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Month: November 2018

Invader Hits Los Angeles Art District

French street artist know as Invader has returned to Los Angeles. Invader is know for his rogue tile art that is hidden in plain sight in large, urban cities. His pieces are based on the old school video game, Space Invaders. There are approximately 200 pieces of his art in Los Angeles. Over the Influence Gallery in Los Angeles is currently hosting an exhibition, Invader, “Into the White Cube.”

The show runs through December 23, 2018 and it is free to the public. Invader has reproductions of his pixelated art hanging on the walls along with photos of his art in cities across the world. In addition to the art there is a continuous video that was playing about how Invader sent a “space invader” to space in Florida in 2012. FYI: It was a success. I took pictures of my favorites like the invader with the avocado and I Love L.A. There is a store front next door that sells kitschy and very expensive knickknacks.

Invader also has his own app that you can download from the Apple Store. It is called Flash Invaders. Basically, you take a picture of an invader that you find in the wild and if it is one that has been authenticated you receive points as if you were playing the video game. The app has a leader board and you can see other people’s pictures and what city that they found the invader in. It is along the same vein as Pokemon GO. I am pretty bummed that I did not know about this app when I was in Paris, because we saw lots of Invaders while we were walking around there.

The Best Ramen in Town at Daikokuya Little Toyko

After visiting the gallery we walked to Little Tokyo to get some Ramen. Dylan knew of a place that he had been to with his friends, Daikokuya Little Toyko. When we turned down the street we knew it must be really good, because there was a long line waiting for a table.

We went in and added our name to the list which was on an iPad. This system is genius, because it allows you to use your phone to check back in and see how many people are ahead of you in line. There were 29 tables ahead of us, so we went across the street to Tokyo Plaza and went shopping. It took a little over an hour for our table to be ready. The inside of the restaurant is small and no thrills. We were starving. We ordered iced Oolong Tea and a Spicy Tuna Role as an appetizer. Nicole and I both ordered their #1 best seller the Daikokuya Ramen with tonkotsu soup base infused with their secret blended soy sauce. Dylan ordered a teriyaki chicken bowl. The broth in the ramen tasted rich and full bodied. The ramen was delicious and definitely worth the wait. I googled Daikokuya after we ate there and found that they have won a ton of awards and we all agreed they deserve the accolades.

Shopping at Tokyo Plaza

After dinner we went back to Tokyo plaza for a little more shopping. We stopped to take a picture by the Christmas Tree and got sucked into watching karaoke. We watched a guy that was so bad, he was good. He was having such a good time it was contagious.

Ice Cream at Bae

We decided that we would get some ice cream before headed back home. We settled on bae. bae is a new soft serve ice cream shop on 2nd street. The inside is swanky, chandeliers, leather seating and a black wall with a cute saying that is Instagram ready.

They are know for their activated charcoal pineapple flavor which is pure black. I had the Earl Coco, a swirl of Earl Grey & Coco Puffs. Dylan had the Matcha Chocolate, a swirl of Matcha & Chocolate. Nicole had the Heartbreak which is the Activated Charcoal Pineapple with a charcoal sugar cone. The heartbreak taste very similar to the Dole Whipped at Disneyland. The Matcha was not sweet and paired nicely with the chocolate. The Earl Coco was a nice combination because the tea flavor kept the coco puff flavor from being too sweet. Ice cream is $6.00 in a cup or for $1.50 extra you can get it in a cone. They have a red sugar cone, a black activated charcoal cone, and a green Matcha cone.  Street parking is available or you can find a parking garage attached to the Tokyo Plaza. Both the art district and Little Tokyo are accessible to the Gold Line as well.

https://baebae.co/

http://www.daikoku-ten.com/locations/littletokyo/

http://overtheinfluence.com/exhibitions/

Chinese Lantern Festival

I have been seeing ads pop-up on Instagram and Facebook for different lantern festivals. Sunday night we went to the Chinese Lantern Festival at the Pomona Fairplex. Originally I had wanted to go to the Moonlight Forest at The Los Angeles Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, but all the discount tickets for Sunday were already sold. Same day tickets are $28.00 for adults plus a $4.95 online fee. I was taking my reluctant son and could not justify buying tickets at that price. I settled on the Lantern Festival, because discount tickets were still available. I was able to buy 3 tickets on Groupon for $17 each and no service fee.

