Saying goodby to Ashland Sunday morning, we swung back onto I-5, driving south through the jumble of southern Oregon mountains, where the Cascades consort with the coast range. This, to my mind, is the best scenery on all of I-5.
And then one goes around a corner, the sign says welcome to California, and Mt. Shasta looms.
At the town of Mt. Shasta (south of the actual mountain) we turned left — whenever possible, we turn left at Mt. Shasta and travel to Susanville via Rt. 89, Rt 44, and RT 36. This is a relatively flat way through the Sierras to the eastside, sometimes not travel-able because of snow and ice, with a couple of summits over 7000 feet and one over 8000 feet. But the day and road were dry and clear, and the woodsy-woods on rt 89 etc., are Jer’s favorite. It’s a little traveled two-lane road; the trees come within kissing distance.
And after the ponderosa pines, one descends into a high broad desert valley, out of the mountains, onto basin and range county and Susanville.
Susanville has a charming name. I once took a charming photo of the moon rising over the old town. I always think of the town fondly. It is not, however, an especially charming town. The photo below shows our motel’s surrounds.
However, it had one great attribute, notable when we woke this AM — see those shadows? There was the fulsome, flavorful, eye-squinting desert sky and sun.
From Susanville, we picked up US Rt 395 (the same that goes through eastern Oregon, near John Day) and we followed the east side of the Sierras south — desert and desert mountains on one side; peaks and snow and cascading landslides on the other:
Except for the Carson Valley, where Reno and a host of burbs and shopping centers fill the entire space, this highway is also a delight, especially as today it was completely dry and safe. The mountains we followed south were patterned with snow interrupted by trees and ridges and sagebrush.
Our favorite spot along the highway between Susanville and Bishop is near the entrance to Yosemite’s (eastern) backside; it’s the town of Lee Vining, where the Nicely Cafe is located next to a crafts/tchotchke store outside of which hulks the Magic Grizzly. The magic of the grizzly comes from putting coins on its tongue, three times, and, according to the sign, if the money goes into the stump the bear sits on, good luck will follow. The sign did not say who gets the luck. I thought I’d save my coins for chewing gum.
And so we came to Bishop, California, which has more motels than churches or bars; it appears to be a fishing town, although as we are staying on the strip, the only catches we saw were fish-and-chips. As we inched down a 3-foot sidewalk to a restaurant down the road from the motel, I mentioned to Jer that we hadn’t seen the downtown. He commented, over the roar of a humongous truck, that perhaps we were already in the downtown. Ah the joys of travel.
Tomorrow we are taking a slow trip to Barstow. We are planning to stop and explore the area around Lone Pine, hoping to be able to get into the Japanese Internment Camp museum located near there. –June