Updated September, 2002
Friday morning we woke up reasonably early to rig for traveling to Lassen. Alice and Deb decreed we should drive back on Trinity Dam Road by the dam and along Lewiston Reservoir so we could take pictures of what they had seen the day before.
Claire Engle Lake is down about forty feet, probably normal for this time of year. There is a good flow into the Trinity, probably because of the proactive pressure of the fishing lobby, which is why the Trinity looked so inviting on the way up from Willow Creek.
We dropped 600 feet down to the level of Lewiston Lake and soon stopped to take some pictures. I found some berries but am not sure what they are. They had a big pit and didn't taste all that good. The other autumn foilage, red from the poison oak, yellow from the rabbit brush, made it most pleasant.
Lewiston is showing signs of growing, with more small homes scattered around the valley. Alice says the old hotel seems to be open but doesn't look totally healthy. They have rebuilt the deck.
Returning to CA-299 we went up and over the 3,262 foot pass and headed down the chicane (racing jargon for lots of esses) towards Redding at an elevation of 570 feet where we caught CA-44. Deb had picked out a good service station where I could refuel. However, pulling a fifth-wheel through a tight service station required some bit of careful maneuvering. On the other side of the Sacramento, Alice had picked out a grocery store from her Yellow Pages CD but we couldn't find it. We continued east.
About Millville we started our climb up the side of the ancient Mt. Tehema, the ancestor of Mt. Lassen. We climbed steadily for 5,400 feet over the next 40 miles through forests of pine, some cleared slopes, and a few meadows, finally reaching the entrance to the park.
The ranger acknowledged our Golden Age Passport (at $10 by far the greatest bargain from our National Park Service) and suggested we should stay at the Manzanita Lake Campground, just up the road. We turned in just past the visitor center and after a small search located a fine spot on the B loop. Soon we were once again tucked in and unhooked. Our trip had been an easy 117 miles.
Many magnificant trees dotted the campground with stands of smaller trees filling the space between, and the sound of the wind blowing through their tops soothed our driving nerves. Once again the trees provided no direct sight at the TV satellite. That was just as well; we had three days without shore power and only an hour or so when full sunlight would strike the solar panels. This time the dirt was gray and brown, but it still clung to our shoes, clothes, and pets.
On Saturday Deb drove us to Old Station for breakfast. Uncle Runts was closed, so we went down the road to the newer Old Station cafe. They told us Uncle Runts had gone through a couple of owners and then just shut the doors because they were keeping to large a staff. Breakfast at Old Station cafe was on the pricey side for the fare.
We continued on to Burney to find a place for Internet access and to buy groceries. We found Smith Computers on the west end of town and paid $10 for half an hour on Gene Smith's phone to collect email and send a couple of messages. There was nothing really new from Jojoba Hills. Then we went shopping at Safeway and loaded the larder for the next week.
In the late afternoon Deb went to take pictures of the lake and Alice and I took a stroll. Alice tripped on a rock and fell into the dirt. She suffered little damage but got pretty dirty. We continued down to the lake and I took a couple of pictures in the stillness of the early evening. That evening I cooked a eggplant and a couple of steaks on the grill. This time no hornets bothered us.
On Sunday Deb drove us on a tour through Lassen Park. Pictures taken during the last eruption of Mt. Lassen looked amazing like those I have seen of Mt. St. Helens, with the side blowing out of the mountain. After touring the visitor center and looking in on the old Seismometer Building, we continued up the road taking pictures along the way.
According to Deb the dwarf forest at Chaos Jumbles is growing. She remembers when we visited the park when she was a kid, and the trees are bigger now. The broken rocks came from a huge rock slide 300 years ago from the Chaos Crags, six dome plug volcanoes that dominate the Manzanita Lake area. I remember about twenty years ago when the area was closed because the seismologists detected a growing bulge in the Crags and there was danger of another avalanche.
