Friday, September 20, 2013

Diamond and Crater Lakes

from Bill...

Diamond Lake is located about ten miles north of Crater Lake and is a great place to camp, if you want to see Crater Lake. Debby found out about this little gem of a campground from the Wheeling It blog. It is run by the Forest Service, so once again we got a great price and a great site with a fire pit. After getting settled in, I went out to gather some firewood (it’s legal to do that here). I scored a pretty good stash of wood, but got stung in the leg in the process, a small price to pay for a nice hot fire. When we got here, the weather was hot, almost 90 degrees, but that was about to change. The next day temperatures were forecast to drop and it was supposed to rain all day. We thought about making a dash for it and heading out but decided we’d be better off hunkering down and riding out the storm.

Debby volunteered to drive to Crater Lake the next day, and off we went just before the crack of noon. It hadn't started raining yet and we were looking forward to a drive around the lake, taking in the views and snapping lots of photos. When we got to the lake the skies had become ominous and we were driving in and out of the bottom of the clouds; the fog was thick and Debby was white-knuckling it. Fortunately, we were able to grab a few glimpses of the lake from several overlooks - what a magnificent sight. As the weather was diminishing, we stopped in to check out the Lodge, which proved to be a great decision.

The lodge had a huge fireplace with a roaring fire going, just what we needed to take off the chill. We got comfy in a couple of wood rockers in front of the fire and ordered up a latte and a cup of tea. Right about then, it began to snow, and it was really coming down. We were so happy to be warm and cozy and enjoying our drinks inside. Needless to say, lots of people were coming in and hanging out and we were enjoying the show. One couple had been out riding their bikes around the lake, but gave that up when the weather turned.

As we ordered a viognier and an amber, a couple of guys, about my age, sat next to us, and Debby started chatting it up with them. Chris and Dominic were super nice, two long-time friends on their annual camping trip together. Debby told them about our campsite at Diamond Lake, and they decided to spend the night there, where it would be a lot warmer. Since we couldn't see the lake from the overlooks, we decided to head back down the hill. The snow had stopped, but it had blanketed the side of the road. We stopped for a photo, to contrast with the shot of our friend, Maria, lounging on a rock by the lake soaking up the sun a few days earlier.

On the way home, we ran into Chris and Dominic at the South Shore Pizza shop. We had just stopped to check the place out, but when we saw they had five beers on tap, we ordered up a couple  with a plate of spuds (breaded potato slices) and a salad. Man, those potatoes were good, and so was the beer. It was a brown ale from a brewery in Cascade Lakes, I think. After getting back to the campground, we dug out our Deschutes growler and I went back to get it filled.

When we got back to the campground we went for a walk and  found our new friends camped in a parking lot, connected to the camp host’s power (this was a no-hookup campground, so they were lucky). We decided to have a campfire at their campsite, so I walked back to get our car and the rest of our firewood. On the way, I picked up a can of beef-a-roni that someone had left behind at their campsite. I planned to either give it away or toss it. I asked several people if they wanted it, but found no takers. Soon I was talking to a large group that turned out to be from South Lake Tahoe. One was the owner of the Fox & Hound, and two of them knew Beth, from Tahoe Valley Campground.—small world. They had a bottle of beer that none of them wanted, so I traded it for the beef-a-roni and think I got the better of the deal. We had a great time at the campfire that night and said goodbye to Chris & Dom.

Enjoying the campfire in the pouring rain - for hours!
The following day we packed up and headed to Eugene, but not without getting a tip from the camp host to avoid our original route, which had major construction delays, and to visit Watson Falls on the way. It was about a half-mile hike uphill to get the best view, but well worth it. It’s a magnificent waterfall in the middle of a lush forest, so we got our exercise and a couple of great pictures.

Lava Beds National Monument

from Bill...

After leaving Eagle Lake, we headed north to Lava Beds National Monument. This park is situated in a pretty desolate area near the Oregon border on the northern flank of the Medicine Lake Volcano, the largest volcano in the Cascade Range. The park is best known for its lava tubes that were formed by rivers of molten lava thousands of years ago. After one false start at a site where we had to elevate the rear wheels off the ground to get level, we found the perfect spot and got settled in for the night. Once again we were thrilled to take advantage of my Senior Parks Pass and paid only $5 a night.

The following morning we walked up to the visitor center to sign up for an afternoon tour of one of the caves and read up on the history of the place. Mostly, the history had to do with kicking the Native Americans off of their land, then killing them when they came to take it back; pretty sad.  Ranger Steve convinced us to buy spelunking helmets, commenting that no one has ever regretted buying them; in the end, we did - they were totally unnecessary. I had to intentionally bang my head on the ceiling a few times to make me feel better about the purchase.

