30 Miles of Dust (July 2 2015)

KlamathnearYrekaWe leave F and A’s soon after breakfast. The plan is to get to Lava Beds National Monument before the 4th of July crowds.

It’s back on 96, then, avoiding Interstate 5, a short jaunt down 283 to the town of Yreka. I thought it was pronounced “you-reeka” like Eureka, but find out that everyone calls it “why-reeka.” We stop at the Grocery Outlet on the edge of town for provisions hoping to find things we don’t need to cook.

“Who wants to cook in this heat?” says Big Dog, who suggests getting veggies we can eat raw and maybe slices of ham.

The store has fruit and veggies but the processed meats look too processed for my tastes so we head into Yreka proper. It’s a cute town, with architecture from the Gold Rush and Timber Boom days. And there’s a proper butcher shop!

Yreka1YrekaButcher2From Yreka, we take another small road towards 97. Mt. Shasta looms up ahead, a sacred mountain for the natives and an “energy vortex” for the New Age types. It’s as beautiful as Mt. Fuji, another sacred mountain. Actually, all mountains are sacred in Japan and probably are to the native peoples here, too.

MtShastaview5MtShastaview10A sign on 97 indicates the turnoff to Lava Beds. It’s not on our California map, but none of what look like paved roads on the map lead to Lava Beds anyway, so we take this turnoff. It’s headed to Tennant which is on our map so I am pretty confident we are going the right way.

However, after Tennant, the paved road disappears completely. It’s a dusty dirt road which we rattle down. There will be a lot of dusting to do once we get to Lava Beds. More dirt road and then a crossroads. We are so tempted to turn onto the paved road even though the sign for Lava Beds points to another dirt road.

Dirtroad1This is Four Corners, a snowmobile rest area. Regular vehicles were probably not meant to come down any of these roads. There’s a large RV parked here but nobody seems to be home. A motorcyclist stops and Big Dog asks him for directions. In the conversation, he finds out about Medicine Lake which is not too far away and has several campgrounds.

Stopping for the day sounds good! So we make our way slowly down more dusty roads, through trees bent into incredible arches, possibly by the weight of winter snow, finally to pavement and…Medicine Lake!

MedicineLake1There are several campgrounds around the lake but the first two we come to look very busy with many families and groups so we keep going, past the pavement (sigh!) to the Headquarters Campground. It is wooded and quiet, with only one other camping group. I start shaking out the bedding and dusting inside Sprockets while Big Dog goes looking for water.

“There’s no water,” he says. “None of the pumps work.”

Really? What are the other campers doing? I go off to investigate and find out that no, there is no water, and the other campers have brought in their own. Guess it’s back to one of the busy campsites where, if we are lucky, we’ll find an unoccupied spot.

MedicineLakeCamp1A.H Hogue is the campsite where we find that spot. It is filled with campers, some of them quite loud. But after dinner we get just as rowdy with the guitar.

Some campers with lakeside spots are having “movie night” and the audio blasts through the entire campground. We have our own movie night inside, on the iPad. Tonight’s showing is “Salmon Fishing in Yemen” in tribute to all the fishing afficionados here.



Author: ontheroadwithsprockets

I've been traveling since I was born -- the first big trip was before I was two, across the Pacific, from my native Japan to Los Angeles on a cargo ship. There have been many journeys since then, through many continents and cultures.

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