Down the road we crossed where the old Noble Emigrant Trail of 1850 made its way through the Mt. Lassen area. At that time there were virgin forests full of undergrowth for the settlers fromt the east to cut through, as well as some pretty hefty grades to traverse. Walls of lava from prehistoric eruptions pushed out from the mountain, forcing the path of the trail to meander at times.
We stopped at the Hot Rock, a huge boulder that had come down in the mud and pyroclastic flow from the May 22, 1915, eruption of Mt. Lassen. This marked the beginning of the Devastated Area in the park. Further up the road was a self-guided tour that told more of the devastation of that period. There were good views of Mt. Lassen as well as the Chaos Crags.
Our next stop was at Hat Creek where we took a number of pictures of the headwaters of my favorite fishing stream. A simulated beaver dam held back the waters of Hat Lake. What Deb thought were marks from the teeth of a beaver looked more like marks of a chainsaw.
Our route continued to climb, through the Dersch Meadows to Summit Lake, around Reading Peak to the meadows of Kings Creek, and up to the parking lot at the beginning of the trail up Lassen. Deb walked up the beginning of the trail while Alice and I mostly waited in the car.
We headed down the south slope of the mountain, stopping at Bumpass Hell and the Sulphur Works for more photo opportunities.
We considered eating at the Lassen Chalet near the Southwest Entrance but decided to journey on to Chester for lunch after reviewing the menu. The choice was a wise one, since the only place we could find for a mid-aftersoon Sunday lunch was the Kopper Kettle. We all agreed it was an excellent find.
After lunch, we headed back to camp, but this time around the mountain rather than over it. We continued west to on CA-36 to Westwood where we turned left on County Road A21 which took us north to CA-44. Turning left again we drove around through Old Station and back to the park entrance.
I off-loaded my photos and checked the results. They looked good. None of us were hungry after our late lunch, so we snacked and read and then headed for bed.
It was cold Sunday night, and Deb finally turned
on the heater. Even though we still had no shore power, I figured
we could drain the batteries if needbe. The heat felt good.
Monday morning we scurried around and packed up for travel. I had thought about going to Gold Lake for our next stop but decided instead that we should go directly to Snowflower TTN Resort on I-80 west of Truckee.
I took advantage of having a long-bed pickup and backed in perpendicular to hook up to our fifth-wheel trailer, thus avoiding a chuckhole if I pulled straight out. With no hookups it was much quicker preparing for travel. We left by 10am.
We first headed to the north on CA-89/CA-44 to Old Station, dropping to 4,400 feet. Turning east on CA-44 we climbed back onto the 47 mile wide plateau with an average elevation of 5,500 feet marking the shoulder of old Mt. Tehema, traveling through wide meadows and fairly level stands of pine. Shortly after joining CA-36, we dropped down to 4,200 feet and drove through Susanville. We junctioned with US-395 then drove alongside Honey Lake and up Long Valley to the junction with CA-70. At that point the road became a four-lane freeway.
Alice started having problems with the GPS connection to her computer, so after a while we were traveling on old memories. They proved correct and we found our way along the road.
We dropped down from the plateau into Reno where we caught I-80 west and drove on to the Boomtown exit just before Verdi. We enjoyed the lunch buffet and paid our extra dues at the slot machines. I purchased deisel at the fuel stop and we headed on up the road.
There is major construction happening along I-80 in that region, and it took us over half an hour to climb to Truckee. After that the road was clear and the traffic light. We topped (the new) Donner Pass and headed downhill to the Yuba Gap exit. Following the signs we found Snowflower TTN Resort and checked in. We didn't have reservations but they didn't have a working computer (they had been hit with a virus), so we agreed my membership card was sufficient and were checked in without further delay.
Deb and Alice found a nice site in Middle Fawn campground and I spent the next thirty minutes trying to back into it. It required a gentle curve around a hard rock through a small throat. Finally, I found the right combination and we were settled in. We had driven 214 miles to reach Snowflower. Our elevation had dropped a mere 70 feet from our camp in Lassen.
I was more tired from the drive than I realized. Deb fixed a tuna casserole for supper and I headed for bed and slept twelve hours.
