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Archive for June, 2009

Tour of the Ahwahnee and grounds

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

After a delicious breakfast in the Ahwahnee dining room, Mike and I went back to our cottage to take care of some business. We needed to do laundry. It has been almost a week since we left on our anniversary road trip, and we were in need of some clean clothes. When we reached our cottage, we noticed that the cleaning lady was already there busily cleaning our little abode. We told her we would only be there for a few minutes and then would be out of her way. Her name was Ann Marie, and she was from Jamaica. As we were preparing to leave, I heard her singing a tune that sounded very familiar. As I listened to her sing, I recognized the song. “You’re all I want, you’re all I’ve ever needed,” she sang. I went outside to where she was and began singing with her. “You’re all I want, help me know you are near.” These are some of the words to the song “Draw Me Close to You” by Michael W. Smith. Ann Marie turned to me and smiled. I told her that I loved that song and that we sing it sometimes at my church. A delightful conversation ensued. I was glad Ann Marie was our cleaning lady.
Mike and I drove over to the Housekeeping campgrounds near the river’s edge. We found the Laundromat and put our load in to wash. Then we headed down to the river to relax on the beach. We brought two folding chairs and our cameras, and for the next hour or so, we relaxed and took pictures. For the most part, we were the only ones there. From time to time, some rafters would sail by, and we would wave to them. By 12:20, our clothes were all washed and dried. That was the most enjoyable laundry mat experience we have ever had.
We drove back to the Ahwahnee and made it in time for their 1:00 PM tour of the hotel and grounds. There were about 17 of us who had signed up for this tour. Our tour guide was a friendly young lady named Megan. She first led us outside to view the hotel’s cornerstone. I had never noticed it before. It was inscribed with “A.D. 1926”. An elderly lady who was part of our group spoke up and said that she was born in 1923. Mike and I asked her to stand next to the cornerstone so we could take her picture. She was a spunky lady who was still quite spry for her age. This cornerstone reminded me of a greater cornerstone mentioned in the bible. Ephesians 2:20 says, “…Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” I’m grateful that one day over 30 years ago, I built my spiritual foundation on Jesus Christ, the chief cornerstone. The tour lasted an hour, and we viewed the hotel grounds, the solarium, the great hall, the mezzanine, the dining room and the elevator hall.
We spent the next few hours relaxing in our room. I caught up on some of my writing, viewed some of my pictures and did a little reading. Mike took a snooze, did some reading and went back to the hotel to check out the gift shop. At about 4:50, we went to the great hall to have tea and cookies. Every day from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM, the Ahwahnee serves tea and cookies to their guests. When we arrived there, Christor was playing the piano. We first met Christor two years ago at the Ahwahnee. He had played “We’ve Only Just Begun” for us. This was the song that was sung at our wedding. It was good to see him again. Mike asked him if he would be there tomorrow as it was our 30th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, Christor is off on Tuesdays, so he would not be available. As we were getting ready to leave the hotel and go to dinner at another location in the valley, we ran into the O’Keefes at the Ahwahnee. Brother and Sister O’Keefe were missionaries to Sierra Leone in West Africa for about 25 years. They currently pastor a church in Pittsburg, CA and are friends of my sister and brother-in-law. They were staying for a few days over at the Yosemite Lodge and had just stopped by the hotel to relax and take in the sights. We enjoyed visiting with them. They are good, kind God-loving people.
We drove to the Curry Village dining pavilion for dinner. There was a long line, and we had to wait about 15 minutes before we could be seated for dinner. It was a rather enjoyable 15 minutes though. The reason for this was because there was a man and his son in line ahead of us. The man, we found out, was 94 years old. He did not look his age. His name was Michael O’Gorman. Michael is Irish, in case you hadn’t figured that out. He was studying to be a priest when World War II broke out. Instead, he joined the Air Force (U.S. Air Corps at that time). He was an animated man, and it was enjoyable talking with him. I think that part of what makes a vacation enjoyable are the people you meet and the moments you share. Today seemed to be one of those days.
After dinner, as we were headed back to our car, we noticed a bride and groom walking through the parking lot. We drove up to them and asked them if they just were married today. Kinda obvious, huh? They were all smiles and said that they had been married this day on top of Half Dome! The bride appeared to be Asian and was wearing a knee length dress that was rather modest compared to most dresses I’ve seen. She was wearing flip flops and was carrying her white pumps. We congratulated them and told them that tomorrow would be our 30th wedding anniversary. They congratulated us, and we then drove back to our hotel. As we were walking up to the hotel, we again saw this same couple. I asked them if they hiked up to Half Dome for the wedding. The bride turned to me with a big smile and said that they had hiked up to Half Dome at 5:30 in the morning. The justice of the peace also had hiked with them. We were amazed. Mike and Jeremy have done the Half Dome hike before, and it is no easy hike. It is eight miles one way to the top with many switchbacks. People have died on this hike. I’m glad they made it up and back with no incidents.

