Here is a suggestion....Go to the town of Bridgeport. There is a quaint old hotel, a bit rustic actually with no tv and warped wooden floors with tacky carpeting, named The Victorian Hotel. The Victorian is a building that used to be in the town of Bodie, before Bodie became a ghost town. The Victorian isn't expensive at all and a real kick to stay in, considering it used to be the type of place where you rented by the hour, back in it's cowboy and indian days of course.
The altitude at Bridgeport itself isn't too high but is very close to some of the best hiking trails and real high altitude areas. Bridgeport has lots of fun small town things to explore and Colleen might enjoy it. That way you both get to go north up the 395.