Travelin Tiger Archive

October 20, Klamath Falls to Home

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An uneventful drive home, but just to remind us we had returned to Oregon it rained pretty good the whole way. This trip was planned as a short one because Ron was supposed to work the next week. But on the way home that day he received a call that the job had been postponed, bummer!

Some facts from the trip. 2100 miles in 8 days, we still have not learned how to slow down enough, hopefully we will get better with practice. Scout got 14.2 mpg on the trip which was almost exclusively mountain driving.

We crossed 4 passes through the Sierras on the trip, 3 of them were seasonal passes closed in the winter. The colors were sometimes spectacular, but the Sierras are mostly evergreens so it does not stack up to other fall colors we have seen. But it was certainly worth doing.

October 19, Folsom CA to Klamath Falls OR

With reluctance we had to bid farewell to Pae and Supachai. As always they were gracious and fun hosts. Thanks for being our base when we go to Northern California.

Plotting our trip home I noticed that Highway 49, our old friend the Mother Lode went nearby and headed east thru the Sierras to connect with the road we took south, so we decided to finish the Mother Lode. It was a nice drive, but we did not get many pictures.

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No pictures from today so I included this shot from Yosemite.

October 18, Folsom CA

Today we had another fun day with Pae and Supachai. Supachai was meeting some of his friends from work at an Apple Orchard and we were invited to tag along. It was a pretty place, but it reminded Ton and I of how many more people there are in California than in Oregon. There was a quite a crowd, though everyone was having a good time.

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After the apple orchard we went over to a brewery near by (of course) to check out the local brew. It was a nice setting and they were serving beer, cider, mead, and wine. We had a nice lunch and shared tasters of all of the beverages that were available. The beer was good, the cider was good, the wine was fair, and I still have not developed a taste for mead so I do not know if it was good or bad.

Next stop was Placerville which is another old gold mining town, but much gentrified. We visited the downtown which had some good antique shops including an old bookstore. Walking down the street we noticed that the main street in Placerville was our old friend California Highway 49. As Ton and I were walking down the street we saw a sign in the window of a cafe proclaiming Highway 49 as the Mother Lode Highway. We checked out the sign as we like to collect highway signs of roads we have enjoyed, but this one was considered an antique and out of our price range.

October 17, Yosemite NP to Folsom CA

Today we were invited to spend the night with our friends in Northern California Pae and Supachai. We were feeling a little “grangjai”(a Thai word that is hard to translate) as this would be our third visit to them this year and we were afraid we were overstaying our welcome. But Pae assured us we were more than welcome and really encouraged us to come.

As we dropped down from Yosemite we were once again going thru the gold rush country on California Highway 49. We realized between our last two trips to California we had spent a lot of time on this highway. It is a pretty road through an interesting mix of the Sierra foothills, small towns with interesting names (Angels Camp, China Camp) and wineries.

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We decided to retrace out steps to Calaveras Big Tree State Park to look at the Sequoia grove there. As usual the trees were spectacular, and California did a good job describing the reasons the remaining trees are protected.

After that it was a short jump to meet Pae and Supachai and enjoy some good company.

October 16, June Lake CA to Yosemite NP

Today we started the day by visiting Bodie SP. Bodie is a ghost town not far from US395. It was a gold mining boom town founded in 1878 and reached its peak population of about 10,000 in 1884. By then the gold was starting to play out and the town started to lose population. There was enough gold left to sustain a commercial goal mining operation so the town survived until the mine was closed during WWII. At that point given the harsh conditions around Bodie and the lack of any other source of employment the town was shut down and left in the desert. There are a couple of hundred buildings left more or less as they were in the 1940’s and because of the arid climate they survived in pretty good shape until the state made it a park.

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We then headed over the Tioga pass into Yosemite. We had missed this part of the park when we visited in the spring because the road over the pass was still closed. Today we enjoyed our third pass thru the Sierra Nevada’s this week. Of the three as you would suspect this one had the best views, though they all had some points that were very spectacular.

The plan was to camp in one of the valley campgrounds as we assumed given the late part of the year and mid-week that we would be able to get a spot, but when we arrived at 2:30 pm there was no room in the campgrounds in the valley. The only park campground available was Hodgson Meadow near the Northwest entrance to the park. So for the second time this year we are at Hodgson.

