Monday, September 25, 2017

Contacting ReidsontheRoad

If you would like me to notify you when I start the blog up again in January, 2018, please email me at

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Status Update on ReidsontheRoad Blog

Dear ReidsontheRoad readers...
I have reached my limit on the number of photos I can post on the blog, so I will have to create a new blog. I've decided to hold off on that until January.  So, there will be a few months without the blog.    In January (with the help of my daughter), I will create a new blog called...
Please send me an email if you would like me to send you a link to it when I start up again in January, 2018.  Email is
Just to fill you in  about our recent activities...
* We spent about a week in the Yosemite National Park area with our friends Tony and Jenny.  It is really incredible. The first part of our stay was in the northern, high elevation section.  We did a lot of hikes, seeing outstanding views of lakes, mountains, and meadows.  Then, we went to the lower part, the Yosemite Valley, for another day or so.  When we were there, we learned that the upper part, where we had been the day before, got 9 inches of snow over night.  They closed the road and the visitors there were stranded.  It could have been us!  In the Yosemite Valley, we did more hikes.  We saw the famous El Capitan huge granite peak, and lots of waterfalls.
* From Yosemite, we descended about 8000 feet and camped overnight (free) in another Harvest Host site. This one is a winery/vineyard/event center in the San Joaquin Valley.   We tasted and bought some wine, and picked some veg for the road.
* Back up to the mountains, this time to Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park.  Two parks in one.  We camped overnight under the gigantic sequoias.  We saw the General Sherman Tree, the world's largest tree.  About the equivalent of a 30-story building!
* Then, down the mountain again, through thousands of acres of fruit trees - avocados, citrus, olive, peach and more.  Amazing what irrigation can do (and how dependent this area is on water!). We had a long drive, through part of the Mojave Desert, and stopped for the day in Barstow, where we had another Harvest Host stay.  This one at Peggy Sue's 50's Diner!  How fun!  We ate dinner there and breakfast the next morning.  Lots of food, cute Hollywood decor, and cheap prices.  
Going forward......
I will post on Facebook more frequently so you can keep up with our adventures if you would like.  We are ending our summer/fall road trip, and will probably arrive at our new tiny house in early October.  We hope to host friends and family there for the rest of 2017.  Then, in 2018, our tentative plans are...
--Baja California
--Road trip to the St. Lawrence River area (Quebec, Ontario, Upstate New York, Vermont, Maine).  Recommendations of places to go would be welcomed!  
--International housesitting - hopefully in Europe and/or South America
--National housesitting - perhaps in cities that we would like to explore further
--More Harvest Host stays
----and more
Thanks for being faithful readers!!!
Karmen Reid 

Friday, September 22, 2017

September 18, 2017. First day of glorious Yosemite

CAMPGROUND:  Toulmne Meadows, inside Yosemite National Park.  Typical national park campground:  rugged sites, passable bathrooms, no hookups. But location, location, location!  $13/night with Senior Pass.  4 stars out of 5

LOCATION:  Yosemite National Park, in eastern California
WEATHER:  Perfect for hiking.  Sunny.  High 60.  Freezing at night
We got up early from the campground outside the park, and made a dash to one of the campgrounds here inside the park.  This campground is half reserved and half first come-first served. Reservations get booked up a year in advance, so your only option is to get there early, stand in line and hope for a site.  We got lucky. Not only did we get sites, but we got a site near Tony and Jenny.  We'll stay here 2 nights, then move somewhere to spend 2 more days exploring the valley part of the park.
They had record amounts of snow this year. The highway to Yosemite on this higher eastern side was not even open until July 4.  Campgrounds did not open until August 1.  They will close September 25, so the season is very short.  We are at 9000 feet, in the alpine meadow part of the park.  
We hiked one of the trails near our campground.  It is called Soda Springs, named for the springs that bubble up there that are like soda water.
Jenny and I hiked ahead of the boys....
At the spring, George tried out his water distillation straw. It is designed for people traveling where there is not potable water available.  He said this spring water tasted like iron.  
Nearby there was a sparkling river where he tried the straw again.  He said it tasted much better.  We took him at his word....nobody else wanted to try it.  
The hike was beautiful in the meadows, with the mountains soaring around us.  Tony enjoyed a nap in the sunshine....

