summertime

A Weekend in Tahoe National Forest

There's something about getting away from cell phone service, being under the tallest of tall trees and jumping into cold mountain waters that reinvigorates the soul like nothing else. This weekend, I went with some very good friends to camp in the Tahoe National Forest. 

Endless shades of green in  Tahoe National Forest . 

Endless shades of green in Tahoe National Forest

We basically talked about this trip loosely for a couple weeks, but we didn't even book a site until a week before. Our goal was to find some swimming holes and that's about it. We headed north on 5, then over to 80 east and finally up 49. The last time I had been camping in the area was when I backpacked to Island Lake near Grouse Ridge, which is a bit south of where we ended up. This time, we were camping between Downieville and Sierra City, two tiny towns in the mountains. If you ever head up this way, try to get all your supplies in advance. Both towns have stores, but I doubt they are open very late. 

Gurdy, being cool in the van.

Gurdy, being cool in the van.

Union Flat Campground, site 2

Union Flat Campground, site 2

Our campsite was rather cozy, but we didn't have any neighbors and basically had our own private bathrooms since there are only 11 sites at Union Flat Campground. We liked the green spiky plants growing around our site and could hear the river rushing by. There are a lot of campgrounds in the area, but we stayed here because it was reservable and we were arriving late.

North Yuba River

North Yuba River

This swimming hole was at the campsite. Bryan was brave enough to jump right into the river in the morning. The rest of us were leery of the gigantic trees shading the area, so we opted to swim later at a sunnier spot. 

Shannon and I watched.

Shannon and I watched.

We loaded up the van and headed up to find a spot closer to Sierra City that the ranger suggested for us. It was a bit of a downhill, but we scoped out a swimming hole that was just perfect.

Good times

Good times

As you can see above and below, it was the most perfect and beautiful spot. Not pictured is the waterfall to the left that you can only see when you are in the water. We all jumped off this spot and swam around for the day.

Pre-jump

Pre-jump

Log rides

Log rides

We had the place to ourselves for hours before a couple of nice families showed up. Then we headed back to make the best burgers ever with kale salad and sweet potatoes. Though we may have had some beer and wine this weekend, we kept the food tasty and healthy. If there's one thing I've learned camping this summer, it's to further simplify what you bring and what you cook. 

South Yuba River Bridge

South Yuba River Bridge

The last day, we head down to South Yuba River. Even at South Yuba River, a place fairly crowded with locals and visitors, you can find spots to yourself like we did here. Just head even a little further up or down river and you're good to go. It's super beautiful and there are natural slides into deep pools. You can see the trees aren't so tall and it's a bit more dry down here. It definitely makes for warmer waters to swim in, but of course, more people. 

South Yuba River

South Yuba River

South Yuba - check out that slide under the bridge!

South Yuba - check out that slide under the bridge!

The view from our tent. You can imagine all the stars we saw from here.

The view from our tent. You can imagine all the stars we saw from here.

Take me back already! Every time I head out to the woods, it makes me feel like I shouldn't leave. I get so much clarity. I even brought art supplies with me and didn't use any of them. Just spent time with good people and stared at nature. Ahhh...

Mid-Summer Work and Mid-Summer Play

It's been an interesting summer between work and this strong desire to venture out and camp or take a vacation. There's too much work to warrant a lengthy vacation, so I've gotten creative about enjoying this summer. I just went on my third one night camping trip and I have to say that it is so much better than not going at all! 

Mission Peak

Mission Peak

On July 12, a group of friends and I headed up to Fremont to hike Mission Peak. It's a hike I've done before, but not quite like this. We started at 6pm, so the skies were still blue and the sun was strong. As the evening moved on, we saw the fog roll in around the bay, city lights come on, the sunset on one side and the moonrise on the other side. A lot of other people had the same idea, so the trail was crowded, but it was a really magical experience with some good friends. 

Garden of Eden

Garden of Eden

The following week, I headed down to the Garden of Eden at the San Lorenzo River and to camp at Henry Cowell State Park with a couple of friends. As I said before, I've been spending done some one night camping trips this summer since I've been too busy to go longer. I have to recommend it! I did spend time sketching out ideas for new projects too. 

Sketching the Garden of Eden swimming hole at the Henry Cowell Campground

Sketching the Garden of Eden swimming hole at the Henry Cowell Campground

Henry Cowell overlook

Henry Cowell overlook

Camping at Henry Cowell is different from a lot of sites in the area. You are amongst oak rather than redwood trees. It's really beautiful and there's this overlook with a 360 degree view. Next time, I'm going to head up there to stargaze!

Pajaro Dunes rental

Pajaro Dunes rental

And finally last weekend, I went to Pajaro Dunes, a beach resort in Watsonville. It was so beautiful! I had work to do, so I tried to be very disciplined while I was out there. At least I had this great view!

First sketches

First sketches

I managed to get down to the beach to swim, bury Bryan and play with his nieces at the beach. It was such a blast! 

Back to work, I'm tracing over an early sketch on the window of the rental. Illustration work is much different from painting. It's much more of a planned process. 

...And back to the beach! We ate at Phil's Fish Market for dinner. Had a super bowl of cioppino. You have to eat here if you are in the area. You also have to head out back at sunset. Whales breached as the intense sky and iridescent water changed to every color imaginable. 

All in all, it's been a hard working summer, but these little breaks are needed to revive me!