We made it to the California border, after driving very slowly and carefully through all those mountain passes where it was pouring rain and getting colder and colder, so we were getting worried about black ice...and decided that we'd better stay in the first town we came to. Which was beautiful YREKA...hahahahaha - we stayed at a really crappy little Best Western - the worse hotel we'd stayed at yet, and decided to just get into bed and call it a night. We were both really sore...I think mainly from sitting for so long after climbing that column - our legs got all stiff and weird. Hubster started looking at a brochure and said that the next day, he'd like to stop by the Lake Shasta Caverns before we head home. Now, I thought it was a great plan...but let me repeat...it was HUBSTER'S IDEA. This will be very important later on in the story. So the next morning, we groan ourselves out of the horribly uncomfortable bed that we slept in...and decided to get the heck out of dodge. We figured we'd stop and get breakfast somewhere on the way to the Caverns. One thing that was SO BEAUTIFUL, but I didn't get pictures of because it wasn't really feasible from my side of the car....was Mount Shasta. Hardly ANY snow when we drove up...but this time, COVERED with snow! Also, the surrounding mountain tops had snow on them as well...so we really did drive through a big ole storm... Anyway, we head deeper and deeper into the trees and realize that we probably won't be able to get any breakfast because the Caverns aren't exactly in a populated area....so we finally got there about 30 minutes early, and found a bag of cookies and a bag of chex mix in the back seat of the car....yum, breakfast of champions right? So we munch, and then head over to the ticket counter...well, you see - there was a slight (VERY slight) incline to get to the ticket counter...and we were SO SORE, that we both were taking little tiny baby steps and cringing "ouch, ow, ouch" all the way down that weensy little hill. Which should have been a good indication that the whole cavern thing might not be a great idea. Especially when we saw a sign that said "if you have trouble climbing stairs, this probably wouldn't be the best tour for you" We decided to tough it out...how bad could it be right? Well...ahem....let me just repeat that this whole thing was HUBSTER'S IDEA... So they tell us that our group can go ahead and head down the stairs out back where a boat would meet us and take us across the lake to the caverns. So we head down a small set of stairs, wincing the entire time... and then we look up....and HOLY MOTHER OF GOD is that the LAKE? ALL THE WAY DOWN that CRAPLOAD of stairs we have to go down? Oh no - so we of course are the LAST ones at this point - no way we're keeping up with everyone else....so we make it down to the last of the stairs - IN PAIN...and head around a corner only to see the following...
That right there? Would be a big ass hill that we had to climb down. It might not look like anything big...but seriously, look at how tiny that person is walking...it was a big hill! And especially when our muscles were killing us already... We finally get down there and gratefully sit down on the boat to enjoy the nice, leisurely ride across the lake...picture time:
Isn't that beautiful?
Okay, so we make it almost to the other side when we realize that we're facing another hill. Only this time we have to climb UP. The tour guide said "okay folks, go ahead and go up the hill and climb onto the bus there at the top!"
We groaned - but going up seemed less painful than going down...and thank goodness we weren't the only ones heaving and panting when we got to the top. We get on the bus and drive another 800 feet up the mountain...then we get off the bus, and I steal an opportunity to take some more lovely pictures:
So we all gather in a group with the tour guide, next to a door that's right in the side of the mountain. She had to give us a little background info first...so she starts out by pointing at a rock on the mountian and asking what a scientist would call it...
Hubster shouts out "ROCK!" (whatta teachers pet)
and then she laughed and goes "yes, it is a rock...but does anyone know the scientific term for it?"
and hubster shouts out "BIG ROCK!"
I cracked up, and everyone in the group just kinda stared at us - seriously, sometimes I don't think people really "GET" us, you know?
Anyway, we get through the door and walk down a really long DARK tunnel and into our first "room"...
That one above is what they called "cave bacon" - HEH
So, as we're walking from room to room - we keep having to go up and down stairs..which aren't too bad because it's in short little spurts, plus, it was just so interesting in there, that we weren't so focused on it...UNTIL...the tour guide goes "well folks, I have some bad news...we've got a staircase of about 80 stairs to climb, and then another set of 25, and another set of 35"
Hubster looks at me and goes "who's idea was this anyway?"
and pointed my finger at him and gritted my teeth and said "YOURS! it was YOUR bright idea....ALLLLL YOURS!" - mainly because he hadn't shut up about my column climbing expedition...until now of course.
So we moaned and groaned our way through all that stair climbing...
This picture came out wierd, but I kinda liked it anyway:
and this one - is where the guy who discovered the cave in 1878 signed his name with soot...
So the cave was pretty cool - except there was ALOT of stairs, and when we got outside - we had to climb DOWN about 200 more steps to get to where the bus was parked. All told, they said the tour included about 675 steps. WOOOOOOOEEEEEEEEEEE - no wonder our legs hurt!
There was another tour waiting down by the dock area when we arrived back to the visitors center...and as we passed by them all hubster loudly goes "damn, those 600 stairs about KILLED me"
hahaha, the look on some of those people's faces was priceless...should have gotten a picture of THAT.
Hubster was nice enough to push me up the hill on the way back...and when we FINALLY got to the top, and I shoved my face in the nearest drinking fountain...there was a couple all decked out in leather motorcycle gear, who had missed the last tour and they were standing near the fountain looking wistfully at the boat moving across the lake. Then they took one look at my tomato-red face and my rabid panting and said "seems like that tour would have kicked our ass...maybe it's NOT such a bad thing that we missed it"
That was a proud, proud moment for me. I feel like I spared them the pain...
Into the car we went, and as we were leaving - we met up with some friends:
She came right up to the car and I was tempted to feed her something - but all I had was animal crackers and somehow that didn't seem appropriate...
Sweet little thing - and a lovely way to end our trip!
finally, sheesh - I'm the QUEEN of procrastination...