Swimming, Faux Housekeeping, Real Caves:

A Cancer's Midsummer Odyssey

Note: to see a larger version of any of these pictures, just click on it.

July 4

This was Bob's 45th birthday, and it was mercifully free of conflict about whether to have a party in competition with our guests' holiday plans; we didn't. Instead, we headed North on U.S. 101, our first destination: Arcata, hippie antipode of Carmel's cuteness. We were armed with most of our camping equipment, a couple ideas of where to go, and my brand new digital camera. First stop, deep in the redwoods, was the Drive Thru Tree, one of many unique world famous Drive Thru Trees in the redwood country:

We soon banished that nagging sense of goal-orientation by impromptu immersion in the Eel River:

 

We made it to Arcata in time to enjoy the last remnants of the July 4th craft fair on the town square. The smell of beer and the sight of sunburn, and a lot of impromptu jostling among folks who were not walking straight would have meant lots of fights, at, for example, the Garlic Festival in Gilroy. Nonetheless there was a remarkably friendly atmosphere, due to the fine local marijuana. I got a quick beer at the "Sidelines" bar,

one of four gracing the North side of the town square. before returning to the "Lady Anne" bed and breakfast for an hour of peace and reflection (translation: nap time for them, reading time for me). We dined at the local Italian place, then watched the fireworks from a nearby street corner.

 

July 5

After a splendid carbo-load at our slightly shabby bed and breakfast, we bade goodbye to the civilized comforts of the "Lady Anne":

and drove towards the Oregon Caves, with a stop to swim in the Smith River:

The Caves are made of marble, which is a tonier building material than the usual limestone, but not

always better for making jewelled stalactites and evocative stalagmites. Our tour included plastic helmets and a somewhat under-prepared tour guide, a biology student with one week of geology under his belt. He explained that this was the one place in the national parks system where tours were now given by concession employees not knowledgeable, career park employees. Nice kid, but not a real scientist. We spent the night at the Caves Creek National Forest campground, where we discovered that I had only packed about half the camping supplies. We prepared a tolerable meal of pork tenderloin and sauteed mushrooms.

 

July 6

The Berkeley guidebook warns that Grant's Pass, Oregon like its larger sibling, Medford, has little to recommend it. But we found it to have an adequate coffee place and a perfectly dynamite supermarket, where we stocked up on motor oil, propane, and fresh fruit. We made it to Crater Lake National Park by 1:30 pm. There we encountered our most important summer surprise, snow:

The campground had only just been opened for use, most trails were still closed, and we couldn't even drive the whole way around the lake. We made the best of it, going for a short hike above the Crater Lake Inn, and admiring the views.

 

Are you looking up at the sky or down at the lake?:

TheCrater Lake Inn was a comic imitation of the Ahwanee, with a menu featuring prose entries like "The Crater Burger, Eleven Dollars and Ninety-Five Cents". The evening was cold, yet nonetheless plagued by mosquitos. Good thing we brought our air mattress, shown here during testing:

July 7

This was to have been the big day at Crater Lake, featuring the boat ride out to Wizard Island. But the boat won't be taking passengers until July 20. We instead enjoyed our hike down to the lake surface,

then headed South. Before we gave up on Oregon, though, Mary suggested that we stop in Ashland. It turned out to be the best bit of non planning of our whole trip. Though the Shakespeare festival was sold out, we were able to get the last three seats, front row, no less, for Brecht's "Good Person of Setzuan." This parable about the impossibility and necessity of doing good in a evil world was witty and rewarding, but for a treacly coda at the end. Mary insisted that we check the local bookstore to see if it had been added for this production, but, no, it was the author's original text. Here are Mary and Nora in a digitally framed "action" shot outside the theater, and in our quaint cramped hotel.

I closed the evening down the block at the "Black Sheep Pub", where the sign promses "ewe" will feel at home. With a pint of Fuller's ESB in hand, my journal in front of me, the English Beat on the sound system, bartenders with piercings, guys reading paperbacks at empty tables, and a lesbian couple making out, "eye" certainly did feel at home.

July 8

At last we set off for the famed Trinity Alps,

that under-known region I've longed for years to visit. While we didn't get up to any real Alps, we had a beautiful drive down Route 3, past farms and over a couple mountain passes while Nora read a novel in the back seat. We stopped to soak our feet in one of the mountain streams.

We would be camping for two nights on Trinity Lake, formed by a dam and opened in 1961. The name of our campsite, which included a boat ramp and large sandy beach, is redolent of the pristine beauty, and sings of nature untouch'd: Tannery Gulch. We talked to the campground hosts for an hour about the local history.

July 9

On this, our sole day where no driving needed to be done, Mary and Nora spent the day at the beach:

While I made an attempt on nearby Granite Peak, shown on our map as 7800 feet. While the trail was overgrown and I couldn't follow it all the way to the top, I nonetheless had a glorious aerobic and solitary afternoon, the only solitude I got, or needed, during this week.

In the evening, we drove into Weaverville, seeking blackened salmon and microbrewery beer. We instead found a failing ex mining town with nowhere near enough tourists; to sustain its meager attractions.

July 10

After a final campsite meal,

we swam and read books for the first half of the day, then drove to Lewiston by way of Trinity Dam. The BLM had lost control of a so-called "controlled burn" a few days before and we wanted to see what the local reaction was to losing two dozen homes and two thousand acres of forest

 

to bureaucratic incompetence. The bar at the Lewiston Inn is a little museum of anti-Clinton memorabilia and old license plates. The bartender served us water from a pitcher which had been soaking in bleach and wasn't rinsed. For graciously surviving this {trivial accident, attempt on our lives}, we were rewarded with free drinks. Not a bad deal, though the bleach tasted even worse than the natural mineral fountain in downtown Ashland.

We drove by some of the damage while helicopters gathered data overhead:

Then we hit the road for home. After an hour we stopped to savor the 110 degree head in Redding, and went to Target for supplies for our next trip, Burning Man. Three cruise-controlled hours later, and thirty degrees cooler, we pulled our Ford off I-80 in Fairfield for dinner at Chevy's. As dinner hour had faded into bar hour, service was haphazard. After I'd been reduced to asking if we'd be getting our fajitas before ski season, the meal arrived, gratis. Our server had stuck up for our rights, after all. Here's to you, Janelle, wherever you are. We arrived home to find we had no important phone messages and that all of our pets were still alive.

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Photos by Bob Carasik and Mary Dryovage, text by Bob Carasik. Last updated, July 18, 1999