Parking

We arrived at 5:30 p.m. With the time change, it was definitely dark enough for the lanterns. We entered at Gate 17 and had to pay $12 to park. Probably because it was opening weekend it was not crowded. We parked close to the entrance and only had to wait in line for 5 minutes to have our tickets scanned.

Welcome to “The Wild.”

My dates for the night.

Experience The Wild

This year’s theme is “Experience the Wild.” The majority of the lanterns are animal themed. The promoters promise that there are 1,0000 lanterns at the festival. They are lit up with LED lights. Most of the lanterns are stationary, but some move. The lanterns are beautiful when lit up. The most spectacular lanterns were the underwater themed ones located on the water. The reflection of the jelly fish on the water was magical.

The jellyfish.

The elephant

Don’t Go Hungry

Now for the negatives. We went to the festival hungry, because we saw pictures of delicious looking food. Unfortunately, there is only one small booth selling food and the lines were long. The online information about the festival says that there are unique hand-crafted keepsakes. They were there, but there were only 4 artisans at one small table. We sat down to watch the Kung Fu show, but the sound was not working and we could not hear anything, We left after about 10 mins. The last negative is people do not follow the rules. So many people disregarded the no touching signs and touched the lanterns. They also climbed up over embankments and took selfies with the lanterns.

The only place to get food.

In Conclusion:

Over all, I would recommend the Chinese Lantern Festival. The lanterns were beautiful and the setting at the Fairplex made walking around enjoyable. I would not pay full price for the tickets. A quick google search will show you all the available discounts. The festival runs through January 6, 2019. It is held Thurs – Sunday nights and there are some special dates that they are open for the holidays.

These elephants were made of cups, saucers and spoons.

The One Hike I Don’t Ever Plan on Doing Again

Last year Sally, Jeff, and I started hiking the peaks for the Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge. We did our first peak in May. It was Mt. Wilson and we continued on from there. Sally ended up doing four of the peaks and Jeff and I finished all six. The day that Jeff and I finished San Gorgonio we sat in Jeff’s truck beyond exhausted and we decided that it was a miserable hike and we did not want to do it again.

Planning to Do it Again

Well then 2018 rolled around and we all decide that we were going to complete the Six-Pack of Peaks and finish in enough time to get invited to the finisher’s party. To score an invite to the party you have to finish all the hikes by September 30th. San Gorgonio is somewhere between 18 and 21 miles. My Fitbit registered our hike as 21 miles. San Gorgonio is the tallest peak in Southern California. You climb 5,390 feet to reach the peak at 11,503 feet.

Turning the Hike Into A Backpacking Trip

Sally and I decided that we would try and break this hike up into two days and backpack up six miles and spend the night. I applied for an overnight permit month in advance and we hiked the other 5 peaks that were part of the original challenge. Unfortunately, 2 weeks before our trip a fire broke out in the area and the Forest Service had to close both San Gorgonio and San Bernardino Peak. The ranger called to cancel my overnight permit. We ended up backpacking to Little Jimmy instead.

A Change in the Six-Pack

A few weeks later Jeff Hester of Six-Pack of Peaks added alternative peaks to replace the ones that were closed due to the fires. One of the alternatives was Sitton Peak. Sally and I had already hiked Sitton in the spring. We logged on to the Six Pack web site and logged our hike and we were officially done with the challenge. Although we were done, it felt like we had cheated.

San Gorgonio Opens Up

At the end of August the Forest Service opened the San Gorgonio area again for hikers. We did not have a weekend to make it into a backpacking trip, so we decided we were going to tackle it in one day. We chose to hike it on Labor Day. The day before we hydrated, hydrated and hydrated. That night I ate mac-n-cheese to try and store up some carbs.

The Day of the Hike

Monday morning we left at 4:30 a.m. We got to the Vivian Creek Trail Head at 5:30 a.m. and it still was dark. We started hiking a little before 6:00 a.m. The first part of the trail is on an access road walking past cabins. We crossed the dry Mill Creek Bed. Once we got across it was time for uphill switchbacks. The next mile was tough. We had a plan that we would not stop in the middle of the switchbacks. We tried to make it to the end before stopping. It did not take long for us to get high enough to start getting some amazing views.

