Angel's Camp" All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveller is unaware." Martin Buber Routing: A series of off highway byways avoiding HW5. Yosemite to Red Bluff. Distance: 472 km. Total distance to date: 2460 km.
Anyone lost any clobber?
Having said our “Goodbyes” to our travelling mates, we eased slowly out of the rustic Sweetwaters Forest campsite at daybreak and duly instructed “ Doris”, sitting somewhere above on her celestial seat, about our routing for the day. It needs to be said again. One cannot travel in the USA on any scale without the aid of a GPS device. Our chosen route was on HW49 which would ensure we avoided Interstate 5 which is hectically busy. Great choice as we soon entered beautiful back country farm areas which straddled a region which was once caught up in an epic gold rush and then gave birth to numerous little towns needed in those heady days. One of these was Angel’s Camp bearing all the scars of a back country town which had simply run out of appeal. Closed doors and derelict buildings told their own sad tale but there was still a heartbeat in the main street with lines looped across and clothing
Red Bluff Luxury
Bobby the ladies "gin man"!
of all sorts attached. No doubt some of these items could have been the kit worn by the ladies who kept the miners “happy” in the bordellos way back? To add to Angel’s Camps stature, none other than Mark Twain wrote a story in 1865 entitled “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”, which the good folk of this town have embraced with their own frog jumping contest held annually. Far more interesting than what was happening on Interstate 5. Great farming countryside but noticeably dry which we have been told is due to the drought of the past few years in California. Talking of weather. It has not rained since we picked up the Ford Bronco on 1st
May and this makes for very pleasant travel and camping. Some very chilly nights but daytime temperatures have been great.
This was a very slow meander due to dropping down to numerous deep gorges followed by steep uphill climbs and around about midday, “Doris” miraculously guided us to a hamburger eatery in a delightful historical town by name of Auburn. Checked the prices and within minutes, lunch was served. The biggest hamburgers yet seen, surrounded by an army of fries
The smallest sprat in the pond.
and in the only space left on the plate, a large salad. We were peckish but hell, this was going to be a stretch for us lightweights.
Waddled back to the beast and soon continued on what would prove to be our longest day on the road thus far to ensure that we reached Seattle before the upcoming week end which will coincide with Memorial Day in the USA. Our routing kept us off Interstate 5 as we flanked Sacramento, the Californian State Capital. Our target destination was a town called Los Molinos for no reason other than it was on route and had RV camps on the Sacramento River. Late afternoon we rambled down the main street of this “town” and it had a real Hicksville Tennessee feel about it. The movie “Deliverance” could have been shot here! Undaunted ‘Doris” guided us to the first of two RV options and within a nanosecond we spun around, stopped and did some research on the next town, Red Bluff, 25 km up the road. We left behind two ramshackle, scary looking joints.
A very long day ended at precisely sundowner time as we drove into a consummate RV oasis
Joseph Stweart State Park
Stunning setting in huge park.
by name of Durango RV Resort. Very smart and affordable, having secured a “senior’s rate”, we took no time hooking up water and power, pouring some much needed drinks and then soaking up the sights around us. In life there are moments when an inferiority complex takes hold. This was one of them. Our beloved Ford Bronco was the smallest RV in the camp by a country mile. We were agog looking at these mobile homes on wheels being dragged to all corners of the USA with every imaginable gizmo and luxury on board. There was even a doggie playground where the numerous pooches could stretch their legs and snarl at each other. To cap it all there was a special doggie wash bay where all manner of washes and pampering were on the menu. After roughing it in Sequoia and Yosemite for the previous four nights, this RV resort was just the tonic needed. Time the next day to do all those necessary chores like washing clobber and giving the Bronco a good sweep and clean up, apart from having a much needed hot shower and scrub down.
“Saying goodbye is the hardest thing to do” certainly kicked
Incredible beauty (click on pic to enlarge).
in the following day when our travelling buddies arrived at our RV Resort oasis. Later in the day with all the RV chores done, Bobby skipped his fire duties and became an instant Gin and tonic expert which kept the girls sublimely happy during our customary sundowner hour or two. Brett had quietly prepared a beef curry which proved to be a culinary hit later in the evening. Anyone who thinks this RV travel “thing” is about sloshy bully beef and beans, is simply, misinformed.
