Pushing North

Posted August 17, 2016 – Narrated by Carmen
To listen to the podcast, click the play button

It hit us a few days ago when we were hiking to Arrowhead Lake at Mammoth Lakes.

Beautiful Arrowhead Lake – Mammoth Lakes
Breathtaking view after a strenuous hike

It’s been five weeks since we left San Diego.

Leaving San Diego – July 18, 2016

True, we’re intending to go places we’ve never been but that’s only half the story: we left our home behind. Home was the starting place … was.

“Lucille, I’m gone.”…were my grandfather’s last words.

One year from now, Jim and I plan to be in the best health of our lives, nevertheless, leaving San Diego is like a little death.

Five weeks. That’s two weeks longer than any vacation we’ve taken in the last 40 years. So, our homing mechanisms kicked in, and left us numb.

We tried to soak it off …

Our secret hot springs in Mammoth. Ask and we will give you directions

..then went back to Beauty and grabbled Pico de Gallo for a dog-friendly Happy Hour at Mammoth Mountain Brewery where we reflected on our self-imposed homeless situation over salad, chips, and beer.

We now understand what the traders, trappers, miners, farmers, missionaries and settlers meant by “pushing west”.  

Home is the stability that provides thrust – the strength to depart and move along … move on … move away

Yep, our noses are hop-forward … (Can you tell we just came back from a beer fest?)

Even before the blowout on Hwy 395, we had plans to upgrade our tires and wheels in Northern California. We’d been reading great reviews about the Michelins, so rather than cry in our beer we made our way to the Bluesapalooza.

And it was the right thing to do … it was as if San Diego had caravanned behind us to Mammoth…

… and into a beautiful forested wunderland where, all day long the nicest people you’ll ever meet just hand you beer.

…and play pretty music and sing you songs

Then, after a couple more days of hiking, Jose and Edgar from J.R. Tire Shop fitted Beauty with some shiny new tires that were suggested by Vinnie and Vinnie’s Northbay Airstream Repair.

Looking good, we hit the road to Mono Lake.

Everything you’ve read about this eerie ancient lake is true and then some …

We had planned to stay overnight and go paddling early the next morning – but, after talking to the ranger about the unusually calm afternoon weather conditions, and observing that dry-camping choices were minimal – we opted to take a two-hour mid-day paddle.

So, we unhitched Beauty at the Mono Lake Visitors Center

The ranger at the visitor center said we could leave “Beauty” in the parking lot since she would not survive the road to Navy Beach.

… and drove The Beast to Navy Beach where we inflated The Smurffs.

Mono is nearly indescribable.

Never have I felt more like an Earthling – my senses turning in on themselves. Everything is more. The water has it’s own method with deep greens and blues merging, shifting, mesmerizing like shimmery ball-gown fabric.

The dry, salty electric air sets one on edge, in an exciting way.

The unearthly stillness and pin-drop silence of water, landscape and even the wildlife, makes the place feel as if it’s brimming with secrets no one will ever know, enhancing the sensation of skimming across a mirage.

Perhaps that’s why so many paddlers die there. The illusory visual perspective gently loosens your grasp on space and time.

Exhilaration and abandon replace the natural fear of predation and cause some souls to venture deeper … Then, fifteen minutes later an unhindered westerly wind – 40-70 knots – whips up four-foot, hard-salty swells that knock the adventurer out of the boat and dash her, or him against thousands of razor-sharp salt structures …

Mono Lake, California
Mono Lake, California

Contemplating these things, we stayed with the ranger’s instructions to hug the shoreline for about an hour and a half.

Then we deflated the kayaks, tossed them in the back of the truck and returned to the parking lot of the Visitor’s Center where we took cold showers, grabbed a bite to eat and decided where to go next …

Three hours later, we arrived in Tahoe with no reservations.

Exhausted, we pulled into a campground near the bustling Zephyr Cove area, advertised as “full.” Jim did his charming thing and secured us a tight, rambunctious space for the night.

The next morning we set out in The Beast to hunt for quieter digs on or around Lake Tahoe.

Score.

We call it, The Point of No Return.