My subconscious made up its mind and roused me from sleep at 5:30am! The plan was to drive to Mammoth Mountain, near Mammoth Lakes, Ca. for a day skiing in blue skies, then head back, stopping at a natural hot spring, and then visit the sights of South Lake Tahoe (tentatively for dinner) before cruising up the Western rim of the lake back to the lodge.
I made breakfast to go of a toasted Safeway bagel and coffee toted in the commuter cup I brought from home, and hit the road just as the sun was coming up. Driving along my route, still on the North side of the lake, I jammed the brakes as a black bear darted across the road in front of me and clambered up a hill. Whoa! I continued and had to pull over to take a photo overlooking this lakeside cabin. It is the picture I use as my blog header. I think about that spot often.
The drive was about as good as it can get. Roads were dry, sky was clear, and damn, that bagel hit the spot. I made my way around part of the lake, through Carson City, NV, then a series of small towns alternating with wide open spaces. Along the way, while still in Nevada, I decided to pull into a gas station to fuel up and use the restroom. However, it was a single-stall bathroom and outside of it was parked a county sheriff’s prisoner transport van and a line of shackled women prisoners, many inadequately dressed for the cool morning weather. That was very sad to see. It also was sad for my coffee-induced bathroom needs! I drove a few blocks further and saw a small casino. Parking lot was empty but I know that casinos are usually open 24/7 and have easily-accessible restrooms. Luckily for me, the ladies’ room was spotlessly clean. Jackpot!
Onward on my journey, on my right was a head of cattle and an honest to goodness cowboy: hat, vest, chaps and all!
I began climbing into the mountains and neared a pull-off area to take pictures of the vast Mono Lake area which is both beautiful and a tad spooky.
Finally, heading toward Mammoth, the traffic started building and so did the pressure on my coffee-filled bladder! I had to park far from the resort along the road but they run frequent shuttle buses. However, there were no porta-potties near the bus stops so I needed to figure out how to discretely release the grounds. The source became the solution: I lined the empty commuter cup with the plastic bag from the bagel, sat in the passenger seat and let ‘er rip! Or rather, DRIP. Oh well, it was a rental car!
Once relived, I suited up and headed toward the growing line at the bus stop. The bus was packed but everyone seemed to be in good spirits. The line for lift tickets was huge, but the staff worked quickly to get everyone on their way. I took a glance at the insane lift line traffic jam and opted for a pre-ski Moscow Mule.
I got into line, and witnessed some impatient patron behavior, but thankfully, once at the summit and away from the cluster of pizza-wedging novices, I was able to find plenty of open space to enjoy the warm California sun. I even heard the strains of 80s California New Wave band, Oingo Boingo blasting outside the mid-mountain lodge.
What a cool experience! I met a nice couple from San Diego,we chatted for a bit, and they took the above picture of me. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: skiing and hot tubs go together like peanut butter and jelly.
There is a no-frills bathroom available so I was able to change out of my wet clothes. It was then that I realized that I forgot to bring clean underwear with me! I got into my turtlenck and sweatpants commando-style and headed toward Tahoe, keeping my eyes peeled for any big box stores that might afford me fresh undies so I could enjoy the buffet dinner I’d been envisioning. No luck at the CVS but the store manager directed me to a nearby Ross Dress for Less. In the same shopping center was a Walgreens so I changed in the ladies’ room and was able to freshen up my hair by stooping over a sink and under a hand dryer! Slapped on some lipstick and you’d never know I was a rental car hobo for the day.
I headed over toward the Stateline casino strip on Rte 50. Parking was neither easy nor free. I stopped into Harvey’s first then Harrah’s. Both properties were more crowded and smoky than I expected so after a bit of slot play, I decided to leave before eating anything.
Winding my way up the West shore, it began to snow. I slowed on the road to allow a comically slow and deliberate porcupine cross the road, then back to Squaw Valley Lodge and a snack of Wonderful Sweet Chili Pistachios and beer.