Hiking to Parker Lake and Some Hot Water

Lee Vining, CA

On Wednesday morning we drove south of our RV park here in Lee Vining to explore the June Lake Scenic Loop,  a loop road about 15 miles long that passes by a number of beautiful lakes.  But first we needed to fill the Jeep’s tank with fuel, a painful experience in the mountains of California!


About twelve miles south of Lee Vining we turned west on to the loop road.  After about a mile the road crests a hill and June Lake comes into view.

June Lake

At the Boulder Lodge we stopped to get a close-up view of the lake.  No need to guess where the lodge gets its name.

A few miles further around the loop we spotted some water spilling over the rocks above us.  A little research revealed it to be Horseshoe Falls.

Horseshoe Falls from a distance

A closer look reveals the waterfall.  The drought has taken a toll on the waterfall as a brochure we looked at had pictured it with a large volume of water flowing over the rocks.

A closer look at Horseshoe Falls

We drove a bit further before stopping for a view of Silver Lake.  Silver Lake is a beautiful little body of water and was completely full, in contrast to the next lake on our route.

A selfie at Silver Lake

Just a few miles further along the loop, we came over a rise in the road where a dirt parking area had a sign stating it was the Grant Lake viewing point.  But as you can see in the photo below, most of the lake is gone!  Friends, Dave and Sue, who are travelling with us, were here two years ago and picnicked along the shore of the lake right below the viewing area.  This year they had another picnic, but this time they were right in the middle of the dry lake bed at a point where they would have been submerged in about twenty feet of water or more in their previous visit.

South end of Grant Lake

Just past Grant Lake we turned off the June Lake Loop Road on to a dirt road leading west to the Parker Lake Trailhead.

The road to the trailhead

The Parker Lake Trail is about two miles one way, leading to Parker Lake, located right at the base of the mountains.

Parker Lake Trailhead

We give this trail a “moderate” difficulty rating due to some elevation gain in the first half of the hike.  But the beautiful view of snow covered mountains in front of us made the climb a bit easier.

The second half of the hike is fairly level and goes through stands of Aspens and tall pines.

The size of some of the Ponderosa Pines along the trail is pretty impressive.

The end of the trail provides one of those “Oh My!” moments, with the lake in the foreground and the mountains in the background.

Parker Lake

Lunch with a view

We returned back to the Jeep and headed south for 25 miles on US-395 to visit the Hot Creek Geological Site.  As we approached the site a beautiful range of snow-covered mountains appeared in the distance.


Mammoth Creek, which flows through the nearby town of Mammoth Lakes, changes its name to Hot Creek in Hot Creek Gorge.  There it intersects a series of faults that provide pathways to the surface for heated (geothermal) water flowing in an aquifer several hundred feet beneath the surface. Pools along the creek here contain water at temperatures just under 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Steaming vents near the banks of the creek

There are numerous “no swimming” signs along the creek and fences keeping people back.  The pictures below, taken from a USGA website on volcano hazards, explains why swimming in the creek at this spot is a bad idea.

Two images showing Hot Creek and Hot Creek with a geyser in it. The difference in temperature between the two images is over 100 degrees F in about 5 seconds.

After a long day hiking and exploring we were treated to a great meal by our friends, Dave and Sue (Buluga’s Excellent Adventure).  It’s a tough life but, hey, somebody has to live it!

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Visit to Bodie, CA (pop. 0)

Lee Vining, CA

Thirty miles north of Lee Vining is the ghost town of Bodie, known today as Bodie State Historical Park.  Bodie began as a mining camp of little note following the discovery of gold in 1859 by a group of prospectors, including W. S. Bodey.   Bodey died in a blizzard the following November while making a supply trip, never getting to see the rise of the town that was named after him.   According to local lore the town’s name was changed from “Bodey,” “Body,” and a few other phonetic variations, to “Bodie,” after a painter in the nearby boomtown of Aurora, lettered a sign “Bodie Stables.”

The ghost town of Bodie

Mining in the district progressed at a slow pace until 1875 when a mine collapse revealed a rich body of gold ore.  Bodie was soon transformed from an isolated mining camp comprised of a few prospectors and company employees to a Wild West boomtown.   By 1879, Bodie had a population of over 7000 people and around 2,000 buildings.   Over the years, Bodie’s mines produced gold valued at nearly $34 million.  The boom years were over quickly as unsuccessful mines began to close.  The population dropped quickly and continued to dwindle into the 1900s.  Mining continued until 1942.  The family of Bodie’s last major landowner hired caretakers to watch over the town and protect it from looters and vandals.  In 1962 California State Parks purchased the town to preserve the historical buildings.

