Cinderella Week and Weather Whiplash

Last year, the Resort shutdown took about 2 weeks of what I considered to be fairly hard labor. This year, knowing that we would only be there about 6 days after the final day of business, we worked double time to be sure that we got as much finished as possible. Shutting down means, first off, cleaning *everything* in the kitchen, restaurant, and store, which means a ton of scrubbing. We clean the ceilings, the walls, the shelves, the cabinets, and round out the process with a through floor scrubbing, down on your hands and knees with a scrub brush.  Cabin shutdown is much the same, with 11 kitchens that get a solid round of SOS application, and a stove cleaning with Easy Off, in addition to the regular cabin cleaning.  We wash all the bedspreads and mattress pads, which is about a 2 week process as we put them one at a time through the single clotheswasher.  And there’s also little things like pulling the boats off the water to store them under the store, moving all the outside items like garbage cans and signs into inside storage, and cleaning out the walk in refrigerator and freezer.  It’s a small resort, but there are about a million items on the to-do list that have to happen before the crew leaves.

Amy and JJ attacking the industrial oven in the restaurant kitchen:

It wasn’t all manual labor, though!  The Kings took the whole crew out for a very lovely dinner at Nevados Restaurant in Mammoth Lakes as a thank you for our work.  They ordered yummy wines for the whole table, and we got a succession of delectable nibbles of appetizers before our main course.  I particularly enjoyed the chocolate trio for dessert, a plate of creme brulee, mousse, and a chocolate ice cream.  Num num!

The whole crew:

The last couple days at 10,000 feet were a bit rough, with a storm that came through bringing rain, snow, and very cold temperatures.  With our electrical system out, we couldn’t run the furnace, but we ran an extension cord through our window to power an electric heater.  It was so cold and windy that even on high, the inside temp would not go above 61.  The weather is so fickle in the mountains in the shoulder season; you can get gorgeous, warm days just as easily as cold, snowy ones.

On one of the last nice days, Mary and I took a walk to the secret ponds above the Resort.

We left Monday morning with the strangest conundrum: I had worried that we would get some significant snow overnight, and impede our progress off the mountain, and I was also worried that it would be too hot in the desert below, making our driving day bad for both the transmission and the cat!  That’s the sort of juxtaposition that I would never have in Ohio!  Luckily, there had only been a dusting of snow overnight, and desert temps were only in the upper 80s.  We spent the night in a Regional Park in L.A., close to our next morning appointment.

The RV electrical issue was pretty easy for the factory to diagnose.  We have a hardwired electrical management system, which assesses all the power coming in, and prevents it from reaching the rig if it’s bad.  The whole dang system had died, so no power could enter through its lifeless corpse.  The Lazy Daze factory rewired the coach back to the original state, bypassing the management box.  Since it’s an aftermarket addition, they would not help us fix it, but we can at least use power in the interim, until we get it repaired.

$67 later, we were on our way to Jojoba Hills RV park, a co-op in the Escapees RV Club, and the home base of our friends, Dave and Max. Our plan is to just chill for a few days, and come down from a couple really hard weeks of work. We will spend a couple days catching up on some RV chores, like washing and waxing, and also be sure to get some napping and tanning in, too. I also get to choose where we get to go next….we don’t have to be in Tucson until 11/2, and we can go wherever we want in the meantime. I will miss being at the Resort, and in my favorite mountains, but I’m really looking forward to travel again, too!






Surprise ending!

In an interesting twist of events, we just realized that this is our last week of work at the Resort. A few days ago, we made a harebrained mistake, and completely messed up the electrical system of our RV. It’s nothing too severe, but we can’t use our electricity in our rig until we get it fixed. We moved into the sun, so that we can charge up our batteries with our solar panel, and ran an extension cord through our kitchen window, so we can use a space heater. The situation wouldn’t be too bad, save for the weather issue: we are expecting a winter storm this Sunday/Monday, with really cold temps. Can’t make much solar in a bunch of clouds!