Looking back towards San Bernardino.

After the switchbacks we ran into a sign, we were entering the San Gorgonio Wilderness.

San Gorgonio Wilderness

I still looked perky at this point.

Sally loves a sign

The next few miles were some of the prettiest of the hike. We saw giant trees and little meadows. We crossed the creek a few times. We passed Halfway Camp, which is not halfway and we came upon a doe and her fawn. The fawn still had her spots and they both had the biggest ears. They were not overly concerned with us and we stopped and took a few pictures.

Time for a Break

We continued hiking up at a pretty good pace. We stopped at about mile 6 and had a little snack. I was starting to have bad visions of what was yet to come. Before the hike Jeff had reminded me to tell Sally to not look up and the answer to all questions about the summit is, “no that is not the summit.”

Hiking in Altitude

The next miles were tough. We continued going up, eventually, we got up above the tree line. At this point in the hike altitude started to come into play. We were over 10,000 feet and breathing in enough air is a struggle. It looked like we were walking across the moon. When we looked up in the far distance we could see a summit, but of course, it was a false summit. The summit seemed so far. We were now hiking very slowly, probably less than one mile an hour. Sally asked if we should turn around and not continue on to the summit. I assured her that we were getting closer and we were going to make it.

A Little Encouragement

A very enthusiastic man stopped to chat with us. He told us that we were doing great and that we were probably 20 minutes from the top. Feeling reassured we continued on averaging 100 steps before we had to stop to catch our breath. Well it was not even close to 20 mins, more like an hour and a half. We passed one false summit and we could finally see the real peak of Mt. San Gorgonio. We boulder hopped up to the top. We found the metal box and signed the trail register. We took pictures with the summit sign.

My second time at the summit of San Gorgonio

I won’t be back!

We were relieved that we made it up there.

We Made it to The Top

We had made it to the top of the tallest peak in Southern California. We sat down for a much-needed break. It was warmer at the top than we had anticipated. We did not even have to put on our puffer jackets. We had our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and some jalapeno chips while we were being stocked by little trail bandits.

Trail Bandits

The chipmunks wanted these chips.

These chipmunks wanted us to feed them and they were not scared of us. We spent less than 30 minutes at the top because we knew how far we still had to hike and we wanted to get back to the car before dark.

The view from the summit.

We started way down there in the valley.

The Way Down

The way down seemed steep and endless. I tripped on a rock and splayed out in the middle of the trail. I cut my hand and knee. It seems like one of us always falls on our hikes, the trails are full of obstacles like rocks and tree branches, and if you look up to see the scenery that is usually when it happens.

Injured Toenails

I did not know it at the time, but when I tripped I injured my toenail. When we had 6 more miles to go my toenails felt like someone was jamming bamboo shoots under them. With every step it brought a new swear word out of my mouth. I decided I could not take the pain anymore and I sat down right in the middle of the trail. I would have cried, but I’m sure I was too dehydrated for tears. I unlaced my boots and re-laced them using a surgeon’s knot. I tried to get them tight enough for my toes not to hit the end of my boots, which is hard to do when you heading down such a steep incline. I had visions of how ridiculous it would be to call for an emergency rescue for toenails. I had to dig deep to keep going.

The Last Mile

The last mile on the mountain was treacherous. The trail losses about 1,000 feet in less than 1 mile. Our joy of making it down the mountain was overshadowed by the fact that we still had to walk back across Mill Creek dry bed and another mile to the car.

Walking across Mill Creek on the way to the car.

On the way I saw something moving along the trail and when I got closer I saw that it was a baby King Snake.

A baby King Snake.

It was not scary, because it was tiny and we were exhausted. It took us 12 hours and 45 minutes.

