Day 12: A Day in the Sierra Nevadas

We were on the road by 10:00 this morning, and I could get used to this sleeping in bit.  Since we were feeling a little National Park deficient after yesterday’s Crater Lake fiasco, our first destination was to check out the lesser-known Lassen Volcanic National Park.  The drive to get there took us into the Sierra Nevada mountain range, which it turns out we were in all day.  And let me tell you, there is nothing wrong with that.

One of the volcanic peaks at Lassen

The drive up to Lassen was gorgeous and when we arrived the park ranger told us we were the first (and only) ones there.  Sweet!  Because of recent snowfall, the road that goes through the entire park was closed at the pass (it is a volcano, after all), but we were able to drive about 12 miles into the park to the road closure.  There were numerous scenic vistas and we stopped at just about all of them.  And by that I mean we just stopped the car in the middle of the road, got out, and took photos.  Why not?  We were alone in 100,000 acres of national park and things like double yellow lines and No Parking signs just seemed irrelevant.

A Lassen local.

We eventually reached the end of the line and we took a very short ½ mile hike that had interpretive signs describing the volcanic eruptions that took place between 1917 and 1921.  Big chunks of rock were strewn all over the area and sit today where the volcano spit them out.  We also learned that Lassen is one of the few areas in the world where you can see all 4 different types of volcano.  And to think, we were there.

All in all, this stop made up a lot of ground we lost yesterday with Crater Lake, as it was just so beautiful there.  And being the only ones there didn’t hurt.  Sadly, however, we couldn’t linger any longer at the park and relish pretending we were Lewis and Clark or Hillary and Tenzing any longer.  We had a scenic drive through the Sierra Nevadas awaiting us.

Lassen volcano from a distance

Our drive took us down the scenic bypass of US 89 (or Highway 89 or SR 89 – I’m never very sure) and it took us up and over several passes, around mountains, through foothills, next to ravines, skirting lakes, across grass ranges at 4,000 ft elevation, and, of course, straight through hundreds of miles of forests.  We made a few stops along the way for photos, as we wanted to be able to remember just how bewitching the entire region is.  Jim made the comment several times that he no longer worries about lumber shortages with all the trees we’ve seen in the past 3 days alone.  Overall, we each give the Sierra Nevadas two very enthusiastic thumbs up.  I would like to note, however, that if you get carsick easily then this mountain range is not for you.  Fortunately, we do not get carsick unless you count your butt going numb after several hours a car sickness.

Miles of Sierra Nevada trees.

We arrived into Lake Tahoe around 5:30 PM after having spent the entire day at elevations ranging from 4,000 to 7,000 feet.  Even Lake Tahoe itself sits at 6,200 feet.  We were a little disappointed we didn’t have a stove in our hotel room at Harrahs Casino because we were curious to know how long it took to boil water.

Lastly, for some odd and inconceivable reason, the Harrahs Lake Tahoe decided to upgrade us to an Executive room.  I think it may have something to do with the fact we are two of only about a hundred people in the place.  Either way, this room has two bathrooms and I am way not cool enough to take that in stride.  I have completely unpacked in MY bathroom, spread out, and have threatened Jim not to step foot in there.  Yes, sharing is caring but if you don’t have to…  Never before have we stayed somewhere with two bathrooms and I kind of don’t want to leave the room.  I mean, we can see the lake from our window…

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