Sunday, August 31, 2008

Triple Eight Road Trip - Part 4

This is Part Four of the series.

Part One Part Two Part Three

Day Four ~ Alturas to Williams

We started this day, Sunday, August 10, 2008, looking forward to the scenary ahead of us, in particular visiting Lassen Peak but this was tinged with a wee bit of melancholy as we realized this wonderful little road trip which was also the Last Hurrah of our Summer was now over half completed and we would soon be separated.
However, we didn't dwell on such thoughts and chose to live in the moment.

After breakfast at our new-found favorite local joint there in Alturas we headed up the road to the west on Highway 299 to Highway 139 which we took northwest with a short stop once again at Howard's Gulch Campground and then drove all the way up through the town of Tulelake and to Stateline Road which we then took west to Highway 97 and back down through Dorris and across Butte Valley and over the pass to Grass Lake where we stopped again at the rest area there before taking another little stop at the Highway 97 Mount Shasta vista point we stopped at a couple of days earlier.

Mount Shasta obscured by smoke from Trinity County blazes.

Caterpillar on Indian Paintbrush flower.
Next we drove a short distance down the hill on US97 to the Vietnam War Living Memorial Sculpture Garden. This is a very poignant and powerful place at least for those who endured the Vietnam War and I suppose any war.
I highly recommend all Americans visit this place at least once.

Vietnam Veterans Sculpture Garden

Vietnam Veterans Sculpture Garden
After walking through the place we had gotten very hot so sort of rushed towards the end and forgot to check out the labrynth.

We then hit the road again and headed on down to Weed, CA, where we picked up Interstate 5 and took it south through the mountains intending to stop at the rest area near Lake Shasta but found it too hot and crowded so we got back on the freeway intending to stop somewhere outside of Redding to the east of town along Highway 44.

At Redding we switched onto Highway 44 and headed east and ended up driving all the way to Shingletown before we found a place we felt like stopping.
There we got gas and some snacks and water intending to enjoy them at the rest area just east of town that we had used in the past.

When we to said rest area we found it empty but for a single auto and a scraggly-looking guy playing with the gate to the rest area.
There was a sign at the entrance stating the rest area would be closed the following morning.

Almost immediately after getting out of our cars we found the scraggly-looking fellow in our faces informing us the rest area was closing right then and there.
The fellow sure wasn't dressed like a CALTRANS employee and this day was a Sunday (meaning it was not a work day) but he did have the keys to lock the rest area and was insisting we promptly leave albeit with trite platitudes to the effect that he was merely following orders.

Surely he could have given us five minutes, no?
I was civil, but did nothing to disguise my displeasure.
He seemed uncomfortable which was understandable, however, he seemed to try too hard to justify what he was doing.

Normally, when public servants inconvenience me I'm the model of grace and patience, particularly with road workers.

However, for some reason this guy didn't elicit that automatic reaction from me but instead I found myself pissed at him and after we left him at that rest area and headed on up to Mount Lassen National Park I found myself increasingly finding his story fishy.
I'm an extremely intuitive person and I have a potent internal b.s.-alarm which that fellow activated.
I now suspect he wasn't supposed to close the rest area until very early the following morning but didn't want to have to do that so he went in and closed it prematurely on his weekend so he could say he did it at the crack of dawn the following morning and save himself driving his lazy ass out there.

We soon pulled off of the highway and into Lassen Volcanic National Park.
As we drove up the short road to the park entrance we passed a NPS fire crew cutting and stacking wood just off the road in anticipation of burning it later in the year it appeared.
After paying (which cost mom nothing due to her senior pass) we immediately stopped at Manzanita Lake which was beautiful as always but mom was having problems by this point having driven so far so fast with so few and so short breaks.
Fortunately, she was able to regroup and given the time factor we headed on to the next stop.

Lassen Peak from Manzanita Lake.

Mount Lassen as seen from Manzanita Lake.
Upon leaving Manzanita Lake we headed on up the park road, past the park museum and visitor center and on over the rubble field of Chaos Jumbles from which we could get a great view of Chaos Crags. We drove towards the Devastated Area but decided that was taking too long and we wanted to spend more time back at the Jumbles so we turned around and drove back to Chaos Crags and stopped there and got out and took the photos shown here.
Chaos Crags is the newest feature in the park and collapsed about 300 years ago which generated a long run-out landslide whose rubble field is Chaos Jumbles.

Chaos Crags with Chaos Jumbles in the distance.