She's older than the Ahwahnee Cornerstone!

She's older than the Ahwahnee Cornerstone!

Ahwahnee Dining Room

Ahwahnee Dining Room

O'Keefes

The O'Keefes

kare relaxing by river

What a way to do laundry!

relaxing by the river

Mike relaxing by the river

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El Capitan

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

After a fitful night’s sleep, we arose around 6:00AM, quickly loaded the vehicle and headed for Yosemite National Park. The sky was blue, but clouds seem to be ever with us so far on this trip. We turned west onto Hwy 120 and made our way up Tioga Pass. We reached the entrance gate to Yosemite at around 9:00 AM. The elevation here was 9,945 feet. The temperature was 38 degrees Fahrenheit. There still was much snow at this elevation, and the mountain peaks even had some recent dusting of snow. We stopped at a small pond to take photos and continued on to the Tuolumne River where we also stopped. It was still winter in the high Sierras. Continuing on, we passed Lembert Dome,Tuolumne Meadows and Lake Tenaya before stopping at Olmstead Point. From there, we could see Half Dome down Tenaya Canyon. Many visitors were here as well taking pictures. We hiked down a short distance from the parking lot and were greeted by a couple of yellow bellied marmots. The first one I saw sitting on a rock. He was looking at me as if he were waiting for me to photograph him. Mike and I had fun taking their pictures. We hiked a little further on to a rise in the rocks and took more pictures of Lake Tenaya, Half Dome and the surrounding beauty. After we hiked back to our car, we had a lunch break, eating the sandwiches we had purchased in Bishop. We continued on and arrived in Yosemite Valley around 2:30. We stopped at a few of our favorite spots to take pictures and then pulled in to Camp Curry where we usually stay in the park.
Mike was going to the visitor desk to check on our rooms. I browsed in the village store. A few minutes later he was back, which was surprising to me. Usually there is a long wait before you can get your cabin keys. He said the rooms would not be ready until after 3:00 PM and suggested we go someplace where we could relax, like the Ahwahnee Hotel. The Ahwahnee Hotel has a great room that is like a gigantic living room. It has a couple of huge fireplaces and a variety of sofas and chairs. 97 percent of the furnishings in this room are the originals from when the Ahwahnee opened in 1927. It is a nice place to relax. We each ordered a beverage and went out to the veranda to relax and enjoy the scenery. As is common at the Ahwahnee, especially on a Saturday or Sunday, a wedding was getting ready to take place. We saw several from the wedding party going back and forth in preparation. It’s such an exciting time. After we finished our drinks, we took a walk behind the hotel. There are several cottages back there in the woods. We had stayed in one three years ago for our 27th anniversary and had really enjoyed ourselves. But this time, it looked like we were going to be staying in Curry Village, possibly in a tent cabin or a wood cabin without bath. Because of the rock slides last year in Curry, our original reservations had been cancelled. Mike had had a difficult time finding lodging for us in the valley. We passed by the cottage that we had stayed in three years ago. Mike was telling me that he had heard that some of the cottages actually had fireplaces in them. The one we had stayed in did not. We passed by a cottage that was being cleaned. We stopped to take a look, and it had a fireplace in it. The cleaning lady let us come inside and take a peek. The décor was Indian, with a King-sized featherbed and a good sized fireplace. The only problem with it was that it smelled smoky. Otherwise, it was a lovely spot to stay. The cleaning lady told us that a lot of honeymooners stay there. We continued on thru the forest and ended up at the river’s edge. It was so peaceful and tranquil back here. The river looked so crystal clear as it flowed through the forest. Mike and I took a few pictures. I noticed a bridge further down, and I told Mike I would like to go photograph it. He told me to go ahead and take some pictures. And then he informed me that we would be staying there at the Ahwahnee in the same cottage we stayed at three years ago. I was so surprised! All this time, I had thought we would be staying in a wood cabin without bath in Curry Village. I was not looking forward to a midnight trek to the restroom a stone’s throw from our cabin or waiting in line at the bath house to take a shower. But I wasn’t going to complain because I had stayed at the Ahwahnee three years ago, and I was grateful for that experience. But now, Mike was telling me we would indeed be staying at the Ahwahnee! I was surprised, happy and overwhelmed at the magnanimous heart of this man who married me almost 30 years ago. We both had an emotional moment of tenderness. We hugged and then Mike went back to the hotel to check us in and get our room keys. Still feeling overwhelmed with gratitude, I went back to the river’s edge, sat down and wept. As I sat there by the river, I began to pour out my heart to God and thank Him for his faithfulness and goodness to me.
When Mike returned, he told me there was a change in plans. The employee who had made our reservations apparently made a mistake. So instead of the cottage we had before, we would be staying in another one nearby. He took me to our cottage, and it was just perfect! It had a comfortable king-sized feather bed with soft, plump pillows. Outside our window we could see Half Dome smiling down on us. Everything was immaculate and tastefully decorated in the Indian style for which the hotel was named. What a wonderful anniversary gift to stay at this peaceful place. I am so blessed.

