Mono Hot Springs

So the surprise anniversary trip was … Mono Hot Springs!

Apparently after an attempt to book a cabin in Big Sur failed, Mike discovered this resort tucked away in the Sierra National Forest. And when I say tucked away, I mean this is the most remote place I’ve ever been.

To get there, you have to drive up into the mountains, and the last 20 miles are on a precarious one-lane road with two-way traffic, where the speed limit is 10. In two months the road will be closed, as it’s too crazy to plow.

Right after this sign was a handmade one that read, “Residences ahead. No shooting.”

Yeah.

But there is definitely a payoff for making the treacherous drive. It is absolutely beautiful out there.

This time of year the weather is warm and cloudless during the day, and just chilly enough at night for you to enjoy a fire with s’mores.

Our cabin was nestled up against a HUGE pine, with little blue lizards skittering all around the rocks.

I couldn’t help but feel like this place is a little “Northern Exposure.”

Every morning the dreadlocked server at the one and only restaurant comes down to the general store in her bathrobe and hiking boots. Breakfast is a microwave-it-yourself burrito with a side of gossip from the previous night.

Someone told us the bears up there were “tidy”, but you should still roll up your windows just in case. It’s a little kooky, but also kind of great.

In order to get to the original hot springs, you have to cross a creek via log. Fortunately, our balance was good enough to make it.

We took a brief dip in Old Pedro, but he was really, really hot. And since it was pretty hot outside, we couldn’t stay too long.

So we did what any couple would do on a relaxing anniversary trip. Pretty much nothing. I read three magazines. We rocked in rustic log rocking chairs. We stared at the stars. It was bliss.

The second day we decided to go for a hike up to one of the nearby lakes.

It seemed like we passed every picturesque landscape you could imagine. First you scramble up a rocky hill dotted with giant pinecones.

Then you come across a marshy field full of tall reeds. Then you get to the lake, which is sparkling with rippled water and full of lilypads and flopping fish.

Then you come to a meadow, where you feel like you should skip and sing a wholesome song.

You pass other little ponds with ducks swimming along.

And finally you come to a quiet creek, where tiny frogs are jumping into the water. At that point we heard a tree crack and fall in the woods. It was like nature’s little reminder that it can be harsh, too.

Mike got to do a lot of birdwatching, which is definitely one of his favorite pastimes. We saw a bunch of yellow-rumped warblers and at night we heard a great horned owl hoo-hoo-ing.

I don’t know about you, but I feel like there is no worry that nature can’t cure. A little time out there does so much for the soul.

Being in California has really gotten me back in touch with this. All of the answers are out there. It’s the only place quiet enough for you to hear them.

On the drive back we actually got stopped by a logger who told us the road would be closed for a few minutes while they cut down one of those massive pines. Sure enough we watched it wobble and then come down with a huge explosion. (Apparently they remove some of the dead ones to help with fire prevention). Then they lifted it off the road and we were on our way.

I hope every anniversary is as wonderful (and woodsy) as this one has been.