July 1, 2006: It’s cooled down from 105 to around 100 in
Fresno, but it’s still warm enough to send smart people off to a cooler
location. After Grandson Mikie finished his hockey game this
morning, his parents jumped on their Harleys and headed for the
Santa Cruz mountains, while Mikie and I set off for
Fresno just after 9, and arrived in
Weed CA, right next to
Mt. Shasta on Interstate 5, about 5:30. We drove just under 400 miles, which is longer than I like, but we
made good time, arriving eight and a half hours after our departure
time. We took California 99 to
Stockton, then moved over to Interstate 5 for the rest of the journey.
getting ready to microwave some pizza, and in the morning will take
US 97 through Klamath Falls and to Crater Lake OR. Other planned
stops include the
Crooked River and the John Day Fossil Beds in the central part of the state, then
a trip across to the coast for some real cooling.
in the high 90s most of the day, but slid up around 100 going
Redding; here it was 85 when we arrived, and is cooling off as the sun gets
down behind some pine trees. This area is heavily forested, and is
in the heart of the southern Cascade Range. We can see
Mt. Shasta through the trees to the east, and Black Butte, a volcanic cinder
cone, to the south. Of course, we’re heading toward some of the
semi-high desert country in
Oregon, but ultimately we’ll be in what is essentially a rain forest
along the coast.
the central valley, which was pretty much the first 300 miles of the
trip, we saw very familiar territory – flat agricultural land, big
and small cities, and plenty of traffic. Once we got past
Redding, we were in the mountains, and had a nice drive by
Lake Shasta, with views of
Mt. Lassen and
Mt. Shasta here and there, and lots of pine trees.
Today’s drive was much shorter, about 160 miles, and we made a
couple of long stops, the last one just 25 miles from our
destination to fix lunch. This was my first time on this section of
US 97, which goes northeast from Weed into
Oregon. We turned west at Diamond Lake Junction on to
Oregon138, the road to the northern part of
Crater Lake National Park. The scenery along US 97 was very nice – some large meadows, lots
of evergreens, and occasional views of the next volcanic mountain
north of Shasta, possibly
hoping to stay at the only campground in
Crater Lake Park,
Camp Mazama, but it is closed, as is the loop drive around the lake and the
eastern side of the park. So we are at
Diamond Lake, about 25 miles from the park, where I stayed in 2002 on my journey
Ohio and back. It’s a very nice area, about 4,000 feet elevation, with
pine trees, a large lake, and cool weather. This RV park didn’t
open till May 30, several weeks later than usual, although a park
host said that most camp sites were clear of snow; just the road was
and I did some bike riding, played a little hockey, took a shower,
and are ready to fix supper. He’s having a good time, and is a
much better traveler than he was two years ago.
we’ll go to Crater Lake, since the west side of the park is open, which includes the
visitor center and the all-important gift shop.
was great – lots of snow around as soon as we got up near the rim,
but warm enough for shorts and t-shirts. We stopped at several vista
points around the rim, and visited all the gift shops (five,
counting those in the Crater Lake Lodge and in the visitor centers).
We brought our lunch and ate at
Rim Village, setting up our lawn chairs near the edge, with a view of the lake
and the mountains above. Despite the snow,
appeared to be open, but our camp is only 25 miles from the start of
the rim drive, and it has electricity.
breezy across the lake most of the day, so the bright blue was less
evident, but the reflection of clouds in the water looked like an
abstract painting, and it was quite beautiful. When Tim & Teri
(Mikie’s parents) were here last year, the lake was very smooth,
with sharp reflections that looked like a perfect mirror image.
Probably every visit to the lake reveals different moods.
evening we had a few very brief rain showers, just enough to get the
truck really dirty. Most of the time before, in between, and after,
it was clear.
We’ve been sleeping in pretty good (after all, it IS
vacation/retirement). I’m usually up around 8, but Mikie has slept
or later every day. So we get a late start, but after the first day,
we have only had to go 125 to 150 miles per day. We retraced our
path back to US 97 today, then headed north.
a stop at the
High Desert Museum just south of
Bend. We were there a couple of hours or more, including lunch in the
trailer. They have a lot of exhibits relating to the history of the
area (original native residents, ranchers, miners, etc.) There are
also a number of live animals in nice habitats, including three or
four fish tanks, an otter exhibit, a bobcat, a lynx, raptors,
reptiles, and arthropods. They have a live raptor show, which we saw
only part of, but the ending was a trained free-flying hawk that
flew between the three handlers, swooping low over the audience.
arrived at the Crooked River RV
Park, near Terrebonne and Redmond,
about 4 p.m.
