Thursday, October 11, 2012

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

With only a few days left before we leave our posts as camp hosts in the Sierra Mountains, Mother Nature decided to put one last spectacular show on for us.  Snow!  We awoke to the "quiet" of snow falling all around us and rushed out to enjoy and capture it's beauty.

Surrounded by the changing aspen leaves and now, the snow-covered mountain peaks, we're living in a veritable winter wonderland.  Take a look...

Colors and snow reflected in Intake Lake
Chandler and Henry helping Doug "push" snow off the canopy outside the RV.

Snow Angels, a must!

Eating snow for breakfast

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


When the trout stocking truck arrives, Henry grabs a bucket and the man with the net fills up his pail.   Henry scoots down to the stream and tosses them in.  He gets pats on the back and smiles for helping out.

An old fisherman and his wife camped here in June.   They fished and clammed for years in Alaska.  “The limit was 500 clams!   But if we went to the other side of the peninsula, they didn’t care how many you shoveled up.”   Henry got to know them, Bill and Irene, pretty well.  Bill showed Henry how to pull lures out of the streams and lakes, and fishing for lures soon outnumbered caught fish.   Bill gave him a telescopic, magnetic wand.    When the wand broke, Henry stuck a stick into the end.  When that didn’t reach, he  waded chest deep in the cold river and snagged the glittering metal.  How many days did he return to camp soaked and smiling about a cache of lures, impervious to the evening, mountain air.

One morning, Bill and Eileen pulled up in their camper and Henry jumped in with his pole and box of lures.  They headed off to a river by South Lake where Bill and Irene have fished for 20 years, and we figured he’d be back in two hours.  Around lunch I headed off and found them parked along a stream, heating hotdogs and eating raw, jarred clams.  Five fish were on a stringer.  Bill was talking about Halibut and how the babies swim like fish ordinarily do, but when they get older they get lazy and lie on the bottom and that is when the one eyeball shifts over to the same side as the other eyeball on the side of the fish that lies up.  Bill said that the females go through this transition first because they are lazier than the males.  Henry spoke right up and said, “Oh, so I guess they are different than you and Eileen.”   Eileen put the fork down she was stirring the dogs with; her head rocked back.  Bill eyed Henry slyly and moved the jar of clams and cocktail sauce from him.   Henry giggled, “What?  Everyone knows Eileen is the worker and you are the lazy one.  You even said so.”
“I did catch 3 of the 5 fish today,” piped in Eileen.   Bill just shook his head, and slid the jar back towards Henry.  I wrapped my hotdog in a bun and squeezed in a “Thank you, see you back at camp” and exited out the screen door.  Bill was coaxing Eileen to tell about the moose that almost trampled her.   The conversation was in gear for a long haul.

The picture of that crammed table with jars of clams, strewn forks, sauce and a pile of crumpled napkins traveled back to camp with me:  Henry pinching a slab of clam, listening for holes in Bill’s stories;  the steam rolling from the hotdog pot in front of Eileen; and Bill reclining in their 30 year old refurbished camper, eyes wrinkled, and the most enjoyable catch of his day throwing jabs and soaking up his tales.

Eileen, Henry and Bill - fishing buddies
Our cowboy's catch of the day

Next day, Chandler was helping me swap out old fire pits for, bigger, double-racked, glossy-black, new ones.  It took a hacksaw, a hammer and elbow grease and about 20 minutes each.  A camper strolled by, “Where is that boy that is selling lures?”  We pointed towards the RV and continued yanking out a pit for a campers – husband and wife– the husband was the grounds keeper at Cal Poly SLO.  He painted the lines and mascot chalk art on the football field.  She had raised a daughter who went to Italy her senior year in high school and was now in some remote island in the Caribbean where they speak Italian.   At 12, a neighbor during a dinner talked about living overseas as an exchange student.  Her mother watched her 12 year old daughter’s eyes grow wide.  For the next four year’s their house was decorated with taped-up Italian vocabulary words.  The dinner menu even took a turn Italian.  By her junior year, she had taken all her pre-required college credits so that she could go to Italy.   By now, Chandler had raked the campground and I’d hacked through two of the iron legs, and Chandler was hammering the left over pegs down flat into the pit.

“Changed her life” said the wife.  “And I see the same in you young lady.”  Chandler said “thank you” and that she’d like to go to France and had checked out a few CD’s in French from the library.