The geology of the Lava Beds is fascinating and we spent the morning visiting a few caves and having lunch at the base of a huge cinder cone called Schonchin Butte. In the afternoon we joined Ranger Steve on a tour of the Golden Dome cave, which got its name from the gold-colored bacteria that grow on the ceiling. It was a fun and informative tour, but we both decided that we’d seen enough lava tubes and that it was time to move on towards Diamond and Crater Lakes.

A lot of annoying flies and one friendly moth that had hitched a ride on our flower pot.

Eagle Lake, California

After bidding a fond farewell to our friends in South Lake Tahoe, we drove north to visit the lovely Eagle Lake, which is a little north of Susanville, CA. We spent five days there soaking in the quiet after four months of crazy Tahoe life. We both do enjoy the fun and socialness of our last “home town" but I think we both prefer being in a place that is more peaceful. The joy of full-timing is that you can have it all and mix it up a bit.

The campsites at Eagle Lake were huge and we ended up in a really great spot. We got the canoe off the car and put in at the free marina. I spent one day paddling with Bill and then settled in to do some work. I had one client with a September 15th deadline and quite a few with October 15th deadlines.  I knew that the next few places we were planning on stopping at had no Internet so this was a good time for me to hunker down.

We had heard there were huge trout to be caught in this lake and without a nibble the day I went out, Bill spent the next two days paddling the canoe by himself, something he’s never done before. Alas, he had no luck with the trout, but did land a 12-inch Tui Chub, which he released, once he figured out what it was. By the time he got home he was also feeling a little badly about the worms he was using for bait…it’s funny how our plant-based, whole foods lifestyle creeps into other parts of our lives.

Eagle Lake is just a bit low...

We haven't seen this many big birds since we left Cedar Key - the white pelicans were in abundance.


The one that might have been...

Monday, September 2, 2013


I have been so very blessed to have had the most amazing experiences since my heart took flight with Bill Kasson. This summer we workamped at Tahoe Valley Campground in South Lake Tahoe. This was our 4th summer camping here and my second workamping here. It's truly all about the people - the place and work are secondary. We worked 3 days a week, Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and my job was to "open" the store, as it was in 2011, I was given a lot of responsibility and relished in it. We worked for minimum wage and 1/2 off our site - not much compared to what I earn as a CPA but the experience and community we  forged was beyond compare. Our co-workers ranged from an 18 year old, fresh out of high school, to seasoned veterans who have worked there for 10-15 years. My personality and background was so not suited to customer service, but even at this stage of life I can learn and grow.

When I asked my co-workers if they wanted my work shirt back dirty or clean, Sandy said, keep it and bring it back next year!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

South Lake Tahoe...(part I)

...where my heart is home. Is this why I haven't blogged since we arrived nearly four months ago? It is certainly not because there has been nothing to write about! We have been going about 90 per since we landed here with some epic adventures, and maybe that's just it, we are experiencing so much that I have no time to blog. Of course, there have been some traumatic events that have occurred this summer that have left me pretty much mentally incapacitated, as well. But now as our stay winds down in this funky city I have been reflecting on our time here and wanted to see if I could sum up four months in a few paragraphs here. That is the challenge!

MAY: We arrived mid-month to glorious weather - so fabulous that the 2nd day we were here our friend Jen convinced us to canoe with her and Socs (Daniel's dog) down the North Upper Truckee river from Elks Club Road to where we used to live on Colorado Court, just a mile short of the lake. The river was raging and fuller than I have ever seen it. Bill absolutely did not think this was the best idea - but he indulges me, and I'm so glad he does because it was a wild ride like I've never had before! We capsized twice, the second time we lost a paddle but Bill was able to retrieve it around a bend. Jen capsized once and ended up losing her crocs but not the dog! We were drenched and frozen but totally exhilarated!

Jen and Socs - before the capsizing, I think!
 We had a chance to walk on part of the Stateline to Stateline bicycle trail Bill had been working on for years

 And we spent a lot of time at the beach on the river by our old house (now Daniel and Jen's)

Levi - who is hiking the PCT caught up to us in SLT - I went and picked him and some friends up at Echo Lake and brought them back here for showers, food and fun.
And many meals with Daniel and Jen, cooking broth from our vegie box remains.

We were able to meet up with the Reno Tahoe Odyssey hash group & bring them pasta to their motel.

JUNE: We finally had a "Happy Hour" at the campground - in year's past we did this every week, can't quite keep up that pace anymore and it was super last minute. We had a surprise visit from some friends we met in Florida - Niki and Jim Mason (Levi's parents).

We began working our three days/week at the campground - we were both supposed to work in the office but Bill found a way to spend most of the day in the golf cart making sure everyone in the campground was happy - or else! The Billy and Joel band played one last time at the Flight Deck where we danced until the very end.

We were blessed with lots of visitors while we were here and had fun with Jazmyne, up from Chico.

I think I'm going to have to sum up July and August in another blog!!