Mount Shasta, Caves, Waterfalls and a Japanese Detention Camp – McCloud CA


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North America » United States » California » McCloud
September 12th 2017
Published: December 5th 2017
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The Sites Are Spacious During the WeekThe Sites Are Spacious During the WeekThe Sites Are Spacious During the Week

McCloud Dance Country RV Resort – McCloud CA
Reno NV had been on my agenda since the early stages of planning the 2017 itinerary, but my arrival date had been bounced around as the itinerary was tweaked to accommodate my delayed departure from Apache Junction AZ in mid-June and my encounter with “no vacancy” RV parks in metro Seattle WA. During the summer, I was perusing my master list of “Bucket List Events” and noticed the National Championship Air Races in Reno would be held in mid-September. Who knows when or if the stars will align this closely again! My preliminary calendar had the final week of a four-week Oregon adventure in Grants Pass OR. The drive from Grants Pass to Reno is almost six hours, long but manageable; however, with Grants Pass off the plate, a drive from Eugene OR to Reno was impractical (if it’s not fun, why do it?) – over 8 hours after fuel and food stops. I looked for a midway point and found it in McCloud CA. I had wanted to visit the Mount Shasta/Mount Lassen area since I had done my rural nursing internship in Red Bluff CA in the mid-1970s. I saw this as another “gift horse.” Giddy up!

Most
The Weekend Produced a Much More Crowded LandscapeThe Weekend Produced a Much More Crowded LandscapeThe Weekend Produced a Much More Crowded Landscape

McCloud Dance Country RV Resort – McCloud CA
of my 4 ½-hour drive from Eugene Mobile Village and RV Park in Eugene to McCloud Dance Country RV Resort on Wednesday, September 6, 2017 happened on I-5, and the trip went without incident. Since my original plans had not included a stop in northern California on the way to Reno, I had made no plans for McCloud. In addition to Mount Shasta, I remembered that there were two attractions in the general vicinity that I had wanted to put on my agenda at some point in time as well as numerous waterfalls in the Mount Shasta area. Determining which of those waterfalls was readily accessible and which falls were viable during a summer drought occupied my Thursday.

Friday, however, found me setting out on a drive over a portion of a scenic loop to visit those two attractions. I began by heading east and south on CA 89 until I reached CA 299 and the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway where I turned north and east. (Informational) Irene, my GPS, took me off the scenic byway and onto a shortcut (CA 235) through Lookout CA to CA 139. I could have overridden that diversion and stayed on the scenic byway had I done a better job of planning and then been paying attention. Back on Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, I headed north and west until I reached the turnoff for Lava Beds National Monument.

Having an interest in geology and volcanology but definitely not being well-versed in either, I found an interesting video on You Tube produced by the National Park Service and Hawaii Volcanos National Park – Lava Tube Formation (2:19). Lava tubes can run anywhere from 3 to 50 feet below the surface, can be up to 50 feet wide and can also be extremely long. One tube from the 1859 Mauna Loa HI eruption enters the ocean about 31 miles from its eruption point. A lava tube system in Kiama, Australia consists of over 20 tubes, the largest of which is over 6 feet in diameter. By far the largest known lava tubes in the Solar System are on Venus. Lunar lava tubes have been discovered and have been studied as a possible natural radiation shield for future lunar explorers.

Lava Beds National Monument has the largest concentration of lava tubes in the United States, but the attraction is a definite, “ya gotta wanna” destination. There are hundreds of lava tube caves that vary greatly in difficulty, length and complexity; over two dozen of which have developed entrances and are plotted on the Monument map. Most caves are open throughout the year, but exploration is on your own. Lava Beds also has twelve hiking trails of varying lengths and difficulty with the most popular trails short, but leading to interesting historic sites and geological features. Pets and bicycles are not permitted on any park trails, in caves or in non-developed areas.

