Mono Lake MonoMyth, Episode 1


After a couple of hours at my former in-laws – visiting, packing up things the kids had forgotten, and repairing the small dent we put in the front bumper of the rental SUV, we were ready to leave for our next adventure.

The Call to Adventure

This one had us traveling south on US-395, all day long.  We were in high desert country now.  We were also chasing daylight to our next camping spot, so we couldn’t stop at every geocache along the way in the interest of time.  We couldn’t resist this one, though (above picture), that almost turned out to be more than we bargained for.  The SUV was not four wheel drive and the road weaved up a small mountain before we were forced to stop driving – so the youngest one and I made the hike the rest of the way in the hot high desert sun to find an ammo can on the top of a ridge overlooking the valley – it was actually pretty awesome.  We limited ourselves to only five caches in about five hours, though, before we made it to the area we planned to spend the night.

Mono Vista

Refusal of the Call

So, we finally made it down into the Mono Valley and we need to find a place to bed down for the night.  I had kept this night free of reservations, partially because I wasn’t sure how far down the road we would make it that night.

Oh…wait…back up…see, this is why I write this stuff down in here- because I forget the details and sometimes, the details ARE important.  No, we didn’t actually make it to Mono Valley that night.  Camping plans were derailed in favor of a Best Western in Susanville, California.  We were too tired to make it all the way – and to tell you the truth, it was really nice to spread our things out and reorganize, to order pizza and watch TV and relax, to take the boys down to the little pool which was a little too chilly still on this mid-summer night for comfortable swimming, but it was fun to shiver together, to play water games, catch up on their stories of the past week, and whisper about the teenage girls on the other side of the pool from us.

And this is the thing about Susanville: I never went there with my ex-husband, even though it was close to where we used to live, and a place we drove through sometimes AND where he spent a year going to college.  He only ever pointed out the women’s penitentiary to me.  But I kind of liked this town, and I really want to go back now, after spending some time there in the hotel room reading about what Lassen National Park has to offer.  Guided horseback rides that offer opportunities for viewing wild horses was most intriguing activity I saw advertised.  Maybe someday when I am healed and back to riding horses we can look into that.

Anyways so we finally got out of town the next morning and were NOW headed to Mono County, with a few stops along the way (like an irritating search for DVD player chargers in Reno, Nevada, and a random sampling of meatball panini sandwiches at a pizza place somewhere north of Carson City).  So after all that, and not much geocaching, it took us almost to the end of day before we were fiddling around trying to decide on a campsite for the night.

(tune in for Episode 2 later, after we try out our new Blu-Ray system and get some sleep)


Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge might have been one of my most favorite places I have ever been – if we had been able to see it. Darn clouds!
The drive up to Hurricane Ridge, a viewpoint in Olympic National Park, is not one for the weak of heart, or those with heart conditions, or with a fear of heights. It reminded me a bit of the drive up Pikes Peak – slow going, with little room for error. Or a lot of room, depending on how you saw it. Few guardrails, and a steep drop down the mountain below for a quick jerk of the steering wheel.
It’s 17 miles down the road from Port Angeles to this viewpoint. One could stay in the Heart O’ The Hills campground about 12 miles north of the viewpoint along the road. I think if I ever make it back there, I will do that, and spend at least a night, and go hiking.
This day, we were on a mission to get to Seattle by 3 pm, and we were getting slowed down by our diversions and desires. We just had time to check out the visitors center and get a few pictures before heading back to the highway.

Sol Duc Salmon Cascades

I’ve been meaning to get in here and finish the stories about our vacation, but it is just not happening very fast. Football, baseball, cub scouts, and bible study seasons have all started in this house, and our spare time is filled with sitting in bleachers cheering on various boyfolk or rushing from place to place.

These pictures, though, are from the next place we went, after staying the night in Forks. We had a limited amount of time to get to Seattle for an appointment, but we checked out some more places in Olympic National Park along the way. We didn’t make it all the way to Sol Duc Falls, but we did drive all the way to the “springs” where the pool is. What we really enjoyed along this drive was this spot

This place is technically called the “Salmon Cascades”. In late summer, one would be able to see the salmon jumping upstream in their attempts to get back to their breeding grounds. It seems we missed all the good stuff this year. Next time we come this way, we have to go in August.

We did have fun having a snack and taking some pictures, though.

Olympic National Park: Hoh Rainforest

The upper Oregon coast was stunning, and we would have liked to spend a little more time exloring Seaside and Astoria, but that day, we were on a mission.
I thought it might take us a half day to drive from Nehalem to Forks, Washington, but like every other day on this journey, it took us almost twice as long as I intended, even with our reduced side explorations this day.
I chose Forks because it was the town closest to the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park, which was really the prime destination of our trip.

I found myself explaining randomly to someone why I was so focused on Olympic National Park. It’s one of those stories that is so typical of me, but makes other people wonder if I am not a little crazy ;-). Some years ago, I was struggling with unhappiness, possibly either depression or a really bad marriage. I wondered if things would ever get better, if there was ever any hope for a light at the end of this tunnel. One night I had a dream. In the dream, I was happy. And when I woke up, and for years after, I had this idea if I could just get to the place I dreamed about, I would be getting to the point in my life where I was happy.
So if you go to the link to that story, you will see that maybe I am not exactly “there” yet. This was not the same situation. But for some reason, I needed to know if I was right, about some of it at least. I wanted to see if this place resonated with any part of my being. Somewhere I had seen a picture of the Hoh Rainforest, and I thought that was the place my dream took place in.

Going there, I can say now that, although I am not certain, I don’t think this place was the place from my dream. However, it was a place from some kind of dream. It was surrealistic, damp and dreamy, with trees that towered up as high as the redwoods we had seen, and that draped themselves over pathways as if they were alive. I truly felt like the trees here had spirits, and although I wasn’t particularly afraid, I was feeling a thrill of being out in it.

We walked through the Hall of Mosses area, and along the Hoh Rainforest Loop Trail. We didn’t hike as long as I think I wanted to, though. We had already checked into our cabin in Forks, and it was looking really comfy when we left it. J wanted to go through some pictures. It was drizzly and wet, go figure, and I think we both kind of wanted to get dry. Also, we were contemplating trying to make it out to Ruby Beach before the sunset, and still wanted to get dinner. So I think we were only out here for an hour, when I could have spent days.

This National Park is not a good park for exploring by car. All the points of interest are twenty miles down different roads, which takes up a lot of drive time. We would have accomplished so much more by hiking in and camping instead of staying in town.
So, my plan is this: having tasted this “water”, I have to have some more. I want us to get in really good hiking shape, get some good backpacks, work up to longer backpacking trips, and come back out here when we can just hike for days and really get to see the inside of this park and what it has to offer.