Our Patio

Our Patio

View from our room

View from our room

Our room at the Ahwahnee

Our room at the Ahwahnee

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june 2009 vacation 121

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

We stopped at the store to pick up a few items and then headed northwest on Hwy 395 towards a canyon that Mike wanted to explore. I later found out it was called Pine Creek Canyon. We took the Pine Creek Road exit. It was about 5:30 PM by now. We saw a sign that said the road we were on would end in six miles. Shortly after, we passed the small town of Rovana. Rovana is a community located in Inyo County. The elevation is 5,141 feet. Continuing further, we were headed into a narrow canyon up in the mountains. Below we could see the volcanic tablelands as we rose higher and went deeper into this towering mountain canyon. The snow-capped mountains further in the canyon loomed high and formidable above us. As we were taking in this fantastic scenery, Mike stopped the car and hurried outside. “What is he doing”? I wondered. In my side view mirror, I saw Mike looking at the rear tire on the passenger side of our SUV. He did not have a happy look on his face. I stepped out of the car and to my dismay; I saw that the rear tire was completely flat! We knew we had a spare tire under the vehicle. But Mike had never changed a flat tire on an SUV before. We had only owned our Sequoia two years. By now, it was almost 6:00 PM. I checked my cell phone thinking I could call AAA. To my dismay, we had absolutely no coverage up here. The winds were picking up in this narrow mountain canyon. The skies were darkening, and it would not be long before the sun would be setting behind the mountains. I felt panic rise up in my spirit. What would we do if we could not get down this mountain before dark? Would we have to spend the night here? There was not a single soul around who could help us. I felt like breaking down and crying and giving in to my fear. Instead, I began to pray to God and ask Him to help us. Mike found the auto manual in our glove compartment and began to read it. He placed heavy rocks under each wheel so our SUV would not roll over him. We had our bikes on the rack behind our vehicle. In order for him to get to the spare tire, he had to remove the bikes and the rack from our hitch. Next, He crawled under and began to move the spare tire down from its place. It was held in place by a winch. He had no real problems getting the spare tire out from under the vehicle. There was a hydraulic jack that came with our car, and after a couple of tries, he was able to raise the SUV enough to remove the spare. It was not easy work. I felt pretty helpless just standing there watching him and offering any help I could provide. We were in a race against time and the elements. After removing the flat tire, we saw a big screw inside. Thank God we did not have a blow out when we were on Hwy 395 driving 70 MPH. The spare tire was full of air. Thank God for small miracles! The tire was quite heavy, but Mike was able to hoist it in place and screw the bolts back in. It took about 40 minutes for him to complete the tire change and put the rack and bikes back in place. Before we left, Mike took three of the big rocks he had placed under our vehicle and piled them on top of each other as a memorial. The fourth rock we kept as a reminder of God’s provision. We then held hands and thanked the good Lord for helping us. Whew! This was our near peril miss, and we are grateful to God for His hand of protection and His help!