“I can see you can work” she added.   “Not a lot of young kids know how to work.  This is good experience for you.”   “Yes,” said her husband.  “All the time, I get workers at the campus who don’t know where to start or what to do when we have a task to dig into.  You’ve got to tell them every move.”  We thanked them and exchanged emails.  They took our blog address, and we shuttled over to the restrooms in the golf cart.  I ducked in to spray the toilet seats and heard Chandler sweeping and two fishermen stroll by who said, “Are you the lure-kid’s sister?  Well, this buddy of mine can talk a streak thicker than a greased turkey at Thanksgiving, but your brother’s sales presentation  makes him sound like mashed potatoes.”   They had bought several lures, and it was two or three camp sites later that we heard another camper tell us how “that little fellow could hold his ground.”
At dinner, Chandler and I were tuckered out, but Henry sat there with a big grin and told how he’d sold $17.00 in lures, was going to sell over $60.00 this week, and I think he repeated it 3 or 4 times.  


Chandler, Doug, and Henry cleaning a camp site

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Lamarck's Lake Hike

The photos from Doug's, Chandler's, and Henry Wyatt's overnight camping trip up to Lamarck's Lake gave them a view of Mother Nature in all her splendor. Chandler was the photographer for most of the trip. She's developing a good eye for nature photography!

Yep, that's a reflection on the water behind Henry and Chandler!

Granite, granite and more granite...and the moon.

Snack break

The perfect tent site

Monday, October 1, 2012

Aspens Aflame and a Hike to Lamarck's Lake

When the wind blows, as it's doing more often these days, the aspen leaves literally twinkle.  The sun hits the leaves and shoots a blast of color into the sky.  Yellows, oranges, and reds aglow.  Enjoy the view!

Chandler, Henry, and Doug took off today for an overnight hike to Lamarck's Lake.  I'll miss those smiles! 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Color of Aspens

As we wind down our camp host days we are blessed to have the Aspen trees starting their annual dance of the leaves for us.  We'll add pics and posts as these next few weeks unfold.

North Lake aspens set off amidst the pines

The swirl of changing leaves running from the village of Aspendell up toward Sabrina.

Chandler and Henry enjoying a hike through the colorful aspen trees.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Afternoon Sky

At the end of our Mountain Man day the sun put on a beautiful show behind the clouds overhead.  Henry and Chandler agreed there was a little angel in the sky too.  Can you find her?

Mountain Man Day

Ken and Shale Ann, Mountain Man hosts

The owners of Cardinal's general store, cafe, and cabin rentals in Aspendell, 1.5 miles below our camp site, host an annual Mountain Man Day and today was it!  To attend, one had to bring items to "trade" because now money exchanges hands when you are a Mountain Man or Woman!  Chandler painted rocks with pictures and sayings on them.  She ended up trading all 21 for items like bear claws, animal pelts, bandanas, etc.  Henry painted rocks gold and placed them in the stream running through the property so kids could trade and pan for gold.  Ann and Doug helped young-in's create bird feeders from the huge pine cones they collected, smeared with peanut butter and rolled in birdseed before hanging them in trees and trading them for everything from home made tortillas to home grown summer squash and of course home baked cookies.  As for attire, Chandler was a pioneer girl and took first place in the kid's costume event, Henry & Doug were cowboys and Ann was Pocahontas herself.  70 people attended, all bringing a pot luck dish to share after the trading.  Home brewed sarsaparilla, tri-tip cooked over the fire, and plenty of desserts rounded out the event.  No one went home hungry.  Thanks for inviting us Ken and Shale Ann!!

Chandler and Doug, true pioneers!

Pocahontas in RayBan's and her cowboy :)

Mountain Man Days setting - Cardinal Village

Pioneers cooking tri-tip and tortillas over the open flame

Sarsaparilla stand.  Questionable location next to the jail!

Henry, in the black hat, with his hoodlum buddies.
Chandler offering her painted rocks for trade.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Chandler rides, we follow

Chandler has had an incredible summer of riding horses and helping out at a horse outfitter as tourists flocked to this mountain get-away.  Down the road, at Cardinal Village, TessAnne heads up a horse riding concession and she heartily welcomed Chandler's assistance.   Toward the end of the season Doug, Henry, and I joined Chandler as she led the way on horseback through the desert up to an abandoned mine. 

