One of the joys of living long enough to see the next generation into adulthood is learning about the people they’re becoming as adults. For this reason, I’ve spent the last month coordinating my travels to coincide with the locations of several young family members. My first ‘family reunion’ stop was in Shasta Lake to see my niece, and namesake, Sara. In the past, I would have driven straight there, but with the trailer the 500+ mile drive from Rancho Oso, needed to be split into two legs.
Turtle Beach RV Resort, Manteca, CA
It was a six hour drive north to Turtle Beach RV park, about 75 miles east of San Francisco, and consisted mostly of agricultural land, so I passed the time listening to a book on tape and talking to Yiska as though he can understand every word I say… because he can.
Turtle Beach is another Thousand Trails park and sits on the San Joaquin river. It’s known as a fishing and boating destination, but since I wasn’t planning on doing either, I chose it for it’s proximity to I-5 and because it was a good mid-way stop on my drive to Shasta Lake.
The park is small with no amenities to speak of, but my space was large (aka ‘easy to back into’) and quiet. Because I decided to only spend two nights, I left the tow hitched. I had an early morning start with photography along the river since I was awoken at 5 am by a helicopter flying low overhead as he sprayed the banks with what I’m assuming was pesticide.
I learned there are several families of geese living on the water’s edge and wondered how Yiska would handle himself. It’s challenging to carry his leash in one hand and a ten pound camera in the other, steady myself for images, and then worry if he’s suddenly going to take off after wildlife. I’m happy to report that he was a complete gentleman, and I came away with some images to help me remember our morning stroll.
Shasta Lake, California
The 5 hour drive to Shasta Lake was uneventful, but enjoyable as I watched the terrain change from flat, wide open fields to mountains and pine trees. I stayed at Mt. Gate RV Park just off of I-5 and found it to be quiet and quaint, with a small dog run, pool, clean laundry facility, friendly staff and best of all: a pull-through site! I arrived mid day and set up home before meeting Sara at The Cookhouse Restaurant which has amazing panoramic views of the lake. Three years had passed since I’d last seen my niece and besides having a rockin’ name, her eyes and mannerisms remind me of her mom, my sister, which endears me to her even more. It made me misty to see that at 23 years old, she’s an intelligent, beautiful, kind young lady with dreams of motherhood, and continuing on in her career with a grass-roots organization.
We spent four days together, visiting with her in-laws, sightseeing at Shasta Lake, Mt. Shasta, Mt. Lassen, taking in a movie, dining out, visiting Sara’s work… anything that kept us out of the triple-digit temperatures and gave me a glimpse into her life. The Shasta Lake area is beautiful with the deep lake surrounded by snow capped mountains. My shutter was kept busy with wild flowers, lakes, and streams providing gorgeous backdrops for impromptu portrait sessions. But, as much as I loved all the photography outings, my favorite part of the trip was simply being able to talk at length with Sara about our lives and learn about her new adventures in California.
Saying goodbye was difficult, but was eased by the fact that I’ll be seeing her again at the end of August. I left very early because ahead of me was the longest day of travel yet: 430 miles north to Pacific City RV Camping Resort on the coast of Oregon, where cool weather, ocean time, and a visit with my other niece, Grace, awaited me.