My November trip fell over the Thanksgiving weekend. In the spirit of that holiday I decided that this trip should be about spending time with friends. Which I translate to locking them all up with me in an isolated cabin to play board games.
This trip involved a long road trip from Southern California all the way up to the Shasta Trinity National Forest. About 10 hours of driving, on Thanksgiving day. Now, when you travel with me you travel in high style. I had arranged the most carefully crafted and gourmet of Thanksgiving dinners for my dear friends. This elegant meal was prepared by the friendly staff at the Pilot Travel Center Gas Station in Dunnigan, California. Some of the top entree’s chosen were Beef Jerky, Cheese Pizza, Ritz Crackers, and slightly stale muffins. There was not a turkey to be found. Those with less sophisticated palettes may have found this meal a challenge but my dear friends were up to the task. It gets an achievement for the most “Non-Traditional Thanksgiving” dinner I have ever celebrated. I felt especially grateful for brave and adventurous friends on that day.
The Cabin – And how you can have one of your very own.
While browsing the internet and searching for travel options, as I often do, I stumbled upon very useful and interesting tip. Around which this whole trip had been formed. If you’ve been out into the wilderness at all you have come across a Ranger Cabin, or even better one of those stunning on-top-of-a-mountain fire lookouts. During the busy seasons, Forest Rangers and other staff live in these locations so that they can be close to the forests they need to monitor. My super cool pro-tip however, is that in the off season, the Park Service will let you rent out many of these locations for personal visits. It generates additional income for the Park Service while giving the rest of us a chance to experience these beautiful locations, at a very reasonable price. The Forest Glen Guard Cabin can easily sleep 5 people and even over a holiday weekend it was only $75 a night. The cabins range in price and amenities so use a bit of research before choosing. Oh, and those stunning Fire Lookouts….have a waiting list. So get your name on the list well in advance.
Forest Glen Guard Station Interior
I wasn’t able to find any pictures online of the interior of the cabin prior to booking it. This was concerning of course but I decided to move forward with it anyway and take the risk. One of the problems with having no photos, was that I couldn’t see the kitchen so I had no idea what kind of stove there would be or if there was an oven. The reservation sight only listed “Cook Stove”, which means nothing to me. This made meal planning a very difficult task.
While these photos many not win me any awards for “Sexiest Travel Photo” or inspire National Geographic to come calling, I decided to share photos of the interior for any others out there who are seeking to book this cabin. The risk turned out to be a good one, the cabin was great.
The Cold…and my brilliant idea that saved us all
It’s cold in the mountains. Very cold in the mountains in November. Extremely cold in the mountains in November in a poorly insulated cabin with no central heating. Add to that the fact that I hate cold weather, and we could have had a disaster on our hands here. The reservation details claimed that “Wall Panel” heating had recently been installed so I was cautiously optimistic, however what we found in the cabin was one decent space heater, one broken space heater, and a fake fireplace that was pretty but gave off limited heat. The first night was very uncomfortable, we managed to play one game huddled in the kitchen before everyone’s fingers were too cold and we rushed off to bed.
But then, on the second morning I had a brilliant idea (and I’m not going to be the least bit humble about it because I am very proud of myself for this). I turned on the oven to its maximum temperature and left the door slightly open. The idea came from a flash of memory, in which I remember my Grandmother yelling at me to keep the oven door closed when we were baking or I would “heat up the whole house”. This was a problem for cooking in Arizona desert summers but exactly what I wanted in this instance, so I broke that old rule from Grandma and went with it. It worked, the oven heated the kitchen better than any of the space heaters and by the time everyone else was up the kitchen was toasty warm. The other rooms in the cabin remained pretty chilly, but once the kitchen had become an oasis of warmth I was content (I even dragged a mattress and sleeping bag into the kitchen and slept next to the oven at night. I really hate cold). We pulled out the large kitchen table, lined the counter-top with drinks and snacks, and settled in to play hours and hours of board games.
Outside the Cabin
We did venture outside the cabin occasionally. The area is lovely. Right next to the cabin is a pretty little stream that flows into a large river. The river is big and deep enough that it would be wonderful to swim in…in the summer. There are other little cabins tucked into the woods here but they are spread out widely so there is plenty of privacy. And there are many trails to explore…when its not so cold.
The November Trip – The Quest Retreats to A Cabin in the Woods
Gas Station Thanksgiving – Its about friends, not the food!
And They All Lived… – Four Friends, Four Days of Gaming. And we still like each other!