Shasta Caverns, Shasta Lake, California

We are already much further south, at Ventura, California as I write this post, but I promised I’d give you the scoop on Shasta Caverns, so I will do that first and hope to catch up again soon.

I have to say that these caverns are very interesting, and the area around them beautiful, although not as colourful as others we have toured. However, the tour comes with a warning – they aren’t for those with heart conditions or walking difficulties, especially stair climbing. And if you are in a large motor home, pulling a trailer, your driving skills and brakes need to be optimized. Here’s why:

The road into the Shasta Cavern Tours office is 1½ miles of narrow, uphill roads with hair-pin turns that had me holding my breath at times. It was a relief to finally reach the parking lot and see that there was actually room there for us to turn around and park!

We bought our tickets. When the announcement that the tour would start was made, we were given fifteen minutes to get to the boat that would ferry us across the lake. That was a another warning. We had to walk downhill almost as far as we’d driven up it seemed. One Hundred and Fifty stairs (or ramps if you preferred) switched back and forth, and then several more switch-backs on sand and gravel took us to the shore, where a large open pontoon boat with metal seats along the outsides and down the centre and powered by two 150 H.P. Yamaha motors, picked us up. The trip across the lake was beautiful. On the other side a ramp was let down so we could disembark, and then climb up a small hill to an awaiting mini-bus. The captain of the boat was also the driver of the bus, and the tour guide. If you think the sound of the drive up in the motor home sounded nerve-racking, you wouldn’t want to be on that bus; more hair-pin and S-turns sometimes at a 17% slope and hanging on the edge of the cliff. Good thing I was in the outside seat! We soon arrived at the little log cabin where the actual tour into the caverns began. Again there was a lot of climbing and although the stairs didn’t bother me, the high elevations did cause some heart palpitations that forced me to stop now and again for a rest. After any long climb there were always benches to sit upon. Our guide gave us lots of the history of the caverns and helped keep our minds off the physical challenge with some light-hearted chatter. The walking paths and stairs were all solid and railed. We saw some amazing examples of nature inside the several rooms that had been discovered. I’ll let you decide if it would be worth it to you.

The drive up

The drive up

The narrow road

The Narrow Road

Driving UpThe Walk Down to the Lake

The stairs to and from the lake

The stairs to and from the lake

Walking down

Crossing the Lake

Crossing the Lake

IMG_1430Crossing Lake

View from Above

View From Above

Inside the Caverns

Inside Caverns

inside caverns inside caverns inside caverns IMG_1461 IMG_1458Inside CavernsWhen the tour was over, we had to climb back down many more stairs to the bus, make the return trip to the lake, cross the lake, and climb back up the hill. Someone asked how many stairs there were in total and we were told 150 up and down the hill to and from the boat, and 691 through and out of the caverns! Is it any wonder that we were exhausted when we crawled into bed that night, and that I suffered with major hip pain for the next five days? It did make me feel better to hear some of the much younger people on the tour huffing and puffing just as much as we. It was another Adventure, for sure!

Next time I’ll tell you about San Francisco and a little contest, perhaps.

Nemo, Wonderland and Paper Sculpting


Day 10 – Friday
In case any of you were worried, we didn’t get blown away in the high winds. 🙂

Today we didn’t travel as far, but we saw plenty. We left late afternoon, taking Vanocker Canyon Drive south out of Sturgis towards the little hamlet of Nemo. Along the way we saw a sign for Wonderland Cave so decided to stop for a look. The road in was a gravel road and three and a half kilometres long, but it turned out to be worth the trip. It’s a much different type of cave than the Luray Caverns that we enjoyed in Virginia, but still intriguing. The passages are low and narrow and are far below ground. I didn’t realize how many stairs we had gone down, until we had to climb back up! Jim counted 122 steps! Everyone in the tour group was panting by the time we reached the top, except for Jim, probably the oldest person there. 🙂

By the time we got to Nemo we were starved so we stopped for lunch. This is another popular destination for bikers as it’s at the junction of Vanocker Canyon Drive and Nemo Road or South Canyon Road, both winding passages through high rock cliffs and pine trees. The weather was sunny but much cooler. For the first time since our arrival here, I wore my leather jacket.

After lunch we continued on Nemo Road towards Rapid City in search of the creators of some amazing paper sculptures that we had seen on the internet before leaving home. When we found the right address there was no sign to indicate that it was the studio we were looking for, but as we approached the door Patty Eckman opened it and greeted us with a smile. She welcomed us in and gave us a tour of the studio, showing us how the paper and moulds are made and how the finishing touches are done. She had only a couple of just finished products on hand. They don’t sell from their studio, but have displays in many art galleries throughout the US. She recommended that we continue into Rapid City to the Prairie Edge Gift Shop and Art Gallery. That we did.

What a beautiful gallery this is, and the work of Allen & Patty Eckman in even more unbelievable than what we saw on the internet. Jim took lots of pictures and we just had to purchase the video that tells their story.

While in Rapid City we parked our bike in the special designated parking area along with several dozen other bikes, and strolled down Main Street, taking pictures of the bronze statues that adorn nearly every corner. Then we enjoyed quiche, salad and fresh ice tea while sitting in high cast-iron chairs at an iron table, outside a small café. It reminded me of Paris.

We got back home just before it started to rain. Another perfect day!