how i spent my summer vacation, by jeff smith

i don’t know where to start when i think about the awesomeness that was this past week. well, actually, i do know where to start. the beginning. duh. but when i think of all the awesome things that happened that i want to put down in writing, my head swims.
the trip started early on saturday morning. we were going to originally head out on friday, but i really wanted a lazy packing day, rather than jumping through hoops until late thursday night trying to get ready. the plan was to head up to stockton, celebrate smsmh’s grandmothers’s birthday and spend the night there before continuing up to the lake.
the drive was uneventful and we got to stockton in the early afternoon. we hung out with her family, ate some cake and then called it a night. her grandparents have had four cars stolen from their house, and knowing this we decided to park our sore thumb of a vehicle (an xterra with a bright yellow 14′ kayak on top is hardly subtle) in the driveway and pull another car up behind it. i wasn’t too concerned, but since the kayak is fairly easy to get off, i wanted to make it difficult if someone got greedy.
i slept uneasily all night. i was on edge and stirred at the slightest sound. i heard sirens all night, a gunshot and a nearby burglar alarm. it was strangely reminiscent of trying to sleep during combat. sometime around 3am, i got up to void and after returning to bed, i was laying awake. i heard a car pull up out front and listened to it’s engine idling. my mind quickly processed that this quiet residential street, with most of it’s homeowners in their retirement years, wouldn’t normally have any activity at 3am.
i got up quickly and looked out the window. there was a car sitting across the street, casing the house. i pulled back the curtain to get a better look and no sooner had i done that, the car lurched to a start, chirped it’s tires and sped off. i had a sick feeling in my gut that if i hadn’t been awake, the car would have been broken into, stolen or vandalized. i slept uneasily for the rest of the night.
up early, i put in a 10 mile long run and after cleaning up, smsmh and i got out of town, anxious for the safety of the outdoors.
we stayed sunday night at her grandparent’s condo in tahoe and headed to our campground on monday. the original idea had been to put in from south shore and kayak north up the west coast of the lake, stopping at camp richardson, emerald bay, d.l. bliss and sugar pine point over the course of four days. the problem with that is that camping is only allowed in designated sites, all of which are available for pre-registration, with none reserved for first come. so, we decided to reserve a site at eagle point on emerald bay, camp there for four days and just paddle up and down the coast from a central spot.
monday we spent setting up camp, checking out the launch points and driving back into town looking for a place that sold kayak caddies (wheels to strap onto the boat for easy transportation). we came up empty handed and decided to just haul the kayak down to the launch point (1/4 mile hike down to the water) and leave it there. the nice thing about having a central camp site was that we wouldn’t need to carry everything with us, allowing for heavier and more food-stuffs. so, i treated us to chicken and refried black bean tacos the first night, turkey chilli the second night and pesto stuffed tortelini with red sauce the last night. breakfast each morning was oatmeal with brown sugar, raisins, craisins and dried blueberries, along with fresh apples (and peanut butter) and oranges. i think that was the best i’ve ever eaten while camping.
tuesday was our first day on the lake. after a fun 6 mile trail run, i cleaned up and we headed down to the water, determined to explore emerald bay. we paddled out to fanett island, tied the boat up to some rocks and spent some time lounging and swimming. next, we paddled to the shore where vikingsholm stands and took the tour. the scandinavian architecture was fabulous and was a wonderful compliment for the surrounding forest. the rest of the day was filled with paddling along the bay shoreline, beaching every so often to swim around and lay out.
wednesday, we decided to head up the coast to d.l. bliss state park and explore. i had already done an eight mile trail run along the rubicon trail and had found a secluded beach that i thought would be fun for a lunch stop, so the plan was to try to find it from the lake side. we spotted it quickly and decided to paddle on to the d.l. bliss beach, turn around and come back for some lunch.
the trip up to d.l. bliss was awesome. the water in the lake was so amazingly clear, you could easily see 100′+ down. as we rounded one of the points, the shallower water disappeared and we were quickly in near 1000′ deep water. the colour changed to a rich blue and was absolutely beautiful. we stopped occasionally to explore coves, swim and watch wildlife. on the way back, we found the beach again, pulled into the cove and set up for lunch.
i’d brought the stove and some tomato & roasted red pepper soup. i fired it up, cooked up the lunch, broke out the cracked wheat crackers and we ate heartily. a couple families showed up along the rubicon trail and eyed our grub jealously as they lunched on powerbars and gorp. who said that camping has to be an exercise in deprivation? mmm…i’m getting hungry just thinking about how wonderful that meal was.
thursday was a little bit of a twist. since this was our last day at the campsite, we knew we’d have to be packed up and out of there before noon. we planned to get up before dawn, paddle out to the tip of eagle point and watch the sunrise. my watch alarm went of at 5:30 and we quickly got up and headed down to the boat. we quietly paddled out to the point in the pre-dawn light. i couldn’t help but pull out the point-and-shoot digital and get a quick video. it was just smsmh and i, the still air and a couple loons. we sat out at the point, paddling lightly, for close to an hour as we watched the sun rise. it was beautiful, serene and a wonderful start to our last day on the lake.
afterward, we broke camp. rather than try to haul the kayak up to the camp, i decided to take a solo paddle to the beach at d.l. bliss and have smsmh drive over to pick me up. i adjusted the seats in the kayak and set off at about 9am. i paddled hard until i got to the point just before d.l. bliss. i worked my way into some rocks, tied off the boat and went for a swim. after a quick snack and a lay in the sun, i hopped back into the kayak and leisurely headed on to meet up with smsmh.
thursday night was spent in squaw valley, where we cleaned up and got re-adjusted to processed foods. pizza and thomas kemper’s root beer never tasted so good! we headed back home on friday, taking the long way around through reno, nevada and down the 395. the drive home was beautiful as we cruised along the east range of the sierras, with all of her 14,000′ peaks in view. we made a quick stop at mono lake to take some photos, but a punctured tire on the sharp granite put a quick stop to that. after a lengthy tire change, we decided to just head on home and try the bodie/mono lake combo another day.
home by 1am and we were beat, but in a wonderful state of mind. it’s amazing how quickly the cares of the world are shed when you step into the wild places of the world. smsmh had an equally wonderful time and is anxious to head back out for more watery adventure. the cool thing is that this trip was her idea. what is better than a wife that wants to take part in your adventure? nothing. absolutely nothing.

10 thoughts on “how i spent my summer vacation, by jeff smith

  1. I agree…perfect. Except I got so hungry reading your account, that I need to go the the kitchen right now! Great photos, too.

  2. What a great way to spend a vacation. Frustrating that you had to worry about theft, but great that you could eat, paddle, eat, hike, eat and relax :)
    I think it’s time for breakfast. Oatmeal always tastes better with lots of STUFF in it.

  3. That all sounds incredibly beautiful, restorative, and fun – and wonderful to share together! (oh, and delicious!)

  4. What a great trip, Jeff (except for the would-be care thieves). All I could think of when you said 100′ of visibility in the wate was, what a cool place to go diving! The whole thing sounds like a trip from a story book. Cool!
    And I’m glad Tracy pointed out that smsmh is a hottie. That would be rude of me to say it. :)

Comments are closed.