Our first blog entry of our California swing is coming to you from one of our all time favorite camping locations the Alabama Hills of California. As I write this the wind is buffeting the trailer, gusting up to 80 MPH. It feels as we are on a different planet, in our little rounded outpost.
Time, on this trip is unfortunately not open-ended. We have exactly a month to complete our latest excursion. A quick 30 day loop around the Golden State. On our previous trip we travelled through North and Central California, but this time we want to hit some spots we did not have a chance to visit in Southern Cali, while at the same time revisiting a couple of our favorites.
We have been staying at Marty’s magical farm for almost exactly 4 months, and we want to go collect some more pictures and experiences to share with each other, and our growing readership. Maybe we’ll even discover some obscura to pass along to our fellow travelers. Needless to say, we had settled in after 4 months. It took a bit longer to get the old camper ready to go than we had anticipated. We had to disassemble our decking, take down our home-made clear canopy, stow our cactus poles… and store a lot of stuff we had brought into the camper…in short, a lot of work. After tying up loose ends and enjoying a wonderful dinner hosted by Marty, Kat, and Spud, we thought we were ready. Morning of the pull-out had arrived….
Did I mention we live in a field? Well, there we were outstanding in our field on a cold, soggy morning after a night of rain mixed with snow. We backed the truck in through the narrow gate, lining up the hitch and receiver on the first try, what a great way to start the trip!!! Until we stepped on the gas…. the truck tires just spun on the snot-slick mud. We were not going anywhere soon. Much lively discussion was had and with a little help from Eli of Marty, we built a bridge. Barely splitting the fenceposts, we were finally on firmer ground of the driveway. On the way to town, to say goodbye to a few folks at the Oregon Pour Authority, we dropped by the car wash to wash the pasture off of the Argosy, only to run into our new travel friend, Laura. She gave us a nice parting gift.
With our farewells finished, last showers for a bit taken, a tank full of fuel, and our route (mostly) chosen, we soon rolled out of our beloved new home base of Grants Pass. The first day was to be a short one, we were late getting away, and the sun was getting low in the sky. Additionally, in what would be a theme for the first couple of days of our trip, we were running from the snow. The last thing we wanted was to pull our camper over mountain passes in the snow, and it was headed our way, breathing down our neck. We crested the Siskiyou Pass and descended into California and…..into a driving snowstorm. Luckily for us it was short lived and as we passed the Weed…. no really, the Weed, CA airport, the snow faded away and we cruised into the empty campground at lake Shastina just as the sun disappeared over the horizon. We parked high on a hill overlooking the lake, not even bothering to unhook the truck because we had to get an early start to continue evading the impending snow and make it safely over the Northern Sierra. It was a nearly full moon that night and we watched it while listening to the honking of the geese across the lake.
We woke up the next day to bitter cold, and an incredible view of Mount Shasta bathed in the morning light. Onward we pushed, through Shasta City (our stomping grounds a few months ago),on to Lassen Volcanic Monument. The desolation was beautiful, and punctuated by the charred stumps of last fall’s forest fires. We made a quick stop at Burney Falls. This gorgeous waterfall was on our must see list last fall but we didn’t make it due to the fires. This was a long day of driving for both us, and the animals. They did wonderfully…lots of sleeping and several potty stops! We flew through Reno, Carson City, and back into California and picked up US395 to Bridgeport. As we arrived in Bridgeport, a local informed us yet another storm was brewing and would hit the Centra Sierra soon. We chose a camp spot right next to Travertine Hot Springs. A brief soak, some pizza, a very cold night of sleep, a morning soak and we were at it again. Racing the snow….
A note about Travertine Hot springs! This is incredible 4 pool natural spring is only about a mile from the charming teeny-tiny victorian town of Bridgeport. The top pool is the hottest (perhaps too hot, you will feel like goldilocks picking out beds), and it has the best view, the water is crystal clear, and not “sulpher-y” at all! If you ever find yourself in or around Bridgeport, CA, do yourself a favor and pay a visit. Shoot for sunrise and you will have the best chance of having the place to yourself.
All loose items stowed, animals drained, we flew through an awesome cloud layer on the road down to Lee Vining, on our way to Mammoth Mountain for a Half Day of skiing. The plan was to ski the following day, but the largest storm since 2011 was bearing down on Mammoth, possibly 4 feet in 2 days. Oh well, I hadn’t been able to ski in a year, a half day would be more than enough for me. Cate dropped me off to ski, and took Maggie and Frankie to Mono Lake to snap a few pics. It was a great day on both fronts, and in true Argosy Odyssey fashion, she picked me up and continued south, just as the clouds started to spit snow on us. Again, running out of daylight, we coasted into Big Pine city park for a quick sleepover before our glorious return to the Alabama Hills the next day!
And here we leave off where we picked up, in a rocking trailer, in the howling winds, in the shadow of Mt. Whitney, in the awesome and alien Alabama Hills.