Cain Residence

The kitchen of a residence (looking through a window)

Two major fires and years of decay have destroyed most of the town, but about a hundred buildings remain, many with the contents inside them left intact as if the owner just walked out and left them there.  The town is preserved in a state of “arrested decay.”  This means that building roofs, windows, and foundations are repaired and stabilized, not restored.

The Boone Store and Warehouse

One of two morgues in the town still has new caskets visible through the windows.

The Miners’ Union Hall now houses a small museum and bookstore.  We had never heard of a “Weeping bottle” before and found it to be very interesting.

At the town’s peak 65 saloons lined Main Street, which was a mile long. Murders, shootouts, barroom brawls, and stagecoach holdups were regular occurrences.  One of the remaining saloons has a pool table visible through the window with the cue sticks still sitting on top.

Up the hill on the edge of town is the remains of the Standard Stamping Mill.  The Standard was the most successful of thirty mining companies operating in the Bodie Mining District.  Heavy iron rods, known as stamps, broke up quartz rock containing gold and silver.  Mercury (and later cyanide) was used to separate the metals from the crushed rock.

Standard Stamping Mill

The Burkham House with an elegant bay window

Apparently people in Bodie were not too concerned with the views from their porches.  The Burkham House pictured above has a nice porch in the front.  The view from that porch is in the photo below.

View of the Standard Stamping Mill from the front porch of the Burkham House

There is no porch on the back but maybe there should have been one.  If there would have been one, the view would be better than the one in the front of the house facing the stamping mill.   The photo below shows the view from the back of the house.  It’s difficult to see in the photo but there are beautiful snow-covered mountains in the distance.

Mountain view from the back of the Burkham House

All that remains of the town bank is the brick safe room with a large safe visible through the lower part of the door.

Remains of the Bodie Bank

Originally a lodging house, the building pictured below became a school after the first school was allegedly burned down by an early day juvenile delinquent.  In 1879-80 the school saw its highest enrollment of 615 students.  It closed in 1942.

The schoolhouse

The cemetery is on a hill overlooking the town.  A group is in the process of identifying unmarked graves and replacing grave markers with wooden markers used in the early years of the town.

The cemetery is still considered active, as the last person was buried there in 2003.  Bobby Bell was born in Bodie in 1914 and lived there most of his life.  He was one of the last residents and helped stabilize some of the buildings in the 1960s and 70s.  His grave marker reads “Hello God, I’ve just arrived here from Bodie.  I am the Last of the Old Time Miners.”

OK, that’s enough history.  Tomorrow the nimble hiker has a little “walk” planned near June Lake.  More on that late . . .

Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments

Arriving at Mono Lake, CA

Lee Vining, CA

We stayed in Carson City for an extra day to let some rainy weather pass.  When Monday dawned with clear skies, we headed south on US-395 into the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains of California.  Dave and Sue stopped to fill up their propane tank then followed us into the mountains.

Into theHills

US-395 in this area is an incredible scenic route through beautiful snow-covered mountains.

Snow in the distance

Rounding a bend we were greeted with a vista that takes one’s breath away.  Out in the distance below us was Mono Lake!

The highway drops steeply down into the Mono Basin, winding around the end of the lake.

We quickly set up at Mono Vista RV Park, the only option in the town of Lee Vining (pop. 222) and headed to Mono Lake to check out the sand tufa.  Mono Lake’s tufa towers (pronounced “toofah”) are spectacular examples of what nature can do with a few basic elements.  These unusual spires and knobs are formed when calcium-bearing freshwater springs happen to well up through alkaline lake water, which is rich in carbonates.  The calcium and carbonate combine, precipitating out as limestone. Over many years, a tower forms around the mouth of the spring.  This tufa-forming reaction happens only in the lake itself.   As the lake level drops and exposes the tufa towers, they cease to grow.

Salty lake water (carbonates) + freshwater springs (calcium) + sand  = Intricate Sand Tufa (calcium carbonate).

Young tufa that didn’t get a chance to develop.

There is so much to do and see near the little town of Lee Vining that our scheduled week stay may prove to be insufficient.  But we plan to get busy early each day this week and fit in as much as possible.

More on that later . . .

