"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A Break in the Mountains - CA, Week 1

Kirkwood, CA
Scott's Lake NF

After a hectic month we are going to boondock in one of our favorite places along Hwy 88 near Kirkwood Ski Resort in Hope Valley and just relax and recharge.  Along the way up you pass several lakes. Much cooler and almost no wildfire smoke.
Silver Lake
Caples Lake
Red Lake as viewed at the top of the Carson Pass, 8652 ft elevation.
Ah, our spot that sits between a meadow and the pines and aspen.
Until a couple of weeks ago there were cattle grazing this meadow. It's pretty dry out this year.
Steve's office for the next 3 weeks.

There are a few others, all spaced out along the meadow.
The first week we just relaxed, walked the rivers, and hiked a little.
The West Carson River

Nice deep pools among the large boulders.
We drove some back roads and cached a little too.

Besides settlers coming to the goldrush, this area was home to Snowshoe Thompson.

Steve got a picture of me fishing in one of the pools.

I loved how the beams of sun made layers in the wildfire smoke that would settle in, in the evening.


On the weekend our son, Brennan, wanted us to meet his Girlfriends father who happened to be camping in Donner, not far from Lake Tahoe.  So we drove the 1-12 hours away and drove along beautiful Lake Tahoe.
There is so much to do all around Lake Tahoe you could stay busy for weeks.  Especially if you like outdoor activities, winter sports, gambling, concerts, etc.
They were all camped at Donner State Memorial Park.  In case you didn't hear this part of California's history, The Donner Party was a group of pioneers that set out for California in a wagon train in May 1846. Departing from Independence, Missouri, they were delayed by a series of mishaps and mistakes, and spent the winter of 1846–47 snowbound in the Sierra Nevada. Some of the pioneers resorted to cannibalism to survive. Besides the campground, they have a nice museum here.
Brennan and Alex
One of the guys here makes the most amazing Mojitos.  I don't care for them usually, but this one was pretty amazing!  And tasty!
Hurley found a new girlfriend.
Brennan had set some games up for everyone.  So we played girls against the boys and The Girls won 3 out of 5.
We kicked butt in Bocce.  The pallino (the little white ball) is thrown at random and you then throw your teams balls as close as you can.  Closest team's ball, wins.  So, it was pretty amazing that I was able to get our (Red) ball the closest to the pallino considering it was thrown between two stumps.  I threw it 30 feet and made it right between the stumps for a win!  Go Girls!!
Brennan, Alex and Alex's Dad, Sebastian.  Thanks guys for a  great time and BBQ!
We drove another day to Tahoe, about 20 mins, to renew Steve's drivers license and had a nice breakfast on the way out at the Hope Valley CafĂ©.  We ate at this cute little spot along the river a couple of times while here. We also saw the movie, Crazy Rich Asians.  It was pretty funny.



Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Smokey Times in California

Placerville, CA
Storm Valley Ranch

As we drove back to Placerville to be with my Dad in the hospital, we didn't get far before the smoke hit.  As a matter of fact, we didn't make it to the Oregon border before the smoke from Grants Pass and the huge fires in Northern CA smothered us.  The Carr Fire was the massive wildfire that burned in Shasta and Trinity Counties in California near Shasta. The fire burned 229,651 acres, before it was 100% contained on August 30.
Here we are in Klamath Falls at a Pilot where we spent the night near the border.
Early the next morning was no better. 
Lake Shasta is barely visible from I-5.
Just when we thought we were south enough and there was some blue showing, two fires just popped up along Hwy 50 outside Placerville.  Luckily these were put out very quickly.

We went straight to the hospital where my brother, sister Kris and niece Danielle were waiting.  The 3 weeks he was there went from not too good to a very amazing recovery.  This month was very busy and when we were not at the hospital, we visited with friends and family.
Hurley and my sisters dog, Phoebe not liking the smoky air either.
Dinner out one night with our oldest, Ryan, and his girlfriend Diana. We went to Jack Russell Brewery for beer and one of those giant pretzels.  Then dinner down the road at the Independent.
Hurley happy to see his Daddy.

We did manage to get one hike in when the winds switched and the smoke was not as bad further up in the Sierra's.  Yosemite has yet another huge wildfire and it is also blowing smoke up here. This is the first we've seen some blue sky in 3 weeks.  Lots of smoke and some falling ash still at home.
This was supposed to be just under a 2 mile hike but that was as the crow flies.  We were on the hunt for a special geocache hidden high up in the mountains at a small alpine lake that I doubt most know is there.  I've hiked this area before and didn't know it was there.  But there are thousands of high ridges that go on forever.  There is no trail to this lake.  All done by gps coordinates.  It's fairly easy for me to find my way around here as I've hiked here so much so I had a good idea how to get there and back without a compass.
I love all the granite in these mountains.  We had to bushwhack our way up and over a few ridges, through three lower forested areas with small streams and then a final rock climb up the last ridge.
Looking over the final ridge.  Very steep!  If you blow up the picture you can just make Steve out in the middle in front of those pines.
Aha!  Made it!  What a pretty little lake.
Rimmed with ferns, boulders and grasses.
Here is the tiny "island" where the geocache was hidden.  A little too far for me to jump across so Steve waded the five feet over.
You can see him over my shoulder getting the geocache.
This turned out to be closer to five miles.  We were a bit unprepared for the distance and how strenuous it would be.  Plus the smoke and heat really did us in.
With all the gray and pink granite, these black lava boulders always stand out.  Where did they come from?  Maybe blown from an old volcano somewhere.  They always look out of place.
Almost back.  That last climb up was a killer.  Just a few cuts and an almost run-in with a bee nest.  So glad to be done.  And we came right back to where the truck was parked.

Once my Dad was back home we had a nice BBQ for him.
Steve and Kaylee
Dad and Mom.  He was sure happy to be eating regular food again.
Brennan, Shane and Steve.

A few outings with friends over the next couple of weeks and then we'll head back out.
Our favorite Mexican place, Casa Ramos with Doug and Deana of course!
We checked out a new pizza place with Jenny and Jim.
We went to see their new house and had fun with their dogs.  This guy loved his tire toy!
One night our Placerville friend, Shelly, who now lives in Gold Canyon in Arizona, was in town so we met at a winery for pizza and music.
Shelly and I.
The pizza dough is flyin!
Bacon and Grilled Pineapple (above) and Grilled Veggies with Arugula (below).

Another day we drove to San Francisco with our oldest, Ryan, and friends Mike and Rose.
We had lunch at a very popular Ramen place.  Great food!
A final night at Doug and Deanna's for dinner.  Look how cute their welcoming is for us!  Flowers a candle and a chalkboard that read, "Besties Dinner".  They made clams they brought back from Washington, we had steaks and so much food!

And there might have been a little Blue Tarantula involved.  More cute dogs too!

Well that month flew by.  My Dad continues to recover very well, we got to see the kids and friends again so we're heading back out on the road.  Not back to Washington, but we'll start out in our favorite boondocking site back in the Sierra's for a couple weeks and decide from there.  Rest time!
And I'm all caught up with the blog now too!