Living in California definitely has its perks… sunshine, beaches, and palm trees. But on the flip side to that it also has mountain peaks, lakes, and pine tress. We love them all equally. We are just lucky enough to have both scenarios in our state (don’t get me started about our gorgeous deserts either I have a mad love affair with them too).
Our road trip started up the 395 highway, it’s a long drive but when you have music and a couple of chatty teenagers in the back the drive isn’t all that lonely. We know getting there is half the fun! After what seemed like forever driving through the ” Hills Have Eyes Valley” we made our first stop of the trip… Bishop California.
There are two stops you have to make first one is Erick Schat’s Bakery. It is authentic Dutch Bakery…now I am married to a Dutch man so when I say authentic I mean we could easily spend hundreds of dollars in there in no time. We were good and only spent $50. I am craving their cinnamon raisin bread right now! Our second stop was Manzanar. Manzanar War Relocation Center was one of ten camps where Japanese American citizens and resident Japanese aliens were interned during World War II. It is now a National Historic Site. The museum was incredible. It reminded me of the museums off The National Mall in Washington DC. It was interactive, modern, and educational (not to mention the bathrooms were clean and the water fountain water was COLD two bonuses on this long trip).
Next stop our campground in Twin Lakes (Mammoth).
We lucked out with this campground. We have camped all round the Bishop area and decided to go up a bit and try a new campground. We are picky campers. We were scared. When we arrived it took all our worries away in an instant. We were surrounded by creeks, trails, BATHROOMS, a general store, hot showers, and pure beauty. At about $20 a night we hit the jackpot!
We decided to drive to Bodie Ghost Town (one of the reasons we camped at Twin Lakes was the proximity to Bodie). Our family enjoys a good scare. ALong the way we stopped at the famed Mono Lake. From the car it looks gorgeous! It looks very east coast with the tall grass that leads to the water. They have picnic benches for you to enjoy the wildlife, eat your lunch, and take in Mother Nature herself.
We all get down from the car and take the path to the water. Instantly the smell hits you HARD. After you get over the stench the sand flies attack, and when you run back to your car you can’t help but think you are on another planet… one that looks like the moon, smells like an alien died, and attacks you when you try to leave. We didn’t last long there.. who knows why they have picnic benches there! Finally we move on to Bodie.
This was a whole other adventure. You are literally on the scariest mountain road for 50 miles. Scary not because you’re going to fall off, scary because if your car breaks down something is going to eat you.. and it will not be an animal. After about 30 minutes of sheer terror we see a clearing and structures. We made it. You have to pay to enter Bodie since it is a Historic State Park. We explore the town. It looks like everyone just disappeared one day and left behind their belongings. It is interesting to read the history on the houses and buildings. Each structure is numbered and it corresponds with the number in the program they give out. You can take a park guided tour or basically do a reading tour on your own. I couldn’t get over how many tourist were there! I live here and knew every little about this place. It was awesome. We were freaked out. Money well spent to scare us to death. Now for that drive back to the campsite.. oh great.
The next day we drive the June Lake Loop. We wanted to scout out future campsite and fishing spots. We found a ton. It’s a great little hidden gem with 3 main lakes and lots of little creeks. Pure adventure. We pack up and head off to our next destination. Lake Tahoe.
For this leg of the trip we are cheating a little bit. We booked a lodge room at Camp Richardson.
Awwww running water, a bathroom steps away, a comfy bed, and the water out our front door. Camp Richardson has so many options. Cabins, hotel, lodges… or camp. It was heaven. It wasn’t sand like the beach they were tiny rocks that don’t stick to you. It was very dirty dancing. Lake Tahoe has a ton of activities available. You can do them all or you can just find a quiet place on the lake and take in the scenery. We did a little of both. Without getting to relaxed we were off on another ghost adventure. The Truckee Hotel, in the town of Truckee one of my favorite towns growing up.
You get an eerie vibe in the Truckee Hotel for sure, but its hard to be truly scared in such a cute little town! We spent a good portion of the afternoon shopping in the downtown area. The have lots of little boutiques and artists. We moved on to The Donner Museum, the kids knew the Donner Party history so they were looking forward to going to the museum. It was no Manzanar museum that’s for sure but we did get some more facts on the story. We spent a couple of hours at the Donner Lake, which I think was my most favorite lakes on the trip. It was quite, clean, and hot! That is a great mixture or the lake. Very rarely do you get that combo!
You can see right through the water. The water was cool and you could walk out for a while without it getting deep. Perfect if you have little ones. The worst thing we had to worry about was the squirrels getting into our snacks. What is the moral of this story? Pretty much anywhere you go in the Sierras is amazing. So go.. plan a trip and go! Camp or motel it, or better yet resort it. Whatever you decide get out there, its right in our backyard.