Friday, September 23, 2011


Bike storage: Tufas: Thursday's menu.  Pictured below is the guard rail coming down to Mono Lake.

A what? A tufa!  On our way out to Mammoth Lakes we swung by the south end of Mono Lake and explored the tufas.  These are calcium carbonate formations created by spring water bubbling up into the very salty lake water.  They are really cool looking: they were all underwater until about the 1940's when LA diverted water to the city.  The lake level dropped significantly and exposed the tufas.  There are now regulations requiring the city to restore the lake level to a certain point to ensure the habitat of alkali flies and brine shrimp that are an important food source for migrating birds.  This is a must see if you are driving by!

Another fun must see while in Lee Vining is the upside down house.  It is adjacent to the old School  House Museum.  It was built as a tourist attraction in the early 1900's and has been moved and restored.  It's awesome!

The tribe had a great off day, riding, hiking, resting, eating ice cream! We had a full dinner, the menu pictured above!  Friday started off early with breakfast and the ride to Mammoth Lakes.  The ride took a turn and did the June Lake Loop off of the main highway: it is a beautiful ride.  Everyone has tents set up and most are lounging the afternoon away, waiting for dinner!  Yumm.  Bourbon Salmon, basmati rice, tossed green salad, pea salad, steamed veggies, and a birthday cake for dessert.  Happy birthday Sandy!

Tomorrow is another layover day.  There is a ride out to the Pie in the Sky Cafe.  I will have to find out more about that one for you. There is also a ride to Devil's Post Pile.  Great rock formations that are worth the trip.  I went out a couple of years ago and will try to find a picture to post.

I am getting ready to head to the airport and drop Jack off for his flight home.  He starts his Canada to Mexico trip on Sunday!  I am going to drive this big yellow truck home and hopefully meet up with his group at Deception Pass and cook them crab cakes for dinner.  YUMM!  I'll let you know how it all goes.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sierra Sampler

Signs along the way: feeding the tribe as well as the critters: Arlen & the campfire: At the top of Monitor Pass: the tribe at Mono Lake.

It's been a couple of years since ACA ran the Sierra Sampler; they sure picked a gorgeous time to run this one!  We arrived in Truckee, CA to sunshine and 70's, and it's supposed to stay that way all week.  We took 3 days to make the trip from Seattle, it was nice to not have to push the miles everyday.  We spent Saturday night in Reno: had a great time.  Can you imagine us pulling up to the valet at the El Dorado and asking where they wanted to put the big yellow truck?  Heeheee.

We met up with the ACA staff at the Donner State Park just outside of Truckee on Sunday, and set up for the ride.  I was a little nervous: this is a whole new staff that we have never worked with, as well a new leader. Who happens to be the Tours Director for ACA.  Who happens to be my new boss.  Who hasn't a clue as to who I am.  Poor him.  Seriously, Arlan has turned out to be a great leader, very good communicator  and has a great sense of humor.  The staff is all really nice as well, so it's going to be a good week.

The tribe assembled on Sunday afternoon, registered, had map meeting #1 and their first meal.  We kept it easy for the first night: Green salad with herbed vinaigrette, spiced pork chops, cucumber & taziki salad, red potatoes, Indian vegetable stew, and peanut butter chocolate chip bars for dessert.  The dinner was a hit.  A few riders asked what I was going to do with the leftover potatoes, so I filled them in on rule #2: if you don't eat it for dinner you will probably see it again one day!  Rule #1, by the way, is: I control the quality, not the quantity of what you eat.  If you gain weight, it's not my fault.

Monday morning we were up early cooking in the dark.  Fried those leftover potatoes! Had to fuel the tribe for a challenging ride to South Lake Tahoe.  The first year we did this ride Marker Bob made a point of reminding me about every 1/2 hour to be careful on the drive to SLT.  He managed to scare the bejebies out of me, and rightfully so.  After a beautiful drive along the lake you start a short, maybe 4-5mile, climb above the lake, then across a hogs back, then DOWN a steep, narrow, winding, curvy, narrow, did I say narrow and steep? descent to the South end of the lake.  It was my introduction into more than one occasion to cry on this trip.  (If you're not familiar with a hogs back, it is a NARROW piece of road, usually at the top of a climb, that has a drop off on both sides.  A big drop off.  This one's not as bad as the one in Escalante, but it's bad enough.)

The tribe made the journey with no mis-haps and settled into Camp Richardson across the street from the lake.  Many took the opportunity for a dip in the water, and then feasted on a dinner of Nicoisse salad, curried carrot salad, spaghetti w/ homemade meat sauce, orzo with pesto cream & artichoke hearts, grilled herbed tomatoes, and Nana's rum cakes for dessert.  We had a few visitors at this camp sight.  I spent the better part of the day shooing the chipmunks and squirrels out of the truck.  They were pretty used to people and new where the food was!  I compromised and gave them a big bowl of peanuts to keep them busy.  That lasted for a short while and they were back at it again.  The chipmunks would even climb up Jack's legs!  They were really cute.

