Did We Bite Off More Than We Could Chew?

Our first clue should have been the word ‘mountain’ in the trail name.  We read about and were eager to do the 35-mile River Mountains Loop Trail which surrounds the River Mountains connecting Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Hoover Dam, Henderson, Boulder City and the rest of the Las Vegas Valley.  We packed Lucy’s bag, loaded up our bags with snacks and water, outfitted myself in cool-max clothing, and headed out to pick up the trail in Henderson.

Long before we got to the half-way point, we were feeling weak in the legs.  This was turning out to be much more challenging than we expected, but we were still enjoying the ride immensely.

Getting over to Lake Mead was a beautiful sight.  We were close to the half-way mark at that point.

We were tired and a bit overwhelmed thinking that we were only half way through.  We didn’t really have a back-up plan, so we just kept going.  We didn’t realize that we had a 10-mile uphill climb waiting for us!  I guess we expected the second half to be similar to the first half.  You know, some uphill climbing and then a little downhill to break it up.  But no, this was 10 miles all uphill with no break!

We had to move aside for a skateboard race that was going down the 10-mile hill that we were going up.  We were walking our bikes at that point, so it was easy to move off the road.  Our quads were screaming.

I don’t know how to take a picture that accurately reflects the perspective.  My picture makes the road look fairly flat.  But it was steep!  Those guys were flying!  We were so happy to reach the peak and just coast down the other side back to our trailhead.  Whew!  What a ride!  We expected that we wouldn’t be able to walk today, but we feel good.  I’m amazed.  That was fun.

There Are 3 Ways To Go South. We Took The 4th.

Returning to Southern California from Oregon, you have 3 choices.  You can follow the coast along Hwy 101 (expensive!), shoot down the middle on Interstate 5 (boring!), or  drive the beautiful and challenging Hwy 395 through Mammoth Mountain and June Lake (cold!).  We followed Hwy 395 to Carson City NV, where we enjoyed a couple of days at Washoe Lake State Park.  When we learned that it snowed in the mountains on Hwy 395, we headed east to pick up Hwy 95 to Las Vegas.  And that’s where we are now.

We camped at Washoe Lake State Park because it is near Carson City and Mike was interested in the history of Carson City.  What we discovered is that Virginia City is the place to go if you are interested in that old time mining/saloon/railroad thing.  Carson City has plenty of history, but it’s a fairly large city. Whereas, Virginia City is small and a bit touristy, and it has that old west shoot-em-up flavor.  We had a fun day walking around, checking out the saloons and shops.

Virginia City, Nevada

Virginia City, Nevada

Bucket of Blood Saloon

Our campsite at Washoe Lake had plenty of elbow room.  The sites are very well spaced, and the campground was almost empty.  We took a late afternoon hike up Deadman’s Creek trail to a lookout point over the lake.

Washoe Lake State Park – Site 20

Another campfire with a board sticking out! I’m ruining Mike’s excellent campfire building reputation!

Late afternoon hike on Deadman Creek trail to the lake overlook.

Oh!  And this was our first multiple day ‘dry camping’ attempt.  It was so easy that I almost forgot to mention it.  Our fear was mostly regarding our residential refrigerator.  We weren’t sure how the house batteries would do in sustaining the temp in the frig.  They did fine.  We ran the generator less than an hour in the morning and again before we went to sleep.  When we eventually get solar panels installed, we will be boondocking for much longer periods of time.

As I stated, we are now in Las Vegas for a few days.  We picked up our final mailbox full of junk and closed our mail address here in Las Vegas.  When we bought the motorhome, we changed our domicile to Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  It’s a better tax situation for full-time RVers like us.

We found a “Rails to Trails” bike trail near here which sounds really fun.  So we plan to do that in the morning!  Cheers!

There! I Got It!

I got up early, readied my camera, drove to a good spot, and waited ……Got it!

Bald Eagle

I was adjusting my camera settings when she flew away.  I missed the in-flight wing span shot.  That one will have to stay on my bucket list.