With a long drive on the agenda and another attraction that, admittedly, was of even more interest to me than the Monument, I only had time to visit Mushpot Cave (whose tube is 770 feet long) and had no time to hike any of the trails. Spelunking is serious business and should not be taken lightly. Sometimes, I venture close to the edge of rationality on my hikes to waterfalls and other interesting geologic features, and the possibilities of getting lost or suffering an injury has lingered in the back of my mind since The Great Adventure began in 2010. Part of my aging process has been the migration of those possibilities from the back of my mind toward the front. It’s all about cost/benefit analysis. Being killed by a cougar or a grizzly is not at the top of my “10 Best Ways to Die” list; however, dying of hypothermia and dehydration after getting lost or after being trapped by a collapse in a cave that averages 55 degrees 24/7 and has 100 percent total darkness 24/7 doesn’t even rank a 10 on the aforementioned list. The result of that cost/benefit calculation is, “Nope! There is nothing in an undeveloped cave that I could see only by flashlight that warrants purchasing the mandatory equipment I would need nor is worth the risk I would be taking.”

Mushpot Cave, the only lighted cave on the Monument, has illuminated, informational placards along the paved trail that provide the visitor with information about the transition of life forms from those above ground to those below, the formation of lava tubes, tube texture, tube decomposition and breakdown, lava formations within the tube and the three cave zones – entrance zone, twilight zone and dark zone. Unlike some of the more well-known commercial caves, none of the cave is well-lighted and, therefore, well-suited to photography. Unspectacular in the context of many of the caves I have visited, Mushpot Cave is unlike those mainstream caves and, therefore, worthy of a visit by the average tourist IF, and ONLY IF, one has an alternative reason to visit the area. For the most part, ya gotta wanna! Conversely, this appears to be a spelunker’s haven that is unparalleled in the U.S.

I continued my journey through the park and exited via the north entrance station and made my way to Tulelake-Butte Valley Fairgrounds in Tulelake CA, home of the Tule Lake Unit of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. This attraction has two components, Camp Tule Lake, which first was a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp before becoming a prisoner of war (POW) prison housing both Italian and German POWs, and the Tule Lake Segregation Center, the largest and most controversial of the sites where Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II. The National Park Service (NPS) web site for this facility is probably the most disjointed, cumbersome, challenging NPS web site I have ever visited or tried to navigate. First, when one calls up “World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument” from a Google search, the resulting web site makes no mention of the Tule Lake Unit. All dropdown menus provide links to facilities in or near Pearl
The Museum Relates Local History …The Museum Relates Local History …The Museum Relates Local History …

Tulelake-Butte Valley Fair - Tulelake CA
Harbor HI; however, in addition to Tule Lake, there also are three sites in Alaska – Battle of Attu battlefield remnants on Attu Island, Aleutian Islands; Japanese occupation of Kiska Island, Aleutian Islands; and Atka B-24D Liberator crash site on Atka Island, Aleutian Islands.

Second, when one finally (through a restricted Google search) arrives at the links to Tule Lake Unit, one finds that the visitor center is a temporary visitor center located in the Tulelake-Butte Valley Fairgrounds Museum and that there are NPS Rangers on site only from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day; however, maps and brochures of the NPS facility are available when fair staff is manning the museum. Since I wanted to drive a portion of Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway anyway and to visit Lava Beds National Monument anyway, I pressed on.

Part of the post-Great Depression-era New Deal of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Camp Tule Lake was established in 1935 as a CCC facility to provide six months to two years of employment and vocational training for unemployed, unmarried men, ages 17–23. Most of the 23-building camp, including a hospital, the administrative headquarters office and the supervisors' residences were constructed by the enrollees,
… And Highlights Local Personalities …… And Highlights Local Personalities …… And Highlights Local Personalities …

Tulelake-Butte Valley Fair - Tulelake CA
and then the enrollees worked on the Klamath Reclamation Project. Soon after the United States entered World War II, the majority of the enrollees left the camp to enlist in the military, and it was closed in 1942.

After Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942, authorizing the creation of “War Relocation Centers.” The violation of the constitutional rights of 110,000 men, women, and children had begun. While the War Relocation Centers were being constructed, American citizens and resident aliens of Japanese ancestry living in Washington, Oregon, California and Arizona were forced to give up their homes, farms, businesses, and personal property (in addition to their freedom) and were required to report to one of 17 temporary “Assembly Centers” located at fairgrounds, racetracks, and other makeshift facilities. Here’s the crazy part. Two-thirds of those incarcerated were already U.S. citizens, and, for 17 years prior to the beginning of World War II, Japanese American resident aliens were not allowed BY LAW to become U.S. citizens. Is that crazy, or what? I suppose not, because Japanese Americans living in the western U.S. were physically closer to Japan – and,
… As Well as Community History… As Well as Community History… As Well as Community History

Tulelake-Butte Valley Fair - Tulelake CA
therefore, probably emotionally closer to Japan and, therefore, probably more loyal to Japan – than Japanese Americans living in Nebraska, Michigan, Florida or Vermont!!! Yes, boys and girls, this was totally ludicrous!

From these Assembly Centers, the incarcerated Japanese Americans were sent to one of ten War Relocation Centers. The War Relocation Centers – two each in California, Arizona and Arkansas and one each in Wyoming, Idaho, Colorado and Utah – varied in layout, but certain elements were consistent, most notably a perimeter defined by guard towers and barbed wire fences. The Tule Lake War Relocation Center was built adjacent to the Camp Tule Lake CCC facility and was designed as a series of blocks. The first 40 blocks each had fourteen residential barracks, a mess hall, a recreation building, a laundry room, an ironing room, a men’s latrine and two women’s latrines. Each residential barrack was divided into “family rooms,” sided only with tarpaper. Average low temperatures in Tule Lake range from 47 degrees in July to 20 degrees in December.

In an effort to recruit Japanese American men for military service and to reintegrate incarcerated Japanese Americans back into society, a loyalty questionnaire was distributed to all adults in the camps in February 1943. The loyalty questions seemed innocent enough; however, there were two awkwardly worded questions that raised concerns:

Question 27 asked draft-age males: “Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty, wherever ordered?”

Question 28 asked: “Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attacks by foreign or domestic forces, and foreswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, or any other foreign government, power or organization?”

Many detainees believed that foreign-born Japanese who were not yet American citizens (remember the 17-year ineligible period) were being asked to give up their citizenship in Japan and become nationless people without legal ties to any country. Others saw the questionnaire as a trick designed to force their deportation or to continue their unjust incarceration. In March 1943, over 100 men from the Tule Lake Relocation Center were arrested after they had protested by refusing to answer the questionnaire or by answering "no" to Questions 27 and 28; in spite of the fact that none of them had been caught kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem. They were confined in a 250-foot by 350-foot stockade that was enclosed by fences and featured four guard towers. Within the stockade, there were four barracks, a mess hall, and a latrine. This “prison within a prison” completely isolated the rebels from the rest of the incarcerated population. After several months, they were either released back to the Tule Lake Segregation Center general population or were transferred to other facilities.

Since Tule Lake had the largest number of nos and qualified answers to Questions 27 and 28, it was decided that all deemed “disloyal” from the other nine segregation centers would be sent to Tule Lake, isolating them from those considered to be “loyal.” The Tule Lake War Relocation Center was converted into a “high security segregation center,” and the population at Tule Lake rose from 15,276 to 18,789 within just a few months. Some of those at Tule Lake who had been deemed “loyal” were moved to one of the other nine camps to make room for the incoming “disloyals;” however, of the 8,500 who remained at Tule Lake, some 4,000 were labeled “loyal.” This mix of “loyals” and “disloyals”
A Graphic Depiction of the Two Facilities at Tule LakeA Graphic Depiction of the Two Facilities at Tule LakeA Graphic Depiction of the Two Facilities at Tule Lake

Tulelake-Butte Valley Fair - Tulelake CA
in the general population led to dissention within the center. The Tule Lake Segregation Center, which housed the largest number of detainees and had the most dynamic political climate of any of the ten Japanese American internment camps, finally closed in March of 1946, seven months after the end of World War II.

