Living For Ourselves

The best kept secret of the Trinity Mountains…

The best kept secret of the Trinity Mountains…

We prepped and worked and saved and sold belongings and vehicles and finally, on October 1, we were able to leave Redding. It was bittersweet, considering our families live there - and our Terry lives there.

We said our tearful goodbyes and drove out around sunset, headed for Lassen National Forest, sad and giddy.

As we drove east up into the mountains, the sun was setting behind us, making the tops of the trees reddish orange. I knew we had made the right decision, though it was hard, and at times the guilt of it all overwhelmed me, like a giant weighted cloak. As the miles fell behind us, that cloak turned to sand and started to slip from my shoulders and I remembered what I have been trying to tell myself all this time, “my life is my own”.

My life is my own. No one is able to provide me with the happiness I deserve. No one is able to make informed decisions on my behalf. No one else knows “what’s best for me” - but I do. I know how to thrive. I know how to support myself and I know how to follow my dreams.

Going to sleep that night in our camper, with the flowing sounds of Hat Creek nearby, I was once again reminded that I was doing my best to make it work for me. Not just me, but us. Being married is a new thing for me, but my parents have been married for over 30 years. I’ve seen what it takes to keep a marriage going, and I want to do that, perhaps without all the yelling. Blayke and I try our best to communicate fully the way we feel and what we want out of life. We don’t always agree on the things we want but that doesn’t mean we aren’t able to both get those things. This is luckily one of the things we both wanted. We want to wake up, open the door, and step out into nature.

Our first full day on the trip, Oct 2, we drove through Lassen National Park and stormy conditions. We even saw 3 bears cross the road right in front of us. I’d say that’s nature at it’s finest. Also, that’s the second time we have seen bears together, and both times we saw 3 bears running. Did I mention that my lucky number is 3? I love synchonicity, and I try to pay attention to the signs in the world, perhaps pointing me in the right direction.

We ended up in Graeagle, CA on our second night at a place called Gold Lake. I’m surprised that in all the time I lived in Northern California, I barely spent any time in the Sierras. What’s wrong with me? I’m grateful, though, that Blayke and I got to see fresh beauty together for the first time. We camped at a place called Gold Lake Campground for $10 - Plumas National Forest.

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That day we started hearing a strange whining noise coming from the car.. so the next day, Oct 3, we drove into Truckee, CA and stayed at an RV Park called Coachland. It was a short walk to a trustworthy mechanic, according to the lady who checked us in. The guys had our car most of the day as we cuddled in the camper, dry from the rain. The mechanic did a full inspection and found nothing wrong with the car. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ What can you do? Fix something that isn’t broken yet?

We had a nice dinner with an even nicer view at The Hilltop Lodge in Truckee. They serve a whole-leaf caesar salad that was enormous and delicious.

When we left Truckee on Oct 4, we headed for Yosemite. I wanted to take the Tioga Pass Road up into Tuolumne Meadows. We drove by Mono Lake, which is another place I’ve never been in my enormous home state.

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We considered camping at a place near Mono Lake but were too anxious to get into Yosemite - considering it was one of my favorite parks I’ve ever been to, and Blayke hadn’t seen it yet.

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I’m glad we did, because we had an incredible day. We were lucky enough to view all of the beauty beneath heavy clouds and occasional rain - the grey darkness really made the colors pop. Grey granite and green pines, firs, spruces… the aspens were changing to bright yellow and the grass had faded to a simple fawn. It was all so beautiful that it hurt, and I kept laughing like a crazy person. We drove through Tuolumne Meadows for the first time ever on a road that is at 9,000 feet elevation. We saw some snow covering the high peaks high above us. It was a very long, but ultimately fruitful day and I felt lucky. We camped at Hodgdon Meadows on an unlevel campsite for $26 - it was beautiful but crowded.

I wrote in my travel log on Oct 5 in big happy letters: I woke up in Yosemite National Park this morning at 530 am!

