Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Road Knitting

I haven't been on a "car vacation" that required more than 4 hours of driving since I was a kid. One would think that those memories of my sister and I enduring endless boredom in the back of the station wagon with the family dogs, the squeeky styrofoam cooler, and a persistant case of "back-seat nausea" would have quenched any desire I had to do it again. But two things have changed. First, due to my knitting habit, I actually look forward to having long periods of idle time. Second, I'm a big girl now, so I've graduated to the front seat!

We're back from the Mammoth Lakes Festival of Beers and Bluesapalooza, and what fun it was! On Thursday, we trekked up there via old Hwy 395, which goes through a string of dinky, desert semi-ghost towns that fueled a number of Wikipedia searches in hopes of answering the question "Why would anyone live here?!" Turns out the area's economy is fueled to a large extent by military weapons testing. Your tax dollars are going to train our armed forces to blow up cacti. It was 102F where we stopped for lunch - we are SO not used to that kind of heat and dryness!

Since the festival didn't start until Friday night, we had the day to play, and decided to do a little hiking. We found a 3 mile hike with a 500 foot elevation going from 9000 to 9500 feet. Needless to say, I was winded after walking from the car to the trail head. We made it through the hike without physical difficulty, but still aren't sure that we ended up at the right lake. The trails weren't marked at all, and there were several unexpected forks that we didn't know how to navigate. Whatever lake it was we found, it was beautiful and clear, and cold, and had good shady areas to rest in before the hike back. After returning to the resort, we treated our sore muscles with champage and a soak in the hottub, where we watched an intense lightening storm over the nearby hills.

The festival was great, and couldn't have been easier to attend. Mammoth seems to really want to keep drinkers out of their cars, so they have put a lot of effort into trollies and hotel shuttles to move people around. Friday night we participated in the BBQ dinner, saw two bands, and strategized where we wanted to park our chairs the next day. Saturday, we headed over to the event an hour early in hopes of securing a good place in line, but the volume
of attendees was far larger on day 2, and our prime seating strategy didn't work out. We did get a fairly decent spot, however, halfway between the performance stage and the beer tasting tents. From here we enjoyed 5 hours of beers being poured by 70 breweries, and 8 hours of live music spanning a fun range of blues styles. The weather was great, and there was some great people watching!

My favorite performer of the day was John Lee Hooker, Jr - here's a brief video clip:

Since we were only 25 miles south of Yosemite, we decided to take a detour through the park on our way home. This added 4 hours to the drive, but it was worth it to see the area and learn a little about its history. I'd love to spend a week or so camping there someday!

I'm pleased to report that the 20 hours in the car allowed me to make some serious progress on my Premiere Swing top. I'm almost done with the front, and will maybe even finish the knitting today! Then I'll need to do the assembly and some sort of finishing work around the neck and arms. I've already got my next "non-work" project brewing in my mind, and it involves using my stashed Big Berthas!


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