Posted in Uncategorized | 21 Comments

Hiking Near Carson City

Carson City, NV

Between motorhome repairs and rainy days (desperately needed here) we did manage to get in two short hikes in the area, one near South Lake Tahoe and the other just outside Carson City.  We learned about the first hike from Hans and Lisa (Metamorphasis Road) who were here in the spring of 2014. The Glen Alpine Trailhead is located next to small Lily Lake just south of Lake Tahoe.  On the way to the trailhead we stopped along the southern shore of Lake Tahoe where the effects of the drought are definitely visible.  Our overcast day didn’t make for the best photos.

High and dry docks along Lake Tahoe

To get to the trail we drove past the community of Camp Richardson and turned south on Fallen Leaf Road.  The road went along the eastern shore of the beautiful Fallen Leaf Lake.

Fallen Leaf Lake

Just beyond the lake we passed a waterfall with just a trickle of water.  We recognized the rocks from a photo Hans and Lisa had put in their post during their visit.

The falls during our visit

Their visit was in the spring when there was just a bit more water in the stream.

The falls when Hans and Lisa were here (photo by Lisa)

As we passed the falls the road narrowed to one lane, but remained paved all the way to the trailhead.

We parked in the lot at the end of the road next to Lily Lake and hiked a little over a mile up a much worn gravel road to the site of the former Glen Alpine Springs Resort.

Lily Lake

Heading up the “trail”

Discovered in 1863, Glen Alpine Springs opened as a campground in 1878, and in 1884 the resort’s buildings were constructed. The resort became extremely popular in the 1920s and continued to operate until 1966.

The brown waters of the nearby spring are full of iron and carbonic acid, which back in the 1920s was considered a healthy fizzy drink.

Glen Alpine Springs was a backwoods resort that was far from most of the influences of civilization.  Most of the accommodations were tent cabins that no longer exist. There was also a hotel and a post office that are both gone.  The structures that still exist are in reasonably good condition. These include three cabins, a kitchen, dining hall, stable, caretaker’s cabin and an assembly hall.  Today a non-profit corporation, the Historical Preservation of Glen Alpine Springs, Inc. works with the Forest Service to preserve the site.  Guided tours are conducted at 1 pm on Saturday and Sunday mid-June to mid-September.

The dining room on the left and kitchen on the right

Part of the Dining Room

Peaking in a window

One of the remaining cabins

A few days later we did a short hike on a new trail in the hills just west of Carson City.  The Kings Canyon/Waterfall Trail just opened in August.  It’s a great seven mile biking/hiking trail on the hills overlooking Carson City.

The trail winds through hills that burned in a fire in 2005.

The switchbacks up the second mountain

As we hiked we noticed a group keeping an eye on us on a hillside above.

The burned trunks of Ponderosa Pines emitted a very enjoyable odor as we hiked through a wooded area.

After a little over a mile and a half we came to the Kings Canyon Waterfall, filled with water from our .5 inch of rain the previous day.

We crossed the creek and continued up the trail to another trailhead, where we turned around and headed back.

We cut our hike short so we could return to the RV park (Silver City RV Resort) as we knew that friends would be arriving during the afternoon.  Dave and Sue (Beluga’s Excellent Adventure) reserved the site next to us and will join us as we head south into the eastern Sierras this week.  Fellow bloggers Bill and Jodee (On the Road Abode) also arrived and took the site next to Dave and Sue.  While we read each others blog we had never met Bill, Jodee, and Tessa and looked forward to the opportunity to share some time together.

The three motorhomes in a row

The group enjoyed dinner together in Carson City at the Lake Tahoe Brewery and shared a couple of “happy hours” in the late afternoon.  For one of the happy hours we were joined by Denny, who was in the travel trailer across from us.

Sue, Dave, Bill, adorable Tessa, Jodee, Denny, and John enjoy a happy hour

Tomorrow we’ll head south along US-395 with Dave and Sue.  This scenic drive has been on our radar for quite some time so we’re anxious to head south.  More on that later . . .

Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Checking out Carson City, Virginia City, and Reno

Carson City, NV

One day during our stay here in Carson City we took a drive to check out some local scenes.  First stop was a visit to the state capitol in downtown Carson City.  The building was constructed between 1869 and 1871 and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Nevada State Capitol Building

For more than 50 years, all three parts of the state government were housed in the Capitol. The Supreme Court met here until 1937, when it relocated into an adjacent building, and the Nevada Legislature met here until 1971, when it relocated to its new Legislative Building just south of the Capitol.  Every Nevada governor except the first has had his office in the capitol.  Today the Capitol continues to serve the Governor and other state offices.

