So, I left off in the Redwoods and my tearful farewell to the ocean.
Do you think he was using the Call Box to order pizza for his herd?
Hope he had a few bucks to pay for it! 😆
From the Redwoods, I headed inland along Hwy 299 - a scenic drive, but very curvy and hilly. I was trying to be consciencous of my braking along the way, but with all the slowing for curves as well as hills, I could tell they were getting overheated, so I had to stop to let them cool down and make a call to a friend to see how to tell if I killed them or not. I do know about downshifting, but having driven a manual transmission car for years, I am always uncomfortable with messing up downshifting on an automatic transmission - fearing I will do it wrong and kill my transmission. My friend set me straight on automatic shifting do's and don'ts, so after an hour or so of letting my brakes cool, I was good to continue on my way (and I can say that no brakes were harmed during that drive - i've had them checked out several times since and they got a gold star). From Redding, I continued on to Susanville, CA on the eastern side of the Sierra's for my first Walmart camping experience.
|Not sure how I'd feel about having him as my attorney. Guess it depends on what I was hiring him for.|
When I got to Walmart, I was unsure how the whole camping-in-the-parking-lot thing worked, but there were a few others already there so I did something I usually try to never do - I pulled in somewhat close to another trailer. My main reason being that Zelda is tiny. I didn't want to be sticking out in the middle of the parking lot where it would be easy for someone to hit her with me sleeping inside! So, I cozied up to a medium-sized R-Pod and it turned out to be a great decision. The occupants were 2 delightful English ladies, Ester and Pat, who were finishing up their camping trip together. They were best friends growing up in England, and as adults, Ester moved to the U. S. and Pat stayed in England. Both were widows, but got together as often as possible, and for Pat's visit this time to the U.S., they went camping around the Southwest. They were on their way back to Portland, then Pat back to England. We all agreed to be Walmart Camping Buddies and lookout for each other. I have to say, traveling as a single female, I get to meet some of the most awesome and amazing people. It is one of my favorite things about my nomad life.
|People leaving their mark at the scenic pull-out just above Mono Lake|
The next morning, we said our good-byes and they headed north and I south along the nomad-famous Hwy 395 along the eastern Sierra's. I, being the wimp that I am when it comes to driving through big cities, skirted around Reno to the east, then made my way back to Hwy 395 south and California. I have heard from many people how beautiful the drive along the eastern side of the Sierra's is, and they weren't kidding. It really is amazing. It is the dry side of the range, so not green and lush like the western side, but beautiful in it's own way. I knew Mono Lake was my first big sight to see, but coming from the north it surprises you in a most jaw-dropping way! As I was heading down one of the big passes, I came around a curve and there it was! WOW!!
Of course soon after I got out of the car to take pictures, it started to rain lightly and I got the first of many rainbows I would see between that day and my trip back east. I think this one was the best rainbow of all however.
|Rainbow over Mono Lake|
My friends told me about a great boondock spot not too far from Mono Lake where they had experienced endless "perfect" weather. Of course I was eager to not only camp there, but to get some "perfect" weather for myself. (If you've followed along with me, you know where this is heading). That little rain I just mentioned? Well it brought in a big cold front for the rest of the day and night, dropping the temperature considerably and dumping snow on the mountains just above me. I awoke to a thin sheet of ice on the collected rainwater on my tongue box. Yes, it was a VERY COLD night!! But it did warm up as the day progressed and I moved farther south, so that was good. But first I stopped at the Mono Lake Visitor Center to learn more about this unique lake.
|Rainbow over my campsite as the cold front moves in.|
The history of Mono Lake is fascinating. I watched a short movie about it. This lake and it's surrounding area have had a very turbulent volcanic history, with one eruption 760,000 years ago that was 2,500 times greater than the Mt. St. Helens eruption, burying the region in hundreds of feet of ash and causing the earth's crust to collapse more than a mile! YEE-OW-ZA! Mono Lake is a remnant of an ancient ice age inland sea that was along the western edge of the Great Basin (which had all it's valleys filled with water forming inland seas and lakes at that time). As the climate changed to a drier, warmer climate, these inland seas and lakes shrunk and many dried up completely. The lakes have no outlets, so the concentration of salt in the remaining lakes varies with water levels; Mono Lake sometimes reaching almost 3x that of the ocean when it's water levels are low. But the lake is a major migratory stop for millions of birds and critical habitat for California Gulls, Eared Grebes and Western Phalaropes, providing a rich food source for them in the form of Alkali Flies and Brine Shrimp.