We Made it to the Car

We got back to the car around 6:15 p.m. At the car we peeled off our boots and put on flip-flops. My toes felt so bad that I left my socks on for the drive home. We had an hour’s drive and Sally and I had plenty of time to discuss the hike. We decided we are done with San Gorgonio. There are plenty of other peaks to do and there is no need to repeat this one. The thing about San Gorgonio is that it is not very pretty, It has some beautiful parts, but the peak is not spectacular. The positives of this hike were we had a lot of good laughs and it felt good to finish the Six-Pack of Peaks, even though this was actually our 7th peak for the challenge.

Finishing the Six-Pack of Peaks

We have now finished 9 of the peaks and we have 3 more to go before December 31st, however, one is still closed because of fire damage. I lost two toenails and Sally lost one from this hike. In October Jeff, Sally, and I went to the Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge Party.

Jeff, Sally & I at the Finisher’s Party.

515 people completed the challenge and we felt excited and proud that we did it too.

We all found our names on the finisher’s list.

At the party we added our adventure goals for 2019 to the Wish Tree.

The Adventure Wish tree.

Jeff wrote that he wants to hike Mt. Whitney. Sally and I want to hike the JMT and meet Jeff at Mt. Whitney. We will see what 2019 brings our way.

Top Chef in Brooklyn

I love Top Chef and I am always excited to eat in a contestant’s restaurant. One hot and humid Saturday in August Nicole and I decided to spend the day in Brooklyn. We took the subway to the Prospect Park area. I wanted to eat at Butterfunk Kitchen. Butterfunk Kitchen is owned by Chef Chris Scott. He is know for his soulful take on southern food. Unfortunately, we got there in the afternoon and they do not open until 5:30 p.m.

Butterfunk Kitchen

We were starving and decided that we would try his new smaller restaurant next door. Sumner’s Luncheonette is also owned by Chef Chris Scott and they are open for breakfast and lunch.

Somner’s Luncheonette

We were there at 1:00 p.m. so I am assuming we missed the crowds. There was only one other couple eating inside when we were seated. The inside reminded me of having lunch at my grandma’s house. The decor is unpretentious and comfy. I really wanted to try his fried chicken, but it is not on the menu at Sumner’s. I decided on the next best thing a fried chicken sandwich with Old Bay and coleslaw. Nicole ordered the corn-meal crushed catfish with jalapeno jelly and southern aioli. We decided we would cut our sandwiches in half and split them. The fried chicken sandwich was moist and the chicken had a good crust. The coleslaw was fresh and tasty, however, the star of the lunch was the catfish sandwich. The jalapeno jelly added a nice spice along with the creaminess of the aioli. Both of our plates came with a side of potato salad and a pickle. The potato salad had a spicy mustard base instead of mayonnaise.

Fried chicken sandwich

Both sandwiches left us wanting to come back and try Butterfunk Kitchen.

Uncle Louie G’s

After lunch we started walking towards Prospect Park. Walking down a residential street we walked past Uncle Louie G’s.

Uncle Louie G’s

It had signboards out on the sidewalk that were advertising the best Italian Ice. I did not know what Italian Ice was, so I figured I better try it. I ordered creamsicle. Italian ice is a sweet frozen dessert made with fruit juice and ice. It has a similar texture to sorbet. I found out that is a popular treat for New Yorkers in the summer. I liked it. We took our across the street and went and started walking through Prospect Park.

Italian Ice

Prospect Park

Prospect Park is 526 acres. There are hiking, biking, and running trails. There are also small lakes with boat rentals, lots of sports fields and band shells where they hold concerts. We finished eating our Italian Ice while we watched some turtles sunning themselves on a log on the water’s edge.

A turtle sunning himself.

We brought a blanket and had plans of finding the perfect place to sit by the lake. Nicole was going to draw and I was going to read a book. We never found that spot. It had rained the night before so all the grass was way too wet. We kept walking. We walked on one trail that made it hard to believe that we were in a city, let alone Brooklyn.

A canopy of trees in the middle of the city.

He walked through a canopy of trees, we saw patches of mushrooms, crayfish in a stream, and lots of wild flowers.

A stream in the park.

So many mushrooms.

A crayfish.

We were having a great time, until the mosquitoes started eating us alive. The combination of the heat and the mosquitoes was enough to convince us that it was time to find the subway and head back to Nicole’s apartment.

Nicole under one of the many bridges.

