Archive for June, 2008

This morning we awoke around 7:30. After packing up our vehicle, we walked over to the nearby meadow. The morning was glorious with sunny blue skies. The temperature in this mountain climate was a brisk 48ºF. Off in the distance, the lake sparkled as the sun’s rays kissed the water. We spent about an hour in this verdant meadow, taking snapshots of the majestic peaks, lush green grass, and the little groundhogs that kept popping up from their underground homes to check us out. We noticed some lovely lilac-colored Siberian Irises scattered in various places throughout the meadow. We learned from some of the locals that the highest peak upon which we had been gazing is called “The Matterhorn”, an appropriate name for this lofty peak. We almost felt as if we were in another country. What a delightful place!

We stopped at the registration office/general store to reluctantly turn in our room keys. It was sad to be leaving this beautiful place, tucked back in the mountains. Everyone here had been so friendly and helpful to us. This must be one of the best-kept secrets in the eastern sierras. We plan to visit next year and stay a few days and explore the area.

I purchased some breakfast muffins and juice, which we ate in our vehicle by the lake. As we drove along the lakeshore preparing to head towards our next destination, we stopped every so often to take snapshots. We did not want to forget this lovely place. Between the Twin Lakes is a spillway and small bridge. We were told that the upper lake where we stayed is nine feet above the lower lake. There was a gorgeous home sitting there between the two lakes. It had a manicured lawn and all the trappings that make a home attractive. On the way back down to Bridgeport, we just had to stop and take some more shots of the spectacular mountains of Twin Lakes now behind us. Ahead of us was a large range where a cowboy was herding in the grazing cattle. Such a pastoral setting this was.

We continued south on Hwy 395, passing through a glorious high-desert landscape. Twenty minutes later, we reached peaceful Mono Lake. Mono Lake’s salty waters support trillions of alkali flies and brine shrimp that provide food for some 90 species of water birds, from cinnamon teal to Wilson’s phalaropes. In the 1940s, Los Angeles began diverting water from the streams that feed Mono and the lake dropped 45 feet, with disastrous consequences. But a decade ago environmental groups successfully sued to limit diversion, and today the Mono ecosystem is slowly recovering. We stopped by the visitor center there for about half an hour. While taking pictures on the back deck of the center, we met a linguist from Norway. Although his roots are in the Midwest, he is now living in Norway with his wife and family. He told us that they speak three languages in their home; English, Dutch and Norwegian. I asked him if he knew how many language families existed. He stated that this is something linguists cannot seem to agree upon. It was quite fascinating speaking with him.

We resumed our drive down Hwy 395 towards the town of Bishop, about an hour away. We took a little detour drive around the June Lake Loop This 15-mile loop winds through a glacial canyon past four sweet mountain lakes abounding in trout and surrounded by aspen and pine trees. Compared to Twin Lakes where we had stayed, these lakes, while beautiful, seemed somewhat lacking. One of the lake’s water levels was really quite low. As we descended the Sherwyn Grade and approached Bishop, the mountains west of Hwy 395 just seemed to grow taller and taller. They loomed before us, their peaks touching the blue sky.

We arrived in this lovely mountain town (population 3,500) about 2:00 PM. After a delicious lunch at a local Mexican restaurant, we checked into our motel room at the Best Western Holiday Spa. It was in the mid 80’s and quite warm. Our room was luxurious compared to the one we had stayed in at Twin Lakes. It was tastefully decorated and very comfortable with welcome amenities. They even had a computer in the lobby for the guests to use. I was so tempted to add a post onto my blog but decided to wait. After taking an hour power nap (Those things really do help!), we felt recharged and ready to explore Bishop and the environs. We were pretty impressed with this mountain town. For being as small as it is, Bishop has its own hospital, airport and golf course among other assets. We stopped and visited the late Galen Rowell’s photo gallery. He was an awesome photographer, and we have a few of his books at home. We then drove all the way down West Line Street and ended up at Lake Sabrina, some 19 miles away and about 9,000 feet in elevation. This too was a lovely lake, but due to the late hour of the day, our pictures did not turn out as well. We met a sweet couple that was visiting here from South Korea. The husband’s name was Jon-Kim. We could not understand nor pronounce his charming wife’s name. In their broken English, they told us they were here visiting for a few weeks. They had been married since 1985. Jon-Kim was a professor of physics in his native country. His wife majored in voice. It was so enjoyable speaking with them. We took their picture, and they took ours.

Coming back down from Lake Sabrina offered us a spectacular view of the Owens Valley floor far below and the town of Bishop. We could clearly see the volcanic tablelands in this geo-thermal area. A large earthquake had occurred in this area back in 1872. Magnitude is estimated to be in the range 7.6 < M < 8.0, and a fault rupture extends from just south of Bishop to Olancha. It was felt in much of California and present day Nevada. I learned that the Owens Valley is a nearly perfect rift valley, and that both sides are moving apart. The geological history of this area is rather fascinating.

