Back in California

23rd June - 8th July 2011

Brother and Sister contemplate the Pacific Ocean at Torrey Pines

Graham checking out beach front property!

After our long journey back to San Diego, we were so happy to see Di and Graham at the airport, where they rescued us from the madding throng of diabetes experts! We were eager to recover Harvey-the-RV from storage, so headed down towards the Mexican border to collect him from Chula Vista, getting back to San Diego in plenty of time for Happy Hour at Cass Street Bar and Grill! Next morning Di and Graham took us to nearby Torrey Pines, a beautiful coastal State Park, where we walked off those Happy Hour calories!

After a couple of lovely restful days in Pacific Beach, we were ready for our next adventure. Harvey was cleaned up after his time in storage, we were stocked up and we headed north out of San Diego. Soon we were in the desert and the temperature was rising. So long as we were headed downhill, we were able to make full use of Harvey's newly recharged air conditioning. Uphill was more problematic, as the temperature in the cab went down, the engine temperature would go up! Unfortunately there were many mountains to climb that day, so it was a hot and tiring trip. We finally stopped Tinnemaha campground, relieved to do so, until we read the warning notices! Naturally, this wasn't enough of a deterrent for Phil, eager to get fishing again in the campground's creek!

Don't see that every day - thankfully!

Rock Creek

Next day we pushed on northwards into the Eastern Sierras, glad to find ourselves at cooler, higher altitudes in a stunning landscape. We'd selected a campground, based on fishing information we had. Once Harvey had completed the steep and winding climb all the way there, we found it lay above the snow line, thick clouds were headed down the valley and we didn't want to get snowed in (yes, in California, in June!). So were made a lunch stop there for a spot of fishing before speeding back down the mountain to the lower and warmer Convict Lake campground. We decided to stay put in this beautiful spot over the July 4th holiday weekend, as campsites were filling fast. It turned out to be a good location for exploring the nearby Devil's Postpile National Monument.

We had no idea what to expect of this beautiful area but were surprised to find we had to park Harvey at the skiing resort near the park's entrance and ride on a shuttle bus. Once we set off on the bus to the park, we were so glad of the compulsory bus ride. The road was winding single track, often on a cliff edge. The buses were in constant radio contact to arrange safe places to pass. Not only would Harvey not have enjoyed the steep drive, the afraid-of-heights driver may not have been too happy to make the trip either!We

We hiked to the Devil's Postpile, an amazing structure of vertical basalt columns, some with intriguing curves, rising out of the ground. Early pioneers had wanted to blast the rock structure out of the way, to facilitate mining operations but luckily somebody had the foresight to preserve the fascinating area. From the postpile we hiked, sometimes back in snow again, to Rainbow Falls. The Falls truly lived up to their name, the spray from the thundering water creating a stunning rainbow effect in the mid day sun.

Devils Postpile

Rainbow Falls

We spent the holiday weekend enjoying the lovely surroundings at Convict Lake, fishing the stream through the campground and the lake itself. At one point Christine got a really close look at a hummingbird, as it hovered right in front of her nose for a while!

Cooking our trout dinner at Convict Lake

Busy Butterfly near the river.

After the holidays were over, we headed north, past Mono Lake, a strange salt lake filled with brine shrimps and hungry seagulls. We circumnavigated about one third of Lake Tahoe then selected a smaller, less intimidating lake on which we could paddle our canoe and fish. Luckily the thunderstorm started before we went to the effort of blowing up the canoe, as that was a definite mind-changer!

Next day we selected a campsite near Mineral, purely as it was located on Battle Creek, where there was alleged to be the opportunity for fishing. It was on the south side of Lassen Volcanic National Park, our next destination. Battle Creek turned out to be a trout hotspot and Phil quickly lost count of the number of the fish he caught and released!

Early next morning we arrived at the National Park Entrance, located in stunning mountain (well, volcano) scenery, only to find that the road through the park was still closed due to snow. Normally the park would be entirely open by the time of our visit but due to this years heavy snowfall, the snow ploughs and snow blowers were still hard at work. The visitor centre was about all we could visit on the south side of the park. The ranger suggested a hike in the eastern end of the park, where we would see a cinder cone and the painted dunes and which would save us having to drive all three quarters of the way around to the north entrance. This sounded like a great idea until we got on the six mile approach road to the trail head which consisted of bumpy gravel. Harvey jumped his was along as best he could, cupboards flew open, things fell out. After about a mile of this, with 11 more to go for a return trip, we decided we weren't that desperate to see a cinder cone after all and instead headed to Old Station where Phil fished Hat Creek. During his fishing exploits, he was stepping back from the river when he heard an unfamiliar rattling noise. On turning around he realised he'd annoyed a passing rattlesnake and it was letting him know in no uncertain terms. A rapid retreat was in order!

One more not so successful fishing day on the Pit River, where we didn't come across any trout but the mosquitoes were man-eaters and we were bound for Oregon.

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