Finally…a visit to Crater Lake…

For several decades, I’ve lived near to Crater Lake but never visited. There was always something else to do, or it would cost too much, etc. Than when I retired and started traveling full time I figured, hell, now I’ll be able to visit! So no hurry! And as it turned out, the best time of the year to visit Crater Lake is in the summer, but I’d usually head over to the coast to take advantage of the mild temperatures by the coast during summers. Over where you’d hang out before a visit to the lake it would be desert hot.

Well, the years flew by and before I knew it, 9 years had passed after my retirement and all my traveling and I’d not visited yet. So I shifted my northbound travel over to the east side of Oregon where the lake is best approached in order to increase the chance that I’ll be able to stop there one year. And for 3 years it seemed I either just missed the spring opening, or just missed the period before the winter closing. The weather there is unpredictable to say the least, they’ve even had snow in July!

This year (2017) I decided to actually plan a trip there so beginning in February while I was still in Mexico, that’s what I did. I wanted to combine several activities as I headed north. One was to volunteer at Lake Tahoe, another was to revisit the Ice Caves and visit Capt’n Jack’s Stronghold near Tulelake, California, another was to visit the Burns area in eastern Oregon and make a final decision about whether or not to make Burns my home base as far as VA health was concerned. See the Portland area has just become way too crowded in the RV parks during the best time of year to visit. Expensive too. They do have a really nice VA clinic in Fairview near Portland that I used, and the hospital in Portland is well known and well favored by patients, but the Portland area was just becoming to much of a hassle. No more zipping into town, visiting the clinic, leaving town within a few days. Now I have to make reservations, stay a month at a RV park to minimize expenses.

Well, as I drifted north starting back in February, I tried to take new to me travel routes in order to experience new scenery. I did most of what I planned on doing along the way, and eventually, it was an auspicious time to visit Crater Lake. To do that I head north from Merrill, Oregon…just a days drive from the road that takes you to Crater Lake. It was early August by that time and yes, I planned it that way. Had great fun along the route staying at out of the way places and visiting new RV parks for longer periods.

On August 8th it was time to head up to the Crater Lake RV Resort. It’s only a 2 hour drive from Merrill so I didn’t leave Merrill until 11 am and dawdled along the way.

Lots of farms along this route.

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Around and about…

After visiting the Lava Beds & Capt’n Jack’s StrongholdI didn’t have much more to do in Merrill except ride my bike around town and occasionally take a drive here or there. Also found a neat golf course outside of town. Nine holes for $13, which included a rental hand cart to drag my new found golf clubs around. If you remember, back when I was in San Felipe, Baja Mexico, early this year, I went to a thrift store looking for a camping chair, and found a full golf bag for $12. Quite the bargain, and the equipment was all top notch. So I’ve been carrying them around with me for 4 months and here in Merrill I found a convenient golf course to practice at.


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Capt’n Jacks Stronghold…

During the visit to the ice cavesI gathered info about touring Capt’n Jack’s Stronghold from the FS desk. Found that the ranger showed up there at 9 AM, I could meet him there, and get a guided tour. That sounded interesting so became my plan. Next morning, drove over to the national park main entrance once again, and took the left for the 8 mile drive to the stronghold. Got there about 15 minutes early and just hung out in the parking lot. There was already a Forest Service truck in the parking lot but I figured it was there for some other reason. At 9:15, I was getting a bit antsy and started to doubt that I’d heard the time right the previous day. Maybe she’d said 10 am?

Eventually decided to just hike the trail without the guide. A little disappointing but I guessed I’d see most everything even without a guide. And there’s the fact that I’d read at least 5 books about this whole story.

Off in that direction is Tulelake. So far away nowadays you can’t even see it. During Capt’n Jack’s time the shore would have been much closer. In fact the shoreline would have been where that road in the near distance is, just 100 feet behind my car.