Tuesday morning the tribe was up for the challenge of riding over Monitor Pass to Topaz Lake.  This is one of the toughest days on the trip.  Monitor Pass tops out at just over 8300 feet.  The day starts at about 6200 feet, climbs Luther Pass first at 7800 feet, then back down below 6000ft and then up Monitor.  Some of the climb is about 12%.  The downhill from Monitor is steep and winding.  My second reason to cry on this trip.  I don't do well with heights.  Marker Bob psyched me out on this one too.  If you miss the turn to go up Monitor, the signs warn you of a 24% grade.  Do they really make roads that steep?  AHHH!  Everyone made it down and into camp at Topaz Lake.  We had a lighter dinner tonight: Greek vegetable salad, lemon chicken, quinoa stuffed portabellos for the veggies, steamed asparagus, sprouted beans & basmati rice and pound cake with strawberries for dessert.  Everyone was well fed and tucked in early.

Wednesday's ride was not as tough a climb as Tuesdays, but a long 80 mile day.  The tribe left camp and circled East over Sweetwater Summit and down into the little town of Bridgeport.  Sweetwater Summit is over 7000 feet, so lots of climbing again!  From Bridgeport they climbed over Conway Summit, 8100 feet, then down a screaming stretch into Mono Lake and the town of Lee Vining.  Some of the tribe got caught at the top as a thunderstorm rolled in.  The downdrafts kept us hopping in camp: trying to keep the easy up from blowing away!  We settled in for a dinner of spicy cabbage salad, curried chicken, peanut yam tofu, yakisoba noodles, more rice & beans, and brownies for dessert.

Thursday, today, is a layover day in Lee Vining.  A few opted for ride up Tioga Pass to the entrance of Yosemeti, many hitched a ride with Arlen and his crew to go into the park and sightsee, and a few went to Bodi; a popular historic ghost town. I don't know if anyone went to the lake to see the mineral formations that stand tall above the water, but they are really cool too.

Tomorrow we will be heading to Mammoth Lakes for the next 2 days.  Jack will be flying home tomorrow to begin his ACA ride from Canada to Mexico!  What a trip!  I will catch up on the blog when I get home. This is a great group and a great tour for the last one for me for the season.  I can't wait to see what's in store for next year!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Rest of the Ride

Isabelle enjoying a roasted marshmallow: a view of the Pacific Beach: tribe members gathered around the campfire: Jack's t-shirt of the day: Fajitas at Beachside State Park, a favorite dinner of the tribe: I don't think this tent's going back to ACA: we have to stay "plugged in"! : Cycle Oregon road mark: Isabelle's water stop mascot (I have no idea where she found this!): the Oregon Coast Bike Route.

Remember the phrase, "better late than never?" I'm making the most of it with this posting.  I tend to procrastinate once in awhile, but I have hit new records with this one!  After being absorbed in rest of the ride in Oregon, I headed home a day early to cater a wedding on Saturday that I had committed to over a year ago.  I left Jack and the boys to finish up Friday and Saturday, and I heard they did a great job.  Following the wedding I got caught up in everyday life of unloading the truck, canning my head off 'cause the garden is in full swing, helping my mom as she "tipped over" and broke her wrist, driving to Montana to get Aaron settled in his apartment for grad school, and getting prepared for the Sierra Sampler tour that we are now on.  So, let's finish up with Oregon!

The tribe left Lincoln City bright and early on Wednesday morning to ride a gorgeous day on their bikes along the Pacific Coast.  Lot's of ups and downs, through Depoe Bay, Devils Punch Bowl, the town of Newport where many of the tribe took time off to tour the Oregon Coast Aquarium, then down through Waldport to Beachside State Park where we camped for the night.  This camp ground is right on the beach, so much beach combing took place.  We took Miss Ruby Dew for a romp in the surf.  She found a piece of  bull kelp and we played fetch for a half an hour.

Thursday morning the tribe headed South again along the coast, some stopping to visit the Sea Lion Caves.  Another fabulous day for a ride!  We stopped at the water stop, about a quarter mile off of the highway down a steep hill to the beach.  I thought it would be fun to run up the hill; need some training!  We stopped in Florence for a couple of quilt shops and some clam chowder, then headed to Honeyman State Park for the night.  Jack hopped on the bike while I prepared dinner, the boys explored the sand dunes.  Following a great night of curry the tribe lit a big bon fire and roasted marshmallows till the wee hours.  This has been a great group that has bonded really well!

Friday morning was the off day, and I believe only one rider opted to ride the optional out and back.  The majority of the tribe headed off to paddle kayaks down the river.  One was even treated to a surprise dip in the water.  Dumped the kayak I think.  Scott and Marquis tagged along and I guess it was quite the comedy show.  They paddled in circles for about the first hour!  I headed home on Friday and left Jack and the boys to fare for themselves with preparing a dinner of bbq pulled pork, cowboy beans, Opa's smoked sausages & Knockwurst.  We are almost through the cases of sausages that I brought home from Texas.  Time to head down South and refill the freezer.

This was a great trip.  Pete did a really good job of organizing the tour and finding great extras for the tribe.  The staff went all out and were a lot of fun.  Thank you all for a great time!  I think the last day went well, as everyone headed up over the mountain and back to Eugene.  Hopefully to be seen on an ACA tour in the future!