One of the hardest hikes I’ve ever done is in Yosemite. It’s not long, but it’s steep AF. It’s only 2.4 miles round trip, but it has an elevation gain of 1,000 feet in 1.2 miles. The going up is hard and slow, but it’s really the coming back down that hurts. Anyway, I’ve done this before, and I really wanted to do it again with Blayke, as a way to sort of re-write the memory. So when we woke up that’s what we did, the hike to the top of Vernal Falls. It’s a bit crowded, because it’s Yosemite, but the plus side of that is that there are plenty of people struggling just as I was to get up there, and the other people that aren’t struggling are usually helping to motivate you to keep going.

The hike is beautiful, it really is. You follow the Merced River up through the valley and with the sun shining off of all the flora around you, and the sound of the river flowing below you, you can’t help but feel alive. Especially when you get to the stairs, over 600 of them.

It’s worth every step. Every ache and pain. I recommend you go in Spring, if you do. The falls are flowing much more heavily and “The Mist Trail” actually will make sense.

We ate a large steak that night in our camper, and fell asleep like little log babies.

The next day we awoke and drove out of the park and through the central valley of California to Visalia, and stayed at a KOA to do our stinky laundry and wash our unwashed bodies.

We went on to stay a week or so with my grandma and aunt in Grover Beach, CA. We got to eat a lot of homemade food - I enjoyed cooking in a full kitchen. My grandma is one of those people that shines through with some of the most magical unearthly light. She doesn’t know it about herself, I don’t think, that she is one of the most incredible people on the planet. She was a librarian most of her life, even went to college for it. She’s extremely well-read and I think just generally intelligent, progressive, and open-minded. She has always been kind, generous, and sensible. She has been very good to me over the course of my life, helping me get through college and coming to visit me in the hospital after my ATV accident, caressing my swollen legs. She’s just good, through and through. I was grateful to have that time with her before I left California.

By Friday, Oct 12, we were again on the road. We had Desert Hot Springs in our sights, but had to navigate through LA traffic towing a 12’ trailer first. It took us over 8 hours to go 285 miles. We got pulled over for being in the wrong lane, and graciously the officer didn’t ticket us.

When we eventually got to Sam’s Family Spa Hot Water Resort, we practically kissed the sand. It really was a perfect spot to camp after a day like that, since they have 4 hot mineral springs and a giant pool. We soaked our tense muscles before running back to the camper just in time for a huge thunderstorm to roll in. We fell asleep with giant droplets of rain on the roof and thunder rumbling in the distance.

After leaving the Southern California desert, we drove into Arizona and stayed at La Paz County Park Campground for $24. That was another day of storms and we worried about flash floods. We saw remnants of flash flood damage along the entire journey but have managed to stay safe. I say “uh-oh, I hear thunder over there” in the following video because it terrifies our dog, Copper. If Copper is scared, it means we don’t really sleep. She’s scared of thunder, definitely, but also rain drops, acorns, birds, and even leaves, as those things all make sounds when they fall on the roof of our camper. She pants in my face and gets on and then off, the bed. Then on again, then off again, then panting, then mouth smacking (which honestly is the worst).

La Paz was a trip. It’s just outside Parker, AZ on the Colorado River. It’s where a lot of people go to party and drive REALLY FAST boats up and down the river all day. We were actually there during a crazy boat race. But we got to enjoy a relatively quiet night, watching the storm clouds and sun set over the Gibralter Mountain Wilderness. When we woke up on the morning of Oct 14, we took a dunk in the river and headed deeper into Arizona.

The Beauty of Exploring Your Own Backyard

ACE

Yesterday, Blayke and I went to his Mom's house in Cottonwood for dinner, and on our way home, I said what I normally say, "Let's take the back way". On our way, we stopped to snap a few photos and enjoy that magic hour of light before the sun sets. 

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So we continued on in that way for awhile, dreaming of being on the open road and exploring the four corner states and being free. We passed a road called Adobe, and in the spirit of exploration, turned onto it blindly, hoping to see some really old growth oak trees. We were not disappointed. 

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We continued driving, and talking about what life might have been like back in the day when these trees were young. Who lived here? How hard was a day in their life? Did they have to grow and make everything they consumed and needed? What indigenous people lived here? Who were the first settlers? 

