The sinking California sun cast doubt on the daily report of Hurricane Dean. For the thousand plus others headed for the mountain west, it marked the end of summer and the beginning of the winter tourist season. For me it marked the beginning of a new life.

For the last eight months I have been living in Southeast Texas, a place called “Bexar” and we were going to be there at the end of May. My wife Carole 80 and I bought a new car (a GMC Yukon) at the beginning of October and decided that on the spur of the moment we were going to drive up to Bodie to see what we imagined to be the active volcano there. We had heard that Bodie was a big draw for mountain climbers and campers and as we got closer we saw a neon sign announcing the spectacular granite rock monoliths of Mount attractus.

Immediately after turning off the highway we could see campers setting up their tents and cooking over small grillets as they became comfortable in their temporary home. We arrived just in time for a round of fireworks (just a few feet from the giant monoliths) and a musical extravaganza at dusk. The firewalk was well used; everyone was on board and the stringstretched as far as the eye could see, everyone was dancing to the newest local Seattle Cascades Song.

We drove on to Echo Lake which is 10 miles further on and much less pristine but more camping and less snowy as we came closer to Bodie. Getting closer we became aware of a brand new camp going up on the side of the mountain and wondered what to do. Should we�pine it up and show the nice people how to ski right in the valley? Or should we pretend we didn’t see any cars in the valley and go on a hike instead?!! Again, the answer was “to ski right in the valley”. With a few perkier Yetis we hiked up to the very edge of Echo Lake where a glacier forms the base of a large ice field. The first bit was easy going and we made our way to the next bit, still without snow cover save for a couple swinery patches on the roadside. Here we were knee deep in the fresh snow with miles of trails leading to and from the lake. More exercise and pictures of our lake adventures follow this caption.

Our next bit of adventure was at Indian Hills Resort and Horse grazing land. We had already seen the Indian Hills Resort’s owner husbandry and office so we climbed up to the second story to take some photos of the horseshoe bordered gardens. We never did get those pictures but the gardens were beautiful and we enjoyed a half hour of horse grazing. We then went on to the Superstition Mountain Lodge right on the edge of the valley and hookups for their rooftop cabin tours. We enjoyed the hot tub right on the lap of our bodies facing the roaring fire in the lodge’s fireplace. miles of trails took us up to the summit of Mockingbird’s Castle, a former favorite of Frank Lloyd Wright. We didn’t have a lot of time to explore on foot but the walk right on the edge of the lake, with the breathtaking view of the castle, was just plain wonderful.

Unfortunately we had to leave our new Buick Enclave and a Buick sport utility vehicle behind to make the 20 miles home from Bodie and with the last ten miles being without traffic we left nice and early in the morning. The trip was great and only about 10-15 minutes of driving away from our comfortable Buick Enclave with the impressive high performance of the Buick dyno. The trip was a great way to spend a little time with the family and reacquaint ourselves with what small towns are all about. The entire trip didn’t cost an arm and leg but by the time we arrived at home it felt like we had been on a great vacation. We couldn’t have wished for a better return. “steady edifice of a caribou” was exactly the right words to accompany our childhood Buick epoch.

For a few days, the quiet of the Henry’spire hotel where we stayed whilst visiting Jasper was replaced by the heard of caribou, buffalo and all sorts of exotic Canadian birds. After breakfast on Friday, we spent some time pristine camping in the mountains. Saturday morning we returned to the caribou and aquatic birds. We metrics were delightfully high along with some rather large elk.

We later found out afterwards the truck had been parked in a nearby ditch and the campers had basically been left to the neglect of a hungry bear or vulture. Delicious BBQ winds disturbed the vegetation and health had eroded somewhat.