California Camping - Labor Day Week

4:30 PM

We were so happy to visit family over Labor Day week! We drove to Albuquerque airport after Spencer got off work Thursday, August 28th. It sounded like it was raining, there were so many bugs hitting the windshield. Other than that, the three hour drive was uneventful.
Our flight was at 9:30 that evening and we landed around 12:30am the next day (Friday) in Reno. My parents had left a car for us at Reno's airport, on their way to Leavitt (my family's private campground).
We were both starving by the time we landed, and decided to get our favorite fast food: In-N-Out. We drove up to Reno's location at 1:10am - ten minutes after they had closed! Spencer still knocked on the locked door, as we jealously watched those inside finishing their last bites. Following this torturous episode, we managed to find an open gas station and settle for energy bars and chips, before continuing our journey to Leavitt.

After driving for a few hours, we made it to the campsite off Highway 108 around 3:30 in the morning. I do not think we went to bed until an hour later, though. Freezing, we got set up in the camper-shell trailer left at the site for our family's use. Spencer managed to kill five spiders inside, before putting down our sleeping bag.

At 6 in the morning, we were awakened from our short slumber by the wailing of goats. I thought for a moment that I had traversed back in time and was living under my parent's roof. Sure enough, my mother had brought two to milk, along with a pair of horses and their lab. Apparently, this chosen couple of goats are so attached to my mom that when she is out of their eye-site, they cry like kids (pun intended).

Luckily, the first day we spent around camp. We enjoyed visiting and playing with younger cousins. One is sure to never starve when camping with my family, as each meal is exquisite and snacks are unlimited.

Saturday, our group of family and family friends, hiked to Secret Lake. We split off in to three groups a long the way: The majority: taking the trail. The rebels, who are too good for trails and decided to take a short-cut straight up the mountain (of course, our group). The horses, who were ridden by my parents. Oh, and I forgot the teenagers who did not want to wait for the crowd and forged ahead early on, and took their own path.
Fortunately, all four groups made it to the lake at some point. We enjoyed lunch and crawdad hunting. The lake is abundant with these fresh-water lobsters. All that was needed was hot dogs, string, and sticks to fashion a retrieval pole. There was a feast that night. Spencer and I, not being fond of any seafood other than fish, sacrificed our share and let others indulge.

For anyone who camped with us, I posted quite a few pictures on the Mavy Shutterfly group of everybody/all the kids. If you are not part of the group already, you can have my mom send you an invitation so you can view/save them.

We relished the trip and spending time with everyone. Monday, we headed back to our home-town to stay a couple nights, do laundry, run errands, and prepare for camping again (this time, with Spencer's side of the family).

Wednesday, we drove with Spencer's parents past Leavitt, 2 hours, to make it to Rock Creek (their annual camping location). We stopped by In-N-Out, our second trip since landing (the first we made on the way back from Leavitt).
After setting up camp, Spencer, his brother Justin and I went exploring up the creek. We ended up hiking to the lake, which they told me was quite a distance away, originally saying we would not make it that far. Our chatting had caused us to wander farther than originally planned. 
Because we had bush-whacked and crossed the creek every so often to get there, we decided to take the road back to camp. We wished the fishermen at the lake good luck, and set on our way down the dusty road. 
Worn out, Spencer started to thumb-up drivers on their way down the hill. The first man did not slow down his truck, as he smiled and shook his head. Not to be deterred, Spencer tried with the next pickup. The man in this vehicle recognized us as the "'Good Luck' Trio" and let us hop in the bed. I had at first, been opposed to hitch-hiking, as I believed we could not possibly be far from camp. As we drove down the never-ending dusty road with the setting sun, however, I realized we were much farther than I assumed. Thankfully, he dropped us off next to our site.

Seemingly determined to wear us out, Spencer's family took us on another adventure the next day, as well. We explored Devil's Post Pile, and Spence, Justin and I hiked up and past it to Rainbow Falls. It is amazing the things that are created without the help of man. Afterwards, we stopped a long the road to see an earthquake fault and walk inside. I recalled the trash compactor from Star Wars Episode 4, as I was afraid of it closing in on us.
The following day is when Spencer's eldest brother, Andrew, arrived and convinced us to go on another hike, this time to Gem Lake. It being one of Spencer's favorite hikes, I agreed, and it was well worth it. It was not as difficult as I had imagined, compared to the previous day's hike to the falls, but it was decently long. The beauty was marvelous. We traversed by multiple lakes on the way to Gem, and jumped through large gravel piles and over creeks. The water in the area is very clear, also very cold.
On top of Devil's Post Pile
We sat on a granite slab and snacked, following which they showed me the glacier on the other side of the lake, it being smaller this year than they had ever seen.
I got to meet a few family members of Spencer's whom I had not yet and get to know the others better. We played games, sat around the fire, and had fun visiting. The nights seemed much cooler than Leavitt, but the days were warm when the sun was out.

Earthquake fault

Andrew photo bombing
Boys exploring uncharted-by-them territory above the glacier

Devil's Post Pile
Earthquake fault

Gem Lake

Yes, we brought a jar of organic peanut butter hiking.

On top of Devil's Post Pile
Sibling shot. Minus our Cassidy.

One of the many lakes before Gem.

Saturday, we woke at 5:45, to pack and say our goodbyes. Spencer's parents lent us their van to drive back to Reno. Our flight was not until 12:30, yet we had just enough time. It was a good thing we had left at 7, as there was a biking event along the highway which had highway patrol slowing all traffic to almost the biker's speed, costing us an hour. We made time for one last In-N-Out stop, before catching our flight home.
The word "home" is finally starting to feel like it applies, as it is slowly starting to sink in. Although I loved being among family, I actually missed it, while we were in California. It is a private place to call our own. Albeit, it does come with dinosaur insects and other unsatisfactory circumstances, it is where I get to cook for Spencer each day, where we get to lay down together at the end of each day, whether it was a good or trying day, and where we get to grow closer together as a married couple.
We do not know where life will take us next, but for now, this is home.

No post is complete without bug pictures, so here is today's! Apparently, it gets bigger than tarantulas when it comes to the insect food chain, out here. Meet...the tarantula hawk wasp. And it's prey. Spencer was out on a job site, when he spotted this monster dragging the tarantula.

Also, here are some family photos!

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