Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day weekend + Northern California trip report

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend. At least my family did, considering that we went to far Northern California. It was a crazy trip with road closures, food poisoning and whatnot. Despite the mishaps, the trip was a great way to start summer.

Day 1

The first stop was Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown. The park is known for its steam trains and not unlike Roaring Camp in Felton. The train rides looked fun, but we weren't eager to find out the ticket prices. Nevertheless, Railtown 1897 is an attraction I'd like to visit again.

Not too far away was Columbia State Historic Park - located about 15 minutes to the north. Unlike our last visit six years ago, the weather wasn't too hot this time. This made our visit much more enjoyable. Dad also took us to Sonora afterwards. Browsing the stores there was the best part of the trip.

The plan was to stay two nights in Mammoth Lakes. But there was some bad news: Route 108 was closed due to the weather when we were just 20 miles from town. To make matters worse, the deadline for canceling the reservation had passed. Although my father chose to take the 250-mile detour rather than let the money go to waste, the distance proved to be too much. Just when it seemed we were out of options, he managed to get the credit transferred to a partner hotel in Auburn. It was decided to cut the trip short as we were all tired.

Day 2

I felt refreshed after a good night's sleep. Thinking it was a shame to go home so soon, especially after having spent so much time planning the trip, my parents extended it back to three days. Dad booked a hotel in Redding as we were packing up. Hell yeah!

Auburn was a quiet city with a rustic feel. The restaurants in the Old Town looked nice, but we just had breakfast and were pretty full. I'd love to try the local food on a future visit to Auburn.

The plan was to go hiking in Clear Lake State Park in the afternoon. But when we got there, Mom noticed the trails were dry and had no shade. That made us change our minds - paying $7 for a sunburn wasn't exactly a good deal. The rest of the day was uneventful aside from a stop at Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay after dinner. The bridge was a cool sight and made for great pictures.

Day 3

Mom wanted to return to Sundial Bridge in the morning for more pictures. It was equally impressive in the daytime. She then suggested going to McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park after lunch. Because we really enjoyed Burney Falls on our trip to far Northern California five years ago, that was our next stop.

We were told there was a "medical emergency" in the park as we arrived. Lots of police, firefighters and paramedics soon showed up. Some rangers watched the river while a CAL FIRE helicopter circled above. It quickly became apparent that someone had fallen into the water. The rangers then began clearing the area, at which point we decided it was best to leave.

I later learned that a 16-year-old boy had drowned near the waterfall. This is a sad situation and not what we wanted to hear. Our thoughts and prayers are with the young man's family during their difficult time. Upon leaving Burney Falls, I realized how precious life really is.

The three of us headed to Lassen Volcanic National Park after digesting what just happened. Aside from a quick stop at Lake Manzanita, our stay was short as much of the park was inaccessible due to the recent storm. However, this wasn't a big deal as we had been to Lassen before.

The other thing is that my father got food poisoning from bad quiches. He was very tired and didn't eat much when we went to Denny's for dinner. Despite not feeling well, Dad was OK with stopping at WinCo Foods for groceries. The drive home was otherwise uneventful.


I'm not going to lie - this was a crazy trip. Due to the road closures and long drives, all of us were exhausted when we got home. I can hardly believe we were only away for three days!

The tragedy at Burney Falls was a sobering experience and certainly put a damper on the mood. That said, the rest of the trip wasn't too bad. Sonora was my favorite stop, although Old Town Auburn was also pretty nice. All things considered, I really enjoyed this trip. Feel free to check out the pictures on Flickr.

Currently listening to: "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins

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