Sunday, August 16, 2009

Familiar surroundings

We are at the Elks lodge in Oakhurst, California (map), at the junction of California 41 to the south entrance of Yosemite, and Road 222 to Bass Lake. This is a very familiar place, as I used to work in Oakhurst and spent a little over a year parked right here in my 32' Fleetwood class-A.

That seems like a lifetime ago, although it was in fact a mere 13 years ago, from '95 to '96. Many things here are little changed, including the Yosemite Forks Mountain House restaurant just across the street from the lodge, where we had dinner tonight. I must have eaten there 50 times or more when I lived here.

We are here because our nieces really wanted to go water skiing before the older of the pair has to start high school this week -- the only other time they've done it was when we spent a week with them at Lake Tahoe two years ago. I had suggested Bass Lake because it is a good deal warmer than Tahoe, as well as a full hour closer to where they live, yet still has all the natural beauty of the high sierra. It turned out to be a picture perfect weekend.

Friday morning we picked them up in Odyssey, and they were thrilled to ride upstairs behind the big upper windshield. Each of the nieces took a turn riding downstairs with me, asking many questions about driving the bus and what all the gauges and dials meant. Louise rode upstairs the whole time with their mom, and it was a very pleasant trip, with stops at the San Luis Dam overlook and the Vons grocery in Oakhurst for dinner fixings.

Never underestimate the eating capacity of teenagers -- I had the meat guy at Vons cut me up a half dozen strip steaks at nearly 3/4 pound each, and the six of us polished them off in one sitting. In any event, after arriving here at the lodge, we took a scooter out to scope out possible camping alternatives that might be more rustic, however all the forest service camping at the lake was sold out (not unexpected, as we had been checking frequently), and current fire restrictions meant that any dispersed spot we might find would have to be a "cold camp."

As it turned out, though, the B&B at which they were staying, the Pine Rose Inn (a fixture here at least since my stint here a decade and a half ago), had both a BBQ grill and a free-standing fire pit, which met all our needs for cooking and evening campfires. In addition, they also had a hot tub, which was a nice bonus. We ended up schlepping all our utensils up there and doing all the cooking on their grill, then hanging out around the fire pit each evening. We got to partake of the hot tub as well, although it was a bit too hot (106°) the first night.

We opted, therefore, to just keep the bus right here at the Elks, and we had a nice steak BBQ Friday night at the Pine Rose, with an early start on the lake Saturday morning. We had the boat for four hours, along with a retired competitive wakeboarder as a driver/instructor. Each of us had a turn at water skiing or wakeboarding, although I regret to report that neither Louise nor I was able to get up out of the water and onto the board. We had fun trying though, even though we are paying dearly for it today with sore muscles in places we didn't know we had. I did have a blast tubing at the tail end of our boat rental, however. At one point, a bald eagle dipped its talons into the lake in front of us, then returned to a tall pine.

After another nice BBQ (pork tenderloins and grilled veggies), camp fire, and hot tubbing last night at the Pine Rose, we went back up to the lake this morning to just relax on the beach, although the girls were keen to play Charades and Alias, where, at last, Aunt Louise and Uncle Sean could hold their own. We bid them a fond farewell after lunch at the Forks resort, as they piled back into their van for the trek back to the bay area.

It took us most of the rest of the day to get the bus back in order and everything packed back up, including the floaty toys we had taken up to the lake this morning. We are now all set for an early departure tomorrow morning, providing my muscles are up to wrestling with the steering wheel by then.

Our plan from here is to head north through Yosemite National Park to California 120, which will take us over the Sierra Nevada and to the Nevada state line, where we will pick up US-6. Before we leave the state, we will check in with the Disaster Operations Center to make sure we will not be needed for either the La Brea or Lockheed fires (near Santa Barbara or Santa Cruz, respectively), but with the Atlantic storm season starting to heat up, we really feel the need to be further east.

Photo by km6xo


  1. Next time you get a chance to wakeboard contact me first. The rule for wakeboarding is "if you don't get up the 1st time that's on you, 2nd time is still maybe on you but from then on if you don't get up its the driver's fault --- 100%"

  2. @Bob: Next time I see you, you can teach me to wakeboard :)

    Seriously, I agree. The young fellow who was doing both the instruction and the driving was a good boarder... but instructor, not so much.

    As an aside, he was unsuccessful in catapulting me off the tube later, even though he tried mightily. He managed to dump most everyone else, including a spectacular one in which a swimsuit came off.

    BTW, we're still sore...

  3. Its not rocket science. A guy your size on a 140 board can ride at under 10 MPH. The secret to teaching beginners is "easy on the throttle". I just tell beginners "you concentrate on keeping the board under you, don't worry when it goes under water, I'll just drag you a bit until you get used to it." At about 10 MPH Marilyn screeches "STAND UP" and we have another new boarder trained.

  4. OK, Bob, you're on. Let's meet up on the water. Preferably someplace warm.

  5. You're on then - Sunrise waterski club at Lemoore. I'm pretty sure I can get us a pull there and we'll be going by there later this fall. They've got two lakes - they do the dark side on one and the pure sport on the other. And they've got about half a dozen sites with hookups alongside the north lake.


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