A Road Trip – 03

Dawn was showing on the eastern horizon by the time we rolled along the shoreline of Clear Lake. Indeed,we found the flashing red light on the hill. It was a anti-collision beacon that had been there for decades. The caller was fishing for a couple of fools, and indeed, he’d hooked two of which I was aware. But that didn’t matter. I liked this area enough that the trip was not a bust.

About ten o’clock we drove around the shoreline to Lakeport in order to replenish our groceries and pay a brief visit to the library. The reading/research was filled to capacity with folks reading local newspapers and magazines of every descriptions. They had all the earmarks of snowbirds with whom we’d associated. I have no idea how the locals felt, but in my opinion it was probably exceeding the planner’s dreams. These folks had to eat and they needed a place to sleep. And when it came time to head elsewhere they each needed fuel.

Further back from the reading area were a dozen file cabinets filled with unpublished research papers regarding the local Indian Tribes that had once populated the Clear Lake area.

Along the shoreline, not far from where we’d first seen the flashing beacon we found a campground, much of it was filled with travel trailers of every description. Many were fitted with add-ons, enclosed cabanas, as it were. But the area closer to the shoreline remained open for overnighters and tents. Midway, a wharf extended out into the lake proper. At the end was a party house of sorts, a shack. We would have ventured out to inspect the building, but our way was blocked by a secured gate.

We pitched our tent, and since the weather was fair and the temperate, we took possession of a modest picnic facility, and made preparation to stay a day or two. As evening approached, others gathered about. One young couple pitched their tent next to ours. As nighttime came to Clear Lake the folks populating our area gathered at the shack for an evening of fun and frolic.

It must have been after midnight when the couple next door returned to their tent and had a frolic of their own. The lady, known in some circles as a screamer, awakened us with her noise. In spite of the interruption we awakened with sun rested and refreshed. Toward nine o’clock the lady next door emerged from her tent. The fact she thought they’d spent the night alone shown in her eyes. When we made eye contact I grinned broadly, and winked. Her face turned crimson. She leaned down, and uttered something to her man who was still in the tent. He thrust his head out and glanced in my direction, but didn’t seem overly concerned. Such was not the case with her, however, as she packed their belongings in great haste. Minutes later they were gone.

We didn’t learn the name of the party group, nor the purpose of their gathering, only that they cleaned up behind themselves. there was not a shred of evidence they’d been there.

The following morning, early, we filled our steel thermos with coffee set out for the Coastal Highway. Then we headed north through the Redwoods. We’d visited this wonderland before, several times. It’s a place of which one can never say: Been there, done that.

We saw the standing tree through which cars once passed. In fact, I recalled my Uncle Clarence driving his 1941 Plymouth through a few years after World War II. Perhaps the thing that stuck most with me was the coexistence between humans and wildlife.

Parking in a wide pullout, we poured coffee from our thermos while we watched a large cow elk grazing in the lawn of a private home. While we watched a boy of perhaps six or seven years emerged and waited for the arrival of his bus. Neither the elk, nor the boy paid the other the slightest bit of attention. Nor did the elk seem to notice the bright yellow bus filled with young voices when it hissed to a stop.

Further north we came to what I remember as the Cathedral Tree. So quaint was it, that we could have held a church service had there been a congregation, and we’d known what we were doing.

Our cash was running low. We could have relied on a charge card, but we agreed our timeaway should be a source of sweet memories rather than a monthly catch up payment. So we continued our journey north passing the mouth of the Rogue River, and then heading home for a few days of idleness before jumping back on the treadmill.

A Road Trip – 2

Our sandwich maker was a true winner, providing hot food while the temperature hovered at twenty-something. It might have been a waffle iron, had the serrations been of a different pattern, and we might have put it to the test, had we been at home where cleanup was easier.

We weren’t sure of the exact temperature in our little pavilion, other than it was mighty cold. Therefore, we were grateful for the stone wall shielding us from the frigid gusts skating across the frozen lake. The one creature seeming not to notice the chill was the resident Blue Jay who was determined to share our meal. He became more bold and boisterous as time passed. When we were finished, we were hardly clear of the area before he began policing big time.