Great views

We met a couple picking these berries. I asked them what they were, but they didn’t speak English.

A heart.

So many intricate flowers.

Sunflowers are my favorite.

Bassanova Ramen in NYC is the Bomb!

In August I stayed in Brooklyn with my daughter. One night after she got off work I met her in Manhattan for ramen. Never mind that it was 95 degrees outside and the humidity was about 70%. Nicole promised that this was the best ramen she had ever tried. Bassanova is located on the edge of Chinatown. The window fronts are street level, but the actual restaurant is down some stairs.

 

Bassanova

There is a big sign letting customers know that they are cash only. Bassanova is a transplant from Tokyo. I decided on a half order of the Tondaku Wadashi Lime Tonyum Goong Ramen. It was shrimp, mixed green onion, okra, red pepper and lime. The broth was a perfect mixture of sour and and spice. The noodles, shrimp and vegetables were perfect.

Tondaku Wadashi Lime Tonym Goong Ramen

We both decided that next time we would order a full order. We paid our bill and decided to walk around.

Little Italy and Chinatown run into each other. We wandered around Little Italy and looked at street graffiti.

Street Art

Street Art

It was a warm night and we decided to walk over to the Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. I had a cup of coconut and green tea. Their store is barely wide enough for two people to stand side by side, so we took our ice cream to go.

Yummy!

We walked down a street that the asphalt was freshly painted. It looked like we were stepping into a painting.

This street looked like a movie set.

We did a little window shopping and then bought some Dragonfruit and an egg custard to take home with us.

Dragonfruit

 

Egg Custard Tart


We walked back through Little Italy to get to the Metro.

A flying Horse

Little Italy

We rode the train back to Brooklyn and called it a night.

Whitney Portal Trail to Lone Pine Lake

Monday morning I woke up at 5:00 a.m. in my tent at Lone Pine campground and decided it was too cold and too windy to try and go back to sleep. I turned on my headlight and packed up my tent. At 6:00 a.m. when I heard Sally walk by I got out of my tent and then packed it up too. We had plenty of time to make coffee and try to warm up. As we were drinking our coffee the sun started shining the most amazing light on Mt. Whitney and the surrounding mountains.

Sunrise hitting Mt. Whitney

Sunrise at the Base of Mt. Whitney.

A Beautiful Sunrise

The view just kept getting better and better.

It was sunny but cold.

We were in awe, it was truly breathtaking. After lots of coffee and a breakfast of an almost frozen protein bar, we headed up Whitney Portal Road to hike 3 miles to Lone Pine Lake.

The Start of The Whitney Portal Trail.

Whitney Portal Trail

We started our hike where hikers that summit Mt. Whitney start and we foolishly thought that this hike would not be too tough considering we were only going a little over 3 miles each way. Wrong. We underestimated the effects of hiking at such a high altitude. The entire 3 miles was uphill and the entire time it felt like I was trying to suck air through a straw. We had to stop many times to catch our breath and to peel off layers of clothing because although it was cold outside we were working hard.

Looking back into the valley of Lone Pine.

The higher we hiked the more snow and ice we encountered.

Lots of snow & ice.

Hiking in Snow and Ice

There were a few sketchy parts where we had to walk very carefully because the entire path was ice. One of the craziest parts was the iconic log bridge that we had to cross. We got halfway across and realized that there was ice on top of the log. I was sure that I was going to slip on the ice and fall into the frigid water.

I made it across the log bridge.

It was a big relief when I made it to the other side.

Sally navigating the ice.

After the bridge, it was another uphill slog and then we saw the glorious sign for Lone Pine Lake.

We’re always happy to see a sign.

Lone Pine Lake

We stopped to talk to some fellow hikers and then headed down to the lake. The lake is beautiful, but it is very different looking than the Big Pine Lakes. The entire lake was in the shade, even though it was close to 11:00 a.m.

Lone Pine Lake, CA

We did not have a thermometer, but it was the kind of cold that makes your skin sting. I boulder hopped around the lake looking for a camera angle that showed a little more light.

