Cabin at Donner Lake

Between Mountains and Deserts

My dad always told me that the most beautiful highway he’d ever been on was US-395. The journey from the Mt. Lassen KOA to our next destination in Donner Lake took us right through it, and I learned first-hand why he holds this sentiment.

A Cozy Cabin

The place we were staying was a two-story cabin owned by a nice young lady who lived in the top floor and usually AirBnB-ed the bottom floor. Originally, the plan was for us to stay in our trailer in the driveway, but upon talking with her, she said that since nobody was renting out the first-floor we could stay in there. We graciously accepted and started moving things from the trailer to the cozy first-floor of the cabin.

It was a very nice place filled with Native American and Western decor. Ender was really digging the extra space to crawl around in, and Rosella was mesmerized by the dreamcatchers that were hanging here and there—especially when I explained what they did.

Glacier Way

After our first night in the cabin, a hike sounded enticing so we looked up a few and found one called Negro Canyon Overlook Trail. Google maps tried to take us up a nonexistent road, then Alltrails took us to Glacier Way. Unsure of where to go, we asked a few people returning from a trailhead what it was like and they all said easy with a great view of the lake, so we went.

On our last full day at Donner Lake we decided to check out the lake itself. There is a nice shore area called the West End Beach with a few playgrounds, a basketball court, and a nice sandy beach, among other things. The water itself was icy cold but of course that didn’t stop Rosella from playing in it for a good hour before we cut her off. Got some nice photos of us on the lake and Ender ate some nice hand-fulls of sand.

The Family Caravan Begins

Later that day, my parents arrived with their Tundra+Airstream rig. They had just gotten some work done on their trailer at a place near Sacramento and decided to meet up and caravan with us for several days. The prospect of being with familiar people who also happened to be free babysitters was exciting to say the least.

We had a nice dinner and called it an early night, for the next morning we would be leaving for Bridgeport.

Tahoe Water Good, Trailer Water Bad.

Before heading for Bridgeport, we had breakfast at a quaint little place right on the lake called Donner Lake Kitchen. The staff was friendly and the food was decent but the Sunday brunch rush was clearly slowing things down and we ended up waiting close to 45 minutes for a table.

After that, we hitched up and headed for the Carson City Costco with the plan to do lots of grocery shopping for the coming weeks. The route led us right up to and along the shores of Lake Tahoe, and the massive body of beautiful blue water did not fail to impress. I am ashamed to say that I had never seen the water before, but now I really understand the allure. Here is a quick video of some highlights of the drive:

After tracing several miles along the lake front, we went through mountainous terrain that ultimately opened up to a broad valley with Carson City clearly visible. Upon parking in the back of the Costco lot, Ashley hopped in the trailer to grab something and let out a gasp and an “oh no.” Panicked, I hastily followed her in to see what she had seen.

Water. Everywhere. The dual sinks in the kitchen island were completely full of water. There wasn’t a visible part of the floor that wasn’t wet. The carpet under the dining table was soaked. I frantically wracked my brain for an explanation, then realized what had happened…

Culprit: The Water Pump

Here’s some background info to understand what happened: Faucets and toilets in trailers and RVs can be supplied with water by one of two ways: A “City water” connection, meaning a hose is connected to an external spigot and run to a hose port on the trailer. Or they can draw from a freshwater tank inside the trailer that you have to fill. In the latter case, you have to turn on the trailer’s water pump, which works to provide the necessary water pressure to supply faucets on demand.

We were using the freshwater tank in Donner and I didn’t give much thought to leaving the pump on when we left. The rumbling from the ride must have opened the kitchen faucet, and since the pump was on, it filled up the kitchen sinks with water. The movement must have made the water slosh around, soaking the inside of the trailer. In my dad’s words, it must have been a wild scene in there!

My dad and I started cleaning things up while Ashley, the kids, and my mom went shopping at Costco. Thankfully, it was a warm and dry day so nearly everything except the carpet dried quickly.

We finished drying what we could and continued on the beautiful 395 towards Bridgeport.