2 days, 2 states, 2 Toyotas

We decided somewhat at the last minute we needed to squeeze in one more camping trip.  Every weekend until November is now full, mostly with unfun things and we realized this was our last chance to get in a good camping trip, even if just an overnighter.  Lucky for us, we live in Grass Valley, right at the base of the Sierras and some of the best areas in the world for camping.  So we packed up the trailer, and the cruiser and decided on Henness Pass road.  It was one of the original overland routes into California, and was a very active wagon road through the early part of California's history.  Also, the chance to take a dirt road over the summit into Nevada was excited me.  

A friend came with us, who had never been up to Bowman lake, or any of that area before, and I figured most of Henness Pass road from 49 up to Jackson Meadows was likely pretty boring, so we skipped the first half of Henness Pass road, and went up to Meadow Lake to camp.  Spent the day just exploring, showing my friend some of the amazing lakes.  I was pretty horrified to see how low Bowman lake was.. it was depressing to see it that low.  I was up in the area in May, and it was low, but not anywhere close to this so I suspect they might have done some work on the dam or something and dumped water. 


We came across a pickup with a flat tire, and a bunch of guys standing around looking pretty confused.  I asked if they needed help, and they said they'd figure it out.. but I stopped anyway. I had a tire plug kit and a compressor, so I figured I could have them on their way again pretty quick. Plugged up their tire and filled it and they were back on their way to go fishing.  My buddy and I laughed a little at how amazed they were that we were able to fix their tire in the middle of nowhere.  They were a bunch of kids... and I know I got lucky I never had any issues when I was that age because I would have been equally unprepared.  Sorry, no pictures of the tire fix.

Moved on to our turn off, and headed to Catfish lake.. which is closer to a large pond.  Had lunch and scooted on down the road to Meadow lake, and down Fordyce Jeep trail a short way.  We stopped and showed our friend some of the stuff we knew was there, and we explored a little more and found the remains of a stamp mill.  I figured from all the crushed rock, there had to be a stamp there, but it took a while to find it.  But it was pretty impressive how much was still there.  It looked like it had been a pretty good size one by the foundation.  At this point, it was getting later in the day, and we headed back up into Meadow lake to find a camp site for the night.  


Old smashed car... strange thing to find up here. 








Now, normally I am not a huge fan of Meadow Lake, the way we came in was a long, very rough road, but there is also a pretty decent gravel road in from the other way, but my normal unimproved camp sites in the area wouldn't have allowed us to have a camp fire, and camping without a camp fire is kind of a bummer to me.  We lucked out, and there was pretty much no one there this weekend.  Had a nice quiet night.. just BSing around the fire.  I am never as happy as I am around a campfire with good people.  

Not sure how this works.. Penny got my chair, and I sat on a log.  Spoiled much.

It's hard being an adventure dog, always having to go fun places, eat hot dogs around a camp fire, chase chipmunks.  It's a hard life.  

Is there anything more amazing and peaceful then mornings in the Sierras?  I don't think so.  After breakfast we loaded up and set out for the part of the trip that was totally new to me... it ended up being a very short spur, but very pretty.  Some awesome views. It dead ended at the top, so we had lunch and rested a bit and then  turned around and headed out for the next part of the trip. 






The second half of Henness Pass road.  We made our way up and connected to it.  And almost right away were amazed how much cool stuff we were coming across.  

Pretty meadows.  

Amazing canyon with a huge waterfall... well, big drop anyway, not a lot of water but it was sure pretty.  

Came to a nice little water hole and had to jump in for a bit and clean the dust off.  Really pretty area.. and lots of dirt roads shooting off in all directions.  Might have to come back here and explore the area more.  









Coming out into a really pretty meadow, the very rough road improved and I picked up speed a bit... and hit a huge washboard patch and it was enough to jar us half to death, and rip the bolts out of the cheesy sheet metal hitch on my trailer... damn.  It wouldn't be an offroad adventure without something breaking.  Just for good measure, as I climbed out to inspect the damage, when I closed the door my mirror fell off and broke too.  Just had to laugh at that.  A few minutes later, we had it patched together and debated on what to do.  We finally figured that the trailer was as strong as it ever was before it broke, and not point in stressing about it, lets just finish the planned route.  I knew I'd be bummed if we went back to pavement as quickly as possible instead of finishing the planned trip.  

Really amazing meadows.  



Then up and over into Verdi Nevada.  The views seemed almost unreal.  The fading sun really made the valleys light up.  I had to remember to watch where I was driving instead of staring out the window at the views.  

Finally got to the top, and overlooking Reno.  We felt so remote, and were actually pretty remote in a way, as it was still another solid hour down into Verdi, but it was so strange to see a large city from so far back on dirt roads.  

We made our way back down the mountain, and down into Verdi, by the time we got down it was quite dark.  Filled up our trucks, washed the windows, grabbed a cold soda and some gas station beef jerky and started the drive home.  It was a really awesome little trip to end the camping season. I'm glad we took it.  I am always amazed how much there is to explore just a few hours from my house.  I think you could spend your entire life doing this and never get tired of it.  I know I could anyway.  But.. for now anyway, back to reality and jobs and stuff like that.

It's hot and the woods are not

It might be a lame pun but you and I know that California does actually get above 100 degrees pretty regularly. While everyone else was engaged in 4th of July weekend traffic, we decided to venture out in the opposite direction and take a hike! It's still over land. No vehicle necessary!

We were not disappointed in our quest for water and shade! We even did some exploration among the tall grasses, mushy meadows, bear poop studded forests and wasp filled tree bases. Finally around the mosquito swamp we decide to go back to the swimming hole. Best decision of the day! What a great place!

More than transportation

Americans love their automobiles. To most of us, they are more then a tool to get from point A to point B. They are more then some sheet metal welded together. They are an extension of us, of our personality.

We take pictures of them, I'...m betting more then a few of us have as many pictures of our cars as we do of our families on Facebook or our phones. We take them to car shows, and we travel to car shows to see other people's cars. We spend insane amounts of money modifying them to our own tastes and styles and making them distinctly ours.

We celebrate them with movies, books, a large portion of the magazine industry is dedicated to cars. We plan road trips centered around not a destination, but the journey it's self. Getting your driver's license is a huge milestone growing up. Suddenly you feel a massive amount of freedom, like the whole world has just opened up in front of you and you can do anything. People will ask you what your first car is, and you will always remember. You may not have loved that first car at the time, but you will always remember the feeling of freedom you had driving it looking at nothing but open road ahead of you,both metaphorically and in actuality.

They are so much more then just a metal box that gets us to work. For so many of us, they are part of our lifestyle. They say something about who we are. We are drawn to cars that we think represent the traits we see in our selves, and that car projects those traits to others. It doesn't matter what kind of car it is, what you choose to drive says a lot about you. If you pick a convertible, a minivan, a 4x4, a pickup, or a motorcycle, it says something about you and your values. They also still give us that feeling of freedom.. although you have to take the time to find it as an adult.. but it's there. There is still something liberating about sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle you love, seeing nothing but clear skies and open highway in front of you.


There is something about adventurists that is different then the rest of society. When most people would rather be in a warm comfortable house, we'd still rather be outside enjoying nature and exploring. The world is better seen through a windshield or camera then a computer screen or TV for adventurers.

I suspect we are descendants of Sir Francis Drake, Lewis & Clark, and the great, great grandsons and daughters of the overland emigrants settling the west in covered wagons. It's likely that we've always had it in our DNA to seek out adventure. There is a fire inside of us that can not be appeased with a white picket fence and 2.5 kids, a 401K and a cubicle.