Thursday, September 21, 2017

September 17, 2017. A gold mine ghost town

NOTE --- We have not had wifi for several days, so these next few posts have been delayed...
CAMPGROUND:  Another night at Lower Lee Vining National Forest Service Campground.  
LOCATION:  Outside the entrance of Yosemite National Park in eastern California
WEATHER:  Very pleasant.  High 65.  Near freezing at night.
We scurried around the campground looking for a good site for Tony and Jenny to camp in tonight.  A few campers left, fortunately, and we grabbed a site for them.
We drove to Bodie State Park, a ghost town that has been preserved by the park system.  In the 1800s it was a very prosperous gold mining town.  In 1879 it had a population of about 10,000.
We learned that part of the town was very respectable and conservative, with ladies' lunches, dress shops, schools, churches, and halls for gala events.  
The other part of town was full of bars and rowdy miners.   It had more than 60 saloons and dance halls, along with 3 breweries.  It had a reputation of being one of the most lawless towns in the West.  One preacher described it as "a sea of sin, lashed by the tempests of lust and passion".  
It also had a Chinese section for the poor, discriminated workers.  
The mining started to decline in 1881 and the town was soon abandoned.  
On our way back into town, we ran into Tony and Jenny where they had stopped along the highway for a picnic lunch.  What a great surprise!  We got them settled in their campsite, then took off to start exploring Yosemite.  
We went to the visitors' center in the northern part of the park.  A ranger just happened to be giving an information talk, so we joined up with that.  We stopped by the campground where we hope to get a "first come-first served" site tomorrow night in the northern section of Yosemite. 
We went into town and bought provisions for the next few days in the park.  
Back at our campground, George built anther roaring fire.  Our neighbors had cut down 3 trees today, and gave us a bunch of firewood.  So kind.
DINNER:  I cheated and bought dinner at a BBQ restaurant in town:  ribs, salad, rolls, and soup.  During our 4 nights together, we will do 2 dinners, and Tony/Jenny will do 2.  

Sunday, September 17, 2017

September 16, 2017. A great day in Mammoth Lakes. It was HUGE!

CAMPGROUND:  Another night at Lower Lee Vining National Forest Service Campground.  We talked with some neighbors who come here every year. They say this is the best of this type in the area.
LOCATION:  Outside the entrance of Yosemite National Park in eastern California
WEATHER:  Very pleasant.  High 65.  Near freezing at night.
Today's destination was Mammoth Lakes and the surrounding area, about 25 miles south of here.  First we took the scenic loop to Mammoth.  We drove through tall  pines with snow markers about 15 feet high.  Then, on to The Devil's Postpile National Monument, an interesting formation of rocks formed by lava flows, then glaciers about 80,000 years ago.  (See my tiny head in the bottom of the photo).
It was surprisingly crowded.  We had to wait at the entrance gate, then could not park near the monument.  We had to park in a resort parking lot and then were shuttled to the trailhead to the Monument.  I'm afraid that this is a preview of the crowds inside Yosemite.
On our way out of the Monument road, we picked up a hiker/hitchhiker and took him to the town of Mammoth Falls.  He had been hiking in the forest for several days and was just too tired to walk the 15 miles or so back to his car.  We are glad we did as he gave us some valuable information about places to go later in the day.  
After dropping him off at his place, we had lunch in this brewpub, which claims to be at the highest elevation in the West.  It was huge....I mean epic!
We followed the hiker's suggestion and drove around many beautiful lakes surrounding the town of Mammoth Lakes.  All picture-perfect. There were a lot of fishermen - catching trout.
Then to the base of Mammoth Mountain, a very big and popular ski resort area.  In the summer, they turn the area into a mountain biker's dream.  Bikers take ski lifts up to the top of the mountain, then whiz back down on  mountain paths.  We decided to ride the gondola up and down to check out the views.
It was mammoth!  We went up to 11,000 feet elevation.  We can't imagine anyone skiing down these steep slopes.
Here is a biker getting on the lift....
We were even above some remaining snow....
The views are spectacular....
These are some of the paths that the bikers take....
They were having a bike race, so it was especially busy with bikers.  
Back at the campground, we were disappointed to find that it had filled up with large groups.  All the sites were taken.  People around us were setting up mammoth bars and kids were running around.  Quite different from last night with our quiet German and French neighbors. We are now concerned that we won't be able to find a spot for our friends Tony and Jenny when they arrive tomorrow.  
George built a fire and set up our tripod to cook dinner. This is the first time we have used this in ages...
DINNER:  Hot dogs with sauerkraut and the last of the leftover baked potato from one of our Harvest Host stays.  

