The soft evening breezes blow cool on a porch swing in the Sierras while the midday sun delivers the warmth of a true summer. Ahh summer, what better time to send the kids off to Grandma’s for a week so the hubby and I can find some one on one time…and a porch swing. As it turns out, Drakesbad Guest Ranch has several porch swings and we were even able to take advantage of their all new Romance Package. Bonus! We threw some jeans and swimsuits in an overnight bag as Grandma drove away with the kids. We had our own car in gear before they even got out of our little town.


Drakesbad Guest Ranch lies within the Lassen Volcanic National Park and the drive is spectacular. As we left the pavement for the last few miles by gravel road, it seemed as if the real world just melted away. The main lodge and 20 small cabins tucked in against the mountain were the only signs of humanity. The sprawling meadow that meanders up the valley was home to a handsome buck with antlers still in the velvet and several of his doe friends. Through the meadow a gravel path led the way to a standard size pool surrounded by lounge chairs and a lush lawn. Courtesy of our friendly neighborhood volcano, the pool is constantly fed fresh, natural, hot springs water. The Romance Package includes Champagne served pool side at whatever time you choose. Unlike your typical resort the pool doesn’t close at 10:00 and we were soaking under the stars long after the other guests had drifted off to dreamland. We walked back to our cabin hand in hand guided by the glow of the oil lamp we left burning to light the window of our cabin and a flashlight that Ed and Billie Fiebiger (managers at the time of our visit) were kind enough to loan us. We felt like the only two people in the world. The silence in the woods in the wee hours of morning is like dark silky fur, deep and soft.

A sunset dinner served outdoors at a private table was also part of our special package but evening sprinkles helped us decide to dine with the other guests amid the rustic cabin decor of the dining hall. Three full meals are included with all stays at Drakesbad. The dining hall also serves the general public lunch and dinner. Not bad, considering that a meal purchase also allows a soak in that wonderful, soothing hot springs pool or the chance to take a horseback ride (subject to availability and fees apply). You really need to make reservations for rooms and meals as much of the season gets booked early.

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Dinner inside turned out to be a good time. Ed Fiebiger wore a funny sun visor that had a cap of fuzzy hair and we had a good laugh, knowing that a few of the younger guests thought he just had very strange hair. Too funny. Damien Stoy and Marisa Rodera were celebrating their third anniversary. Billie, Ed’s wife, served them cake herself, announced the anniversary and the entire room clapped and joined in their toast. Very romantic. We all shared in cool, crisp Caesar salad with anchovies and half loaves of fresh baked garlic bread with real butter just to get us started. Prime Rib medium rare and dripping with juice was our main course served with garlic mashed red potatoes and fresh steamed asparagus. Mercy, mercy what a meal, but who can say no to creme brulle.

Tummys full, we wandered down to the meadow’s edge and finally spent some time in that porch swing. It wasn’t on the porch but settled between two trees near the main lodge where a family of fat waddling marmots were playing like puppies in the grass. The sky and distant mountains changed color minute by minute and we were content to snuggle and watch mother nature paint by magic. These moments are rare and it was nice to linger.

Breakfast alone at the outdoor table is also included in the Drakesbad Romance Package but we so enjoyed the company of Billie and Ed that we again opted to join them for light and fluffy flapjacks, sausages and good, hot coffee. It must have been my lucky day, this is my favorite breakfast. I love to dip my sausage in the warm maple syrup. Sweet, salty, yummo!

After breakfast we took a short, effortless walk to Dream Lake. This tiny lake is so clear and smooth it looks like someone laid a mirror in the middle of a quiet grassy clearing. Dream Lake is also home to a family of beavers who maintain the dam that keeps it full. Drakesbad Guest Ranch keeps a canoe there and guests are welcome to paddle around. We sat on the bench overlooking the water and debated whether to get a sack lunch from the kitchen and go for a picnic or take the three hour horseback ride to Boiling Lake and Terminal Geyser.

The steaming, mysterious, volcanic wonders won in the end. By hike or horseback this part of Lassen Volcanic National Park is a must see for all visitors. Both are truly amazing and talk about a hot date, the Boiling Lake really boils and Terminal Geyser is actually a steam vent that spews like a giant tea kettle around the clock. It doesn’t get much hotter than that.

After our amazing ride was the perfect time for our final special Romance package treat, the one hour massage by Pavel Stafa, the man with the magic hands. Melting. I’m sure we were melting. We couldn’t have dreamed up a better ending to our lovely weekend. I felt like a noodle all the way home.

I highly recommend that those of you who could use a bit of spark back in your relationship to give this Romance Package a whirl. It would also be an excellent honeymoon destination.  Parents need a break too so while the kids are at camp or away with friends sweep your sweetie away. Make your lodging or dining reservations early at or call +1-866-999-0914 and go feel the fire at Drakesbad Guest Ranch.

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By Melissa Wynn