“How I spent my summer vacation”

I couldn’t decide on the title for this post:”How I spent my Summer Vacation” or “A Comedy of Errors.” After you read it, let me know which you would have chosen! It’s pretty long, so grab some popcorn or a glass of wine and kick your feet up!

A few weeks ago, we packed our tent trailer and set off for the Sierra Nevada’s! I was very excited about this trip. It was the maiden voyage of our new trailer. We were going fishing, we bought new bikes and we were going to have fun!! Plus, there has been a vacation “jinx” around me this year. I couldn’t wait to get out-of-town and do some major relaxing. Here we are! All set to go!

Our youngest son, Evan, came with us, but drove his own car. It was fun seeing him following along behind us. Occasionally he’d drive next to us and wave. He was almost as excited about driving alone, as we were about having the car to ourselves for six hours. 🙂 Shhhh…don’t tell him I said that!

We stopped at our favorite bakery along the way, and our new favorite smoke-shop to pick up the worlds best bacon! What is a camping trip without bacon? This is double-smoked bacon and it’s so good, we order it online for Christmas! Anyway…enough talk about pork products!

We arrived in Mammoth Lakes to discover the National Forest service changed their policy. They take reservations! We’d never had to make camping reservations before. It was always first-come, first-serve. We couldn’t find a spot anywhere! We tried several different campgrounds around several different lakes, all with no luck. I was beginning to think my vacation Jinx was setting in again.

Not to worry! We came back to town and found a camp just off the main road. There was a spot for one night, but we’d have to move the next day. Even if things were up in the air for the rest of the week, at least we we’d be able to spend the night.

After setting up the trailer, we decided to get pizza. It was late, we were hungry and since we had to move early the next morning, there wasn’t any reason to break out the camp kitchen. By the time we left and came back to our site, it was very dark. Though I’d seen the small wooden post designating our specific camp site, I didn’t think it was anything about it. At least, not until we accidentally hit it. It was the PERFECT height to go straight under the bumper and pierce the radiator. Suddenly there was a huge cloud of mist coming from the engine and the terrible smell of radiator fluid…

Can you picture it? We are in the dark, in a camp site we can only stay in for one night and our car (which is the only car that can tow the trailer) has a pierced radiator! There is fluid all over the ground and the flashlights we brought are all dying. How could it get any worse? I firmly believe God has a sense of humor, because right after that, it started to rain.

Have you been in the Sierra Nevada for a summer rain storm? It was two hours of thunder, lightning and pounding rain! The good news? The tent trailer is COMPLETELY water-proof and all the radiator fluid was washed away! Score one point for the positive! Plus, we were able to break out the card games and enjoy some family time amid some not-so-relaxing circumstances.

After that, there was nothing we could do, but go to bed and hope in the morning we’d figure out what to do next.

We’d just gotten to sleep when the CO2 alarm went off. A single beep every 30 seconds. We were fumbling with fading flashlights, trying to figure out what was going on! The windows were unzipped a bit. There was plenty of air-flow. The heater wasn’t on. How on earth could there be a problem? It just kept going. Beep. Beep. Beep. Turns out, the battery was dying. If it had been the alarm, it would have been THREE beeps every 30 seconds. Good to know! An hour and one very angrily removed battery later, we were trying to go to sleep.

Sunday morning dawned and we were faced with the two-fold dilemma of where to get the car fixed and how to move the trailer to a different camp site, assuming we could even find one! Here is a picture of the post we hit. Looks innocent, right? HA!

Thankfully, the camp host was able to help. He gave us the number of a company that rents trailers. They were willing (for a fee of course) to move the trailer to a different site. The camp host had a spot for us for the next two nights, but if we wanted that site for the rest of the week, we’d have to go online and reserve it. He couldn’t promise it to us, even though we were there and were willing to pay for it. Whaaaat? Well, thanks to the blessings of modern technology, THEY HAVE AN APP FOR THAT! Not kidding! I downloaded the camping reservation app to my iPhone and we made reservations for the rest of the week. Jimminy Cricket, what an ordeal!

