Monday, June 28, 2010

Camping this summer

Tomorrow, the Tadpole and I will head out for our annual summer vacation camping trip.  I have been camping with many different combinations of my kids every summer and sometimes during spring break for the past 16 years.  We missed two summers, one due to circumstances beyond our control and the other because the Tadpole got sick on the first day, so we actually did camp that year, but only for one day.

This year, our trip is going to take us all the way to Northern California, not as far as last year when we got all the way to the panhandle of Idaho and into Montana, but still a good distance.  Our first stop is Devils Postpile National Monument on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada.  The last time I was at the Postpile was the week Elvis died (1977 for those of you who aren't old enough to remember).  We'd been backpacking in the area and had stopped at the Postpile at the beginning of our trek.  At the end, we stopped in Bishop, California for lunch which is when we found out that Elvis had died.

I can remember taking a picture of a pine tree about a foot tall growing out of a crack in the top of the postpile.  One of the things I'd like to see is how tall that tree has grown if it's survived.  There are also extensive hiking trails in the area and we plan on taking advantage of these while we geocache.

From there, we will head up to Lassen Volcanic National Park.  I have been camping in Lassen at least four times in the past, however the Tadpole has never been there.  There were several things that I wanted to take him to see, including a possible trip up to the top of the mountain.  The trail is fairly rigorous going to the top, but I'm pretty sure he'll be able to handle it this year.  However, this year, the entire west coast got a lot of rainfall, and thus in the higher elevations, a lot of snow.  The road through the park is still closed as they continue to work on snow removal.  I have serious doubts as to whether we'll be able to make it to the summit.

There are also thermal areas in the park, one near the south entrance and one further in along the southern entrance.  If the snow is still blocking the road, we may have to drive around to get to these areas, but it's something that's fairly unique to the park and I'd like him to see at least one of these.  One day while we're camping there, we also plan on driving up to Lava Beds National Monument.

This area has more volcanic activity, similar to Lassen, yet different.  If you were to look on a map of the United States, you could trace a line from Lava Beds, up to Yellowstone in Wyoming. The line would also run through Craters of the Moon in Idaho.  All three areas are volcanic and are theorized to be created by a hot spot  in the mantle of the earth.  As the North American tectonic plate moved over this hot spot, lava oozed to the surface or nearly to the surface, and caused many of the features that can be seen in these three parks.

Currently, the hot spot is under Yellowstone, but in the near future (geologicially speaking) it will move beyond that and many of Yellowstone's current features will cease to exist because there won't be heat under them to help them to continue, including Old Faithful Geyser.  If this theory holds up, our descendants can expect to see a new volcanic area forming to the northeast of Yellowstone.  It's pretty cool to think about.

Lava Beds National Monument, besides the geologic history, also has some cultural history.  It is the site of the Modoc Wars between Federal Cavalry troops and the Modoc Indian.  Outnumbered 5 to 1, the Modocs managed to hold out for over five months in this region during 1872-73 because they knew the lay of the land much better than the cavalry that was trying to remove them from the area.

In all of the years I've been camping, I don't believe we've ever been away from home for the 4th of July.  The town where we currently live has an annual parade down the main street, followed by speeches in the park and a fireworks show that evening.  We'll probably drive near Redding, California just west of Lassen to view their fireworks display.

The next day, we plan to drive into town and visit the Turtle Bay Museum, where a GPS Maze exhibit will be this entire summer.  When we discovered that this maze was going to be in Redding, we both decided that we wanted to go and see it.  It doesn't look like it will be coming to the Southern California area any time in the near future, so this would possibly be our only opportunity to see one of these.  I believe there's one happening currently in Baltimore, Maryland.

The last two days of our trip will be spent driving home, with a stop in Stockton, about midway between Lassen and home to visit my daughter, Tadpole's sister.  On the way, we plan at least one detour in Yuba City to find this cache.  Yuba City cache is the second oldest active cache in California, hidden in September 2000, almost 10 years ago.  It's so old that it only carries two digits after it's GC designation symbol.  It will definitely be the oldest cache I've ever found since starting this hobby.

This will be my last post for about a week, unless I can find a WiFi hotspot somewhere in Redding and can make a quick post, but I seriously doubt that will happen.  Besides, I will be on vacation, so I'm not really planning on checking in until after I get home.  Have fun in the meantime.

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Sarah said...

I hope you have a great vacation, look forward to reading all about it when you get back, I always find your blog posts really interesting

Kids Outback Club said...

Great post. I love reading about other people's camping trips to get ideas on new destinations. Have fun!