First we flew into Sacramento, then we went up to Chico, California where my youngest brother lived at the time. He was a policeman there, and had a nice little ranch at the foot of the mountains. Not big, about 15 acres, but nice.
My youngest brother used this go cart to ride along and check his fences. My son had a good time tootling around in it. You could get up some speed, and since most of my brothers property was just flat dirt, it was safe enough.
Then we went up into the Sierra Nevada mountains, where my middle brother , R, has a "dacha." It was largely modeled on my place, though it's far more luxurious. This river runs through his property and has huge trout in it.
Compared to the trout in North Georgia, these were pretty big. It seemed a shame to me to keep them, but apparently they are stocked fish.
We set up a little picnic there on the shore of the river and just hung out there for a day. It gave me a chance to catch up to California time.
My brother went to Oregon State on the same reserve program I did. Then he did his four years and got out. He worked for a PR company in Sacramento for a few years, opened his own, did well and sold it to a British PR company. After that, he just did what he wanted. He was in his early fifties then. He likes to hunt and has traveled as far as New Zealand to do it.
The next day, my youngest brother went back to Chico and the rest of us headed into the Oregon High Desert. There were big fires burning everywhere , clouds of smoke coming up, but nobody seemed fussed about it. We didn't see many people. Along the way we stopped in this little town. Didn't see many people there, either.
You can see one of those fires burning behind this sign. If that was happening here, everybody would be in panic mode. But I didn't even see any fire aircraft or vehicles. Maybe they just let the fires burn themselves out?
Behind us there is a huge lake. It was either salty, or poisonous because nobody lived around it and there were no animals around it. Here, every square foot of lake shore would be owned by rich people and would have their lake houses and docks on it, poisonous or not.
See how big that is? We have lakes here smaller than that , and there is a town around them and boats all over.
We drove on out into the desert, and soon we were way in the middle of nowhere. My brother did the navigating. He had a topo map. I don't know if GPS was around then but I doubt it, as he'd have had one.
Although you really can't see it, my son is standing on the edge of a precipice. There was a huge canyon there. I wouldn't go any closer to the edge and I told him to come back right then. He didn't seem nervous but he should have been. It was really deep and wide.
We got to where we were going, a spot in a gorge on the Snake river. It was like going back in time to some primordial landscape. I swear it reminded me of the old 1966 cave man movie with Raquel Welch, "One Million B.C."
As we had no voluptuous women with us, we were not attacked by pterodactyls. If we had been, we'd have been SOL (surely out of luck) as we had one Beretta 92FS with two magazines,a Remington 870, and that was it.
As soon as we got the tent set up, there was a terrific thunderstorm that came out of nowhere. It set the grass on fire near us. We put it out with shovels. An old guy and his wife were in their camper on the other side of the ridge and they came and helped us.
I don't cut a very splendid figure here, but I was just about to go in the river swimming when this storm came up and started the fire. One minute it was clear, the next lightning everywhere, and then it was clear again. Nothing at all like our thunderstorms here in the Smokies.
My son went on a lot of jaunts by himself. He climbed up on this rock formation. Later he told me it was infested with rattlesnakes. There were rattlesnakes all over that area. I kept the tent flap zipped so I wouldn't wake up with one in my sleeping bag.
This was our campsite. Right on the Snake River. It had a nice pebbled beach, the water was clean and clear. It was warm too, almost like bath water. There were rushes along the bank and millions of mosquitoes came out of them at night. Not so bad during the day though.
You couldn't have asked for a better swimming spot.
My son and I climbed up the mountain on the other side of the river and took this picture of our camping site. It always amazes me how far you can see in the desert. Having lived in the mountains now for 30 years, I am used to always being closed in by the forest. You do get some good views here, but only from ridge tops and mountain tops. There, you can see forever even on the road.
Their mountains are so much steeper and more rugged than ours. Almost no vegetation, just rocks. It's a completely alien landscape. I liked it though. Very secluded, and at night you could see thousands of stars. It was a spectacular place, all around.
I know this was one of the best trips my son and I ever took together. I didn't get a lot of time off from work, so we didn't have a lot of opportunity to do long trips. I've always appreciated his uncle doing all this for us.
I'd love to live somewhere like this spot. Completely isolated. No town twenty miles off, no people living down on the hard surface road. It's perfect.
Then we went on to Reno, going back to his place. Nevada is pretty burnt over and not very attractive, at least out in the flat lands.
We stopped at Lake Tahoe on the way back too. My brother and I gambled in the casinos and my son enjoyed the game rooms they have for kids. I played nickle slots, my brother enjoyed more challenging games. He was a big hit with the cute little Ukrainian girls who bring you drinks at the tables. He is a big tipper and popular with the ladies anyway. I drank cokes and stayed on the slots. I am not very adventurous in that regards.
It was a great trip. Doesn't seem like it was actually so long ago. But I guess it was, as my son is grown up and gone, and I am definitely older. When things get stressful, it helps me to look back on all the fun things I've done already. If the world goes to hell in a hand basket, I've still had the good times in the past, come what may.