From La Pine (I'm assuming it gets it's name from the surrounding pine forest), I continued south on Hwy 97 intent on seeing Crater Lake, which many people had told me is stunning. Unfortunately, Crater Lake was closed due to snow so I continued south towards Klamath Falls. Klamath Lake is another marvelous find. It's this huge, deep blue lake surrounded by mountains. The far east side of Oregon is so much different from the middle/west. I think it may be interesting to find which state has the largest number of climates. I'm sure Oregon would be in the running. I drove around the lake starting from the east side, continued south, ate lunch in Klamath Falls at another friendly cafe, then back up the west side.
Moving west, I rode through snow in a fabulous forest on my way to Grants Pass. Here's what the roadway between Klamath Falls and Medford looked like. You can't see the snow in this picture, but it is all along the sides of the roads and in the forest.
Intending to spend the night in Grants Pass, I changed my mind because it didn't look too camp-friendly when I pulled into town. After talking with the gas station attendant (all gas in Oregon has to be pumped by an attendant except for motorcycles, boats, and antique cars), he suggested I head to northern California's redwood forests and camp there. I'm glad I listened.
After stopping in Ray's Grocery store on 6th street and picking up some friend chicken, macaroni and cheese, potato chips, Gatorade, and a treat of Pepperidge Farm Soft-Baked Sausalito Milk Chocolate Macadamia cookies (my diet has taken a plunge on this trip), I headed towards the redwoods. As I passed through the "bug-check" which is required for all vehicles entering California (they want to know what fruit you are bringing into their country), I shared my story with the two checkpoint guys and they suggested Panther Flat campground. Wandering through the forest, I stopped at a couple of campgrounds and settled on Panther Flat - they were right, it was the best one I saw.
Site #4 sits under several 150+ foot redwoods near a stream. The difference between this forest and those in Montana and Idaho is they contain moss and ferns and some other tree species are tucked among the firs and redwoods. And the difference between the bathrooms is the ones in California provide running water and a chance to take a shower - if you have enough quarters. I unpacked, set up camp, poached other sites for some wood, started a fire and sat down for my last Pirsig campout. I must have found the world's greatest log for the fire. It was a huge log, about 16 inches in diameter and heavy. But man, it burned like it was infused with lighter fluid. It was still smoking this morning when I woke up for my early morning trip behind the tree. A guy walking by my campsight last night, who was from Bend and was down here camping with his wife and two border collies, couldn't help but comment that it was "some fire".
The evening was superb and silent. The only sounds coming from the stream and blazing fire. It seems weird but I really haven't been lonely this trip. Probably because I have been keeping busy. So much so that I have not had the time to read what I had planned, which makes it one of the poorer decisions of the trip that has lead to me lugging around an additional 25 pounds in books. (Mag - a Kindle for Christmas?) After the fire was going well enough, I turned on my itunes and listened to John Mayer, Pink Floyd, and Adele serenade me during dinner. Margaret introduced me to Pepperidge Farms cookies so when I sat down on the bench next to the fire with the full moon peaking through the canopy of the redwoods to eat them, it was her I was thinking about. Mmmmmmmmm, macadamia nuts, milk chocolate, and thoughts of my bride. It was truly a Zen moment.
But alas, time vanishes quickly when one is sitting in front of a great campfire in the middle of a redwood forest.
This morning, I slept in as long as I could, then packed up, talked to my neighbor from Bend for a bit, and headed south towards Hwy 101. Nothing could have prepared me for the vistas along this route. The giant redwoods run right up to the ocean and the road is high on the cliff above the rock outcroppings. The views on this trip just keep getting better. The ocean is crashing on these massive rock formations and is so stunning. At one moment, I'm riding next to an amazing view of the ocean then in another, I'm rolling through the redwood forest. It was an incredible day.
I stopped for lunch, just because I was hungry and the sign for the exit said there was food, and stumbled across a postcard seaside town named Trinidad. I've never been to the Trinidad or Tabago, but this Trinidad could have been any exotic island in the world. I may need to amend my statement from Montana, this could be our retirement home. Mag could have the ocean and I'd have my mountains, all from one super-charming seaside town in Northern California.
Continuing the awesome visual spectacle I've been offered today, along the Avenue of the Giants I saw hundreds of redwoods that were 300 feet tall and up to 10 feet in diameter. It's hard to image such a tree until you've stood next to one. Do kids see adults this way? I kept thinking "wow", which may not be a sophisticated word but it pretty much summed up the experience.
I had planned to stay at the Redcrest Resort in Redcrest, CA where Robert Pirsig had stayed. However, sometime between 1968 and 2011 the price escalated to $132 a night for one of the cabins. When I travel on business, the rooms are very expensive. But when I'm traveling by myself in remote towns and looking for a room with a bed and a shower (which is about all I got tonight) I don't want to pay more than $50. So, now I'm sitting here in a $55 a night, very low rent for CA (and the room is, well, very very poor quality) in the Lone Pine Motel. It may be the worst room I've ever been in. But, I was fortunate enough to land in a Thai restaurant near the motel for dinner after walking up and down this eclectic town's main street. Ate some delicious spring rolls and this shredded chicken thing over greens.
It's also located next to the Hemp store - this is California after all.