UNPLUGGING'S MIDDLE PLACE: What does "unplugging" mean to you, in terms of a vacation? Does it mean a posh, well-appointed room with a television and hair dryer and various amenities or does it mean setting up a tent somewhere in a wide open space far away from everything? Opinions are as different as people, but there isn't a lot of middle ground with this particular question. Either you're in a room with telephone or at the very least lights or you're camping. The Drakesbad Guest Ranch, however, is that rather marvelous and rare middle place. The Lassen Volcanic National Park destination -- it is inside the borders of the gorgeous and wild Northern California park -- features cabins with no electricity. We were tempted to type "that lack electricity" there, but it is not a lack. Rather it gives guests a true sense of away-ness, something we all need in our hectic, ping-heavy world (the pings being from our various devices as they constantly alert us to new messages). Kerosene lamps are provided, which charms.
DARK NIGHT SHINE: The ranch recommends packing a flashlight, of course, but this is good to know: If you do need an outlet for some reason, they're available in the lobby. In short? You're unplugged, but not that unplugged. Again, the perfect middle ground.
WHAT TO DO: Stargazing is at the top of the list, as would be expected at a national park ranch that is mostly light-free come nighttime. Horseback rides and visits to hot springs are more fresh-air, let-go go-outs.
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WHAT TO EAT: Meals are included with your room rate. You can request a sack lunch if you're heading out on a ramble, too, so not every meal needs to be taken at the ranch.
OPENING DATE: June 7, 2013. Closing date is Oct. 14. Summer gets a bit busy, so we'd aim for early fall, when the season is at its cooling-down turning point.
Ready to unplug? Who'd say no?