Thursday, May 12, 2016

Bishop, California adventures and misadventures

May 1-7, 2016:

It’s a nice easy relaxing drive from Lone Pine to Bishop, CA on route 395 north.  We arrive at Browns Town RV Park where we will treat ourselves to water and electrical hookups for a couple of days.  We then visit the local BLM office for information on BLM options in the area.

Couldn't help another backwards glance leaving Horton Creek campground

Back at the RV, Twinkles goes off to do laundry and I relax on the couch watching a women’s mountain biking competition.  I’m thinking these women are crazy, riding with total abandon, slightly out of control with no regard for life and limb.  This life is perilous enough, fraught with danger, why are there people who push the limits.  All of a sudden, Wham, the RV is hit with what sounds like an artillery round, I look up and see a tree branch protruding through the ceiling in front of our doorway.  If I had been standing in front of the door, it might have crushed my skull.  I go outside and see this huge tree limb on top of the RV roof.  Guess that’s the end of my TV watching !    After reporting it to the camp office, I go back and take photos, then cut the tree limb up and remove it from the roof.  I find there are four holes in the roof and 3 or 4  cuts in the roof covering, the front vent cover and the TV antenna are smashed.  It looks like we may have rain, so I go about making some temporary repairs to seal the holes and cover the vent opening.  I can’t help but think, yesterday we were camping in really high wind in front of Mt. Whitney, no problems, we come to a safe haven campground, in light wind and a tree falls on us.  The good news is that it totally missed the jeep, parked a couple feet to the side of the RV.

Big heavy tree limb falling on top of RV, not good

Limb protruding through the RV ceiling, worse !!!

I file a claim with my insurance and they schedule an adjuster to take a look.  In the meantime, I contact a local RV mobile repairer who promptly arrives in a beat up old pickup truck.  He is a character of the first magnitude, a real authentic Louisiana cajun who traveled the country for decades touring with country legend George Jones.  He said his job was to keep George out of trouble and by the sounds of his wild stories he didn’t do a very good job. He also was selling trailers in New Orleans when Katrina was going on, he had endless tales.  The entertainment value alone was worth what he charged me !  He put self adhesive patches on the roof holes and tears and replaced the vent cover, not such a pretty job, but hopefully it will be water tight until more permanent repairs are made.  Another lesson learned, everyone should carry some roof repair tape in case a tree falls on their RV.  Or better yet, don’t park under trees, or stay out in the wide open spaces ?

Bishop is a happening small mountain town, very outdoors oriented with several sporting goods stores, outfitters, tourist shops, restaurants a dive bar, a good brewery and a world class bakery.

A great neon sign in Bishop

Mural depicting the difficulty of moving large parts across the desert years ago

Mural depicting how disputes were settled years ago

Wizzard Oil could fix what ailed you years ago 

Bishop street scene years ago

Cows haven't changed at all !

The Laws Depot

A popular saying about the Slim Princess line

Engine No 9

I feel this way also

The only remaining turntable on the line

Old gas station and car

Old Potato Planter, I remember riding on one just like it

Browns Town is actually a nice attractive RV park with a small group of old buildings housing historic items and a small general store.  You can even sit there and have a hot dog and a beer, sort of folksy.  If it hadn’t been for the tree limb incident we would have actually enjoyed our stay.  There are other more scenic and less expensive options in the area however, so on May 2nd we departed and drove 10 miles away to the Horton Creek BLM Campground.  It’s another dry camping site with water spigots, a dump station and beautiful 360 degree mountain views for $2.50 a day.

That's the kind of RV campground I like

We set out to explore in the afternoon, first stop is the “World Famous” Eric Schat’s Bakery where we are quite amazed by the selections of breads, cookies and pastry .  We leave with a loaf their world famous “Shepherds Bread” and a few cookies, but we will be back for more !


Bakery truck

It’s then a loop drive into the Volcanic Tableland visiting several indian petroglyph sites in the Chidago Canyon.  I was surprised by the quantity of the petroglyphs, there was obviously much indian activity in this area. On the return heading back to route 6 we came upon large green irrigated farm lands in stark contrast to the arid desert and the towering snow capped mountains in the distance.  We pass a sign for the Spark Plug Mine site which is now a ghost town, but maintained somewhat by a few volunteers.  I would love to get there, but it is a rough jeep ride followed by a strenuous hike, sort of an ordeal.

