I know I won’t be posting this until after we return, but it’s easier to do it as a running commentary than trying to remember everything after the fact.
We got up at the crack o’ dawn and were packed up and on the road by six a.m. Traffic was as I thought, sort of fast and slow, especially coming into Sacramento. Once we got on 50 and past the university, things lightened up. TBG took a conference call while I drove. I had been a while since driving the Bronco. I forget how well it handles. We stopped for in Placerville at the Safeway for gas, restroom stop and to pick up ice. Whoops. Imagine, packing an ice chest without ice.
Got to the ranger’s station just after eight and picked up the permit. Thankfully, they said that we could still have a fire in the fire pit. An hour later, we were pulling up to the locked gate leading to the bunkhouse. We had been warned that there had been damage to the structure because of the heavy snow. In fact, at the height of winter, all that you could see was to tip of the roof. I can’t even imagine that much snow.
Here is the photo they took in March and this is the current view.
Thankfully, the bunkhouse seemed fine. They had to rebuild parts of the stairs, but everything was fine inside and out. Kevin came by to get a water sample (we have to boil the water before using it now). They had found e coli at one of the other structures and just wanted to be sure. We had brought plenty of water with us, so it’s created no hardship.
A bit of background about the bunkhouse for any of my new friends. TBG’s mom was married to Stan Van Vleck, a cattleman in the Sacramento/Gardnerville area. In the summer, they would move the cattle from one point to the other and would pause for several weeks at the Ice House area, where Stan had a ranch house, barn and bunkhouse. Many time TBG came to Ice House as a child, along with Stan’s other children. Mom and Stan parted ways, but always remained on good terms.
Forward twenty years, none of his children had followed him into ranching, so Stan decided to get rid of the property in Ice House by donating it to the park service. For a long time, they didn’t know what to do with it, then a fire, set by a vagrant, took the house and barn. That’s when the park service decided they needed to do something and decided to rent out the bunkhouse.
It has a propane tank, which powers the stove, heater, refrigerator, lights, and hot water heater. There is a queen size bed, two bunk beds, and a sleeper sofa, so you can comfortably sleep eight. It’s close to Loon Lake, tons of hiking trails and overlooks an incredible meadow. It’s open year round, although they close it in June for cleaning, repair and the like.
Over the years, we have made several improvements to the bunkhouse, which we’re permitted because we’ve offered and because of TBG’s ties to the place. We bought a new sofa (and are currently making arrangements to have this one cleaned and reconditioned), added blackout curtains, chair rails, crown molding, and so forth. This time, TBG brought along his tools and is working to replace bad screws on the front deck and who knows what else he’ll get up to.
And I’m back. Hot. It is hot up here. It was going to be 105 in the valley today, so the 95 we had was better, but still warm. As we were talking with Kevin, the propane guy arrived. That’s always good news as it means there will be plenty of fuel for us.
After everyone left, we put stuff away and made the bed. It looked so inviting that we decided to give it a try. We read and doze until lunch time. We’d stopped in Pollack Pines and grabbed something from Safeway there – it was also a chance for us to check out how the store compared to Placerville.
That done, it was more napping and reading until I was read out (Assault and Pepper by Leslie Budewitz) and turned to my sewing and quilting. There are always repairs that need to be made to the cushions and whatnot here, so I took care of those first. The square is nearly done and I suspect I will finish it this weekend.
We drove out to cellphone point, one of the few places here that gets a cell signal and called home to let them know we’d arrived. I spoke with Sparky for a little bit and then it was time to start cooking.
Friday night, we did spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread. It was cool enough so that we could sit out on the front porch and eat with a view of the entire meadow. After that, TBG started a fire in the pit and we enjoyed that until a lovely nearly full moon peeked over the tree line.
Slept well Friday night and woke to a bright shiny day. It was a full day of relaxing, as difficult as that can actually be at times. TBG kept himself busy doing this and that most of the morning. I made scones, then bacon and eggs for breakfast and lunch was a special treat of Nancy’s grilled cheese sandwiches.
The afternoon went like much of the morning, reading, quilting, napping, until it was time to head back to cellphone point for another check in. We were sorry that our friends, The Brittos, decided against coming up to the bunkhouse. John doesn’t do well with the altitude and Irene had just started a new job and didn’t feel comfortable taking the day off. That said, we received a message from her saying that they had just put her father into hospice and he wasn’t expected to live out the weekend. If that had happened while they were up here, Irene would have never forgiven herself. Sadly, it was good she stayed home.
Back to the bunkhouse and it was time to start dinner – pork and cheese quesadillas and fresh guacamole. It was a rather quick affair, all in all. Then it was down to the campfire once more. This time there was a difference for the sky at south end of the valley was smoky, probably the Oroville fire. By the time the moon came up, it was red.
And it was time for Mr. Insomnia to pay me a visit. I don’t think I got to sleep much before midnight, mostly kept awake by a brutal headache that nothing seemed to help. Finally, sweet, sweet sleep found me and I slept in until nearly six. The headache is better and the skies look clear.
Biscuits and gravy is on the menu for breakfast and I’m looking forward to it – I do love cooking on a gas stove, although the altitude can be a challenge (6000 + feet as opposed to our six inches). :D
Because of the smoke, we decided to pack up and head home early. On our way out, we saw a mum deer and her two little ones. So sweet. Now we are back in the heat, with a/c, electricity and best of all - the cats!