We’re packing up and heading out to boondock at Washoe State Park in Nevada, near Carson City.  Mike wants to explore Carson City, so we’ll stay at Washoe for a few days.  This will be our first multiple day “dry camping” attempt.  No electricity, no water, no sewer.  We’ll be using our own resources.  This will be a learning experience for us, I’m sure!

Celebrating Our 21st at Eagle Lake

Our campground at Eagle Lake in the Lassen National Forest is almost deserted.  It’s late in the season and the roads will close at the first snow.  We’re at 5100 ft elevation and it gets cold at night.  We’ve got 3 blankets on the bed now.  The days are still in the 70’s and the sun feels warm and gentle.  And, oh my gosh, it’s beautiful up here.

Merrill Campground at Eagle Lake, CA

I don’t know if it’s because of all the bicycling we’ve been enjoying here, but I feel like I’m on an endorphin high!  Everything about this place makes me feel euphoric.  The smell of the pines, the serenity of the lake, the squirrels and chipmunks playing and darting all around, the colors of fall, the sounds of all the birds, the crunch of dried pine needles under your feet, the warmth and smell of the campfire each evening, and the gazillion stars in the night sky … it’s all soooo ……. perfect!

I’m so happy we were here to celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary.

Mike’s campfires are usually better looking than this one.  Unfortunately, we posed for this picture without realizing that we were burning one of our old broken boards.  Oh well, so much for the romantic anniversary picture!

Eagle Lake has a very pretty 5-mile paved bike path that passes through Merrill Campground.  I loved it!  I saw so much wildlife along the trail.  I wished I had been walking, instead of riding, so I could have had my camera at-the-ready to photograph the squirrels, the blue jays, the rabbits, and the large coyote that ran right by us!

Oh, and here’s a picture of Lucy in her new pink harness.  We didn’t like having her clipped in to her basket by her neck collar.  If anything would happen (like the bike falling over or whatever), she would get strangled.  That wouldn’t be good.

Mike told me about Rails to Trails, where all across the country, many miles of unused and abandoned railroad tracks are being converted into trails for hiking and biking and horseback riding.  He was eager for us to ride the Bizz Johnson trail that begins at the Susanville Railroad Depot.  It goes for 25-miles from Susanville to Westwood through the Susan River Canyon.  We loaded our bikes in the back of the car and drove down to Susanville (about 16 miles).  This is the view from the car driving down from Eagle Lake on County Road A1.

The Bizz Johnson trail was fantastic!  It is made up of compacted dirt with small gravel, has many wooden bridges, and even two (cold) tunnels.  We can’t wait to find more Rails to Trails in our travels.  The canyon was so pretty with the fall colors.

Beautiful Fall Colors!

Susan River beside the Bizz Johnson Trail

Mike approaches one of the tunnels on the Bizz Johnson Trail

I do seem to take a lot of pictures of Mike’s rear end.

The only thing that would have made this weekend more perfect would be if I had seen a Bald Eagle.  They’re out here.  A lady I spoke to here in the campground said she watched one today for over 3 hours!  We’re leaving tomorrow, but I’m going to go to her viewing spot in the morning and watch for awhile before we pack up.  Wish me luck!

Two Reasons To Go To Tulelake

We said goodbye to Oregon and began our trip back to Southern California.  Our first stop was in Tulelake, California.  We stayed at the Tulelake Butte Valley Fairground RV Park.  We got a full hookup site for $18 with Passport America.  You are basically just parked on grass with a row of other RVs.  We were certainly the largest RV there, and we were glad to be at the very end of the row with the large grass field beside us, rather than sandwiched between others.  However, our reasons for coming here weren’t about the park (even though Lucy loved running in the grass).

Tulelake Butte Valley Fairgrounds RV Park

We came here because two things in this area intrigued us.  First, the largest World War II Japanese Internment Camp is located here.

“Tulelake was the largest and most controversial of the 10 war relocation authority camps used to carry out the government system of exclusion and detention of persons of Japanese decent during World War II.  It’s peak population was 18,700 Japanese Americans.  Two-thirds of the 120,000 persons incarcerated in American concentration camps were American citizens.   An act that culminated decades of discrimination, violence and propaganda.”

