Laura and Lee's Labor Day Lark

aka Laura and Lee's L'eggstravaganza :-)

September 3-7, 1999

For a number of years it's been our tradition to spend Labor Day weekend up at my parents' house near Mammoth Lakes CA, and our friends Walt and Barb join us whenever they can. Coordinating was a lot easier this year, since they are actually living back in San Diego now. :-)

Even though we've spent a lot of time up there, we always seem to find plenty to do - there's several old favorites, but we usually try something new every trip, too.

Friday, September 3 - Where Are All These Other People Going?

We had planned to have Walt and Barb pick us up at our place around 12:30 - I went in and worked a half day, and Lee stayed home since he hadn't packed yet. When I got home, Lee told me that he'd gotten an emergency phone call from my dad that the igniter on their hot water heater had gone out. There were no parts available where they live, so he needed for Lee to pick up a new one in San Diego if we wanted to have hot water for the weekend! Since their water is supplied from a deep well and the normal temperature is about 55 degrees, getting the hot water heater fixed sounded like a REAL good idea. :-)

Anyway, Lee's errand delayed our departure a bit, and we didn't get on the road until 2:00. We got stuck in traffic for 45 minutes on a 5 mile stretch of I15 near San Bernardino...LOTS of people were trying to get out of town. But after that, traffic really wasn't bad at all, even the 80 mile stretch of road that is mostly two lane.

Walt and Barb had gotten Isaac Asimov's Complete Robot from Books on Tape (their books are read unabridged, rather than being more of a dramatization), and we listened to several of the robot stories along the way.

We made the obligatory stop at Schat's Bakery in Bishop to pick up macaroons and cheese bread and cinnamon pullapart bread and other essentials of life, and arrived at the house about 9:30.

Dad immediately went to work installing the new igniter (Tigger supervised to make sure the job was done properly), and Mom got all the fixings out so we could make ourselves some individual Boboli pizzas for our (late) dinner. And then we all tumbled into bed...

Saturday, September 4 - Mammoth

After a leisurely morning, the 4 of us went up to Mammoth to visit the annual Labor Day Arts and Crafts Festival. It's gotten more "arty" and less "crafty" in recent years, and most of the items for sale are pretty expensive. We had a discussion about the disparity between what the artwork is worth to the artist in terms of time and material as opposed to what it's worth to the buyer in terms of the enjoyment they get out of it. (This discussion took place while were were eating Indian Fry Bread - one of the special treats we always get at the Festival. Bet you never thought of fried dough as being an intellectual stimulant, did you? :-) )

Lee and I didn't buy anything this year...there were some beautiful things, but nothing that we *really* wanted. There didn't seem to be any interesting new artists this year - most of them seemed to be the "regulars" that are there every year. Unfortunately a couple of the ones we liked haven't been around in several years.

We went to the grocery store, with a side trip to a sporting goods store that was having a big sale, and I got some new hiking shoes for 30% off. And we also stopped at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate store for some caramel corn (Lee's favorite) and a caramel apple (my favorite). I think my homemade caramel corn is just as good...but now the others are asking me to prove it. :-)

We had decided to try and rent kayaks to go kayaking on Mono Lake on Sunday, so once we got home, Barb called around and got information on that. We had to transport the 3 kayaks ourselves (2 doubles and a single), since they didn't have room to take them up there for us. But fortunately the place we needed to go was only about 5 miles away, so we went and got the two doubles, and then the owners delivered the 3rd one later (as it turns out they live not far from my parents), and helped us load it on top of Dad's 4-Runner.

The four of us went for a short walk after that, but there were a lot of gnat-like things swarming around us. They decided that Walt and Barb were delicious (especially Walt), and they both got a number of bites. I've had them before (and got a couple that night, too), and I can tell you that they itch like crazy. Fortunately Mom had some hydrocortisone cream, which helped at least alleviate the itching.

It was our night to cook, and we had decided that a "Pasta Bar" might be fun. So we cooked 4 different kinds of pasta (angel hair, gnocchi, tortellini and ravioli) and 3 different sauces (tomato sauce from my homegrown tomatoes, a jar of Newman's own with Italian sausage added to it, and Barb made a vegetable "sauce" with squash, tomatoes, onions and basil). It was all really good, and I think we were all stuffed.

Sunday, September 5 - Kayaking on Mono Lake

Ho hum, just another perfect High Sierra day...we couldn't have asked for a better day for our kayak trip!

The kayaks were already loaded on the cars, so after we had breakfast we got ourselves ready and drove up to the lake. A lot of other people had the same idea, and we got the last two available parking spaces in the Navy Beach parking lot.

Dad had never kayaked before, and he was in the single kayak rather than sharing a double, but Walt gave him some quick lessons, and he looked like a pro. We got on the water (check out that *very* coordinated team in the front! :-) ) and headed over to the tufa (pronounced too-fah) towers that are about a 1/2 mile away. The lake was very calm, and there were some nice reflections of the tufa in the water. Seeing the tufa from the water instead of from the land was really a neat experience, and I think we all took a lot of pictures. It was fun maneuvering the kayaks around the tufa towers.

