Here’s the thing with being a stay-at-home mom. The job description is pretty much defined by two things, staying at home and being a mom.  Really any deviation from one of those two requisites tends to imply that one isn’t totally getting the job done.  There is one glorious loophole, however. Summer vacation.  Unfettered by the daily school schedule and with the foresight to not sign up for summer sports, we are free to move about the country.  This summer, while my loving husband toiled away at his 12+ hour per day job, the kids and I spent about four weeks on the road visiting family and exploring California.  And where else do you cart two young traveling hooligans, but to Bumpass Hell.

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“The Big Boiler” at Bumpass Hell

My husband likes to refer to this as the “Epic Summer”, referring to the various travel adventures me and my children have had over the past couple of months.  Since I am a stay-at-home mom who likes to travel, explore, and go camping, it seems counter intuitive to send our two young boys off to some random summer camp when they have one built in.  I AM their summer camp. I’ve been too busy on the road to share about some of the places we’ve seen, but will do so in a few posts now and coming up.  Maybe you will see a little gem that you hadn’t thought to visit and go check it out for yourself.

For me the highlight of traveling the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway in California was by far, Bumpass Hell.  Bumpass Hell is a hydrothermic vent about one mile (as the crow flies) from Lassen Peak in Lassen Volcanic National Park and accessible via a 1.5 mile uphill hike.  Mt. Lassen last erupted in 1917 and is considered to be an “active volcano”, as distinguished from an “erupting volcano” (small difference in my vulnerable opinion). Bumpass Hell is a keen reminder that the Lassen volcanic area has not yet sung its swan song.  There is clearly a lot of volcanic activity boiling under the surface, and it is coming out through the vents at Bumpass Hell.

Bumpass Hell gets its distinguished name from mountaineer Kendall Bumpass who, after warning a journalist not to fall through the fragile earth crust into the boiling acidic water below, did so himself and resulting in the amputation of his leg three days later.  Today the site is a fury of sulfurous steam vents (fumaroles), boiling mud pots, and hot streams of water and the area is growing.  Here is our video of Bumpass Hell:

I must confess that camping within Lassen Volcanic National Park made me very uneasy.  Considering that Cinder Cone (within view of our campsite) last erupted only about 165 years ago, Lassen itself erupted only 100 years ago, and Bumpass Hell seems to be currently kicking some geological butt, it is difficult to comfort one’s 9-yr-old (who has seen the Pompeii exhibit) that he will definitely not be engulfed in lava tonight in his sleeping bag. I was contemplating native peoples who they claim lived in the region.  What a bummer it must have been to have volcanos erupting all over the place. At least those who survived were good at handicrafts and hopefully were able to set up camp successfully somewhere nearby.

I bought instructions for making pine needle baskets at the Lassen Volcanic NP Visitor Center. I made this with my own two hands! Its probably because according to Ancestry.com I'm at least 47% Native American. I'm a natural!
I bought instructions for making pine needle baskets at the Lassen Volcanic NP Visitor Center. I made this with my own two hands! Its probably because according to Ancestry.com I’m at least 47% Native American. I’m a natural!

Pretty soon I will post a little bit about hiking up into the caldera of Cinder Cone and headlamping through Subway Cave.  I already posted here about the beautiful must-see volcanic waterfalls at McArthur Burney Falls State Park at this link: Burnley Falls at the PCT

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