Wednesday, June 1, 2016


Destination: Lone Pine, Yosemite, Lake Tahoe

I remember reading an over-rated novel two decades ago that was written in the late 80's, and the main back drop was Death Valley. I am not going to mention the name of it, nor do I really want to sit here and slam another person's work as if I am some sort of critic. With yelp and other forms of social media, critics are a dime a dozen these days. It was interesting enough to finish, and at the time anyone who had a poetic way of describing things caught my interest, where as now I prefer honest and direct over the heavily decorated sentences that make you wonder if they are saying much at all. The author did successfully describe the heat in a way that made me never want to go to Death Valley, being one who prefers a mild climate with cooler nights. 

Mt. Whitney, Lone Pine
 By the time we got to Lone Pine, California I had a rip-roaring sinus headache. Driving days often do that to me. I suppose I will mention here that the hardest part about living in an rv for me is the allergy that I have to all the materials on the inside. The materials in newer rvs are much lighter than they were in the old days, but the voc level is higher. While one person may have to live with arthritis, or some other ailment that never goes away, I have allergies. It is becoming a more well known fact that a lot of people are getting cancer from all types of household materials. Few notice what is happening to them, while people like me can hardly stand to be in a Walmart more than 10 minutes because of all the products in there which contain benzene and formaldehyde. Needless to say, I keep the windows open even on some cold days and nights and drive my wife nuts. She struggles to be warm, and I struggle to breathe. 

from Mt. Whitney, Lone Pine
Lone Pine is a small, desert town surrounded by mountains. It has a hostel downtown, and seems to attract a lot of young backpackers and die hard hikers. There wasn't much wildlife to be seen in our area other than a few furry little this and thats mumscumbling around the dust and brush. Twelve miles down the road was trailhead access to one very beautiful area full of aspens, rock, and clear flowing streams. The dogs enjoyed the hike through the mountains as much as we did.

James' homemade cigar box guitar
 While I waited for Hana to get off work I finished constructing my first cigar box guitar. It holds it's tune well, and is designed for playing slide only in open G tuning. Now that I have built one, I have a better idea of what I want to do on the next one, which will be a little more advanced and be electric. The creativity that one can have with these things is limitless, and I can see why some of the people that make them really get a bug for it. I have plans for making four so far.

Next we headed to Lee Vining right outside Yosemite National Park. I was up naturally at 6:30 the first morning, exited to get the day started. The previous night I discovered a spring, and filled up as many jugs as I could. While the few people I asked said it is good water, I had a little rumbling going on in my stomach. Overall it is great water, and I am not sure if the rumbling was even from that, or the small amounts of chlorine in the municipal water that comes from a well. I am taking the precaution to boil the water, and am always thankful when I can find a good spring, considering all of the things added to water these days. We usually fill our jugs with reverse osmosis water that can be found at a variety of health stores, and even at some Walmart stores. The downside is that there isn't one in every town, and you are relying on the store itself to change out the filters when they are supposed to. I recently discovered one study that found 1 out of 15 water refill stations in California actually had true purified water. We are now going to purchase a two gallon Berkey purifier which will get out 99.99 percent of what you don't want in your water, plus an extra set of filters that specialize in removing 95 percent of the flouride that has been added to the water.

We headed into Yosemite which really lived up to my expectations as far as scenery goes. After driving around a bit we found a trail that we wanted to hike, only to find a sign that had a picture of a dog with a red Ghost Busters circle around it with a slash. We stopped to asked the rangers if there was anywhere that dogs were allowed, and the answer we got was a very abrupt "This is not a dog friendly park!" When I asked why, we were told it's because they hurt the wildlife and spread disease. I found this highly debatable, but I could not get a word in with the ranger who cut me off to preach about what a threat dogs are to wildlife. I imagine an off-leash dog may get a squirrel here and there, but I know the cars driving through get more than a few. One thing that was mentioned to us is that a lot of black bears and other animals are killed in the park by cars...and maybe an occasional off-leash yorkie.

Since I have already written a pretty lengthy blog so far, I am going to save my rant about all of these regulations and attempts to "preserve" our forests. I am sure I will have another opportunity later. I have never read in my cowboy stories about dudes that probably looked like an unshaven Clint Eastwood with names like Hondo having to stop and pay some snively ranger a hefty fee to ride through the trails and be told to leave their dogs behind.

Frozen lake at the top of Saddle Bag Mountain, Yosemite (It was snowing up there!).
 We are now in the season where we are seeing rental rvs everywhere, and crowds taking pictures of deer like they have never seen them before. As beautiful as it all is, it just makes us want to avoid the popular parks and head for the more secluded places to hike with our dogs at our side. 

Contemplating that mountain view
One final note, in his seven years of age Frankie has managed to be the angel of death for one squirrel in northern Michigan a couple weeks before we left on this journey. I have add he had finally gotten the squirrel after years of being restrained from doing so by a leash. I have decided that should he ever get a fat one I would skin it and fry it up for him, and may have a little myself. I will also add that he happened to get it on a day that I woke up early and stood in the rain getting soaked for four hours at the dam in Elk Rapids, MI trying to get a salmon. When my hands were so wet and cold that I could barely move them I decided to stop. Once I was warm and dry I got the bug again and fished in the rain for three more hours for one big chinook that I spotted the day before in the Jordan River. I cast at him for three hours, almost getting him a couple of times. When I finally hooked him I got the fight I expected, but after ten minutes the tough rascal had tangled my line and my heart around a log and got away. The first thing I heard when I got back with my not-so -victorious fishing story that nobody wants to hear was, "Frankie killed a squirrel today!" I think that was one of the only moments in my life that I looked at a dog with true unbridled jealousy. 


Not our usual Sunday post, as we're getting tossed around here and there in California trying to avoid the 100+ degree weather in most areas, as well as struggling to find parks that aren't completely booked now that the summer camping season has kicked in. We've already had to move 4 times in the last 2-ish weeks! After Yosemite we headed to nearby Lake Tahoe (which was much more pristine and beautiful than I expected) to spend Memorial Day:

Lake Tahoe