So today was kind of crazy. Mondays almost always are I guess. I wasn’t sure what to write about tonight so I decided to share a photo with you. North of here is Mono Lake, a salt water lake. Around here we hate when people pronounce it like the disease when it’s pronounced like it’s written. Mo-No. Not Ma-No. It’s named after a guy not the disease. Mono has these really neat Tufa Towers made from the salt that builds up on the shore.
Just before you get into Lee Vining, California, there is a wonderful cafe called the Whoa Nelly Deli. It’s a five-star Zagat rated cafe located in the Tioga Gas Mart. Yes it’s in a gas station. The food is fantastic. Just up the road from the parking lot is a view-point with a really neat sign overlooking Mono Lake. If you ever pass by on Highway 395, check it out. The deli is only open in the summer when Tioga Pass is open once the snow melts.
Today was the 2011 Mule Days parade and, while it wasn’t as long as in the past, it was fun. We could tell that the entries and the attendance was down but the entries that were in entertained me. The Wild Ass Women who are here every year couldn’t make it and I was a little sad about that. They always are fun to see. However the UC Davis people made me smile as they always have.
I took somewhere around 100 photos and have yet to go through them so I will post them either tomorrow or Monday. Today I decided to ride a bike for the first time in around four years. It was awkward enough for me to ride a bike and having to navigate around horses, mules and cars was difficult. It is now after midnight and I can’t seem to focus right now. I will post more tomorrow.
I grew up in the “Mule Capital of the World”. Bishop is known for the longest running non-motorized parade in the world. Mule Days is huge and it would be hard for you to understand the scope of things unless you’ve been here during Memorial Day weekend. On an average day, our population (within the city limits and the outer-lying areas) is close to 10,000 people (I think). The weekend before Mule Days actually starts is the time when most of the people start filtering in from all over the country and even the world. By the time the events actually start happening, our population doubles or we have a lot more people than I really pay attention to.
Right now, I can hear the concert for Neal McCoy faintly in the distance outside. I’m not a fan of county music so I could care less about the concert they put on every year. Mule Days is the main event that brings the tourists to Bishop and basically keeps this town going. Unfortunately, the businesses around town end up jacking up the prices on everything to “get the most out of the tourists” but none of them seem to care that they screw the locals. We have to pay the higher prices as well and then people don’t understand why quite a few of the locals leave town for the weekend. My dad doesn’t leave the house and come into town unless we’re having dinner at Jack’s.
The only pictures that I could find to share with all of you are from 2008. As far as I know, I have been to almost all of the Mule Days parades in my 29 years of existence. I don’t mind it and some of the entries are interesting. UC Davis always has something to do with one of the most popular movies that are out in theatres. We have the Wild Ass Women who ride their mules and horses down Main Street dressed like wild west “women of the night”. Smokey Bear always rides with the US Forest Service. We have all of the local school marching bands.
The one thing that is hurting us this year is a virus that is going around that makes horses really ill and even can kill them. Most of the horses that were supposed to be here got quarantined. Most of the time we have the Budweiser Clydesdales and the percherons, but I can guarantee that they more than likely will not be here. When one of those horses go for around $100,000 I don’t blame them for keeping them away from here. Mules and donkeys can carry the virus, but they won’t get infected. In order to qualify for an entry, it must be pulled by a horse, mule, donkey, any other animal or human. One year someone entered a truck (I think it was one of the local dealerships) and they had the truck in neutral and being pulled by a team of mules. It truly is incredible to watch a twenty mule team go down the street.
I will post about this year’s Mule Days over the weekend. I already plan on taking a lot of pictures. On top of all the animals, we have a replica of the Viet Nam War Memorial Wall in town. It came through today and it was an honor to see that many people lined on the sidewalk to see it go through town.
Only in Bishop...
UC Davis and the Mules of the Carribean: Curse of 2008
Bishop Union High School marching band
Today one of our local coffee shops opened again after being bought by the original owner and a small remodel. I cannot tell you how happy I am. Lately I’ve felt like supporting the local “mom & pop” stores instead of the big corporations that really don’t care about small towns, so long as they get our money. I never really liked going to The Looney Bean before because half the time we had to tell the employees how to make our drinks correctly. Now that it has gone back to the original owner, we get to have The Looney Bean as it was always meant to be.
They have fun names for their drinks, like Velvet Elvis or Caramelicious, which makes it fun. Their prices are similar to those at Starbucks but unlike Starbucks the money that we spend stays in the community and I like that. They have what sounds like a great point system where every dollar that you spend equals one point. Once you reach a certain amount of points, you get a free drink. I love that idea and I have a feeling that these employees are going to get to know me. I work not too far from there and so long as I don’t go overboard, I will be drinking quite a bit there.
My co-workers and I keep trying a different drink every time we go. My favorite so far is the Caramelicious, a caramel-vanilla latte. It’s a perfect balance of sweet from the caramel and the bitterness of espresso. As far as cold drinks, I tried the Frosted Mint Mocha today. I’ll warn you, it’s rich and VERY minty. It is wonderful. Brent, the owner, told me to tell him if was overly-chocolatey. I told him there is no such thing as too much chocolate. At least I believe there is no such thing as too much chocolate.
Around here the first day of fishing season is called Fishmas. We’re a small town, don’t ask. So Merry Fishmas. Every year for this particular Saturday the weather is crap. Today lived up to its purpose for the opening of fishing season. I was cold and there was a slight breeze but in all it wasn’t too bad. I don’t fish so I don’t care. Although around here if the weather is perfect for the opening of fishing season, there is something wrong. I think one year it snowed but most of the time, it’s just down right cold and miserable.
So many people asked me yesterday if I was going fishing today. No. One I can’t afford the fishing license (I heard it was about $43) and I have, for the most part, lost my fishing buddy. I remember my grandpa (Pa as I call him) sitting at his desk in the back of the living room with the fish hooks, various colors of feathers, pliers and small gauge wire. He used to tie flies. Not the ones that buzz around your head, but if you’ve never seen fishing flies, you’re missing out. They are gorgeous. Pa taught me once but it’s been so long ago that I wouldn’t know where to start. Pa would gather up our poles and grab the tackle box and off we went in the Toyota up Bishop Creek. Of course we would always stop at Manor Market to pick up some candy and RC Cola and any other junk food that we wanted.
Pa started showing signs of dementia about six, maybe seven, years ago I think. We kind of noticed something wasn’t quite right after his car wreck nine years ago. He started mixing up words and not really making sense which just frustrated him. He t-boned someone who ran a red light and the air bags didn’t deploy like they were supposed to so Pa hit his head on the a-frame. He’s had so many concussions in his life that only sped up the process for the dementia and Alzheimer’s. Pa has what is called speech aphasia which is a language disorder that causes a person to have difficulty in understanding written or spoken language. Pa will recognize us but hasn’t called us by name in about two years. We tell people that it is like having a 79-year-old toddler at home.
I haven’t been fishing in the Owens Valley in at least fifteen years. Pa and I stopped going out like we used to as I grew up and now it wouldn’t feel the same without him. Pa has a hard time doing the simple things that we do every day without thinking about them. One of these days I’ll write about what it is like to live with a person with Alzheimer’s. I don’t think that most people know how hard it is. The last time I went fishing was when I visited my best friend in Oregon in July of 2009. While I had fun being in a boat again holding on to a fishing rod waiting for that little bit of movement when a fish bites, it wasn’t the same. Pa wasn’t there. I don’t know if I will ever go fishing again. Maybe when I have kids I can share some of my memories of fishing with Pa.