Ahhh...to boldly explore a harsh alien landscape! Could this be the planet where our alien visitors from a previous post come from? Wow...I could have the makings of a novel here. But in reality, the picture above is from a place that has the potential to be more dangerous to life here on planet earth...or at least a portion of it in this region. I'll explain in a moment...
My wife and I are continuing our 25th wedding anniversary vacation (that's silver, for those of you who keep track). I mentioned in my last post that we ate at an incredible place called Black Bear in Susanville, California. It is rare that I am surprised at a resteraunt visit, but this place made me go "wow." The staff was friendly and personable and seemed to make an extra effort to insure the food was exactly how you liked it. The food arrived quickly (under 20 minutes in a rather full place). It is served on a platter (not a plate). A big platter! And nearly every square inch is covered with food. The bacon cheeseburger I had was incredible: thick and juicy and delicious. And for my colleagues at the DC, I want you to know that I had bisquits and gravy on Sunday morning before we left! And there was so much, I couldn't even finish it all. I guess one of the biggest surprises was to discover that there is a Black Bear branch in my proverbial "neck of the woods." When I get back, I will have to look it up.
The Bear bids us a fond goodbye from Susanville
Before heading to our ultimate destination of South Lake Tahoe, we decided to visit Lassen Peak, home of Lassen Volcanic National Park. Our previous post mentioned seeing Lassen Peak from afar and that it had erupted in 1915. Well, in 1916, it was made a national park because of its significance as an active volcanic landscape. According to the documentation, all four types of volcanoes in the world plus active hyrothermal areas are found in the park. And, what I found most interesting, "Lassen Peak is one of the largest plug dome volcanoes in the world (is? as in present tense?). It is considered to be active today." (today? uhhh..how about tomorrow?)
So yes, ladies and gentlemen, we took part of our silver anniversary and decided to get up close and personal with an active volcano! Is that cool or what?
To reach this sign involved a relatively steep drive up the highway and another steep drive up the access road. It's a gorgeous view, but a looonnnggg way down.
After getting our permit from the ranger post up the road, we proceeded along the highway. Our first stop was "Sulfer Springs", which is a study in contrasts. At the parking area, there is this:
Snow drifts bigger than me (there was more snow higher up even deeper!)
But there are also active sulfer pits a few yards away...pits that belch out hot plumes of gas. Yes, the picture we started with above is one of those pits. What you can't experience from the picture is the size (probably about a yard wide), the smell (rotten eggs), and the sound...a deep bubbling, churning, sloshing sound from deep within.
The drive up the mountain is steep and the snow from last season is piled high along the sides. But there are some great views along the way:
We saw several bent and broken pine trees, victims of the huge amounts of snowOur God is an awesome God
Because of the heavy snow, we were stopped at another parking area and had to turn around. Up ahead was an area called "Bumpass Hell", named after a settler who lost his leg in one of the sulfer pits. But access would prove problematic:
Whaddya mean the trail is closed? I don't care if there is enough snow to swallow an RV, I want to hike!
So with that adventure over, we headed back down the hill and to our ultimate destination of South Lake Tahoe. And except for some rather challenging stretches (there is a narrow ridge at one point that is a sheer drop off on either side...fun stuff!), we had a good trip.
It's great to get away, but it's even better to get away with the one you love!
To learn more about Lassen Peak, they have a website: www.nps.gov/lavo