Sunshine Daydream

It is not uncommon for Mark and I to load up the kayaks, pack up the car and head out of town for a day or two in search of some good water. When traveling by car we usually ask ourselves if we want to go north (toward Oregon) or south (toward the Bay Area) and how far we want to travel. Those two factors determine where we go.

The last few times we’ve done this we’ve found ourselves hit by gale force winds, sideways rain and large swell. We’ve gotten used to it and laugh about it, but this time, we decided to do something different. Rumor had it that if we headed east, toward Lake Shasta, we’d run into temperatures in the 90s and a lake with an unusual amount of water in it. Because Memorial Weekend had not hit yet, the campsite would be empty and we’d have much of the place to ourselves. After a quick Google search, we booked a campsite at the Antlers RV Park and Campground. We’d never been to Lake Shasta, but were determined to find a little bit of touristy fun.

Upon arrival we were fairly impressed with the campsite. Our camp was on a cliff overlooking the lake. There were two sets of stairs that let to the site, two picnic tables, a wooden cabinet for food (we opted for the car), a fire pit and a table, complete with a decorative shade covering. Not the type of camping that we’re used to, but we were loving it!

Our super fancy campsite.

During our stay we went on two paddles. One was up one of the many arms that make up the lake, and the other was toward more open water. Besides from a few powerboats and the occasional houseboat, we seemed to have the place to ourselves. We were told that from Memorial Weekend on there can be up to 5,000 boats on the lake at any given moment, which made us glad we’d gone so early in the season. The water level is so high this year that a kayaker can have a lot of fun paddling through an underwater forest. Every now and then we’d find a sandy beach and go for a swim in the cold water.

Paddling through a forest.

The Shasta Caverns were a close attraction, and we went on the tour, which came complete with a boat ride across the lake, a bus ride up a windy cliffside and finally the caverns themselves, which were spectacular.

An empty boat takes us to the caverns on the other side.

Mark enjoying a view of Lake Shasta from the entrance to the caverns.

Spectacular formations inside one of several caverns.

Although we spent most of our three-day trip leisurely exploring the lake and caverns, two evenings we strolled down the dirt road into town, a three mile walk each way to a pub called The Basshole. Not lacking charm, it was a fun place to chat with locals and relax away from mosquitos (there weren’t many) before heading back to our campsite for an evening fire. Mark tried his first smore, and I think that he quite enjoyed it, because it led to a second, then a third…

Mark chillin' at The Basshole.

As we drove away from the campsite feeling relaxed and slightly sunburned, a large bear stood in the road before us. We had disturbed his quiet morning walk, and he wasn’t prepared to let us pass. Slowly he turned around and started to trot down the road. Since he was heading the same direction as us, we followed him, and eventually he skirted into the bushes on the right side of the road, disappearing for a moment before darting out in front of us again to run to the other side of the road. Unfortunately, none of our bear pictures turned out, but seeing him was a wonderful end to our fun, and very different, road trip.

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