Lone Pine Lake, CA

Lone Pine Lake, CA

We took pictures and tried to eat a protein bar, but they were frozen solid. We decided it was too cold to hang around. Lone Pine Lake is as far up the Whitney Portal as you can go without a permit, so this was the end of the road for us. We headed back down. Thankfully, the sun had started to warm up the trail and melt some of the ice that was on it. We came down much faster than we had hiked up.

Heading back down.

Hiking Down Whitney Portal

When we got to the bottom we decided that we would go to Alabama Hills Cafe once more. We had some delicious sandwiches and even though it was warm in town we were still frozen from that hike. On the way out of town, we stopped at the Eastern Sierra Visitor Center in Lone Pine to buy some stickers. While we were there I bought a book about the JMT (John Muir Trail.) A seed has been planted and Sally and I are considering doing either the JMT or the High Sierra Trail this summer. We are going to apply for permits and wait and see how much snow the Sierras receive this winter. Luckily, we had an easy 3 1/2 hour drive home to a nice warm shower and a comfy bed.

Big Pine Lakes Lived up to The Hype

Sunday morning we woke up early and crawled out of our tents. When the sun camp up we could see that it had snowed all the way down to the base of the mountain. No wonder it was so cold in my tent. Instead of cooking breakfast we took advantage of being so close to town and we picked up coffee on the way out of town. We headed back on 395 towards Big Pine Lakes. We parked at the trail head then walked over to look at the trout ponds at Glacier Lodge. The view was amazing.

The Trout Ponds at Glacier Lodge.

Hiking On The John Muir Trail

We started off on our hike. We soon came across the sign that we were entering the John Muir Trail.

Me on The John Muir Trail.

Sally on the John Muir Trail.

Blue Skies & Yellow Trees

I had an agenda of seeing blue sky, yellow trees and turquoise lakes. The storm from the day before had blown out and the sky was a brilliant blue. About a mile into our hike we started seeing fresh snow on the ground. This hike is on the tougher side of moderate, lots of uphill switchbacks. We hiked next to Big Pine Creek the majority of the way.

Big Pine Creek

At about 2 miles in we got to a meadow of Aspen trees and the leaves were magnificent yellows and oranges. We stopped and took millions of pictures. I must have muttered, “This is so beautiful” a hundred times.

The Aspen Grove

The view of trail.

Lon Chaney Cabin

We stopped and took a break at the old Lon Chaney Cabin. The cabin was build by the actor, but it is now owned by the Forest Service.

The view from the front porch of the cabin.

We Found The Snow

After the nice break at the cabin it was back to more uphill and lots more switchbacks. We started to see a lot more snow. Every hiker we saw that was heading downhill stopped to tell us about their overnight experiences. The consensus was that nobody slept, because it was freezing cold and the wind was howling. We were warned to expect more snow the higher we got.

Lots of snow

Big Pine Lake

Just when we thought we could not go another step uphill we saw a sign. Sally always gets excited when we see a sign, because that means we’re close to something. This sign was for Big Pine Lake. We hiked up over the ridge and then caught a glimpse of lake number one through the trees. Que the singing angels. The lake is stunning. The lakes get their color from particles from Palisade Glacier. The blue is so blue.

Big Pine Lake #1

The trail is above the lake and we decided we would hike to the second lake instead of stopping. Lake number two is even more amazing, because Temple Crag is the backdrop.

Big Pine Lake #2

Looking at Temple Crag

I could look at this view all day.

We scrambled down a trail to the shore. Again we took hundreds of pictures and we sat down to have a picnic lunch. While we were eating we could see the wind blowing snow on Temple Crag. Shortly after the wind started blowing across the lake and we were freezing. We decided it was time to head back.

On the shore of Lake #2

A picture for Carey.

One last look.

Heading Back Down

There are five more lakes, but we decided that we would save those lakes for a day that was warmer. The hike back was just as amazing. This was one of the first hikes I have ever done that I did not want it to end. We hiked a little over 12 miles and it is safe to say that this hike is now my favorite one I have ever done.

Looking at where we had come from.

We found Fall.

Blue skies and yellow leaves.

