Monday, October 18, 2010

Child “Falls” for Campground & Angora Lake

Time to fit in one more camping trip before school starts. It took a early reservation through, try May, to secure two campsites at Fallen Leaf Lake Campground for mid-August. Located in South Lake Tahoe north on Highway 89 you can see the appeal as it doesn’t have the crowds of Camp Richardson, but is only a stones throw away on the west side of the road.

We rolled into sites #38 & #39 late afternoon. Note: There are 6 yurts if you don’t have camping

gear. Great location, close to very clean, updated bathrooms with showers (quarters required), but not so close the traffic to and from would wake us. Both sites backed up to a huge grassy meadow where the kids would spend a lot of time exploring and creating their own little world in a little aspen grove. And the sites were cleared well for the kids to run between them. The roads are plenty wide for bikes and the Tahoe bike trail is an easy ride from the entrance. All set-up, dinner, and early to bed for the munchkins as we had big plans on Day2.

Up and at’em early as we had to reach the parking lot for the trail to Angora Lake earlier rather than later as it fills up was our driving force. We packed lunches for the kids and several munchies and few beverages and planned to supplement from the snack shack at the lake. After driving up a single lane road not well marked, so either ask directions or GPS it, we rolled in about 10AM. On our way in we would cross a ridge where to our left we really got to see the devastation of

the 2007 Angora fire that destroyed 254 homes and charred 3100 acres. Once in the lot rather than stopping at the self-registration ($5) prior to parking…we snagged spots, then self-registered. What a perfect little hike. Only about a mile up a maintained trail with a optional bouldering cut-off it was just long enough for the kids to enjoy and not start whining. At the top we would find one of the most pristine small lakes (~1.5mi around) I have seen in NorCal. And I can’t believe this has been a resort since 1917 and I am just discovering it?!?!? On one side were some small rental cottages along a beautiful little beach lined with picnic tables and row boats for rent. The other side, if you dare hike there or row across, were massive granite boulders for jumping (at your own risk).

So we pulled up a bit of sand. The Dads did some hiking. The kids did some bouldering, swimming, and sand play. Also a row boat would be rented to allow all a boat ride across the lake. Hiking the first

half counter clockwise around the lake was too difficult with the kids. But we deposited the older kids with the hiking Dads and they would hike the 2nd half back around to the beach without issue. Lunch would consist of our sack lunches supplemented with homemade tuna sandwiches, chips, and the famous lemonade from the snack shack. A quick stop at the porta-potty then grabbed dessert for the hike back down….that famous lemonade frozen into a Popsicle with strawberries. YUM!

A little rest and then we packed up Happy Hour and biked to the back of the campground and took

the very short walk to Fallen Leaf Lake. Much bigger (~7mi around) this

one was not quite hike-able with the kids…even though the next morning we would run a few miles of it to burn off our

samores and vino of the evening before. The beach was a rock one with plenty for skipping. However, a storm was rolling in, so we explored and found a large clubhouse made from sticks and a fallen tree. We hunkered down and enjoyed our happy hour and the kids added to the clubhouse. Another evening around the campfire with glowsticks and samores and everyone slept well.

The next morning as usual we spent most of it packing up. Then we headed not even a 1/2mi down the road to Taylor Creek Visitor Center. I was in shock I had never been here. But it was perfect for the kids with signage for them to read and the stream profile

was on par with any museum. We wound up wandering around the trails for an hour. But knowing how Highway 50 traffic can get we quickly hurried on the road home and still found ourselves at just noon at a virtual standstill taking us 45min to go about 3miles. But it was so worth it.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bend, We Will Be Back!

From Crater Lake we traveled about an hour and a half north along Highway 97 to Bend, OR. We are lucky to have some college friends who live there. Driving into town through roundabouts passing Organic Eateries and sculptures made from kayaks we knew we had found anyone on the go mecca. I mean come on the XTERRA National Trail Running Championships and the USA Cycling Championships are held here.

Unfortunately enjoying our going would be slightly delayed as our son’s mosquitoes bites from Crater Lake had caused an allergic reaction and he would proceed to swell up and look like Quasimodo. However, as any good outdoors person would know our hosts pointed us to the local Urgent Care at the Bend Memorial Clinic. Where the entire staff was incredible. In fact the doctor even ran out to our car after we had been dismissed to give us his cell and hours the next couple of days in case we needed him. And the hospitality did not stop there. Stopping at Safeway to get my son some prescribed relief the pharmacist was ever so concerned and had the bakery send over cookies for the children while I waited for the fill. So night one would be dinner in with fresh baked cookies and movies. But after the children settled into bed we went outside and enjoyed the incredible evening stars.

The next day we were up at at’em. First to breakfast at the very scrumptious Jackson’s Corner where there were massive 16’ square tables with benches on all four sides. Definitely needed for the incredible portions of serious YUM! Lots for the kids to feast their eyes on as well as baskets of crayons and coloring books.

Next we would venture downtown for what our hosts informed us is nearly every weekend occurrence…a festival. This weekend happened to be The Bend Summer Festival. But they said the set-up is generally the same. Each street is a different theme…music, art, clothing, food, wine…AND tucked away on a back street an entire children’s area. There were some vendors and then numerous bounce house structures where you could buy individual tickets or a wrist band for all day fun for $10. We went with the $10 bands and more than got our money’s worth. Again we enjoyed an evening in with our friends and a lovely Bend sunset.

The next day the kids and I would sleep in then head out for a walk while the hubby enjoyed a bike ride on a bit of the incredible trail system they have throughout the town. Then to cool off we would partake in the nearly ritualistic way for Bend folk to beat the heat…floating the Deschutes. We put in at a local park and floated for about 1hour along with hundreds of others. We were very well-equipped having borrowed a massive 8 person circular inflatable complete with back rests and drink holders. But you would see it all…the tire tube to the pool float. We did place our kids in their life jackets. The ride was very calm and in most places an adult could actually hop out and touch the bottom. We would take out and then proceed up the hill to deflate our raft and then await the BAT (Bend Area Transit) and for a very small fee shuttle back to the parking lot we started from. Serious good times.

And we just saw the tip of the iceberg in Bend…there are amazing concert venues, more festivals, great dining, hiking, caves, rafting, etc…and lest us not forget winter and Mount Bachelor close by. So we pointed the vehicle south and waved goodbye, but before we left we asked our friends….”Can we come back again next summer?”