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Mono Lake and an Announcement

Monday, June 20

It’s been a quiet several days at Hartley Springs Campground, near June Lake, CA.

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After the excitement of Convict Lake on Wednesday I spend the weekend at camp, writing during the day and taking long walks in the evening when the sun slips below the treeline and my solar power peters out.

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A great thing about camping on public land, there are ATV trails and dirt roads everywhere, making for ample walking opportunities. One day I take the trail up the ridge behind the campground, signs say it connects Mammoth Lakes to June Lake. I don’t walk all the way to June Lake, but I spend a good hour on it. The moon rises as I’m heading back, the forest is silent and peaceful.

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Tuesday, June 21

Today feels like a good day to move camp. I pull out of Hartley Springs and it’s less than a half-hour to to my next destination, by noon Cas is settled. Wow, this is nice! It’s already warming up though, this camp is at a lower elevation. Well, I could sit inside Cas and be uncomfortable, or I could take a drive somewhere and enjoy the A/C of the truck. I’ll take door number two, Alex.

There’s another boondocking area not terribly far away that I want to check out. Unhitched, I continue north on 395 to the town of Bridgeport, which is surrounded by flat fields of lush grass and grazing cattle. Twin Lakes Road steers west into Toiyabe National Forest, where my cell phone signal drops like a rock. That doesn’t look promising, but might as well go the rest of the way.

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Turning right on to Buckeye Road, Bertha climbs into the Sierra. The road is dirt, but in reasonable condition. The view from the passenger window looking down over the valley is quite spectacular.

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The boondocking spots start where the road follows the curve of the mountains into a little canyon. Trees provide shade and privacy, but sadly the Verizon signal is only 1 to 2 bars of 1x. Closer to Buckeye Campground, the boondocking spots are all full. There’s a hot spring around here somewhere, and I imagine it’s a pretty big draw.

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Buckeye Campground ($18 a night, dry camping) has no signal at all, but it is pretty.

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Some sites are more shaded, some are sunny. I see the parking lot for the hot spring but there are cars parked there and I don’t want to be disturbing people so I don’t go take pictures.

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Buckeye Road continues to follow the edge of the mountains. Turning around would be the faster way home, but there’s something to be said for taking the long way around. Coming back out of the little canyon, the trees vanish again. A lake appears ahead, that must be Bridgeport Reservoir.

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The skeletal remains of Juniper dot the hillside in places, evidence of a fire in the past. Abundant grass makes everything look fresh though, and clumps of yellow wildflowers further enhance the scenery. Yep, the drive was worth it.

Eventually Buckeye road descends back into the valley and meets up with 395. A sign announces that 120, 108, and 89 (passes that lead through the Sierra) are all open. That’s good, as I have intentions of visiting one of those roads soon.

So, have you guessed where I’m camping yet? From the title it should be pretty obvious. Heading back south on 395, the road climbs and and offers an excellent view of it: Mono Lake.

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This boondock is off of Picnic Grounds Road, just south of the Lee Vining Airport. There’s not a lot of room for camping here, just one pull-around that can fit up to 3 larger rigs or maybe 5 smaller ones (in most boondocking spots the pull-around would be considered one site, but here the lack of space makes sharing a necessity), and two other small spots that can fit just a vehicle or small Class C. Reviews say it gets pretty busy and is often full, but arriving early on a weekday paid off.

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If the downside is no privacy and close quarters, the upside is a unimpeded view of Mono Lake at no cost. I park in the narrow side of the loop close to the lake, so that even if I get neighbors, I’ll still have my view.

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But I don’t go back to camp right away. A county park on the northwest end of the lake catches my attention. The picnic area and playground are nice, with a view of the water.

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But the boardwalk out to the tufa towers along the shoreline is the best part. Mono Lake is quite unique. Besides being truly ancient (nearly 3 million years old), it’s at the western edge of the Great Basin, a geographical area that does not drain to the sea. Water coming out of the Sierra flows downhill into the lake, and from there the only way it leaves is through evaporation. As a result, it’s very salty. Great Salt Lake in Utah is similar, on the eastern edge of the Great Basin.

But that doesn’t explain the tufa. Calcium-rich springs flow up through the bed of Mono Lake, where the calcium bonds to carbonates in the water – making limestone. The limestone slowly builds on itself around the vent, creating a tower. When the lake level goes down, these tufa towers become exposed and stop growing. Pretty cool stuff.

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A sign says South Tufa is the best place to view these formations, and my campsite is less than four miles away, sweet. I stop at camp quick to check on things then continue on to South Tufa.

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It’s $3 a person to take the boardwalk trail, or if you have a National Park Service pass (like my $80 Interagency Pass) that counts too. I leave my pass on the dash as proof and eagerly set off down to the lake shore.

