Southbound (mostly)

This update comes to you from the city of Klamath Falls in Southern Oregon. If you look on the map you’ll see that I’m pretty much exactly level with Brookings, where I spent Friday night, only quite a bit further east. That, in essence, is why I’m here: a sizeable place, the “right distance” south, with lots of green bits around it on the map. There was another attraction on the map, which I’ll come to shortly. Oh, and it has got a Starbucks – which is where I sit as I type this.

Mount Washington

As usual, after the break, I’ll tell you all about it…

I very much appreciated the Residence Inn complimentary ‘hot buffet’ breakfast this morning; the usual American breakfast fare which sounds vaguely like a Full English (sausage, bacon, hash browns…) but of course is nothing like one. What I didn’t appreciate so much was my upstairs neighbour who arrived about midnight and was up at 06:00, spending most of (her?) waking hours clomping about. It’s not really their fault, of course, they can’t help their schedule and there shouldn’t be any problem moving around in one’s hotel room. The fact remains there was next to no soundproofing in a otherwise really top notch place. The upstairs resident’s early start was doubly unfortunate as I’d decided that this was going to be a lie-in day for me – I’d set the alarm for the dreadfully late time of 07:15

Breakfast!

Once I’d sampled breakfast I got on the road. I’d considered spending some more time in the area around the hotel – the Lloyd Center Mall, for example. Then again, most places would still be shut, so there didn’t seem much point. I also thought about spending the morning in downtown Portland, but for similarly vague worries as drove me out of Seattle, I decided to stay out of the city centre.

Instead, I did my patented trick of finding somewhere half decent to explore by searching for Apple Stores in the area. Other than the big one in the Pioneer Place mall downtown, there are two others in suburban malls – both in the suburb of Tigard. I set a course for the one in the Washington Square mall. I had a smoothish run through rush hour traffic, briefly using I5 to skirt downtown and into southern suburban Portland. [Incidentally, where I sit right now, it seems that the nearest Apple Store is in Reno, Nevada, 220 miles away!]

Other than a bit of a wobble where Siri thought I could turn left but the road signs very definitely said no, it was actually quite an enjoyable drive once I exited the Interstate, through another attractive area of Portland.  It was still only 08:45 when I got to Washington Square mall and most of the shops — including the Apple Store — don’t open until 10:00. Of course that was simply an excuse to adjourn to a ubiquitous Starbucks for coffee & photo sorting. [It occurs to me that I ought to explain to readers who don’t know me why it is always Starbucks with me. The fact is I like (really like!) coffee, but don’t care much for the espresso style (“Americano”). Starbucks are the only big brand coffee chain, certainly in the UK, which serve ‘fresh brew’ coffee. That’s why I always pitch up there – simple as that].

When everything opened I had a mooch around Sears,with the thought of some jeans and T shirts,  but quickly found I wasn’t in a clothes shopping frame of mind. I went in the Apple Store and just as quickly found I wasn’t really in a shopping frame of mind at all. In both cases, I think that it was the well-intended but completely over-the-top enthusiasm of several assistants in both establishments to enquire after my “doings” and “can I help you find anything”. In general, of course, both enquiries are fine, but the very low customer-to-assisant ratio at that time of day meant that fifth or so example of the latter enquiry in a few minutes came across as “what is it you want here?”. Maybe it was just me. That, and I did a quick calculation and worked-out that one thing I was looking for only costs £15 more in the UK, even with Oregon’s generous lack of sales tax. 

Washington Square Mall Apple Store

By the time I left the mall the sun was out and the car’s thermometer declared it to be 21 degrees.  I set off down I5, passing a sign marking the 45th Parallel (“mid way between equator and North Pole”) just short of Salem. There I turned onto Rt22, an Oregon Scenic byway, and settled in for the 120 miles to Bend, OR. I  had a good run despite the route being mainly only  two lanes. There was noticeably more traffic headed westward away from Bend. There was a lot of greenery (and quite a bit of ‘greyery’ where a huge forest fire had decimated the Booth & Bear Butte valleys in 2003).All this resulted in several photo stops as I continued on toward Bend. The drought in the Pacific North West was very evident with the low reservoirs & dams along the way. There was also a spectacular view of the snow-capped Mount Washington and lots of ominously cone shaped peaks (some very big!) in this potentially volcanically active area. 

Route 22

This should be full of water!

Scenery in the Williamette National Forest

I stopped for gas at a tiny place called Detroit – mainly because a sign announced “last gas before Sisters” – which was 52 miles away and the trip computer told me I had a range of 45 miles! I ended up paying over the odds at the general store – about 15c a gallon more than further back and again at Sisters. Still, that was my stupid fault for letting the tank get low and with a nine gallon tank isn’t going to break the bank. [8.5 gallons at $3.199 = $ 27.40. Odo 14334].

The town of Sisters looked quite a pretty place and was quite busy so I pressed on without stopping. When I reached Bend I turned off to drive through its downtown area. This a place you’ve probably heard of as a winter resort and is quite a big place in its own right – Pop. 80,000 according to the road signs. By now it was raining hard and the temperature had dropped ten degrees, so I chose not to stop. What was noticeably as I drove around was how much the city planners here like their small rotaries (roundabouts in UK parlance) – which I have to say are so much better than 4-way stops that are prevalent in the same situation elsewhere.

Drake Park, Bend, OR

Leaving Bend it was 170 miles along US 97 to Klamath Falls. This road was much busier with quite a lot of trucks. I was following something pretty much most of the journey, albeit usually making progress at a steady 65mph. This all meant that the miles were quickly ticking over. At one point a sign saying “Rest Area 9 Miles” sounded so close I almost wanted to indicate already! This was the Beaver Marsh rest area, still 70 miles from Klamath Falls, and I went in for a ten minute break. It had been raining on & off all the way from Detroit but from here it got really organised which for a while made it interesting – especially in the ‘tram tracks’ all the trucks had caused in the road surface.

Beaver Marsh Rest Area

By the time I approached Klamath, skirting alongside a huge lake with a railway line in between, it had dried out. Speaking of the railway: It was at Klamath Falls that a derailment had occurred when I took Amtrak’s Coast Starlight from LA to Seattle in 2013, meaning our train took a huge detour. In other words, I should have travelled over this bit of line, but actually haven’t!

Klamath Falls 26 miles

I arrived at Kamath Falls and checked in to the America’s Value Inn & Suites in downtown. I picked this establishment mainly as it is within walking distance of the Klamath Basin Brewing Co. tap room – the other reason for picking Klamath Falls as my overnight destination! I dropped my bags and went for a bit of a drive around the area and have ended up here in the Starbucks inside a large supermarket called “Haggen – Northwest Fresh” (or, if the WiFi SSID is any clue, formerly Safeway).

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