A Day Trip to Yosemite & Drive through Tioga Pass in a Snowstorm

Michael, Lara and I had an impulsive brainstorm that we could somehow find a way to camp overnight in Yosemite Valley without a reservation. We spent the morning making an effort to be put on a waiting list, and then drove over to the one available spot to park in order to hike up to Mirror Lake.

Once we parked the RV and piled out, the three of us crossed the gorgeous meadow over the lovely boardwalk and headed to the lake. Callie stayed behind in the RV and took a much needed nap. All the fun and excitement of travel takes it out of her, and the chance to get some sleep mid-morning, is a treat for her.

Leaving her safely behind, we meandered along Tenaya Creek and I spent a couple of hours taking photographs and walking through the woods with Lara and Michael. It was a beautiful, crisp afternoon, and because Mirror Lake is no longer dredged and pillaged for its ice like it was in the past, it is more of a puddle than a lake. I was still able to capture incredible, reflective images in spite of the low water level, and felt that the hike was more than worth it.

The view was incredible, with light and shadow passing over the rock formations and changing dramatically with each minute. The leaves on the broad leaf trees were just starting to turn golden in color, and there was a hint of autumn in the air. The path is paved and cyclists can now bike up to a parking area before walking the rest of the way to the lake. Rental bikes are available and a lot of people took advantage of the opportunity.

Once we returned to the RV and made an effort to see more of the Valley, we were entangled in one traffic jam after another. Michael was never able to fine a place to park after that, and we decided collectively to head over to Lee Vinning and find a camping site at Mono Lake. Little did I know that Tioga Pass was experiencing an early, fall blizzard, and that Callie was going to be able to watch the snow blow past on the dash. She didn’t know whether to be excited or freaked out as the windshield wipers were activated.

In spite of the crowds in Yosemite, it is still a beautiful place to visit. I recommend taking the time to get a reservation though, and I don’t recommend driving an RV around. Take advantage of the numerous shuttles that are available and plan a long day of exploring. It was just too difficult this time to find a place to park, and maneuvering the RV from one spot to the next, became a chore! Fortunately, Michael, Callie had I had visited the valley last summer and didn’t feel too disappointed, and Lara was a good sport about it and didn’t complain.

The Solar Eclipse at Crater Lake

At the tale end of our summer road trip, and having driven almost non stop from Vancouver Island, we settled into the Crater Lake National Park Campground to wait for the solar eclipse. There was going to be a 98% shadow in front of the sun and we thought the setting over the lake would be marvelous. Little did we know of the forest fire right outside Bend, Oregon and the fires that creeped up the mountain right below Crater Lake. The skies were polluted and very smokey, and as we made our way up to a look out area, we could see flames spreading slowly up the mountainside. The rangers didn’t appear nervous about the situation, so we felt it was safe to continue.

We parked alongside the lake and had an unobstructed view of the sun and ended up meeting 4 other people that had a similar mindset- we didn’t want to be a part of the vast crowds that would have descended along the roadside and farm fields in Bend, Oregon. Rock concerts were scheduled, and the locals were gearing up for millions of people to invade their town. Surprisingly, there were very few people at Crater Lake. I thought we were going to have to snake our way up the mountain with hundreds of other like minded people.

The eclipse was amazing regardless, and I wondered how many cats got to watch it in their owner’s lap? Wearing the protective glasses was a must, but you couldn’t see anything else when you had them on, and I had to keep taking them off to make sure Callie was ok. She didn’t register the cooling temperatures, nor the darkening of the sky, but she sure loved Crater Lake and listening to the caws of a raven in the distance. By the time the eclipse reached the 98% mark, it was cold enough to put a jacket on. The skies were eerily dim, but not as dark as I thought it would be.

What an experience to see the eclipse at Crater Lake! It made me feel a part of something so much bigger than ourselves.

