Whitney Portal

Michael, Callie and I left Keough’s Hot Springs first thing Sunday morning so that we could try to get into Whitney Portal Campground for one night on our return voyage south to Encinitas so that I could have eye surgery scheduled for Wednesday.

We made the drive to Lone Pine and then headed straight up the road to the magnificent and really, one of a kind campground where hikers seeking to make it to the summit, camp. We met the host, Bill as we pulled into the campground, and he gave us campsite #4 which was literally next to the river that roared down the mountain on it’s rapid descent to the valley floor. It was like camping next to a waterfall, the sound was so loud!

It took some maneuvering and skill on our part to get the Icon leveled, but we eventually managed and ended up having a very relaxing day. Callie was able to take several walks along the river and we BBQed later in the evening. Whitney Portal is absolutely breathtaking and you have to be pretty fit and an experienced hiker before even attempting such a difficult hike. There is quite a bit of vertical and the switchbacks are ruthless. Michael wants to return and attempt it before the summer is out.

I was able to get us into the Riviera Mobile Home Park in Encinitas around 6:30 yesterday evening, and Steve the host who also happens to be one of the owners was helpful and very accommodating. They don’t allow pets in the RV section so I quite jokingly suggested that I flush the cat down the toilet! He laughingly said that it would not be necessary and put is in a spot where a mobile home is due to arrive any day now. You can have pets for some reason in the mobile home section but not the RV Park. We are going to try and stay for a whole week so that we can get a better rate, and because it is just so awesome here and to be close to our old stomping grounds.

I am a little nervous about the surgery tomorrow because my last pterygium was so traumatic for me. The procedure has had 25 years or more to improve upon so I should be in good hands. This one has grown so large that it has affected my vision- maybe I will be a better photographer when all is said and done!

Callie is within a mile of the Holiday Pet Hotel that she used to be boarded at a couple of years ago and in hindsight and in retrospect, staying there was very traumatic for her. She developed asthma from a cough that was improperly diagnosed that went on for 6 months or more and she has never really regained her health since her cough. Such is life though, and now that we have the RV, she gets to go everywhere with us and I will never ever board her again in a public facility. Now she is Callie, the dash cam cat that travels the world in her very own RV!

A Taste for Quail

We are staying at Keough’s Hot Springs right outside Bishop on our return voyage south to Encinitas, and the Quail population is booming here. The RV is parked up against the granite and sage dappled hillside and it is home to dozens upon dozens of quail. The youngsters are old enough to take short distance flights and because it rained a couple of days ago, their food source is plentiful and they are brave enough to click and chirp their way right below Callie’s lookout window in search of a meal. The parents are a little more apprehensive and trying to round up their brood, but the going is just too good and as youngsters tend to do, they are misbehaving and having nothing to do with the usual rules and regulations. Callie can hardly contain her vision of the taste of quail on her tongue and she is making her own sounds of garbled delights and her tail is thwacking loudly against the window as she watches her next meal disappear under the camper directly below her. Too bad the window screen is preventing her from making her dream become a reality.

Lake Sabrina

Lake Sabrina is located above Bishop in the Eastern Sierras of California and has some of the most beautiful lakes that I have ever seen. We stayed at South Lake for almost a week and then moved over to Sabrina which is on the other side of the fork leading up to the campgrounds.

Lake Sabrina Campground was dry camping but the bathrooms were very clean and we had site number 16 that had a view of Bishop Creek and the snow-dusted mountains that cradled the lake. The mosquitos are bad but because we were there when a cold front had moved in and the first rain fell of the season, it wasn’t too bad for us at all. Not being right by the river helped too!

Michael hiked every day and I hung around because of an injured tailbone and I took Callie on walks and did a lot of photography. The rain came down hard several days with thunder and lightning, and the view was spectacular. White-tailed deer sauntered past our RV without a care in the world and Robins and Scrub Jays were everywhere. Callie loved it there because there were very few dogs and the fishermen were quiet and very respectful.

It only cost us $14.00 a night to stay there and it was one of the best places we have ever camped at. We have now moved over to the Keough hot springs right outside Bishop and can spend some time soaking in the mineral pools and relaxing before we have to go to Encinitas for eye surgery on the 18th. I am trying to get as much photography and writing done as possible before I am laid up. I am having a pterygium removed that has grown quite large and has now become a major surgery. I had one removed about 25 years ago and it was so traumatic, that I have held back on having the other eye done until it has now become absolutely necessary.

