Thursday, we drove to Mono Lake; an alkaline warm, hot and cold spring filled lake containing only brine shrimp. Interestingly, scientists discovered an organism in Mono Lake found only there that actually digests its “food” through the use of arsenic; the only organism known to man that uses an element toxic to mankind to synthesize its food. This is important because it suggests that other worlds could contain other organisms that do likewise; perhaps not using arsenic but using something else we could not.
Because of the sulphur and alkaline content, the shoreline is like brittle straws in composition and
there are Tufas rising from the lake bed composed of alkaline deposits. We stopped at Navy Beach in honor of our navy friends. Given the limited food available in the lake, we were surprised to see many ducks and geese as well as a pair of osprey nesting on top of a tufa. Apparently, the osprey go out of their way to nest here to protect their young even though they have to travel to other lakes to obtain food.
Bird-dog Bob, Dixie, and I took off-roading on a sand trail around the lake expecting to find a connecting road to the “other side”. 12 ½ miles later, with no connecting road in sight, we had to turn around and go back- against one of Bob’s cardinal rules!
Thursday night, we met up with our friends from LA, Karen and Gene Naftulin, who have a home in Mammoth Lakes. We practically closed the local haunt, Slocum’s, catching up. Unfortunately, Dixie was still really sick and Friday, we took her to a local vet who examined her and did some sampling and decided she had two “bad” organisms that were causing her gastrointestinal/bowel distress. We got meds to give her but the vet told us that the kinds of organisms he found are not normally seen together and could be a symptom of a more serious problem. Things have gotten better but she is still pretty sick and we are very concerned.
In any event, Gene, Karen and I went hiking to McGee canyon Friday afternoon. Bob stayed home to monitor the Dixie situation. It was a beautiful day and a wonderful hike. We saw a lot of wildflowers and the stream flowing down the mountain gave life to willows and aspens. That evening, we all went to the Lakefront restaurant located in Tamarack Lodge. It was absolutely incredible! The menu was extraordinarily unusual. We all shared the appetizer of the day; Fiddlehead ferns (still in fiddle form) sautéed with black garlic in a wine sauce. Tasted like asparagus to me and was of a similar consistency but delicious. I had chicken over a grits concoction for the main course that had a fennel flavor underlying the sauce and Bob had halibut served over quinoa. Both were excellent. For dessert, we all shared a chocolate ganache with candied fennel – big fennel thing going on with the chef who was a handsome young man newly arrived from Chicago. He came out to speak with us and was delightful and refreshing.