During this historic dreamy conversation, we arrived at a one lane bridge that led to a very lush and overgrown area of the woods. It sort of felt like it had appeared out of nowhere. The bridge crossed a creek that dumps right into the mighty Sacramento. The place was teeming with wild birds and insects. 

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We drove into the BLM nature preserve and saw the sign "Reading Island". 

Reading was the name of the man that Redding was named after. He was one of the very first European settlers here. I think he arrived sometime in the 1840's. We explored a bit. We parked our car and saw a boat ramp, which we got really excited about, since we have a canoe and have been looking for new places to paddle. 

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What an incredible spot! If we hadn't become a meal for the local mosquitos, we probably would have stayed longer, and walked all the way to the river. The coolest part about this finding is that we had absolutely no idea about the history of this place, and therefor had some homework to do when we got home. Considering we're both history buffs, we had something to look forward to -  a mystery to solve. 

Today we had a minute to sit down and search the web. The most helpful and informative link was an older Record Searchlight article written by Dottie Smith. Here's what we found: 

"This is the place where Pierson B. Reading (pronounced Redding), the first white settler in the far northern portion of California, built his home. This is where the history of white settlement began in what would become Shasta County. This and the surrounding area was the location of the 26,632-acre Rancho Buena Ventura Mexican Land Grant obtained by Reading from Mexico. It was the northernmost Mexican Land Grant issued in California... ...Reading returned and permanently settled on his grant in 1847, built the adobe, and made it his home. He also cultivated 40 acres, and planted pear and olive trees, cotton, grapes, grain and vegetables - with the help of local Wintu Indians, who lived in villages near his adobe. What had been their land for centuries was now owned by Reading."

So we got some answers. The idea that Wintu land was given by Mexico to Reading didn't make me feel very good, but maybe in more research I'll find that they lived peacefully among each other and had a lovely life... Yeah. Here's to dreaming.

 

The Comforts of Camping

BLAYKE

When I was living in Portland I decided it was time to get myself a comfortable sleeping bag for any kind of trip. In my experience a zero degree always worked well because I can unzip if i’m hot. I used to own a nice Coleman that was way too heavy and took up far too much space. But I loved the extra comfort when I slept. When I hitch-hiked into Redding over a year ago my sleeping bag was stolen from Ace’s jeep in the night. Not all was lost, for a few months later it was replaced. Ace and I have been trying to replace all my my stubborn heavy equipment with lightweight, ultra-durable gear. We did some research, and came up with the Teton Sports LEEF. I was doubtful, as I am with any new sleeping bag, because I’m 6'3". Being surprised by a small sleeping bag is not uncommon, and extremely irritating. I was impressed the first time I used this new sleeping bag, because I never overheated. Plus, when you use a compression sack it becomes smaller than a basketball. Although this LEEF sleeping bag is ultra-light, it carries the weight of a heavy duty, long-distance sleeping bag. When my darling wife and I sleep up in the pop-top bed of our Westfalia, we lay down our two Thermarests (another great piece of gear), and get zipped up in the mummy bags. We squish together like two little caterpillars. I would say I have not had a bad night’s sleep in this sleeping bag, but unfortunately for me there is plenty that interacts with the van at night (or so our dog, Copper thinks.)

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My back thanked me tremendously for cutting down the amount of weight I was carrying with me when I would hike.  I had to make some adjustments, but one that really changed the game was investing in a quality sleeping bag that I could depend on that is also shockingly light. Check out the Teton Sports LEEF, your back will thank you, and you will sleep well in any weather.

To Toe Shoe or Not To Toe Shoe? That is the Question...