Creekside RV Park

Creekside RV Park is really next to a creek, a creek that roars like a river and is fed by beautiful, South Lake that has an elevation of 9,800 ft. Driving up from Bishop you make a jog to the left rather than head straight toward Lake Sabrina. When we left Virginia Lake on July 3rd, we were quite concerned about finding another campsite because of 4th of July, but Nick from Creekside, who also happens to be the owner’s son, had only one cancellation which he promptly gave to us, and we have been here ever since.

The campground is clean and spacious and because it is family owned, they make every attempt to accommodate most of your needs. We keep extending our stay due to the heat wave down below and so far they have managed to find a way to allow us to stay. There is a well-stocked store, small fishing pond for children and South Lake and Lake Sabrina are a draw for many fishermen. The wildflowers are also out, but so are the mosquitos, but if you remember to put repellant on, you shouldn’t have any trouble.

Two days ago, we made the intense 5-mile bike ride up to South Lake and it took us 2 hours to get there and a roaring 20 minutes to return. It was steep with a 2,000 ft verticle grade that left us wheezing because of the high altitude and me cursing most of the way because we forgot to bring along mosquito repellent. Whenever we stopped to catch our breath, the mosquitos swarmed us and they were not deterred by simple swats of the hand. They would rather die than be forced to fly away and were incredibly persistent.

Once we made it to the top though, it was well worth it. The lake was surrounded by receding glaciers and evergreens and the fresh, brisk air, a reward after the grueling climb. Hikers come from all over to hook up with the Pacific Crest Trail and the series of lakes are supposed to be spectacular. The wildflowers, such as the apricot mallow, lined the roadside as we huffed and puffed up the hill, and the temperature couldn’t be better. Once we caught our breath, we walked around and I took photographs and we admired the view, and when it was time to head back down, Michael checked our brakes and away we went as fast as 45 mph. We were smoking and it was a thrill, to say the least. We went so fast that I was concerned when a blast of wind almost knocked me off of my bike; that and the ruts in the road were cause for alarm. Once we pulled into Creekside though, we laughed at the thrill of the experience. The rest of the day we spent totally relaxed.

Callie isn’t able to walk around as much at Creekside because of all the dogs; she misses Virginia Lakes. At Virginia Lakes, she had a large forest range to walk around in and one evening, a deer raced right past the front of the RV while she was hanging out on the dash and it made her jump up and stare at the passing creature. She is doing very well though and is happy as can be to be traveling in the RV. It is going to be a sizzling 114 degrees in Borrego Springs tomorrow. Thank goodness we made the great escape.

Virginia Lakes

Virginia Lakes is actually a whole series of lakes that you can hike up to that are spectacular. The campground across from the cabins that are rented out on the lake side of the street are fabulous and as senior citizens, we were able to get a site for dry camping that was only $11.50 a night. The bathrooms were clean, even if they were very rustic, and our camp host, Kelly, loves her job and tries to be as helpful as possible. There is no phone or internet service, so you have to get off the grid.

We stayed for three nights and the second day we hiked to Frog Lake. Michael carried all of my camera equipment on his back, and I traded out the macro lens to the telephoto or the wide-angle lens at least a hundred times, and he was a good sport about it. The hike had some vertical climb to it but was well maintained and worth the effort.

We made it up into snow in July and came across an adorable, and very fat Marmot who looked to be having a fabulous day, basking in the ample sunshine next to a lovely waterfall. The wildflowers were blooming in a profusion of color and the mosquitos weren’t too bad. It was a beautiful hike and I was able to take lots of photographs.

Heading back down the hill the 3rd day, we had planned on trying to get into Tuolumne Meadows, but the smoke in Mammoth drove us away. It was the day before 4th of July, so we were fortunate to nab a spot at lovely South Lake right above Bishop.

Callie is having the time of her life and I created a nice bed for her up on the front driver’s seat. At night I cover her up with a blanket so that she stays nice and warm.