Now we had to figure out what to do with the car! Mind you, it’s Sunday. The Auto Club was willing to tow it, but nothing was open. My wonderful husband poured two bottles of water in the radiator and managed to move the car down to the camp day-use parking lot. We decided to wait until Monday to tow it to a shop. Counting our blessings, we were able to use Evan’s car to get around. If he hadn’t insisted on driving himself, we would have been in a much worse situation. We got our fishing licenses and bait for the week, did some grocery shopping and settled in to our new site. Isn’t it pretty?

While we were enjoying our new home away from home, the camp host warned us there were three bears in camp. We needed to be very careful with our coolers, food etc. We made dinner and had plans for a big camp fire Sunday evening. We’d done the dishes, put away almost everything, but came into the trailer to change clothes and play a game before starting the fire. We got caught up in a dice game and before we knew it, it was dark outside. I heard a strange noise coming from the back of the trailer… so we flipped on the flashlights and sure enough, there was a huge bear, holding a tub of sour cream to his face, licking it clean. He’d gotten into the one cooler we hadn’t put away. My first thought wasn’t “OHMYGOSH A BEAR!!!” it was “Look! How cute is that?!? The bear has sour cream all over his nose!! Where is my camera?” Yea, I’ve got problems.

We did panic because the bear was so close and we didn’t know what to do! We watched the bear open the cooler again and pull out the eggs. He wasn’t interested in those, but after dipping his head back in the cooler, he pulled out the grand prize! Our double-smoked bacon! Noooooo!!!! Recognizing his treasure, he took off a few hundred yards away and enjoyed his treat. Meanwhile, since the bear moved, Steve and Evan raced outside to throw the cooler in the bear box so we wouldn’t lose anything else. Looking back, it was pretty stupid. Here are my boys with their flashlights (that are still dying) trying to throw everything into the bear box, while I am standing in the trailer, with the door open (you know, so they could run back inside if the bear moved!) with the other flashlight focused on the bear. Two bright yellow orbs stared at us as we rescued the cooler. It was scary as all hell! A tent trailer is really no match for a hungry bear! That night, none of us slept well. Every little noise and we were sure the bear was back! We didn’t have any food inside the trailer, but it didn’t matter. We were scared. It didn’t help in the middle of the night, the car across the way, had its alarm go off. Horn blaring, headlights blinking, all of it. Not sure what set it off, but it was nerve-wracking.

By Monday morning we’d dealt with no reservations, a broken car, a CO2 alarm, finding a new camp site, someone else moving the trailer, a bear stealing bacon, a car alarm and trying to get our car towed to a shop in a resort town. Thank goodness for the Auto Club! Bye-bye car!

Here was our transportation for the next few days!

I’m kidding! We still had Evan’s car. Poor kid was hoping to stay for just a day or two and then go home. Now, he had to wait. Back at camp, no one had been in the site next to ours until Monday. A group showed up late in the afternoon and set up their tents. They were skateboarders from Rancho Cucamonga! That’s a town near ours! Small world, right? They were very nice. We warned them about the bears and told them about our friend from the night before. They assured us they would put everything away.

The next morning, we were up early to go fishing. As we were pulling out of camp, a boy from the skateboarding group flagged us down. He had his sleeping bag wrapped around his shoulders and was grinning like a kid in a candy store. We rolled down the windows and he whispered excitedly about the bear up on the hill. He pointed off to where the rest of his group was clustered together with their cameras, taking pictures of the bear that had gotten into the trash they’d left out the night before. Oh brother! This was a different bear than our bacon eater and we were more than happy to be leaving camp and heading to the lake! The boys were all safe and the bear went off back into the trees.