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BLAYKE

I have always been the kind of person that loves to run and walk around without my shoes on. When I was real small I used to come home with some pretty rough feet because I just didn’t think of putting shoes on. This being San Diego, where the sun beats down hard on the asphalt. If you’re like me and you enjoy something simple like this, you know the satisfying sound of bare feet slapping against a surface mid run. Recently in my life I have been going to a lot of new places in different states. I seem to encounter a lot of plants that don’t like it when you walk where they dwell. Poison oak, (luckily, I don’t get it but Ace does), button cactus, out-of-place sidewalks, stickers, shifting river stones, broken glass... you name it, I have run my bare feet through it.  I have even gone as far as to try and train my feet to be tough, just like my hands - and quite successfully. This all being said I have had another person enter my life, which graces me with the opportunity to have someone who cares about my well-being. She noticed my multitude of foot wounds, and asked me if I had ever considered toe shoes. I had seen them in the past, but never really put the time aside to try any on or see what they were about. We went to a local store up the hill from us and tried some on. I fell in love with a very basic, black, almost ninja-like shoe. I really like the different ways I can use each on of my toes, and the different angles I can flex my ankles when I walk. These really helped me to do WAY more in my day, because that little added protection makes a huge difference. You can also enter stores that normally wouldn’t let you enter if you were barefoot. It feels like being barefoot, due to the soles that hug the contours of your feet, with siped soles. Siping allows heat and moisture to enter and exit the shoe. This helps when I’m walking in water, because I can still dry quickly, but also have the comfort of a wetsuit on my feet.

If you love being connected to the nature in which you’re hiking, and want to invest in your foot safety, check out Vibram's Five Fingers (ironically, a toe shoe). They also have a multitude of textures and grips to suit your everyday needs. If you’re also sick of sandals and flip flops check out these fly kicks!

Use the amazon link above to support our Amazon Affiliate relationship!        <3 Ace

Grand Teton National Park and Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Upon leaving Yellowstone and driving into Jackson Hole, we luckily had to drive right through Grand Teton National Park. I had never done much research on the Tetons, and hadn't really come across any photos of the park, so when I caught my first glimpse of those jagged mountains, I was BLOWN AWAY.

The day we made it into the park to explore, we experienced a quick, but very intense rainstorm. The weather made the park seem more wild. The colors popped, the plants had just had a drink and were shining with life!

The mountains, looming in the distance, had some kind of quiet power. They had a presence about them that spoke volumes to me about nature, and our planet. They whispered about all of Earth's secrets, about what is really valuable here - clean air, clean water, solitude, the hierarchy of beasts. This place made me feel more at home in nature than I ever really have before. I was truly humbled, and grateful to have experienced these magical moments near the Tetons.

Grand Teton National Park was such a splendid surprise, and I could spend a lot more time there. 

Yellowstone National Park + Gardiner, Montana

So far, Montana falls into first place for most beautiful states in the country. 

We stayed in Gardiner, Montana, right on the river, about 1 mile from the entrance to Yellowstone National Park - the first national park - set aside by Congress in 1872 for protection. This arch stands at the north entrance.

On the other side it states "for the benefit and enjoyment of the people".

On the other side it states "for the benefit and enjoyment of the people".

 

Yellowstone has a pretty diverse landscape. It is one of the most unique places I've been, with forest edging right up to geothermal super-volcano activity. Geysers, hot springs, numerous lakes, rivers, waterfalls. It was a pretty incredible experience. We saw elk, moose, deer, bird, foreigners, etc. 

We went creek-walking, and swimming a couple different times. The hot springs and geysers flow right into the rivers, making the temperature pretty lukewarm. We experienced warm spots and ice cold spots while we swam around, it was pretty neat.

Grand Prismatic Spring was definitely my favorite.

I have been buying books about death in the national parks, starting with one in Yosemite, that I had read about in the Missing 411 series by David Paulides. Then I found one at the Grand Canyon. However, the most interesting one so far has been Death in Yellowstone. People fall in hot springs by mistake, or they jump in to save their dogs, or they get attacked by bears. Also, their families usually end up suing the NPS because of these unfortunate accidents. However, the author of the book has an interesting point to make, and I tend to agree with him: we go to the national parks to experience the wild. I would be less inclined to go if there were wooden paths, guard rails, and huge warning signs everywhere. The rangers give you all the warnings on the way in - "Don't approach or feed the bears" "Don't approach the bison" "Don't get in the 150-200 degree hot springs, and don't walk around them, as the ground is weak and brittle"... etc. 