We played around there for about an hour, and then decided to try to kayak over to Paoha Island. We'd been told this was 3 miles...Walt said we could do it in 30 minutes. Yeah, right. It took us an hour. There's not very much on the island - it's barren with very little vegetation. It's a nesting area for the California sea gull, and it is off-limits during their nesting season (April-August).

The place we landed was slippery clay, but we all managed to disembark without injury - just some slip-sliding away. :-) We claimed the island (though I'm not sure why :-) ), but otherwise we didn't stay long and headed back to Navy Beach again. Lee and I made good time, but it still took us about 52 minutes, and the others were just a bit over an hour.

The water in Mono Lake is full of salt and other dissolved minerals - it feels very slippery, and when it dries, it leaves quite a white residue behind - we all looked like we had leprosy or something. Fortunately Dad had a gallon of water in the car, so we were able to rinse ourselves off.

After we loaded the kayaks on the cars again we went to the town of Lee Vining to the "Mono Cone" - a little hamburger stand that has great soft serve ice cream. That tasted really good. After that we went to a little public park - it was a really nice park, and we had it all to ourselves! We played on the swings and the slide - it was fun.

We returned the kayaks on our way home, and then got cleaned up before dinner. We were celebrating Walt's and my birthdays that evening - even though it was 2 days early. We have the same birthday but Walt is a year older - it was the big 4-0 for him this year, though he kept trying to convince everyone that *I* was the one turning 40. But we all knew better. :-)

Mom cooked us a wonderful dinner, and Barb had made one of her marvelous chocolate cheesecakes for dessert. Mom and Dad had invited their friends Jim and Sherry to dinner, also...and I just want to point out that it was *Mom and Sherry* who got into the fight with the whipped cream canisters, and *not* the kids. :-)

Jim and Sherry are Star Wars fans, too, and after dinner we played the Star Wars Trivia Game. We were going to do lefties against righties, but that put Lee and me on the same team, and the others had decided that wasn't fair. :-) So we did girls against the guys instead...and the girls whupped the guys. :-) (Yeah, we *did* get some easy questions...but they got some easy ones that they missed! :-) )

Monday, September 6 - Hiking Rock Creek

Dad made us homemade waffles for breakfast - in 3 different waffle irons! He has an 84 year old waffle iron that makes round waffles, a Belgian waffle iron, and a conventional waffle iron. They were all good, though.

After breakfast we all got ready to go on a short hike up Rock Creek, in the area called Little Lakes Valley. This is definitely one of the prettiest valleys I've ever seen, and it's one of our favorite hikes. I don't know how many times I've been up there, but I always enjoy it. And we had another "ho, hum perfect" day for it. Rather than going up the main trail we went up the fisherman's trail, which stays along the creek and the lakes. We had to scramble over rocks in some areas, and go through some brush - which my sunburned legs were NOT happy about. But it's still a really nice trail, and very scenic.

gentian buttercups lupine sorrel

This late in the year there weren't too many wildflowers, but there were still some in bloom. And we saw several teeny tiny frogs - their bodies were about the size of my thumbnail. I caught a couple of them, but they weren't at all cooperative about posing for pictures. Sigh.

Speaking of pictures...Walt had gotten a new digital video camera for his birthday, and he was having fun experimenting with it. It's a very happy little camera - it sounds like R2-D2, and it chirps and burbles and makes lots of other cheerful little noises. It should definitely have a fun life with Walt and Barb - they go LOTS of interesting places. :-)

We stopped at Box Lake for lunch - a nice sunny grassy spot at the edge of the lake with a beautiful view of the mountains. A great spot for a post-lunch nap. :-)

Before we left we posed for some pictures...Dad and Walt kept trying to get us in the silliest poses possible, I suppose (like the Can-Can pose at the top of the page. :-) ).

We went down via the normal trail - it also has some nice views of the lakes and the mountains. And it was a lot easier on the sunburn!

That night was "clean out the refrigerator" night - we were all leaving the next day. We were going home, and Mom and Dad were driving up to Seattle for my brother's wedding on Saturday. (Lee and I flew from San Diego.) Mom didn't want to see what sort of science experiments she might come back to if she left stuff in her refrigerator for almost 3 weeks. :-) So we had leftover pasta and chicken and other stuff - and more cheesecake for dessert. :-) It was a good meal.

Tuesday, September 7 - Happy 40th Birthday, Walt!

We were packed and on the road by 9:00. Walt's driver's license expired *that day*, so we stopped at the DMV in Bishop and dropped him off while the rest of us got gas in the car and stopped at Schat's Bakery to load up on bread and other goodies.

Walt had just finished as we pulled into the parking lot - you can tell from the picture how he did. :-) (He got all the questions right!) It was certainly a LOT easier than dealing with the DMV here in San Diego, where you need to make an app't several weeks in advance if you want to avoid waiting in line for a long time.

We had a good trip home - we listened to more of the Robot stories. We were back at our place by 4:30, and the cats were happy to see us. Lia has been our shadow. :-) And Lee got the usual scolding from Princess.

Some Final Thoughts...

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Text and photographs copyright © 1999, by Laura Gilbreath. Some photos copyright © 1999, by Jim Gilbreath. Feel free to link to this document, but you may not redistribute it in any form without the express written consent of the copyright holder.

Laura Gilbreath,
Last updated 9/15/99

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