We took a trip over the long 4th of July weekend to visit with family. Our first stop was my parents' place in Nevada. We played around with their new Wii - tennis is a blast! The next morning we headed up to Mammoth...
I think its been at least five years since I've been back there, and I'm a bit surprised at how much I've really missed it. I know I've missed the impossibly starry night skies, but I had forgotten the vanilla scent of pine and the warm smell of pine needles in the dirt. I've missed feeling small surrounded by the mountains and tall, tall trees; the sound of the wind whispering in the aspens; the crystal clear water in the lakes and streams; the dry air that makes it seem difficult to get really dirty since you the peaceful feeling of life everywhere. It felt so good to be home again, even if I have no home there. Mammoth will always be home to me.
Chris, Greg and his dog Willy, me and our dogs went up to Horseshoe Lake shortly after we arrived. There are quite a few more trees dead up there from the geothermal activity than I remember, but the water level is higher than I've ever seen it. Willy is a hunting dog and we enjoyed watching him retrieve a dummy duck from way out in the water while Mac and Ayla played along the shore. That evening we had Nick n' Willies pizza (and Sky salad and garlic bread, yum!), chatted, and I whooped the Willer boys' butts at Cribbage and dominoes. :)
The next morning, after Schat's Bakery donuts for breakfast, we took the dogs down the street and watched the Fourth of July Parade. One of the announcers was a guy I used to do community theater with, which amused me. Then we took the dogs to McGee Creek to play. The current was quite strong (unless you are part otter like Willy or posses stilts for legs like Ayla) and Mac was nearly swept away when he went in for a drink, but Chris was downstream and stopped him. Twice. While its not deep in most places I don't think Mac would have been able to get a foothold with his stubby little legs and would have ended up in Crowley Lake. We found a calmer area and hung out for a while, and I was bitten by a mosquito and developed a giant welt on my forehead, but it was still fun.
We headed back to Greg's place and grilled up steaks for dinner (Gardenburger for me). Then we picked up some mochas from The Looney Bean (holey moley were they good!) and headed down to Whitmore Pool to watch the fireworks show. I remember watching the show at the Crowley shore, and want to again sometime because its the best show ever when you're sitting right under it. Even from our distance it was good.
The next morning we headed up to Rock Creek Lake. Yes, the weekend was mostly about throwing our dogs in various bodies of water. I wonder if there's ever been a bulldog hiking around up there before? Ayla saw a fisherman in waders way out from shore and apparently thought she knew him, because she took off run-swimming toward him and wouldn't come back to me no matter what I yelled. The water started getting to real swimming depth for her, and since she tends to panic when she swims, I got ready to save her. I set my camera on a handy stump and headed out after her, totally thinking I would be swimming in the icy snow-melt water. Finally she turned around to look at me, and came back. The people on the shore thought it was pretty funny, but I kept her leashed the rest of the time. I was not looking forward to that swim!
After getting back to town and settling the dogs we went to lunch at Roberto's, where they have the best flour tortilla chips (though you have to ask for them now, they only bring out corn chips) and my favorite Juanita's salad. We visited some more, and then Chris and the dogs and I headed back to my parents' place for the last leg of our trip. The following day we made the trek back home, with two completely wiped out dogs.
We learned on this trip that Mac is a complete ass. He kept trying to pick a fight with Willy, going so far as to put his toy ball in front of Willy and then attacking him when Willy went to pick it up. That's intent! What a little jerk. He's just dominant and Willy was so good-natured about it all, but we definitely saw another side of Mac when its not just him and Ayla, whom he can easily push around. Ayla was her usual goofy, shy self. At least some things are consistent.
We also learned that we would easily move back to Mammoth if we could. I would love to take my dogs to the lakes all the time, and there's so many beautiful places to hike and explore. The best thing is the far smaller number of people; I hadn't realized how much that bugged me until it wasn't there any more. It was so much more relaxed an atmosphere. Then again, dealing with the snow in winter and spring isn't a picnic. The entire trip was somewhat surreal though: I was expecting to feel a lot of nostalgia and remember-whens, but from the moment we drove into town it felt natural, like we had only been gone for a day and were heading back home like we always did. I understand a little better why some people leave, and some people stay, and some people return. And I think you can go home again.