However, many people have been injured or killed because they have no common sense, or they just don't heed the park warnings. There are stories of people putting their babies on the backs of bison and bears for better photos! One of those stories ended with the baby's head getting eaten. It never ceases to amaze me at how stupid people can be! 

We are always safe. We carry bear spray when we hike, and we stay on the path. Life is great when you possess common sense and you prepare correctly for being in nature! 

#keepnationalparkswild

Salmon, Idaho and Glacier National Park

As my search for a good internet connection continues, I lose hope. Do they exist anymore? Isn't it 2015? Where is Nikola Tesla when you need him? Why isn't there free high speed wireless internet everywhere? 

Upon leaving Idaho, we re-discovered the freedom of the American open road.

We went to Salmon, Idaho and stayed at one of the top 10 waterfront RV parks in the nation, right on the Salmon River. We drove 20 some odd miles down the river on a dirt road on the recommendation of an old lady. She had told us that we could get the BEST burgers ever at the Shoup Store. 

We loved the chocolate chip cookie, until we saw flies all over the other ones on the counter - too late! We had eaten it already. I loved the HUGE bacon burger, until we paid the guy who cooked it for us and saw his disgustingly dirty hands. Like, scratched-my-ass(hole)*-then-played-in-the-dirt-before-I-made-your-burger dirty. All in all, it was a strange but fun experience. And we didn't vomit afterwards, so that was a plus. 

The Salmon River is such a beautiful and serene spot. After hanging in Idaho for almost a month with all of the people we love, it took a little getting used to being just the 2 of us again, but Salmon was the perfect spot for us to do that. 

After Salmon, we drove up to Columbia Falls, Montana - just a few miles outside of Glacier National Park. 

WOW. Let me just say that again, WOW. Glacier did not disappoint. Anyone who has ever wanted to go to Glacier, drop everything, and just go. It's phenomenal. There was a fire that had closed the famous Going to the Sun Road that leads over Logan's Pass and the Continental Divide, and it was super crowded during the day. We decided to wake up at 5:30AM and get up there while the sun was rising, and it turned out to be such a great decision.

There were still quite a few people who had the same idea as us, but just a small enough group that the mountain goats still came out. 

It was really quiet, and cool, and just awesome. I can't really find words that explain the feeling of being at the top of the Continental Divide at 6:30 AM watching the mountain goats munch while the mountain fog burned off. 

 

*sorry (not sorry)

Day 54 - Petrified Forest National Park

On day 54 we woke up to some low rear tires on the RV. We stopped at a Big O on our way out of town, and with brand new tires we were on our way in no time.

That driving day was awesome. We drove through an amazing rain and thunderstorm. The sky got very dark grey and opened up on the thirsty red desert and we got to see it all.

We stayed up the road a bit from Holbrook, AZ in Sun Valley. Once we set up camp, we sat in the two front seats and watched lightning strike the ground around us. We chatted about writing a zombie novel and laughed a lot.

The next day we went to Petrified Forest National Park.




Day 49 - Flagstaff, Arizona (Grand Canyon National Park)

We spent a few days in Flagstaff, which really reminded us of Arcata. It's a college town near the Grand Canyon, situated near the highest point in Arizona, Humphreys Peak. There are pine trees everywhere and we enjoyed much cooler temperatures here than anywhere in the state.

We took a day trip to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and were, once again, awed by the nature on our planet. It's hard to put into words how I felt at the Grand Canyon. It's almost as if it is too large for my tiny human brain to really understand.

It's been too long, old friend

Boy.

Where do I begin? The last time I was here was right after Yosemite National Park. Since then we've been to:

Monterey, CA - where we visited Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Big Sur, CA - where we stayed in a park with no cell reception for a few days and felt great about it. We also went to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and saw a waterfall at the beach.

Grover Beach, CA - to visit my wonderful Grandmother for about 10 days... while we were there we went to Hearst Castle.

Ojai, CA - amazingly beautiful... but we stayed in a county park and when we were trying to leave our campsite, I clipped a tree and tore poor Pamela's rear bumper off.

Indio, CA - where we had to stay much too long, since we had to get our RV repaired, but we got to go to Joshua Tree National Park! WAY COOL.

