Getting the flavor of...
Yosemite’s lesser-known neighbor
“Think of Mammoth Lakes as Yosemite Lite— an affordable, easily navigable alternative,” said Katherine Rodeghier in the St. Louis Post- Dispatch. The Sierra Nevada resort town, located a half-hour’s drive from that storied national park, is a popular California skiing destination but also a summer hot spot, surrounded by millions of acres of scenic public land that encourages hiking, cycling, and boating. Striking evidence of the region’s volcanic origins appears everywhere. Near town, you’ll see Devils Postpile, a 60-foothigh wall of hexagonal basalt columns formed by eruptions 100,000 years ago. Two miles away, Rainbow Falls tumbles 101 feet over a lava ledge. And Hot Creek, a great fishing stream, is warmed by bubbling hot springs. Ride a gondola to the summit of 11,053-foot Mammoth Mountain and you’ll see lava cones spread out below in what remains of a 20-mile-long caldera created by a supereruption 750,000 years ago.
The Mojave’s bizarro world
The Mojave Desert brings out the loony in some people, said Norma Meyer in The San Diego Union-Tribune. And because the local eccentrics are eager to share, you can throw together a zany Palm Springs–to–Joshua Tree road excursion in which every stop is a mind trip. My husband and I started at Robolights, a candy-colored sculpture park where artist—and host—Kenny Irwin Jr. has filled two acres with carousels, giant robots, and a Christmas village occupied by a mutant mannequin army. Just as “head-spinning” are the 3,000 cosmetology artifacts at the Beauty Bubble Salon and Museum, including an 1883 curling iron, and the hundreds of crochet animals at the World Famous Crochet Museum (a converted Fotomat booth). Three stops later, we finish our tour in Landers with “sound baths” at the Integratron, a UFO-like dome where we lie down while an attendant plays eerie music on crystal bowls. “Some notes are so jarring, my DNA vibrates.” ■