As August reaches its last days and Summer comes to a close, we find ourselves in the bustling metropolis of Carson City, Nevada for the Labor Day weekend. The talk is about Reno's Rib-off Festival, September 3rd City elections, and school's start. It is nice to hear such "homey" stuff. It has been a full and busy summer for us. However, as school buses fill the road and temperatures cool, we still have two months of research remaining in three more National Forests before we head back to Bisbee.
We started August off with every intention of surveying the developed campgrounds in the Sequoia National Forest but fire, once again, chased us out. We spent a few days "in the Valley" to give Suzi's lungs a rest and adjust our plans. But you know, that's one of the best parts of this adventure every adjustment leads us to something interesting and beautiful, in this case, Stanislaus National Forest.
Our "regrouping" efforts occurred in the old (by California standards) community of Menteca. We were told the town's name is related to its past. Once upon a time, ranchers brought their cattle here for slaughter. The name refers to the resulting stink. There were some very "fragrant" sections of town during our stay but we think it was related more to a recent sugar beet harvest than history. We stayed at an unusual, at least for us, campground that was part of a water park. We were concerned but even with a dozen or more water slides and other water attractions nearby, it wasn't bad. And it was a pleasure to have electric power for air conditioning in 100 plus temperatures.
After Menteca, we headed for the Stanislaus National Forest. The Stanislaus is sometimes referred to as "a gateway to Yosemite National Park" but it is much more. Actually, the part of the Stanislaus one sees driving into Yosemite is probably the least impressive part of this wonderful Forest. Once off State Route 120, the main route into the Park and Yosemite Valley, you begin to see what makes this Forest so outstanding.
The Stanislaus National Forest is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains range and has three mountain passes. These passes, Tiago, Ebbetts, and Sonora, provide a means of going from Stanislaus on the west side of the mountain range to the Toiyabe National Forest on the east. (All three routes were used by western moving emigrants which only enhances our respect for those emigrants.) Tiago Pass crosses over at Yosemite NP and while the most RV-friendly, it is hazardous to new (as in RV rental folks) drivers. Ebbetts Pass and Sonora Pass are incredibly beautiful but with 25 and 27 degree slopes, numerous switchbacks, and narrow roadways, each is a barrier to any RV traffic. They are just plain dangerous to new and experienced RV ers alike. Of course, none of our maps mentioned any limitations. After our Ophir Pass experience in Colorado, we decided to err on the side of caution and when Stanislaus was completed, took the long way around to the Toiyabe. (Meaning a 271 mile drive verse 57 miles.) But before we left Stanislaus, we did drive both of these Passes in Kermit. They were absolutely breathtakingly beautiful and the drive confirmed the wisdom in our decision!!!
The Stanislaus is full of delightful surprises from the topography to the people. For anyone considering visiting this area, may we suggest an obligatory visit to Yosemite National Park (one day to see Yosemite Valley and a drive to Glacier Point was enough for us), then head for the Stanislaus for the remainder of your vacation. There, you can explore the results of the incredible force of glaciers and the land building power of volcanoes. (A view of the Emigrant Wilderness shows nearly a thousand foot lava flow, subsequently carved by wind, snow, and ice, to look like stacks of puffy feather pillows.) There are places of total destruction caused by fires, landslides, and avalanches and quiet rebirth where fireweed flowers, Lodgepole pine, and Aspen provide hope for the future. And there are stretches of lush, velvet green forest surrounding multi-color wildflower studded meadows. The beauty of Stanislaus is really better experienced than described and we hope you someday will enjoy it.
One word to describe the people of the Stanislaus National Forest is wonderful. Remember, here we are, nosing around in the last month of a very challenging season. Wildfires to the south in Sequoia National Forest and to the north in Oregon, placed a strain on most of Stanislaus's resources. These fires, and perhaps this "nesting" trend the media talk about, brought an increased number of visitors to the Forest. Many of these visitors have limited camping experience which adds to the Forest's workload. In other words, the Forest Service had been working long and hard by the time we showed up. Rather then being cross or short with us, the Stanislaus welcomed us with wide open arms and cheery dispositions. In short, the Stanislaus National Forest was a total and complete delight for us and a place we highly recommend.
Another wonderful delight for us was the birth of our first grand baby. Although about a month early, Tyler Edward Rolfe, born August 27, 2002 at 10:13am, weighed 6 pounds 1 ounce. Tyler, Mama Dolly, and Papa John are doing fine. As soon as we complete the Toiyabe and Humboldt National Forests in Nevada, we'll be heading for Montana and our first visit with Tyler before going on to Kentucky and Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. Talk to you next month.
Suzi and Fred