"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

Friday, October 1, 2021

A Devastating Fire, Trailer Repair & A Pumpkin Patch

Placerville, California
Elks Lodge 

The first half of October in Placerville.....
The second largest wildfire in California of the year was the Caldor Fire.  Almost entirely in our county.  222K acres were burned.  At one time our previous ranch was within 4 miles of the evacuation orders. Our county consists of National Forest and Wilderness Area.  The destruction was awful.  When we got home, we eagerly awaited the opening of Hwys 50, 89 and 88 which make a large loop and consist of the beautiful mountains, forests and granite that I've always loved to hike.
We packed a lunch with the hopes that best case, my favorite trail would be open and we could hike it.  Worst case we would survey the damage and see what was left.  As we were on our way we passed this A-liner driving with the top up!  
Our short cut through Old Hwy 50 was closed until Spring due to severe damage to the road.  It sits in the middle of the fire.  We drove up to Hwy 50 and took that towards South Lake Tahoe instead.  It wasn't long before the fire damage was visible.  It had jumped the Hwy but the firefighters did an amazing job of protecting the old historic lodge and cabins.
Mountain in the distance I used to hike, burned.  Ski Lodge across from it had some damage.
Just heartbreaking to see.
A few of the old cabins weren't so lucky.  You can see the white X's spray painted on trees and damage to be removed.
They fought hard and were able to protect the Tahoe Basin.  Above is the lake seen through the residual smoke.  This is the view visible from the summit.  The fire tore through the summit burning much around Echo Lakes.  It was still closed so we did not see the damage to that area and trails.
Right below the summit (7382 ft), down a very steep cliff sits Christmas Valley in Meyers on Hwy 89.  They were able to protect almost all of that as well.
After passing Christmas Valley you can see no fire damage.  From Hwy 89 at this point and the sky and the Aspens were in splendid fall color.  Even a few of the trails were open here.
At the intersection of Hwys 89 and 88 you cross the Carson River.  I was happy to see that looking back over the river and meadow things looked good.  One of our favorite boondocking spots is here.

Beyond the flags is our boondocking spot.  Unfortunately, we could not drive down to it.  They cut down much of the forest to make way to create a fire break and for Emergency equipment.  The big meadow was being used as an emergency helipad and there were still tankers parked in the meadow for flare ups.  Nor sure what it'll look like until next Spring.
The meadow previously in the fall.
We continued our drive down Hwy 88 towards my favorite hike at Shealor Lake.  The skies were surprisingly clear over here with no smell of smoke.

They did a great job of protecting the forest around several of the lakes.  Unfortunately, Caples Lake had some burn down to the Hwy in spots as we drove past.
On one of the larger pullouts that you can see most of the valley between Hwy 50 and 88, red trails of retardant were still visible and many spot fires were left to burn themselves out through the winter.

I had heard my area around Silver Lake wasn't spared much.  As we got closer the damage was on 
both sides of the road and I just cried.  I have such an attachment to this area.  It's sad to know that this will never grow back in my lifetime.
The Trailhead was closed so we could not hike.  All looks ok at the parking lot.
Since it had been an hour and a half drive with no hike, we pulled over just past the trailhead and parked off road.  This spot gives us a great view of Silver Lake and a short hike for Hurley to get out and run around.
Hurley found a stick to play with in no time.
We ran in to a local who said, "Thank God for the granite on the ridge surrounding Shealor as that is what saved the tiny community of Silver Lake below".  It slowed enough here to protect it.  Unfortunately, she didn't see Shealor Lakes, but heard they were burned pretty badly.  I cried some more.  The area will soon be covered with snow and I'll have to wait until May to see how it actually faired.  This area is so beautiful and special to me, it's where my ashes will end up one day.  Kind of ironic that this soulful area is now ashes itself.
A bit further down Hwy 88 is Tragedy Spring.  A very historical area with the best tasting water bubbling up from the ground.  The entire area was burned and still in the process of being cleared.  Loggers were out cutting burned and fallen trees.  Another tragedy to the spring.
The final overlook of the area was getting more and more smokey. Again, the short-cut from this end was closed as well so we headed down further towards Jackson and took the backroads back to Placerville.
This dog kept an eye on us for miles.
By time we got down in elevation the smoke was horrible.  I heard some smaller fires from Yosemite were blowing our way making things hard to breathe again and blocking the sun.  It was a long day with a lot of sadness but it gave us a better feel for what happened while we were gone.

The next night we met up with Fulltime friends from Placerville while we passed each other. We had drinks with John and Tina before they headed off in another direction.  We will see them later next month though.

Finally, our parts arrived for the slide.  Once we were in Kansas, we were hearing some clanking sounds from the slide.  We had an idea what it was and sure enough, once Steve checked it out the slide gear was missing some teeth.  We babied it along and only opened that particular dining room/living room slide out partially.  New parts were ordered and sent to Placerville.
Here's the old gear.
Three missing teeth.
Luckly Steve is very handy and after a few You-Tube videos he had it all repaired.
While I was holding parts for him, I had noticed what I though was maybe grease on the trailer rim.  Once I ran my fingernail over it though it was not grease but a crack.  All the way through the spoke and partially through the one above it!  Geez, one step forward and 2 steps back as they say.
New rim on order.  Now the waiting game.  In the meantime, we put our spare on.
We had some spectators.
At least the evening ended nicely.

Our son, Ryan, would be in Las Vegas at a conference and Diana wanted to join him so they asked if we would be willing to babysit Jaxon for a few days.  Of course!!  We went up a day early so I could see his routine.  This would make it easier for us and him.
He didn't mind when they were gone.  A couple of trips to the park always works too.
Holding Papa's finger.  So sweet.
More park time.

After a rocky night, we planned a fun day at Borchard Farms Pumpkin Patch.  We all had a great time.  Visits are always quicker when you have a 1 1/2 year old.
Jax loved looking at all the different types of pumpkins and squash.

They had a small barn area with the most beautiful exotic pheasants.  Very colorful.
Jaxon was dwarfed by the large pumpkins and bummed that he couldn't pick them up!
He did like climbing the pumpkin hill.
The scary section didn't bother him at all.  He thought it was funny.

We skipped the Corn Maze and opted for a McDonalds Happy Meal instead.  Being grandparents is fun!
Papa and Jaxon.
Bathtime and story time before bed was my favorite!
The second night was much easier and we all slept much better.  It was a bit exhausting and I had some sore muscles but it was a special time we wouldn't have passed it up!

An awesome Railroad Tunnel Hike and Snow Camping up next!


  1. So sorry to see some of your favourite places were burned. The forest fires last summer in the US and Canada have been devastating. Good job on the repair Steve. Jaxon sure is a cutie!

    1. Just when you think the next year can't be worse, right? These crazy rain storms are going to bring so much flooding too!

  2. So sorry to see such devastation to your special place, hopefully Mother Nature will build it back just as beautiful. Sounds like Jaxon wore you guys out, that's what I hear happens with young grandkids.

    1. Too bad we won't see that regrowth in our lifetime :-( Yes, Jax definitely wore us out!

  3. Fire damage looks awful for sure. Hopefully the area will be even more beautiful when it grows back. Yup, that's the way RV repairs go. Just when you think you got your list knocked out you find something else.

    1. Our poor county has really taken a beating the past few years. So much of the forest has burned. There are more repairs coming up!


I’d love to hear from you! It’s more fun when you leave a comment!