Lee Vining California, June 26 – July 3
We left the morning of June 26 to make the 38 mile drive south on Hwy 395 to Lee Vining. The elevation here is 7871 ft and the weather ranges from lower 50s at night to mid-80s during the day. We are in an Inyo National Forest campground 2.5 miles east on Hwy 120. Hwy 120 leads to the east entrance to Yosemite National Park which is 10 miles from here. We are camped in a pine forest right next to a creek. We can hear the roaring creek all day and all night. You would never know there was a drought in California. It is green here with wild flowers blooming everywhere and an abundance of streams, creeks, rivers and lakes. We had rain again this week. LOVE IT.
The next day we visited the Mono Lake Scenic Area Visitor Center. The visitor centers are a wealth of information on the area and what to do while visiting. We watched a movie about Mono Lake and the fight with the Los Angeles Water and Power District (DWP) to save the lake. I’m remember when I moved to California in 1979 I would see Save Mono Lake posters and bumper stickers. I didn’t know what it was about at the time. Now I do…
DWP was taking so much water from the fresh water streams that fed Mono Lake that they literally almost killed the lake. Twenty years ago the California Water Resources Control Board stopped the DWP from taking too much water by implementing reasonable policy and Mono Lake began to heal itself. It is a unique biosphere that is three times more salty than the Pacific Ocean and feeds many birds. It is a sister lake to the Great Salt Lake and left over from the vast inland sea that split the country in half millions of years ago. Unfortunately as a result of California’s three year drought the lake is at an 18 year low. The low lake level reveals the bottom of the lake in some areas and exposes the tufas that would normally be on the lake bottom under water. The tufas are a combination of salt and baking soda and fresh water from the natural springs that feed the lake and form calcium carbonate (a form of limestone) in towers. It was an other-worldly experience to walk on the former lakebed and amongst the tufas.
We went to the South Tufas area of Mono Lake for sunset and it was the perfect time to go. The woman at the Mono Committee Information Center in Lee Vining suggested we go at sunset instead of the heat of the day and she was soooo right. Take a look at what we enjoyed.
Ralph is working The Good Cat, AKA Fred, on a leash and is having mixed results. We find the ol’ spray water bottle is the punishment for misbehaving (i.e. chasing chipmunks) and cat treats are the reward for saying on the patio mat. We are doing our best to turn young Fred into a cat with dog-like qualities. Fred likes to do the backward boogalou (again Ralph’s name) when he gets to the end of his rope…so to speak. Fred can get out of his harness if he wants too. But he doesn’t want to run…like Simon who runs and hides when outside.
We headed east on 120 into Yosemite National Park and of course got in free with our Lifetime Senior National Park pass…surely one of the best things our government has to offer and one of the few silver linings of being 62+! The eastern part of Yosemite is less visited and therefore less crowded. We went for a hike shortly after entering the park. It was forested, green and lush and full of mosquitos…all swarming Ralph. I was walking behind him and could see the swarm. They didn’t come after me at all! Don’t know what to say about that.
So we cut the hike short and drove further into the park stopping at many places along the way. We were checking out the campgrounds (for future reference) and overlooks, hikes etc. My favorite place was Olmsted Overlook. HUGE boulders and rock formations. We walked out to the edge and this is what we saw. I hope the photos do it justice.
This is the 150th anniversary of Yosemite becoming a National Park. In June, 1864 the efforts of a handful of dedicated individuals inspired the United States Senate, Congress and President Abraham Lincoln to provide governmental protection of the spectacular scenery of Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. This law granted the State of California the authority of managing and protecting Yosemite Valley. This became known as the Yosemite Grant and was the beginning of the State Park system in California. Eight years later Yosemite became a National Park. Yosemite has some of the most spectacular landscape in this country. If you ever get a chance to visit, don’t miss it!
We tried to find a lake to launch our inflatable, and found many lakes in the June Lake area, however, the winds were blowing 17 mph and we only have a small electric motor. Not good conditions for our little yacht. We just brought out the camping chairs and the cooler with our lunch and had a wonderful lunch by a beautiful lake. I’d say that’s making lemonade out of lemons!
The Good Cat is being renamed to Houdini. He let himself out of the rig last night by opening the window screen. We called and whistled and he never responded. In the morning I woke up at 5:00 am and looked out the window and there he was sitting under a tree outside the rig. I opened the door and he bolted up the stairs looking for breakfast. I thought he was gone for good, Ralph thought he’d come back for food. I’m sure glad Ralph was right. Poor guy would have frozen to death this winter.
Bridgeport is the place to be on the place to be on July 4th…so that’s where we are headed. North on Hwy 395 for 38 miles (Ralph looked it up on his phone, which BTW is the only phone with a signal…need I say which carrier I have?) Thought not…
The festivities start in the morning with a parade, then many activities and ending with a rodeo and fireworks. I want to attend the rodeo, Ralph not so much but he agreed to go. I told him, “You know I used to be a horse woman”, to which he replies, “Sometimes I have a sore throat and my voice sounds like that too.” It’s a constant comedy store around here.
I’ll let you know what good American fun we had on July 4th in the next post.