Mount Shasta, California

Mount Shasta Reflection in Siskiyou Lake at Sunrise
Mount Shasta Reflection in Siskiyou Lake at Sunrise

If you’ve never driven on Highway 5 and had the chance to see this active volcano located at the southern end of the Cascade Range in Siskiyou County, California, you’re really missing out. One of the most impressive things is that you see it’s white capped mountain top about 140 miles before you even get to it (if it’s a clear, sunny day) It’s that huge!

Mount Shasta Photo taken when I pulled off the highway about 50 miles away
Mount Shasta Photo taken when I pulled off the highway about 50 miles away

The oldest human habitation in the area around Mount Shasta is about 7000 years ago. And by about 5000 years ago, there was substantial human habitation in this area. (I find that quite amazing) Although it is covered with snow, John Muir wrote a dramatic article about an experience in which he survived an overnight blizzard on Mount Shasta by lying in the hot sulfur springs found near the summit. (I personally am not sure I would have ever left the warm, cozy springs and would, to this day, be a shriveled raisin waiting for someone with a heated blanket to pick me up…)

Here are some photos I shot. These were on the way to the town of Mount Shasta which sits at the base of the mountain. I love cows so was over the moon when I saw them grazing in a field with the mountain in the background:

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I kept seeing photos of the mountain by a lake. I guess I thought I’d drive out to this lake which would be in the middle of a state national park and shoot my photos like Ansel Adams. The lake is actually called Lake Siskiyou and is located by where I stayed – The Mount Shasta Resort – which I’ll tell you about next. If you want to take photos with the lake in the foreground, you’ll need to drive to Lake Siskiyou and then find the Lake Siskiyou Camp Resort. You can also camp in this park, swim and hike. It will cost you $1.00 to enter the park for the day which in my book is a deal. Here are the photos I shot around 7:30am.

Mount Shasta Reflection in Siskiyou Lake at Sunrise
Mount Shasta Reflection in Siskiyou Lake at Sunrise

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Here is a small shop where you can get food, drinks, bait, etc. once you’re in the park.

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Where to Stay: Mount Shasta Resort

I stayed at the Mount Shasta Resort which is located by/on Lake Siskiyou. Before I tell you about the place I have to make note of the service. Everyone was VERY helpful, professional and super friendly. Which is really nice when you’ve been driving for a long time. A special thanks to Christy for all of her help. If you do stay there ask for her and please tell her Photo Girl says hi! I stayed in one of the Chalets which are located directly on Lake Siskiyou. They are quiet, peaceful and very relaxing. You’ll find a kitchen, bedroom(s), fireplace, living room and some have private decks. Also, the view when you check in is pretty amazing. The first image is what you see. Behind you is a gorgeous golf course. (Dad’s play free on Father’s Day and I believe you can also play for free on your birthday!) Here are some of the photos:

Mount Shasta Resort Check In View
Mount Shasta Resort Check In View

Here are some photos of the room:

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In the morning I took a walk through the parking lot and over to the lake’s edge:

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I hope you’ll have a chance to visit this beautiful area! Next, I’m going to take you along when I buy a set of golf clubs 😉

Key links:

City of Mount Shasta:

Mount Shasta Resort:

Would you like a print? Please click on “Contact”. My photography is printed on aluminum. Utilizing an advanced process which infuses dyes directly into the metal, the colors and saturation are really amazing. In addition, your print will be displayed using mount blocks which float the image ½ inch off the wall.

©2013 Shelley D Spray – No content on this site (including all photography) may be reused in any fashion without written permission from the author.

Ceago Winery, an Italian Oasis on Clear Lake California

Between the villages of Nice and Lucerne on the north shore Clear Lake is an Italian oasis that will take your breath away. I had originally found it on the Internet and decided to drive over and take a look yesterday, after I drove through the tree in the Redwood Forest. California is a bit like that, the terrain can completely change after driving for an hour or two.

The villa is charming and quite elegant. It was almost 100 degrees when I arrived so when I stepped through the doors the cool air felt amazing. I walked through the villa, past the wine tasting room and the out into a courtyard. There were groups of people eating, and sipping wine and I felt like I was in Tuscany.