Pressing on, we drove into the Central Oregon desert country, and then into Northern California. By this time we’d agreed on Reno where inexpensive lodging and meals were available. But by the time we reached a California hamlet called Aden, we were used up, exhausted. Had we been a pair of shoes we most certainly would have been run down at the heel. At the south edge of town we found an affordable motel where we stayed until the following morning.

Reno was unchanged, cigarette smoke, noise, slot machines, and blackjack tables. Neither of us are serious gamblers. Instead, we are people watchers. Any one of the casinos, take your pick, is as good an observation post as the next. However, Barb seems to have a feel for the nickel machines that accommodate fistfuls of coins. By evening she’d won back the cost of our Aden motel room. Stopping while we were ahead, we gravitated to Circus Circus for an evening buffet on wheel-cover size plates. Then, since the temperature had moderated considerably, we rented space at the Reno KOA Kampground.

During my nightly trips with the semi, I often listened to Art Bell’s Coast-To-Coast AM. His paranormal guests were always a hoot. Whether or not I believed their tales is not the issue. They helped the miles slide past when the roads were clear. They were especially helpful on wintery nights when chaining up and getting past Hog Rock was a long, ugly ordeal.

On this night we tuned in Art and then snuggled deeper into our sleeping bags, expecting him to talk us to sleep. However, some fellow called in from the California Coast to report a flashing light atop a nearby hill he said he had not noticed before. By the time he’d finished his tale I knew the place he was describing. It was the Clear Lake area.

“Barb, you want to chase down a UFO?”

“How far do we have to go?”

“Two, maybe three hundred miles. We’ve never had this opportunity before. We can be there before dawn, if we hurry,” I urged.

She said she didn’t care as long as she didn’t have to drive.

We packed up, and jumped on Interstate 80. I headed west toward Donner Pass while Barb reclined her backrest and closed her eyes. She was always a good sport.

Road Trip – 01

I think it was during the early spring of 1997 when Barb needed to get away from it all. We arranged for two work-weeks, and three weekends – sixteen days in all. Financially, we were not prepared for such a venture, so pinching pennies was the name of our sudden game.

Barb was working days, nursing. I was hauling jug milk from a dairy to Albertson stores, both over the mountain and to the coast, six days each week, leaving town at one o’clock each morning and returning home shortly before noon.

On the Saturday morning in question Barb packed the car with our necessities. Two zero-degree sleeping bags, a two-person tent, a Coleman stove, an Outback oven, clothing, and our new electrically-powered sandwich maker, while I caught a nap.

The shadows were long when we locked the house and headed for a destination that was yet to be determined. We discussed Lake Tahoe, but with heavy snow in the mountains we knew it would most likely never become a reality.

Darkness soon caught us. With nothing to see, we headed south on Interstate 5, arriving in Medford at a very late hour.

From here we intended to head into the Cascades while the ice was still sticky, making Medford was our last best chance for a variety of groceries. Having been in Medford during the wee hours three days each week, I knew that Food 4 Less stayed open 24/7. But I’d never had the occasion to visit the market.

Less

The choices were overwhelming, and we were still deciding when I heard the familiar “Johnny-Pop-Pop” sound of a two-cylinder John Deere farm tractor. I’d almost decided I was hearing a sound-alike when I caught sight of a green John Deere C Model traveling along an adjacent aisle. My first reaction was to rub my tired eyes and look a second time. No change. It was indeed a farm tractor. However, a closer inspection indicated it was fitted with a large floor polisher that was getting the job done ASAP.

The meat counter had been heavily picked over, and a meat cutter we remember only as “The Whistler” was restocking his display with great zest – whistling while he worked.. We’d considered a couple of pounds of hamburger, but the meat cutter’s whistle had reached a deafening pitch. In self defense, we grabbed a few packs of wieners and called it good.

At checkout we found a silver bell in place of a person. I pushed the button. Evidently, a truck had arrived, because in a minute, or so, a burly young man wearing a soiled shirt and a red Buffalo Bill cap emerged from somewhere in back and checked us out. We were good to go.

ice

The sand truck had not yet serviced our icy, mountain road, so our progress was slow. The sun was up by the time we reached Lake-of-the-Woods, which was frozen over, of course. Fortunately, a small pavilion, in which someone had neglected to switch off the power, was clear of snow.

pavilion

Alas! It was time to find the wieners and try our new sandwich maker.