Open Road

Lost Days

[Reposting these with backdating for the sake of completeing my LJ... with the travel accounts. -- li]

With the LJ denial of service attacks and me not having quite as much internet as I wanted to keep posting, I'm in catch up mode today, I think.

We're out in Susanville, CA, and took a couple of days to do it. Monday was river rafting in the Klamath River. Tuesday was seeing the redwoods in Stout Grove and Lady Bird Johnson Groves. Wednesday was wandering out East to the Lassen Volcano Park, and today we're headed out to Carson City to see if we can get me a pair of cowboy boots that I actually like. *laughs*

I was supposed to host the LJ site for Torquere yesterday, and we got the broadband that amberley suggested and it worked beautifully; however, Livejournal was having so many problems, that Torquere's decided to delay our host day until the 10th of August. Hope to see you there.



Captain John
We've been rafting before, though mostly the touristy stuff with professional outfits. Paul, John's eldest brother, is really into it. He's done the Colorado River, lead multiple expeditions down the Wild and Scenic Rogue (including one with John and I on it), and taken us, multiple times, down a particular section of the Klamath in the summer. We've done this leg of it at least three times, once with Jet when he was only five or six, so Jet didn't remember it at all.

This time we wanted him to remember, and yes, that's him in one of the inflatable kayaks between the two rafts. He went through the whole ride in the little kayak, paddling for himself, and getting dumped only once, and that was when David and Marina got dumpe don the same rock that took Jet out because he was following them pretty closely.

The river was just high enough to smooth out the ride for a lot of the riffles. The rapids were as bumpy and interesting as ever, and nothing was higher than a 3 (for those that don't know the rafting ratings, 1's easiest, 5's need professional training but are just doable and you're likely to spill, so 3's are pretty straightforward but can bump you about or spill you if you don't have any idea what you're doing).

The weather was perfect, sunny and cloudless and in the high 80's. The water was warmer than the Lake of the Woods, and the flow was nice and clear. We could clearly see the bottom and all the rocks we were floating over. Nearly no slit and the water was clean and excellent swimming. We had Isabel and Jan in the raft with oars, Marina in one kayak, Jet in the other. George, David, John, Paul, and I were in the raft guided by a bunch of paddlers. With a commercial rafting trip, one of those would have had six to eight people and the guide in the back, but with us we did all right, and even after we scrambled everyone after lunch, with Jan, George, John and I in the paddle raft, and Paul, Marina, and Isabel in the oar raft, we had plenty of power in the raft to get it straight through the ride.

We got to see the river the way few do, drifting along every inch of it that wasn't a rapid that we had to maneuver through. A bald eagle was fishing and it skimmed the water three times in a row right in front of us. An osprey perched on a dead tree over us, watching us until we got close, and then we saw her wings spread white against the blue sky. There were leathery brown turtles sunning themselves along the bank and on branches over the river, and there were white, long-legged cranes, cormorants, and other birds. The wildflowers were bright pink, blue, and yellow across green-gold fields, and when the sun got too hot, we'd just dunk ourselves in the river to cool off. It was wonderful.

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About two-thirds of the way in there was a rapid that had a chain of standing waves after, and a wonderfully calm eddy to the right side of it. It was easy to ride down the waves, paddle, swim, or walk up the side and do it all again. Jet and Marina did it multiple times, while us bigger people did it once or twice, and then watched the kids tumble about in the waves and swim back under Paul's watchful eye. We kept someone downstream just in case.

Of course, the kids then rode the next two small riffles in the water. They just swam it, and we picked them up in the long calm after. At the end of the ride, we washed everything off, loaded the rafts up and headed back to Paul and Jan's house. From there we went to a Thai restaurant and ate soup and eight whole dishes with all nine of us, and had no leftovers. *laughs* We were pretty hungry.

Everyone left Paul's and Jan's by eight the next morning. They had to go to work, and David took George and Isabel back north with him. It was kind of a sad parting, but the three of us were finally alone with just ourselves and no agenda or plan. John wanted to go out to the coast and see the Redwoods, so we did that, and Paul had mentioned Stout Grove as a wonderful place to see them. I was used to the drive-thru areas further to the south, where the big, red trees stand all around, and one of them is a tunnel to drive through. The Stout grove was closer to the coast, and the road up was nearly single-track and mostly dirt. Different than what I'd seen before, but once we were up there, the trees were thickly set everywhere you looked!

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I was impressed. They crowded the road, crowded the parking lot, and went all the way to the water of a river that was being bridged by a bunch of convicts in bright orange. There was a two mile long path that we walked, while trying not to get eaten by mosquitoes, and while it was a sunny, bright day, nearly none of the sunlight actually reached ground.

Jet and I fell asleep as John made his way out to the coast, we had lunch at Crescent City and then also walked the mile long loop at Lady Bird Johnson grove. The big trees were amazing, and were in the midst of old growth forests that had been preserved when everything around them was cut. The newer growth forests were a good 70-80 years old, but so thin compared to the huge old trees.

We slept in Arcata that night, after a very eclectic dinner at 3 Foods Cafe. This is at the edge of the Northern California wine country and the kinds of restaurants available really showed. We stopped at the downtown plaza for ice cream and were reminded of Taos and Santa Fe.

Mud Pot
Yesterday we wrestled with the broadband to make it work, but didn't need it as much as we thought we did. We ended up in Lassen Volcano Park, going much further than we thought we would, as I didn't have to do the live updates to Livejournal. John had wanted to visit Lassen for years.

It's a small park up in northern California and the site of the first recorded volcanic eruption on US soil (this is before Hawaii became a part of the US). Lassen volcano blew its top to glass plate photographs, and became a national park for the effort. *laughs* It was a beautiful drive through snow-covered pine forests on the peaks of big mountains that "coulda been" contenders for really really high peaks if the volcanos here hadn't lost their tempers.

It was beautiful, and fun to stop for mud pots and to just say the words "Bumpass Hell", one of the scenic paths one could take on the side of the park.

That was fun. We ended up here, and it actually feels a bit more like vacation, now that I don't have to do anything for the book anymore, and we're on our own agenda. We'll be heading East some more along US 50 -- "The Loneliest Highway in America". *laughs* Now THAT sounds promising.
Oh, you went to 3 Foods! My friends had their rehearsal dinner there when they got married last April. Yum. ^___^ And Bonboniere is fabulous (although I still like The Arcata Scoop better) - I used to get chocolate-dipped cheesecake and bananas there in addition to ice cream, which is Humboldt Creamery, if I remember correctly. Did you stay at Hotel Arcata on the Plaza, or one of the chain hotels in north Arcata?

So glad you enjoyed the redwoods! Wish I could have gotten Arcata recs to you sooner, but you found good places all on your own.
We did have a wonderful time there! Neat that you enjoyed both places, too! I loved the Humboldt Sweet Cream, but next time we'll have to find the Arcata Scoop!

If I'd actually known which way we were going to go, I'd have asked!! I know you know the area so well. *hugs*
Carla and James used to have an inflatable kayak like the one that Jet used here. What I remember most about those kayaks was how they would quite reliably fold in half going over Nantahala Falls.