With so many local farmers and farm workers serving in the military during World War II, the Tulelake Growers Association petitioned the U.S. Government for POWs to help with the harvest. U.S. officials sent 150 Italian POWs to Camp Tule Lake (the CCC facility) to convert it into a POW camp. Those POWs set up fences, barbed wire, latrines, water lines, guard towers and search lights around the camp in preparation for the arrival of German POWs who were to be transferred from Camp White near Medford OR. At its peak in October 1944, the Tule Lake POW Camp housed 800 POWs. They helped plant, tend and harvest crops and lived and worked in the Tulelake area until the camp closed in 1946. Although some of the POWs applied for the lottery of local homesteads in order to stay in the U.S., none were granted a
Former Detainees Have a Voice in the MuseumFormer Detainees Have a Voice in the MuseumFormer Detainees Have a Voice in the Museum

Tulelake-Butte Valley Fair - Tulelake CA
homestead. The Tulelake Growers Association began to repurpose the sites just two months after the camps closed by utilizing the discarded remnants to house migrant laborers. I ponder the ethnicity of those migrant farm workers!

In 1975, the State of California registered Tule Lake as a California State Historic Landmark and, in 1979, an elaborate monument was erected to commemorate those who suffered while at Tule Lake. In 1982, the Federal Government admitted that prejudice, wartime hysteria and politics all contributed to the relocation, and the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 provided redress to the Japanese Americans who suffered internment. In 1989, President George H. W. Bush formally apologized on behalf of the United States, and, by Presidential Proclamation of President George W. Bush in December 2008, the Tule Lake Segregation Center and Camp Tule Lake became the Tule Lake Unit within the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.

I arrived at the Fairgrounds only to find that the Tulelake-Butte Valley Fair was in full swing. Usually, I feel honored when the locals throw a party during my visit, but I really had hoped to be an audience of one with the museum docent so I could
Yes, Boys and Girls, the Fair Was in Full SwingYes, Boys and Girls, the Fair Was in Full SwingYes, Boys and Girls, the Fair Was in Full Swing

Tulelake-Butte Valley Fair - Tulelake CA
learn the nuts and bolts of the internment camp. Another confession, I have done extensive research to compile this blog and the muddy waters have settled remarkably in the process. I hope my piecemeal assembly of information from a variety of Internet resources as well as information I harvested at the fairgrounds museum has painted a reasonably clear picture of the facility. The bottom line is that the incarceration of folks based on their national heritage is an unsavory chapter from our history; however, I think that the full psychological impact of the injustice could only be felt by being on the actual site where the disgrace occurred. If I have the opportunity to make a return visit, I’ll be sure to do it during the summer instead of during the off season. Oh, yes, I’m going to give the NPS a break since this is such a new facility; however, all those flaws I outlined do exist AT THIS TIME and should be taken into consideration by my readers who might be inclined to plan a visit.

Some waterfalls are found on streams that are spring-fed and their flow is relatively constant year-round while others depend on flow generated by snow melt and might be totally dry by late spring or early summer. Some are a combination but will have the waterfall reduced to a mere trickle during the warmer months. Ash Creek Falls, however, is said to be best viewed during summer months when glacier melt and runoff is at its peak, and, at 290 feet, is known for being one of the tallest waterfalls in the Mount Shasta area. Even though the canyon terrain leads the author of one of my Internet sources to conclude that the falls are best viewed from afar and that the waterfall is accessible by trail, another author makes no mention of the visibility constraints but notes that access to the fall is difficult. I love these folks to death, but, without a consensus, Uncle Larry comes from the school of, “Let’s go see what we got.”

Using GPS coordinates to reach the site, I found a road sign, “Ash Creek Crossing 5 (miles).” In about 2 miles, I reached a bifurcation in the road with a sign indicating the route to Ash Creek Crossing. In another mile or so, at the next bifurcation, there was no signage and my GPS was
The Museum’s Assets Are Not Restricted to LoggingThe Museum’s Assets Are Not Restricted to LoggingThe Museum’s Assets Are Not Restricted to Logging

Weed Historic Lumber Town Museum - Weed CA
lost – indicating I was driving cross-country. I went left, my normal inclination, and encountered several other literal forks in the road. Sometimes I explored both, while at others the road less travelled didn’t look like anything the Forest Service would have spent money to sign. Back at my first decision-making opportunity, I took the right branch, performed a similar exercise in futility and abandoned my quest to find Ash Creek Falls.

