Enjoying a night in Lee Vining

Ron Walker

Ron Walker

When I flew to Australia, we stopped in Fiji, or was it coming back and we had headwinds? Then there was the six-week RV trip to the Copper Canyon in Mexico. Now, we are off to Lee Vining for one night. How things have changed. I think I just might be feeling sorry for myself.

On our way, we dine at the elegant Bridgeport Inn for lunch then push on, passed Mono Lake to the Lake View Lodge (circa 1932). They tell us our room isn’t ready, so we find a deserted back road with a stream beside us. The heat is oppressive so the thought of dangling my feet in an icy cold stream becomes my goal. It sounds so simple, but finding proper access is difficult. We pull over, park our car and out I go not bothering to take my cane to stabilize myself. The stream is only a few feet away, but after a few steps down the embankment, I get stuck. I freeze. I can’t move forward or backward. Instinct takes over.

“Sweetheart, could you come here for a moment and give me a hand?”

Instantly she prances over and everything, but my pride remains intact.

That evening we dine at Nicely’s Café, a Lee Vining landmark since 1965.

Business is humming. They give us a booth facing the side entrance. During dinner I notice a tall, rugged man enter. He is dressed in overalls and has a grey beard. A waiter gives him a menu, which he looks at intently. Subsequently three more men come in, all with grey beards and dressed similarly. With each man, a lady wearing a shapeless plain dress and a linen bonnet enter. Now we have a group of ladies and gentlemen studying menus, deciding whether to stay or leave. I notice that everyone in the room pays absolutely no heed to the group. I’m sure we all know their belief in God is involved and we respect their privacy.

A few words are spoken within the group, and they decide to stay. A young waiter makes an effort to set up a long table, but the leader of the group shuns the idea, and they sit at two tables of four.

All during dinner, I steel glances at the two tables; they say a blessing at the beginning of the meal and are noticeably impressed by the quality and quantity of the food when it arrives. The two tables are like islands in a sea of patrons. One wonders if we and them share the same or different feelings. We are two groups, here at Nicely’s; us and them.

When it’s time for me to go to the cashier, I take a detour and go to the table where the leader of the group is seated. I wonder if I am being too brash, but push on and say, “Well, at least we won’t have to do the dishes” and he roundly agrees and immediately one of the ladies at the table chimes in “and we didn’t have to do the cooking either.”

Hallelujah, all of us are part of one group, no matter what our philosophical or religious beliefs may be.

Ron Walker can be reached at walkover@gmx.com



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