Land of a Thousand Lakes
Well more than 3,000 actually! When California isn't reeling from a devastating drought, it's absolutely brimming with lakes. I took every chance I could to explore the lakes along my path down California's eastern valley. With more than 3,000 to choose from, I hardly scratched the surface. However, I did make sure to jump in each one. Saying you've experienced a lake without dipping a toe in is like saying you've experienced a restaurant after browsing its pictures on Yelp.
Some of the stand outs were Twin Lakes and the June Lakes loop (a lovely drive, especially in Fall). However, the jewel among all of them was Convict Lake. It owes its name to the fatal incident in 1871 when a band of escaped convicts had a shootout with the Sheriff and his posse, which included a Wells Fargo banker (of all people) who was shot and killed. Convict Lake is nestled in a cupped valley of mountain peaks that block the winds and leave nothing but a tranquil plateau of water and trees. In fact, it was so beautiful that I visited twice, once in the day and again at night. Both proved to be equally beautiful in their own unique ways.