Chaos Crags with Chaos Jumbles.

Chaos Jumbles with Chaos Crags in the background.

Chaos Crags and Chaos Jumbles.

Whatsdatplant growing amidst the Chaos Jumbles.

Old and now obsolete seismic station next to the museum.
When we left Chaos Jumbles we were pretty much done here for the day as we needed to get on down the road and see how far we could get. On the way out of the park we did stop at the park museum but it had just closed for the day.

Smokey Sacramento Valley Sunset
We headed on down the hill on Highway 44 but chose to not go drive back into Redding, CA.
Instead we elected to shunpike around the city to the east on Deschutes Road down to Interstate 5 at Anderson, CA.
From there we shot on down the freeway to Williams, CA, where mom decided to drop anchor for the night. On the way down we enjoyed a smokey sunset caused by the Trinity Blazes.

Smokey sunset in the Sacramento Valley.
All photos by Krissa Klein (all rights reserved).

We checked into the motel there right by the freeway.

After dealing with that we walked down to nearby Granzella's which is a local landmark that has been a staple of Interstate travelers passing through this area for many years.
They had a bad fire last year and I had wondered if they were rebuilt yet.
Not only were they already rebuilt but looking better than ever. The smell of fresh-cut and sanded wood was intoxicating in the antechamber.
They even had a small shrine of sorts on the wall near the cash register dedicated to the fire and recovery which had newspaper clippings about the fire and even photographs of the fire as well as burnt pieces of paper and such from the fire itself which was caused by an electrical issue in the kitchen. By the way, the dinner was first-rate as you'd expect.


Day Five ~ Williams to Atascadero

We finished with a delicious breakfast from Granzella's and then promptly hit the road.

The drive went quickly and smoothly and we got in rather earlier in the day than normal for such a drive as we sped down Interstate 5 all the way to State Route 269 with breaks only at the rest areas along Interstate 5 which were hot so we kept our breaks short.

Upon our arrival home, there was a while of concern when our cat Rocki was nowhere to be found (she usually runs out to greet us as soon as we arrive).

Fortunately, she was just being a cat, and it typical cat fashion sauntered nonchalantly in after we'd looked all over the place for her!

Triple Eight Road Trip - Part 3

This is Part Three of the series.

Part One Part Two Part Four

Day Three ~ Lake Abert & Abert Rim/Lakeview

We started this day, Saturday, August 9, 2008, with a good breakfast at the local joint we ate lunch at the day before and then headed on up US395/Highway299 to where they split and then proceeded up US395 to Davis Creek and Goose Lake near the Oregon Border.
We pulled out along the stretch of US395 at the top of the hill overlooking Goose Lake to take a gander at the view and found our first obsidian of the trip which was fun.

We then headed on down the hill and up the road to the state line and stopped in the community of New Pine Creek and drove a short distance down State Line Park Road to Goose Lake State Park just inside the Oregon side of the border.

As we headed back to US395 from the park after our break we stopped at the intersection of the two roads and I noticed a sign standing near the northeast corner of the intersection pointing to a rock shop down State Line Park Road to the east of US395 so I proceeded on across the highway and down a couple of blocks until I found it at the northwest corner at the end of the street where it bends sharply to the north towards Church Street.

When we rolled up on the location we were greeted with the grand sight of an array of neatly organized piles of material, with the great amount being obsidians of various flavors which filled a large-sized yard.
The proprietor was out hosing down his yard full of rocks so we parked and immediately made contact with him. He turned out to be an affable and knowledgeable fellow formerly from California named Frank Newman.
He had a lot of great stuff both out in the yard as well as inside his rock shop. Good prices, too!
I must say I've never seen so much obsidian anywhere in my life which stands to reason as obsidian seems to be Frank's emphasis as he has multiple obsidian claims in the area.
My favorite variety of obsidian there was his many amazing variations of rainbow obsidian with the coolest being the electric blue as well as the lavender as well as the green flash.
What was so amazing is that these flashes weren't originating from the surface of the material but way down inside the stone.

I ended up buying some obsidian from Frank and he was very generous with his prices.
Indeed, generosity seems to define Frank as he invited us to scratch around his nearby claims for which we were incredibly grateful but lacked the time this trip.
We hope to go back and visit Frank next Summer and take him up on his offer but try to get him to go along with us.

