Friday, January 04, 2013

Lake Tahoe - The Ride There

Happy 2013!  I'm not dead (nothwithstanding all the rumors to the contrary).  I also didn't permanently re-locate to Lake Tahoe...although it was a very near thing.  We had the absolute trip of a lifetime and created some fantastic memories that I don't think I will ever forget.

Which was great considering that the months since then were a long nightmare of work, work and...more work.  Very little beading, resining or shopping was done, but 2013 is looking a lot brighter (she said optimistically from only 4 days into it).  The project-from-hell seems to be over with the exception of some nitpicky final clean up items and while I don't usually do resolutions, I did decide to firmly re-apply myself to the blog and get it back up and running.

Seeing as how I left off with a teaser about heading to Tahoe, I thought I'd pick up at that point and bring everything up to date.  I may even bring in some heavy duty bead porn in a week or so because Santa gave me both the time and the $$$ to get my shopping on.

But first...a bit about our Tahoe adventure...

Think back to summertime.  A good thing to do this time of year in the midst of snow, wind, rain, etc.  It was the week leading up to Labor Day weekend and I somehow managed to not only wrangle us a timeshare exchange at the Lake Tahoe Marriott, but also to convince my mother that I was capable of driving her, me and the kid there and back.  She's been reluctant to do anything like this since Dad passed away, but I guess she had some wanderlust going on because she agreed to go.

Then we realized the kid had a big Scout event on the day we wanted to leave so our departure was delayed to 5 PM.  Meaning that I was going to get to drive the three of us up the 395 through the desert in pitch dark and probably not pull into Bishop (the halfway point) until midnight or so.  Amazingly, mom still agreed to go and I pretended that I was NOT NERVOUS AT ALL.
We got into Victorville about 6:30 PM and had dinner and then it was out into the desert.  Since I was driving (and it was pitch dark), there are no pictures from that portion of the trip, but I sure wish there were.  I'd thought that hours of darkness in the desert would make for a really boring ride and an opportunity for my mom to nag mention all things she thinks I am not doing well enough need to work on.  But we got along well and the desert was beautiful at night with lots of stars and, surprisingly, a large jackrabbit right at the road's edge about every three miles or so.  We made a game out of counting them until the kid piped up from the back seat and let us know in no uncertain terms that we were ahem! keeping him awake.
11:30 PM found us taking a potty break in Lone Pine and as I stood in the parking lot waiting for mom to finish and come back outside I thought "gee, it's weird to see all these birds flying around at night."  At which point I realized:
  1. Only owls fly at night
  2. These weren't owls
  3. Holy crap!  Bats!  Everywhere!
I decided to finish waiting in the car even though the kid was in there complaining (again) about being woken up.  He likes his sleep that one.
Another hour saw us arriving in Bishop for our overnight stay at the Creekside Inn.  I highly recommend it.  Not only is a fairly nice breakfast included in the price of the stay, but there's a cute creek (hence the name) with fish that runs right through the parking lot.'s right next store to the world famous Schat's Bakery where you can get all kinds of wonderful fresh baked breads, cookies, etc. and sandwiches made to order for the rest of your trip.
We rested up, had a nice breakfast, checked out the creek and fish and grabbed some goodies from the bakery and then hit the road.  Later, we pulled into the visitor's center in Mammoth Lakes for a lunch break and some research.  I quizzed the local guides on possibilities for short side trips between Mammoth and Tahoe.  We had originally thought we'd go to the Devil's Postpile, but it was a little more out of the way that we had time for.
The guide recommended Obsidian Half Dome and the Tufa Towers (what?) at Mono Lake.  Mom nixed the Half Dome as soon as she saw the turn off onto a gasp! gravel road.  She wasn't too keen on me taking her Lexus there (which really means that I am not Dad and gravel roads are where her trust in me as a driver ends).  So, we kept on until we hit the turn off for Mono Lake.  I still had no idea what a Tufa Tower was, but we were damned sure going to see them!
Still no idea what a Tufa is, but here's a view of the lake as we approached it. THAT's what a Tufa is.

And here's what they look like from a distance.

And from up close.

And from the inside.

And here's a little bit more about Mono Lake.  VERY salty.  And home to brine shrimp and brine flies...and lots of birds that eat both.

Here's one of the lake docents showing the kid how to catch brine shrimp.


If you look at about the 5 o'clock position in the water in this cup and see a tiny, brownish, hairy squiggle...that's a brine shrimp.  If you ever had "Sea Monkeys"...then you've seen them before.

More Tufa Towers out in the water.

This was such a neat place to visit and althought I'd always heard of Mono Lake, I had no idea that it was basically a small "Salt Sea" and I certainly hadn't heard about the Tufa Towers.  We also learned that the level of the lake has dropped drastically over the last 50 years to the point where it was feared it couldn't recover.  All the Tufas in pictures 3-5 above used to be deep under water.  A project was finally begun a few years ago to try to help the lake recover and it has made some progress, but is not out of the woods yet.  If you are ever in the area, I recommend taking the time to visit because it may not be around forever.

After this stop, we drove the rest of the way to Tahoe stopping only for a couple of potty breaks.  The bad part about being the photogropher AND the driver is no photos during the drive.  However, I had plenty of photo opportunities once we got to Tahoe and I'll share that in the next installment.

Happy 2013 to everyone...I sure missed this!




EmandaJ said...

I've missed you too. Glad you are back. Happy new Year!


Anonymous said...

We missed you, KJ! =)

Lorelei said...

Missed you!!! welcome back! and you did not disappoint with this first post of 2013! :)
Excited to see the rest of your trip!

Lori Bowring Michaud said...

Nice to have you back!!

Sandra said...

welcome back!