This post is a continuation of the epic Northern California road trip I took last month with my significant other, Zac. To read Days 1, 2, and 3, click here, here, and here. Also, I apologize for the lack of photos in this post. It seems that we took a break from taking pictures on this day!
The fourth day of our epic road trip adventure began lazily in Nevada City. Stu and Mags, our couchsurfing hosts, had told us about a back trail leading out of their co-housing complex into the historical downtown. We got a bit lost trying to find the right trail in the expansive grounds, but after a detour to the chicken coop, we found our way into town.
We visited the Broad Street Bistro for ice coffee (it was murderously hot already) and bagel sandwiches. In our normal lives in San Francisco, we like our coffee shops, but on the road it became something of a ritual to stop at a quaint little coffee shop for a spell. We’d nurse our drinks slowly and write, Zac in letters or postcards to friends, me in the journal that is morphing into this blog diary. We’re very frugal people but coffee is an affordable little luxury that would allow us some quiet time away from the craziness of the road, and in many cases, cool off from the heat of the day.
The Broad Street Bistro in Nevada City was a nice little spot with a book swap corner and message boards for housing and trades. We spent quite some time there before hitting up Solstice, an amazing vintage and costume shop that we had discovered on our last visit. It truly was hard to leave with only a pair of sunglasses to replace the ones I’d just broken, but somehow I managed it. Our last stop was at Treats for ice cream. It was listed in our guidebook and Mags, who is gluten and lactose-free, had recommended it. It was kind of expensive, but the scoops were big and the flavors unique, and good vegan ice cream doesn’t happen every day! We both tried the chai flavor. It was a bit spicy and delicious and invigorating. We happily devoured it as we walked back to the car.
From Nevada City, we headed further north. First we were driving through farmland, then the scenery morphed into the hot, dusty two-lane highway lined with scrubby trees that is so typical of California. It was definitely not as scenic as some of our other drives, and since Zac was driving I broke up some of the monotony by reading him Harry Potter. I started reading him the first book when we moved to San Francisco a year and a half ago and we are now in the seventh and final installment. It’s such great road-trip reading.
We kept planning on stopping somewhere along the way for more coffee and writing, but the towns of Oroville and Red Bluff did not seem that exciting so we kept going. About an hour away from Mt. Shasta we could see it looming on the horizon, beckoning us onward as the scenery became more mountainous. It was almost 5 pm when we parked in Mt. Shasta City and walked around. Although our guidebook said it was charming, it reminded me a lot of the Old Montrose neighborhood where Zac and I grew up. I suppose it may be charming to an outsider, but I just didn’t see it. Mt. Shasta City has 3 types of people: New-Agey people, outdoorsy people, and simple townsfolk. The first was strongly impressed on us by all of the spiritual crystal shops that could be found. We went into one bookshop, and were greeted by some crazy New Age harp and flute music. We promptly turned around and left. Our short visit concluded with some quick supplies from the market before heading up the mountain to figure out our campsite.
I had read about a free walk-in campsite called Panther Meadows up the highway at the base of Mt. Shasta, but had neglected to find out that the road leading up there doesn’t open until mid-June! So we went back down the windy road to see about a campground we’d passed on the way up. Despite our guidebook saying that McBride Springs campground was ugly, we thought it quite nice: woody, rustic, and only $10 a night. We picked out a campsite that was huge, with a nice stone fire ring and a perfect spot set back from the road with a view of the mountain on which to put our tent.
We gathered tons of firewood after finding out from Karen, the sweet, middle-aged hippie camp host, that we were free to do so. Zac broke up the big pieces of wood with a hammer while I made camp and got some stiff drinks going for cocktail hour. The rest of the evening was probably not that exciting to you, dear readers. We heated up dinner on our roaring fire and ate our fill. The night ended with s’more, stargazing, and a renewed closeness with each other. That was something that I’d really been wanting out of this road trip. Our crazy lives and schedules, his school and my work, and put some distance between us, and I’d wanted to get back to where we were. We are both great travelers independently, but also make a great team together on the road. We were now halfway through our road trip, and couldn’t wait to see what else was in store. . .
Good Day and Happy Travels,