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Tonopah, AZ - where we camped 200 yards from a jerk proudly flying his Confederate Flag, and 1 mile from the largest nuclear power plant in the world (it used to be second largest until Fukushima blew)... it was pretty there, though.

..... and now, BEAUTIFUL Sedona, AZ - by far my favorite stop so far. Mind blowingly incredible vistas of the huge red rock spires. 360˚ of the most beautiful views I've ever seen. 

View from a helicopter tour. You can see our shadow in this photo. SO MUCH FUN!!

View from a helicopter tour. You can see our shadow in this photo. SO MUCH FUN!!

Day 18 and Day 20 - Yosemite National Park

Wow. I mean, just, WOW. Seeing Yosemite in photos was pretty amazing in itself, but to see it up close and personal was one of the most stunning experiences of my life.

Yosemite National Park is INCREDIBLE.

The first thing we saw was Bridalveil Falls.

Next thing we know, we drive up on El Capitan, a 3,000 foot tall granite monolith. Of course, it's famous, and you see it in all sorts of photographs, but seeing it in person is rather strange. It makes you feel very, very small.

My parents came to meet us in Yosemite, and so my Dad was driving us around, and my Mom was telling us all the amazing things to see.

We decided to drive up to Glacier Point, and on the way we stopped at Tunnel View. I was breathless, as I turned and saw what was before me. I almost couldn't believe my eyes. The scale of everything, combined with the stark beauty of grey granite mountains set against a soft blue sky... I grew even smaller.

(I actually ran into someone I know at this point in Yosemite. Brandin Phillips, who used to work at Tomo Japanese Restaurant with me, and his wife and two beautiful children. It's weird how the world is so big, yet I can still run into a familiar face.)

From here, we continued on to Glacier Point.

Was it possible that I could continue to feel even smaller than before? At the end of the day, I felt almost as if I shouldn't exist in this world. The world had done just fine without me and my species.

I was so grateful to look upon Half Dome, my favorite part of Yosemite that I had seen before, only in photos. Something about the enormity of it, in a world where everything was tiny in comparison. I just couldn't take my eyes off of her.

Driving back to camp in Mariposa, CA that day, we were all in high spirits. Finally being able to see the magic of Yosemite was more that I could have ever hoped for.

•••

The next day I spent lounging at the pool with my parents at their bed and breakfast, The Restful Nest, in Mariposa. The Restful Nest is run by this very charming couple, Lois and Jean Pierre. Lois gets up at 5:00 AM every day and has breakfast served by 8:00 AM. She invited me for the following morning, and I went to sleep that night dreaming of eggs.

Day 20 - Sunday morning I woke up at headed to the Restful Nest for a delicious Mexican style spread. There was a nice couple from Ireland, and another lovely couple from Arizona (photographers!) along with us at the table. Lois first served us coffee, fruit and fresh baked banana and raspberry muffins. She cleared our first dishes and served pork in green chile sauce, barbequed pork, rice, beans, and an egg dish similar to Chilequiles. I was stuffed to the brim, and my brain was stuffed with the information gained from the friendly conversation. It was the perfect beginning to the rest of a perfect day.

I said my goodbyes, to The Restful Nest, and to my parents (sadly) and grabbed Chris to head back to Yosemite.

My parents had told us of a hike they had done the last time they were at Yosemite, up to the top of Vernal Falls, and Chris and I really wanted to do the same. The hike is 2.6 miles round trip, with an elevation gain of about 1,000 feet. May not sound bad to you fit, hard bodies out there, but I was under the impression that I probably wouldn't be able to make it the whole way.

But, off we went in search of Vernal Falls.

Halfway up, we get to this awesome footbridge:

I knew I had to get to the top, or I would never forgive myself. It was hard, and I had to stop quite a few times, but we made it higher and higher.

Holy SHIT. I couldn't stop my mouth from grinning.

Then we hit the granite staircase. By this time, I was totally pumped, and we kept going - to the very top.

It was so much fun, and I got such a sense of accomplishment. I was proud of myself for not giving up, and getting the amazing view as a reward!

Back down we went, all smiles, and ate the BEST bacon burgers ever.

