About a two hour’s drive away is a completely different world that I only just experienced for the first time. Last week Jan took me up to see Florence and Edison lakes, an area that he spends some time patrolling at work. After driving to Huntington Lake on Highway 168, we took the turnoff for Kaiser Pass. The road soon turned into a narrow, bumpy, one-lane road that Jan said is purposely kept that way by Southern California Edison to limit traffic. And lonesome it is, except for the marmots, lizards, and deer we saw along the way. I asked Jan, “Really? This is your cubicle!?” It was beautiful.
Both Florence Lake and Edison Lake sit at the edge of the John Muir Wilderness area, and offer services to backpackers either about to embark on a journey or need of more supplies. Both lakes have boats to ferry hikers to the other side of the lakes, and each has a small store, restaurant, or both. After a picnic lunch at Florence Lake, we checked out Vermillion Resort at Edison Lake, where Jan has eaten many times while fighting lighting fires in the area.
We hiked through a muddy path to see some of the volcanic hot springs, but I had forgotten insect repellant and was getting eaten by mosquitoes and didn’t want to stay for a dip into the water.
We stopped for dinner at Mono Hot Springs River Rock Cafe, and on a Tuesday night, had the entire patio to ourselves. After enjoying salads with homemade blue cheese dressing (yum!) we watched the sunset over the mountains and ordered two specialties of the house: Corned buffalo for Jan and a buffalo burger for me.
Both dishes tasted similar to their beef counterparts, but were leaner. Our server Lea offered a great finale to the end of an excellent birthday with New York cheesecake. And even though I’d previously made fun of Jan for celebrating his birthday for the entire month of April, I did have to admit that celebrating my birthday for a week and a half was far better than my previous attempts to simply pretend the day wasn’t different from any other. I had, by that time, completely forgotten about getting another year older.