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It feels like eons ago we left the Pomona RV show and started our fall road trip. We’re still on it, actually… a few weeks later. I’m coming at you from a past-its-heyday RV park in Yakima, Washington. James is doing laundry, I’ve just showered, and it’s the end of the evening, so here I am. Finally ready to start the recap.

It’s funny, every trip I tell myself “well I’ll just write a little each night!” Never happens. Here I am again laughing at good-intentioned-Stef because she’s so predictable (even as awesome as she is). It’s okay, it’s good to have things to work on in life.

Like working on my heights thing! I’m ducking in this pic doing my cat-like moves since this fire lookout tower was so high up, I couldn’t bring myself to stand.

Since the theme of our road trip is “VOLCANOES!!!”, after a quick visit with a van buddy in Dillon Beach California, our first stop was:

Lassen Volcanic National Monument.

Five or so years ago this was a stop we planned to make the last time we attempted a Volcano Tour. It was in the Binder of Fun and everything! But our old van, Das Bus, had other plans for us, and instead we ended up stranded in Medford Oregon for 8 days and never got to see the park.

8 days of hotel fees and living from garbage bags. Ahhhh, vanlife.

That experience made this visit a Stop of Redemption.

Park sticker added to the wall. We’ve been redeemed.

I was most excited to see Bumpass Hell. I admit it, it’s mostly because my immature side loves that name. It’s likely pronounced Bum Pass, but I kept chopping it to Bump Ass, and really enjoyed the opportunity to be 10 again.

Bump Ass Hell is supposed to be a spectacular geothermal hike in the park ripe with volcanic activity… spattering mud pots, steamy things, and water that’s so acidic it’s like stomach acid. All coming from molten lava running a mere 5 miles under the surface. I find the whole thing fascinating.

But wouldn’t you know it, Bumpass Hell is under construction. THWARTED! But, we did get to stop at the trailhead for Bumpass, where we finally found a cell signal and snapped this not-staged-at-all picture:

I put the tripod on a rock and snapped this pic, but on our Instagram channel I led people to believe Mel took it. Public Service Announcement: Don’t believe anything you hear from me on Instagram. Mel cannot take pictures. YET.

The highlight of our time at Lassen was hiking the Cinder Cone trail:

Photo Credit: Mel the Cat

The Cinder Cone hike was definitely one I’ll always remember, weird and unique as it was.

Cinder cones are pretty cool; they’re the simplest form of volcano, built from tiny ejected particles violently blown from a single vent, so it forms a steep conical hill with a bowl shaped crater in its center.

We hiked up the hillside to get to the crater bowl. The steep hike up was pretty challenging as you’re wading through lava and cinder fragments that are gravel/sand-like in consistency. So 30%-ish incline, and each step you take you slide back down about halfway.


It was a pretty grueling trek up to the bowl, but just overall phenomenal. Bucket list it, people!

I’m pretty sure this is the most deserted National Park we have ever visited, it felt like we had the whole place to ourselves. National Parks, while breathtakingly beautiful, tend to NOT feel remote with the crowds and traffic, but this one did. It was unusual and wonderful.

We camped within the park at Manzanita Lake which worked out well. No hook-ups or showers or anything, but we’re rolling in Lance and don’t need those amenities anyways!

After ticking Lassen off our bucket list, we headed a couple hours north to an even MORE unique and lesser known destination… Lava Beds National Monument. Can’t wait to tell you about our Lava Beds caving adventure; it’s been my fave so far! But since James is back from laundry and he’s being intentionally distracting, I’m calling it. It’s cool my hubs loves my attention and hanging with me and all, but sometimes marriage and parenting aren’t all that much different, you know?

I’ll fill you in on the caves hopefully tomorrow night (if good-intentioned-Stef has anything to do with it, that is…).

See now this was fun to write. WHY didn’t I write this at the time we were there as I planned?!? Note to self: REMEMBER THIS NEXT TRIP.

xoxo, Stef