Monday, August 31, 2009

Child goes to Hope Valley

It's been a very rocky month emotionally and travel-wise as some trips have been canceled or postponed due to the death of my Grandmother. A women who never step foot on an airplane after inspecting them during WWII, but a women who still instilled in me the wonders of nature and the outdoors through staycations and walks in her own backyard.

But we have returned west and are finishing out the summer with a couple more camping trip notches on our belt. This past weekend we loaded up the pop-up and headed almost exactly two hours east and south a bit to Hope Valley, California & the
Hope Valley Resort. It lays 1/4mile east on Highway 88/89 of it's sister resort Sorenson's.

We drove in past the cafe to site#10 where our host, Eric Gunnison, greeted us. He is not only the host, but the reservations specialist and cleaning crew. He took one look at our rig and gave us advice on getting it into our site and pointed us down the hill. We proceeded down the rather steep hill to site #16 and our friends would be in #17 (a little trail between the two sites let the kids roam freely between the two). Nestled in the lower campground we had tall aspens all around us and to the north the west fork of the Carson River splashed over rocks making for wonderful music (and nearly drowning out the traffic from the highway above) and pretty small waterfalls. To our south was a massive granite wall. At only 25 sites this was a small campground, but it was nice as the kids quickly made friends with neighbors and the bathrooms/showers were all clean and complimentary. Including having a child potty seat hanging on the back of a door for the little ones in training. That night we dined on the usual night one meal of pasta (I had already cooked al dente at home), salad, veggies, bread, and topped it off with samores.

Saturday morning we topped off our tanks with pancakes and fruit. While clean-up and packing happened for the day's adventures the kids headed off to the end of the campground & a bridge (careful gap between bottom and top rail is quite large and small children should be watched over)that overlooked the river. They also tried making it down the California Trail which was clearly marked and crossed the property. Unfortunately we quickly learned this must not be a popular trail as overgrowth met us rather quickly and we had to turn back. It was kind of a bummer since the trail holds so much historical value.

So we loaded up and headed about 20minutes up the road to Grover Hot Springs State Park. It's very well marked turn in the little town of Markleeville. We were excited as this is another historic spot having been documented in writings back to the mid 1800's. Our first destination was the pools, so rather than turning towards the gate house entrance we kept going straight. We had warned the kids upfront as this was fed by natural hot springs the water may not be clear and it may be yellow or green. The kids jumped for joy and we did too after shelling out $5 per adult & $3 per child to find a "cold" pool (which was still 90degrees) that was fed from the mineral springs, but was treated and cold water added and looked like your garden variety backyard rectangle clean, clear pool. Starting at one end at 2&1/2ft deep and dropping to 6ft on the far end. After using the very clean changing rooms, complete with single shower, and single bathroom we jumped in. After a while their curiosity got the better of them and we ventured over to the hot pool (102-104degrees). Even though yellow in color it was clear and the large number of people enjoying it drew the kids' interest. They loved sitting on the benches that nearly went all the way around the oval pool. So we spent the next hour and a half going back and forth between the two.

In complete sun though...the heat and the activity soon got the better of us and we went to the actual State Park to seek shade and lunch. Immediately past the gate house was a wonderful day use picnic area which ran along a stream and had a wonderfully clean bathroom. We enjoyed lunch and built stick doll houses out of the items we found on the forest floor. If we were not so exhausted after all that we might have tried the Nature Trail which is just a little loop with lots of signs describing the flora. And definitely when the kids get older we would like to return to do the Burnside trail which is 3miles round trip and rises 2K ft passing a waterfall and swtichbacking up to Burnside Lake. This is a rather small State Park with only the picnic area, a campground and a parking lot for the trail head. But it seemed wonderfully kept, had lots of visitors, so we made our way through the campgrounds and marked a few sites intending to return next year.

Back to Sorensons we enjoyed snacks at the cafe. It's very quaint with a few staples, souvenirs, and a bar serving beer and coffee drinks. We were a little disappointed as they advertised ice cream, so we had to quickly dodge angry toddlers/preschoolers with other alternatives when the lady tending the store told us they were all out. gummy treats at $5.50 a container, a beer, cookie, brownie...and we sat out on the front porch and watched the traffic roll by. One other cafe heads credit cards, but there is a ATM outside. Back down to camp for coloring while dinner was prepared. Tonight kabobs, hot dogs, veggies, fruit...and again samores. Bedtime came on time as everyone was tuckered out from the day.

The next morning we packed it up and made one last stop before driving home. The sister resort, Sorensons, boasted free hot chocolate, coffee, etc for Hope Valley Resort vacationers. Unfortunately no good place to park the pop-up we literally pulled it off the side of the road and walked across. We were met with beautiful gardens in full bloom. Wine Barrels and tubs of every kind overflowing. But the kids enjoyed the numerous bears composed of wire and moss scattered around the property. One rather large guy lay on his belly reading a book, a father & son fished, and a family played in the trees. The staff was very welcoming to us campers and the hot chocolates loaded with cinnamon and whip cream were delightful.

A gorgeous weekend in gorgeous country. We will return as a family to this as well as Grover Hot Springs we have vowed. And Mommy and Daddy have agreed a overnight retreat to Sorensons may be in our plans quite soon.

NOTE: There is no cell phone service in this area. Sorensons has WiFi, but still no cell coverage. Bothe Hope Vally & Sorensons has pay phones.