The boys and I went up to Strawberry last Tuesday morning. We stayed two nights. It was amazing good time even though I was very sick. On the way to Strawberry we stopped at Sonora (THere was some flooding) for lunch. We ate at a place called the Diamondback Grill. The food was very high quality but the portions were enormous. Their smallest hamburger was 1/2 pound of beef. After lunch we made it as far as Twain Harte before the CHP required chains. Anselm Samuel did a great job putting them on. From then on we made very slow progress. Roads were covered with ice and snow. We arrived at the Strawberry Inn about 5 pm. We had dinner, played several games of pool in the bar, and then went to our room. The boys discovered the old teevee show, Fresh Prince of Bel Air. They were laughing out loud though several episodes.
The next morning after breakfast (the view from the dining room over looked the frozen Stanislaus River. It was gorgeous.) I sent Basil out to scrape the windows on the van. I was distressed when he came back and told me he broke the key off in the van's door. Thankfully, it was the wrong key so I could still drive the van. The problem: The van only has one key hole in one door and it was jammed with part of a broken key. So, we played pool in the bar and waited two hours for a locksmith to come open the van for us. It cost $100.
After that we drove to where the gate is closed to Sonora Pass and looked out over hundreds of miles of snow covered wilderness. The boys played in the snow there for a while but I wanted to head over to Pine Crest so we left after about 1/2. On the road to Pine Crest I saw another road with a sign indicating a USFS station and thought I'd pull in there to get a map of the forest for the boys. I saw that the snow was a little deeper on this road but I had chains on so I thought it would be no problem. I was totally wrong. We got stuck. The boys were great. they chopped limbs off of trees to use for traction. They poured water over the engine so it would melt the snow under the van. They dug and dug and dug. And after 40 minutes we were free and on the way to Pine Crest. But then I saw another road and another sign. The sign said Leland Snow Play. So we drove over that way (it had some thin ice on it but very little snow) for a couple of miles and found a super fun inner tube slopes. I bought lift tickets and goggles for the boys and watched them zooming down the slopes the rest of the afternoon. When the sun was low we left and drove back to the inn. (I want to mention that there were hardly any cars on the roads; just snow plows or Forest Service pick-up trucks once in a while. It was very peaceful to drive through the forest with snow falling and no other cars.) I was too sick to eat supper but the boys ate in the inn's dining room while I had a gin and tonic at the bar. (I had two drinks the whole trip. It was uncomfortable but I didn't want my sons to see me drinking a lot.) After they ate we played some more pool then went to bed. We were tired.
The next morning we packed up, checked out and drove to Pine Crest. My dad used to take me fishing there 40 years ago so it is kind of nostalgic for me. It was almost totally deserted. I talked to the guy who owns the general store, and he said winter is the off season, that fewer than 400 guests were there, but in the summer 10,000 isn't unusual. I was surprised by that. After stoping at the general store we drove to the lake. It was good to see it full of water and snow. Last winter it was totally dry. After 5 years of extreme drought this has been a good wet winter for California. After Pine Crest we drove home, with a brief stop in Jamestown.
Oh, the diagnosis. It seems I have stage 2 COPD. Doctors have been wrong about me before. Let's hope they are wrong this time, too.
8 hours ago