Deep Blue

Sadly, we left the Redwood National Forest, and pointed the Fireball east for the first time in months. Got one last photo of the giant tree in our campsite ‘backyard’. 20160410_174110As close as we could measure this with our Stanley 10′ tape measure, it was nearly 38′ around.

One last pass through Crescent City was in order, as this was our last view of the Pacific Ocean as well. The old lighthouse there (still operating), sitting on its picturesque island is a beautiful sight for any camera lens.20160410_12025720160410_120232 McArthur-Burney Falls State Park was our next stop for a brief overnight. The never-ending county road took us through the Siskiyou Mountains. Bet our average speed for a 40 mile stretch was no more than 25mph, but what a gorgeous route. Sometimes, it pays not to be in a hurry.20160411_112513The campsites at McArthur-Burney were large, secluded, and barely populated.20160411_175254 We wandered down to the spectacular falls. Not only does water thunder over the top of the falls – it also pushes through the bedrock walls on each side of the main falls.20160412_090844 I’ve never seen anything quite so dramatic. Water flow was good, and we could hear the falls back at our campsite, even though it was probably 1/3 mile away. The Pacific Crest Trail runs through this point, so I even got to walk a few hundred yards on this trail, perhaps made most famous by the book and movie “Wild”.

An early start was in order for the next day, as we wanted to check out Lassen Volcanic National Park, and (hopefully) get in a brief hike. Closed!! Even the Visitor Center was closed for the season (doesn’t open until Memorial weekend). We wandered around the area, checking out the early seismograph located there.20160412_101516 For miles around, there are huge chunks of volcanic rock – although I don’t know the history of this volcano, it must have been one enormous eruption, or series of eruptions. It’s a gorgeous area, and we were sad not to be able to explore.20160412_10294920160412_104056 Even the State Highway is closed for the season at that point – we had to backtrack to get to Lake Tahoe, our next destination.

This was one of the rare times we really didn’t know where we were going to ‘land’ the Fireball. We had pinpointed several campgrounds in the nearby National Forest, but all are closed for the season. We finally found one state park on the west side of the Lake, which had probably a dozen open campsites. So, Ed Z’berg Sugar Point Pines State Park became our home for three nights. What an interesting spot. This is a huge State Park with over 175 campsites. But, we were the only campers there. Showers were all locked up, but we did have flush toilets. Solitude, very cold windy nights, and a huge starry sky. Bonus – we woke up on Day 2 to snow.20160414_071457Lake Tahoe is deep and cold. It holds 39 trillion gallons of water, enough to cover the state of California with 14″ of clear, drinkable water. It’s an amazing sparkling deep blue color.20160413_121931image The average depth is 1600′ feet, which I find incredible, since Lake Superior has an average depth of less than 500, and is about 1350 at its deepest spot. We hiked, biked, and wandered everywhere we could. It was difficult not just to sit and appreciate our good fortune for being able to land in such a spectacular spot.20160414_11345820160414_104152One point of interest was Vikingholm, a large Scandinavian style home built on the southern shore in the 1920s.. Dappled light made photos difficult, and I was disappointed not to get a great photo of the snow-covered sod roof which covers a section of the home. 20160414_12284320160414_12231220160413_124015Completed in 1929, it now is part of the Park, but was closed (nothing apparently opens until Memorial weekend). But what a pleasure to walk around.

Saw this notable cedar of some type with its curly bark, and a large pine tree with an unusual repair job to cover up a wound.

The rest of our time was spent viewing the lake from every possible elevation and angle. With the bright clear skies brought on by the prior night’s snowfall, it was a photo dream. I could probably post a hundred photos, taken just because I wanted to imprint these images on my brain.

Lake Tahoe was the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, and part of them took place right on the trails in our campground. How could we resist taking our mountain bikes (and rifles – HA!) and heading out to the biathlon course?20160413_114121 We got off to a great start, but soon ran into old icy snow piles. Wham! Suddenly I was face-planted in the cold icy stuff. Luckily John didn’t see it, but he did ask me to recreate the scene for a photo. NOT! I managed to biff a second time before we came to a huge (50 yards long) deep muddy hole. There’s no way we could tell how deep it was, and there was no way to bypass it, so we turned back. Yes, I did fall once again on the return. For my efforts, I have a sore knee and a bit of ice burn on my leg. Badges of honor on an Olympic course – I’m proud.

