Weekend in Mammoth (aka ruinniversary)

5 (FIVE!) years ago on July 22nd…Woody and I tied the knot, got hitched, entered wedded bliss…(read we had a really fun weekend with lots of friends and family…and enjoyed a great party…with a little dose of commitment thrown in!).

To celebrate, we took a day off of work and drove up to Mammoth for the weekend.  We brought our canine addition to our family along with us…which seemed like a great idea.  Cleo is well-trained and enjoys her kennel.  We know she travels well in the car, and planned for one day when we might leave her in the hotel room in her kennel and then the other day we would take her hiking with us.  Ha!

That’s what we thought…turns out, she REALLY thinks she’s part of Team Fischer and couldn’t fathom why we would leave the hotel room without her.  I don’t blame her…we like her a lot, she likes us a lot and we were ALL on vacation.  To prove her unhappiness with our decision to leave her (even just for 30-40 minutes to grab a beer after we arrived), she used her most pathetic whine and sad whimper to convince us that she deserved to come along with us regardless of the activity or the dog-appropriateness.  This wasn’t just a little whimper, or a small whine that quieted as she understood the departure of her two favorite people…it was lasting and a sorrowful attempt at guilting us into returning.  Which we did.  Did someone mention having us wrapped around her little claw…?  So we deemed this anniversary the ruinniversary!  Don’t take this the wrong way…nothing was ruined…except for our PLANS.  But we love her and what could we do…we were a threesome for the weekend.

Here’s to our adventures…as a threesome and to another five years and then some!!!!!

The drive up had amazing views…except we couldn’t see them with all the haze!

Every road trip requires the requisite energy drink…why…?  ‘Cause we’re sitting still for long periods of time and need energy…obviously!  Woody always opts for some strange weird brand and odd flavor…I always ask to sample…and the outcome is always…gross.  I stick with the original…

Woody suggested we stop her to get some snacks and ‘energy bars’ from this bakery.  They were just about closing…but we managed to find one energy bar and a loaf of some delicious ‘Honey Squaw Bread”.  We saved the energy bar for the next day and snacked on the sweet wheaty bread during our 40 minutes of the drive.

We caught the local fly shop before they closed – so we purchased our annual California resident fishing licenses and dug for some local knowledge and hints as to where the fishing might be good.  (Remember this is prior to learning about Cleo and her co-dependency, when we thought we’d still be able to get in one day of serious fishing.)

We stayed at the Sierra Nevada Lodge…a re-vamped old historic throwback lodge with some kind of a rat pack history…Sinatra, et. al. were always playing over the speakers in the lobby, restaurant and bar.

And then…it happened.  The whining…the sadness, the guilt.  We grabbed a beer, sucked it down and headed quickly back to the room out of fear that we would be booted from the hotel before we’d even had a chance to sit down!  She was a little angel when we were in the room with her…at this point we still thought we might be able to fish the next day in Devil’s Postpile.  We packed up the car, got ready to leave, put the do not distrub sign on the door, lest ye maid be surprised to find a dog in the hotel room, and headed out.  Silently standing by the door for 5 minutes to test the volume and scale of sorrow resounding from our Cloodle and hoping for a bit of silence as proof she would be fine…ahhhh…but none came.  Deflated, we unpacked the car, moped a bit and watched some Tour de France and tried to rework our plans.

You might ask why we couldn’t take Cleo with us.  1) Dogs are allowed into Devil’s Postpile, but a shuttle into the monument is required and for insurance reasons all dogs are required to be muzzled on the shuttle.  We’ve never put a muzzle on Cleo and wasn’t sure how she would respond.  2)  We’ve never taken Cleo with us fishing.  She doesn’t respond well to hanging out and staring at a river very well…she’s more of a constant motion kind of dog who thinks you are her personal escort to see the world.  3) We weren’t sure about the availability of water and how hot it would be or how much shade would be available and we are quite sensitive to how quickly heat can affect dogs.  So…we took her with us, purchased a muzzle, shuttle tickets and hoped for the best.  Muzzle was okay…shuttle ride interesting and the number of people was outrageous…sort of the Disneyland National Monument experience….lines and all.