There’s the forest service truck. A half hour of waiting was long enough for me, so I just started hiking along the trail for a self guided tour. There’s a brochure available for $1 at the beginning of the loop hike I was happy to find and I picked one up. At each point of interest noted in the brochure there’s a post with a number painted on it. Because of the very dry and hot summers, and the brutal winters, most of the numbers are illegible now. There’s 23 points of interest so too many site descriptions to republish here, you’ll just have to come visit the stronghold yourself.  Looks kind of remote doesn’t it? That dry area past the road is where the lake use to be. And was the only source of water for the Modoc during most of the battle over 5 months here. But there was rainwater and snow melt too. Just never enough for all the people. And here’s the start of the lava fields. From the parking lot, it’s about 50 feet up. Not very inviting up here. Rough terrain.  And the blacktop trail quickly changed to dirt and gravel. Still, much better than trying to walk on chunks of broken up lava. This trail, and most of the others I’ll trod today, are the actual trails the Modoc used during the fighting. Off in the distance, Mt. Shasta.

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Visit to the Lava Beds National Park…

First thing I planned on doing after arriving in Merrill was to visit the Lava Beds. So 2-3 days after I’d settled in Merrill, off I went. The park entrance I headed for is the Gillems Camp entrance (seasonal) as it was the shortest route from Merrill. It’s only 20 miles away from the town.

Stopped at the Tulelake overlook again but once again, didn’t see any wildlife. Wrong time of year maybe?

The road ‘T’s a short distance before the park entrance and I turned right. If I’d turned left, that would have sent me to Capt’n Jack’s Stronghold Historic Trail. I’ll do that some other day. I’ll be in Merrill a week or more so no hurry.

A short distance after making the turn is a NP style kiosk where you would pay if someone was there. It was shortly before 9 am so it was unoccupied and I continued to the Visitor Center around 8 miles on. The high desert topography is interesting so the trip through the area is interesting. Occasionally there are signs alongside the road with interesting facts so I’d stop and check them out.

Lots of lava around here…

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Visit to Merrill, Oregon…

Many decades ago, I visited the Tulelake region of Northern California. That visit was probably in the 1970’s and I probably went with the Outdoor Club I was involved with during my 2 years at Mt. Hood Community College over in Gresham, Oregon. We often went on hiking trips as a group to exchange backpacking ideas and methods. Anyway, so I’d visited Ice Caves and remembered them fondly, but my memories had faded enough that I only had the vaguest idea about where those caves might be.  I was pretty sure they were in Northern California just south of the Oregon border though. So, as I left Reno I just headed towards Tulelake. I knew Capt’n Jack’s Stronghold and ice caves were in that area. I have read several books about Capt’n Jack and his tribes standoff with the US Army and wanted to visit his stronghold too. It’s also a lava caves area but not as neat as the regular caves.

I chose the little town of Merrill nearby the lake to stay in. There’s two RV parks there, and one of them is a Passport America park so it would be half price. There’s a couple more parks further afield but I wanted to spend some time in a small town so maybe I’d be able to take care of some of the small projects I had in the ‘2do’ jar. Merrill is only 20 miles south of Klamath Falls with all it’s big box stores and whatever so I could always run up there to get things or shop if needed.

But first, needed to leave the Grand Sierra Resort RV Park in Reno. And after just a few minutes of driving, I’m in the outskirts of Reno. Heading for the hills and Oregon.

Starting to get some high desert evergreen trees. Note the road is 2-lane, older, and not traveled much. Suits me fine.

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Stopover in Reno…

I’ve neglected posting for a while, but it’s been a busy time. Had more than my share of trouble with the TV, Satellite, and DTV receiver. Than I needed to get the RV’s muffler tailpipe replaced and the tail tip installed to direct the diesel exhaust down and away from the front of my car as I tow it. All that and more conspired to delay this posting.

We’ll pick up at Stateline with a few pictures of the area around there. The day after Tom and I were hanging around, I wanted to take the gondola up to the ski area. So that’s where we’ll start…at this point, I still was parking at the RV park, and drove the car up to Stateline, a matter of only a couple-three miles.

Had trouble finding a parking place but eventually, ended up here for breakfast. I was pleased to see the gondolas running. But I didn’t see any people in them. Hmm.

So after b-fast, went over to the ticket office, and discover the gondolas are closed for maintenance. Doh! echoed off the mountainside. Crap. Went back to the RV, Tom and I decided there wasn’t any reason to stay another night, so he got his money back, and we both went our separate ways. Me heading to Reno, he and his family, somewhere else.