The Donner Party met its demise in this area, so we headed to Donner Lake State Park to see the new Museum there, which just opend in Fall 2015. The Donner Party was a group of 89 pioneers headed to California in 1846-47. They took a ‘shortcut’ which didn’t turn out to be that, and bogged down for months. The upshot was that about half died along the way, and their bodies were consumed by others in a desperate attempt to survive. Only 47 of the original 89 survived that brutal winter, the worst in 100 years. Other areas of the museum are dedicated to the Chinese laborers who cut the railroad tunnels through the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the 1860s. The labors of these workers are finally being appropriately credited to them, after years of silence for this achievement. The Museum doesn’t really lend itself to photos of these exhibits, but a statue outside, dedicated in 1918, pays tribute to all those California pioneers.20160414_145408We left much unseen in the Lake Tahoe area, in the hopes that we’ll make a return trip.image 20160414_121830Hard to believe, but we’re already feeling the pressure of moving eastward to make our deadline of being in Maggie Valley, NC on May 18. How are we going to cover all of those miles in a mere month?

We’ve rolled into Carson City NV for a few days. No more camping in the woods by ourselves – we’re in a crowded RV park.20160415_141906 But there’s WiFi! Showers that aren’t coin-operated! Electricity and water. All the things we haven’t had but for a day or two in the last two months. If it wasn’t for all the traffic noise, other campers, and barking dogs, it would be great!

The trek eastward continues.

 

12 thoughts on “Deep Blue

  1. “Sometimes, it pays not to be in a hurry” is so often the case, as you keep finding things that I had never heard of before, like that spectacular waterfall!

    Lake Tahoe is beautiful, but I’ll bet that it’s a crowded place in the summer.

    It must be interesting trying to navigate that area this time of year, with the lower elevations free of snow, and the roads at higher elevations still blocked by snow. Good luck heading east, I guess the Denver area is getting tons of snow from what my niece says.

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    • We always shoot for the offbeat and obscure, Jerry. Results in more than a few misfires! We talked to a Ranger at Tahoe. He said their season really doesn’t kick into high gear until July 4, when it starts to get really hot in the Valley.

      Watching the weather closely. Heading across N NV toward Great BC asin NO thus week. Not sure of route after that. Weather dependent, for sure.

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  2. Hope your breath isn’t sitll bated as I have nothing too exciting to report.

    We also hate crowds but learn to live with and getting around them to be in Tahoe in July (one secret is that weekdays are much quieter and we’ve learned to stay put and not drive anywhere on the weekends). If the weather cooperates, we may end this trip in Tahoe as early May can yield some gorgeous days as long as it isn’t windy. Nice thing about Tahoe is even if the temp is no higher than 64, the sun is so strong it feels warmer. I’m pining for the smell of those Jeffrey pine trees.

    And funny story (well, sort of) about your comment about Tahoe’s water being “drinkable.” It is as long as it’s treated. One time Ken hiked down to the water and was so thirsty he drank some and turned out it wasn’t such a great idea. Lesson learned the hard way. :-)

    The Tallac historical site I mentioned is on the south side near Camp Richardson, which you may have passed through if you left via South Tahoe. Our campground is in that area and Tallac is a multi-acre compound where two rich founding Tahoe families (who also about logged it to death) built their summer homes. My visit isn’t complete unless I stop at Tallac. There’s also lots of stellar hiking and many bike riders do the complete lake tour, but we never do any of those things; we just enjoy the beaches and campground.

    And two bits of movie trivia: Parts of the Bodyguard (Whitney Houston/Kevin Costner) were filmed on Fallen Leaf lake, A Place in the Sun (Elizabeth Taylor) was also filmed on Lake Tahoe, and The Long, Long Trailer (Lucille Ball) was partially filmed on the Mt Rose Hwy. So now you know.

    R

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    • We aren’t at that one but I wish we were. We are at the Camp-n-Town on the north end. Although the Park is clean, the wifi doesn’t work. If we’re going to pay RV park rates, and they advertise free Wi-Fi, well……Not much in Carson City, but it’s worth a day or two to poke around. It’s a nice clean little town. We missed seeing the Nevada State Museum. Next time….

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      • Geez, too bad about the museum; I was just going to recommend it.

        You know, I don’t know of many RV parks we’ve stayed at where the wifi works well–heck, we’ve had a couple of hotels where it doesn’t work very well, or $12/day was required for in-room service.

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      • Sure, we’ve had times when it doesn’t work well. But it’s wrong to advertise Free WiFi when it doesn’t work at all. We would have gone elsewhere. Next time we’ll check BEFORE setting up.

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      • Still no time (have a column to write) but there is so much more to the area than what you experienced. Summers are the best tiime to visit but it also draws huge crowds. July is our favorite month for our camping trips but we know the secrets of avoiding the hordes.September is less crowded and a great time to return for a longer visit. :-)

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      • We know that we left lots unseen. We are skimming the sights for sure, but are too lazy to go hardcore tourist and bust our butts to see everything we can. Primed for a repeat visit!

        I would probably rather camp during an off-prime season and miss stuff than camp in peak (crowded) times. I really hate crowds. Really. We barely camp at home during the summer. Guess it’s good that we have the luxury using the off leak season.

        Looking forward to your next post as well. Thanks, Robin.

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