On the drive from Reno, Nevada, to Burney, California, we stopped at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Well, we didn’t really stop, as drove all the way up to the top, then back down again!

We started out at the bottom of the mountain, surrounded by huge pine trees everywhere. There was a small store where we picked up some chips and water, then got back in the car and started the drive up.

We soon stopped at a small parking place and got out, to be met with an amazing sight of towering hills, and an awful smell of rotten eggs. The stomach-turning stench was caused by hot sulfur, holes in the rock that steamed and smelled. There was also a pit that was spewing what looked like hot, grey cement, while making an odd gurgling noise. This was good fun to watch, but trying o take a picture of it mid-spew was nothing less than impossible.

Dad wanted to do a trail, but it was closed. Since it was a sulfur trail, he came up with the ‘witty’ blog title, “That Stinks.” Definitely groan worthy.

And so the drive continued. We stopped frequently to take pictures of the stunning mountain scenery, and to attempt to stop Calum from ‘exploring’ his way off the side of a cliff. What were most startling were the patches of snow that began to appear amidst the trees. Snow. In July.

Well, as we got farther up, we learned that that was not at all unusual. The snow banks on either side of the cleared road were taller than the car, at least 20 feet tall! We stopped at another spot, where another trail was closed. We learned that the closings were due to snow, and they had actually just opened the top part of the mountain. During the winter, the snow here got up to over 40 feet!

The trail we had planned to go on was named after a particularly unfortunate guy named Bumpass. Again came Dad with his…individual sense of humor, and the blog title, “Bummer.” Honestly…

It was here that we decided we wanted a family picture, and of course, I’m the one with the most experience in going up to strangers and asking them for things, so I asked a friendly-looking man and woman if they would take our picture. They were very friendly and asked if I would do the same for them. I said yes, of course, but was more than a little surprised by the camera the man pulled out.

It was old, with a leather case attached to it, and was a bit like a toaster with eyeholes. He told me it was a camera for taking 3D pictures, and said to look in the left lens, make sure my fingers weren’t over either of the two in front, and press the button. It clicked, and I felt special. I’m really going to have to find one of my own some time, it was very cool.

We had a mini snowball fight, in which my feet got completely cold and wet, on one large snow slope. Again, this was in July. How bizarre is that?

Near the top of the mountain were several construction vehicles, noticeable for their orange paint against the white snow. As we drove by, we saw the reason. There had been an avalanche, sending huge clumps of snow across the road, and the trucks were there to clear it out.

Continuing our drive, we stopped for a few minutes near a lake, but soon came running back to the car after being fiercely attacked by mosquitoes. Not fun…but seeing the odd, bright green moss hanging off the trees was fun.

We stopped again after spotting a sign for ‘Subway Caves’. We descended a set of stairs, then faced the entrance to a large, dark tunnel. Part of the entrance had caved in, and the floor was rough and bumpy. We didn’t have a flashlight or any light at all, but we started walking in anyways.

Can you blame me for being a little nervous? I had seen the cracks in the ceiling before we’d left daylight behind. They just screamed cave-in. Then there was the little fact that we couldn’t see a thing. Not good!

However, we hadn’t gone far into the darkness before we met an incredibly nice man and woman, and their small child, who gave us their little flashlight, as they had another, larger one. We continued on.

We were very lucky we had that flashlight. The floor got very rocky rather quickly, there was no light except our little flashlight, and there was one part where Dad would definitely have hit his head if we hadn’t seen it coming. However, we did make it out alive and back on the path to the car despite the lightning flashing overhead and the thunder rumbling in the distance.

We got to our little motel, where I slept on the pull-out couch bed, practiced my flying card trick, and tried and failed to build a house of cards. I also glanced briefly at my summer reading…but decided against it. What kind of book has thirteen characters by page 9? And we have to be tested on it!!!

Why? Honestly?

-Iona-

P.S. And to the tune of the Mickey Mouse song, our little ditty…
H-Y-P! O-T-H! E-R-M-I-A!
Hypothermia!
This looks like Germany-a…