So, our new plan is to work through Sunday, and then head for our RV manufacturer in Los Angeles on Monday. We feel a bit whiplashed, to go from thinking that we had several more weeks of work to suddenly being almost done! At least the factory is right on our way to Tucson, and won’t involve much of a detour. The strangest part will be leaving winter temperatures and going straight into 80s and 90s!

As you might imagine, we have a few things on our plates in order to leave so far ahead of schedule, so this will be a short update. Please enjoy a few pictures of the outing we took last week with Mary, to see the petroglyphs north of Bishop.

Adventure Club photo essay and fleeting fall colors

JJ, Mary and I have been having a blast with our outings for our Tuesday Adventure Club. The three of us are heading out to places that we wouldn’t necessarily get to on our own, and we really enjoy each others company. Last week we took 120 into the west side of Yosemite, and hiked a trail just outside the boundary for the park. Twenty Lakes Basin is billed as a “must-do” hike, with a string of lakes arranged in a (rare for this part of the world) loop trail. It did not disappoint!

The trail starts around Saddlebag Lake, a huge lake with a resort on the near edge. During the busy months, the resort operates a water taxi that drops you off at the far side of the lake, allowing you to cut off about 5 miles of not-so-interesting trail. But, it was already closed for the season, so we hoofed it through the scree field, back to the basin. And then we got lost. Unlike the trails in our canyon, the ones leading off from the lake were neither signed nor particularly obvious. When we came to the first trail that turned in the right direction, we took it, hoping it was the start of the loop trail.

Very enticing, but not the right trail:

We passed clear lakes that were teaming with native, not stocked, trout (as we could tell by the white stripe on their fins) and headed towards a steep headwall with lingering snow, probably from last winter! It was a lovely area, but we seemed to be hiking towards a dead end. We crossed the stream to try what looked like a bigger trail, and met up with another hiker who gave us her battered map, and informed us that we weren’t even near the loop trail, but we could pick it up with about a mile of overland travel.

Finally on the trail, the hiking was pleasant. The loop is primarily composed of old mining roads, so they are wide and level. As advertised, we passed lake after lake, with gorgeous rust colored mountains around them. But, contrary to what we had heard, it was not all flat and easy. There were a couple steep drop offs down the sides of cliffs, with no real trail down them. And, there were a lot more areas of loose scree, probably the remnants of mining operations that dynamited out the mountains, where walking was treacherous. (A quick update on my ankle that I busted in March….still giving me some fits. As I look back on the incident, I think I may have had a hairline fracture, and it’s not exactly healed. I can hike all I want on level ground, but I still have to be really gentle on lumpy stuff, because that ankle just wants to twist over again.) Still, the varied terrain was gorgeous, and it was cool to experience so many types of geology in such a short hike.

Forest Service cabin overlooking Saddlebag Lake:

We hiked all the way around this!:


Fall has pretty much come and gone at our elevation in the past week and a half. The whole canyon was filled with yellows and oranges, and then a cold front came in on Sunday and Monday. We had snow flurries all day Sunday, and temps down in the teens overnight. Those cold temperatures turned most of the leaves brown, and they are starting to drop off. I went out for a walk one morning at the height of the colors earlier in the week, and got some great pictures of fall in the Eastern Sierra.

The final day of the season for Rock Creek Lakes Resort is this coming Monday, 10/10. After it’s closed, we will winterize the cabins, pack away all the outside gear, and do deep cleans on the restaurant, kitchen, and store. It’s hard to believe, but we we will only be here about 2 more weeks from this point. Then, we skedaddle for warmer weather! It’s going to be so strange to head through Southern California and on to Tucson, because they are still in the 90s! But, we are most ready to work on our tans!

Going to the chapel (of two different varieties)

We had a wedding this weekend! Amy, our boss, married Steve, her co-manager and BBQ genius, who makes all the smoked meats and BBQ sauces for the Resort. They chose a lovely location for the ceremony that we call “the chill spot”, an open area of level granite that overlooks the lake and the back of our canyon. Although we had a blustery and cold couple of days leading up to the big event, Saturday was warm and sunny, with perfect fall colors and a clear blue sky.