Nevada State Legislature Building – Assembly Side

Nevada State Legislature Building – Senate Side

The capitol area in Carson City is the smallest capitol area we have seen in our travels, something we think is a good thing.  As we drove down the main street in front of the Legislature Building we had to stop to allow a few locals to cross the street.

We then headed east on US-50 for a few miles before turning north on NV-341 for a visit to the old mining town of Virginia City.

Virginia City sprang up as a boomtown with the 1859 discovery of the Comstock Lode, the first major silver deposit discovery in the United States.  At the city’s peak of population in the mid-1860s, it had an estimated 25,000 residents. The mines’ output declined after 1878 and the city declined.  As of 2010 Census the population of Virginia City was about 855.  Today the main industry of the town is tourism.

C Street – the main street of Virginia City

Tourism grew tremendously in the 1960s due to the popular TV series Bonanza.  The Ponderosa Ranch was located near the town and the Cartwrights visited Virginia City regularly.  People flocked to Virginia City to see the town made famous by the show.  The only problem was that The Virginia City depicted on Bonanza was located in a studio in Hollywood.

Both Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead played in the Red Dog Saloon during the summer of 1965

Virginia City could be considered the “birthplace” of Mark Twain, as it was here in 1863 that writer Samuel Clemens, then a reporter on the local Territorial Enterprise newspaper, first used his famous pen name.  Clemens lived in Virginia City and wrote for the Enterprise from late fall 1862 until May 1864, when he escaped from a potential duel instigated by a local newspaper editor upset at Clemens’ reporting.

The Fourth Ward School is a restored building on the south end of C Street.  When constructed in 1876 it was one of eleven schools in town and housed 1100 students in grades 1 through 12.  It graduated its last class in 1936, after which its students were moved to a new school built by the WPA, one of FDRs New Deal programs.  The building then fell into disrepair and remained closed until 1986 when it was reopened as the Historic Fourth Ward School Museum.

The Fourth Ward School

Leaving Virginia City we continued north on NV-341 as it twisted and turned on the way to the Reno area.

Scenic NV-341

Casino Hotels of Reno come into view

We had no plans to spend any time in Reno, but we did want to go through the casino area and drive under the iconic Reno Arch.

The original arch was built in 1926 to commemorate the completion of the Lincoln and Victory Highways.  The current arch was installed in 1987 and retrofitted with new lights in 2009.

By the way, in our last blog we described a problem with the front end of the motorhome.  While crossing Wyoming we notice excessive wear along the outside of the left front tire.  We had the tire replaced at Les Schwab in Heber City, UT and both tires were balanced. Once that tire was replaced the front end developed a shake, so we stopped at GCR Tire near Salt Lake City and had the motorhome aligned.  They said the alignment was good but a wheel bearing was loose, which they corrected.   But as we traveled across Utah and into Nevada the shaking continued and the right front tire began to wear on the outside edge, just like what had happened to the left tire.  At Carson City Truck and Auto Repair, a shop that specializes in motorhomes, the right front tire was replace, both tires were re-balanced, the alignment was re-checked, all steering components were examined, and the front shocks were replaced.  Things seem to be better but there is still an intermittent shake in the steering wheel at speeds above 55 mph (although less severe than before).  So now we’ll just keep an eye on the tires as we head south next week.

We have done a bit of hiking while here that we will share in our next post.  More on that later . . .

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Travelling Across Nevada

Carson City, NV

We left the beautiful ski area of Park City, UT and continued west on I-80.  On the way through the Salt Lake City area we stopped at a truck repair shop to have the front end aligned.  While driving through Wyoming we noticed the outside of one of the front tires was showing excessive wear along the outer edge.  We had that tire replaced and both tires balanced at Les Schwab in Heber City, UT.  Schwab doesn’t have the equipment to do big vehicle alignments so we had it done at GCR Tire in West Valley City, UT.  They said the alignment was good but found a loose wheel bearing, which they felt was the cause of our tire wear.  After the alignment was completed we continued west along the south end of the Great Salt Lake.

Mountains reflecting in the water of the Great Salt Lake

Morton Salt Plant

“Hypertension Hill!”

Through the salt flats

At times the salt looked like ice chunks on a lake

After about a hundred miles we came to one of the most distinctive state lines we have seen.  On the east side of the line is Wendover, UT, while on the west side of the line is West Wendover, NV.  Two large casinos, one on either side of the street, butt right up against the state line on the Nevada side.  In fact, the driveway entrance for each casino is on the Utah side of the line.

