Ok, it’s been a ridiculously long time since I’ve posted my whereabouts and adventures in California and I apologize! My intentions were to post at least once a week, but that obviously never happened… I do have several excuses for why I’ve been a bit MIA, though:
1) I’m a perfectionist. Being a perfectionist makes it really hard to stick with messy projects and right now I feel like this blog is a messy project and subpar for my standards. My writing isn’t as good as I want it to be, the layout isn’t perfect, I’m constantly critiquing my photos, I’m second guessing what I want to publish… the list goes on and on and it’s been a bit paralyzing. I want this blog to be something that I’m proud of and right now it feels just too novice. I know it’s ridiculous because nothing is perfect when just starting out, so I’m trying to remind myself to be patient and take baby steps. It’ll morph into something I’m proud of eventually as long as I stick with it.
2) I’ve been making friends and having fun! I’ve met a handful of awesome people in the Bishop and Mammoth Lakes area and we’ve been packing in mountain bike rides, motorbiking, river floating, hikes, shenanigans, etc…. Between that and husky-sitting, I simply haven’t had a whole lot of time to sit down and write and edit photos! More about all that fun below.
3) I picked up some massage shifts at the Double Eagle Spa in Mammoth Lakes to make extra money while I’m on ‘sabbatical’. To give you a refresher, I quit my health coaching job in March without a real plan. I thought I was going to get a summer job working with Backroads but that didn’t pan out so I had to get creative in order to keep my bank account topped up and not stress about money. I only was on the spa schedule for 3 shifts a week while housesitting for my brother and sister-in-law, but it was a perfect reintroduction to massage since it had been about 4 years since I’d given my last one!
Now back to the fun I mentioned above. But first, I should let you know that I’m writing this post from a beautiful vantage point on the front lawn of the amazing old English estate I’m looking after for the next 2 1/2 months. I’m surrounded by flower-studded gardens, layered stone walls, rose bushes, sheep pastures, and birdsong. It’s magical! Let me wrap up California then I’ll get onto my English adventure.
Here’s a quick recap of some fun adventures that happened over the last month:
LEARNING HOW TO GET SOME AIR ON MY MOUNTAIN BIKE
One friend that I met while in California is a really good mountain biker and he took the time to teach me some mountain bike tricks that will help improve my riding. These tricks include bunny hops (jumping the bike over little roots and rocks in the trail) and getting air off larger features to smooth out the ride. Usually when approaching things like big rocks or drops I’ll go around them or slow down considerabelyto ‘absorb’ the potential jump. Not any more! I definitely wouldn’t say I’m pro, but I have a decent handle on bunny hops and small jumps now after some practice: get lots of speed, compress the handle bars, shift the hips way back, don’t crash.
I also learned how to ride a motorbike (i.e. a dirt bike)! The same friend has one and he brought me out into the sandy fire roads outside of Bishop for a lesson. I was a bit hesitant because, in my mind, motorcycles and dirt bikes have always been too dangerous (thanks dad), but it was loads of fun and I feel like I picked it up pretty quick. It wasn’t as scary or dangerous as I had imagined! Granted, I was completed shelled in my friend’s dirt bike armor, which gave me a false sense of safety for better or worse. But as someone who loves adventures, I now can’t get the idea of doing a long-distance motobike ride out of my head… Vietnam? Mexico? Madagascar?
SPARK PLUG MINES
So the third time I got on a motorbike was this adventure up to the Spark Plug mines. I’ve always had a ‘just do it’ kind of attitude, especially when it comes to outdoor adventure, but this ride pushed even my limits. The first part was great – riding along back roads next to a beautiful canal with cows watching as we passed by; green pastures filled with wildflowers all around us and snowy mountains as the backdrop. It was absolutely gorgeous. But then we got to White Mountain Road that would lead us up to the trailhead and things got a bit rocky – literally. The road was not a road, but more like a washed out ditch filled with softball sized rocks that we had to navigate our motorbikes along. My whole body was tense the entire ride, which is the opposite of what you want! We made it, though, with only a few minor spills and I really came to appreciate that armor.
At the trailhead, we met two more friends who had mountain biked up the road (I can only imagine how miserable that was) and from there we hiked up into the ravine toward the mines. I really had no idea what to expect from this adventure, but it turns out the old camp at Spark Plug mines is incredibly cool. The hike took just over an hour and raised us about 1500ft where we eventually spilled out onto a plateau overlooking the canyon below and the Sierra Nevadas in the distance. On the plateau was the Spark Plug mine camp. Most of the cabins have been ‘adopted’ by locals and stocked with all the necessities for an overnight or weekend away: blankets, flashlights, books, games, matches, you name it. We played a quick game of darts in the first cabin then continue to explore the rest of the camp. A sort of museum housed old relics from the mining days like shoes, all sorts of rocks from the area, letters, photos, tools, etc… There was also horseshoe pit, a mini pingpong set up, bocce ball, and a whip that we all took turns trying to crack. After a few hours wandering through the camp, we made our way back down to the bikes and slowly navigated them down the road of hell.
FLOATING THE OWEN’S RIVER
One of the iconic summer things to do in Bishop, CA is to float the meandering Owen’s River. It requires two cars because you need to drop one at the take-out site and one at the start, but with a bit of planning and a hot summer day it’s paradise. Apparently the river is usually pretty slow and lazy but because this winter saw so much snow it was flowing pretty quick! Loba – my brother and sister-in-law’s husky dog – floated along with us on her own tube, which made the trip that much more entertaining. (Sorry, no photos because I don’t have a waterproof camera!)
SNOWBOARDING FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 12 YEARS
Growing up, skiing and snowboarding was pretty big in my family. We lived only 15 minutes from the mountain (Smuggler’s Notch in Vermont) and every few years we would take family trips to ski meccas like Banff and Switzerland. But after heading off to college and embarking on my travels, snowboarding fell to the wayside as I got into yoga, hiking, and mountain biking instead. But thanks to the nudge from my brother while I was visiting, he convinced me to get back on a board after a 12 year hiatus I’m so glad I did! It was tons of fun and I picked it right back up, just like riding a bike. I’m not sure when or where I’ll be snowboarding next, but hopefully it won’t be another 12 years!
So that was a very quick round-up of this last month, which was packed with some fun adventures. I’m going to try my best to keep posting and get over my perfectionist tendencies and just ‘see what happens’ with this blog. I’ll be in England for the next 2.5 months, so there are sure to be some more adventures to come!