Last (full) Day

Greetings from very sunny and very warm Chico, CA.

Tomorrow is home day, so I’m very glad to report that I’ve had an interesting and fairly packed day today – and it is still only 16:30 as I start to type this.

Continuing a theme of using photos of cute (and not so cute) wildlife as the opening photo, how about this chap…

Canyon Dam birdie

Right, before regaling you with tales of daring-do and noble conquests for today, I ought to bring you up-to-date about last night…

Last Night

I left you in the in-store Starbucks of “Haggen – Northwest Fresh Foods” (formerly Safeway) at Klamath Falls. My plans for the evening were nearly derailed when I saw their choice of beer.

Haggen Beer

… and that was just the chiller at the end of the beer aisle. I stuck to my resolve, however, and just got the bits I went in for then set off back to the motel to get rid of the car. It was as I arrived back that I realised I’d been duped in respect of my choice of motel chain. I thought I was staying at America’s Best Value Inn. Actually, it is an America’s Best Inns & Suites (formerly an Econolodge, as given away by the WiFI landing page, complete with a photo of the place still with its old branding!). The difference being that one has a blue logo (and I’ve used a few of their places before and been happy enough) whereas this one is green and I haven’t used one before. Naively, I though the former was simply going through a rebranding from blue to green. But no. I should’ve smelt the proverbial rat in that I’d seen an ABVI at the other end of town as I drove in.

ABVIAmercas Best Inn

I set off along Main Street for the modest walk to the other end where the Klamath Basin Brewing Company tap, also known as The Creamery, is located. Along the way, I’d passed a couple of unkempt young individuals who scuttled away into the shadows as I approached. As I had my phone out taking photos I was approached by an equally unkempt lady who offered to take my phone and take a photo of me. I declined and moved on. In short, I felt more than a little uncomfortable in downtown Klamath Falls.

My dinner was a burger – of course! I’d also ordered a Caesar salad as an appetiser but it got forgotten or “taken to the wrong table”, so I  ended up having it as a pudding! This was all washed down with…

  • 51st State Pale Ale 5.2%
  • Crater Lake Amber Ale 5.6%
  • Rebellion Red Ale 5.9%

The televisions were showing the NY Mets v St Louis Cardinals which was in the 13th Inning tied at 1-1 as I started paying attention. It ended up with the Mets winning in the 14th. The Red Sox weren’t playing last night as they returned home from their road trip, but are leading the Texas Rangers 1-0 in the 3rd as I type. There was also ice hockey on, but I don’t understand any of it! Apparently it is the Stanley Cup play offs.

Back to the motel and turned the television on to find it playing a softcore porn movie with Spanish subtitles, apparently ordered by the hotel’s DirectTV account (it told me this as I exited, asking me if I was sure).

Tuesday

I was on the road by 07:00 having poured most of the dreadful coffee provided in reception down the drain. They didn’t see fit to provide ‘go lids’ of the right size for the cup, anyway.  My first stop was across the road to a really pretty little war memorial and park by the lake. There is a preserved steam loco on static display there. I think it is the engine which brought the first train to Klamath Falls as I’m sure I saw a large mural of that event on a building end in downtown last night. No idea if it is the original or a replica? I took a few photos of the adjacent lake with a couple of early morning joggers and a dog walker for company.

Klamath Falls lake view

I left with mixed feelings about Klamath Falls. All the restaurants and bars in downtown looked busy last night, including some which looked quite upscale, but there was an uneasy feeling about the place. It has clearly seen better times; the Main Street is lined with ornate old buildings which were generally either banks or hotels – all now either being reused or empty. The very new looking Klamath County Courthouse and, on the other side of the street, Government Offices are evidence of a considerably amount of money somewhere in the system, though.

I bitterly regretted my choice of motel and actually felt defrauded by the brand confusion. To be fair, it did all that was expected of it and was clean enough, but it had an air of being uncared for and somewhat decrepit. I noticed that there was only about five other occupied rooms in the morning whereas a motel next to brewery  at the other end of Main Street looked packed when I walked by last night. In someways, my feeling about the motel was a reflection of the area – especially in the immediate neighbourhood of the motel. There is a lot of empty property throughout the town, but especially at that end. Sorry, Klamath Falls, but in the end I was glad to be on the road.

I set off south along US97, spotting the northbound Coast Starlight as I did. After a short distance I reached the state line and turned left – due east – along CA161 which follows the border. This took me through a wildlife refuge which was the first of countless photo stops. At one point along here I noticed streams of what I thought was smoke in the distance – which turned out to be insects in the air! Glad I kept the window up!

