The Road Less Travelled #4

Crater Lake, Oregon

Redding, CA to Bend, OR

I arrived in Reno with the intention of going to Lassen Volcanic National Park, but when I woke up I started doing a little bit of research and I realised that I would not be able to handle the drive.  Lassen’s website described the roads as “treacherous” with “2000 foot drop-offs.”  Reviewers called the roads “dangerous” and “scary.”  I already had a big problem driving in Yosemite, I’m not going some place described as “scary.”  No thanks.

I drove right on passed it and eventually stopped in Redding, California.  I was supposed to keep going to Mount Shasta City but they don’t have my hotel chain there so I stopped early.  I will have to say that Redding, California is one of the nicest places I’ve ever visited.  I mean nice as far as the people being friendly and outgoing.  The city is clean and open and everybody looks happy and healthy.  I just really liked it there.

I was able to check in very early, which was a good thing because the place eventually sold out.  If I had stopped in Lassen I probably would not have been able to get a room.  The front desk clerk told me a good spot to get some eats, but I drove around town for a little while and found the mall.  It’s not big and they definitely don’t have any haute couture but I wasn’t really looking to shop.  I found one shoe store I liked but the store was run by the one rude person in the whole town.  I decided not to buy from him and then found another shoe store I ended up trying to buy the place out.  They had these weird ass shoes called Dancekos.  I’ve never heard of that brand.  They’re like clogs, but not.  They’re expensive as shit, but they’re comfortable.

Since I had a long run planned for the next day I mapped out a few spots.  I do have a GPS watch but when you don’t know a city, you have to drive around to make sure places have sidewalks or bike lanes.  You also need to look at the neighbourhood to make sure you’re not running through gangsta territory, or some such.  There could also be places where pedestrians are not allowed.  Because the run is so long I have to start before sunup; I have to find these things out before I hit the ole dusty trail.

I went to a place called Duke’s for dinner.  I brought along my textbooks and did some reading while waiting for my meal to arrive.  The server was really nice.  Like I said, everyone in the city was just really nice.  I told my dad it’s because this is northern California and they have a lot of wine up here.  Wine makes people happy.  Nothing wrong with that.  As I finished dinner the server asked me if I wanted dessert.  I was on the fence.  Long run tomorrow, don’t want anything sitting on my gut, but then you need the calories.  In Lafayette, Louisiana I discovered that I liked bread pudding and since it was on the menu I decided to get it.  The server says, “Do you want the fried bread pudding?”  Fried bread pudding?  Sure, why not.

I busted out laughing when she eventually brought out the fried bread pudding.  I thought she was joking.  That thing was gi-normous.  I thought she was going to break off a little piece and serve it to me, but no, that whole damn thing was mine.  Good God.  “I can bring you a box,” she offered.  No, no, I don’t think so.  I took about two bites and I was already full but then I was addicted.  “Yes, yes, please bring a box.”  It was good but it’s just crazy the portion size.  That thing could probably feed my whole unit.

I got up the next day and ran 13 miles.  Not that anybody cares how my marathon training is going but I have been having difficulties on my long runs.  This was my first successful long run in several weeks.  I believe it was the scenic route.  I ran through some neighbourhood that was just absolutely adorable.  It’s pre-dawn, the sky is orangey-blue-pinkish.  The stars are still twinkling.  There isn’t a sound to be heard and as I come up a hill I get an amazing view of the mountains outside the city.  How can you not be motivated to run with scenery like that?  After that, every step seemed so easy.  I ran through a shopping district.  It’s Sunday morning so there aren’t too many people about but everyone I pass says good morning.  You don’t get that in DC, let me tell you.  It’s just great.

After the run, I packed up, ate the rest of that bread pudding and hit the road.  The drive from I5 to Rt 97 is lovely.  Too bad there’s still a lot of smoke and haze in the area from a nearby fire.  I believe it’s contained though.  I couldn’t see Mt. Shasta too well, but the leaves are just turning and it’s just gorgeous.  Most of the drive to Klamath Falls was pretty nice, except for getting stuck behind some slow moving trucks.  That’s to be expected though and there’s nothing really you can do about it.  It was a little too busy for passing most of the way.

I passed a restaurant called Bar 49 and the sign said “now serving good food.”  It made me wonder what they had been serving before.  I then noticed that the place was boarded up so maybe that good food wasn’t so good after all.  I stopped for lunch in Klamath Falls.  I went to some Chinese place.  The place is real quiet but then again late in the morning on a Sunday people are either at church or still in bed.  Most of the shops were closed.  I took a few pictures of the river and the big train in the park before getting back on the road again.

Once again, I hate not having a real map.  I printed out this thing from Google maps but it wasn’t a real help.  I was trying to get to Crater Lake National Park.  Google maps told me to take Rt 138.  I saw Rt 62 and Rt 402 but no 138.  I felt like I had missed the turn off.  If I had a real map I might have been able to try to figure out where I was.  I ended up turning around and almost hitting a motorcyclist in the process.  I don’t find that funny at all.  Every year hundreds of bikers are killed because someone is not paying attention.  I wasn’t on my phone or looking at that stupid Google map.  I just didn’t see the guy.  Underneath his helmet, I knew he was given me the world’s dirtiest look.  Sorry, guy, I will pay more attention.  There are lots of motorcyclists around here so please be on the look out for these guys.  They want to enjoy their road trip too.

I ended up taking 402 to 62 and entering through what I found to be the South entrance.  The place was quite crowded.  There was a long queue to get into the park.  There were queues at the bathrooms.  A guess one guy was tired of waiting so he decided to use the ladies’ loo.  He was in there just washing his hands like nothing in the world.  A woman said, “Hey, I think this is the ladies room.”  He just shrugged so nonchalantly and walked off.  I guess it takes all kinds.

Crater Lake is a place I’ve always wanted to visit.  I saw it in a textbook when I was middle school.  We were studying volcanoes and there was a picture of the lake.  It was just so beautiful.  I remember staring at it for ages, even flipping back to it long after we covered volcanoes.  Every time I think about a lake, I imagine Crater Lake.  When I was telling people about my road trip, I talked about Crater Lake and nobody knew what I was talking about.  They didn’t know where it was, and when I said Oregon, I just got this blank stare.  “What’s in Oregon?”  Crater Lake!  What’s that?  Never mind.

All the scenic lookouts were packed.  I had to get inventive with my parking because there really just wasn’t any room.  I think there’s a trail up there but I didn’t go because of the heights and the fact that I was wearing Crocs and not boots.  People standing WAY too close to the edge made me nervous, and I don’t mean that in some kind of paranoid way.  When a sign says, “Do not cross,” I guess I heed the warning where other people take it as a challenge.  Some lady had climbed halfway down the slope in her flip flops.  I just left because I didn’t want to see some disaster.

I wish I could have had a more peaceful experience but when you come to a national park on a long weekend this is what you’re going to get but I’m so glad I came.  If ever you’ve been dreaming of going some place, just go.  Don’t let other people try to talk you out of it.

I kept on till Bend, Oregon and stopped for the night.  I was absolutely starving.  The hotel was next to a place called Phoenix Restaurant.  I had a Thai pizza and a glass of Pinot Gris.  Now I’m in Oregon I’ve got to drink only Oregon wines.  I can’t wait to hit some of these wineries.  It’s gonna be like my own personal heaven.


Tomorrow:  Mt. Hood and Portland

bend, oregon.  phoenix restaurant.  quirky town


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