We went off to check up on friends hiking around Bishop and ran into trouble. The firends are fine and the bruises and cuts will heal in time. The stories will last a lifetime. The weekend spent there was worth it. We’ve only traveled through Lee Vining on the way to Yosemite or Bishop. It was a great change to spend time exploring a few spots.
Lee Vining is a great little town beseiged by tourists. However, without the tourists, I’m not sure there would be a town. Yosemite Gateway Motel was a great place to stay, great views, and right in the heart of town. Cross the street and you’re at Nicely’s for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The Basin Cafe was a great dinner outdoors. Down the street is the Mono Basin History Museum is a fun way to learn more about what’s happened in great Lee Vining over the centuries. And there’s the obvious reason to head there, the outdoors. Mono Lake, pronounced Mo No as we were told repeatedly, is a fascinating place to visit. It’s worth it to grab the 07:00 canoe tour of the lake led by actual biologists. The wind on the lake is low, the birds active, and the heat of the day has yet to begin. The photo album of all the above is available. We ran out of time and didn’t get to the volcanic mounds, nor the hike up the new volcano just to the south of the lake. Next time.
Bodie State Park
We did spend six hours at Bodie State Park. It’s a nice drive along a windy road to get there from Lee Vining. You then climb from roughly 2000 m to 2550 m. This will become more important later. Bodie was a bustling mining town in the late 1800s. What’s left of the town is open for exploring. There are a large number of buildings to visit. Most are left as they were when abandoned. The photo album for Bodie is available. I spent time walking around the cemetery and remembered when we drove in, there was a monument or something on top of the hill. After 5 hours or heat, alpine desert, and sun, hiking up that hill was far more difficult than I expected. I mean, it’s like 200m up, pfft, easy. The altitude contributed to the efforts. It’s a nice wide plot set aside for a family with two graves. It’s also a great spot for viewing and photographing the panorama.
June Lake Loop
We head over to June Lake Loop to cool off, checkout the “Switzerland of California” and take a dip in the clear water. It was worth it. The trip up there is through windy mountain roads and beautiful scenery. The leaves on the trees were just starting yellow. We may head back in the late fall or winter, assuming the roads are passable.
On the way back, we stopped at the Woah Nellie Deli for a late lunch/early dinner. Show up hungry as the portions are large. They also have a killer chocolate cake slice which took two days to finish. Even though it’s a gas station, the Deli has a great view of Mono Lake while you sit outdoors, enjoy the birds, and the light breeze.
One of the surprises of the trip was traversing Sonora Pass. On the way out, we left after work and crossed it around 23:00 in the pitch black of night. It was a cloudy night, so we didn’t see the stars or really anything. We probably could’ve cut through Yosemite to get to Lee Vining, but the travel time difference was like 20 minutes, given traffic. On the way back, we purposely took the Pass to see all that we missed. And missed we did. The views are amazing. The photo album of the stops don’t do the Pass justice. We did a short hike up for more views and took our time wandering back. Rushing would find us in traffic on the way back to San Francisco. We stopped in Strawberry to have lunch. There are only two places to eat there, so we chose the Strawberry Inn. Eating out back in the gazebo amongst the dense forest is worth it.
The rest of the ride home was uneventful. All in all, it was a busy, but somehow relaxing, weekend.