Tufa Towers, Mono Lake

Gail and I walked down to Mono Lake (Lee Vining, CA)  and were fascinated with the Tufa Towers, which formed over centuries. Because the lake has no outlet, salts and minerals accumulated from fresh water streams flowing into the lake. Tufa’s formed over springs in the lake when fresh water calcium combined with the salt and solidified like limestone. The salinity is 2 to 3 times greater than the ocean—I tasted it and I know the taste of the Pacific Ocean well—real salty! The towers are geological wonders we were excited to walk among and take a pictures.

DSC_0472 DSC_0442Check on the next pic closely to see “double me.”  Do I have a twin brother who dresses like me?  No.  Is it trick photography, splicing pics or software editing?  No.  But it is Gail and I being tricky with a panoramic photo.  It is just ONE shot!


How many multiple me’s to you see! This was fun and easy to do in the panoramic mode too.


A little history on Mono Lake: In 1941 Los Angeles began excessive water diversion from the Mono Basin. Essentially, LA stole the water! LA built an amazing gravity feed aqueduct about 300 miles long diverting water from streams and rivers feeding into Mono Lake. The lake lost 1/2 its volume and dropped 45 vertical feet.

After a decade of litigation, in 1994 the California Water Board ordered to raise the water level to 6,392 feet, 20 feet above Mono Lake’s historic low. Mono Lake is on the rise—good for close to a million migratory birds that stop by for food on their journey.

Flume Trail Notes, Lake Tahoe

Twenty-three miles in Tahoe backcountry was a fat tire ride to remember. We staged at Spooner Lake. While I biked, Gail hiked into the backcountry.  My ride climbed 4 miles up to a picturesque, Marlette Lake, and then a spin onto one of the most popular trails in the west, the Flume.  I met a couple from France, who saw a picture of the Flume and dreamed of riding this trail.  They were staring awestruck above Lake Tahoe from an elevation of 7,000 to 7,500 feet—about 1,000 feet above Lake Tahoe on a skinny, sandy and packed trail.  It follows the edge of a mountain in the Toiyabe National Forest. It is an adventurous ride—one to ride cautiously and slower.  I’ll share my Flume trail notes and pics in a moment.

I met a group of riders at the Flume trail end.  One guy said he was navigating a technical section, when he looked up, a black bear blocked the trail.  When he fell off his bike, the bear ran off too—probably laughing at a stunt he has pulled on other bikers—bears just wanna have some fun!

After the Flume, I dropped into Twin Lakes and blasted through the forest on Red House Flume—a gradual, fast descent.  Three miles along, the trail markers at a fork were not easy to discern using my Nevada State Park, Spooner Backountry map.  So, I called the Spooner ranger station.  The ranger said “take that trail and you will end up in Carson City.”  But I still thought I was ok, the State Park map matched my cell phone GPS to a tee.  However, confused more by the ranger, I called Gail and said “pick me up at Incline Village.”  I doubled back 3 to 4 miles, a little hike-a-bike 1/2 mile through deep, soft sand on a steep slope out of Twin Lakes, where I encountered 2 other riders in my predicament.  Back to the Flume I dropped gloriously down toward the lake shore, where Gail waited in the Tundra.

Just a few Flume pictures.

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Flume Trail Notes

From Spooner Lake, pedaled nine miles,
Welcome to the historic flume trail,
the sign read “caution”
“narrow trail, steep drop offs, landslide area”
“no horses”
“4.4 mils to Tunnel Creek Road”
a first timer, solo on a 29er Salsa Spearfish
so off I go

pedaling a thousand feet above Lake Tahoe
it’s bursting blue all the way through
on my left, far below,
and Alpine green and Manzanitta
on my right, far above,
and beneath the fat tires
firm on the Flume, I hope,
a single track, fairly packed, loose in places
with some washed out spaces
just wide enough, at times, for treads to roll,

I could feel the blood gushing through my fingers
as I squeezed my grips
stay steady, look ahead, watch the curves
‘round huge boulders, then, slow down
don’t wanna slip
and slide away
up here or I be found
more of less, broken and spilled out
on the ground, way down, and over the cliff

as I pedaled Salsa onward with great caution
the muse pounded rapidly in my chest
exhilarating and spinning syncronously,
all these cogs, holding onto concentration to the end
and enjoying the ride at the same time

immersed in “Flume-minous” moments,
in the wonder of all,
stopping a few times for a few pictures
only—I sought the Flume to ride
not shoot lots of pics,
and rolled up to the Tunnel Creek trail connector
there, to celebrate, to rest
and added the Flume Trail to my list
of all trails out west,
perhaps, the most scenic
the Salsa—and I, will test