Then, when I looked ahead of me I could not believe my eyes. A huge blanket of lavender lined a pathway that lead out to the lake! It was gorgeous! I’ll let the photos speak for themselves because I truly can’t describe the beauty.






The last photo is looking back toward the villa. If you turn around you’ll see the dock that leads out to the lake.





The following photos are of the gardens and one last on in the tasting room. In The gardens you’ll find fig trees, apples, citrus and a few bees. BTW…The wine is fabulous and yes, I did buy a few bottles. 😉







Quick links:

Link to their website:

Also, the 9th Annual Lavender Harvest Celebration is Saturday, July 6th, 1-5pm. For more information go to “events” at, or you can purchase tickets by emailing I’ve never been but again, the lavender fields that you find behind the villa are absolutely amazing!  If you do go please let me know!  Shelley


Biltmore Estate, Asheville NC “My Secret Walk” Part 2

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The walk from the Historic Inn to the Biltmore Estate is one of my favorites. In the previous blog we had grabbed our coffee at the Inn and set off toward the Estate on a 7 mile hike. In the above photo, you can see the winding path located at the back of the hotel. The path takes you by Adirondack chairs where guests lounge and read during the day, and then settle back in with a glass of wine in the evening. As you follow the path away from the hotel, you’ll see that it bends and curves over to the vineyards. The two photos below show the same path early in the morning and then at mid day. I love walking this path at anytime, but the mornings are spectacular when the countryside is shrouded in fog.

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Follow the path until you arrive at the Biltmore Winery which is at the entrance of Antler Village. I was there in spring and the photo below is looking back toward the path. In the spring, you can see the most spectacular cherry blossoms. When there is a breeze, not only will you smell the blooming flowers, you’ll see tiny peddles fall which I call “spring snow”.

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As you walk past Antler Village (more on the village later) and through the parking lot, you’ll see the path again. It winds through a huge open field, by a river and then over to a charming pond surrounded by ducks. I wish I could take you there now, but alas, I need to return to work. Click “Follow” and you’ll recieve the next part of this hike via email. Thanks again for following along!

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If you’d like to purchase a print to remind you of this beautiful area, please click on “Contact”. My photography is printed on aluminum. Utilizing an advanced process which infuses dyes directly into the metal, the colors and saturation are really amazing. In addition, your print will be displayed using mount blocks which float the image ½ inch off the wall.

©2013 Shelley D Spray – No content on this site (including all photography) may be reused in any fashion without written permission from the author.

Biltmore Estate, Asheville, NC/Historical Inn

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There are a number of places to stay if you visit the Biltmore, however, if you can stay at the Biltmore Historic Inn, I would highly recommend it. I went mid-March and it was still off-season. I am a true believer in off-season traveling. Hotel costs are lower and there are fewer people (I’m not a crowd person). I went the weekend before the Festival of Flowers last year which was considered “off-season” and it was perfect! (The Festival of Flowers dates in 2013 are March 21-May 19.)

The Biltmore Historical Inn sits on a hilltop surrounded by vineyards. The rooms are beautiful and the entire hotel is very elegant. But even with the elegance, they are very down to earth. Since I do a lot of walking I wore sneakers most of the time and never felt out of place. Everyone on the staff was incredibly friendly and helpful. Below you’ll see the view from some of the rooms and a photo of my room. (Home sweet home!)

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The package I had included breakfast. I know it’s the “most important meal” but I’m never much of a breakfast eater. However, when I stayed there, I changed my ways. My day would start by getting up around 6am. I’d wonder down to the library area and pour a complimentary coffee. Road joe in hand, I’d head off on a walk, down a winding path to what is called Antler Village. After my morning walk I’d head over to the restaurant and have breakfast. Below is the photo I took of my breakfast along with some of my morning walk. (If you look closely you’ll see cheddar cheese grits (YUM!), smoked salmon, chopped tomatoes, onions, a sauce and capers; fresh squeezed orange juice and steaming coffee.)