JJ, Mary, and I were busy that day, helping with transportation logistics. JJ and I picked up a 15-passenger van from the Mammoth airport and dropped it off at the reception site, at the bottom of the canyon. In the afternoon, we greeted folks coming in, and directed them to the (slightly complex) parking situation. Although the chill spot can be accessed simply by heading straight up the steep hillside behind the Resort, wedding guests took a longer but much less technical route through the cabin area. We could easily pick out the true mountain girls by the ones who arrived with hiking boots as well as dress shoes…they were directed up the trail on the hillside for the shortest route.

The parking queen, complete with tiara and wings, and her map:

Please excuse the blurriness of these next couple photos; I only had one quick chance to get each one!

Amy’s mom, Sue:

Casey and Kris.

KK, Amy’s little sister:

Amy and her dad, Jim:

The big hand-off!:

The ceremony was gorgeous, simple and sweet. Right after it, Mary, JJ, and I drove down to the reception site to help with parking there. JJ and I were the shuttle bus drivers, taking guests the ¼ mile from the parking area to the reception. It was the just the job for us; we had no problem maneuvering the beast of a van around the tight turn around spot. When you drive a 27 foot RV, a 20 foot van feels small!

Amy and Steve arrived in a vintage fire truck:

In between shuttle trips, we got to enjoy the party. We ate yummy food and decadent cake, enjoyed the company of good friends, cried at tender speeches, and danced our hineys off. The last shuttle run was the most fun, with the whole bridal party crammed into the van. There weren’t enough seats, but there were plenty of laps, and it was a raucous end to an awesome day.

Amy and Steve each bring a lot of skills to their relationship, and they really complement each other in running the Resort. Amy is a King, Steve is a Miller, which, I guess, makes them now “the Killers”! (I tried to convince them that the new name for the cafe could be “The Killer Cafe”, but they’re not biting!)


The other “chapel” that we went to was the overlook of our whole canyon. Our fall colors are in full effect, and I wanted to show JJ the amazing vantage point. A storm was brewing up, which obscured some of our views deep into the canyon, but it also made for really interesting light. Many of the aspen were completely changed to yellows and golds, and in some areas, the leaves had already dropped. I’m glad we got up there when we did, (the last day of summer) because the color can be so fleeting around here. We managed to get back just before the deluge started, and were only drenched for about 10 minutes.

Last day of summer

When trying to sneak up on people, it’s best not to broadcast your location on Facebook, lest they decipher your plans. Alas, our friends Dave and Max made the classic blunder last week when they checked in at South Lake Tahoe, thereby alerting us to the fact that they were most definitely going to be coming past us. (It also helps that we know our topography: with all the mountains in this part of the world, there’s only a few roads heading north and south. If you’re north of us and heading south, you will most definitely be taking 395 right past our door!)

Dave and Max are dear friends, forged over the crazy summer when we worked together as camphosts in Southern California. Conveniently, their home base is in Temecula, CA, an area we frequently pass through as we move from summer to winter. They spent the summer in the public lands of the west, working for a company that surveys BLM roads for the US government. They were giddy with the prospect of being off work until spring, and ready for some socializing. We didn’t have much time to hang out, since they were headed to an RV service appointment, but we did manage to get together a few times.

Please enjoy the official photos of the convergence, in which I very creatively arranged them exactly the same way over and over:


Fall is quite here, with all the aspens turning into glorious golds, oranges, and reds. We have a chance of snow the next couple days, with a predicted high of just 37 tomorrow. JJ and I plan to hike up to a grand overlook of the whole valley today, to enjoy the fall colors in panorama while they last, and before strong winds blow in. Thankfully, the weather is supposed to improve before Saturday, when Amy and Steve are getting married! (Full report available next week!)