We made it back to our hotel about 7:00 PM. Mike called AAA and was told that they do not repair tires. We knew we were going to be leaving tomorrow and driving up to Yosemite, so we started looking in the local Yellow Pages for a tire repair location nearby. Most businesses by this time were closed. However, Mike called one place and was given the phone number of a man named Bill who had just left for the day. Bill agreed to meet us at his place of business and repair our damaged tire. He and his wife were there when we arrived. They were so kind and gracious to not only repair our tire, but to take the spare off and put the repaired tire back on our vehicle. And they only charged us $40. Bill and his wife Patty are around the same age as we are. They are recent empty-nesters like us. Patty is originally from the Midwest as we are. We had a lot in common. Sometimes I believe God sends people our way in times of urgent need to help us out. This was one of those times. If you are ever in the town of Bishop and need your car towed or a flat tire repaired, look up Bill’s Towing Service in the Yellow Pages.

We had not yet had dinner. It was about 8:15. We stopped at a KFC across from our hotel, and brought the food back to our room. It felt so good to know we would be sleeping in a warm hotel room and not on a mountain in our car. We fell asleep with grateful hearts.

Into the Foreboding Canyon

Into the Foreboding Canyon

fixing flat

Memorial

Memorial

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DSC_0472

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

Today our plans were to stop at the local Laws Railroad Museum, visit the Galen Rowell Light Gallery and do some exploring. After a continental breakfast provided by The Best Western lodge where we were staying, we headed in the direction of the Laws Railroad Museum. Since it did not open until 10:00AM, we decided to driver further down on Hwy 6 and do some exploring. The humidity was up, and we could see clouds gathering in the skies. Regardless of the climate, the scenery was still spectacular. When you’re surrounded by snow-capped peaks on all sides, whether the skies are blue or not, it’s still amazing to behold. We visited the small town of Chalfant, nestled beneath the White Mountains. It was a peaceful little town with well-kept homes, most of which appeared to be modular or mobile home units. Shortly thereafter, we turned around and arrived at the Laws Railroad Museum in Bishop, California. Laws was once a railroad town apparently named after one of the railroad agents. It was built in the early 1880’s with the first train arriving in April of 1883. The depot, agent’s house, section boss’s house, outhouses, water tank and turntable were all ready when the train arrived. In addition to the railroad buildings, other construction quickly followed which included many homes, barns and corrals, two general stores, a rooming house, eating house, hotel, boarding house, pool hall, blacksmith shop, post office, barber shop, powder magazine and warehouses. Several industrial buildings followed later. Many ranches surrounded Laws and used the railroad to ship their crops. The decline and demise of Laws and the railroad were the result of the local mines closing, trucking becoming cheaper than rail freight, and the City of Los Angeles buying most of the valley for the water rights. The railroad ceased operation in 1959. Only the depot, agent’s house, oil and water tanks and the turntable survived. There were several other buildings that we toured at the museum that were doomed for destruction locally, but were moved to the museum grounds for preservation.
Seeing the relics of a bygone era held an air of nostalgia for us. After all, Mike is half a century old, and I am not too far behind him. Some of the highlights for me of this museum were the following:

• Julia, the lady who ran the gift shop and greeted all visitors, was the first person we met. She has lived in Bishop for a long, long time and is in her 80’s. Julia recited to us the facts and history of Laws and gave us a map of the layout which she knew like the back of her hand. She was sharp as a whip. I hope I am as mentally alert as she is when I reach her tender age.
• The depot agent’s home was very impressive for a number of reasons. The lady who greeted us at this home gave us a tour. She pointed out some framed wall hangings in the parlor that appeared to be embroidered flowers. We learned that they were actually made out of human hair! Back in that time period, women rarely cut their hair. But they saved their hair and used it to make these beautiful embroidered pieces of art! It was truly amazing.
• Another item we found of noteworthiness in this home was sitting on top of an old organ. It was a songbook. The title of it was “Pentecostal Hymns Three and Four”. Mike opened the book to see if he could find a copyright date. We were not able to find one, and did not want to further open the songbook due to its age and fragile condition. The first song in the book was titled “O Why Not Tonight?” I’ve never heard of this song but plan to investigate and see if I can find it somewhere. I took a picture of the lyrics, but it turned out fuzzy. However, the theme of the song was about the urgency of the hour and pleading with those who are without God to give their hearts to Him. Hence the name, “O Why Not Tonight?”

