Milky Way Shines at Lassen Volcanic National Park

Long road trips have their charm. Hanging out in a car, taking turns driving, singing to old and nostalgic tunes and munching on crunchy snacks, yes road trips can be fun. But this was one of those road trips that we weren’t really looking forward to.

The harsh sunny weather, crowded highways and 5+ years of drive, sigh! But we drove, the road seemed like an endless only ending in a horizon. The landscape was dry, rolling bald hills with California gold dry grass and it was completely bland. Small towns rolled by, offering gas stations and junk food eateries. We made a short detour to a small town called Rockville and stopped by at a small Deli-Cafe which served decent espresso. “We should have stopped at Vacaville instead!” Anu quipped. Vacaville a bit bigger town offered many more non-chain People-Like-Us-on-Yelp cafe’s. “When we return back perhaps?” I said.

Windy roads up on the mountains led us to Mill Creek (10 minutes drive from Lassen Volcanic National Park), a small town aptly named after a creek flowing near by. We had reservations at a Resort, Child Meadows Resort. There were wooden cabins, motels and small restaurant/office. It all seemed old and rundown. It’s not your typical resort but it’s a place to sleep and rest. No TV, no WiFi or any cellphone signal, this was as remote as we could get.

After a bit of freshening up, we drove inside the National Park and hiked the Bumpass Hell. A couple of hours later, we were all dusty from what I assume is volcanic rock powder or ash, we drove back to our Resort. As the sun went down, the entire Mill Creek went dark, except for a few lights outside our rooms. I walked outside, it was pleasant, a bit scary but pleasant. Suddenly, all the lights outside all our rooms went out, startling me. A couple next door offered their dismay with a “What the heck! They switched off the lights already?!”

With not much lights around and no moon in sight, the stars lit up the entire sky. Running from one end to the other wasthis thick band of stars, offering the much needed light. Craning the neck, I stood there with almost my mouth open and my eyes wide open. This was the first time, first time ever we had seen a milky way so very clearly. Considering you need to be citylights free, moonless night with clear skies and the right earth orientation, this was the best part of our trip!

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