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Neato! It’s getting on to evening now and a stiff ocean salty lake breeze cuts the heat of the day. The tufa come in all shapes and sizes, some running in lines like a wall, some tall and thin, some squat and sturdy. I even find an arch.

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California Gulls make a ruckus out over the water, there are dozens of them around. An informational sign explains their presence, up to 80% of the state’s population come to Mono Lake to nest on the islands, safe from predators. There are no fish for them to feed on in the lake, but there is a specialized species of shrimp that is salt-tolerant that they like. Mono Lake is a refuge or stopover for many species of bird that feed on the brine shrimp and alkali flies.

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

The sun disappears behind the Sierra a couple hours later as I sit out in my yard, no one else has come to share my spot. The last touch of light turns the distant mountains behind Mono Lake pink. It’s not a dazzling sunset, like some I’ve witnessed since I started boondocking, but it’s just as special. One more million-dollar view had for next to nothing. Another brilliant snapshot of the wonders of our country that I never would have experienced had I not taken the chance and gone full-timing. Not a day goes by that I don’t remember how far I’ve come from the girl who hated her job and dreaded waking up in the morning, so I’m thankful for every sunset – extravagant or simple. Tonight I’ll go to bed satisfied with my day, and tomorrow I’ll wake up eager to see what’s next.

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* * *

Going full-time RVing was a big goal on my bucket list. So was writing a book and being a paid performer at a renaissance festival, what’re yours?

DreamsCover350Introducing The Little Guide To Dreaming Big, a manual that covers the entire process of making your dreams a reality.

There’s something you’ve always wanted to do. A dream, but not just the ordinary, everyday kind of dream. An unrealistic, crazy sort of dream that makes your heart sing, and brings a little light into the dull routine of your day.

Or maybe you don’t know exactly what you want to do. You just feel restless, beat-down, or lost. You know something needs to change, and dream of what it would be like to truly enjoy your life.

You pull that dream out when you’re having a bad day, and tell yourself someday it’ll happen – a promise of future happiness. But deep down, you doubt it. It’s not practical and you have responsibilities, Happily-Ever-After will have to wait until retirement, or until you have more money, or until you can spare the time – it’s just a dream, after all.

But it’s not just a dream.

It’s a glimpse of the life you’ve always wanted to live, but told yourself wasn’t possible. A life that you wake up happy to face in the morning, that leaves you feeling fulfilled at the end of the day.

Living your dreams isn’t a fate reserved for just a lucky or talented few. It’s obtainable by everyone, no matter your past or current circumstances.

When I wrote Solo Full-time RVing On A Budget, it occurred to me that a lot of IO’s readers were already on the road, or wanted to go full-timing but their situation was vastly different than the audience I wrote that guide for, or were done with the travel phase of their lives and had moved on to other things, or were years out from being able to go full-timing, or are content to be arm-chair travelers with no desire to travel themselves.

That’s a lot of people left out from the first guide, and I wanted to write something that would be beneficial for everyone.

My blog is essentially about two things: full-time RVing, and deliberate living. The Little Guide To Dreaming Big focuses on the later topic, echoing some of the very first blog posts I wrote for IO in 2011 before I hit the road, but greatly updated with all the experience I’ve gained since then in checking items off my bucket list.

It will benefit anyone who is looking for a more meaningful and fulfilling life, but it is especially for those who have a big dream and are looking for help to bring it to fruition. The advice and tasks within can be applied to just about any big dream out there from switching careers, to exceeding at a hobby, to growing a community, to starting a business, to changing your living situation (yes, it can be applied to full-time RVing, even though it isn’t specifically about it).

And it’ll be available one week from now on Thursday, June 30th. Next week I’ll give more specifics on the subjects covered in the guide and answer some questions I anticipate people having about it.

For those who aren’t interested, that’s perfectly fine. I’ll be continuing my travelogue posts as usual so you’ll still have plenty to read.

Have a good weekend everyone!

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Becky

At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.

36 Comments

  1. John on July 10, 2016 at 4:50 am

    Thanks for your blog overall and this is another wonderful post.

    I am looking into option of long term van-dwelling or maybe pulling a trailer. It is hard to figure out which way to go, but you are making me look more into pulling a trailer. Keep up the good work, I look forward to continuing to read your blog.
    John recently posted..Location Independent Living Can Be In Your Comfort Zone and a Good ExperienceMy Profile



    • Becky on July 10, 2016 at 7:36 pm

      You’re welcome John. I’m glad you’re enjoying IO and hope you continue to find it useful. 🙂

      Deciding what type of RV to travel in is a really hard decision, I think it’s good that you’re taking the time to give it serious thought. I’m sure you’ll come to the right decision for you.