On my trip in 2002 I had the experience of looking down into the
Crooked River canyon, but today we are down one level into the canyon (it’s
still another 200 to 300 feet or so down into the bottom). More
about this tomorrow.
the first RV park with a swimming pool, so after setting up, Mikie
and I headed for the pool. I swam a few minutes, then read; while he
swam for at least an hour and a half. We’ve now finished dinner
and it’s time for a little TV. It’s nearly dark, but still a lot
of light over the river cliffs at 9 p.m.
Yesterday we drove to one part of the
John Day Fossil Beds
National Monument, about 90 miles from where we are staying. This is one of the
richest fossil areas in the world, although the best stuff is not
open to the public. There were mud flows in the area as well as
other geological events over millions of years that allowed
scientists to determine what the area was like and what plants and
animals lived there during different time periods.
area is quite remote; it’s the type of country the word
“hinterlands” was invented for. We turned off US 93 on state
highway 293, which doesn’t even have its number on the map
(although it’s in my Rand McNally trip planner program). This
Oregon 218 which goes to the Clarno unit of the monument (there are three
widely separated units). From the
US 97 junction to the monument, we probably didn’t see more than a
dozen vehicles, and two were clearly local. There are some farms and
ranches along the way, and the countryside is quite scenic, with
grassy hillsides, western junipers, and some rugged rock
outcroppings here and there, especially in the
area of the monument has a couple of short trails, with markers
along the way to point out fossils in the rocks. These are all plant
fossils, but it was still an interesting experience.
our way up and back we stopped at the
Crooked River overlook, just north of
Terrebonne. When I drove down this way in
2002 I crossed the river without noticing it, but did see the rest
stop/vista point sign. At the edge of the parking area there was a
sign warning: “Danger: 300 foot cliff ahead. Watch children and
pets.” A short walk took me to an amazing sight – a narrow, deep
gorge carved into the high desert plains, with the river flowing
west at the bottom. The current highway bridge was built around
2000, but you can walk out on the old bridge for an even more
breathtaking view. Mikie had a good time throwing rocks into the
river from 300 feet up.
camp is down a cliff of 50 feet or so to an ancient flood plain of
the river, with a couple of square miles
of flat land south of the main gorge. In addition to the RV park,
there is a golf course, residential areas, and a small village with
restaurant, real estate offices, etc. By the camp there is a viewing
platform that gives you another breathtaking view into the gorge.
When I was there the last night, there was a couple there who had
been watching through binoculars as a doe suckled two fawns down by
trip took a good part of the day, but there was still time for
swimming and our usual evening TV watching.
was mainly a travel day. We went back south a few miles from where
we were camped, then headed west thorough the Cascade Mountains
toward Interstate 5. A good part of the way we followed the
McKenzie River, a swift-moving stream with lots of white water areas. We went
south on I-5 from
Eugene about 20 miles, then west over the coastal mountains to Reedsport.
Much of the way we followed the
River, a large, smooth running river that joins the ocean
south of Reedsport. We
also saw some relatively recent lava flow areas (meaning a few
thousand years ago or so). I deduced that they are recent by the
sparseness of trees and other vegetation, indicating little time for
the material to break down into soil.
set up in a tree-filled RV park with plenty of privacy, and the one
feature that rates four stars from Mikie, a swimming pool.
Today we drove up the coast about 40 miles to
Cape Perpetua, where there is a hiking trail through the rain forest. We followed
a loop trail that covered about two miles. It takes about a mile of
hiking to get into the old-growth area, but once there, the terrain
is marked by huge spruce and hemlock trees, and nearly unbroken
growth of low bushes and plants. The wet aspect of the area is
evident from heavy moss cover on fallen logs and standing tree
trunks, although during our visit it was warm and dry.
visitor center we watched a slide show about tide pool life, then
went down to the ocean, about two tenths of a mile, where there are some really
nice tide pools. We saw purple sea urchins, many anemones, dozens of
starfish in several colors, probably millions of mussels and
barnacles, one fish, some pollywogs, and a few crabs. Tide pool
exploring is one of Mikie’s favorite things, so he had a great
back, we stopped at the Aztlan Restaurant in
Florence. You never know how things will turn out at a Mexican restaurant in
a strange town, but everything was delicious. Mikie had a grilled
ham and cheese sandwich, which came with some of the best French
fries I have ever tasted, while I had a carnitas burrito.
miles of the coast in this area feature large sand dunes; it’s
officially the Oregon
Dunes National Recreation Area. We drove in to
a view point, but dune recreation is not really my thing; it just
looks like big piles of sand to me.