Washoe Lake State Park

Washoe Lake State Park is a 3,375 acre recreation area on the southeast shore of the lake in the county of Washoe in Nevada. Crescent City is less than a 15 minute drive and we stocked up on groceries before we got to the lake. It is home to magpies, coyotes, scrub jays, meadowlarks, kestrels, white pelicans, bald eagles, hawks, ospreys, flickers, quail, deer, wild horses and more.

When we pulled in late yesterday, a family of quail dashed across the road and the chicks were the size of tear drops. A family of kestrels are noisily going about the business of life next to our campsite, and the parents are frantically attending to at least one fledgling. The baby is old enough to fly short distances and is screeching its demands to be fed constantly. One parent insists the baby fly to a neighboring tree and then the other parent asks the youngster to fly back again so that it strengthens its wings. This little guy has hearty vocal chords and is not at all happy about having to work for a meal. The magpies can be seen checking out vacated campsites and are gorgeous because of the white patches on the wings. This makes them much more attractive to me than the jet black of crows, starlings and ravens. The pesky scrub jay followed Callie on our walk this morning and scolded us nervously, but also kept an eye on her until we got back to the RV.

Michael and I went on a bike ride after breakfast and adjacent to the campground, there is an equestrian area. Guests can corral their horses and park the horse trailer and RV alongside of them. You can hear them neighing back and forth to each other and when we were on our bike ride, we met two women on their quarter horses and I asked them about the free roaming horses we had seen earlier grazing on tall grasses on the top of one of the sand dunes. They informed us that they are wild and come down from the surrounding mountains in search of ample grazing and fresh water. They were gorgeous, well fed and their coats were glossy. I was able to take photographs with my iPhone from a distance and was really impressed with how healthy they looked.

We flushed out lots of jack rabbits that were the size of dogs and one coyote let us get really close for a good look at his or her, much darker and redder coat and bushy tail. Anza- Borrego Desert State Park is home to lots of coyotes, but they are much smaller, thinner, the color of sand and their tails are scrawny so they don’t get tangled up in the cactus quills. This coyote blended in well with the sage brush that flourishes here. The scent of sage by the way is intoxicating and fills the senses with the call of the wild and what the prairie must have looked and smelled like years ago.

The campground is clean and the spaces are far apart. Tall sage brush, pine trees and cottonwoods help give you a sense of privacy. The bathrooms have free use of water and the shower has a timer on it but you can press the nozzle for additional time. We got the last campsite available yesterday, but this afternoon, campers have pulled out and the place is a lot less crowded.

The lake is stocked and you can fish in the shallow waters, but consumption of your catch needs to be limited because of high levels of mercury. There were hang gliders soaring along the hills when we first arrived last night and high winds make it a popular destination site for windsurfers. There is hiking, ATV use, picnicking and boat launches too.

Callie is able to go on much longer walks at Washoe because of the wide open spaces and the dogs are kept contained. I am always a little worried about dogs in crowded campgrounds attacking her when she is on a leash. They look so appalled when they set eyes on her and it brings out a variety of reactions, not all of them friendly.

We are staying tonight and will decide whether we will hang around longer in the morning. It has been a little stressful finding campgrounds that are not full because of the 4th of July holiday coming up. We don’t want to be searching for a place to stay over the weekend and find ourselves stranded.

Callie and the Deer

Last evening when Callie and I were taking the trail up toward the waterfall that feeds Silver Lake, several Mule deer were startled by us as we rounded the bend, and in return, we were taken by surprise too. Callie actually jumped and let out a scream of fear and I had to pick her up and reassure her that the deer were probably more frightened of us and not the other way around. It was actually quite funny and when they bounded off into the sagebrush, Callie and I continued home much wiser for the experience.

Starlings swooped down on the two of us as we were meandering back and they were totally outraged that a cat was in their mist. One jet black male in his prime practically brushed past my ear as he flew at my head, making me actually duck. I hissed back at him when he landed on a nearby tree branch and he watched us intently, clucking loudly. He was making sure that we were leaving his territory because there were probably nests and young around. The nerve of that bird though!

When the deer calmed down enough to graze by the babbling Rush Creek, Callie and I made our way back home to our RV so that we could tell Michael about our exciting adventure with all these strange and new creatures. She sure is having the time of her life. I am on the constant lookout for danger though when I have her out on the leash, and so far it has been good. She actually begs to go on walks now by jumping on the table and staring at me. Once she makes eye contact, she meows loudly, and if I don’t get the hint, she flops down and shows me her tummy and continues ramping up the charm until I get up and retrieve the leash and take her for another adventure.