  2. Jay on June 27, 2016 at 8:33 am

    Becky hasn’t posted in a few days! hope that she is OK as their is a fire just west of Mono Lake on Hwy 395, they even closed 395 for a while. Hope that she post soon so we know that she is OK. A worried fan. Jay



    • Becky on June 27, 2016 at 11:20 pm

      Friday was interesting Jay but I’m alright, thanks for your concern. Today’s blog post introduces the Marina Fire.



  3. Dawn in MI on June 27, 2016 at 6:52 am

    I’m excited for you. And will definitely read it. Thanks for sharing your experiences with all of us!



    • Becky on June 27, 2016 at 11:19 pm

      Thanks and you’re welcome!



  4. Larry M on June 24, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    Hi Becky,

    I just happened on your blog so I’m just beginning to enjoy it. I just wanted to send you a short note thanking you for taking the time and effort to write it.

    I’m a full time RVer in my 35 foot motorhome. I’ve been mostly parked for the last 2 years, but starting in July I’m headed south via Crater Lake (a have to see!!), Yosemite (love it in spite of the crowds), and Zion NP (fantastic). Blogs like yours are a great source of information, and are much appreciated!! 🙂

    Happy Trails and Safe Travels!!

    Larry M from the Pacific NW



    • Becky on June 24, 2016 at 4:09 pm

      Hello Larry,

      Welcome to IO and I’m glad you’re enjoying it. Sounds like you have a good summer planned, I haven’t been to Oregon or Washington state yet but look forward to visiting the PNW someday. I’ve visited Yosemite twice now and work-camped a summer in Zion, both are great places. You’re very welcome for the information, take care.



  5. Sylvia on June 24, 2016 at 11:21 am

    Becky, huge congratulations on your new book. I’ll be buying a copy for my son, who is blazing his own lifestyle trail.



    • Becky on June 24, 2016 at 4:04 pm

      Thanks Sylvia, I hope your son gets a lot of use out of it. It’s definitely a good book for trailblazers.



  6. Kent on June 24, 2016 at 11:20 am

    I really love the botanical, geological, geographical and historical side of your posts. As well I like hearing about good, fun food, interesting people and places as in your last blog post.
    You remind me so much of a friend I “adopted” years ago – bright, articulate, thoughtful…. A thinker of things, a travel companion to places like Arches and Moab.

    I will definitely buy your book. I really enjoy hearing/reading others perspectives on “life”. Thank you so much for sharing yours.



    • Becky on June 24, 2016 at 4:03 pm

      You’re welcome Kent, thanks for reading and for the interest in The Little Guide To Dreaming Big. 🙂



  7. Norm H. on June 24, 2016 at 10:12 am

    Great post about a favorite area of ours. Congrats on the “birth” of your new book as well. If you’ve not done so, we highly recommend a visit to Bodi State Park. If you have time, take the drive out the back way from the park into Bridgeport. (I’m assuming the snow is gone!). Ditto on the Tioga Pass road. Lovely drive.



    • Becky on June 24, 2016 at 3:57 pm

      Thanks Norm. I’ve already gone up Tioga Road, but my trip to Bodie was delayed on account extenuating circumstances (wildfire started just north of Lee Vining overnight – the RV, truck, and I are all fine) we’ll see how long 395 is closed.



      • Norm H. on June 24, 2016 at 5:57 pm

        Sorry to hear that yet another fire has started, but glad you and your rig are safe. Enjoy Bodie whenever you can make it. Often, nice thunderheads build in the afternoons making for some nice pictures there. Be safe.



        • Becky on June 24, 2016 at 6:50 pm

          Will do, thanks.



  8. Sandy on June 24, 2016 at 7:01 am

    Can’t wait to get a copy. Thanks to you and people like you, I am now full-timing. That doesn’t mean that all the dreams are still on track, though. I’ve been so overwhelmed with the separation from the old life phase to the learning everything as quickly as I can phase, that I keep falling back into the ‘I need more financial security phase.’ I am very much looking forward to your guide book. As we all know, dreams are sublimated and not often encouraged. I am working on some very new muscles here and the timing of your new ebook is just right…and from my favorite philosopher on wheels. What could be better?!!



    • Becky on June 24, 2016 at 3:55 pm

      Congrats on making the switch Sandy and I understand how hectic the transition can be. I wish you all the best and hope you get a lot of use out of my new guide, it does sound like the timing is perfect. 🙂



  9. Annie davis on June 24, 2016 at 6:21 am

    Keep on truck in’ love every moment of reading and all your gorgeous pics!!



    • Becky on June 24, 2016 at 3:48 pm

      I will Annie, thanks for reading. 🙂



  10. Gary King on June 24, 2016 at 6:20 am

    Great post again Becky, Totally awesome 🙂
    Gary King recently posted..2014 LCT-NLA Show EastMy Profile



    • Becky on June 24, 2016 at 3:47 pm

      Glad you enjoyed it Gary.



