Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Gimme Shelter

Once we started on our journey south, we covered the distance in five days what took us nearly 3 months to travel on our way north. After leaving Mom and Dad in the chilly high-20’s morning in Jackson, Wyoming, we pointed the truck onto the interstate and pulled off a 300 mile day. One long stop in Twin Falls for grocery shopping, and we arrived at Bruneau Dunes State Park in south-central Idaho. It was the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, so we were lucky to find a slot late in the afternoon. The next morning we did a short walk to the edge of the dunes (top photo), windblown remnants of Lake Bonneville that once covered a huge area in the Plesitocene era.

Back on the road, we dropped into Elko, Nevada and beyond to the base of the Ruby Mountains. The campground was full, so we found a dispersed campsite within Lamoille Canyon to pitch the tent and make dinner (second photo). The next day we did a day hike to Liberty pass, with excellent views south to Liberty Lake (third photo). Back to the truck by noon, we drove the afternoon through the desert along the Humboldt River, previously the route of the pioneers heading to California. Late in the afternoon we found a campsite in the National Forest north of Winnemucca. Or fourth day of travel brought us into Washoe Lake, within striking distance of Mammoth Lakes.

The rush was to get to Mammoth by Thursday morning. Our mission was to find a place to rent for the winter. We had been monitoring the online classified ads in the weekly local paper for the past month. We wanted to be there when the newest issue hit the stands so we could be the first to call on the new ads. Our calculating approach paid off – we found a small cabin in the woods for rent in Old Mammoth. From the driveway we called the landlord, who faxed us an application by 9:30 am – we faxed the completed form back to him by 10:30 am. We both were excited with the possibility of finding a place so quickly.

We continued looking at other places while waiting for word on the cabin – everything from high-priced furnished condos in the $2K/month range, to multi-unit apartments. An unadvertised unit above a plumbing shop got our attention from a “For Rent” sign on the street. We left an application there, too. We ventured over June Lake to touch bases with our Ski Patrol friends. A tip to talk to a local business owner proved our timing was right on. She had a two-bedroom unit coming available. We talked awhile; we filled out an application, and made plans to see the unit in a couple days once she contacted the current tenant.

So the waiting began – we decided to do a day hike up Rush Creek out of June Lake. We took the phone with us just in case we got a return call. On the way up the Mammoth cabin landlord called – we made plans to meet him later that afternoon. On the way down we got a call from the June Lake landlord. She said if we could get there before 2 pm we could see the unit. It was 1:00 and we were still a mile and a half from the trailhead. We said we would try – we were literally running down the trail. We were there by 1:45 pm, but the current tenant had already left. We peeked into the window, however, and saw the interior – the unit was less than 10 years old, with double-paned windows, a dishwasher, and forced-air furnace with programmable thermostat. It was perfect.

As it turned out, we had the option of picking any of the three units we applied for – we were the perfect prospective tenants – no pets, non-smokers, and not youngsters in their twenties. Any of the landlords would have loved to rent to us. We opted for the June Lake unit – it was the cheapest, largest, and did not require a year lease (our preference, since we want to travel again next summer and not pay rent, too). We left the area to head to Orange County, where I had some work to do for my former employer, after investing only three days in finding a place to rent. We entered into this search with the fear it could take three weeks.

A week in Southern California is nothing special to blog about. Other than the enjoyment of seeing our good friends at OCWD, dealing with tailgating commuters, traffic, and noise left us wondering how we ever survived down there, and made us even more secure in our retirement decisions. We picked up our Honda, stored for the summer in Hemet, to put in storage in Bishop to simplify our move in October. John and I drove in separate cars north, each listening to our respective music choices at full volume. We camped at Fossil Falls, south of Lone Pine, and enjoyed the solitude and quiet of Owen’s Valley in the morning light (last photo).
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