Another item of interest were a couple of wreaths made entirely of human hair.  Back in those days, women did not cut their hair.  Any hair that they lost was collected and used to embroider wreathes such as the one in the picture below.

We spent about an hour and a half at this delightful museum which was set up like an old western town. The backdrop of the White Mountains and Sierra Nevada Range added to the scenery.

Next we stopped at the Galen Rowell Gallery of Light in Bishop. Galen Rowell was an amazing photographer. We have a couple of his books at home. While perusing the gallery, we heard a distant rumble of thunder. Clouds and thunderheads had been forming all afternoon, so we weren’t entirely surprised when we heard the first clap of thunder. Mike and I went to the lobby and looked out towards the West. Dark clouds were all around, and it was raining quite hard. More thunder claps followed and even some hail. We enjoyed the display of God’s power and majesty made equally exciting being in the mountains we so love. After awhile, the storm cleared, and it stopped raining. On to our next adventure to be continued in the next post.

Train at Laws Railroad Musuem

Train at Laws Railroad Musuem

Wreath made of human hair

Wreath made of human hair

pentecostal hymns

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Father & Son hanging out (literally)

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

This Father’s Day was extra special because our son is now a father-to-be. We spent a relaxing afternoon here at the house with Jeremy and Molly. After Jeremy did a bang up job grilling our food, and our tummies were happy and filled, Mike pulled out our new hammock, which was a free gift. We took turns trying it out, and Jeremy even took a nap in it. I found this poem about fathers, and it reminded me of my husband. Although fathers don’t seem to enjoy all the fuss and fanfare that we moms do on mother’s day, they are a very important and vital part of the family. They are the foundation and backbone of strength and leadership. I thank God that the man I married has been such an outstanding father to our son. Happy Father’s Day Honey. I love you with all my heart.

Fathers are Wonderful People

Fathers are wonderful people
Too little understood,
And we do not sing their praises
As often as we should…

For, somehow, Father seems to be
The man who pays the bills,
While Mother binds up little hurts
And nurses all our ills…

And Father struggles daily
To live up to “HIS IMAGE”
As protector and provider
And “hero or the scrimmage”…

And perhaps that is the reason
We sometimes get the notion,
That Fathers are not subject
To the thing we call emotion,

But if you look inside Dad’s heart,
Where no one else can see
You’ll find he’s sentimental
And as “soft” as he can be…

But he’s so busy every day
In the grueling race of life,
He leaves the sentimental stuff
To his partner and his wife…

But Fathers are just WONDERFUL
In a million different ways,
And they merit loving compliments
And accolade of praise,

For the only reason Dad aspires
To fortune and success
Is to make the family proud of him
And to bring them happiness…

And like OUR HEAVENLY FATHER,
He’s a guardian and a guide,
Someone that we can count on
To be ALWAYS ON OUR SIDE.
Helen Steiner Rice