The next morning we bade “Farewell” yet again to our travelling companions in the knowledge that they were sort of heading west back to the Pacific Coast whilst we were threading our way north to Oregon and then Washington State. HW 5 was right next door to the RV Resort and we were soon in the thick of early morning traffic rushing northwards. This was the northern corner of California and after almost 18 full days on the road, the sheer size of this USA State exercised the brain. In summary California has an area just over a third the size of South Africa. Add Texas and you have South Africa.
started to change and became more mountainous and forested which was a clear sign of something different ahead. Mount and Lake Shasta confirmed this topographical change and suddenly the relative semi-arid Californian countryside was replaced by the first sightings of snow-capped peaks. And then at precisely 12.24pm without any fanfare or major roadside banner, we entered Oregon. Whoever drew the boundaries of the States of the USA could not have delineated the boundary more precisely. South of the line was California, largely dry and flat with the exception of the Sierra Nevada region, and then within a short while of being in Oregon, it had changed to mountains, snow, trees and green fields. The Ford Bronco had in the meantime shlurped gallons of gasoline and it was with relief at the first fuel stop in Oregon, that I was told that a petrol attendant had to fill the tank. State law invoked for idiots like…me?
Planning ahead is part of the evening conversation during those much sought after sundowner moments, and the Oregon State Parks website had proved to be exceptional. Apart from getting great visuals of the park one is aiming for, their online booking system is superb.
And so it came to pass that we arrived at the Joseph H. Stewart State Park at precisely…..it all comes down to planning! Sundowner time! Within minutes of hooking up all the apertures, we were seated taking in the scenery in what was undoubtedly the best camping park we had ever been in (this includes Australia and New Zealand). Huge park like area with grassy fields and ever present coniferous trees. We had deer quietly feeding in the fields in front of us perhaps smartly positioning themselves away from the huge number of guys who annually shoot the hell out of anything that moves, including often their own hunting buddies.
One of the real delights of RV trips and camping is the friends one makes on the journey. Not long after arrival we had met Owen and Ellie Smith, a delightful couple from Madras OR. Owen has one of the older mobile home RV’s which has been on the road since the 1970’s and it must have countless kilometers and travel memories on the clock. He said upfront that he had been to this particular campsite “hundreds of times”. Testimony to how spectacular it was. In good camping style,
we shared a camp fire and sundowners with them. Owen kindly offered me, with a degree of pride, a craft beer brewed in Madras called “Apocalypse.” It was really good and if this is what a cataclysmic ending might mean, then I’m up for it. He was extremely helpful in guiding our further routing to Seattle.
The next morning we set off for Crater Lake which was never an intended deviation but such is the mystery of travel. One simply has no idea of what lies ahead. The routing alone was vindication of the decision to go and check out this lake in a crater. Magnificent conifer lined roads with snow fed rivers rushing along the roadside confirming that the most practical place to build roads is where rivers have flowed and carved out a valley floor. One of these was the Rogue River and I had goose bumps salivating at the prospect of pulling my fly road out of the bag. Not easy as one needs a fishing license and then getting access to fishable areas could prove challenging. Kept thinking, maybe another trip sometime? The roadside closer to Crater Lake had remnants of winter snow lying on
Sorry...run out of superlatives!
the ground despite the fact that the outside temperature was about 23deg C. After watching a fascinating 30 minute video on Crater Lake at the Visitor’s Center, it was time to make the journey up to the only rim area open for viewing (the rest closed as snow was still being cleared). Nothing on this planet could have prepared us (or, I dare say, anyone) for the sight that took our collective breath away when we got to the point where we could look down on Crater Lake. I won’t even attempt to describe the stupendous beauty that unfolds as you gaze in wonder. I will, however, state without reservation, that it is the most spectacular scenic sight I have ever seen (and I speak for Sue on this as well). Hopefully some of the pics will convey some of this unbelievable natural beauty. Some quick facts: A mountain became a lake about 7,700 years ago when a volcanic eruption left a deep basin in a place where a mountain once stood. Over many centuries rain and snow filled the basin and formed a deep blue lake (a deeper, clearer blue unmatched anywhere). It is 9kms long x 6.5kms across and holds 12 trillion liters of the cleanest water on Earth due to the fact that there are no rivers or streams flowing into the lake. The deepest point is about 600 meters. Roughly 13 meters of snow falls annually on this crater area feeding many of the rivers in the region. Enough said. If you go to the USA, make sure you make time and the effort to go and see Crater Lake. It is that good! I took a cell phone video and sent that through to travelling companions, Brett and Lorraine, who were some three hours down south. A sudden change to their plans was made, and they were soon on route to our State Park to see this magnificent natural phenomenon.
We reunited that evening around a blazing campfire catching up on respective journeys and experiences. A further farewell early the next morning and we moved out onto HW 62.
Still big chunks of Oregon to feast our eyes on.
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