With a 10am departure from Medford, it's amazing how quickly we got to our campsite at Fowler's Campground in McCloud, California. I think we were unloaded and set up by 1pm. What a deal! We have got this camping stuff down, that's for sure. Each year, we've had to choose a different site based on the ones we've previously had having been occupied. We ended up in Site 21 this year - and it's probably our favorite so far. We miss the deer that occupied the site where we were at the first year, but this one's privacy, but proximity to the bathrooms and camp host through our own trail made for a very good locale. Not to mention, it had a "bear box" on site that we could load all of our extra gear into, or food once we left.
This next picture was taken after a very unfortunate incident happened. We opted to spend our afternoon exploring a route we had taken the first year on our way to the Modoc Caves National Park. We were especially in search of the "Yellowjacket Cave" that was in our detailed map. A new cave to explore, yes please! However, we saw no signs for the cave in mention - so we found ourself taking back roads in hopes of stumbling upon it. One such road ended up getting narrower and narrower as we went - with more and more shrubs in the middle to scrape up the underbelly and sides of my van. We were getting nervous, but my GPS map in the vehicle showed that the road was a loop, and looked like it would straighten out on the other side. We were practically at the halfway point and felt like it had to get better. IT DID NOT.
In fact, we were lucky to get out of that part of the forest. We ended up trying to clear a low stump and, well, the bumper met up with the stump before the tire did. OH NOOOOOOO. So, then, we tried to back up and turn around in a very precarious place, and barely made it happen based on the rock in front of us. Yes, stuck between a rock and hard place!!!!!
Michele had gotten out and was assessing the damage and pessimistic prospect of being able to get out. Fortunately, we were able to tag team it enough to stop and start and crank the wheel to get out. At this nice little clearing, I finally got the guts up enough to get out and check out the damage. Ironically, the damage is in the same place that Michael had backed into it shortly after we got the vehicle - and we'd had it repaired. I guess that original repair was unnecessary. Boo....
But, damage done, and the vehicle was still run-able - so there was no point in dwelling over it on the rest of our vacation. Take a little more caution on the roads we choose, yes.... fret and pout over the consequences of our earlier actions, no.
So, we did some photography instead.
And, then, explored - ON FOOT - where we thought the cave might be. Yes, we stuck together and didn't wander far.
Michele and I tried to do some poses for a profile pic to use for our birthday. It took a lot of efforts, especially when Nati was photobombing us without our knowledge.
A panorama of the ravine where we were hiking and hoping to find the elusive "Yellowjacket Cave" (which we never did find).
Not to be skunked, we got out of the vehicle to visit the well documented "Jot Dean Ice Cave".
After that...what do you know - but we saw this from the road (a paved, but obscure road) as we were driving back to the campsite. Get out of the car, girls - we're doing us some spelunking!
These caves had so many striations and grooves - wild to think how the hot lava carved this...
Note to self - flip flops are not appropriate shoe attire for cave exploring. I'll blame it on the ingrown toenail and big-time cut on my pinkie toe - neither wanted to be contained in a tennis shoe on this day.
So, this was our own little skylight cave and we had the girls pose under the lightbeam.
But, then Michele went from above and peered down to freak the girls out. It worked - Ellie was very upset and refused to pose after that...
We also found a friend happy to join us in our cave explorations.
Mikayla chose the narrow route to emerge from one of the tunnels.
Tight squeeze -
A less tight squeeze.... =)
This was a sweet, non-posed shot I caught of Michele with Nati. Nati has grown so much and looks so much more "woman-ly" these days - that I find myself mistaking her for Michele if I'm just glancing or see her in my peripheral.
When we returned to our site, we realized the "bear box" isn't just for bears. I had left out a Tupperware style container filled with buns for the sliders we were set to have for dinner and when we returned, the lid was off - gnawed on at the sides - and COMPLETELY EMPTY. That's some fat squirrels and birds around our campsite. They also got into a can of caramel salted peanuts we had bought (but didn't really like) - I guess they liked them.
We thought we were more careful the next day - but forgot about the fruit in the sack below the picnic table. Sure enough, we returned to half eaten apples strewn around our campsite. Well, okay, then. Guess we don't have to worry about it going bad!
And, wouldn't you know, but we ended up getting rained on a little that evening. Not enough to cause a problem though - just enough to dine inside the tent and have the girls spend some time playing "Fruit Ninja" card game.
When all was said and done, it really was a fun day. We'll be paying for it at the Honda dealership, but that's concern for another day.