Every summer for the past few years, we leave the South and head West to Mammoth Lakes, California. A few weeks ago found us again making our annual pilgrimage.
There were a few hiccups along the way but all in all, it was an amazing trip and far too short.
I was literally just getting acclimated as we had to pack up and say goodbye.
Over the years, there've been several establishments that we keep going back to. There's the local bookstore, The Booky Joint, where we always end up at some point. It was one of my first stops. I needed to find a book on good routes for road biking. Mountain biking, I knew where to go, but I was more than a little intimidated as to where to give my new road bike a spin.
I did find a great book on this, but as things unfolded, I just didn't have the time to get but one ride in. It was a bummer, because the roads were calling me everyday.
The next stop was over to Mammoth Brewery. They'd moved from the tucked away little garage they were in for years to take over another one of our old haunts, the now defunct Whiskey Creek.
I ordered myself a flight of their seasonals. I had my growler in the car, but it never came out. As delicious as their beers are, I had decided to try to lose some girth around my midsection and having whole 32 ounces of fresh suds at my fingertips all to myself certainly wasn't going to help.
But a little sampling of their new stock; well that's another story.
We have been taking pictures of Skye at this same location every time we've been up to Mammoth, since before the Village was completed.
Unfortunately, I can't find the oldest of these; but I did manage to get one from a few years back. In the older ones, there wasn't even a building in the background; just a construction site.
Every visit to Mammoth brings with it new experiences or new twists on the familiar.
This year would be the first where one of us, (Cindy) would take advantage of Mammoth's airport, which somewhat recently began offering commercial flights.
I've driven by the airstrip countless times but I've never actually been.
It is one of the smallest airports I've ever been to.
I liked it.
I have seen bears in Mammoth before. I have never had them as up close and personal as on this trip.
Caught up in bounty of the Santa Monica farmer's market, I ended up buying more than enough "local" fresh food. Amongst the haul were a couple of bison steaks and a bagful of kabobs.
I decided to cook them up the night of Cindy's return. They had been marinating since the morning before and needed to be cooked before they went bad.
I got the fire going shortly after picking her up from the airport but it would be some time before it would be ready to cook on, not to mention, I had some corn on the cob lined up for Skye as well as a bowl full of stir-fry vegetables that would proceed the meat cooking element of the evening.
Finally, just a bit after nine, the fire was ready for bison.
The pine wood that they sold for firewood at the campsite was perfect for a quick not so hot blaze, but not so great if you wanted a hotter more intense fire.
The meat took awhile to cook.
We would eventually be eating perfectly cooked buffalo.
And one of the local bears wanted some.
He wandered up to our camp, just on the other side of our car.
I chased him off; a little stomping and yelling and pointing of a flashlight.
I ran at him and he took off.
But returned within the hour.
This time he was even closer.
So I chased him off again.
And then again..
Eventually he turned tail in a full gallop down the road and that was the last we saw of him.
On this particular journey, I would spend several hours setting up our new tent/cabin.
It was a chore, but well worth it.
And deserved its own blog post.
Of all the things I planned on doing in Mammoth, i only ended up doing two of them as much as I had imagined:
running and jiujitsu. The most epic of my runs was somewhat of an accident. An adventure that went a little side-ways but that could have been much, much worse.
I started off on what I had planned to be a moderate trail run/hike; to take an hour, maybe an hour and a half and cover around 5 miles.
45 minutes into it and I was feeling good and striding downhill at a lovely clip.
I sort of let myself go, ignoring the basic rule of what goes up must go down and its converse.
Just under 3 hours and 11 miles of up and down and up and down again, I got back to the trail-head, very dehydrated and exhausted.
Amazingly the next day, I didn't feel so bad.
On the morning we were set to leave, I made my way up to a hill just before sunrise. It was a gorgeous day. Perfect temperature. I wish I had time for one last jog, but we had to finish packing and get on the road.
I got some last pics to remember when I'm back in the lowlands, until I can return.