Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Bishop, Tuff Campground, Crowley Lake Campground (CA)

This entry will be posted more than two weeks after our last one—mainly because we stayed in one location for two weeks, and we had no steady cell phone signal while there. Sorry for the delay!

After leaving the beautiful Goodale Creek Campground on 13 May 2019, we had a bunch of errands to do. We went to Independence Mall to gas up the Roadtrek and to top off the propane. We stopped at the Post Office in Big Pine to pick up a General Delivery package, then continued north to the town of Bishop. We couldn’t locate a car wash equipped to deal with a vehicle the size of the Roadtrek, but Margaret was able to do a high-pressure rinse at the Arco station in town. (It was out of soap!) Since we weren’t able to fill up the freshwater tank at previous stops, I used the website and the Campendium app to find a site where we could get water. We ended up driving to a U.S. Forest Service campground called Four Jeffrey, which was quite the drive into the mountains at 7,000 ft. elevation. The water was super cold and tasty right out of the faucet, though. After filling up with that lovely mountain water, we headed back to Bishop, stopping at Erick Schat’s Bakkery, which is a well-known local hot spot. Literally! We got three different types of bread: Squaw, whole wheat, and zucchini. Yum! With our stash of fresh bread, we headed for a real supermarket—Vons—where we stocked up on most of the items we had on our lists. Margaret then purchased a few items from Kmart and asked if we could park overnight in their lot. She was told they don’t mind as long as the campers don’t cause trouble (which we never do!). We ended up with a prime-level spot next to two larger trees and were one of several RVs to stay the night.

The next morning we drove to the Bishop Library and were able to use their Wi-Fi for an hour, which wasn’t long enough but was better than nothing. Our T-Mobile signal was not very strong in Bishop, no matter where we were.

We headed north on Highway 395 looking for a particular BLM dispersed camping area but found that a locked gate now barred our way to that area. Plan B: We turned to our campsite apps and found a U.S. Forest Service campground a few miles to the north. This one was open, and we were optimistic about finding an available site.

We arrived at Tuff Campground at 4:15 pm and found a lovely drive-through site very near to Lower Rock Creek (just across the dirt campground road from us!) I made veggie burgers and Potatoes O’Brien for dinner, and we crashed! Moving days are always very tiring for us.

Tuff Campground. Photo by Virginia.

We had the strongest cell signal I recall ever having while camping, right there at Tuff (3 out of 4 bars LTE), which made using my phone as a personal hotspot almost a pleasant experience. The view out the window above my bed was of stunning spring-leafed Aspen trees, which we don’t see at all in San Diego.

Aspen Trees at Tuff Campground. Photo by Virginia.

I could hear the creek, which was another spectacular feature of our campsite.

 Lower Rock Creek video by Virginia.
[If you have trouble viewing this embedded movie, 
you may view it directly on YouTube here:]

 A westward view at Tuff Campground. Photo by Margaret.

An eastward view at Tuff Campground. Photo by Margaret.

Even though the campground was immediately east of and ran parallel to Highway 395, the traffic noise was minimal to nonexistent, and trees blocked nearly all of the highway. The entire campground was very clean. They had modern vault toilets, potable water, trash, and recycling. Many of the campsites also had sun shelters. During our short two-night stay, we had light rain showers and some soft, wet snow, which melted right away. What a delight it was, though, lying in bed watching the snow fall. Gorgeous!

 Lower Rock Creek in Tuff Campground. Photo by Virginia.

The Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains from Tuff Campground. Photo by Virginia.

 Tuff Campground. Photo by Virginia.

On the morning of 16 May, we topped off our freshwater tank and dumped our trash and recyclables before leaving Tuff and continuing north on Highway 395. The weather reports showed unfavorable conditions farther north, so Margaret thought it best that we wait out any difficult driving conditions and closed roads near our current location. She decided upon a BLM campground just a few miles north of Tuff. Crowley Lake Campground was just what we needed to hold up for two weeks—plenty of empty campsites to choose from, beautiful views, modern vault toilets, trash, and a fraction of the cost of Tuff ($25/$12.50 per night). With her pass, it was just $4 per night at Crowley.

 Crowley Lake Campground sign. Photo by Virginia.