Do you know what brine shrimp are???
SEA MONKEYS!!!! Did you ever get one of those kits as a kid? I loved them, though I was always disappointed that my Sea Monkeys never looked like the ones on the package, and mine didn't have wardrobes either. When I worked at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, we had two huge vats of sea monkeys - I was so excited when I first saw them! Yeah, like my slugs, I love the weird, unloved and unappreciated critters of the world.
Now you can be WOW'ed by sea monkeys too! Next time you go to the doctor and they take your weight, request that they record it in Sea Monkeys! I should have had them do that on my driver's license that I just renewed. Bummer that I didn't think of it sooner.
From Mono Lake, I continued south, touring around the June Lake Loop . . .
|That snow is from the night before!|
and then south towards Lone Pine and camping at the Alabama Hills. I have heard so much about Alabama Hills, I couldn't wait to see them. I found the whole area to be quite unique and with an otherworldly beauty to it. It also has a rich history of being in over 300 Hollywood movies, mostly Westerns, but also scenes from Star Trek movies, Gladiator, Tremors, and Dinosaurs. The rock formations looked like Native American faces to me, making me feel like I was in a very sacred place. I can't wait to go back and explore.
|The Alabama Hills|
|Face rock at Alabama Hills|
|Rock formations at Alabama Hills|
After leaving the Alabama Hills, I was headed back to Lake Havasu to meet up with some friends for a couple of days before I had to head east. As I headed eastward, I encountered MORE rainbows and also stopped at Pine County Restaurant in William, AZ for pie!! When I first came west the previous fall, I stopped there on recommendation of my friend Mary, who is from Arizona, but I opted for a hot meal that visit, though I was entranced by the large display case of their pies! I promised myself, the next trip through the area I would stop for a piece of pie; and so I did. Chocolate covered cherry to be precise! YUM!
The only downside to stopping here for pie, is that it is just me, so I only get to try one kind. I tried to get a group together to go with me this spring so we could all get different kinds and pass them around to try, but it ended up falling through (but I stopped anyway).
|Anyone want to go on a pie tasting outing with me??|
For my fall trip back east, I decided to leave Zelda in Arizona since I wouldn't need to live in her and had no place to park her. I found a wonderful storage place for her and tucked her into her "spa". It was sad to leave her behind, but she seemed O.K. with the decision. Grania then became my home on wheels, and I got to try out the platform bed my friend and I built the previous winter. It worked pretty well.
|Employing safe traveling practices with my bucket, 😜|
My time back east ended up being longer than I expected, but it was for good reasons. Besides doing my regular rounds of appointments, I wanted to spend as much time at my sister's as I could. I hadn't seen my little niece since April when she was just 1 month old, and she turned 8 months in October! I missed out on so much, but after a couple of days, we were buds and I just fell deeper in love with her. She and my nephew bring me so much joy and laughter, I wish they weren't so far away from where I need to live.
|Another rainbow while on my trip east. |
I was starting to feel a little green and having strange cravings for flies. 🐸
The other reason for my trip back east was to house and kitty sit for some friends. I will admit it was really nice to be in a stick and brick house again with all the conveniences, like running HOT water, indoor kitchen with a refrigerator, and heat!, but I didn't like being back in"civilization". I could feel my stress level rising and I became kind of zombie-like - unable to focus and mentally lethargic. I didn't get anything done that I had wanted to do while I had the indoor space and unlimited high speed internet, but I did get my dad and step-mom moved to a new house . . . Again! I teased them that I wasn't coming back to visit because every time I did, I had to move them! But we got them moved and settled in just a couple of days before Christmas, then I took one more visit to my sister's before I headed west again for the winter. The timing seemed to be just right, I stayed with a friend New Year's Eve, then started my journey westward the first day of the new year.
|Sign at the pie place!|
Well, I managed to get us to January 2017 finally! Unfortunately, it is already May. 😩
|Another sign at the pie place!|