Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Roads, Rivers and Rocks (Road trip day 1)

I have a fun fact for you, I am on a road trip! I will be posting daily blogs while I'm traveling, so check back each day for something new (plus pictures). I'm currently camped out in a hotel room in Medford, Oregon; my body is wearily draped over the bed and my eyes ache. All those lines. Watching the lines go by, and by, and by. Flatlands, mountains, live crops and dead cows. No wait, I meant that the other way around. Those cows were definitely moo and munch crazy.

Thus completeth the first day of driving and sight seeing. Fair warning, I start acting a bit more sassy once I reach level 7 or so on the tiredness scale, so bear with me. This post might get a little rocky. But no rock slides, I promise.

I suppose a good place to start would be answering why I'm taking this trip. To which I respond, why the hell not? I'll back up and give you the short version: had an identity where-is-home crisis, a haven't-had-a-vacation-or-break-in-over-three-years crisis, found myself homeless (kinda anyway, I've got a generous Dad with a storage room plus mailbox address and a super wonderful friend who gave me a place to rest my head), and decided to go explore the other half of the state + extras. I've been “There and Back Again by Bilbo Baggins” all up and down the southern California stretch, but shit. I haven't been up in them hills in ten years or more. I grew up in a forest and lately I've see more primped golden beaches than towering woodlands.


Anyway, so yesterday I haphazardly threw a route together and spent hours agonizing over what hotels to book (because hotel beds give me the jeebie weebies). Today I picked up my maps, filled a bag full of fruits, veggies, nuts and hummus, slipped my sunglasses over a make-up free face and set out.

One of my big goals for this trip was to sketch and paint (and take reference photos for future oil paintings). A couple of points along I-5 had caught my eye so I planned on pulling off at least twice, but feeling free to stop off wherever was extremely important to me. National parks and campgrounds are all well and good but sometimes fees are required. Plus, you find hidden gems when you just start following random roads.

Sacramento River through Red Bluff
I pulled off at my first location, Red Bluff, because a road sign mentioned the state park. I never actually stopped at the park itself; instead I followed Adobe Road all the way through Surrey Village, this sorta woodsy riverside community featuring some swanky houses and mini mansions. The road runs parallel to the Sacramento River and I stopped at one point to walk and listen to the river lapping at the canal edges.

My second stop was pre-planned, Shasta Caverns a bit north of Redding. If I'd had more time and a more flexible budget I would have taken the Caverns tour but I drove back down the mountain, detouring off the various campground roads to explore a little. Nothing inherently exciting for me, the available stop points weren't my favorite and I forgot to stock up on dollar bills to pay for state park day use.

The third stop was a gem that I found purely by chance off Salt Creek Road in Lakehead. The road I eventually stumbled upon, Lower Salt Creek Road, runs along the Salt Creek Inlet to the larger McCloud River. I wound down, down, down until I found a fork: to the left was a paved road continuing toward a campsite while to the right was a rough, dusty off-shoot leading to a boat drop. Here's am overhead photo from Google Maps illustrating the creek, and railroad bridge stretching over it. The red line is where I drove.
Google Maps image of Salt Creek Inlet

So you can guess what I found:

Salt Creek Inlet near the old bridge, August 2013
This stretch of the river was almost completely dry. I was able to drive underneath the bridge and continue on a fair ways. The dirt was so soft and loose, really almost like a thin layer of fine sand. Once I got out of the car, even gentle walking kicked up little dust tornadoes. The rich layers of sediment were gorgeous, all stacking down to the soft, green bottom of the creek bed. The pathway of remaining water was littered with lost debris, who knows how long that stuff had been there.
Salt Creek Inlet near old bridge, dry bed

Salt Creek Inlet, dry bed

Old railroad bridge over Salt Creek Inlet, Lakehead, CA
After that, I didn't stop driving until I hit Medford. The belly of Oregon is gorgeous with its dips, windings and spattering of houses and farms tucked between trees. I felt weary, though. Once I checked into the hotel I sat for a while, unable to do much else except web surf and text my emergency contacts that yes, I was indeed still alive. I hunted Yelp to find something unique and tasty for dinner; I can say with certainty and enthusiasm that Kaleidoscope Pizzeria makes damn tasty vegetarian pizzas.

Also, thank you handful of friendly Oregon people I have briefly engaged with. You made my tired eyes happy-tired eyes.

Until tomorrow. Sending loves!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds incredibly lovely and adventurous! =)