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.
And soon I drop down into the valleys of northern California. Huge valleys up this way. And the occasional lake. You could tell by looking that this lake floods and recedes regularly. After just 4 hours on the road at a leisurely pace, arrive at Merrill. Pretty clean looking and not many people out. The RV park I’m looking for is just beyond that water tower.Funny thing about it, was that the RV park I was looking for was the very next park just beyond the one I stopped at. Since the manager wasn’t there where I stopped, I went ahead and hooked up and got settled, went back to pay as I figured the manager would be back by then, and that’s when I found out it was NOT a Passport America park. Confusion on both our parts when I tried to use my PPA card and she wouldn’t take it. So I ended up paying $34 for the night, mainly because it would have been too much hassle to move the RV. Next day, at checkout, drove just 50 feet or so, entered at the next driveway and signed in at the PPA park for $15/night. Meh. Not a big problem about the price, but the annoyance of setting up and then breaking camp the next day and then almost immediately setting up camp again is kinda not fun. But I was going to be there at least a week so moving the next day wasn’t all that bad and saving money is also nice.
Well, whatever, so now I was in Merrill and the first thing I noticed is how nice of a little town it is. Clean, has the services you might need, Ace Hardware, auto shops, tire repair place. Several places to eat. A nice size grocery store with bargains, a dollar store, etc. Even had a nice bar with food. I checked that place out the first evening I was in town and had a very nice mushroom and bacon burger dinner. Yumm.
Here’s where I stayed, after I’d moved over to the PPA park named Wild Goose Lodge the next afternoon. It is a lodge first and a RV park second but that meant the facilities for RVs are new. So everything worked, and worked well. Gravel parking, but nice and flat. No shade until afternoon, and the trees back there are so big that I had a nice shadow covering the entire RV.
Here’s looking over towards that other RV park. It starts beyond those buildings and vehicles and trees and such. There were several cabins that border that park. So there’s three business right here, the lodge, the cabins, and another RV park where I stayed the night before. You can tell from the dried grasses that it gets hot around here. It was June when I arrived and though the mornings and evenings were cool, midday was usually a scorcher. So my neighbor’s husband is a hunter, and he was gone for a couple days after I got there. Their RV is the one on the right in this next picture…with the wooden steps and deck. The day he arrived though, I watched them through my living room slide window from my table as he unloaded his ‘hunting’ truck. One item was a rifle. So she is standing on the step landing taking items he’s passing to her, and he hands her the rifle, barrel first, with his hand clutching the trigger area. She grabs the barrel and pulls it towards her as he is off balanced trying to manage the stuff in his other hand. Whoa! I shrink back from the window expecting a gunshot and bullet to her brain. But luckily, no, the rifle didn’t fire and she successfully removed it from his grip. All the while holding the end of the barrel to her chest just over her heart while she is wrestling it from him, while he’s not even noticing as he juggles the other stuff. Damn people, I didn’t want my heart racing due to your stupidity and I certainly didn’t want to see someone almost shot! All’s well that ends well I guess.
So to scope out the area, I take a test drive out the the Tulelake area. It’s around 20 miles from where I’m staying. Back country roads are in fine shape though.
So I stopped at an overlook of the lake. It use to be much larger but most of it was drained for farmland. Before it was totally ruined for wildlife, it was designated as a National Wildlife Refuge. It was morning and so the sun was right in my face towards the east, making for some difficult shots. Now looking westerly.
A few miles beyond this lake overlook is the National Historical Site, the Ice Caves, and Capt’n Jack’s Stronghold and we’ll get to those the next time. I didn’t visit them this first trip out I was just scoping out the land.
Thanks for visiting!