The couple who rescued our screenhouse yesterday are heading to the town of Merrill, just across the Oregon border.
“It’s the cutest town and they have a nice Fourth of July parade,” they tell us.
We don’t know if we’ll make it in time for the parade but decide to head in that direction. But first, there are more caves to explore, more walks to take and more stuff to see.
Like one of the largest panels of Native American rock art at Petroglyph Point.
Or Captain Jack’s Stronghold. The Modoc tribe used the lava beds as a defensive stronghold during the Modoc War of 1872-73 and this is where they held off the US Army for five months.
Those Modocs were tough! And I thought Tule Lake was hell for the Japanese Americans. The Modocs fought long and hard to stay here, in this barren land, where summers are hotter than hell and winters are colder than hell! They holed up in lava beds and caves, starving, rather than be driven out by the settlers.
I want to go and visit the internment camps but Big Dog is not interested. Guess I’ll have to do it on my own, some other time. Instead, we drive by Tule Lake, a paradise of birds, and lush farmlands. It looks like they are growing rice here, from the irrigation canals.
Merrill shows up just in time for lunch, at a local restaurant called Pappy Ganders. The parade must be over because the town looks pretty deserted.
From Merrill, we continue up 39 to Klamath Falls. On the edge of the city, there’s a house with little birdhouses for sale in the front yard.
“It said 5 dollars!” and I make Big Dog stop so I can go and buy one. Up close, I realize that, yes, these really ARE 5 dollar birdhouses – none of them are very well crafted – but I get the best of the lot anyway, from a toothless, scary-looking man with unkempt hair.
The city of Klamath Falls looks big and boring so we just keep going north along Highway 97, on the eastern edge of Upper Klamath Lake. After the road splits and we’re on 62, things become more forested. This must be the foot of the volcano that created Crater Lake.
When we enter Crater Lake National Park and get to the Visitor Center, we are shocked. The place is mobbed with people, most of them East Indian. Add in the Chinese and the place is a zoo. The East Indians for some reason travel in huge groups – are they multi-family groups? Each one is at least a dozen people so they seem to overpopulate the place.
Of course there are no campsites available but the ranger say there are several outside the park, so we drive along the Rim, taking in the sights, most of them crowded with loud and happy mobs. Big Dog is sorely disappointed.
Finally, we find a spot that seems deserted and stop there. In this quiet, I finally understand why the indigenous people came here on vision quests. There is a divine beauty and an air of intense spirituality. Crater Lake is meant to be visited alone – with no other people in sight.
We don’t know where we’ll spend the night. The campgrounds might all be full by now. Big Dog turns off at the Union Creek Trailhead and finds a level-ish clearing. This will do, I shrug, but when Big Dog returns from his scouting mission, he wants to leave.
“The place is full of mozzies. I got nailed all over my legs just on that little walk!”
They have just found out about me and are starting to come at me, too.
So we continue down, along the Rogue River, and soon come to the Farewell Bend campground. There is one last spot available! It’s already getting dark so we quickly make dinner and settle in for the night.