Monday, July 26, 2010

Paradise at the end of the road from hell

First, an Annie update; we took her to a vet in Alturas, CA, who diagnosed her having “stress” from the long travel days leading to a possible mild ulcer of the stomach or esophagus.  He prescribed some antibiotics and provided 3 cans of a bland dog food.  She is doing much better.  The hacking cough is gone and she is eating better and not throwing up.

IMG_3233 The forest service campground at Butte Lake in Lassen National Park, California is heavily wooded with huge sequoia trees.  The lake is placid with hardly a ripple except from the oars of kayakers.  It is very peaceful with generator use permitted only from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm.  The problem is getting there.  The 6 miles of gravel road from Highway 44 is 40% washboard.  Average speed pulling the camper was about 15 miles per hour, and that was too fast.  A lot of “stuff” in the camper came off the walls and out of shelves.  I am going to leave here at a more judicious pace.

The tribulations did not abate upon our arrival.  The site that I had reserved and paid for was simply not suited for our camper; not big enough and not accessible.  The campground host was not in his trailer.  We drove around and found a suitable site that did not have a reservation tag on it and partially set up, but did not unhitch from the truck.  We started the generator to charge up the batteries on the computer and cell phone and our neighbor scurried over to inquire if we were going to “run the generator continuously”.  We told him about 30 minutes should do it and he seemed relieved.  When the camp host returned, we learned that the site we were in was reserved starting Friday.  He and I rode around until we found a suitable site that was available for 4 nights.  I then had the task of informing Rosie we had to move.  She was not a happy camper at that point (but got over it fairly soon).  In positioning the rig in the new site, the front bumper shroud came into conflict with a large rock and the rock won.


But we eventually got settled in to our site and even fairly level. 


By this time we realized there was not even a hint of cell phone coverage here.  That meant either ignoring possible customers to my internet business site and being out of touch with the world for 4 days or making at least one trip over the road from hell to check in with the universe.  Thursday afternoon we decided to head into Susanville, the nearest town about 40 miles away.  We got a cell phone signal about 20 miles down the road and found no customer requests on the web site.  So we sent out the previous blog and I uploaded my last work report from my business in Twin Falls.  Found some ice cream at the local Rite Aid and enjoyed that special treat.  Filled up with diesel and headed back to the campground.  We decided that we would just “tough it out” (like it is real rough here) without a connection to the world until our departure date on Sunday.  So we have been reading, walking the pooches, eating and generally leading a very quiet existence.  It is Saturday morning as I write this and the campground appears to be full.  We have a group of 4 or 5 twenty somethings that are here on a work trip (maybe geologists or forestry types) who study maps every morning, don backpacks and head off into the wilderness to return about 5:00 pm.  They are living in tents; making us really grateful for the comfort of our camper.  The days are in the 80’s temperature wise, but the nights drop down to the high 50’s, making for good sleeping weather with windows slightly open.

This is our longest “boondocking” experience.  We are really grateful for the generator and 4 batteries.  On a side note, the generator “crashed” on Saturday afternoon before our departure.  I was fortunate to find an Onan Generator dealer in town that was willing to come in to his shop to work on it on a Saturday.  Ended up replacing the carburetor and a few other miscellaneous parts.  The electronics in the old carburetor was sending bad signals to the fuel feed, causing it to flood out and leak gasoline, not a good thing.  We are so fortunate we discovered this before we left, not after we arrived here in the boondocks where it would not have been possible to repair.

Two unusual events on Saturday.  First, a butterfly seemed to take a liking to me.  It came and settled on my hand while I was reading and stayed on my hand while I walked to the camper to have Rosie take some pictures.  It came back four times and settled on my hand during the next couple of hours.  I don’t know if this is unusual or normal, but I have never had it happen before.  The intricacy of the color patterns on the wings is impossible to describe.  Unfortunately, my camera does not do well on extreme close ups.  Second, all of a sudden we started hearing helicopters.  I looked up to see a red chopper carrying a water bucket.  I thought that this could not be good news so I went to see the campground host.  There was a Ranger with him.  I learned there was a “little” fire on a hill some ways away and they were dipping water out of the lake.  They seemed confident an evacuation would not be necessary.  The vision of everyone in this campground loading up and heading down the road from hell; all at the same time, was not a pleasant one.  As it turned out the fire was out in a couple of hours and peaceful tranquility reigned once again on our little slice of paradise.

Well, we are departing this morning for our next forest service campground; 3 nights in Tahoe National forest near a stream.  The Verizon Coverage Map is reassuring that coverage is good at that location.  It is also very near the highway, so no more roads from hell.  I will send this out this afternoon.  Here are pictures from our stay.


The whole family in the woods.                         Note the boulder nestled in the roots.

IMG_3243  IMG_3246

Through the tall grass.                                     Butte Lake.

IMG_3248 IMG_3270

Butte Lake.                                                     My butterfly visitor.

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