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.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Yosemite and Devils Postpile

The school the kids attended last year (near Pollock Pines) held a field Yosemite of all places! Although Chandler wasn't formally enrolled, they invited her to attend, knowing we lived 45 minutes away.  We dropped her off for the weekend and when we picked her up we stopped at Devils Postpile National Monument just south of Yosemite, on the way back to Lake Sabrina.

Here are the basic facts about this incredible natural wonder.  "Established in 1911 by presidential proclamation, Devils Postpile National Monument protects and preserves the Devils Postpile formation, the 101-foot high Rainbow Falls, and pristine mountain scenery.  The formation is a rare sight in the geologic world and ranks as one of the world's finest examples of columnar basalt. Its columns tower 60 feet high and display an unusual symmetry." (Ntl Park Svc)  For more info see:

Fun for Chandler to reconnect with school friends again.

Doug and Henry Wyatt take in the extraordinary views of Yosemite

Chandler inside a twisted tree trunk

At the base of Devils Postpile

Check out the bottom of the posts as they stick out above me.

Here they are at the top of the pile.

The hexagon shape on every post is universal in nature

The Postpile's visual explanation

After a fun but exhausting weekend of camping our girl caught some zzz's on the way home.

The natural beauty of Yosemite

Doug and Henry Wyatt climbed 3/4s of this rock face
Telephoto of my climbers

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Exploring rustic life in the early days of the west

On our way to Yosemite we stopped and toured Bodie, CA, an abandoned miner's town. After a ten year run, the gold and silver rush ended and within a year Bodie residents packed up and left everything behind, including items on the general store's shelves.

The general store.

Our history students.

A bird trapped inside a house. Henry let a park ranger know and the bird was let free.

One room schoolroom

An old safe in the town bank.