We’re still at Reedsport for a third night. Today we went to the
Umpqua Lighthouse on
Winchester Bay and went on a brief guided tour. It was my first ever visit to a
lighthouse. The first lighthouse here was built in 1856, but it was
built on sand without knowledge of flood conditions, and was
abandoned in 1864, in danger of collapsing. Construction on the
present 65 foot tower began in 1891, and it opened in 1894. The
lighthouse is now part of a state park, but still operates after
being automated in the 1960s.
drove up the coast about 30 miles so Mikie could play in the tide
pools; these were not as good as the ones we went to the day before
– mostly anemones plus lots of barnacles and mussels.
at the Aztlan restaurant again; I had enchiladas and a taco, and
Mikie had the same thing as the day before.
been having great weather, sunny nearly all the time, and about 65
& 10: Today we headed south on US 101 from Reedsport to Whale's Head Resort, seven miles north of Brookings. I stayed at
this same RV park in 1999 with my older grandson, Johnny.
of the trip was slightly inland through forest, but there were also
a lot of great ocean views. Of the parts of the
Oregon coast that I’ve seen, I think the most dramatic views are the 20
or 30 miles along the southern-most section.
About two miles north of the resort is the
Creek Bridge, the highest bridge in Oregon
at 345 feet. The creek itself is not much more than a trickle, but
the view from the bridge gives you that weird feeling in the pit of
your stomach. The creek joins the ocean just a few hundred feet from
the bridge, winding through a smooth sandy beach.
attraction to me at Whale’s Head is the Oregon Coast
trail is a wonderful resource for old, tired, sore or lazy hikers,
all of which applies to one or both of us. The trail consists of
many short segments that begin and end at parking areas along US
101. Some are “official” stopping points; others are just wide
places along the road. When you step away from the highway, within a
few paces you are deep within a dimly lit spruce forest, with a
thick ground cover of plants and bushes. Most segments are about a
half mile, and wind down the hillside a ways, then return to the
highway, often just a few hundred feet from where you started. Some
segments have views of the ocean, and most have side trails that
lead out to headlands or down to the beach. During the two days, we
covered about six different sections.
was here with Johnny in 1999, we found one tiny secluded beach where
he drew a picture I call the Sand Alien (check
it out here).
We also went down to some natural
bridges, and went across the
narrow neck from one side to the other. Mikie and I decided to go
down there also. Either we followed a different trail, or the path
is no longer being maintained, because the trail Mikie and I took
was thickly overgrown, so that it was like forging your way through
the jungle. Nonetheless, we made it down to the bridge and back with
no mishaps and no scratches. I shudder to think of a similar hike
pushing through the kind of thick growth we have in the Sierra
foothills near home, with thorny chaparral and spiny oak leaves at
rain forest is known for huge banana
slugs, and Mikie was anxious to
see one. He was not disappointed, as we saw them on almost every
trail segment, counting up nine or ten altogether. We also saw one
snake, a tiny creature that quickly disappeared into the thick
second day, in addition to hiking, we drove into Brookings, seven
miles south of here, and seven miles north of the
California border. We did some shopping, bought gas, and ate at McDonald’s,
Mikie’s first choice for dining out.
& 12: Tuesday and Wednesday’s trips were dedicated solely to
getting home, so we drove longer distances (322 miles on the 11th
and 246 on the 12th). Aside from 397 miles the first day
of our trip,
our longest drive was 227 miles from Crooked River to Reedsport, and
other days we never went over 160 miles.
weather was foggy and misty and maybe even rainy for the first fifty
miles or so, requiring windshield wipers off and on. We soon left
that weather behind, and most of the day we were in warm, sunny
terrain a few miles inland. Much of US 101 winds along the Eel
We stopped for the night at
a somewhat rundown RV park in
Windsor, about 15 miles north of
Santa Rosa. At least it had a swimming pool, so Mikie enjoyed an hour or so in
the pool before dinner and TV.
an early start both days, getting on the road by 8:15
each day. Normally Mikie is asking about lunch by 11:30, but the last day he was so anxious to get home he did not want to
stop, so we arrived at my house about 2:30, tired and hungry, glad to be home, and happy that we had missed
the 105 degree heat of a few days earlier.
interesting to observe some of Mikie’s growth and development and
changes in attitude on the trip. Back in 2004 on our long trip to
Ohio, he made it very clear that he did not like scenery. However, he
enjoyed the arches in
Utah, waterfalls on a recent trip to Yosemite, and eventually most of our hikes. I warned him that the rain
forest would be nothing but scenery, and after the first few hundred
feet of our first hike at
Cape Perpetua, he was in a grumpy mood. His main complaint was that there was
nothing but plants, and “what’s so good about plants?”
found that logical explanations are of little interest to people
under 20, but I mentioned that many medicines come from plants. Even
this would not have meant anything, but I told him about my
mother’s two brothers who died in childhood of diseases that are
now readily curable, and this personalization seemed to get across.
