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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More from Lake Tahoe…

Just a week and a couple days after arriving at Lake Tahoe, there was to be a field trip for the volunteers. We were to make our own way to Virginia City (VC). A field trip is something the FS does once each 5 week work session for the volunteers. Sort of a way to say thanks for all our hard work with a day off, and to give us some insight on the area’s history. This trip was around 70 miles round trip with no transportation provided and most car pooled it…but those were people over at the Baldwin RV park, while I was in the Tallac RV park. There were just me and Steve & wife at this park, and they weren’t going. So I drove by myself. Took the car naturally, and it’s a pleasant enough drive on good road. As you approach VC, there’s a Y with a sign saying that trucks and RVs should take the alternate route because the road is so steep. And boy, is it ever. But, eventually, I made it up into town, and parked in a paid parking lot right next to the Bucket of Blood saloon. My dad once owned a bar in Seattle named the same. I wondered if it was here that he got the name? He use to travel extensively as a long haul taxi driver.

Well, I’ll never know the answer to that at this point, but it’s interesting to think about. After we arrived, our guide Ellie gave us free rane to roam around the downtown area to take advantage of the opportunities to shop, eat, gamble. We’re to meet later and go to the cemetery as a group to explore.

First, I have to pass through Stateline on the south shore of Lake Tahoe. Past all those casinos…

Then there’s this tunnel. When I came through there a week ago it was during a heavy rainstorm mixed with snow.

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Enjoying Lake Tahoe…

The next day at Lake Tahoe, the snow had already begun to melt, and I did another walk around but this time took a look at the Pope estate. The pond I showed pictures of last time is on the Pope Estate and these shots are again of the pond and just a bit further inside the property. And in better weather. Although a coat was needed, the warm sun helped to lift the spirit.

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On the road to Lake Tahoe…

After 15 days in Beatty, it was time to head on to the Tallac Historic site on the south western shore of Lake Tahoe where I’ll be volunteering. There are 4 sessions from May 8th until September and if you want to help, check out the FS website. The sessions are 5 weeks long, but they need volunteers so they are flexible with start and stop times. Myself, I plan on being here 7 weeks, maybe 8. One husband and wife team just left after 4 weeks as they had other commitments, another couple put in 3 weeks. The work is varied and nearly everyone has skills that are needed. I (like nearly everyone else) have several skills so I do a bit of everything. Whatever they ask me to do here. But I’ll get into that in more detail later on.

Again, on the travel day, May 6th, I had a long way to go, and scheduled myself to leave Beatty RV Park at 6 AM. I’ve been waking up at 5 ish for months now so it’s not a hardship. Seems to come with age, getting up real early. This trip is 330 miles. Traveling through some remote areas, over desert, up and down mountains. My favorite type of trip.

My Journey RV is working very well when on the road, but as I’ve mentioned in earlier postings, sometimes the slides just won’t operate after I’ve been parked for several days. And this morning was no exception. The slide wouldn’t pull in. So I grabbed my trusty rubber mallet and headed straight out to the controller assembly under the LR slide and thumped it a few times. Still nothing. Hmmm. Clocks ticking…this time around, I buried half my body under there getting a close up of the guts of the HWH hydraulic slide manifold and wiggled and tugged at the wired connections and the connectors. Viola’, it worked, the slides started working again. So, OK, now I know what to fix. When I have the time and inclination, I’d pull all those connectors under there apart and clean them. Maybe add some dielectric grease to protect them from road moisture. They are relatively protected by the design of the chassis but still need a slightly better cover or something.

After that little hiccup, I was still able to get moving and on the road by 6:15.     Just 5-10 miles from Beatty, this wide spot. Looking around, I could see that this was once a very busy one of those roadside business with the fuel and cafe ready for the weary traveler. It has seen better days as it’s looking a bit run down. Still hanging on though. That peak in the distance is rather unusual too.

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