In the meantime we and you will be able to see Frank Newman on an upcoming episode of Cash & Treasures which he told us should air this Fall on the Travel Channel.
While visiting with Frank, I asked him about the Lakeview (Oregon) rock show I had seen mentioned before in the Rock & Gem magazine Show Dates section and elsewhere.

I had been toying with trying to get into that show as I liked the area and sensed the local had a good rockhounding tradition and sensibility.
Frank looked at me matter-of-factly and said "It's today!" What were the odds?
I told him about my interest in the show and asked why he wasn't in it and he informed me that it wasn't worth his trouble given how small it is and he could make more money for less effort manning his store and given what he made just from our visit I could see he was right.

Well, that was cool, thought I, we had an unexpected and awesome visit to a rockshop that wasn't even there six years ago when last I passed through this area and then the show I was interested in attending and perhaps even participating in at Lakeview was occurring this very day I was in the area!

So, of course, we headed on up the highway directly to Lakeview, OR, passing by the Lakeview Interagency Fire Center located at the south end of town that is a collaboration of the local offices of the USFS and the BLM and the US Fish & Wildlife Service and the Oregon Department of Forestry. We headed on into town which felt surprisingly good. This town despite being in a rural and generally poor and white region has gone to a lot of trouble to fix up their downtown and make it cool and inviting and I highly recommend a visit there.

Anywho, remembering from our last visit where the fairgrounds were I drove us directly to them and we quickly found the show.
Before going inside we found some signs on a couple of buildings there that amused us and I "hammed" it up a bit.

I wasn't welcome at the Lake County Fairgrounds.

Not just a lot of "beef" but a lot of "bull", too
We entered the show and were immediately struck by how small it was.
Heck, it was no larger than our Cayucos Rock Show in stark contrast with how I envisioned it.
It was very folksy and small-townish which was a nice change of pace and flavor.
However, I found the selection of dealers not to my liking.
There was really only one really cool seller and the rest were mostly selling one type of thing which was okay with me in at least one case: the Oregon sunstone guy who owns a mine.
There was one other guy who had a nice cross-section of inventory but was more focused on lapidary rough than on finished products or mineral specimens which are more to my liking.
Anywho, I was too broke to buy anything and there wasn't too much I saw that I wanted which made that easier to deal with.
We picked up some grub being provided at the kitchen in the room next to the show room and took it outside and had lunch on a picnic table under a tree.

Next, we headed out of Lakeview and on up US395 to Lake Abert and Abert Rim, two geological features that don't get enough attention and respect in my view.

Lake Abert

Abert Lake is an alkali lake and thus is fairly lifeless under the water but migratory birds love it.
In fact, it is a significant birdwatching location and both it and the rim are so dramatic and beautiful that it is hard to take a bad photo of either.
This area used to hold a lot more water as recently as during the most recent ice age when a much larger lake filled the lower elevations of this entire area connecting this lake with nearby Summer Lake and others.
You can even still see the old high water marks which form concentric "toilet bowl rings" up the sides of hills in the area.
It is both easy and hard to imagine so much more water there and correspondingly more animals and Stone Age people hunting those animals for survival.

Abert Lake

Abert Lake and Abert Rim

Abert Lake and Abert Rim

Abert Lake and Abert Rim

Abert Lake

Abert Rim roadside marker

Carbonate crust at the northern end of Abert Lake.

We turned around on US395 near the north end of Lake Abert as we only intended to merely see Lake Abert and Abert Rim and leave further exploration of the area for the next time. Even had we the time I was running out of gas and suddenly couldn't remember if there was a functioning gas station at the intersection of US395 and Oregon 31 so we headed back down there and found there was a gas station but it was closed and my pickup truck was pretty much on empty at this point having neglected to check my fuel level before leaving Lakeview earlier.
This oversight would soon cost me as we ran out of gas headed southbound on US395 and coasted to a stop right as I pulled onto Deter Ranch Road (NF-3721) which had a nice big turn-out. Mom was kind enough to drive on down to Lakeview in her SUV and pick up 5 gallons of gas and bringing it back.

After I emptied my gas jug into my truck's tank we headed back on down the road to Lakeview and I filled by tank at the northern-most gas station there which, by coincidence was adjacent to the property containing "Old Perpetual" Geyser at Hunter's Hot Springs Resort so we drove over there when we were done at the gas station.
The website for the place looks great but the reality at this time is that the place looks run down and empty even during Summer and the geyser is perpetually turned off.