Once I was up the next morning I had breakfast then we went to the lodge to check messages on voicemail and email. There was still no news from WriterStore. After checking out the dam forming Snowflower Lake, we came back to camp and I concocted some Reuben Sandwiches which went over well. Then I started work on bringing this travelogue up to date.
Alice made contact with Penny Fink in Truckee. She instructed us to come over the the construction site Wednesday afternoon. Deb decided to drive home Tuesday night after supper. It was only 75 miles and she could return for our visit to the Finks. After two and a half weeks with three adults and three animals, it felt nice to have a semi-empty rig again. It had been good vacationing with her but tught quarters wear thin after a while.
On Wednesday Alice and I washed clothes and check mail. We also decided it weather in the valley was too hot to stay at Lake Minden, and we replanned our route to go down the east side of the Sierras.
When Deb returned about 2pm we headed off to Alder Hill where Bob and Penny are constructing their dream house. Built with rammed earth into the side of the hill, it will be a mansion when it is completed enough for them to move in come December. Penny is the general contractor and seems to be doing a great job.
The heavy timbers in the roof are to hold up a dirt covering to be planted in grass and flowers. The carpenter said his arm was hurting from hammering in the 8-penny nails with a 4-pound hammer.
After taking many pictures and wandering around the construction site, we trekked off to downtown Truckee for supper. Penny and I have this ongoing issue: she does not like to cook the same thing twice. It turns out she does not like to go to the same place twice either, so we went to a new place, Moody's Bistro. The food was pricey but excellent. I had Four-Way Ahi and Seafood Soup that I still remember. Deb promised us lunch in appreciation for her meal at Moody's.
We parted company and Deb drove us back to the campground by way of the grocery store. We made arrangements to meet on Friday and she headed back to Sacramento.
On Thursday Alice and I lounged around camp. We checked our pills and found I did not have enough Plavix for the entire trip since we had cancelled our stop at Lake Minden TTN for hot weather and would not be picking up mail until we returned to Jojoba. Luckily, I could get a 30-day refill at WalMart. Scheduling delivery of meds when traveling can sometimes be a challenge.
We worked on menus and developed a collection of recipes that fit our new planned life style. Ravioli and beans are out. Meats, cheese, and quiche are in. I also updated our calling card; now we need card stock and a printer.
Friday morning we had an early breakfast and headed for Sacramento to run errands with Deb. I tried using DeLorme Topo 4.0 with the GPS but it seems to have a major problem. I will check for patches when there is time.
I took the opportunity to check on the literary agent who has had my Memphis 7.9 manuscript for the past 10 weeks with no response. She does not seem to have had much experience, and the agency she is with has recently dropped their website. It does not make me feel comfortable, and I now plan to submit a query to Linda Allen who I met at the Northcoast Redwoods Writer's Conference.
We also checked our financial status online. We are still losing ground with the stock market, but most of the damage has already been done. Alice took the opportunity to pay the bills.
Heading over to WalMart I picked up my prescription and we found the Correll plates we needed. Deb treated us to lunch at Appleby's and then we headed for Fry's. Deb had informed us we both needed to increase the size of RAM in our laptops to better support Windows 2000 Professional. We purchased the memory and looked around the store. Large flatscreen plasma TVs I could put into our rig are still too expensive, but the price is coming down.
At Circuit City we returned the Mavica Floppy Disk Adapter that Alice had purchased in Redding (it had been the Memory Stick that was bad, not the Adapter). While there Deb and I looked over what is available with 802.11b wireless equipment. It looks like we can connect both laptops, our PC, and the satellite modem for under $300, but I need to verify compatibility with Starband before buying anything. The state of the art is definitely improving.
On the way back to Deb's we stopped over at Costco and refreshed our larder. They are consistently the best place for sliced ham and small tomatoes. Of course, there were some other things not on our list that we bought.
