August 2010
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Family Vacation

Last week we joined my parents and my sister and her family for our annual Family Vacation. Over the past several years we’ve spent wonderful weeks in places like Bend, Lake Tahoe, Lake Almanor, etc. (My first geocache was found with my Dad’s GPS while on a family vacation in Idaho!) This year I wanted to stick a little closer to home, since our girls are still quite young and don’t do real well with traveling all day. So we stayed at a friends’ cabin up in Dorrington and we had a great week hiking, swimming, and playing with our little girls up in the mountains!


We didn’t get to go with the rest of the family on vacation last year, because Carolyn and Elizabeth were still so tiny, and it just didn’t seem like a good idea to travel at all. But I’m glad we could go this year, because it was a lot of fun having the girls with us. (Naturally, it also restricted our activities quite a bit, and we didn’t get to do all the things we might otherwise have done, but that’s OK.) One day, we took them on a walk in the stroller through Calaveras Big Trees State Park, and marveled at some really impressively enormous trees. This was a great place to visit because it was very close to the cabin and the whole trail was wide and smooth, which was perfect for our all-terrain stroller.

Little girls, big tree!

Another shot of an ancient giant posing with our tiny young ones. This one was so big that at some point (many decades ago) they cut a tunnel through the middle! The tree seems to be doing pretty well, all things considered.

We also spent a day at beautiful Lake Alpine. All the kids had fun swimming and playing in the water, while Dad and I hiked around the lake and found some geocaches, including a couple that were high up on some cliffs named Inspiration Point. Carolyn and Elizabeth spent a very short time splashing and playing in the chilly water, but since they still have hardly any body fat (and they’re just not used to cold water), they got unhappy rather quickly.

Dad & Mom out on one of the islands

Splish splash!

I also got to fulfill a dream I’ve had for many years, and took everyone to visit an amazing area where you can swim through a cave! (Technically, I guess it’s supposed to be called a natural bridge, but it sure looks like a cave, and frankly I just think that sounds a lot more cool.) It’s about 120 yards long, and there’s a bend in the middle so you can’t see all the way through to the other side, but it never gets entirely dark. I accidentally led everyone down the wrong (shortcut) trail on our way down to the river, so it was very steep, but we all arrived safely and everyone was suitably impressed with how cool the cave was. Janet and I spent some time playing with the girls in the water here too, and this time the girls were able to have a bit more fun. Perhaps the water was a little warmer.

This is the north end of the cave. It's fairly shallow at each end, but it's deep in the middle.

This is the south end of the cave. The ceiling starts out much lower here (that's about 7 feet high), but quickly rises as you progress further inside. This end has many spots where water constantly seeps through the rocks up above.

Towards the end of the week, I discovered that there was a “nearby” geocache that was over a month old but had never been found. That was too tempting to pass up, so Mark and I decided to go find it one evening after dinner. I said “nearby” with quotation marks because although it was only about 8 miles away as the crow flies, the twisting and winding nature of mountainous forest service roads meant that it was really going to be almost 30 miles, much of it unpaved. I carefully studied the possible routes in my GPS and on Google Maps, and it seemed that we’d have no problem getting there. But NO! One after another, our attempts at reaching our destination at Prather Meadow were denied by no less than three different locked gates and a couple roads that simply dead-ended (even though all our maps showed them going through and connecting). Sadly, I never did find that cache, even after making one more attempt the following morning with Dad. But we gave it a good shot, and despite the disappointment I thought it was a lot of fun driving around out on those quiet, seldom-used roads.

We didn't find the cache, but near dusk we did find some cool rocky cliffs overlooking a forested valley.

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