When we landed back in Bishop, we stopped at the local Von’s supermarket and picked up some microwave meals for dinner as well as lunch for tomorrow’s long trek over the White Mountains and into Nevada. We were tired but happy with all the splendor and beauty of God’s creation that we were privileged to see. Thank you Jesus!

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Day 1

June 11, 2008

We left our home around 10:00 AM, albeit 2 hours later than we had planned. Not because we woke up late, but because there was still so much left to do. Loading our luggage, pillows, lawn chairs, binoculars, walking sticks, food, ice chest, etc. into the Sequoia took longer than we thought it would. This year I had made up a vacation checklist, which really helped us to remember what to bring on the trip. This will come in handy for future trips.

It was a beautiful, temperate day in Suisun with sunny blue skies. This was perfect vacation weather. We pulled out of the driveway and headed towards I-80 East. Our destination for day one was Twin Lakes in the town of Bridgeport in the eastern Sierras. We would take I-80 East into Sacramento, and then from there, we would drive Hwy 50 into S. Lake Tahoe. Once there, we would drive up Hwy 89 and make the exhilarating 2,600 foot descent from Monitor Pass to Hwy 395. The drive up was pleasant, and it seemed to Mike and I that the scenery along Highways 89 and 395 was prettier this year than we’ve ever seen it. We noticed more flowers blooming than ever before. Perhaps this is because of the cooler spring we have had which has slowed down the arrival of spring in the mountains.

The drive from Monitor Pass down into the valley far below was very enjoyable. We stopped along the way and took several photos. My favorite part of Monitor Pass is when we are descending. The view of the valley below is spectacular with the alluvial plains, scenic mountains and fertile valleys. You almost feel like you’re in an airplane descending down into this valley. Topaz Lake was to our North, and stretched out before us for miles and miles lay Hwy 395 and some of the most diverse, fascinating and beautiful landscapes in Northern California. Hwy 395 was once a one-time American Indian trading route. This 230-mile expanse of Highway between Carson City, NV to the North and Lone Pine to the South connects you to a series of towns leading to trailheads, hot springs, cool streams and much awesome scenery.

We pulled into the town of Bridgeport around 3:00 PM and ate a late lunch at The Sportsman’s Restaurant. Our waitress, Nicole, was very nice and friendly. We asked if she was from Bridgeport, hoping to glean any tidbit of information about the area. She said that she was from Reno, but she comes to Bridgeport to work every summer. It is a beautiful town. I took some shots after lunch of the old courthouse across the street, which I was told they still use today. I also visited the old jailhouse and took pictures of a couple of the dingy, dirty, cells. I sure was glad I did not have to spend a night there.

We reached our destination of Twin Lakes, which is only about 15 minutes from Bridgeport, around 4:30 PM. It was so beautiful and definitely exceeded our expectations. The snow-capped Sawtooth Range towered above us in all its glory.

The resort where we stayed was called Annett’s Mono Village. It is by no means luxurious. Our motel was only $65 a night, and although it was clean, it was on the rustic side. But the people there were very friendly and kind and helpful. After checking into our motel room, we walked out to the Lake and rented a 12-foot aluminum motorboat. They only charged us $25 to use the boat for two hours! What a deal! Mike had never operated a motorboat before, but it didn’t take him too long to learn. What an exhilarating feeling it was to skim across the crystal clear waters and drink in the beauty of God’s creation. As Mike’s confidence in his nautical abilities grew, he began going faster. At one point, he started turning the boat in circles and jumping the waves he had created in the boat’s wake. The craft would lift up a little when he did this. What fun! We were like two children with a new toy!

At about 7:00 PM, we docked the boat and had a delicious dinner at the lake’s Café. We both ordered the burger steak with onions, red mashed potatoes, gravy and squash. Our waitress, Beth, was very friendly and cordial. She told us that they had a chef working in the kitchen. She even gave us one of his dessert creations FREE to share. It was a chocolate mousse of sorts with cherries and whipped cream. It was quite delicious.

By now, the high altitude (7,000 feet) had me pretty wiped out. I have asthma, and the first day in the mountains is usually the roughest for me as my body slowly gets used to the thinner air. I went back to our motel room and prepared to retire for the night. Mike walked over to a nearby meadow to take pictures. It sure is a beautiful place.

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11 Day Road trip

1 monitor pass

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

Well, we made it back on Saturday from an 11-day road trip to the Inyo Mountains, the desert, Yosemite and several other places of interest. And what an adventure we had! No earthquakes or snowstorms this year, but we visited several new places and were exposed to God’s beautiful creation. How thankful we are to him for allowing us to go on this trip. More posts to follow soon on our journeys.

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