Monday, November 14, 2011

A Magnificent time at Mono Lake

Mono Lake is a saline lake in on the east side of the Sierra Mountains in California.  The small town of Lee Vining is gateway to both Mono Lake and the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park.  Mono Lake is important habitat for nesting and migrating birds.  It is also one of the only places you can find Tufta rock formations.   The Tufa formations kind of look like weird columns of rock.

My friend, Mary from Quebec and I made our first stop at the Visitors Center.  A Ranger pointed out a couple of locations where we could boondock.  He did not steer us wrong!   We found a great site that was big enough for my 36’ rig and her 32’ rig.  Another rig or two would have fit as well.   We had great views of Mono Lake in front of us and the Sierra Mountains behind us.  The sunrises over the lake were wonderful, the vast views of the stars at night were incredible and if that wasn’t enough our 2nd evening there we came home to a double rainbow over our rigs. (It really landed on the island in the middle of the lake, which was cool, but driving in with rainbows on your rigs was a bonus!)

The rainbow was visible for over a half hour and at times you could see both ends of it.  An awesome sunset over the mountains followed the rainbow. It was a magnificent event to experience.   We topped the night off with a campfire and decided that our spot was probably our ‘end of the rainbow pot of gold’ and maybe we should stay and enjoy what the area had to offer from here instead of moving to each place.  So we stayed and enjoyed our views of Mono Lake and made day trips to Yosemite, June Lakes & Saddlebag lake and the Mammoth Lakes area.

Sunrise over Mono Lake

Here is a promo video that gives you some of the feel of Mono Lake.  The Mono Lake Visitors Center movie is very good.  It gives the history of the lake and the native inhabitants of the area.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Travertine Hot Springs (near Bridgeport, CA)

Me soaking at Travertine Hot Springs - photo by Mary Russell

Inspired by a fellow Bloggers pics from last fall, I was intent on finding the Travertine Hot  Springs near Bridgeport, CA.  After leaving Carson City, I headed back south down Hwy 395 and made another stop at the Bridgeport Marina Campground.  There are several Hot Springs in this area but the Travertine Hot Springs are just about a mile south of town and fairly easy to find.   

My first trip to springs was in the evening  My friend Mary & I found 5 guys in their birthday suits soaking in the bigger pool, so we explored some of the nice reflections on the other pools until they headed out.   The Springs are up on a hillside and the views of the sunset over the mountains was wonderful.   In addition, to the 4 upper pools that are grouped together, there is an additional oval pool in the top area and at least one lower pool.
We returned the next morning to explore some more and have a nice soak.  We had the place to ourselves for about a half hour until a few folks started trickling through.  Every one was respectful of each other and sort of spread out and let each set of folks have their moment to soak in the water and enjoy the sights.   I am not big on the Hot Springs that they turn into swimming pools, so I found this area quite refreshing.  I will definitely return for some R & R when I am in this area again & now count Travertine among my favorite natural Hot Spring spots.  Can't wait till my next soak!

To get to the Springs, you take Hwy 395 south from the town of Bridgeport for about a mile and a half, then turn left on Jack Sawyer Rd.  You won’t go very far before the road turns to dirt.  There was a fork in the road here, which I took to the left.  The road was gravel & rutted but certainly passable in drive weather in my passenger car.  I saw no signs directing to the Springs but there is sign posted when you get there.  There are at least two parking areas.  The Springs are on BLM land and are free.  I found folks in suits and folks in their birthday suits, just something to be aware of, especially if you have kids.  I saw no one with kids visiting or soaking.  There is no camping allowed at the Hot Springs but Bridgeport Marina Campground is a nice place to stay.  There are great views of the reservoir, the folks there are very friendly plus they revamped their wifi over the summer and added cable TV.  Nice additions to an already great place to relax.

My fellow Blogger, Diana's  post on Travertine and other Bridgeport area Hot Springs can be found here.  

Monday, November 7, 2011

Crazy 'bout Carson City

Downtown Carson City

I knew Carson City was the capital of Nevada but never having been to the area, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I arrived in May and it was a bit on the windy and chilly side throughout the whole month.  I loved the fact that I was in the desert but could see the snow capped mountain peaks and be in the mountains within a half hour.   Actually, You could be a lot of places with a half hour.   It is a short jot up to Reno where I had a great time watching the kayakers and paddle boarders at the Reno River Riverfest.   Reno has several big casino’s which I didn’t visit but I did love the downtown area along the Truckee river.  
Reno Riverfest
Reno Riverfest

 Lake Tahoe is a short jot over the mountains from Carson City as well.  The cool thing is that Highway 50 from Carson City climbs over the mountains and gives you easy access to South Lake Tahoe or Incline Village and the North side of the lake.   I spent lots of days oohing & ahhing over the beautiful shades of blue in the lake and enjoying the activities of the  communities surrounding the lake, as well as, the little town of Truckee.
I had planned on staying the summer but summer didn’t go ‘as planned’ and I was just able to spend May and September in the area.  September was beautiful here.  Despite the short time in the area, I found plenty of things to do and see.  Virginia City, the historic mining town has several events. As does the oldest town in Nevada, Genoa which is about 10 miles south of Carson.   I attended my first Cowboy Poetry festival there and I have to say it was great fun ..  Genoa, has the oldest ‘drink establishment’ in Nevada as well.  It seems to be a favorite spot for motorcyclist day tripping in the area.
Genoa - Oldest Drink Establishment
Further in the mountains but still about a 30 minute drive, I found Indian Creek Reservoir, the little town of Markleeville and Grover Hot Springs State park to be fun areas to visit as well.
Grover Hot Springs

Being Carson City is the Capital of the Nevada, the downtown area with the capital buildings, the Nevada State Museum and Mint, an Arts Center and a few nice restaurants was always nice to check out as well.  It isn't a huge city but it really has plenty to offer.  There are plenty of  nice casinos around too.  The Carson River flows along the east side of town and has some nice walking trails for birding.  There is plenty of BLM land to the east to explore (or try and find pine nuts).
Indian Creek Reservoir
I have to say I was a little surprised at how much there was to do in the area and how much I liked the area.   Good thing I live on wheels .. I can return and I think I just might!


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