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In my next blog I’ll show you photos of the path down to Antler Village. You’ll first see the winery, then there is a small “village” with shops and restaurants. There is also a barn at the far end where you can see animals and a kitchen cutting garden so I’ll include those too. Also, if you continue along the path you can actually walk over to the Biltmore Estate. This is an incredible walk and if you’re up for ~6 miles of absolute beauty, I highly recommend it. Click to Follow for more adventures!

For more information on this beautiful inn:

Biltmore Estate – Asheville, NC “About”

The Biltmore Estate is noted as one of the “Castles of America” and is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina on over 8000 acres of land. Washington Vanderbilt II moved into the estate in around 1895. I’m sure people worldwide hoped for an invitation to his first ball. The rooms and views were, and still are, amazing. In the photo above you can see the apple blossoms are in full bloom. I was there the third week of March and the grounds were spectacular!

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A couple of quick facts:

  • At 178,926 square feet and 250 rooms, the Biltmore Estate is the largest privately owned home in the United States.
  • In 2007, it was ranked eighth in America’s Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects.
  • The grounds were designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted who also designed Central Park in New York City. I have a fabulous walk I’ll show you in an upcoming blog that takes you through the grounds, from the Historical Inn to the Estate. The photo above shows the path where you’ll get a glimpse of the estate high on a hill.
  • Some of the formal gardens that surround the home include the All American Rose Garden with over 250 varieties, and the formal Italian Garden.
  • The estate also has a fabulous winery where they provide complimentary tastings. You can also tour their historic cellars.

I’ll cover these in more detail in a following blog. Below is a map of the Biltmore Estate that also shows you the gardens – The Biltmore House Entrance is where you arrive on the bus. The star that highlights “you are here” is by the entrance when you walk over from the historical inn which I’ll tell you more about in another blog.

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The next blog will cover the Historic Inn and the secluded walk over to the Estate which most people don’t know about. PS: Many of the photos I use on my site are actually from the Biltmore Estate.  The one on the left is on the balcony at the back of the estate. And of course my favorite is with one of the beautiful lions at the front entrance.

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Fun thought – When I visit historical estates, I always love to learn about the people who lived there when they were built. Let’s take clothes for example. The year was approximately 1895 and what a splash Mr. Vanderbilt must have made when he threw the first ball. During that time, women donned what were called leg o’mutton sleeves which grew in size until they disappeared in 1906. (Those were the sleeves that puffed out around the bicep area.) My romantic side would love to live back then until I remember that deodorant was an urban legend until 1941. That simple fact may be why the leg o-mutton sleeves were invented…perfect to shield, or I guess contain “the odor” (and probably the reason for the increase in size over the years.) Yet I digress. Back to the estate… Click to follow and you’ll receive more information on the Biltmore Estate via email!

Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC – Introduction


About three years ago I stumbled upon information on a “castle” located in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  The first time I saw a photo of this estate I thought “I want to go!” This American castle, also known as the Biltmore Estate, is located in Asheville, North Carolina.  The Biltmore is a National Historic Landmark with America’s largest home, gardens, winery, and world-class luxury inn.  The summers can be HOT (and very humid) so one of the best times to visit is the in spring.  Needless to say, everything is in bloom and the appletree flowers float down around you like spring snow.  With spring just around the corner, I wanted to tell you about it so you’ll have enough time to make your reservations. And yes, you can do this trip alone. I’ll give you some tips that will help ensure you pull the trip off with success. Over the next week or two I will post a series of blogs that will cover the following:

– How to get there (I found a beautiful back-road that will get you off the beaten path and give you some incredible views as you drive from the airport to the estate)

– About the Biltmore Estate

– Where to stay including information on the world-class luxury Biltmore Inn (located on the grounds)

– What to do (and what not to do)

– Where to eat

– Where to drink (There is a winery so wine tasting is a must)

– In addition I’ll include some tips for the solo traveler to ensure you have a fabulous time

Click to FOLLOW so you can start planning your trip!