In any event, his attitude improved for the rest of the hike, and he
ended up having a good time.
hike at the fossil beds, he also started out complaining; however,
after we saw fossils he made a 180 degree change and even agreed to
go on an additional half-mile section of the trail.
a fussy eater, he has become more adventurous in this area lately.
He has always avoided hot spicy foods, but began eating radishes on
the trip, and at the Mexican restaurant dipped his chips in salsa
for the first time. He also ate several bites of my burrito, which
contained chopped up onions and jalapeńos. The following day he ate
about half of one of my enchiladas. And though he ALWAYS picks
olives off pizza, he ate a piece of combo pizza without removing
anything, including the artichoke hearts (don’t tell him about
these). He also put crushed chili peppers on one slice, but decided
he did not care for this.
several ways to pass the time during long drives. Of course, he has
his Gameboy and I have the CD player, but more often we discussed
one of his current biggest interests, ancestry and origin of names.
He’s a mixture of Swedish, Irish, English, German, Hungarian and
who knows what, and as a hockey player is deeply disappointed that
he’s not part Canadian and/or Russian. He went through nearly all
the names in his school yearbook, asking what kind of names they
were, and was unhappy to hear that most were English. Of course, I
explained early immigration patterns and the fact that
England is the “mother country,” but this did not relieve his pain at
hearing “English” as he asked about name after name. He also
asked me about kids I went to school with and people I knew back
then, but again, way too many were English names, even the Native
Americans. At least I was able to dredge up from my memory the names
of storekeeper Charlie Glizinski and mail carrier Bill Cerwinski to
provide some variety.
other thing we do a lot while driving is the hockey player initial
game. Each person takes turns giving the initials of an NHL player,
and the other has to guess who it is. When we can’t come up with
the answer quickly, we can then ask which team he plays for, whether
he’s North American or European, and if the latter, which country
he comes from. Although there are a bit more than 600 men playing
major league professional hockey, it’s hard sometimes to think of
a name that isn’t too easy, or hasn’t been used over and over.
2004 trip I taught him the capitals of all the states, the Canadian
provinces, and the countries of South America. We review these once in a while, although I’ve been very lax
Canada and South America
(I can’t remember all the Canadian capitals myself). He was able
to come up with most of the
U.S.capitals during this trip, and we also worked on naming other cities
in various states. He can usually come up with ten Texas cities, and
knows at least thirty town and city names in
traveled a total of 2,037 miles, 1,602 of that pulling the trailer.
We spent a little over $500 on gas (OUCH!). By way of contrast, we
spent $920 traveling 5,200 miles in 2004. The highest price was $3.60
per gallon at a tourist stop in the
Mendocino County redwood country on Highway 101. However, I question the accuracy of
this figure. I didn’t get a receipt, and wrote down the
information on a scrap of paper. It seems like the posted price was in the $3.30 range.
The highest confirmed price was $3.32 at Weed, CA. Prices are
generally lower in
Oregon, with the cheapest being $2.86 at Creswell, and the highest being
$3.06 at Diamond Lake Junction.
was generally around ten to eleven miles per gallon. This figure is
pretty close, but again, I have some doubts. In
Oregon you cannot pump your own gas, and I suspect some attendants topped
off the tank, which I never do. In any case, I never expect to get
more than eleven MPG towing the trailer.
camping costs were generally around $20 to $25 per night, which has
been the norm for several years. This includes water, electrical and
sewer hookups. Most of the parks provided free cable TV, although we
did not use it. At several parks, I got a discount due to my
membership in a travel club. The lowest cost was $18 at Surfwood
RV in Reedsport; the highest was $27 at
Windsor, CA, although the condition of the park did not justify this high cost.
Also, I got a senior discount there; normal price was $30.
do a Mastercard joke here, but I’ll spare you and just say that
the scenery, the cool weather, and the long discussions with Mikie
during our daily driving made it well worth the cost.
Estel, July 2006