Back at Deb's I started to install the RAM upgrades. It took a while to figure out how to get inside Alice laptop, but we finally succeeded in adding the 128MB chip. But when we restarted the laptop it did not like the memory, telling us we needed a different BIOS or had to run a memory check utility we did not have. I was pretty frustrated. Deb then suggested putting the same memory into my laptop. It worked there, so we knew the memory was okay, the problem must be in the laptop.
I installed the 256MB chip into my laptop and it came up without a problem. Then, just in case, I installed the 128MB chip back into Alice's laptop, and it came up just fine! There must have been some problem in the first installation. Cockpit error!!
So finally we both had upgraded laptops, and it sure made a difference in speed.
By that time it was evening. We quickly packed
up, said our last goodbyes to Deb, and headed back up the mountain
to Snowflower. In the process we left Alice's mouse at Deb's house.
Guess Deb will have to send that by mail next week.
Saturday morning we rigged up for travel, destination Willow Springs RV Park just south of Bridgeport. We dumped on the way out; there was no use carrying that extra load. Then it was east on I-80 over Donner Summit. We played leapfrog with several eighteen wheelers in the right lane with most of them holding to 55mph along with me. But sometimes going uphill became a chore for those that were full.
Taking the Truckee central exit we used the new underpass to get to River Street on the other side of the railroad tracks and caught CA-267 on the way to Tahoe North Shore. Three miles out of Truckee we came to the place where the new 267 bypass will come in from I-80. When opened it will eliminate a major bottleneck in the center of Truckee.
When we reached CA-28 we turned left alongside Lake Tahoe. This time of year the crowds are not so bad and the drive to Nevada was smooth. As we went through Crystal Bay, NV we saw a collection of beautiful classic cars filling the parking lots. There was no place to stop with a fifth-wheel, so we continued east.
Driving around Lake Tahoe we once again had a chance to admire the beauty of the region. The lake remains a clear blue, but the land and forests around show more and more stress from the crowding.
NV-28 connected with US-50 and we headed down the slope towards Carson City. The eight miles of 6% grade is one of the longest downhill stretches I know, and the 50 mph limit makes sense. I turned on the Pac Brake and coasted down without using the brakes the whole way. On the way down Alice and I decided that since it was time for lunch and I needed fuel we would take a sidetrip into Carson City.
We had lunch at the Nugget Coffeshop, the locale for a scene from my book where Tom and Judy meet Mel and she tells him of the impending earthquake in Memphis. Looking over the cafe I was pleased to see everything was as I remembered it.
I purchased fuel from a Texaco in town. It had the cheapest price for deisel we had seen. Sure enough, six miles south of town on US-395 we drove by an RV resort with deisel at a price 14 cents less than in town. We drove through the Carson River valley, slowly climbing until we passed Minden, then climbing faster from to an elevation of just over 6,000 feet. Then it was down slope to Topaz Lake. That's when we entered the burn area on both sides of US-395. I don't remember the fire but it looks like it took all the vegetation.
We thought we had passed through all the fired areas until we went through the town of Walker. A short ways down the road we again saw the stark scene of burned trees on both sides of the road and river, this time along a river that still shows the destruction of the big flood of years past. It lasted for several miles.
At Sonora Junction we left the Walker River and turned east up the valley of a creek, climbing to Devil's Gate at 7,521 feet. Alice wondered why this pass and another in Lassen National Park had this name. I guess someone saw some similarity. Then it was downslope into the wide valley holding Bridgeport. Six miles beyond the town, after 159 miles, we turned into the Willow Springs RV Park.
We took our time setting up, given that the temperature was in the mid-80s. I did set up the satellite and for the first time in a week we were back in contact with the rest of the world. The most exciting news was that the temperature had reached the low 100s in the SoCal desert. We started relooking at our schedule as I started cooking our supper of grilled ahi, baked onions, and caeser salad.
Sunday morning the temperature was down to 38, but once the sun came out it climbed into the 80s. The sun was quite warm. We lazed around camp for the day and I spent time bringing the travelogue up to date and working finetuning Memphis 7.9. I also concluded that I should complete the revision of Memphis 7.9 to incorporate the changes I needed for a good sequel and to reduce the page count. I want to have it ready for submission to Linda Allen. I made progress but there are another several days of work to do.
