Friday 23 August 2013

A Blissful Beginning

(July 31st)

I'm typing this from campsite 58 at the DL Bliss State Park campground, Lake Tahoe. We've just grilled steak for dinner and packed everything into the bear box overnight and we're sitting by the fire under a million stars. Mr Z is wasting the torch batteries, shining it into the woods to check for bears.

This is technically day 2 of the 2013 road trip, but it is our first night under canvas. We have a brand new blue and white tent which is a bit bigger than the old tent. That one had a broken pole from our last excursion in 2009 and we didn't want to chance it. It was cheaper to buy a new tent than it was to replace the poles, which felt a bit wasteful but I'm not complaining about the extra space. We had a bit of a mission buying it, because when we got it home and unpacked it to check, the instructions insisted that there should be two rain sheet poles but there was only one in the pack. So we drove back to the Bass Pro warehouse shop only to find that the others were the same. There was a lot of standing around and head scratching for a while until the manager came and suggested we go and look at the sample, which had been erected. Wise. From that, although it was put up wrong, we could see that one pole was indeed correct. Half an hour of head scratching for no reason.

Yesterday we drove from Vegas to Lee Vining, in the Eastern Sierras, stopping for lunch in Beattie and to look round a ghost mining town called Palmetto. Lee Vining is a cute little town on the east side of Yosemite and we visited it last time during our ill fated stay at June Lake (where it snowed on my birthday and the tent was blown so hard by the wind the pole snapped - hence the aforementioned shopping trip). This time, since the journey was a long one, we stayed in a motel in the town itself. Excellent decision! I picked El Mono Motel - another excellent decision. It is a motel in the true American style - a long row of rooms with cane chairs on the porch outside each one. There was also a flower garden and hummingbird feeders and a big fan and no air con (I can't imagine why it would be needed, it was not massively hot overnight and this is July) and a duvet on the bed and fresh baked cakes on the coffee shop. The bed was a big squishy affair and I woke up at 7 to hear the hummingbirds squabbling outside the window. Idyllic.
We ate dinner on the verandah at Bodie Mike's Barbecue - home of "steak and ribs, burgers and things" - then went for a walk about town to gasp at the petrol prices ($1.50 more a gallon than in Vegas) and, after, sat on the porch knitting (me) and drinking beer (him) until bedtime. We had breakfast at Nicely's, where the Eggs Benedict comes with a side of pancakes. My only complaint is that the curio and gift shop no longer sells Hatley pyjamas: I bought my favourites, adorned with bears, here last time and was hoping to replace them.

Then we drove here. It took longer than expected but we saw some very lovely things. I think my favourite bit was coming over the Sierras on Highway 89. We saw what seemed to be the world's most isolated cow shack (though, since we could see it from the road - albeit through binoculars - I'm guessing it probably isn't). We took a wrong turn and saw a couple of good lakes to the southwest of Tahoe. We stopped and admired Emerald Bay and the weird little tea room built on Tahoe's only island by an eccentric rich lady in the 1920s.

Tomorrow: the beach!

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