Completely off the grid for three days with our little family in a National Park. A digital detox. No phone, laptops, iPads, Wi-Fi or electricity. The simple life. Ironically, the first few hours felt far from simple, as I wrestled with the notion of how to go without all the conveniences of modern life (such as a kettle or microwave) to sterilise bottles for my formula-fed four-month-old baby in tow, not to mention how to stop myself from reaching for my phone to scroll through my Insta or Facebook feed. The struggle was real.
Enter my husband and five-year-old, who within minutes of arriving at Drakesbad Guest Ranch – a Californian wilderness ranch in the US, had both completely immersed themselves in this new life. They had quite simply disconnected from modern life, reconnected with nature. Within minutes, Daisy was running through the long grass towards the horses in the distance and Matt was already strapping on his hiking boots to explore.
The challenge for me was letting go. Quite simply teaching myself to give in to this beautiful setting, slow down and forget the everyday hustle of modern life and just ‘be’.
After a mere few hours, I had left everything behind and was completely besotted with the place. I was in a dreamy state of relaxation and felt so inspired and captivated by this new way of life. I was sold/ I found out later – after chatting to a few families who return to Drakesbad year after year, that I was indeed under the Drakesbad spell: whereby the land casts a magical, almost hypnotic spell over all those that experience her.
Since 1900, Drakesbad Guest Ranch, has provided its guests with traditional, friendly American hospitality, seclusion, relaxation and inspiration.
It’s located in a lush mountain valley, nestled within Lassen Volcanic National Park, north of Sacramento, California. This Volcanic area is surrounded by steaming fumaroles, bubbling mud pots, and many fascinating hydrothermal wonders.
This place, Drakesbad, is a hidden secret and offers everything you could possibly desire for the perfect family adventure. Campfires, hiking, natural hot springs, lakes, shooting stars, horse-riding, and not to mention the deer, squirrel, chipmunks and black bear to keep you company.
The American tradition of making s’mores (marshmallows, wafers and chocolate) around the campfire was a highlight for the kids as well as the daily horse rides and ample space to run ragged with other kids. And if that’s not enough, there’s also badminton, volleyball, Ping-Pong, archery, fishing and kid’s nature walks.
The bungalows and cabins are simple, cozy and like something straight from the old time Daniel Boone TV series or Little House on the Prairie, or if that’s showing my age, let’s go with Dr Quinn Medicine Woman. With no electricity, it’s fun to pop the kids to sleep with an old-time kerosene lamp and to listen to the animals outside our cabin.
The communal casual dining is exactly what is needed to unwind after a day hiking and exploring and the beautiful rustic setting provides a great way to meet other families, share stories and indulge in delicious home style cooking.
After a few days, we literally did not want to leave. The evening campfire conversations with new friends had quickly replaced the online posts and daily texts from family and friends. The magnificent stars, a blanket and a glass of red in our camp chair, had quickly replaced the need for gold class or any date night expenses. The mountain air and tired muscles after a big day hiking had quickly replaced the need for any gym membership. And the mineral hot springs and flowing rivers had quickly replaced the need for any day spa pampering. This was indeed a place to escape, explore and rejuvenate.