Monday, July 11, 2016

Mammoth Lakes to Yosemite to Lake Tahoe to Auburn

This was another unbelievable day. Sometimes I am so amazed at my life. I'm so lucky to be able to spend my days doing this.
I woke up in Mammoth Lakes and we drove around a little bit before leaving town. I wanted to make it up to a place called Devil's Postpile, but no cars were allowed, and dogs on the shuttle bus had to be muzzled. I'm not opposed to muzzling River, but I was afraid of the scene on the bus. If there were dogs on there besides, River it could be a very long, uncomfortable ride. So we skipped it.

I got back on good old US-395. I actually fell in love with it today.  It is full of scenery worthy of stopping for and provides access to many very cool attractions. I took it to Lee Vining, where I switched to CA-120 to head to Yosemite.

Even the ride up to Yosemite is breathtaking.
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I stopped several times before even getting to the entrance.

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Once we did get to the entrance there was a huge line of cars. So long that I couldn't even see the gate or the front of the line. I waited for about half an hour, inching forward every few minutes. I noticed that there were no cars coming the other direction, except occasionally in groups. I thought maybe they had a single lane situation up ahead. But finally I noticed a park ranger was walking down the line of cars, briefly speaking with the drivers and then letting some of them drive in the left hand lane.

When she got to me, she asked "Do you have a pass?" Happily, I told her that I do. "Where is it?" She asked matter-of-factly. I showed it to her and she gave me a map and told me I could by-pass the fee booth.

Yosemite is such an awesome place. Whereas places like The Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon are beautiful. They seem more like museums because you can't really touch things and climb on them. What I like about Yosemite is that it's gorgeous and it invites you to play. It's interactive. I love to find a private place near a rushing river, where I can climb on rocks or lay down in the sun and not be bothered. Granted, today the park was hugely popular and several times when I thought I had found my paradise, it was quickly overrun by throngs.

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Shortly after I took this video, a woman showed up with a dog on a leash. River and the dog locked eyes for a few moments and the dog barked a few times. River didn't move. She scolded her dog and they walked past us towards the water. Once River knows another dog is in the vicinity, nothing else exists. He stops enjoying the lake, or the grass or whatever we're doing and just stares. I can sometimes momentarily distract him, but that's all it is, a momentary distraction. As soon as whatever I'm doing concludes, he immediately must find the dog in the distance again. It's sad. I try not to let it be sad, but I sometimes get saddened that he's so screwed up.

Eventually we found a place that offered everything: seclusion, rocks, trees, hiking and lake access. What more do you need in life?
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I wish I could move into Yosemite. I can't imagine ever seeing it all. I try to drive away, knowing I have other things to do today, and every 500 yards, I see another thing that makes me gasp and want to stop.

Two hours went by in a flash and suddenly, I was hungry. So I wound my way back to US-395 north until it turned into Main St. in a one-block-long town called Bridgeport. There were two burger places. (There were actually three, but the other was at the other end of Main St. so I didn't see it until leaving.) One was called The Barn, and the other was called Jolly Kone. Besides burgers, the former served Mexican Food and breakfast and the latter served Burritos and Ice Cream. I lost my appetite for Jolly Kone when I also noticed they offer massage! The Burger Barn was an excellent choice and I'm happy to say that I finally enjoyed a good burger. Read more about that here.

Being fed, I was happy to be back on my newfound treasure, US-395. It ran alongside a river and I kept catching glimpses of it, which drives me crazy when I'm driving on a hot day. In a good way. It excites me and I want to pull over and get wet. Which is what I do.
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River tolerates my whims, even though sometimes, I brake so hard it tosses him off of his perch.
Like when I switched from US-395 to CA-89 near Topaz Lake, NV. Sorry River, I didn't see the road until the last moment.


That beautiful and crazily winding road took us to Lake Tahoe through a picturesque forest. It felt funny to be in a place similar to Mammoth Lakes but different. Both were mountainy, foresty and resorty. Both brisk in weather and tourist trade. Unlike Mammoth Lakes, the air in Tahoe was moist. Tahoe is also almost 3000 feet lower, but still a decent 6000 feet.

I navigated to a park without realizing it was going to be an off-leash dog beach, so we drove right on by and I found another place where River could get up close and personal with the lake without being disturbed.

 Until he heard a dog in the distance....
 So I took him up to the dock and made him pose for me.

I also made him pose for me outside the pet store where I got his food.


Then we left Lake Tahoe bound for Auburn. I got on US-50 which eventually became CA-49. It was so roller coastery, that it made the ride we had on CA-89 seem tame. I coasted most of the way down to Auburn, where we checked into a Motel 6.

I'd been doing really well at avoiding bad motel situations, but I think I made an allowance on this when because of the location. Not that Auburn is any great shakes, but I have a class in the morning in Nevada City and this was the closest I could get.

But it was a prison style, with a long haul to the door. I wrote more extensively about it in my Motel 6 blog. I took River our for his dinner and we couldn't make it to the train tracks because of dry prickly brush. We found two abandoned cars, a mattress and a shopping cart in the parking lot. No grass. On the upside, I'm bloggin on the free wi-fi without any problems. And there's a microwave and refrigerator in the room and, most delightfully, the windows actually open and have screens!!

We've had a long and exciting day and are looking forward to sleeping. River's already there.



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