On the way to the campground, we stopped for gas and goodies at the tiny Crowley Lake General Store. For a teeny-tiny store, they had quite the eclectic mix of items, including a home cookin’ café, freshly baked delights, and free Wi-Fi, too! They didn’t have much produce, but what they did have was super fresh and packaged beautifully. Once we arrived at the campground, we found a campsite where we could get a very weak signal standing on a particular spot on the road a few feet away from the Roadtrek. Those peek-a-boo signals are very frustrating, though, let me tell you. The views we had certainly made up for the lack of a signal, though. We had the huge snow-covered mountains (I think they were McGee Mountain and Mt. Morgan) just behind us to the west, the impressive White Mountains to the southeast, Crowley Lake, and the Long Valley Caldera Mountains to the east.

Crowley Lake Campground and view to the northeast. Photo by Virginia.

The Roadtrek at our campsite in Crowley Lake Campground. Photo by Margaret.

While we were there at Crowley Lake Campground, Margaret and I both felt that the weather changes were the most rapid and exaggerated of any place we could recall. It would go from sunny and relatively warm (the high 50s to low 60s) to cloudy with showers or hail or even snow in the blink of an eye. There were two days of almost continuous rain, hail, and snow, which made staying warm in bed and reading the ideal thing to do. We also experienced quite a lot of high winds, with a few very strong gusts. One day the winds came up so suddenly and so strong that they blew our broom off of the picnic table and started to blow one of our camp chairs away. Fortunately, I was able to rescue them and bring them inside the Roadtrek, which is highly inconvenient, given the tiny of amount of square footage (85.5 sq. ft.) we have. One particularly cold night it reached 19° F outside and got down to 38° inside the Roadtrek! My devices were icy cold, and I took to keeping them under the blanket and sleeping bag with me at night. So, while Margaret had Peaches to keep her warm in bed, I had my laptop, Kindle, and iPhone under the covers with me. Silly? Maybe, but I wasn’t willing to take any chances with my babies!

 The above mountain (McGee Mountain) was directly behind our campsite. It looked like this on the afternoon we arrived. Photo by Margaret.

 The same mountain (McGee) as above, as seen the next morning. Photo by Margaret.

The campground was located less than one mile from the Crowley Lake Library. We were extremely pleased to find that we could park outside and use their Wi-Fi, which was fast and an unbelievable treat. We spent over six hours catching up online, downloading books and shows, posting a blog entry, uploading photos to Flickr, etc. After having next to no cell signal for so long, fast Wi-Fi was a particularly remarkable luxury. We hit up the Wi-Fi again the next week, also for several hours. After each time, we took a quick trip to the nearby market to stock up on goodies.

Margaret and I made special dinners a few times; leftovers were nice side effects. However, with such an itty-bitty refrigerator, large batches of anything are impossible; and we must use sandwich baggies in order to fit the leftovers.

 Amy's Lentil Soup with added veggies, purple potatoes, & cashews over steamed brown rice. Meal by Margaret; photo by Virginia.

Teriyaki stir-fry w/Tofurky sausage over organic brown Basmati. Meal and photo by Virginia.

Teriyaki tofu cubes and vegetables over short grain brown rice. Meal by Margaret; photo by Virginia.

After a calm, relaxing, and view-tastic two weeks at Crowley Lake Campground, we left on 30 May for more adventures. Thanks for following along, and stay tuned!

NOTE: Clicking on the photos in the post will open them in a larger view (recommended!). If you want to see more photos of the beautiful places we've shared, we have them in this Flickr Collection: Over the Hill Sisters Photo Collection.


Cyn said...

Great entry, Virginia and Margaret! It must be such a wonderful free feeling to do this. I'm so happy you're enjoying it and can't wait to read about more of your adventures! xoxo

Havefaith1 said...

I love taking this adventure with you two! V, thanks for taking some videos too. The sound of that creek was beautiful nature music.

Mary Jo said...

loved the pictures and I agree the sounds of the creek very soothing

Virginia Hill said...

Thank you SO much, Cyn! Having one's home and belongings everywhere one goes is comforting and convenient. Having these amazingly beautiful and ever-changing views is stupendous!

Virginia Hill said...

We love having you come along, Roberta! Wouldn't it be grand if we could sit and chat? Each with our own cuppa (whatever) and let the amazing sights feed our souls.

Virginia Hill said...

Thank you, Mary Jo! I'm very glad you're enjoying the sights and sounds along with us.