While we there an SUV pulled up near us and I thought the ownership/management was coming to find out what we were up to and ask us to leave as the entire place looked closed.
As it turns out it was a nice couple who stopped to look at the geyser like us but were disappointed to find perpetual silence from the half-empty pond which once contained it.
After briefly small-talking with the couple we soon learned they were rockhounds like us.
They were on a rockhounding expedition having just left dry-camping at the sunstone collecting site on public lands near Plush, Oregon. They showed us their haul which was impressive.
They also had recently visited Glass Buttes just south of Highway 20 in northern Lake County.
We told them about the rock show in town and about the rock shop south of town at New Pine Creek at the state line.

We then headed south on US395 and took it back down to Goose Lake Park for a quick pit stop and then did some rockhounding at the big roadcut at the southern end of the big hill where US395 overlooks Goose Lake.
While there we found some nice little blue agate nodules and cavities embedded within the bedrock of the road cut plus plenty of low-grade obsidian.
The entire time we were there we were buffeted by strong winds that also were kicking up carbonate sandstorms on the dry barren flats of the southern margins of Goose Lake, some of which got pretty intense and cool-looking.

Goose Lake dust storm.

Dust storms along the southern margin of Goose Lake.

Goose Lake dust storms.

Dust storm gust front just south of Goose Lake.
We then headed down to Davis Creek to check out collecting location "A" in Gem Trails of Northern California which site is now a field with No Trespassing Signs all over the place.
We didn't have time to head on up to the more popular locations at Davis Creek given the late hour.
We then tried getting to the closest-in of Mr. Newman's claims up County Road 133-C, but turned around after a short drive up the hill and headed back to Alturas.
Next year we plan to spend several days up in this area rockhounding at Davis Creek and with Frank Newman at his rainbow obsidian claims and give you an account of our adventures.
Today was wonderful and capped a great road trip courtesy of mom.
Today's sightseeing functioned as recon for next year's rockhounding adventures we hope.

Signage for The Belligerent Duck in Alturas, CA.

 All photos by Krissa Klein (all rights reserved).

At the end of the day we took a walk along the main drag of town and saw the above store sign.

Triple Eight Road Trip - Part 2

This is part two of the series.

Part One
Part Three Part Four
Day Two ~ Redding to Alturas

We awoke this morning of Friday, August 8, 2008, refreshed and extremely excited about what awaited us down the road.
For mom and I the prospect of revisiting some places we really loved and missed. Given that there are no close-by breakfast joints we chose to just get dressed and packed up and hit the road and snack as we drove this day with a stop at our favorite bakery in Weed, CA, on up the road.
After we got on the freeway we soon crossed Lake Shasta which was shockingly low which exposed a lot of red soils and bedrock. We didn't stop at the Lake Shasta Rest Area as it was too soon to stop so we kept going on until we reached Weed. Along the way we saw the awesome-looking Castle Crags and then magnificent Mount Shasta finally came into view.

Castle Crags

Castle Crags from Interstate 5.

Mount Shasta

Black Butte from Interstate 5.

After passing through Dunsmuir, we headed up the long grade to Mount Shasta City and soon Black Butte came into sight which sight always grabs my eye as this cinder cone looks like it erupted yesterday. We exited Interstate 5 and stopped at the aforementioned well-favored and well-flavored bakery in Weed and picking up three bags of goodies headed for the nearby defunct rest area adjacent to the Weed CALFIRE station where we enjoyed a break with our goodies before heading on up US97.

Mount Shasta from the US97 scenic viewpoint.
It was nice being back on US97 for the first time since 2002. We stopped at both the scenic viewpoint overlooking Mount Shasta as well as the Grass Lake Roadside Rest Area.

Grass Lake Chipmunk

Grass Lake Chipmunk

Grass Lake Chipmunk

Grass Lake Chipmunk

Grass Lake Chipmunk

Grass Lake Chipmunk
We then made our way on up US97 over nearby summit and down into Butte Valley and across it to Dorris, CA, where we stopped for another bathroom break and admired their self-proclaimed "tallest flagpole". From there we headed on up US97 a short distance to Stateline Road a.k.a. Highway 161 which we turned onto and headed east into the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge.

Lower Klamath Lake
Although we came here later in the year than the first time I ever visited this place which was in April, 2001, when there were so many birds that it was a spiritual experience I shall never forget.

Wild Nightshade Berries.

Wild Nightshade in bloom at the lake shore.

