Friday, May 30, 2014

A Freezing Boy (Redding to Crater Lake)

We came to the realization that our honeymoon is nearly over. Only two days left. Sad face! To which Kris said, "We can just have our honeymoon forever, we'll just keep riding our motorcycles!".

We left California today. I feel thankful for all of the experiences we had in this great state. Everyone we came across were very nice and helpful. Family were warm, kind, and loving. The natural beauty that still exists in vast quantities is astounding. From the desert to the coast and everything in between, wow, just wow!

We left our hotel in Redding in the late morning. La Quinta has been my favorite inexpensive hotel chain thus far. It was sunny and warm, the wind had calmed down a bit from the night before where we had been blown all around the freeway.

Our route for today took us up I-5 through Shasta Lake and then northeast on US 97 to Crater Lake. We stopped off at several points to take pictures of Shasta Lake and Mt. Shasta. One of the stops was along a dirt road. I explored while Kris stayed behind. I found a nice view and picked her up on my bike. She was much less reluctant this time. We had fun with the picture taking and bumpy ride. We got some beautiful shots of shasta and the bridge over the lake.

We stopped for lunch in a town called Weed. Strange name. We had pizza, got silly pictures with Spanky, filled up the bikes, and continued on our way.

US 97 is long, straight, and climbs up a couple thousand feet. The views changed from high desert to mountain valley and back to high desert. There were so many bugs in this section we stopped many times to clean our helmets.

We stopped in Klamath Falls for a rest and some more pictures. Kris thought there were going to be actual water falls but all we found were many ducks, seagulls, a lake and the related poop in mass quantities.

We pressed on north and turned west on hwy 62 toward Crater Lake. This was my favorite part of the riding day. The road was dead straight for 30 or 40 miles but by now we were so far out in the wilderness there wasn't another car or human to be seen anywhere. A lonely road. A road that frees your soul from the confinement of the big city. A road with beautiful scenery in all directions. A road where you meet every bit of peace, beauty, and serenity you could find anywhere in this vast planet. A road that cures all of the stop and go, hustle and bustle of LA and San Diego.

Then there was a little town at the end of the only turn on this lonely road. It appeared to be abandoned. There were a total of three non-functioning gas pumps with signs that talked about Obama and how the owner can no longer sell gas because of our government. It said nothing about the lack of people to buy the now unavailable gas. I think this town was called Klamath.

A few miles later we reached the entrance to Crater Lake. We stopped for pictures and to again clean the think layer of bug guts off of our helmet visors. The air was getting colder and colder. Kris needed heat. I needed more layers.

We pressed on, stopping occasionally for Kris to take pictures of a very deep canyon. Tourists were now joining us for pictures and generally being tourists. You know, stopping in the middle of the road, parking such that nobody can get by them, and generally being unaware of anything but the next shiney to look at.

We reached the park entrance and the forest service employee mentioned she owned the same Ninja 250 as Kris. She told us she had just been on a ride the day before, on her day off. We chatted briefly about our trip with her but we were holding up the line so we continued on. I would have enjoyed talking to her some more.

Our room was in Mazama Village, which is a combination of campground, cabins, store, gas station, restuarant, and gift shop. I had not been to the south side of Crater Lake before so this was all as new to me as it was to Kris. We stopped by the store, got checked into our cabin, and unloaded our stuff.

The cabin was cute. Two beds, heat, bathroom with running water and a shower, everything you would find in a hotel room.

Kris wanted to ride the rim of Crater Lake and take pictures. It was another 7 miles to the actual rim of the volcano. I made the mistake of leaving my warm gear behind. By the time we reached the rim there were 8 and 9 foot tall snow banks on the side of the road and it had to be in the 40s. Brrrr!!! I was cold!!!

I think we stopped at every viewpoint for pictures. I wanted to enjoy it but being a human popsicle is no fun. Kris finally had enough pictures and we headed to the main lodge for dinner.

We decided to do a full formal dinner. Elk chops were on the menu and since this was an adventure we decided to try them. Elk is very tender. It has a slightly more gamey flavor than beef but is less tough to chew. It had a weird blackberry sauce on it which didn't work well with the natural flavor of the meat. I scraped most of it off. Pepper would have been better.

With full bellies, we (I) made the reluctant walk to my bike to the even more reluctant 7 mile ride back to Mazuma Village. By this time the sun was setting and the tempurature had dropped a few more degrees. I just wanted to curl up in a warm bed and go to sleep.

I rode back tucked under my windshield to prevent the biting cold wind from freezing me to death. Once we got back to the cabin I sat in front of the heater until Kris could no longer stand the sauna that was our room. I mean, that's odd for Kris. She's always cold.

A tired boy, I went to sleep early and missed out on the suggestion to view the stars. They'll be there tomorrow, I hope!

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