Genoa Bay- Vancouver Island

Dear Reader,

I have discovered how you can turn your photographs into mini slide shows with music. I have the Apple iPhone 7 Plus. If you are an avid photographer like I am, just go to your photographs, pick an album, turn the group file into memories and select music to edit your photos. It is super easy and much more fun to look at than a plain old photograph! This is a movie short on our visit to Vancouver Island and a glimpse of my brother and sister in laws life on their houseboat and catamaran. We had such a wonderful time and were hosted by friends of theirs- David and Jo.

Happy Trails to Us

Callie, Michael and I are getting restless again and plan on taking off in the RV next week some time. It is lovely here in the middle of nowhere, but after awhile it starts to feel confining and that is why we purchased the used RV. It is our escape vehicle!

We flew to Huntsville, Alabama almost a year ago to purchase the RV and we have put 14,000 miles on the Class C Icon since then. We drove it back to California in a little over 2 weeks, and neither of us had any prior experience driving an RV. It handled beautifully and Callie took to it right away. Her favorite spot is on the dash, and as soon as the motor starts up, that is where she wants to be.

Yesterday we took the RV out for a practice run, and today we are cleaning it and I am loading up supplies. We bought 4 new hub caps because we lost 2 of them off roading in the redwoods over the summer. We have had 3 tires fail and one of them actually blew up and tore through the propane line and severed it. It also ruptured the gray water tank and put a 3″ hole in that too! I was driving at the time and was fortunate I didn’t blow myself up.

In spite of all the minor mishaps, we are delighted with our purchase and find that a 24ft Class C is just the right size for a cat and 2 people. Even when our daughter joined us for a month during the summer, we didn’t feel too cramped. So happy trails to us, until we meet again!

A Day of Visitors

Oh the joy of having my “Irish Twin” visit me for my belated 62nd birthday. We have been very close since birth and enjoy each other’s company very much. Turning 62 marked a difficult year of growth and change for both of us.

My sister had to give my aging horse Bella away to a good home because it has been too difficult for me to make the 2 hour drive to her house where she was boarded. Gayle and I have been riding together ever since I moved back to California from Sedona, Arizona, and she bought horse property in Perrie, California. The love of my life, Champagne Flight, a gorgeous chestnut Arabian gelding, lived with Gayle until his passing. I then adopted a Pasofino mare named Mija, a gaited horse that had been abused by trainers and never trusted anyone but me to ride her. And last but not least, Bella, another abused mare that learned to trust Gayle and I before giving her to a couple of young sisters who would take good care of her. I now ride a bicycle instead of a horse, but will always miss our horseback rides together.

Several nights ago, I was able to capture a few photographs of Callie’s midnight visitor, the black and white cat that enrages Callie so much. He is not long to this world if the owners keep allowing him to roam at night in the desert. I wish him the best because he is a gorgeous cat and seems like a very nice animal. He can’t understand why Callie throws herself against the glass and screams and shouts at him. His calm demeanor could make him an easy target for coyotes.

Yesterday while my sister and I were enjoying a glass of wine by the poolside, Gayle let out a gasp, and when my eyes followed hers over toward what she was upset about, there was Callie nose to nose with a tarantula! The tarantula had scaled the wall and was making his way over to the pool, probably in search of water. I rushed over to her while yelling “NO” and Gayle and I promptly escorted the tarantula back out to the desert on a ride on top of my broom. We were careful not to injure it as I helped him escape back out into the desert.

Living in Anza- Borrego Desert State Park is beautiful this time of the year. The hot and dry summer months are finally behind me and I can stay home for awhile instead of escaping the heat in the 24ft RV. I also hope to see the Bighorn Sheep some time before Gayle leaves tomorrow. They are making their way down from the mountains in an attempt to find food until the rains return. The desert foliage has all but dried out and disappeared and the golf course becomes a last ditch attempt to survive until winter. Migratory birds like the mountain bluebird are enjoying the abundant seeds and insects while they make themselves at home for the winter. Callie gets to observe them at a safe distance on the windowsill. The desert is a hostile place to live in the summer, but now with cooling temperatures, my home has become once again paradise.

May my 62nd year be filled with personal growth and that I continue to be creative and contribute something meaningful to myself and to those around me.