Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day weekend + Northern California trip report

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend. At least I did, considering that we went on a three-day trip to far Northern California. It was a crazy vacation with road closures, food poisoning and whatnot. Despite all that, the trip was lots of fun.

Day 1

The first stop was Railtown 1897 State Historic Park in Jamestown. The park is known for its steam trains and somewhat reminiscent of Roaring Camp in Felton. I'd love to ride one of the trains, but we weren't eager to find out the ticket prices. Railtown 1897 is nevertheless an attraction I'd like to visit again.

Columbia State Historic Park awaited us next. Unlike our last visit six years ago, the weather wasn't too hot. That made our stay much more enjoyable. The three of us then headed to Sonora and browsed the stores there. This was the best part of the trip.

The plan was to stay two nights in Mammoth Lakes. However, Route 108 was closed due to the weather when we were just 20 miles from town. The GPS showed a 250-mile detour. Yikes!

Dad tried to cancel our reservation but was told the deadline had passed. Although he decided to take the 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, my father 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 planned the trip for so long, my parents decided to extend it back to three days. Dad then booked a hotel in Redding. Sweet!

Auburn was a lovely city with a rustic feel. The restaurants in the Old Town looked nice, but we just had breakfast. I'd love to eat here on a future visit.

The plan was to go hiking in Clear Lake State Park in the afternoon. However, 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 in the evening. The bridge was a cool sight and made for some great pictures.

Day 3

The morning began with another visit to Sundial Bridge. It was equally impressive in the daytime. Mom suggested going to McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park after lunch. The place was one of the highlights of our trip to far Northern California five years ago, so that's where we went.

Visitors were told there was a "medical emergency" on park grounds. Lots of police, firefighters and paramedics soon showed up. Some rangers were watching the river as 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 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. The park was only partially open because of the recent storm. Though we didn't stay too long, this wasn't a big deal as we've been here before.

There was more bad news: my father got food poisoning from bad quiches. He wasn't feeling well and didn't eat much when we stopped at Denny's for dinner. Our last stop on the way home was WinCo Foods for groceries.

Conclusions

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 the trip was only three days long!

The tragedy at Burney Falls was a sobering experience. It certainly put a damper on the mood. All things considered, the vacation was amazing. Sonora was my favorite stop, although Old Town Auburn wasn't too bad either. That said, the rest of the trip was equally exciting. I've posted some pictures here.

Currently listening to: "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins

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