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Retrospective – Trip down the creek…

My last article indicated that I’d left Lake Tahoe…which I did. But I wanted to backtrack in time a bit and write an article of my trip around the Taylor Creek area there in Tahoe. This creek was once a human caused disaster that emptied effluent into Lake Tahoe. It was dying because of the harm humans were doing upstream and harming the lake in the process. So the Forest Service took it over and for many years has been acting to ensure pure water enters the lake. Mostly by letting it return to a natural state. With some light handed help from the FS. It’s making a comeback as a water filtration system, helping to keep the lake one of the clearest and cleanest in the world.

While I was staying in So. Lake Tahoe at the Tallac Historic Baldwin Estate, I was only 1/4 mile from the creek, and I’d just found a bike to buy so it was time to combine a trip to the creek with some bike riding.

Started the trip at the Baldwin Museum. I travel on the bike path towards the left.

And soon the bike path puts me near the lake shore. Almost looks like the mountains are floating over there.

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Postings in the RV section…

Over the past few weeks, I’ve added some new postings to the RV repair section of the blog so if you like that sort of article, enjoy!

Awning strap replacement…

Bedroom TV mounting and entertainment center…

Product Eval – Bike Rack…

Product Eval – V-Spoilers…

Toilet Seal replacement…


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Wrap up to Tahoe visit…

Had a great time working for the FS at Lake Tahoe, but the 5 weeks were coming to a close. Still had snow in the hills and a chill in the evening air but the days were sunny and warm.

Did a drive around to check out the local golf courses. This is on US-50 just a few miles south from the ‘Y’. There was another course further on. Both very nice, and rather expensive. And both with evidence of the very wet and brutal winter they’d had here. I would have played a round but I was still looking for golf shoes and a glove that I like.

Later on I went to downtown Stateline and just a couple blocks from city center is a public golf course owned by the city that I wanted to check out. I’d decided to go ahead and play there despite not having the shoes or glove. But it was closed ! (mid June) because the poor winter weather had saturated the ground so the trees were still unstable, there was standing water here and there on the course, etc.. That made me sad. Oh, well, some other time.

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Working around Lake Tahoe…

My secondary reason for volunteering at Lake Tahoe was to use the physical exertion needed to help get my body back in shape. I’ve been too sedentary the last couple years and I had my bike stolen last August so I’m not even getting that exercise. That’s the secondary reason…the primary reason is to help make the historical buildings and artifacts on site attractive and interesting to my fellow citizens for years to come, and while doing so, making them safe from the ravages of time.

But back to the secondary reason for volunteering here, exercise, and the first week, I really felt all that walking in my hips, ankles, and knees. I’d go home after my shift and would be exhausted, collapsing into my chair and just zoning out for an hour. All that physical activity though really paid off because after the first week, my hips were feeling pretty good, another week and my ankles were fine, followed by my knees feeling better the week after. That activity really helped limber up the body framework.

And then, one evening after work I was driving towards town, and there’s a Thrift shop I pass by and outside there were nearly 25 used bikes for sale. And damned if the guy didn’t have a dual suspension bike in really excellent condition. I test rode it and everything worked, but it had those stupid plastic pedals. Had him change those out for metal pedals, paid him $78 (that sort of bike was $150 and up retail) and now I have a comfy bike to ride. Also stopped at the KMart and bought a new heavy cable lock for it. I do have the U bolt lock but those are so cumbersome, and with this style bike, there’s not a good place to attach it to the frame when I’m riding, and a cable lock is so much more convenient.


One of my projects at Baldwin was to sand and repaint a Forest Service sign. But that wasn’t keeping me busy enough and I decided to donate a saw cover to protect the big chop saw Bob (a FS employee who had been with the FS for decades. I believe he’s in his mid-70’s but he’s not slowing down any) bought and donated to the FS because he felt the volunteer crew needed it, and the FS didn’t want to buy one for over $300. Since he’d done that, I thought I’d donate a cover for it.

Here’s a shot of the shop a couple weeks into the 1st session. Very crowded with stuff. You can get 3 or 4 guys in here working with the power equipment though.

And our tool room.

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