I don’t know what it is about fishing, but I love sitting without any noise or distractions other than watching the water and an occasional glance at the fishing pole. It’s peaceful and relaxing. We’ve come to this little piece of paradise for the last 27 years. It hasn’t changed much and I’m thankful for that. We tried fishing around a bigger lake and were interrupted by paddle boarders, boats, canoes and a plethora of other people fishing around the shore. We never caught a thing. This little spot is never crowded. We normally fish from the same place every single time and the best part? We’ve never left empty-handed. We always get fish! We threw this little guy back, but not before taking his picture! He was so pretty!

Things calmed down after the adventures of the first few days. We did hear other bear stories from the Camp Host. The car was fixed and Evan finally got to leave. We had a few days all to ourselves. That hasn’t happened in 25 years! There were plenty of minor mishaps, that just became funny! I broke the spigot on the larger cooler and we had to duct tape it shut so it would still be useable. Steve broke the handle on the same cooler so we could only lift it from one side. Our water pump went wacky on us one night. (WHY did everything have to happen in the middle of the night?!?!) We ran out of water because we hadn’t filled the tank in the trailer all the way. The right hinge for the step going into the trailer broke and we had to put a step stool and a piece of wood under it all week just so we could use it! The chipmunks were NOT shy and the curious little creatures got into everything! We picked up a father and son hitch hiking near our lake and drove them to their car about 40 miles away. They were backpacking through the woods with their family and one of the boys had gotten hurt, so the other son was going with the father to get their cars and come back to pick up the rest of the family. The man turned out to be a geologist and our conversation in the car was fascinating!! After our week, we were just thankful to be able to help someone else! The flashlights eventually died. We got more bacon but were paranoid when we cooked it the last morning. People from Steve’s work called him nearly every day. He did have many conversations and things that couldn’t wait until he returned though.

We got caught in a hail storm at our lake. We were fishing and watching the dark clouds build up around us. Steve went to get our ponchos out of the car – just in case. We have these cool chairs, that have canopies on them, so they block both the hot sun as well as the rain. Anyway, it started to get darker and we considered leaving but decided not to leave. We were chatting when it started to rain. Then the drops started to HURT.

I don’t know if you can see them, but the hail stones in the water made it look like the whole lake was at a rolling boil! It was crazy weather! When we did decide the lightning was too close, we packed up and hiked back to the car. I happened to turn around and when I did, I saw this…

Then on the drive back to camp, the clouds looked like this… Pretty awesome, huh?

The next day, was our last day at the lake. Steve caught THIS guy! A whopping 18 inch, 2.5 lb trout!

Here is just a sample of what we brought home!

On the way home the air-conditioner in our car froze. We had to drive without it and almost didn’t come back it was so darn hot!! Trying to tell all these stories to our family and friends has entertained, not just them, but us too. We laughed every time something else went wrong. There wasn’t anything we could do about it, so why not? It turned out to be a much more expensive week than we planned (with a sparkling new radiator and all) and it was definitely one of the most memorable. I know as soon as I stop typing I’ll remember something else that happened.

So what did happen after we got home? Well, we spent the next two days driving back and forth to Los Angeles for the LA Food and Wine Festival (those posts are coming!) and I got in a car accident on my way to work my first day back. See, told you there was a jinx!

Thanks for reading this far! I hope you enjoyed it! I’m still curious though… what title would you have given my vacation adventure? 🙂

Leave a comment


  1. Oh, Sara! That run-in with the bear sounds terrifying!! I almost screamed “NO!!!!!” when he took off with the bacon!! Well, that will be a trip to remember and talk about for YEARS to come! So glad you all stayed safe and made it home in one piece even if you were very hot! ❤

  2. Carey Godwin

     /  August 31, 2012

    Wow! I think “A comedy of errors” or “Real Troppers!” would work! Lol! What a vacation! Thanks for the great story! 🙂 Sorry it went that way for you guys. Hopefully next time will be better. 🙂 ❤


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