After enduring the cigarette smell while walking through one of the casinos to locate the Starbucks, we spent a quiet night in the local KOA, the only decent rv park in town.

West Wendover KOA

The next day we continued our journey westward.  Contrary to the myth that Nevada is all flat terrain, the scenery was quite interesting as we drove along the interstate.

After a drive of about 230 miles we parked for the night in the New Frontier RV Park on the west side of the town of Winnemucca, NV.  Now you know that some vices illegal in most states are legal in Nevada, so Winnemucca has its share of casinos.  But we don’t like to gamble so we headed into town to see if there were other vices we could check out.  Turns out there is a vice for those who don’t gamble!

But the parking lot was very dusty and we didn’t want to get the Jeep dirty, so we passed on visiting this establishment.  Besides, we wanted to get back to the motorhome to enjoy a Nevada sunset!

The next morning we continued our journey for another 170 miles to our destination, Carson City.  It seems that the front end alignment and wheel bearing adjustment didn’t cure our problems, they just moved to the other front wheel.  The problem is a mystery as for a time the front end will shake a bit, then for a while it rides smoothly.  Also, the tire on the other side is beginning to show a wear pattern on the outside.  So on our way into Carson City we stopped at Carson City Truck and Auto Repair, a shop that specializes in RV repairs.  John talked at length with the owner, who was very knowledgeable about alignments, and he is at a loss for a cause of our problem, especially since it is intermittent.  So Tuesday we’ll take the motorhome there to see if he can find the problem.  Until then we are comfortably set up at the Silver City RV Park.  RV pals Dave and Sue (Buluga’s Excellent Adventure) are headed this way and should arrive on Friday.  We will then join them for a ride south on scenic Rte. 395 down the east side of California.

More on that later . . .


Posted in Uncategorized | 34 Comments

Last Days in Park City

Park City, UT

Friends Steve and Joan (FOSJ) have been spending the last few months working with a company that surveys roads for the Bureau of Land Management.  They are currently in Nephi, UT, about 75 miles to the south of Park City.  We emailed back and forth about getting together and, since they have never been to Park City, they volunteered to drive up for the day.

Steve and Joan

Once they arrived we drove to the north of Park City to visit the Utah Olympic Park.  During the 2002 games the park hosted the bobsled, skeleton, luge, ski jumping, and Nordic combined events.  Today it serves as a training center for Olympic and development level athletes.  We visited the park about ten years ago and enjoyed watching summer aerial training.  Fortunately there were skiers training again, so we were able to watch more jumpers.

The many slopes

Leaving the jump

Spinning in the air

Check the elevation!

He appears to be standing on the climbing wall

Olympic hopeful putting on his ski boots

After watching the aerials for a while we drove up into the mountains to check out the fall foliage.

Famous graffiti artist, Banksy, had a film he directed premier at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City in 2010.  While in town he painted a number of works around town.  The one below is covered with a plastic panel to prevent damage.

Pam’s favorite beer, Polygamy Porter, is brewed right here in Park City so we just had to stop at the brewery for a cold one and lunch.

Wasatch Brew Pub

The next day we did a nice loop hike on the Armstrong/HAM/Spiro Trails above the Park City Mountain Resort.

One member of the writers of this blog loves to watch the “sport” of curling (we won’t mention her name).  We’ve visited many towns that have a curling club but it has always been in the summer and the rinks have been closed.  So when Pam one of us found out that the Park City Curling Club would be having their first session of the year at the local ice rink, we just had to attend (we were the only spectators).  While some of the participants had some experience, it was quite obvious that this was the first time for many.  As with any sport, someone who knows what their doing can make the task look easy, while a beginner looks a bit silly at times.

His form looks good at the start . . .

. . . but the end needs a little work!

This guy made it look easy

Furious sweeping

Some people think curling is a bit boring.  Apparently so do some of the participants.  The photo below shows how some get through the session!

This week ABC is premiering a new show called “Blood and Oil” starring Don Johnson (remember Miami Vice?).  The show is being filmed in Park City and one of the scenes is in a local bar.  The NoName Saloon on Main Street was used as the set for those scenes, so we stopped by for dinner on our final night in town.  Now we need to watch the show to see if we recognize the bar.

The NoName Saloon

That wraps up a great week visit to Park City.  Next we continue traveling west into Nevada.  More on that later . . .

Posted in Uncategorized | 25 Comments