  11. Furry Gnome on June 24, 2016 at 5:30 am

    Becky, congrats on choosing to do this, and getting it done! You’ve taken on a really bold task. I’m really looking forward to getting this one; I loved those early posts in your blog (just like I’ve enjoyed everything since). Maybe it’ll help me in retirement devevop a bit more focus on goals! It’s very easy to get lazy about things at this stage of life!



    • Becky on June 24, 2016 at 3:46 pm

      Thanks Gnome, and it’s good to hear from you again. I’m really excited to be releasing it next week. 🙂 Thanks for your interest and take care.



  12. Clay on June 23, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    Becky, everyone should take a drive over Tioga pass into Yosemite. You are very near the road at mono lake. There is a forest service campground just before you enter the national park on the east side of the park. Yosemite itself will be filled with people and you will have a hard time getting any camp site there. You can camp at the forest camp and enter Yosemite early the next morning and spend the day checking the national park out. Leave out the other end of the park and stay at one of the many forest campgrounds outside the west end of the park



    • Becky on June 23, 2016 at 11:03 pm

      That was indeed the “pass” I was referring to in this post Clay, more about that coming up. 🙂



  13. Tina on June 23, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    I’ve been literally checking each post for more information about your new book. Can’t wait to get it first thing before I go camping in the Redwoods for a week. I’m sure it will suit the landscape very well and give me lots of food for thought. 🙂

    Take care Becky!

    Tina



    • Becky on June 23, 2016 at 11:01 pm

      Oooh, sounds like a great trip Tina. Yes, I think this guide would be a very suitable thing to read in that environment. Thanks for your interest and I can’t wait to release it next week!



  14. Judy on June 23, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    I took a video of Mono Lake coming down 395. We have been enjoying our scenery and especially loved Williams, AZ at Route 66!! I took so many pics. I see where the ideas of the “Cars” movie came from. Your pictures are great! Enjoy your pictures!!



    • Becky on June 23, 2016 at 8:59 pm

      That was such a cute movie Judy! Glad to hear your travels are going well, you’ll probably arrive in Texas before too much longer, huh? Take care, and you’re welcome for the pictures.



  15. Jerry Minchey on June 23, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    Becky,

    I love that book cover. The colors are eye-catching, and the text is easy to read even in Amazon’s thumbnail picture.

    The best part is that it captures the essence of your subject.

    I can’t wait to get a copy and read your book. I’ve waited this long. I can wait another week.



    • Becky on June 23, 2016 at 8:55 pm

      Thanks Jerry, glad you enjoy it. It took me about an hour and a half to come up with the cover, and then another hour or so to make it in all the different sizes and shapes I need for Kindle and PDF (yes, the PDF and Kindle versions will be released simultaneously this time!) plus banners, etc.

      A little about the photo I used for the cover: It’s one I took while boondocking at the dry lake in Joshua Tree this past March. Here’s a link to the blog post that sunset first appeared in (which incidentally, was a Deliberate Living post). https://interstellarorchard.com/2016/03/22/not-just-a-sunset/ I knew I wanted a sunset picture, and of all the great ones I’ve had the pleasure to witness this was one of my favorites.



  16. pamelab on June 23, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    Hi, Becky –
    Thanks for all the geological information. I really like that. Those tufa or tufas are so interesting looking and I was curious as to how they were formed.
    What a gorgeous view of Mono Lake from your campsite. And the sunset is fabulous. Thank you for capturing and sharing.
    Looks like I will be picking up my Casita 17′ SD on August 2nd! I am excited. I am also a bit intimidated. But, I’ll be sure to reread my notes I have from you and the Casita owners’ guide and the YouTube videos, so I know what the heck I am doing after I pull out of the parking lot at Casita.
    I like the option you offer to click to see a bigger photo. It really makes a difference in the enjoyment of landscape photos. Thanks for offering that.
    Happy Trails and thank you for your super duper blog.
    Pamelab in Houston…for now



    • Becky on June 23, 2016 at 8:47 pm

      Wow, congratulations Pamela! You must be very excited, 5 weeks and 5 days to go. I think every new RV owner feels that special mix of excitement and anxiety when a date is set to get started, I know I was. Don’t worry too much about it though, you’re well prepared and I’m confident you’ll do fine. For starters, the highway coming out of the Casita factory is in good shape and an easy drive. 🙂

      Also, you’re welcome. I’m like you in that when I see something unusual, I want to know more about it. Curiosity demanded I figure out how the tufa were formed. I don’t have the bandwidth to upload a large version of every photo I take, but for the special and most scenic ones I like to, glad you like them.



  17. sarah shillinger on June 23, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    Thank you this is wonderful.



    • Becky on June 23, 2016 at 8:40 pm

      You’re welcome Sarah!



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