In other weather news, a wildfire started up about 20 miles northeast of us this week. This canyon seems to be a magnet for smoke: last year, when there was a fire 30 miles southwest of us, we got tons of smoke, and this fire, in the exact opposite direction, is doing the same. California is so organized with fires that you can check current updates on CalFire, and get details like acres burned, percentage contained, and estimated extinguishment. It’s scary to check the updates and see the fires growing exponentially, but very reassuring when the size remains steady, and containment increases. This fire seems to be under control, and should be out pretty soon. Mary went down the hill the day it started, and got some pretty dramatic pictures from the side of the highway.

Lou and Mary Jane visit: hiking, hot springs, and naked ladies

One of my favorite full-time RVer blogs is Wheeling It. Nina, the author, is a fantastic photographer, and writes thoughtful, detailed entries on everything from travelogues to mobile living how-to. Her site is chock full of information, ideas, and dreams, and she gets a ton of online traffic. Once, she subtitled a blog post about a trip to a hot spring as “and a naked man”, because she included a very G-rated picture of her husband au naturelle, with anything objectionable hidden below the murky water. Still, thanks to the powers of Google and the human instinct to seek out the titillating, that blog post has gotten more hits than any other. (And I assume that the folks who find it are most disappointment in the lack of smut!) In that vein, I present the account of a visit from our Ohio friends, Lou and Mary Jane, with the promise of something eyebrow-raising somewhere in this post.

JJ first met Lou when she was his teacher in massage school in 2005. Then, when we were looking for a rental house, we came across one that was right next to her. Lou put in a good word for us with the owner, and vouched for us as decent people (albeit with 3 cats), which allowed us to score a great place to live. Lou and her partner, Mary Jane, were so much fun to have right next door. We went to a lot of parties there, and spent many evenings just hanging out and chatting. They eventually moved to another part of Columbus, but not too far, so we kept hanging out, and we got closer and closer as friends. This couple is a true inspiration; they are strong, adventurous, funny, and open-hearted, and generally who we aspire to be as we get older and wiser.

Lou and Mary Jane were coming to Santa Cruz for a wedding, and realized that they would be awfully close to us, (with just a little mountain range in between!) so they planned to pop over for a few days after the festivities. We only had a short time together, but we managed to cram in a whole lot of visiting, and a good amount of activities.

Monday, we got off work a few hours early, and they came by the Resort for lunch. After gorging on burgers, crumbles, and ice cream, we headed up the windy canyon to hike Little Lakes Valley Trail. The weather has taken a sudden turn recently, and the warm summer days are over. We had to hang onto our hats and turn away from the dust blowing in the strong gusts to enjoy the views. But, as always, the sights in our backyard are spectacular, and we enjoyed introducing them to the splendors of lakes surrounded by high mountain peaks.

That evening, at sunset, we drove out to the BLM land outside of Mammoth Lakes, to soak in the natural hot springs. Some of the pools are quite small, more like hot tub sized, and considered “private”. That is, because they are so small, if anyone else is already in them, the etiquette is to move along to another tub. Alas, the private one near the highway was taken, so we headed to a “public” tub down the road. Wild Willies is about the size of a big backyard swimming pool, and it was pretty packed. But, the crowd was congenial and friendly, and we were able to find a corner that wasn’t taken. We watched the sunset, and frankly, also ogled the butts of the hordes of tanned, fit climber folks, who mostly did not have on suits. It’s probably the most tame time one can have while naked!

Yesterday, with the threat of snow at 9000 feet and above (that’s us!), we proposed a trip to lower elevations. We hiked a portion of Rock Creek that starts in Paradise, at about 5000 feet, and follows the water up the desert canyon. The area right next to the stream is a green paradise, with stark lava flow walls all above you. We were trying to get to a cool rock formation that’s the same as Devil’s Postpile, but light rain and a clap of thunder turned us back. We drove down even lower to Bishop, to eat lots of fries, and peruse the retail establishments of the town. We poked around in the outdoors stores with very expensive gear, enjoyed a photography gallery of scenic wonders, and ate giant tubs of fro-yo. We ended the evening with snacks and drinks at Lou and MJ’s Air BNB, whose host is the mother of my boss’s tattoo artist. (Got that?) It was much too short of a visit, but we got a awful lot of hugs, hopefully enough to tide us over until we see them again.


