After the big band concert in Mammoth Lakes we explored “The Village”, a newly developed commercial area with free outdoor ping pong, sandboxes, and campfires. We also stuck around for a free outdoor screening of The Spy Next Door, a cute Jackie Chan movie.
On our return we encountered our first RV catastrophe: a room-temperature fridge! After some Googling and quick phone calls, we decided to reset the fridge, but at the same time came up with some ideas on how to rescue our food. (Buying ice, storing groceries on our roof in the cold, asking the hotel next-door to store some bags in their fridge.) We ended up going with the latter option, and the Sierra Nevada Lodge rescued our food! The fridge ended up cooling overnight, and while we still have to look into the source of the problem (possibly a PC board issue), the fridge still going strong. With the hotel’s permission we overnighted in their surprisingly nicely wooded and open parking lot, and with a sigh of relief reclaimed our groceries when we woke up.
Later that morning we headed toward Lake Mary for a medium-level hike to Crystal Lake – well worth the 1600′ elevation climb. As we spent a few minutes enjoying fruit by the water, we spotted what looked like snow on the top of the distant peaks. Needless to say, we couldn’t resist. We spoke with a forest service employee who confirmed that the ‘white stuff’ was indeed snow, and gave us the go-ahead to venture off trail in search of it.
The off-trail climbing was a full-body workout, with a good deal of rock climbing, bouldering, and general bushwhacking. Arriving at a huge pile of snow in the middle of the summer was a great reward, and we had a very careful snowball fight at the top of the peak.
Despite our adventures, we managed to return to the RV well before sunset. We took off toward Glass Creek, a spacious, free and unmarked campsite just off of Scenic Highway 395 with fifty huge RV-friendly sites. Our site is at least 100′ x 100′, and there’s a large amount of space in between each site. Despite this, we met a couple of very cool folks this morning who have been RVing for over 25 years and received a great education on solar panels and energy. (We’re exploring the possibility of purchasing free-standing solar panels to power the RV and charge its batteries.) The couple are both in their eighties, are very active, and plan on RVing into their nineties. It’s really nice to meet older people who still have a drive and passion to do things.
Rolf Potts ruminates in Vagabonding that many people travel just to see things that they could find in their own country if only they opened their eyes. Perhaps that’s not true about climate or language immersion, but when it comes to certain parts of culture and many amazing natural sights we’re beginning to think that it may be. Most recently, our hike to Crystal Lake reminded us of the Alps – the scenery was strikingly similar to Austria and Switzerland. Camping at the base of Mount Whitney put us in the shadow of a 14,000+ foot peak. We’re in a desert, and two weeks ago in the forest we saw a bear.
Another possible exception: While many travelers are not able to break out of the expat bubble when on the road, traveling is nevertheless a wonderful excuse to meet and interact with new and interesting people. There is a world of a difference between reading about a culture or viewpoint at home, and engaging in a lively discussion about any number of topics in someone else’s backyard.
posted by amybetho and jayhorowitz