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!


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