Since Ash Creek Falls lies due east of the summit of Mount Shasta, and Whitney Falls lies NNE from the summit, I had a lengthy drive to reach Whitney Falls, AND since several of my sources allege that Whitney Falls is one of the more difficult waterfalls to view in the Mount Shasta area, AND since my “wild goose chase” had delayed my early afternoon arrival in Weed CA (where food was available), I decided to abort the waterfalls portion of the agenda and backtracked past the RV park so I could yield to my appetite. On Friday, I had eaten fish and chips at the High-Lo Café in Weed. The food was quite tasty, the portions were generous and the prices were very reasonable. While perusing the menu after I had ordered, I had spotted the homemade corned beef hash breakfast (served all day) and had my taste buds zeroed in on that temptation for a late Saturday lunch. I have only eaten corned beef hash as tasty as that offered at High-Lo Café on 1 or 2 other occasions that I can recall.

After my brunch, I made my way to the Weed Historic Lumber Town Museum in, you betcha, Weed. In a small room adjacent to the entry, I found an exceptionally conversant attendant who was a life-long resident of the Weed area. Just what Uncle Larry ordered, but I’ll show some restrain! Back in the day, young log truck drivers would work the six-month summer logging season, throw a brick through a window (or commit some other significant, but petty offense) and spend six months in jail – warmth with room and board provided. They were out of jail just in time to start another logging season. Quite creative. These are the kinds of homespun stories that define Uncle Larry’s version of The Great Adventure. After about 45-60 minutes of Weedisms and other discussion (in which we had solved about half the world’s problems), some other visitors entered,
Vintage Caulk Logger Boots Were Made with Spiked SolesVintage Caulk Logger Boots Were Made with Spiked SolesVintage Caulk Logger Boots Were Made with Spiked Soles

Weed Historic Lumber Town Museum - Weed CA
so I headed for the museum proper.

The museum is not strictly a logging museum, but there is no question that the focus is logging. There is the requisite motorized fire truck and a couple of horse-drawn conveyances as well as a tribute to local veterans – the seven Shelton brothers all served in World War II, and all came home. The black community of Weed has a storied history as the community evolved from “The Quarters” to Lincoln Heights, including a documentary film, “From the Quarters to Lincoln Heights,” posted on You Tune (full-length 1:48:04 or trailer 5:32). I also found an interesting article that briefly summarizes life in Weed’s black community in the early 20th century, African Americans in the Shadow of Mt. Shasta: The Black Community of Weed, California.

Another display addresses a wildfire that devastated Weed. On September 15, 2014, the 479-acre Boles Fire, driven by fierce winds, raced through the town damaging or destroying 150 homes while evacuation orders were issued for at least 1,500 people. The wildfire was fully contained on September 20. On Tuesday, July 28, 2015, 25-year-old Ronald Beau Marshall of Weed pled guilty to a charge of unlawfully causing a fire through reckless actions, with an enhancement for burning multiple structures. Marshall had started a small fire in a rock ring in the early morning hours of September 15 and left the area after kicking some soil on the fire and urinating on it. After pleading guilty to the charges, Marshall was sentenced both to a two-year term for the unlawful causing of a fire plus one consecutive year for the enhancement. The interesting museum does a nice job of highlighting the community’s history. Oh yes, the stories (on the day of my visit) were superb. On my return to the RV park, I made a stop at Mount Shasta Ski Park, just west of McCloud. The views from the ski lift are nice but the views from the top are …, well, let’s just say, “Spend your ski lift dollars at JUST ABOUT ANY OTHER ski lift facility to get your money’s worth.” The strong suit must be the trails down the hill for the mountain bikers, since I can’t imagine this as an attraction where the locals would take their visitors for a memorable experience.

Sunday, September 10, 2017, I assigned myself a full plate on another (mostly) waterfall day. My first three stops were a short drive from the RV park. First
The Fall Culminates in a Sparkling Swimming HoleThe Fall Culminates in a Sparkling Swimming HoleThe Fall Culminates in a Sparkling Swimming Hole