The colors in the mountains were special !

If only we knew what it all meant ?

Sometimes you have to wait for the cows

This art has stood the test of time

Green crop circles in the desert, snow in the mountains

Monument for the Spark Plug Mine

I was disappointed to find out that the Bristlecone Pine Forest is not yet open for the season, but I was relieved to find that you are able to drive up to the 10,000 foot level where the visitors center is located.  Highway 168 from the town of Big Pine is a very scenic drive which climbs up from the valley with many wildflowers blooming along the roadside.  You then turn off onto a good paved road for the trip up into the Bristlecone Forest continuing higher and higher with incredible views until at 10,000 feet you arrive at the Schulman Grove Visitors Center.  The visitor center was closed but there were several signs explaining the geology, the history and the forest.  The temperature was in the mid 50’s and I was not dressed for it, but still did a quick partial tour of the Discovery Loop Trail.  The Bristlecones are the oldest recorded living things on Earth, some have been dated back 4,500 years.

Beautiful flowers at high elevation were surprising

Looking back at the mountains on the way up

Bistlecone Pine view along the trail

Bristlecone Pine near the snow line

An amazing cactus on roadside

Our next adventure was a ride north on route 395 to Tom’s Place which is an old general store, bar and cafe with rental cabins.  It looks like a really cool hangout for the fishing crowd, I’m sure you could hear some tall tales around the bar at night.  Lake Crowley is nearby which is a huge fishing and boating site.  We took a drive from Tom’s Place up route 12 along Rock Creek, another long uphill climb into the Inyo Forest to near the snow line.  The Pine trees were beautiful and immense and Rock Creek is a picture perfect fast flowing mountain stream. Also several good campsites when open in June.

Tom's Place is the place to be

That's a big ass tree

May 5th is my birthday and for it we go to Eric Schat’s Bakery for lunch as they have an excellent sandwich section.  I had a real Turkey club sandwich on Sheepherders bread with bacon, lettuce, tomato, so good !  A few assorted slices of cake and other treats were purchased for latter.  

Another not to be missed area in Bishop is the “Buttermilks” which is an area with great rock formations and huge boulders that have become renown amongst the bouldering sports crowd.  We did part of the loop drive that travels through the area, stopped and wandered around on the rocks, but no climbing  We also visited another area famous for bouldering called the “Happy and Sad Boulders”.

The Bishop area is an outdoors adventure magnet for the thrill seekers, great skiing nearby at Monmouth, extreme hiking opportunities, mountain biking, bouldering, climbing and fishing in all directions.

A very cool area to walk around in

A playground for the bouldering crowd

Very informative trailhead sign

We take off in another direction on Friday on route 168 along Bishop Creek to Lake Sabrina at about 9,000 feet.  It’s a solid 18 mile up hill climb into the snow belt, in fact it was snowing at Lake Sabrina.  There were a lot of people fishing and even camping in one primitive campground.  Trout season is huge here, there are fishermen everywhere there is a stream or lake.

Lake Sabrina was really snowy cold

A nice fishing hole

I decided on the way back that it was about time to visit Mountain Rambler Brewing in Bishop.  We were surprised to find a few people there at 3 PM and it is a comfortable spot with a really good variety of beers and according to the reviews excellent food.  It seems to cater to the athletic, outdoorsy types by the looks of the clientele.  We liked it enough to stay for a second beer.

Our trip planning has not been so good, but I will blame the “El Nino” weather this year for some of it.  We are here too early, places I wanted to visit are not yet open or still freezing cold.  The Bristlecone Pine Forest, the eastern access into Yosemite National Park and the Devils Postpone National Monument are all closed.  The cold temperatures at the higher elevations are also hampering my original plans of getting into the forest service campgrounds.  The higher elevation camps are not yet open and the lower ones that are open still have below freezing temperatures at night .  As they have no electric hookup, this is more roughing it than Twinkles wants to do.  As a result, we will be passing through this area somewhat quicker to get to warmer climes.

We need to move on as we have an appointment with an insurance adjuster on May 12th to review the RV damage in Carson City, Nevada.

Next stop is a short hop away to Lee Vining, California.
Twinkles and Slick 

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