Norm and I have both enjoyed being adventurous and outdoorsy since our youth. Our mutual histories in competitive racing and extreme sports helped to bond our relationship early on. Longevity has played out in our families and at 65 we're showing the potential for ageability too. Just like the fine wines made at Flying Goat. Before harvest 2022 began, we indulged in an action packed two-week road trip. We returned home fulfilled. Here's our story....
Just before harvest begins, Norm and I have made a tradition of getting away for a couple of weeks to rejuvenate our souls. This year we chose a California road trip with our pooch, Cooper. He's a great companion on and off the road so we didn't want to leave him behind.*
We headed for the Eastern Sierra via CA State Route 14 and quickly passed through Lancaster and Mojave, where the weather was hot, dry and windy, well above 100 degrees. Driving north on Highway 395 (also known as the Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway) we were inspired by the majestic peaks looming to the West. In Lone Pine we detoured toward them, passing through the dramatic film location site called Alabama Hills and on to the Whitney Portal.
Located in Inyo National Forest, Whitney Portal is the gateway to Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States. It is also the trailhead for the Mount Whitney Trail. With so many eager hikers attempting to summit, it was the most crowded spot we visited in the Eastern Sierra. Not sure if summiting Mount Whitney is on our "To Do" list.
At Independence, we drove west to Lower Grays Meadow Camp Ground. What a delight to find that there was only one other camper during the peak of summer. We had a private pool in the creek adjacent to our campsite all to ourselves. The next morning we hiked from nearby Onion Valley on Kearsarge Pass Trail to just short of the summit. The temps went from the 90s to the 30s as we got near the top. Soaking wet from the chilling rain and feeling altitude sickness, we headed down. Nonetheless, we hiked ~2,500' vertical in 4 miles. We passed many alpine lakes, all icy cold, and many hikers that were resupplying for the Pacific Crest Trail and John Muir Trail. Cooper delighted in swimming the numerous lakes along the trail and all the attention from thru-hikers.
We headed north along the 395 to June Lake, where we enjoyed a couple days of stand up paddling, swimming and hiking with great friends who live there. We found Norm's namesake Yost Lake to be an exhilarating hike offering outstanding views, abundant wildflowers and another brisk alpine lake swim.
Our next stop was the surreal Mono Lake with its tufa towers-mineral structures, created when fresh-water springs bubble up through the alkaline waters of the lake. The lake's salty water makes you float like a cork and sustains trillions of brine shrimp, attracting millions of migratory birds to feast on them. We recommend stand up paddling for more intimate birding and soaking in the therapeutic saline soda waters.
From Mono Lake, we detoured to the hauntingly beautiful Bodie State Historic Park, which is a ghost town in "arrested decay" in the Sierra Mountains. From 1860-1941 Bodie's mines produced gold and silver valued at an estimated $34 million. With over 63 saloons and up to 10,000 residents at its gold mining peak in 1879, Flying Goat surely would have had a niche market. My alter ego has always been "Miss Kitty Russell" from the western television series Gunsmoke so I felt right at home.
Bodie fixer upper?
On Highway 89, we enjoyed a kismet encounter when we stopped in Markleeville (Alpine County) for an exceptional dinner at StoneFly. The owners, Faith and John Saletti, previously owned a stellar restaurant in Lompoc with their eponymous name. What a treat to find them again!
We enjoyed a couple of days at the relaxing and rustic Sorenson Resort in Hope Valley. The wildflowers on nearby Carson Pass were breathtakingly diverse and colorful; peaking much later than usual. We highly recommend the Lake Winnemucca loop as a great day hike for many levels of hikers. The Sorenson Cafe is also a delicious food experience.
From there we went on to the COVID boomtown of Truckee, where we stayed four days with a couple of locals. Serial entrepreneur Hans Wain, who was Norm's college buddy and extreme sport comrade, launched Trail Kitchens and now morphed into TK Van Products with the popularity of vanlife. Naturally, we did product testing on Lake Tahoe, where the water temperature was unusually warm and perfect for swimming. One of Wain's custom Ford Transit vans is on our wish list, whenever it becomes available.
Norm and I split up for a couple of days in San Francisco so that he could visit his mother in Mill Valley. At 87, she lives alone at her home and proudly demonstrates her Latvian self reliance, independence and persistence. I visited a bestie and her community urban garden in its summer splendor, as well as indulged in the cultural pleasures of San Francisco.
Norm and I wrapped up our trip with a grand finale. Thanks to a wine business colleague, who recently attained a bareboat chartering certification, we got to sail the San Francisco Bay on a Beneteau 37. A typical blustery summer day with 28 knot winds, it was not your cocktail cruise! We sailed from Richmond to Raccoon Strait to Alcatraz Island. Dense low fog prohibited further exploration. Norm grew up sailing on the Bay so it brought back fond memories of his youth.
Our road trip illustrates our passion for outdoor adventure, physical and mental challenge, as well as appreciation of our friends and family. Our healthy lifestyle keeps us fit, energetic and youthful. It also rejuvenates our creative spirit to provide Flying Goat guests more amazing experiences. And of course, wine is our elixir for life!
*Coincidently, Dogtrekker recently featured the dog friendly road trip for viewing fall foliage. Be sure to click through to website to read more on the route.