California Roll

Marcia and I finished our parental duties associated with Katelin and John’s move to Las Vegas a few days ago, and hit the road for our own adventures. Our first stop has been a great one, in Lee Vining, California. We’ve spent three nights in this cool small town (population ~300), staying in a roadside lodge called Murphey’s Motel, which we highly recommend if you find yourself in this part of the country. It’s clean, comfortable, quiet and pleasant, and it sits right across the street from an ice cream stand that has fabulous soft serve and hot dogs, so how can you improve on that, right?

We picked Lee Vining as our first stop on our post-Vegas trip because it’s the closest town to the eastern entrance of Yosemite National Park, but we also discovered that it’s even closer to another amazing natural destination of which we were unaware: Mono Lake. It’s a striking and weird endorheic lake at the very western edge of the Great Basin, with beautiful, blue, salty waters, loads of birds, and cool natural stone formations called tufa, which are formed above hot spring outlets. There are no fish in Mono Lake, so the huge migratory bird populations that pass through here dine on the brine shrimp and insect larvae/pupae that define the local aquatic ecosystem instead. Everybody likes to om nom nom the shrimpies!

We spent all day yesterday in Yosemite (the park is so vast that it takes about two hours of driving to get from the eastern gate at Tioga Pass to the core valley area), doing four hikes in various parts of the park, plus a nice picnic lunch sitting on shaded rocks, with ravens visiting to make sure we didn’t drop anything important. Like food. Or food. As a tree nerd, I was very pleased to see my first Giant Sequoias, after a nice walk down to the Tuolumne Grove. They are impressive! Sort of hurts the soul to know how few of them are left, and how many were harvested or otherwise killed by human activity.

And speaking of human activity, I will note that it has felt good to spend time in states (Nevada and California) that are mandating basic common sense virus protections like indoor mask wearing and limits on crowd sizes in enclosed spaces. Things are getting done here. People are going about their business. Nobody seems to be having their freedoms and liberties impinged upon in any meaningful, non-selfish ways. Nobody glares at us for wearing our own masks, nor have we generally had anybody aggressively getting into our personal spaces. (Well, with a few exceptions while in Yosemite, where the oblivious blithering factor was turned up a bit in some of the photo-op type spaces). I am happy to do my own small part to support public health, wherever I am. If only our neighbors at home in Iowa, and the people elected to represent them, felt the same way. Sigh.

Anyway! We are getting on the road again today, headed up to Lake Tahoe. I post a few visuals below from this great stop in Lee Vining. We had high hopes for this visit, and they were exceeded. Always a great way for things to go when out on the road. And finally, about the title of this post: I do not refer to the nasty so-called “sushi” abominations that are peddled under that name (why would anybody do that to a tasty crab stick, or any other tasty bit of raw fish??), but rather to (1) the fact that we’re rollin’ on the road through the Golden State, and (2) because just as I started to write this post, our in-room wireless stereo cued up this song, featuring Snoop and Stevie and Pharrell. That’s a good way to roll. We approve. Ride on.

4 thoughts on “California Roll

  1. Pingback: What’s Up in the Neighborhood, July 18 2020 – Chuck The Writer

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