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Minaret Summit View

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

ANNIVERSARY ROAD TRIP DAY 3

Today we were up and on the road by 9:00 AM. We were headed to our next destination – the town of Bishop. The skies were a milky white with darker clouds gathering on the horizon. The temperature was in the low 40’s. Hard to believe it’s June. Since these trips are also meant as a time for exploration and adventure, we decided to turn off and visit Virginia Lake, not too far from Twin Lakes. This lake was rather small, compared to Twin Lakes, but it had a similar beauty. It was surrounded by high, snow-capped peaks, and there were many fisherman lined up along its shores. They were having great success in their endeavors as the lake was well stocked with fish. Mike and I crossed a rickety wood foot bridge and made our way to the shore’s edge to take some photos. Since it was overcast, we did not spend a lot of time here. We checked out the resort lodge, and I spoke with a young man named Christian who worked in the store there. He informed me that the lake we had just seen outside was actually little Virginia Lake. There was a big Virginia Lake further up the road. He pulled out a map and began to show me that there were many lakes which made up the Virginia Lakes. They also had a hike that would take you from there to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park. I’m sure that would be a rather arduous and strenuous hike. I prefer to drive there.
We continued on our drive and stopped about 15 minutes later at Mono Lake in Lee Vining, CA. We have been to Mono Lake many times, but we still enjoy visiting. Mono Lake is a majestic body of water covering about 65 square miles. It is an ancient lake, — one of the oldest lakes in North America. It has no outlet. Throughout its long existence, salts and minerals have washed into the lake from Eastern Sierra streams. Freshwater evaporating from the lake each year has left the salts and minerals behind so that the lake is now about 2 1/2 times as salty and 80 times as alkaline as the ocean. The Mono basin’s long history of volcanism is evident in the hills that mark the north and east boundaries of the basin. To the south lie the Mono craters. Panum Crater, the northern most of these craters erupted only 650 years ago. Mono’s islands are also volcanic. Pahoa Island is thought to be around 300 years old. Hot springs and steam vents in the basin show that volcanic activity is still present. This whole area of the eastern sierras is full of geo-thermal activity. Mike and I even saw a hot springs along the side of the road. We stopped at the Mono Lake visitor center and perused the displays and their gift shop. Mike bought me a little stuffed bird that chirps when you squeeze it. We have been collecting these birds for a few years now. The one he purchased today was a meadowlark. I named her Malarky.
Our next stop along the way was the town of Mammoth Lakes. We drove to the Minaret Summit view, which is over 9,000 feet in elevation. From this lookout, we can see across the valley to the group of mountains known as The Minarets. These peaks are very jagged and have a beauty all their own. Storm clouds were gathering, so we did not stay too long here. We took several photos and also video taped the Minarets and its environs using my cell phone. We then sent the video to Jeremy our son. It’s amazing what you can do with modern technology. It still blows my mind.
We reached the town of Bishop at about 2:30 PM. After checking into our room and getting settled, we drove around the town to do some exploring. We headed east on Hwy 6 for a few miles as we wanted to check out the Laws Railroad Museum. It was closed by now, but we wanted to find it in order to visit tomorrow. We rode a few miles further on Hwy 6. We were out in the middle of nowhere, with the White Mountains to our east and much scrub and sagebrush everywhere else. Out towards the west, dark foreboding clouds hovered ever closer. We could see sheets of rain in the distance dumping on the mountains.
We headed back into town and found a local Mexican Restaurant where we ate a delicious, albeit a little too spicy meal. Ironically, above our table was a big photo of over 100 different hot sauce brands. We looked to see if the “Wrath of God” hot sauce was there, but it wasn’t. We had a good laugh over the names of some of the other hot sauces though. There were names such as “Last Rites”, “Lotta Hotta,” “911”, and “Spitfire”. My favorite was “Tongues of Fire”. We retired early to get a head start on the next day’s adventure.

Old Cabin at Little Virginia Lake

Old Cabin at Little Virginia Lake

Boats by Little Virginia Lake

Boats by Little Virginia Lake

Little Bridge at Virginia Lake

Little Bridge at Virginia Lake

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Sawtooth Range at Twin Lakes

Originally uploaded by Kiki Karia.

