To launch full force from the Eastern Sierras and into Tahoe sets a standard of experience higher than most acts would care to follow.
Utterly dazzling are the open desert stretches melding into small town hellos and climbing through Pinyon forests, into Jeffrey pines and arriving at the pinnacle of it all, the pristine Lake Tahoe. With its azure splendor as waves from all manner of watercraft splash against boulder stacked shores, the villages along its rim twirl about in shades of snowboarding gear and ice cream sandwiches all the while.
It has been a good couple of months. Emerging from our long winter deserts and into this alpine shade of summer, I spin the thoughts ’round in my head my love for this Highway 395 as we are pointed north and headed to Lassen Volcanic National Park. But one of many volcanos we’ll call home for the summer and into autumn.
As the miles go by the trees change, our elevation rises. White firs and Jeffreys give way to Lodgepoles and Red firs. Lassen is magnificent. Lakes reflecting the mighty volcano exactly 100 years since it last erupted. Natives called it sacred. I agree whole-heartedly. It is a quintessential national park–snow capped mountains and quiet cool lakes, all draped in tall pines–and we absorb it, largely alone on the trails and other crannies we explore.
Time comes and goes and we head further north. The elevation drops. Oak trees begin to show their faces again. A river rushes, three waterfalls and all, through our next campground. Mount Shasta looms high and mighty, all along California’s Highway 89 as you head north. The speed limit seems fast for a forest thick with deer. We make it safely to everywhere we go.
Living in the forest feels. Nice, yes. And good. But more importantly it just feels.
Dinner tastes better. The fire warms you. Hangovers are saturated in pleasant ease by the chirping of airborne fauna. The cool of an evening still bites, but it’s more welcome.
Tomorrow we’ll leave one paradise for another. I’ll hum tunes about living in mountains as the boys turn to every crayon they can get their hands on in an attempt to record the places they’ve been, the young mule deer bucks with velvet one point antlers, the flavorful birds parading their lack of respect for modesty and gravity.
The Lady will stare out the window. I’ll be for miles fixed on two yellow lines, watching them occasionally break, rigs flying by 70mph only inches from our home on the road setup.
Shasta will rise above it all. We’ll do something similar at the next place, life as a routine but played out near daily always somewhere new. And then places bearing names like Crater Lake and Newberry Volcanic will ask to shake our hands.
Obliged, they’ll be tucked into a pocket of memories. A few dozen photos on a computer and a lifelong insinuation tugging at the backs of our minds.
We may not go forever, but we’re in the throes of some of the best going we’ve ever done.
I am happy.