Chandler heads down the mountain to Cardinal Village where she helps out with horse rides most days

C helping Doug with his stirrups

Heading toward the mine

C giving us the history of the mine and it's many owners

TessAnne, Chandler's wonderful mentor

Our happy and capable leader

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Clean Clothes

When we lived on the boat in Mexico doing laundry meant lugging sacks of dirty clothes to an unknown laundromat wherever we dropped the hook.  Arriving back into the States, I assumed laundry would always be readily available, until I arrived at the campsite.  At first I had to lug our dirty clothes down the mountain to town and pay outrageous amounts at a laundromat to get my family's clothes clean.  Thank goodness a laundry angel appeared and I gained access to a washer/dryer, albeit in a cinder block building, only a few miles down the mountain.  Everything being relative, I was thrilled to use these machines on a weekly basis evidenced by the genuine smile on my face in the picture below.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mobile Office

At 9,000 feet altitude we don't get internet at the camp site so I typically head to Bishop a couple of days each week to check emails and stay in touch with the outside world.  Periodically I need to print a document off the web.  Since that's not possible without a web connection I ended up sitting in our car in Starbuck's parking lot, connecting to the web via their free WiFi, running the car engine to power the printer via our car adapter, and making sure the car was parked in any available shade since the outside temperature was near or above 100 degrees.  The things we do to make life work!?!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Shower Power

Living in the great outdoors has its perks and pitfalls.  Showering includes both ends of the equation.  Follow along as this perk went from perk to pitfall and back to perk.

Perk: private shower in the RV...nice!

Pitfall: tiny, postage stamp-sized shower stall.  I can hardly turn around in it, never mind bend down to pick up the soap I will inevitably drop!  Plus there were holding tank issues...4 people showering in the RV means dumping lots of grey water and for various reasons that wasn't going to work for this RV.

Ann to Mark, (the RV owner): "OK, so if showering in the RV isn't going to happen, what's the next option?" 

Mark: "Doug and I will build you one outdoors?"

Ann:  "Really?  You're kidding, right?  You do know we're here for 5 whole months, right?"

Mark (with a playful smile): "Trust me."

To myself: "Do I have a choice?"

I'm glad to report this story has a very happy ending.

Mark and Doug did indeed construct an outdoor shower and I became its biggest fan.  Sure, we had to walk about 20 feet from the RV to get to where the shower sat at the back of our campsite but it was private, as private as an outdoor shower can be, and quite luxurious. That's right, luxurious.  I felt like I was showering in something built for Outdoor Living.  In my mind I had joined the ranks of that ultra-cool outdoorsy group of people who only shop at REI and Whole Foods.

Mark and Doug built a shower stall with a rugged, wooden shelf for shampoo and soap, there was a hand-held shower head with hot and cold running water (fueled by a propane and water heater), a heavy duty tarp that provided complete privacy and a slatted board floor that allowed water to run through so we wouldn't have to stand in a puddle, and there was a stump for sitting (?) or simply to add to the ambiance of the outdoor living we were experiencing.  The best part was the open-air shower was no ceiling.  The surrounding mountains and Aspen trees were our ceiling and their color changed throughout the months, adding to the beauty of each shower.  Now that I think of it, the truly best part of showering was the decor Doug added.  He would fill empty uniquely-shaped liquor bottles, left behind by campers, with fresh flowers and put them in the shower stall.  Sweet!  Showering indoors will never feel like this so I'm enjoying every moment.

Although the pictures don't do it justice, take a gander...

Wish I had taken a photo when the trees were more vibrant but this gives you an idea of the view from my shower stall!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The boat floats!

Doug and Henry Wyatt took the newly completed sailboat, christened "Pison," up to Lake Sabrina and set sail while Chandler and I scooted alongside in a friend's fishing boat.  It was such fun to see the boat float after all the hard work it took to get it to this point.  The summer will now be filled with smooth sailing under the Sabrina Lake mountain peaks.  Take a look...

Chandler, Ann, Doug, and Henry Wyatt just prior to launching

Catching a pretty good breeze!

Pulling up the center board as they make their first landing
As for those mountain peaks I mentioned...

That's Doug and Henry Wyatt in the lower left part of the lake

No boat in this pic...just peaks and the glow of the sunset