Lazy Molalla River

Back in August we parked the Airstream just steps from the bank of the Molalla River near Canby.  We were at a campground for Elks members only. Instead of storing the trailer, here we could shuttle between our Portland condo and Canby—and enjoy the best of 2 worlds.  We visited the river once a week and liked picking all the wild blackberries all around.  I took some notes on this Lazy River while I kicked back on my lawn chair watching the slow current running and entertained by wildlife.  First, a few river pics.

molalla river airstream river canby

My Notes On the Lazy Molalla River

on a hot summer day
good for a float down river
listening to it’s musical cadence
flowing ever slow slowly
like a tar-heel
sittin on the front porch
feet propped up on the railing
spittin out watermelon seeds on the lawn
slow and easy—hey ya all

and when the sun sets
the lazy river cools
us off an hour or so later
dusk sets up an aerobatic display
of bats playing dive and catch
with the plethora of bugs
skipping on the river’s surface

later on the night chill creeps on in
two doe and a fawn cross the river
when crickets step up the beat
and with such imagination
sounded like Bob Seger
strumming and strumming and strumming
working on our “Night Moves”
over and over and over
as the river drifts from sight
crickets moving with their rhythm
and the night moves
rockin and rollin me down the river of dreams

when morning pokes around the bend again
how wondrous to see pink clouds
reflection’s in the river still on its sedate pace
when another aerobatic exhibition is under way
kamikaze swallows picking off
the leftovers, legion of bugs
still skimming the river’s surface

many birds I don’t know are chirping away
robin’s wondering around the ground
oriole’s scratching in the dirt
red headed ducks dive and fish
Canadian geese fly in

a blue heron drops by
a train whistle blows in the distance
a slow drawn out cow moo
and time is on my side
and the slow river doesn’t even care

while the sun is warming up again for another day
under the awning of my Flying Cloud
where you can find me
finding my groove by AirMac
and watching the river’s day moves
in a lawn chair playing lazy like that tar-heel
I am sitting along the bank of the lazy Molalla River

We are currently camped at Lake Washoe State Park, NV.

Catching Up With TwoAirheads

Back on the road again for the past nine days, we are headed down scenic Hwy 395.  We spent 7 days in Sisters with a few side trips over to Bend.  This area is a wilderness “meca” for outdoor activities.  We hiked daily and I worked in a few mountain bike rides too.  At camp we met our neighbors, Jim and Lorraine, Boise, ID., and look forward to connecting with them over there! On this 4-5 week trip our prime destination is Paso Robles, CA., where we will attend a vineyard wedding spanning 3 days.  Joe and Jolie’s daughter ties the knot.  It should be fun.  Speaking of fun, here is what’s been happening so far.

Metolius River, close to Sisters, we found a camp site on the river to try on our next trip in central Oregon

Metolius River, close to Sisters, we found a camp site on the river to try on our next trip in central Oregon

From the Tundra dashboard, driving into the lava walls on McKenzie Pass

From the Tundra dashboard, driving into the lava walls on McKenzie Pass, one of America’s best scenic bike ways.  After a drive up here, I know why “roadies” like it!  I will rent a road bike in town and ride this 40 mile stretch one day soon!

Gail and Mt. Washington in the clouds

Gail with Mt. Washington in the clouds

Gail eating lunch on  top of Little Belknap peak, a climb through lava rocks—tough on shoes but so cool a hike

Gail eating lunch on top of Little Belknap peak, a climb through lava rocks—tough on shoes but so cool a hike

Who carries a Whole Foods bag on a hike up lava rock?

Who carries a Whole Foods bag on a hike up lava rock?

While I biked along the Deschutes River, Gail did a hike and took pics of some amazing mini-sized wild flowers.  If you are not looking for these beauties you stamp them out as you step along the trail.  I got no wild flower guide for these, just realize these are really dinky, dinky, gorgeous flowers Gail captured. And to think, wild flower season has been over for awhile—very dry!

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All the hiking and biking and “light weight” partying at night wore us out.  So, after a week we took a pampering day and went to Bend, McMenamins salt water spa for a splash.

Spa is in a renovated St. Francis Church and I know this was not a baptismal, it was added by McMenamins

Spa is in a renovated St. Francis Church and I know this was not a baptismal, it was added by McMenamins.

Salsa time

Salsa time

Now we are camped at Goose Lake, southern Oregon, ready to cross the California state line on 395 Hwy in the morning.  Gail is at it again!  Told you she had an eye for the dinky, mini-sized wildflowers.  Here is what she found at Goose Lake, and it is not wildflower season at all.

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Just thinking, sitting here in this remote part of Oregon, listening to wind blow, looking out the window into pitch blackness—gonna sleep good again tonight—what a blessing to G0 By Airstream!