Upper McCloud River Falls - McCloud CA
of the trio of “Cousins” was Lower McCloud River Falls, the most downstream of the three falls. Lower McCloud River Falls is a 12-foot broad plunge into a pool that has large rocks surrounding the pool – perfect for sun-bathing. As such, it is a popular location for swimming and relaxing. Middle McCloud River Falls is, duh, the middle of the three McCloud River Falls and is the largest and most impressive with a 44-foot drop providing a magnificent view. This waterfall is one of the widest in California at 120 feet, creating a veil of white water during spring and reducing to become two separate but uniform cascades in later seasons. While not as scenic as the middle fall, Upper McCloud River Falls exceeds it in height. The swift river escapes a narrow gorge to crash down small steps to a beautiful aquamarine pool that will catch your attention. Each of the three waterfalls has a substantial parking lot and a short, easy, paved (probably ADA compliant) trail from the parking lot. My sources say all three waterfalls are connected by a trail as well but, since I didn’t use that trail, I cannot authenticate that information. All three are interesting, were flowing nicely during my drought-stricken visit and, because of the close proximity, make a collective, worthy stop.

My next stop was Hedge Creek Falls in Dunsmuir CA. Scenic in its own right, a 0.7-mile, non-ADA-compliant trail descends 200 feet to the waterfall. What does set the trail apart is its passage behind the waterfall. The literature says the trail continues “downward along Hedge Creek, passing numerous smaller cataracts before finally ending at an observation deck high over the creek’s confluence with the Sacramento River. From here there is a fantastic view of Mount Shasta.” I tried to figure out how walking “downward” would get me to an observation point high above anything and didn’t continue my journey past the waterfall! Although the waterfall flow was mediocre, getting a view from behind the water veil was pretty cool.

Lake Shasta Caverns in Lakehead CA was an unknown commodity from a duration perspective. The only access to the caverns is from the visitor center and then a short boat ride across Shasta Lake. A bus ride then takes the visitor up a steep mountain grade to the caverns entrance. That’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen, but I deemed it worthwhile. The limestone caverns, which date to at least 200 million years ago, were formed by flowing water which subsequently drained, leaving the caverns as seen today. The first recorded white explorer was James A. Richardson, a federal fisheries employee. His November 11, 1878 claim of discovery is still clearly legible. There are eight known rooms in the caverns system which feature stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, draperies, columns and flowstone.

Until 1964, the only entrance was a small hole in the ceiling, barely large enough to accommodate one person, and the natural wonder was seen by only a handful of hardy spelunkers who inched their way through steep natural fissures each year. Before opening to the public, a new entrance was needed. Workers blasted a tunnel from a rock face deep into the mountain, hoping to reach the lowest known room, the Basement; however, one of the explosions knocked down a large rock wall, revealing a room even lower than the Basement, the Discovery Room, perhaps the most fascinating room in the caverns. Ironically, the Basement Room is no longer the lowest room in the cavern.

Lake Shasta Caverns is NOT an attraction for the feeble. According to data from Google Earth, the descent from the parking lot to the water’s edge is 110 feet – an eleven-story building. After the boat ride across Lake Shasta, there is a 100-foot ramp the visitor must ascend to reach the bus boarding point. Without the bus ride, the visitor would have to ascend another 630 feet to reach the visitor center just outside the caverns entrance. Inside the caverns, there are numerous short, but cumulative, stairways. After the group had exited the cave and was staged at the upper bus loading point, I asked our tour guide about the number of steps from the caverns exit door down to the caverns entrance door and the adjacent visitor center entrance. He told me there were 250 steps. That means that inside the caverns there was a net of 250 steps going up (a 25-story building), plus there was some up-and-down inside the caverns. The attraction is doable by even the most mildly fit, even Old Leatherlungs, but be forewarned. There are other caverns scattered throughout the U.S. that are just as spectacular but are much less physically taxing.

That having been said, the caverns are amazing, and the views of Lake Shasta from the distal visitor center, 740 feet
Stalactites Falling from the CloudsStalactites Falling from the CloudsStalactites Falling from the Clouds

Lake Shasta Caverns - Lakehead CA
above the lakeshore, are stunning. Comparing caverns is a bananas and pineapples exercise – I’m burned out on apples and oranges. Some have spectacular light shows while others show restraint and offer a more natural display of the cavern features. The CAVERN is worthy of your time; however, there is a lot of non-cavern time taken to cross the lake, yada, yada, yada. Personally, I found the short boat ride across the lake an inconvenience rather than a bonus. This attraction has a lot of overhead not incurred at other caverns – both the boat and the bus rides are included in the $26.00 price tag – but that makes the CAVERN EXPERIENCE comparatively expensive. The expense, the inconvenience and the exertion cumulatively cause me to believe that the average tourist could get more bang for the buck (and the time and the effort) at other similar natural wonders.