Saturday, September 16, 2017

September 15, 2017. In the forest around Yosemite

CAMPGROUND:  Lower Lee Vining National Forest Service Park.  Woodsy.  Nice sites with rock campfire rings, picnic tables and decent pit toilet.  No services.  With our Senior Pass, $7/night.  4 out of 5 stars
LOCATION:  On the road leading to Yosemite National Park in eastern California
WEATHER:  Sunny.  Much cooler.  High 70
We did some shopping at the market where we stayed through Harvest Host last night - a beautifully ripe tomato, cantaloupe, pepper, homemade bread, and freshly laid eggs.  
As we crossed the Nevada/California line, we started seeing the Sierra Nevadas.  
We drove about 150 miles today.  We passed this beautiful, but dead, lake.  
We kept up a steady climb, and watched the outdoor temperature gauge drop and drop.  The plastic water bottles popped with the change in air pressure.  
We stopped outside Yosemite National Park at a visitors' center for info.  It overlooks Mono Lake, site of many Hollywood films.
 They gave us some helpful information about the area and about trying to get a campsite inside Yosemite starting on Monday.  Our camping buddies Tony and Jenny will join us on Sunday evening.  We will try to camp together in Yosemite for a few nights while touring the park.  Yosemite is one of the few National Parks that is still on our "to do" list.
We found a lovely Forest Service campground for tonight and Saturday night and grabbed a spot since it is Friday, and campgrounds around here fill up quickly.  
Then, we drove around the area on a scenic highway.  We wanted to scout out possibilities for camping with Tony and Jenny when they arrive on Sunday.  The route took us on a loop around some beautiful lakes and resort towns.  Wouldn't you know it - George spotted a brewpub in one of the towns and we had to check it out. :-) 
Back at our campground, we met our neighbors, a lovely couple from Germany.  They are newlyweds, traveling around California and Nevada in a rented camper for 3 weeks.  George shared an Octoberfest beer with them, as they were (horror of horrors) drinking Corona Lights.  Then, they invited us to a bottle of wine that they had brought from Germany.  It was unusual in that it was a white wine made with red grapes.  It was called a Blanc de Noirs from a cuvée from Schwarzriesling and Trollinger.  We had a nice conversation, and they invited us to housesit for their 2 cats next May in Düsseldorf.    We just might do that!
DINNER:  A type of gumbo - with red beans and rice, sausage and okra that we bought at the Harvest Host farm store.  

Friday, September 15, 2017

September 14, 2017. No-man's land in Nevada

CAMPGROUND:  Another Harvest Host site.  This one is an organic farm.  A large operation with corn maze, playground, antique farming equipment, etc.  We are the only ones camping here, and are parked in their huge parking lot in the middle of vegetable fields.  We are really loving Harvest Hosts!
LOCATION:  Fallon, Nevada in west central part of the state
WEATHER:  Very pleasant.  Mostly sunny.  High 80
We headed due south out of Battle Mountain.  We had learned that they hold a huge bicycle race here with bikers from all over the world competing.  Later, we drove on the very part of the highway where they hold the races.  A very long stretch.....
I actually took this picture, standing in the middle of the highway as there was absolutely no traffic anywhere nearby.
The scenery was pretty desolate, much like yesterday.  We drove 250 miles.  We stopped for lunch in a pull-out with a sign telling us that this was the former Pony Express Trail and a village had stood here servicing the riders many years ago.
Lots of sagebrush, an occasional wild horse, some cows,  and a few pronghorn antelopes.  We like these road signs with the cow/bull picture.  It reminds us of the big bull billboards in Spain, advertising sherry.  
In the far distance, we could see some roadwork in what looked like a mirage.  It is an alkaline lake.  Very eery.  When we stopped for the construction, the truck driver ahead of us got out and started talking to us.  He said that this area is a bombing range for the US Navy.  They practice bombing dilapidated military trucks.  Sitting there, waiting for our turn to go, we felt like "sitting ducks".  Thankfully, we heard only one jet.  
We passed by a huge sand dune....
We arrived in Fallon, and found our Harvest Host farm.  The owner welcomed us and told us where to park.  We bought some veg and plan to buy more food from them in the morning.  We spoke a little to the Mexican workers that work here.  The owner told us that this is the 3rd generation of the same hard-working Mexican family.  
DINNER:  Jazzed up ramen with bits of leftover prime rib and lots of match-stick veg.