From Manazanita Lake, we drove to Reno.
Through huge meadows full of snow, heavy sky. Trees. The air felt blade-cold, like it could slice through you if it wanted to – but it smelled so sweet from the trees, it didn’t seem cruel.
When we arrived in Reno, little city in the big desert, we went straight to load up on food for camping in the boondocks – and water, propane. Everything we’d need. No more – our budget is pretty tight; no less – we are staying warm and fed!
Then hit the road again.
Since Garmin led us on the dance through 395 (business, not freeway!), the sun was hanging low when we were finally looking at Reno from our rear mirror. Mikey wasn’t keen on setting up in the dark again – and I wasn’t too eager to hang out with the kids in the freezing weather while he popped the camper up and all that. It’s kind of like plucking splinters from under your nail. You know you’ve got to do it but boy, talk about no fun! “Stop, Moxie!”, “Don’t push Mac!”, “Micah, get out of the snow!” – run, chase, run, chase, kid falls, SCREAMING ENSUES, “Nooooooooooooooooooooooo MOXIE!”
So when we saw the blinking light for the Topaz Lake Casino RV Park – $20! Showers! $3.95 all-you-can-eat-spaghetti! – we were like, ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh, yeah.
And it was cool. Sure, it was camping in a parking lot, but we did get nice long hot showers in RV shower area, the bathrooms were really clean and that $3.95 all-you-can-eat spaghetti was delicious. The next morning, I took the kids back to the Casino for breakfast (- $1.99 biscuits and gravy!) and I gotta say… I was surprised at how much I liked it all.
The waitstaff were awesome – a bunch of sweet/stern/sassy Grandma types, old men kept coming around to stop and say hi in non-creepy ways (- one old guy, literally with his cane, gave each kid 25 cents, “don’t spend it all in one place now!”). The food was good, the gravy was peppery.
Mikey broke down camp while I was enjoying those biscuits and gravy with the kids and then we hopped in and took off for the Long Valley and all of the hot springs therein.
First stop? Bridgeport.
Now, the last time we were in Bridgeport, it was busting at its seams with tourists right off of their buses. The last time we were in Bridgeport, we’d had fish and chips or something like that, and snickered our share at the bright colours that the tourists favoured in their clothing selections. The straw hats, sandals, pale legs gleaming in the sun. We thought it was really funny, like we were somehow above that. Ha. Ha.
Anyway, this time? Bridgeport was a different town.
The lady in the local store (- white bread: $3.99; regular/nice grain bread, $6.99!!) said the campground by Buckeye Hot Springs was closed and that the road to Buckeye might be closed as well.
We shrugged and decided to skip Buckeye and go straight to Travertine since that was sure thing: an incredibly lovely hotspring, definitely open, and on the way to the hot springs by the town of Mammoth.
Makes me think if you were an atheist, you’d believe in God after soaking here. It’s like transcendent bliss, man.
After 3 hours – which felt like 30 minutes – we were ready to go. And what was unbelievable was that we’d had 3 hours to ourselves ( – one guy came briefly by, dipped in and left – but he doesn’t count since he was so fast and my back was to him so it was like he wasn’t really there, right?), and then just as we were leaving, people upon people, car after car, truck after truck arrived. When we pulled away with our own truck, Myrtle headed towards Mammoth, there were probably 20 people there.
We were so lucky.
You can be lucky too – here are the coordinates:
And for more info on camping and getting there from wherever you are (- and to a whole lot of other hot springs), get this book:
(and what do you know?! that’s Travertine right there on the cover!)