I wanted to see Sundial Bridge in Redding CA. For my modern architectural audience, I want to note that Sundial Bridge is one of only two bridges in the U.S. designed by world-renowned architect Santiago Calatrava. I’m not sure where the line between architect and engineer is drawn, but I’d prefer a “whatever” with more experience! The 710-foot cable-stayed, cantilevered pedestrian suspension bridge across the Sacramento River forms a working sundial. At one point in the web literature, I was told, “Sundial Bridge also inspires onlookers with it's (sic) ‘bird in flight’ design, symbolizing overcoming adversity.” The last time I saw a bird in flight overcoming adversity was at my friend’s ranch in Idaho where a pigeon in flight successfully avoided my friend’s peregrine falcon! I don’t believe there are enough psychotropic drugs on planet earth to “inspire” me in a similar vision. Where did they park their spaceships?

The 217-foot-tall pylon of the bridge points due north at a cantilevered angle, allowing it to serve as the gnomon of a mammoth sundial that casts its shadow on a large dial plate on the bridge's north end. The tip of the shadow moves at a speed of approximately one foot per minute, so the Earth's rotation can be watched with the naked eye. Pretty cool! The “architectural marvel” has a translucent glass deck which is illuminated from beneath and, I’m told, glows aquamarine at night. Since its grand opening on July 4, 2004, Sundial Bridge, located near downtown Redding, has become a gathering place for locals and serves as an access point to Redding's extensive trail system. A large parking lot makes visiting the bridge easy, and I was eager to walk across the bridge to see the unique giant sundial – in spite of the 100+-degree temperatures. This is a unique, worthy attraction, and a walk on one of the numerous trails would be a great activity with more conducive temperatures.

Crystal Creek Falls is located west of Redding, and the drive past Whiskeytown Lake is quite scenic. I arrived at the spacious parking lot and walked the easy 1/3-mile trail to the waterfall where I found a mother (assumed) with three teenage girls enjoying the refreshing water on a hot summer day. As I arrived, they were gathering their beach towels and other belongings and preparing for departure. I found a seat on a streamside rock and enjoyed the gurgling of the waterfall while I decided my course of action for the remainder of the day. I had Burney Falls on my list, but back at the truck, the temperature still registered 98 degrees (the highest I had seen all day was 104), it was 4:50 PM, my knees were aching and I was dog tired. Even though some writers put Burney Falls in the Top 100 Waterfalls in the U.S., I decided to call it a day. The literature says the falls, located in McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, forms a 129-foot wall of streaming water, “some of which appears to leak out of the side of the earth.” It sounds and looks very unique and interesting. Perhaps, some day. On Monday morning, this quarterback would have saved the energy and time spent at Lake Shasta Caverns for a walk to Burney Falls.

I had a very nice, impromptu stop in McCloud. I gained a better understanding of the mechanisms behind a dreadful scar on America’s history, had an outstanding conversation with one of the area locals, unsuccessfully searched for a pair of waterfalls (but saw some interesting scenery in the process) and visited half a dozen others and then got cooled by a cavern on a very hot day. The sundial bridge exceeded my expectations while the vista from the ski lift fell far short. One can create an interesting week by using McCloud as a starting point, but I must admit that the area is not
Is This Pool Inviting or What?Is This Pool Inviting or What?Is This Pool Inviting or What?

Crystal Creek Falls - Redding CA
a vacation destination for the average tourist, save the snow skiers in the winter of which I know nothing. The attractions I found of interest were widely disbursed and, although nice, not spectacular. I did, however, find some time to relax – mostly in the air-conditioned confines of the Bighorn!


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Lower McCloud River Falls - McCloud CA
Several Small Cascades Portend the Main FallSeveral Small Cascades Portend the Main Fall
Several Small Cascades Portend the Main Fall

Upper McCloud River Falls - McCloud CA


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