|Note the massive fire burning in the background. Nobody seemed to care.|
My son and I flew into Sacramento, California and my brother picked us up there. We drove up to Chico, California and stayed at my youngest brothers place overnight. It was our staging area. We left the next morning for my brother R's place in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
He has a good sized piece of land, with a main house, and an outbuilding configured as a shop on the main floor, with an apartment over it. His place is more luxurious than mine. I was interested primarily in utility, and he wanted utility and comfort. So he has a few things like a hot tub and a propane generator I don't have.
Like me, he has to deal with bears because they are attracted to the fish in the creek. Unlike me, he shoots bears in season if he has a tag, and he shoots coyotes that come up around his place.
That night they told me all about the time a Big Foot came up to the house. Both my brothers were inebriated when this supposedly occurred, so how true the story is I don't know. They both believe it, or pretend to. I know it gave me something to think about. The only one who had a gun that night was my brother T. He had his police issue Beretta 92, but he promised that if Big Foot showed up he was legging it for the house. I didn't sleep all that well that night. I feel "nekkid" without a gun.
The forest in the Sierras is more like a forest in Germany or Britain. It's not full of dense undergrowth, and the forest floor is clean and dry compared to the Blue Ridge. You can see a good way in the forest there, where here you can't see 10 feet most of the time.
We stopped at this one and walked around on the shoreline for awhile to stretch our legs. It was dead quiet. The wind was blowing, and that was about the only sound. No birds, no cars, just the wind blowing through the brush.
The views were spectacular. Living here in the Blue Ridge, I'm not used to being able to see far in a 360 degre arc. I'm also not used to seeing much of the sky because of the forest canopy. Out there, it was like being at sea. You could see forever, in all directions.
There were drawbacks, though. The bushes along the river were filled with gigantic mosquitos that came out at night and were annoying.
There were also rattlesnakes in the rocks all around the river, and you had to be really careful about where you put your hands and feet. I slept in a large tent with my son, and I kept the door zipped tight all the time because I didn't want to get into the sleeping bag with a rattler. My brother slept in his truck so he didn't have that worry.
This place was way out there. We camped down by the river. The only people there besides us was a retired Navy Chief and his wife. They had an excellent camper truck rig, and had set up on a hillside further up from the river than we were. After we got our camp organized, we went up to introduce ourselves. My brother said that the proper etiquette when camping way out in the boonies was to go introduce yourselves to the people who were already there. Seemed like a good idea to me and they were really nice people.
There were terrific lightning storms out there. I've been all over the world, literally. Never have I seen lightning displays like we saw in this desert. Especially at night, I liked to sit by the little folding table, smoke my pipe, and watch the lightning off on the horizon.
Our third day there, lightning hit the ground near the Chief's camp. We saw them out trying to put the grass out, so we grabbed our shovels and ran up there. It was impromptu and I was about to go swimming, so I wound up in tennis shoes and a swimming suit but there wasn't time to change. The hardest part was keeping one eye on the fire and the other out for snakes. That's definitely a place where you feel better in high topped boots.
We got the fire out, and later my brother told me we would just have let it burn, if it hadn't been near the other campers. This is government land and their policy is just to let it burn off normally unless it threatens homes or roads.
This was my son's first trip out West, and he really enjoyed it. He explored all over the river bank and the canyon rims. I was worried about him coming up on rattlesnakes, but when he did it didn't phase him any.
Eventually, we had to pack up and go home. We spent a couple of days at Lake Tahoe on the way back. My brother and I gambled (not much) and my son enjoyed the huge casino video arcades. It was a great trip, and some good memories for all of us.