We had a bit of a scare when Soupy had a hiking accident today. She was out with JJ, hopping across the stream, when she overshot a jump and landed in the ice cold water. In her haste to get out, she cut her foot and was bleeding badly. Luckily, we were able to get her right in to the vet in Bishop, who pronounced her OK. She tore off a pinky nail, but the skin all around it is fine, and the nail should regrow with no problem. She got a long-lasting antibiotic shot, which was probably the worst part of the whole ordeal, in her opinion. She’s going to need to stay in for a few days to heal the wound, but she’s already begging to go back out. Kids!

How I learned that I talk stupid and (unrelated) a hike to Blue Lake

Travel is great for exposing you to new ways of being, and living somewhere different for an extended period of time really highlights those points. After residing in California for almost a year now, spread out over 2 summers, I have finally conceded to a painful reality: all this time, I thought that JJ and I talked like news anchors, with no real accent, but we actually say a lot of words, well, maybe a bit stupid.

I had inklings of this issue last summer, as soon as apricot season started. Customers would order an “APE-ri-cot” pie and I would confirm their dessert as an “APP-ri-cot” pie. They would ask for a glass of “MELK” and I would serve them a cool glass of “MILK”. They took “THE” 395 up to Mammoth Mountain, to ride the “gon-DOH-laa”, whereas we took my sister on a trip up the “GON-du-luh”.

This summer, though, I realized the extent of it. JJ and I love to say “Hold on, hold on” in the style of our niece, Jordy, as she interrupted a family dinner with the exclamation. Once she had our attention, she simply wanted to recommend that we just skip to the dessert she so wanted. And the way we use it now is just the way she said it in her little 2-year-old accent “Hoed on, hoed on!……..Ice keem!” The thing is though, I never understood that JJ and I say words like shoulder, hold, and cold just the way that little Jordy did. We don’t pronounce the “l”, and they instead come out like rhyming with “goad”. In the case of “shoulder”, it’s more like “SHOW-der”.

Once our co-workers noticed this, they started trying to get us to say those sorts of words, just for the amusement of it. Yes, it has been rather “cold” in the mornings here, but I describe it as “coad”. I had a lengthy discussion about it with a few of the folks at the resort recently, and partway through, I realized they were just getting me to say “cold” for funsies. It’s all good, though, as I tease them mercilessly about orders for “MELK”, when I’m pretty sure the customer wants “MILK”.

I know that there’s no real right or wrong way to pronounce anything, but I have to admit that it’s easy to get a complex about your speech when you are away from the land of your people. Whenever I feel self-conscious about my words, I remind myself that we are in a world of Philistines, who don’t even know the definition of a candy buckeye, Johnny Marzetti, tree lawn, or what we mean with idioms like “two shakes of a lambs tail” or “a fart in a skillet”. Plus, these people think 60% humidity is awfully high and expect to see the sun throughout the winter….how can you reason with someone like that?!🙂


The exploits continue for the Tuesday Morning Adventure club, as JJ, Mary and I hiked up a canyon outside of Bishop. The trail to Blue Lake was only 6 miles round trip, but it was a whole lot of up. I’ve done a lot of hikes in this area, but this was definitely one of my favorites, because there were constantly great views, and the sights were always changing. At the end of the day, we tried out the pie at Lake Sabrina Marina, which was pretty darn good!

Love the lake names around here:

Fall colors starting everywhere!:

I really loved this montage from when Mary accidentally took about 30 pictures in a row, like gunfire, and I come after her to stop it:

First views above Lake Sabrina:

Amazing viewpoint panorama:

Blue Lake:

Peach and blackberry pie:

Til next week!