October 15, Mammoth Lake CA to June Lake CA

The day started with a bear siting by Ton. After a slow start in the morning we had pulled into the dump station at the camp ground. While Ron was fiddling with the dump Ton was on the phone with Pae our friend from Sacramento when a black bear crossed in front of the truck. Ton was so startled that she could not get the camera out in time to take a picture, and Ron was so intent on the dump station that he did not notice the bear.

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After the early excitement we headed over to Devils Postpile National Monument. It is a very small national monument near Mammoth. Originally included in the boundaries of Yosemite NP the area around the monument was cut out of Yosemite in the early 1900’s to allow mining. The main formation at the monument is fascinating and worth the trip.

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After finishing up at the monument we headed out to find some fall colors. After three days we were finally rewarded with some nice fall foliage around Convict Lake and in McGee Creek Canyon. We were surprised to still find any leaves had survived the windstorm from the day before, but the leaves were still there and quite beautiful.

We next headed over to Mono Lake. We stopped by the visitors center to see what the lake was all about. After a visit there we headed over to the south Tufa preserve to check out the Tufa’s there. Tufa’s are formed by springs in the lake bubbling up and calcifying to make these neat formations. The trail was fun and informative about the efforts to preserve the lake.

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We ended up spending the night at June Lake after the ranger at Mono Lake discouraged us from driving in to Yosemite for the night. It was another forest service campground where we shared a beautiful sunset with a couple from Zurich next door.

October 14, Topaz Lake NV to Mammoth Lake CA

Today we took the long way to Mammoth Lake. We decided to try two of the Sierra Passes from east to west that are closed for a great deal of the year due to snow. They were both open and it was probably our only chance. We were hoping to see some fall colors at altitude also.

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The first pass is California Highway 4, also called the Ebbets Pass Scenic Highway. And while very scenic and fun to drive, long stretches were unstriped asphalt 1.5 lane road, the colors were disappointing. There has been a lot of wind the last couple of days and a lot of leaves have been stripped. The west end of the road is in Calavares County where Mark Twain hung out during his California Gold Rush days.

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The second pass is California Highway 108 also known as the Sonora Pass Scenic Highway. This road wound thru miles of evergreens and was like any mountain road in Oregon until about 15 miles from the end there was a sign stating that the next 10 miles had a 27% grade. This road has special meaning to Ron as the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Center is located on the east end of the road and highway 108 is actually used as the access road to the training areas at the top of the pass. In the winter the road is closed with up to 20 feet of snow on it and the Marines have free play in the area. In the summer they share it with the campers and the local traffic. Ron spent two winters here training as a mountain leader and climbed around on the local mountains and skied down route 108 with full gear and a M-16. It was a lot easier with Scout.

Tonight we are in a forest service campground within the city limits of Mammoth Lakes.

October 13, Klamath Falls OR to Topaz Lake NV

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Heading south today we began the day stopping at Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Lava Beds National Monument. Tule Lake was full of wildfowl. Including a bunch of Pelicans. By November we learned that there are over 1 million wildfowl on the lake. It might be worth a trip later to take a look. We also saw the remnants of a Japanese Internment Camp from WWII near the lake.

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Next we stopped at the Lava Beds National Monument. It is famous for its Volcano Tube caves. There are over 800 discovered caves on the monument and more being discovered every day. We walked thru the beginner cave which is paved and lit. Neither one of us are much into caves so we passed on the other 799. Before we could enter the caves we had to be quizzed about our previous spelunking experience to make sure we had not entered any caves that had the European Bat Fungus which came to the US in 2006 and is infecting a lot of the bats east of the Misssissippi.

After leaving the monument we drove south to the Nevada/California border and stayed at the RV park at the casiono in Nevada. Ron was intrigued with the offer of $6.99 prime rib for dinner and $1.99 Biscuits and Gravy. The casino boasts of having been opened in 1952. When we stepped in it seemed like it was still the 1950’s. We were immediately hit with an overwhelming wave of cigarette smoke. Nearly everyone in the place was smoking including in the dining room. So much for the $6.99 prime rib!

October 12, Home to Klamath Falls OR

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Today we headed south towards Eastern California. As we had a little bit of time during the day we swung thru one of our favorite National Parks, Crater Lake. It was a small detour to run the rim road around the lake. As always it was beautiful, but Ron had forgotten that the forest around the lake is almost 100% evergreen. So no fall colors.

For the night we stayed at a small Air National Guard Base near Klamath Falls. Maybe the quietest military installation we have seen. I am not sure there are any permanent personnel on the base even though there is a barracks. It should be a quiet night.

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