain Employee named Adam. He raised his hand in the air to give me a high-five and congratulate me on surviving. “Welcome to the club and I’m sure you’ll be back again.”
The ride home was chilly and perfect.
My body jostling around reminding me of each area that was munched up. The view of the ascent to Lake Mary is pretty spectacular and I just breathed in deep enjoying it.
I realized my husband really thought I could handle this trail which means I’ve gotten better as a mountain biker.
Rosemary put things into perspective and set me straight on how much pain I was in and that I could manage it with a good attitude.
We made it to the LAST STOP which is at the bottom of Lake George. Randy pushed both of our bikes up the hill to our house. Our dogs and cat were super happy to see us as always and after initial petting and dog/cat conversation I headed to the tiny bathroom to peel off my stinky, dusty and dirty clothing to clean up.
Since we have a very limited amount of hot water I had to be strategic in my cleaning process while enjoying the hot water. Randy needed a shower too but opted to wait for the water heater to refill.
We popped in a DVD, Randy poured me a delicious greyhound and relaxed on my super-duper comfy couch with my cat on my lap and watched (tolerated) Spider-Man in front of my eyes until I couldn’t keep them open any longer!
UPDATE, THE DAY AFTER
Definitely NOTHING was broken. I’m nursing tons of cuts and scrapes and leaks with our First Aid kit. I was able to sleep pretty soundly and get up with a good attitude to work. Our campground has 16 spaces and only 4 were occupied so I took advantage of that and did my US Forestry Service level cleaning on each unoccupied site. The movement was good and helped take my mind off of any aches and pains.
My left hand (thumb area on the top and into the palm) are the most painful of all and I have little grip strength. I think I must have hyperextended it… no big deal. The wounds on my knees mean I cannot cross my legs to sit ladylike which is awkward.
Thankfully I am ambidextrous AND my keyboard is small so I can type.
I think I’m gonna ride tonight to see how it goes!
Now to get another bell. UPDATE, TWO DAYS AFTER
Oh I am in pain! I’m turning black and blue in places that I can’t figure out HOW they were smashed or bashed (like the back of my knee?). My back aches and I have bruising on my neck to shoulder. Everything is swollen up too.
THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN LEAVING HOME ON A “OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE” ADVENTURE WITH RANDY ROY SHOEMAKER:
Carry your own water.
Carry a first-aid kit.
Tell people where you plan to go and when you plan to return.