Tune in next time for: Monterey, CA!

Day 15.

We have been in and out of cell reception, which means we haven't had a strong internet connection either, since I use my phone as a hotspot. This just means I have a lot to report!

Day 11 - Our last day in Redding, CA with my parents. We stayed a few extra days so we could see the Kool April Nights cruise, and it was totally worth it.

We saw HUNDREDS of amazing classic cars and we were in high spirits after experiencing all that American muscle. Or maybe we were high on the exhaust fumes...

Day 12 - We left Redding, and headed for Lassen National Forest. We stayed near Lassen Volcanic National Park at a place called Hat Creek Resort & RV Park, which was really just a dirt lot in the middle of nowhere with full RV hookups. I took Copper on a walk there, and didn't even know I was walking on the Pacific Crest Trail!

So that was really fun. A friend of mine and his girlfriend (Kellen) are headed up the PCT now, which is really inspiring. I would love to be able to do that one day.

Day 13 - We went to Lassen Volcanic National Park, and purchased our National Parks Pass. The road into the park was only open 10 miles in, so we made it to the Desolation Area, and read about the last eruption, and the man who ended up saving a bunch of lives because his dog woke him in the middle of the night. When the man looked outside, he saw a huge wall/wave of mud coming down the mountain, and he alerted everyone. No lives were lost, but six homesteads were ruined. It's really cool to learn about the people who have made a difference in this world, no matter how big or small. One never knows when the choices they make earn them a page in a history book. This May, it will be 100 years since the last large eruption in 1915.

On this same day, we left Lassen National Forest, and headed to South Lake Tahoe. Our trailer lights fell out of the back of our RV and dragged for miles, meaning they were completely broken (and have since been fixed). One of our hydraulic jacks was slowly lowering as we drove, setting off an alarming "beep" that we had never heard before - that was an easy fix as well. We arrived at Lake Tahoe in one piece, and were in awe as we drove around the lake. The sun was out, the lake was showing off it's layered colors, deep blue for the deeps, aquamarine for the shallows, and near the beach, the water is so clear you can see the sand beneath.

My mom had told us of Campground by the Lake, which we didn't have time to research, and arrived at this perfect campground by 5 pm. We can see the lake through the trees...

 

Day 14 - Chris and I took Copper, and drove up to Emerald Bay overlook. We smelled something strange coming from our engine compartment in our Geo Tracker tow car, and opened the hood to find we were completely out of coolant. Back down to town we went, filled it up, ate a quick lunch and headed out again. I'm now beginning to laugh when these little things happen, as they have happened so often since we've begun our trip.

Once we got back to Emerald Bay and Eagle Falls, we got out of the car to do a little exploring.

That's all for now, since my internet is being a giant A-hole. :)

Day 8.

Chris and I had to take a day trip in order to register our new tow car (used/new to us, that is) in Ashland, Oregon.  

On our way up from Redding, we drove through Castle Crags State Park to see the rocky landscapes. At 8:30am, the lighting was perfect and there wasn't another person in sight.  

 

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The trees were in full bloom, so it was hard to get a great photo of the crags themselves, but the surrounding beauty was enough for me. 

We passed quickly through Mt Shasta in order to get our stupid Oregon DMV crap done, ate a quick lunch and then headed back down to see the mountain.  

 

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We drove up the steady incline of Everett Memorial Hwy that runs up to Bunny Flats, at an elevation of almost 7,000 feet.  

 

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I was reminded today of the reasons I decided to take this trip in the first place. I'll be the first to admit that I am wrapped up in the material world. Our weird, capitalist society has made it easy for me to forget the humbling beauty of this planet. Seeing a 14,000 foot mountain reminds me of my small, ineffectual position in this existence. It reminds me that what so-and-so said or did to me however many months ago doesn't matter. It reminds me to forgive myself for the things I've done. 

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be in an accident that woke me up to the real and true concept that life is short. You can say YOLO all you want (you stupid hipster kids) but to really and truly live a life for yourself is not easy. Since I walked out of the hospital I've been telling myself and everyone I know "I'm gonna do whatever I want." And now, I'm finally doing it.