At Tulelake I turned south on CA139 and was spooked by yellow bi-plane crop dusting! On through the Modoc National Forest where all vehicles have a mandatory stop at an inspection station. A pretty blonde park ranger enquired if I had any fruit or veg and when I assured her I had not I was rewarded with a smile and ‘have a nice day’!. I pulled over in centre of forest for a rest and to enjoy the peace. It was still only 08:30. There was only a small amount of traffic around and I had the highway pretty much to myself all morning.

Welcome to California

The road climbed and climbed and a sign marked the summit of Adin Pass at 5,173ft before descending into Adin itself. There I saw a gas station and noted that it cost $3.899/gallon. I was around a quarter of a tank and the trip computer told me I had a range of 84 miles. Then I saw a sign with told me the next gas was in Susanville, 67 miles away. I turned off the a/c, crossed my fingers and ploughed-on, watching the range & mileage like a hawk. At 61 miles, the range was 77 and at 56 miles it was 70. My bottle completely went and I turned back to Adin!

Gas: 09:50 Juniper Junction, Adin. 5.129 gallon at 3.899 = $20 odo 14689 Coffee & muffin.

I have to say it was the right decision. I might have made it, but I know it would have stressed me out completely. As it was, it was a really enjoyable drive along CA Rt. 139. Passing the almost completely dry Eagle Lake I encountered the only hold up all day – road works in the form of a flagman at each end and ‘pilot car’ escorting traffic past some verge remodelling. I had the same experience later on as well and – on the subject of new road experiences which came in twos – in two different places encountered a convoy engaged in repainting the centre yellow line (thankfully coming toward me in both cases as passing might have been interesting!).

When I got to Susanville I saw that gas was $3.55/gallon and my range gone down 63 miles since I topped-up over the 66 miles I’d driven. So, I might have made it?

Lake Alminor

I didn’t stop in Susanville, even though it was quite a sizeable town with quite a bit going on. I pressed on south, taking CA Rt. 36 in a south-west direction. This road was a bit busier and I found myself following traffic. After a while I came across Westwood. This has great significance to me as it was here in 2013 that the Coast Starlight was held up for several hours awaiting a new train crew. The passengers were allowed to disembark and we flooded the small convenience store and just about filled the visitors book in the tourist information centre in old station building. The station had closed years ago and this was the first passenger train to stop there just about in living memory and it even made the news in the local area! I felt obliged to make a short detour to the old station.

Westwood old station

Quite by chance, it then turned out that I was retracing the steps (albeit in reverse) of that memorable journey on the Coast Starlight. In particular, the diversion along the normally freight only Union Pacific line along the unbelievably spectacular Feather River Valley. As it turned out, I ended up “leap-frogging” a train down the valley, so stopped several times to photograph it in different beautiful settings. This view being typical…

Feather River freight

The drive along CA Rt.70 therefore took a lot longer than it needed to, but time has been very much on my side today, so no rush. The road was fairly busy with quite a few trucks, and it is definitely not a road to rush on at the best of times. The sun was out by now whereas most of the day had been cool, grey and with spots of rain. Once I dropped down from the hills into the baked brown plains around Chico, the temperature was in the mid-to-high 20s, so the aircon was back on.

Parched Californian countryside

I got to Chico at 15:45 and for the want of anywhere better to head for immediately, turned into the Chico Mall, though it quickly became evident there was nothing of interest for me there. There was a Best Buy, a big Target, a WalMart and a Starbucks over the road so that became Plan B! As it happens, I found what I wanted in Best Buy (at a third of the price I’d seen it in Oregon, tax free or not!). That being so, I had no need for Target or WalMart and I’ve been in Starbucks ever since typing this and watching the world outside. Just as an aside, as a self-confesed Starbucks anorak, this is the first one I’ve been in over here which actually serves drinks in proper mugs rather than paper.

While I was here I scouted the lie-of-the land for the object of my attention this evening – the Sierra Nevada Taproom, and lodging establishments in the vicinity. Turns out the closest (well, second closest, if you’re being picky!) is a Courtyard by Marriott and the rate there is, er, “reasonable” (but a bit more than last night, for example!). As it’s my last night, why not. It’s about a mile from the Taproom, but the road looks walkable (I hope!).

Like last night, my plans looked like being derailed: I spotted my first In ‘N Out burger on the way in. Temptation!?

Top of the 6th – Red Sox lead 4-0. Time to find the hotel.

A tiny bit later…

The drive to the hotel confirmed there’s a sidewalk along Rev. Martin Luther King Parkway, along which I will be walking shortly. I also spotted a Barnes & Noble too, so that may be a distraction.

I’ve checked in and it’s a fabulous room. Just hope the walls are a tad thicker than at Portland.

Texas have got two back in the seventh at Fenway. Shame I’m not viewing it.

 

[Mileage for the day; 14556  to 14887 = 331]

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