I reinstalled DeLorme's Topo 4.0. It seemed to have a problem with using the GPS. I will need to download patches when we return to Jojboa. Alice also expressed a desire to go through Soledad, so we rearranged our trip for that stop.
Monday morning we decided to remain at Willow Springs and registered for another day. The weather at lower elevations still looked hot. We had omlettes for breakfast then went to town for lunch at the Sportsman Inn and bought groceries. I spent more time on the rework of the novel.
Later in the afternoon new neighbors moved
into the space next to us. I talked a bit with Dick Austin, a
full-timer of only 2 months. We introduced him to Escapees. It
will be interesting to see if he joins. His base camp in along
the Colorado River.
Tuesday morning we were up early and starting to rig for travel. We immediately started to climb, from 6,800 feet to 8,144 where we came over the crest of the ridge for a view of Mono Lake. As we went through Lee Vining I asked Alice to search for restaurants. She was surprised until I told her a scene from "Bodie," one of my works in progress, involved a couple eating in Lee Vining. Luckily, we saw four or five, so my research was successful.
Heading up US-385 towards Mammoth, I saw a sign announcing that June Lake loop was open. It had been a long time since we had seen that area, so we decided to take the excursion. The views along that road were spectacular, especially in the autumn with the aspens starting to turn yellow and orange.
I did not realize it until later looking at the map, but we were traveling upstream from Grant Lake to June Lake with Silver Lake in the middle. It must have been a major set of glaciers to produce the valleys that enclose these lakes. Now the water flows down into the Mono Lake basin. The RV campgrounds are around Silver Lake; some megahomes cover the slopes up around June Lake. This is a good place to visit next summer.
Returning to US-395 we continued up to the pass at 8,050 feet on the shoulder of the Mammoth volcano. The Obsidian Dome was to the west. Later we passed Mammoth Lakes and Bloody Mountain and Crowley Lake. Outside of Tom's Place we headed down the eight-mile long 6% grade into Owens Valley. This section is as long as that on US-50 above Carson City, but it is not as curvy. Still it was nice to have the Pac Brake doing all the work keeping our speed reasonable.
When we reached Bishop we searched for a Radio Shack to replace the computer to radio cassette player. The 1999 Points of Interest for Bishop is out of date, so we asked a local merchant and he sent us back up US-395 to the Rite-Aid shopping center north of town. We bought the unit and since it was noon-time we went to the Mexican Grill in the same center. I had beef frajitas with corn tortillas and Alice had rellenos, both with salad. The food was excellent and the price was right. I recommend the place if you can find it.
We arrived about 3:30pm at the Boulder Creek RV Park just south of Lone Pine. The drop in elevation has made a big difference. Both of us feel much better. After parking and setting up I took a nap. It felt good to sleep without struggling to breath.
Boulder Creek is a well manicured park with a heated pool and nice spa. We took the opportunity to do our aquasize routine. Next week we will need to get serious about it again.
Alice wanted to watch TV. For the first time in a long time we had a good connection in the campground. I was working on the travelogue and found the programs to be distracting. We discussed it and agreed I should listen to music with my earphones loudly enough to drown out the TV she is watching. It is working at the present time, though I am shaking the trailer in time with the bluegrass banjo. Hope she doesn't get upset about that.
After looking at the forecast temperatures
in San Bernardino and Hemet, we decided to stay in Lone Pine a
Log Date: +1637: 020926: 34N26.74': 118W12.72': 2,592': Soledad TTN, Acton, CA
Thursday morning we headed down to Soledad
TTN Park, our standard stopping place before the final leg into
Log Date: +1638: 020927: 33N27.13': 116W52.12': 2,191': Jojoba Hills SKP Resort, Aguanga, CA
Friday morning we rigged up for travel the last time for this trip and headed off to Jojoba Hills.