Thursday morning the day welcomed us with crystal clear skies. The Sawtooth range was blazing against the Cerulean sky. Mike and I took several pictures before we walked over to the Village Café for breakfast. As we began to pray over our meal, our waitress Kathy, started to ask us a question before she realized that we were saying grace. She apologized, and after we said grace, she later came back and told us how good it was to see someone still praying for their food. We told her that we have been doing it for 30 years now. She remarked that she and her husband have been saying grace for 36 years. I asked her if that was how long she had been married. Kathy said that they were married for 37 years but the first year, they did not yet see a need to say grace. The bible says in everything to give thanks to God. He has provided so much, and we never want to be remiss in thanking God for all his blessings.
After breakfast, we returned to our room and prepared for our hike to Barney Lake. It took us about 20 minutes to get our hiking gear and backpacks loaded, and then we hit the trail. It was 10:00 AM. Barney Lake is a four-mile hike with a 1,300 foot elevation gain. We had seen pictures of it on Google Earth, and it appeared to be a serene alpine lake. So off we went. We saw very few people on the trail. The walk to the trail head was about a mile, and from there the trail was a gradual meander up the countryside A young couple passed us by early in the hike. They were loaded down with large backpacks and camping gear. They looked to be doing some serious hiking. We asked them if they were going to Barney Lake. They said yes. We wished them well. That was the last we saw of them. The initial hiking trail led us through a tranquil pine forest. We heard birds chirping and twittering in the treetops, a good sign that there were no bears or other predators nearby. When we had checked in yesterday, the desk clerk had told us that there were lots of bears around. So I, of course, was wary. About a half mile into the trail, there were several signs describing the area, including a map. We were entering the Hoover Wilderness area of Humboldt/Toiyabe Forest. I was just getting over a respiratory infection, so the exertion from uphill hiking did aggravate my airways, and I did cough a lot on this hike. The visitors guide indicated that this hike was a moderate to severe one. But in talking to some of the locals, they had told us that the first three miles of the hike were a gradual elevation gain, and the last mile would be a little harder.
After going through the pine forest, the trail seemed to open up into a wide meadow with sage brush everywhere. The Sawtooth Range gazed down at us with a lofty air. There were great photo opportunities here. We passed through a couple of aspen forests and eventually stopped at an area that had several rocks of good seating quality where we rested for a few minutes. The weather today was probably in the 60’s, but when you’re hiking, it sometimes heats up quickly from all the exertion. So I eventually shed my jacket. About noon, we ran across a hiker and his German Shepherd dog on the trail. He was returning from Barney Lake. We asked him how the hike was. He replied that it wasn’t too bad. There were some switchbacks and an aspen forest ahead, but it was well worth the hike for all the beautiful scenery he saw. He said we probably had another mile and a half to go before we reached Barney Lake. Shortly after that, the trail started climbing more dramatically, and we began to encounter several switchbacks. They were not bad at all compared to some of the switchback trails we have hiked in Yosemite. After rounding one switchback, we were rewarded with an eagle’s eye view of Twin Lakes. Wow! It was amazing that we had climbed that high! We still had a ways to go though before reaching our destination of Barney Lake. At this point, the trail seemed to narrow as well as increase in difficulty. We reached the point where the trail traversed along the side of a high rock cliff with many cracks and crevasses in it. This was a perfect place for mountain lions to prey. It was unnerving for me, and I prayed and asked God to protect us. We had prayed earlier in the hike, but I felt I needed an extra boost of faith! After we made it past this rock wall, the trail led us into another aspen forest, and within another ten minutes, we had reached the shores of Barney Lake! I thought we would never get here, but thank God, we made it! This was quite a feat for me as I have asthma and a mild heart condition. But neither of those seemed to affect me. Thank the Lord! We found an old log, sat down, and ate our granola bars for lunch. It was about 1:00 PM. Throughout our hike, clouds had been gathering, and by the time we reached the lake, while there were still blue skies, a considerable amount of clouds were forming over the lake. On the south side of the lake, high above us, loomed a snow-capped mountain peak called Crown Point. It was so majestic and regal looking. Mike and I both spent some time taking pictures. I even tried out my new zoom lens. We did not stay too long as the wind was picking up, and we were getting colder by the minute. It had taken us about three hours to reach Barney Lake. The trip down was much quicker, about two hours.
After resting for a few minutes in our room, we had an early dinner at the village café. Mike ordered the meat loaf dinner again, and I ordered the special, A New York Steak. I haven’t had one of those in a long time. It was a delicious meal. When we exited the café, it was sprinkling outside, and over Twin Lake was a beautiful rainbow. By this time, my legs and feet were beginning to ache from the 8-mile round trip hike. I went back to our room to rest, but Mike, not wanting to miss a great photo opportunity, grabbed his camera and hurried over to the lake. The rainbow was vibrant, and he was able to capture several spectacular photos. There was even a double rainbow! What a great way to end the day, with a reminder of one of God’s promises.

DSC_0261 rainbow

DSC_0192 kare at barney

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