The kicker is that we absolutely and completely forgot about bringing her electronic collar…so she was on leash at all times…I actually ended up with a sunburn on the top of my hand from holding it out in front of me grabbing the leash…not used to hiking with my hands out in front of me.

I had never seen the Eastern Sierras before and found the landscape enticing.  Somehow the bald patches of granite make it seem like you could just run right up there, almost lacking in mystery.

Despite how peaceful and serene this looks…on the far side of the willows is a highway of a trail with busloads of tourists walking the half mile back and forth to the postpile and back.  We wet a line, but weren’t sure if the lack of action was because the river and the meadow area were overfished, or if the fishies weren’t interested in the flies…we were the only fly fishermen we saw…but no lack of bait fishermen and spinning rods, including an entire eagle scout troop trying to poach our part of the creek.

While Woody fished, Cleo and I waited on the bank…she wasn’t a fan…it was almost like being left in the hotel room.

We hiked a few miles to rainbow falls and up around to meet up with shuttle again and return to the the resort.  After showers and some relaxation time, we headed out to dinner…afraid the whole time that Cleo was making us look like neglectful parents.  Luckily, Roberto’s was right across the street!  

The next morning we found Cleo’s favorite weekend activity.  Staring down chipmunks.  The  crevices in the rocks just outside our screen door housed an entire family of small chipmunk’s.  They would poke their head’s out and chirp a bit, probably sounding an alarm to others in the are that serious spotted dog was staring them down, held back only by wrought iron bars.  She stood like this for hours!


We headed up to the resort again on Saturday and bought tickets to take the gondola up to the summit and enjoy some lunch, a little hiking and the views.  Dogs Allowed!

She wasn’t entirely sure what to think about the Gondola ride.

The Minaret range is beautiful and sharp!

Cleo enjoyed the snow…she hasn’t seen any in a long time!

Looking down into the Owen’s River Valley and the town of Mammoth.

I don’t think Cleo knew what to do about the elevation.  She ran around like she was down at sea level and seemed confused as to why she was panting as it wasn’t hot up there.

These markers are scattered around…placed by the Department of the Interior, many of them are seismic sensors.

Since we still had much of the afternoon available.  We decided to do some scenic driving and headed towards June Lake.  It was so beautiful and a lot clearer than the day we drove in.  They were having what they referred to as a heat wave and I referred to as completely pleasant and so the runoff was immense.

Next we headed toward Mono Lake – which I had no idea was so close to Mammoth.

Out in the middle is the resurgent dome or the Paoha Island which may have erupted as recently as 350 years ago!  The Sierras are still a very active volcanic area.

There were giant boulder size pieces of obsidian in front of the visitors center.

The lake has an interesting and controversial history.  In an effort to supply more water to the LA basin in 1941, streams feeding Mono lake were diverted and the lake volume was halved while the salinity tripled as run off continued to bring in dissolved salts that remained in the lake increasing the pH, as the lake sits in a basin with no outlet to the ocean.  The ecosystem began to collapse and conservation efforts beginning in the 1970’s brought about legislation to regulate the diversions and work to increase the water level.

Due to the mineral and salt content in the lake, limestone tufas appear around the lake edges and create an intriguing landscape!

Driving back towards Pasadena the next day, we were treated to clear views of Mount Whitney, elevation 14,505 feet, the highest point in the contiguous United States.  It is the peak on the right side of the photo set back just a bit.  Mount Elbert, the highest peak in Colorado is only slightly lower at 14, 440 feet tall.  Beautiful.  Summiting Mt. Whitney might have to get added to my bucket list.

We were back home by dinner and made something delicious for dinner…although I can’t remember what!


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