Lower Klamath Lake bed area with Oregon in the distance.
We stopped at a couple of locations (at the spot on the main road with the small copse of trees and the location with the pull-out with a wall containing interpretive placards). We noticed as the one main dirt road headed south off the main road and into the refuge that there were tents and cars coming and going from some sort of event. Unbeknownst to us until a short time later when we visited the visitor center for the refuge they were celebrating the 100th Anniversary of President Theodore Roosevelt creating the refuge.
We took Stateline Road all the way down to Hill Road and then headed south to the refuge visitor center. On the way we stopped at a turn out at the entrance to a former Civilian Conservation Corps Camp which was used for a short time for Japanese Internees during World War Two.
In the visitor center itself which we had to ourselves this time in contrast to the last time we were there in 2001 when it was very crowded, we met the docent who was the same cut little old lady as was there seven years ago which was nice.

From there we headed south on Hill Road and along the western shore Tule Lake (what is left of it as it is much smaller nowadays due to its water being used by local farming interests.

Soon we were entering Lava Beds National Monument and found ourselves in an entirely different world than the one we had just left filled with water and wetlands interspersed with dry grasslands in the adjacent higher hilly terrain. We were now in a world of lavaflows and as s geology buffs we were in ecstasy.

Aa lava flow

Aa lava flows with Tulelake in the distance.

Pahoehoe lava mixed in with some aa lava.

After paying to enter the monument we first stopped at Gillems Camp and took a short walk and then made a quick photo op stop at an overlook and then spent a little while at an extinct but nameless vent which sported some pahoehoe lava in contrast to all the aa lava that dominates the monument. After that we had lunch at Fleener Chimneys after exploring them.

Fleener Chimneys

Small lava tube

Fleener Chimneys

The throat of one of the Fleener Chimneys.

Tequila checking out a gas bubble feature at Fleener Chimneys.

Pahoehoe lava

Fleener Chimneys

Indian Well Cave
Our last stop at the monument this day was at the Park Headquarters which we visited and then we walked the length of small interpretive lava tube known as Mush Pot and then walked to the end of the path into nearby Indian Well Cave.

From there we headed on out of the monument via the south end which is sort of the "back way" into and out of the monument.
We then got onto Highway 139 via Tionesta Road from the monument's south entrance and then took it on down to Howard's Gulch Campground on the Modoc National Forest campground a stone's throw from the highway where we took a nice little break. This is one of my favorite little campground's anywhere and it was empty despite it being Summer.

Howard's Gulch Campground
Following that break we got onto the main highway and took it on down to Highway 299 where Highway 139 terminated and we then headed east on Highway 299 through Canby and on in to Alturas. It was nice to see the Warner Mountains once again after several years as was seeing Alturuas, the county seat of Modoc County and the only city in the county with a population of just over 4,000 residents.
I like this little town. I had considered moving here which idea I've since abandoned but this is a good town to base a Modoc Plateau adventure.

After we got into town we checked into the Best Western Trailside Inn and then got some local grub in a local eatery we had not tried before on previous visits in 2001 and 2002.
Our favorite eatery in Alturas was out of business so this forced us to try something different.
As it turned out the place was great and it was fun watching the locals go about the business of being locals.

After that we headed southeast of town and drove into and walked around in the Modoc National Wildlife Refuge where we saw plenty of interesting and beautiful fauna and flora including some coyotes and deer and plenty of waterfowl.

Deer hiding in Modoc National Wildlife Refuge.

A waterway in the Modoc National Wildlife Refuge.

Wild sunflower on Modoc National Wildlife Refuge

Wild sunflower

Wild sunflowers

Smokey Sunset outside Alturas

Sunset made smokey from Trinity County blazes.

Smokey sunset at Modoc National Wildlife Refuge
All photos by Krissa Klein (all rights reserved).

We finished our Modoc National Wildlife Refuge excursion at the roadside rest area just south of Alturas where we watched the Sun set amidst a dark bank of smoke from the Trinity County blazes.

Following that we went back to our rooms and freshened up a bit and then walked down to an Italian eatery on the main street and ordered dinner to go and then walked around town until it was ready.
While doing that we checked out some firefighting activity going on in and around an old hotel on main street and discovered the federal government seems to be using it as a firefighter hostel for part of the year. We saw Type-5 engines from all over the West including Arizona (Gila National Forest).
After that we walked to within a block of city hall and found the location of the bats mom and I had encountered the last night we stayed in this town back in June, 2002.
They were coming out of holes in the roof of an old building, perhaps hundreds of them flitting about eating insects.

Following our own delicious meal we went to bed.