It is that time of year again: The Lathan clan – all four of us – clean out the dusty travel trailer, stock her up with our belongings and a ton of food, and head off to places unknown. It is what we look forward to all year. Eight years ago we decided to take a leap of faith and venture into the world of RVing. My husband and I have not-so-fond memories of serious camping in our youth and part of our marriage vows were to NEVER attempt such a thing as a couple! I know that there are loads of folks who think it the greatest form of fun to haul tents and sleeping bags into bear infested forests where dirt and bugs reign supreme. They, by some bizarre reasoning that I simply do not fathom, actually enjoy it! We, obviously, think this utter insanity. However, we do love the great out-of-doors. I grew up in the mountains and my hubby grew up by the sea, so we love the beauty of nature as God created it. Just as long as I can return to a hot shower and comfortable bed at night!So, in the wake of 9/11 we began to look at our wonderful country and the urge to see more of it than what was only here on the immediate west coast called to us. In one of those spontaneous, rash decisions that my husband is really comfortable with but usually makes my heart palpitate we purchased a trailer. It is a simple thing, neither of us wanting anything too complicated for our initial foray into the frightening world of semi-camping, but we absolutely love our trailer! And are now totally RVing fools! Someday we hope to graduate up to a nice 5th-wheel. But for now our humble home-away-from-home towed behind our trusty Chevy truck is sufficient for tremendous fun and adventure.
Since buying our trailer we have been to Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Tetons, Mt. Rushmore, the Black Hills of South Dakota, Little Big Horn, the Great Salt Lake, the Snake River of Idaho where Evel Knieval jumped over, and Donnar Pass. And that was just our first trip! Other wonderful holidays have included Mt. Saint Helens, Mt. Rainier, Shasta, Seattle, Portland, Idaho, a boat trip down the Snake River, Death Valley, Lassan National Park, Mammoth Lakes, Disneyland several times, San Diego, Big Bear Lake, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, California coast, and all the states those places are located in. Our little trailer has been places and has the stickers on her bumper to prove it! She has kept us warm and secure and well fed and clean.
This year we are keeping her a bit closer to home as we only have one week for our family vacation. I am spending the second week in Washington DC at the Romance Writer’s National Conference – more on that in detail later – so we pulled out the California map and looked for places nearer by. We are fortunate to live in the wide San Joaquin Valley lying in the shadows of the High Sierra Nevada range that stretches 400 miles north to south. Yosemite and Sequoia National parks are just a few miles away and we drive up to that part of the world frequently. A short drive into those towering peaks that range from 5000 feet to 14,505 feet (Mt. Whitney) and you will see Half Dome – as pictured here – just one of the wonders of solid granite found in Yosemite. This next photo is an incredible aerial view of California. The green stretch of flatness is the San Joaquin Valley where yours truly resides, and the dry flatness to the right is Nevada with the immense Sierras in between. And of course the ocean is self-explanatory! California has her faults, but gorgeous, diverse landscape is not one of them.
But just a bit further north from our humble abode, also in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, is an area loosely referred to as the Gold Country. Also known as the Mother Lode country, this region, obviously, is where gold was discovered in 1848, launching the Gold Rush that effectively opened California to the wider world. Lots can be read on that event elsewhere, and I am not intending to embark on a history lesson, so you can breath easy and keep reading! The funny thing is that although this section of our great state that encompasses 12 counties is practically a stone’s throw away, we haven’t toured it since before our kids were born! I mean, we do live on the southern fringes of what is the Gold Country and have been to the small towns that border Yosemite (part of the historic territory and, yes, gold was mined there too), but haven’t driven the additional miles to reach Sutter’s Mill and those towns at the heart of that history since I was pregnant with Emily! Isn’t it funny how that happens?
Therefore, we decided it was time! We will be staying for 5 nights in a lovely campground less than a mile from Sutter’s Mill (left lithograph dated 1848) where it all began. Naturally we will tour the old mines, hit a few museums, spend hours tromping along the scenic trails, and meander the 150-year-old towns replete with history and quaint shops. There are several caverns to explore, rivers and lakes to picnic beside, and country roads to drive along. But for the most part we intend to relax and enjoy the cooler air and rampant greenery. I, of course, will be writing as much as possible during all that free time! Supposedly the campground has WiFi, so if it is adequate I will upload a few photos and musings while there. Here’s hoping that the latest Lathan family excursion is a fabulous one!