Biking at Silver Lake

Callie, Michael and I slept well last night, and in spite of the very smokey skies-(Devil’s Post Pile) in Mammoth is on fire, we decided to go on a bike ride. The sky is hazy with smoke that has drifted the 25 miles from Mammoth to here and it definitely interferes with the beauty of landscape photography, but I also feel terrible for the plants and animals that are in harm’s way. Last summer we had the same problem with forest fires in Oregon, Washington, and Canada. Our poor planet. The trees that are dead and dying are in the millions from one end of the country to the other, and this makes for perfect fire conditions.

It is still beautiful at Silver Lake though and you can bike north and south and the traffic is just slow enough and the RV’S, by and large, give you enough room as they pass you by, that you feel safe cycling on the road. We followed along the scenic river and beautiful, Silver Lake and as you pedal past the fairly flat terrain, you can hear the water roaring from the waterfall above Silver Lake Resort and RV Park. We headed toward the rest stop going north and then turned around and went into town going the other way.

Callie has a nice trail behind the property where I watched 5 White-Tailed Deer grazing earlier this morning. I try to keep her out of the grass because of ticks, but she sure loves to pretend that she is stalking chipmunks and starlings. This is a very nice, family oriented campground, and we couldn’t be happier with our decision to stay here for 4 days.

Silver Lake RV Resort

This morning we pulled out of Shady Rest Campground because of a forest fire behind Mammoth Lakes and the sky was filling up with smoke. Fire season is already upon us and with Callie’s asthma, we need to limit her exposure to pollutants. Helicopters were buzzing overhead most of yesterday as they carried buckets of water to the fire zone. The buckets look so small and inconsequential, but I suppose there is a weight issue, and something is better than nothing.

We made it to Silver Lake Resort by noon and have a lovely spot with full hook-ups. At Shady Rest, it is dry camping only, and our auxiliary battery is starting to go bad. It only holds a charge for about 6 hours now. Having full hookups will be a treat. It has been warm all week, but nothing compared to the desert.

Callie loves her place on the dash of the RV and always attracts a crowd wherever we go. Silver Lakes Resort is no different. I had a woman come up to me that had raised an orphan badger and for some reason, Callie reminded her of her badger. We will be staying here for 4 nights. YAY!

Free Shuttle Service at Mammoth Lakes

Michael, Callie and I are camped at Shady Rest Campground which is below the Village and 5 miles from all of the gorgeous lakes. Trying to bike from here to there would be daunting in 84-degree weather, high altitude, and because it is also quite a steep vertical climb. Fortunately, there is a free shuttle service that can take you and your bike all the way up to Horse Shoe Lake and you can then take the trails around Horse Shoe and Lake Mary and back down to Twin Lakes before heading to your campground.

The shuttle drivers are happy to help show you how to load your bike on the rack and are very gracious and informative along with a good dose of patience. There is a Motor-cross event taking place this weekend, so there are a lot of people out and about and more than is usual. We grabbed the shuttle right outside the campground and were dropped off at Horse Shoe Lake within 20 minutes. We biked around the lake and then continued down along well maintained and paved trails that offer a whole different vantage point than walking or hiking.

I was able to take some very nice photographs of the waterfall reflecting off the water at Upper Twin Lake and had a fabulous time. It is quite steep on the homeward stretch and I would not have been a happy camper if I had had to bike up the trails. It was enough of a workout going around the lakes and back down. Happy to be back home safe and sound in our wonderful Class C Icon RV once again.

Callie has enjoyed going on walks and climbing her favorite rocks and picnic tables. It is chilly at night but quite warm during the day. She loves Mammoth Lakes and seems to remember it from last summer. It is important to wear plenty of sunblock when playing outdoors in high altitude. So remember to put some on before you head out on an adventure! The sun doesn’t set until after 8 pm, so there is ample time to be outdoors under the sun and get a whopping sunburn.

We are going to try to get into Twin Lakes tomorrow and camp for a few more days at Mammoth. It is really beautiful out and the Swallowtail Butterflies are just starting to metamorphosis and you can see the huge caterpillars crawling along the ground everywhere.