Friday, August 14, 2015

Niner Niner

Day One : Here We Go Again
Day Four : Venturing Fourth
Days 5-6 : Pleading the Fifth
Days 7-8 : Lucky Seven

Monday morning, August 3rd, we started our trip to Crater Lake by backtracking a mile or so to the Bridge of the Gods in Cascade Locks. I'd seen it the evening before, and wondered what it was.
The current Bridge of the Gods
A mural depicting the "original" Bridge of the Gods

Native legend says there was a land bridge across the Columbia near this site, and the local tribes referred to it as the "bridge of the gods." When this bridge was constructed, it borrowed the name.

We had two places in mind for Oregon -- the John Day Fossil Beds and Crater Lake. The fossil beds had a few locations, and we plugged one, Clarno, into the GPS. It was in the middle of desolation.

And turbines. Lots of turbines.
Abandoned and kind of creepy
Finally, we arrived at the Clarno Unit, which turned out to be just an outpost of the main site. Still, we hiked around the Geologic Time Trail, and were able to make out a handle of fossils there that hadn't been damaged by fossil hunters.
The Palisades

Impression of a plant left behind
One thing we learned here was "Who was John Day?" Turns out he wasn't associated with the fossils at all! He was a trader who'd been robbed of everything and his story and the place where it happened became so infamous, a town and river were named for him.

Once back to the RV, we decided to go to the visitor center at Sheep Rock so that mom could get her Passport stamp. As we approached the area, the rock formations took on extremely vibrant colors, from blue-greens to orange-reds. It reminded me somewhat of Fossil Butte. The visitor center's displays were awesome.

A small pond turtle, just barely larger than my fist

An Easter Bunny?

Mom wasn't up for much more hiking so our "deposit" here, where so many early turtles were found, wasn't in such dramatic scenery.

Clemmys is a genus name of pond turtles, including the spotted turtle (Clemmys guttata) and the bog turtle (Clemmys muhlenbergii) that are native to Maryland.

We called it a night in La Pine, Oregon, finding a place at Cascade Meadows RV Park. We'd passed by signs for Newberry Volcanic Monument and associated lava tubes, but as it was after closing time for the visitor centers, we continued on. I hated thinking "next time," I absolutely hated it, but I hadn't had it on my tentative itinerary, and so it would have to wait.

Crater Lake was our Tuesday destination, and we entered via the North Entrance Road, which links up with West Rim Drive. West Rim Drive is.... interesting, and if you're afraid of heights, it is probably anxiety inducing. Mom was certainly stressed in the passenger seat at the dropoffs next to the road, especially since there was no guardrail at most of them. There was even one short section that had dropoffs on both sides of the road for fifty or so feet. Thankfully, nothing was coming the other way.

We stopped at an overlook along the Devils Backbone, then continued on to the Rim Village.
It was still early, and fog shrouded most of the lake.
A fat little ground squirrel was looking for edible droppings
The visitor center and Sinnot Memorial Overlook had just opened when we arrived, and I did a quick jaunt down to the overlook to make sure mom was going to be able to navigate it.
A plush-crested jay at the top of the walk leading to the Sinnot overlook
I suggested that she at least use her walking stick, and we wandered down the trail. The fog was starting to dissipate a little bit.
Wizard's Island
As the fog lifts, some of the sapphire blue water is visible
Mom had last been here in the sixties, during a short time in her life when her family had briefly moved to Klamath Falls. She had come in via the south entrance and gone to Rim Village, but it was different than the current setup. She also had come while there was still significant snow on the mountain, telling me about huge drifts next to the road as they ascended.

A photo posted by Karen (@kiirenza) on
We headed down the East Rim Drive towards Mazama Village, to see if the National Passport stamp at that visitor center was any different and if they had any different post cards. We mailed a postcard to Allison here (there's a post office in this visitor center), and then we started our trek towards California.

We found ourselves traveling along the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway, and decided to stop for a few moments at a wayside of the Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest. This turned out to be the Rogue Gorge.

The "cave" at the top is a partially collapsed lava tube. There is a second lava tube at the bottom, plugged with a large piece of basalt
Zombie stump. The roots are joined with the tree next to it, so it will never actually die unless the other tree does.
Another lava tube

I'd never driven across the California state line before, so I wasn't aware that there was a "check" for plants, fruits, etc. We passed, and continued towards Crescent City and Redwoods National Park.

Yeah, Redwoods. We opted to see the tall trees versus the sequoias because Yosemite was further south than mom wanted to go, plus the pop-up wildfires were more of an issue if we went that way. So, Redwoods it was.

Even if they are the smaller in diameter trees, they are still giants compared to the every day trees I see around here. Combined with ferns and and dense undergrowth, the forest seems otherworldly and prehistoric.
I used my telephoto lens for this. I did not want to venture too close.
Impossibly tall
The Camaro is dwarfed by this tree
As we came to the end of US199 and turned south on US101, we stopped at the Pacific Ocean.

A photo posted by Karen (@kiirenza) on
The coastal highway had a few vantage points for great shots, and we stopped here and there to try to capture some pictures before meeting CA299 and turning back towards the east.

It was becoming time to try to find a place to stop for the night, and this would prove to be extremely difficult in the sparsely populated area. In the meantime, I convinced mom to stop at the "drive through tree" in Klamath. The woman at the ticket counter said the RV wouldn't fit through, but we could still go up to take a picture with the tree as if we were going to drive through.

Turned out that the little road to the cul-de-sac up was pretty steep and the trees had branches down low enough that they got tangled up in the RV's television antenna. Thankfully, my brother had installed a ladder on the back just before the trip, so I climbed up and broke off the branches before they could damage the antenna. Mom drove up to the tree as if she was going to drive through (I'd already decided on the caption for this photo, and we both thought it was funny as hell), and I took a few pictures.

A photo posted by Karen (@kiirenza) on
After a few disappointments, we finally found a place to stay in Junction City. It turns out that Bigfoot is pretty big in the area, so in addition to being the namesake of the RV park, according to my friend Bret, there's a museum too!

We spent the evening laughing over a video of Bruce the Spaz Dog that Pat had sent us a few days previously, because it was still that funny.

Nevada was next on the docket.

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