The museum at the Tulelake fairgrounds was rich with the history of this era.  Watching the short films made by those who experienced this travesty was moving and enlightening.

Japanese Internment Camp Guard Tower

We drove out to the actual site where only a few of the structures remain, preserved behind a barbed wire fence.

If I hadn’t seen the pictures in the museum and watched the film, I would look at the above picture and think “Oh, how pretty this is!  It looks like an old ranch house!”  By contrast, below is a picture of Camp Tulelake during World War II.

Our second reason for visiting this area is the Lava Beds National Monument.  In addition to viewing miles and miles of the massive lava beds created about 30,000 years ago, we were also eager to go into a few of the lava tube caves.  Over 700 caves have been discovered here!  The Visitor’s Center loaned us lanterns so we could explore the caves.

Lava Beds National Monument

Lava Tube Cave entrance

Linda enters the lava cave

This particular cave is about 1/2 mile long to the other side.  We worked our way through with the weak flashlight provided by the Park Service.  It is pitch black in there without the lantern.  And you had to be careful not to hit your head.  We didn’t go into any of the caves that required crawling, but we still had to watch our footing and our heads.  The rocks jut out all around you.

I was a little surprised that I didn’t feel claustrophobic in a 1/2 mile long lava tube.  But I continue to surprise myself all the time!  (for example, crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a sailboat by ourselves and never feeling afraid … uncomfortable at times, but not afraid!)

Moving on to Eagle Lake in the Lassen National Forest for a few days.  Talk to you later!

Ashland, Oregon – We Could Live Here!

Our ten days at Emigrant Lake, near Ashland, Oregon just whet our appetite for more of this cute little town.  We will definitely be coming back here for a longer stay next time.  We loved the positive energy of this place.  We felt very comfortable here.  Everyone we met was sincerely friendly and warm.  There is a healthy, active, outdoorsy energy and yet it is relaxed and laidback at the same time.  A really nice combination.  We want to come back and spend more time here, hopefully next year.

We were looking forward to the Artisan Market and Farmers Market on Saturday.  We have enjoyed going to these marketplace events ever since we started travelling 8 years ago.  And this one did not disappoint.  We listened to a talented guitar soloist, sampled organic baked goodies, shopped for the perfect fruits and veggies, and admired the beautiful handcrafted items from local artists.

Many of you may know that Ashland is the home of the Annual Shakespeare Festival.  We couldn’t come here and not attend at least one show.  We chose The Merry Wives of Windsor which was playing at the Elizabethan Theatre.  No photographing was allowed during the performance, so I went back the next day and got a pic of the empty theatre.  We had a fun evening and would certainly get season tickets if we were here for an extended time.

We caught an outdoor performance of the Eugene Taiko drummers.  Their performances are choreographed and great fun to watch!

Nearby Jacksonville is also a fun little town with a quaint historic district.  We spent the afternoon strolling through the shops and visiting the wine tasting rooms!  Fun!

Whether we were strolling through the beautiful Lithia Park in the middle of Ashland, or dining on the patio of a Main Street cafe beside the river, or buying a marionberry pie from the local bakery, or riding our bikes on the Bear Creek Greenway … we just loved everything about this place!

Our campsite at Emigrant Lake was the perfect spot, even though the lake is very low at this time of the year.  We even spotted deer on the slope beside our campsite, which is still an exciting and special thing for me.  I guess it’s pretty common up here, but I still get excited.  Just like when dolphins would swim beside our boat and play in our wake.  It never gets old.

Mike and Lucy play in the campsite day use area.

Goodbye, Ashland!  Until next time!

I’m not a wimp after all!

In my last post, I said that our last bike ride was difficult for me.  Now I know why.  My front brake was malfunctioning.  My brake was rubbing the entire time!  No wonder it felt like I was going uphill all the time.  Sixteen miles with the brakes on.  I’m so glad to know that I’m not a wimp!  Now I feel like an animal!

We got the part fixed, took a ride this morning with steep hills, and it was easy!  I’m back, baby!