1. "A chance to get away from it all; to relax and shrug off the stresses of daily life." This is the answer most people would give when asked to define the word "vacation", yet many of those same people only increase their stress level by spending exorbitant amounts not only on air fare and accommodations, but also on preparation for their trip. And when they reach their destinations, the place is crowded with gawkers, rubberneckers and fat men in shorts and un-matching Hawaiian-style shirts, hunched over by the weight of archaic cameras strapped around their sweaty necks (which almost perfectly describes me). Does this sound relaxing to you?

    Virtually everyone that I know is surviving on a tight budget these days. So when it comes time to get away from it all, why break the bank only to fight strangers for elbowroom? Why not go to a place nearly devoid of visitors?

    Of course, my destination is not for everyone, for it requires camping. Yes, it’s time to haul the old tent, sleeping bags, ice chest, cook stove and Coleman lantern out of storage and finally put them to use.

    As an experienced camper, I can report that virtually every popular campground in California fills up in the summertime. The solution: go someplace less popular—or, better yet, less known, such as Lakes Basin. Yes, I know you have never heard of it; neither had I until my brother led me to this all but unknown jewel of the Sierra. I followed him in my aged and alarmingly sputtering Honda Civic as he wound up the Sierra Nevada Mountains toward the town of Quincy, leaning over the steering wheel so I could better see the stunning scenery rolling by, as well as have a clearer view of my dashboard as I fully expected the Check Engine light to blink on at any moment. Proceeding through Quincy and on to Blairsden, we left the sparsely traveled highway when we reached Graeagle and wound our way higher into the Sierras, entering Plumas National Forest. When we reached the basin, I saw no more than ten other campers.


    Lakes Basin lives up to its name: I counted four small lakes (and there are several more) in a very confined area, yet mountain ridges and forests separated each lake, granting isolation. One of the larger tarns (Gold Lake, I believe) features a boat rental business to facilitate fishing and also to provide transportation to the isolated lodge on the far shore.


    To learn how to reach Lakes Basin, consult MapQuest, type in Quincy, Ca. for the destination, then refine the search for Lakes Basin and they will provide a map that AAA is unlikely to have in stock.

    This is certainly an out-of-the-way vacation destination, a daunting drive even for most Californians, but it’s worth the effort, at least for those who long for peace, quiet and freshly caught trout. So put off that trip to Mexico, the Caribbean or New Zealand for times that are more prosperous and go where few have gone before. And if you’re a city person, such as myself, don’t forget to bring along some Sominex or other sleep aid, for the silence at night is truly deafening.

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