Our Campsite at Lone Pine

We drove back to our campsite in Lone Pine. We still had plenty of daylight so we decided that we would cook dinner and make a fire. Sally and I split a big beer that she had brought for us as treat. It was so cold that we started our campfire while it was still daylight. We ate rehydrated Mountain House Pasta Primavera and it tasted delicious after all our hiking. We sat around our campfire with big jackets and down blankets until we could not take the cold any longer. We climbed into our tents and got ready for another very cold night. The wind was howling again, but this time I toke Alleve PM and wore earplugs. Thankfully I was finally able to sleep, because Day 3 we were heading up the Whitney Portal.

Lone Pine, CA

Lone Pine is just a 3 1/2 hour drive from Southern Californa. Living in Southern California, every fall I see the pictures of the beautiful yellow Aspens and the turquoise waters of Big Pine Lakes. This year my fearless, fellow adventurer “Sally” and I decided we were going to make the trip to see it for ourselves. We made reservations for Columbus weekend at Lone Pine Campground.

Driving to Lone Pine

We left the Los Angeles area Saturday around 7 a.m. It only took us a little over 3 and half hours to get to Lone Pine. Our first stop was the infamous Alabama Hills Cafe. The cafe was packed with hikers. Some obviously just finishing up long through hikes and others that were out for the day. We sat at the counter and ordered omelettes. While we were waiting for our breakfast we had time to look at the giant map on the wall detailing all the stops in the Alabama Hills. On the way out we got giant chocolate-chip oatmeal cookies to go. Their bakery goods looked amazing and they make them all in house.

Alabama Hills Cafe

Lone Pine Campground

We drove to our campsite and we thought that we were going to be camping in the middle of the desert and that it would not be very pretty, however, we were dead wrong. Lone Pine Campground is pretty. We had a walk in site. To the right of our site was a creek and trees and directly behind us was Mt. Whitney. The views were amazing. It was a beautiful morning, but there was an 80% chance of rain for the afternoon. We set up our tents and decided to go exploring.

Camping in Lone Pine

Lone Pine Camp Ground

Exploring Lone Pine

Our first stop was right down the road from our camp, Alabama Hills. The hills were named after a CSS warship. The area is BLM land and there were plenty of people camping in random locations. Alabama Hills has been used as a location for filming many old Westerns. We drove through and stopped at various points to get out and hike. Mobius Arch is just a short hike from the car. The arch forms a perfect peek-a-boo window looking at Mt. Whitney.

Alabama Hills

The entrance to Alabama Hills.

Mobius Arch

Mobius Arch

A perfect view of Mt. Whitney

A perfect view of Mt. Whitney.

A big storm was on the way.

A big storm was on the way.

Manzanar Historical Site

The sky was getting dark and ugly and we decided to head indoors. We drove up 395 to Manzanar National Historic Site. I had drove past Manzanar many times, but never stopped. There is a visitor center with rooms full of displays. In 1942 after the attack on Pearl Harbor 10,000 Japanese Americans were forced to relocate to Manzanar. The displays explain their loss and experiences at Manzanar and other internment camps throughout the West. There is also a 3 mile driving loop around the grounds and you can get out and go inside buildings and see ponds and gardens. We were only able to go inside one building before the rainstorm hit.

Manzanar

Manzanar

A Storm in Lone Pine

We drove back to our campsite to see how our tents had held up. At one point there were gust of 40mph and pouring rain. The good news is our tents were still standing, the bad news is the wind blew so hard that my rain fly ripped on both sides of my tent. The wind was so strong that it pulled all my tent stakes out of the ground. After readjusting our tents we decided that there was more rain coming and we did not want to try and cook in it. Sally and I got back in the car and drove to town. We found a Mexican Food restaurant and we drank beer and ate enchiladas while we watched the rain pour down outside the window.

A double rainbow.

A double rainbow on the way back to camp.

Tent Camping

Not being avid campers, we were more than apprehensive about spending the night in our tents in the rain and the wind. By 7:30 p.m. it was so wet and windy outside we said goodnight and crawled in our tents. We each had our backpacking sleeping bags inside our old fashioned Coleman sleeping bags. The double bags kept us warm, but sleeping when the wind is howling is not easy. All night long it felt like there was something or someone coming in the tent. Somehow I finally fell asleep.

Day 2 : We’re heading to Big Pine Lakes.

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