Day 1 – “My name is John B. McLemore…”

Despite planning on leaving Saturday morning, Patrick’s friend’s “Operation Delay Departure” was a complete success.  An aggressive last night in town caused the packing to not get finished quite in time so, after having one last breakfast with friends, we decided to leave Sunday morning instead.

Patrick, Ally, Kate, and Neal at Lelani's Cafe

On Sunday, we woke up at 5 AM and put the final things into our “Big Box” that is being shipped to CT and then packed up Bullseye (our name for Patrick’s truck).

Big Box - Outside

By 7 AM, we were on the road!


We were fortunate to beat any LA traffic and made it into the (shockingly desolate) Central Valley without issue.  To help pass the time of today’s long drive — normally we like to limit a day’s journey to 5 or 6 hours — we decided to listen to the S-Town podcast.  What an adventure that was!  If you haven’t heard about the story of John B. McLemore and his “shit-town” down in Alabama, I highly recommend.  (Also, if you have any other podcast recommendations, let us know!  We’re in the market for any and all listening material.)

We made great time, passing through Sacramento before dinner, and were able to reach the campground by 6 PM.  Our drive off The 5 brought us through some interesting terrain.


Though we had reservations at a private, commercial campground for our tent, we found the NPS Campground to be quite empty and so tried to cancel that unknown for the woodsy beauty before us.  The person at “Mineral Lodge” would not let us cancel, however, so we hopped back in the truck and made our way to the park — Lassen Volcanic National Park.  (For those new to our adventures, this is our 14th National Park!  At least five more new ones to come this trip…)

IMG_4307 (1)

Although the Visitor’s Center was closed, we knew the “through road” of the park (going from South Entrance to North Entrance) was closed due to snow, so we decided to just drive as far as we could and see what there was to see before sunset.  Very quickly we found deep snow drifts and alpine lakes that were still quite frozen.

Tall Snow
Bullseye, snow drifts, and a nearly-buried bathroom.

After parking Bullseye, we took a quick hike up towards Lassen Peak (about a quarter of the 4 mile hike to the top).  We had a blast exploring the remaining glaciers and were certainly happy to get out of the car.


After that exploration, we got back in the truck and headed to our campsite.  We’re glad we didn’t cancel the reservation (or opt to pay for both) because we were the only tent campers — and one of only about 4 parties staying there that night.  Nice and quiet.


A yummy meal of open faced meatball sandwiches — together with potato chips and a beer — brought the first day to a close.  Tomorrow, we’ll be up and out early as we head to Crater Lake in Oregon.  We’ll be there for two nights before we head to Idaho, so be on the lookout for an update in a few days as the National Parks and their surrounding areas often have little to no cell reception.

San Diego, CA to Mineral, CA – 670 miles (11 hours)

-Ally and Patrick

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