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Shaver Lake is popular California vacation lake


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									California is well known for its beaches and theme parks, but equally impressive are
the many mountain getaways that span from the Oregon border all the way down to
Big Bear Lake, just a couple of hours drive from Los Angeles. If a
"cabin-in-the-woods" is in your vacation plans this summer, there are vacation rentals
within an easy drive from most California cities.

One of our most recent discoveries is Shaver Lake, a little more than an hour's drive
northeast from Fresno and an ideal spot to include in a Northern California vacation.
The change in scenery during that short trip is dramatic, taking you from the flat
farmlands near Fresno through wooded, rolling foothills and then up nearly 6,000 feet
into the pine forests that surround this idyllic lake. Central Valley residents have long
known that Shaver Lake is a great spot to experience the Sierras; now - judging from
the area's real estate boom - people from all over California have started to catch on.

Shaver Lake is tucked between Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks and hints at the
same natural beauty found in the parks. The difference is that Shaver remains largely
undiscovered and therefore not quite as prone to seasonal traffic congestion. Shaver is
still "off the beaten path" for vacationers who want the experience of visiting a small
mountain village with just a couple of general stores and a handful of restaurants
serving home-style grub. Only about 3,000 people live in the entire area.

All of this is exactly what we wanted as we set out on our own "cabin-in-the-woods"
getaway. We contacted Vacation Rental Specialties to reserve a cabin meeting our
specifications. With pictures to study on the internet, we were able to see exactly what
kind of place we were renting, both inside and out. We wanted a true log cabin
experience, but with modern conveniences - and that's exactly what we got.

We use the word "cabin" here a little loosely - our rental was really a complete
vacation home built like a cabin. Almost everything was constructed of logs, all right,
but the home's amenities are more modern than most people have in their primary
residence. We learned that this particular "cabin" is owned by a Monterey family who
uses it part of the time themselves and puts it into the Vacation Rental Specialties
rental pool for much of the year.

Our rental, the "Whalen Log Cabin," was a million-dollar home with two bedrooms, a
loft, 1.75 baths, dishwasher, cable TV, DVD and a washer and dryer. A
1,750-square-foot deck is the perfect place to barbecue or watch the sun set over the
mountains. Out back cabin near Shaver Lakethere are plenty of pine trees reminding
guests that, yes, this is the mountains and, in fact, the edge of the wilderness. These
aren't exactly cheap vacations but when you consider the cost of premium hotel rooms
nowadays, the rental fee of $225 a night plus a cleaning and booking fee is one of the
best travel deals around.

Our family of three was swimming in extra space and, according to Bill Wingo, owner
of Vacation Rental Specialties, many guests are bring another couple or family and
stay for a week at a time. It's a new trend called "togethering" - sharing vacations with
other family members or friends and thereby reducing rental costs while at the same
time getting the chance to visit and experience new places and activities together.

According to Wingo, there also is a trend in vacation rentals now toward high-end
properties such as the Whalen Log Cabin. In the business for nine years, Wingo says
it was not long ago that people were just looking for a rustic getaway in the mountains
- a simple cabin with few amenities but located in the wilderness. Today, guests are
looking for all the extras and willing to pay extra to make their home away from home
both relaxing and luxurious.

Also, guests are starting to expect the property rental firm to be more service-oriented,
Wingo explained. Instead of just handing over a set of keys, property managers today
also have to put on a concierge hat and do such things as make reservations for boat
rentals, dinner or whatever else the guests may have planned for their stay. It used to
be that guests were responsible for taking out garbage and providing bedding -
nowadays, those often are among the services provided by the rental firm, although
sometimes at an extra cost.

Equally important is the location of the vacation rental, and the Shaver Lake area is
proving popular with active vacationers. With 23 miles of shoreline, Shaver Lake has
plenty of activities to choose from including fishing, boating, water skiing,
windsurfing, hiking and, in winter, all the winter sports including downhill skiing at a
nearby ski area. The lake actually is part of a hydroelectric project owned and
operated by California Edison. Shaver Lake was first constructed and filled in 1927 as
part of the Big Creek Hydroelectric project. It was named for pioneer lumberman C.B.
Shaver, who logged in the area during the late 1890s.

For many visitors, Shaver Lake actually is a jumping off point for treks further into
the Sierra National trading post near Shaver LakeForest and two other lakes,
Huntington and Edison, are nearby. Eighteen small lakes are located in the Kaiser
Wilderness, just north of Huntington Lake.

In our case, we were just looking for a quiet few days "away from it all" where we
could do a little hiking and soak up the local culture down in Shaver Lake's stores and
restaurants. We enjoyed our steak dinner down at the Trading Post - the floor is tilted
downhill in a few areas, but the big rock fireplace sets the mood perfectly.

The fireplace back at our vacation home also helped set the mood for this
"cabin-in-the-woods" experience - instead of watching television like we might
normally do at home, we put some games on the spacious floor in front of the
crackling fire and thoroughly enjoyed a family respite from everyday life in the city.
If you're planning a Northern California vacation, you can get more information on
cabin rentals at Shaver Lake by contacting Vacation Rental Specialties at (800)
730-8688 or visiting Nightly rental fees are about 15 percent
lower when properties are rented a week at a time. Ask about Vacation Rental
Specialties' special vacation packages—they can arrange to have boats,
restaurant reservations, horseback riding and many other activities scheduled for you
before you arrive. Even if you have last minute travel plans, call for
availability—surprisingly, there sometimes is a last-minute opening.

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