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Lake Siskiyou/Mount Shasta

June 22-26, 2006

Pat’s last scheduled day of work before vacation was to be Thursday, June 22nd, and between the two of us, we spent the few days preceding it by shopping and loading supplies into the Bounder. We had two full weeks ahead of us, all with our Rainbow RV group at three consecutive rallies. Friday, the 23rd, through Monday, the 26th was to be at Lake Siskiyou Resort outside Mt. Shasta, a 279-mile drive from home. Earlier in the week, Jerry Mitchell, our northern California RRV president, had emailed me that several Lake Siskiyou attendees were planning to leave Thursday afternoon and overnight at the Rolling Hills Casino parking lot in Corning.

Pat managed to get home from work by 4:30 on Thursday and we finished loading the last of the groceries in the 97 heat, a rare temperature for Oakland. The entire west coast was under a major heat wave that showed no sign of moving on any time soon. Wheezie and Samantha were already in the house but Mouse was nowhere to be found. Five o’clock kitty dinnertime came and went; six o’clock; seven o’clock. Finally, around 7:30, Mouse showed up in the backyard and by 8:15 we headed off to the freeway in the Bounder.

We pulled into the RV parking lot of Rolling Hills Casino at 11:45 after a 164-mile trek. Though nearly midnight, the temperature was still in the eighties. We located a few of our RRV friends inside playing the slot machines and headed off to the restaurant for a late-night breakfast. Back at the Bounder by one o’clock, I fired up the generator and the air conditioner and we bedded down for the night. After gassing up at the Chevron next door the following morning, we got onto the freeway to cover the last 115 miles to Lake Siskiyou on the outskirts of the town of Mt. Shasta. Pat drove the first 40 miles to Redding and I took over to do the mountain driving past Lake Shasta and up the canyon carved by the Sacramento River.

The campground’s RV sites are in a forest of scrub oak and pine trees that appear to have received very little if any trimming. Our site was particularly problematic and after backing into it, I sent Pat up on the roof with a saw to cut away branches that were dragging across our motorhome and preventing us from hoisting our new rainbow flag. Afterwards we extended the awning, brought out the lawn chairs, and Pat erected a homemade palm tree that he had built at home. With temperatures in the 90s, we completed our hookup/setup work as quickly as possible and retreated inside the Bounder for an air-conditioned lunch.

The traditional Rainbow RV Meet & Greet wasn’t scheduled until seven o’clock that evening and going on the assumption that most of the others wouldn’t arrive until later in the afternoon, Pat began preparing his potluck dish while I surfed the cable TV the campground offered. There were only six or seven stations available and I was quite surprised to discover all of the local stations were in Los Angeles, 550 miles to the south. We were only 50 miles from the Oregon border and just 250 miles north of the Bay Area. Clearly the campground’s cable feed was from a satellite dish.

During one of our walks to the lake, this bug hitched a ride on Pat's shoulder.

After a nap, I wandered out in the late afternoon heat to find the rest of our group. At first the layout of the campground was confusing with its various footpaths between the trees. After locating the majority of our fellow Rainbow RVers on a small knoll, I realized our own campsite was in the relative hinterlands and wondered once again why we had been assigned a site so far away from everyone else. Later that evening we gathered for a potluck dinner followed by a campfire where we met members we hadn’t encountered before and caught up on news with those we did know. By nine o’clock everyone had turned in for the night. Taking advantage of the cooler evening temperatures, Pat and I headed to the camp store for some ice cream, then hiked through the woods in the moonlight to the lakeshore. The view of Mount Shasta, rising beyond the far shore and covered with snow was stunning. We were home in bed by 10:30 with no clue what the group had planned for the following day.

The aroma of coffee perking on the kitchen stove awoke me around 7:30 the next morning. The cats had stayed out of the bedroom during the night, choosing instead to sleep in the living room. A.C. off, curtains up, and windows open, Pat and I eased into our morning with breakfast pastries, coffee, a book for him, and a magazine for me. After their own breakfast, all three cats reclaimed the bedroom. The campground was oddly quiet for this hour and by nine o’clock I ventured out to find out what everyone else was doing.

Turns out this Rainbow RV rally had been planned by someone who had an emergency at the last minute and couldn’t make the trip. So here we all were with no one really in charge and no plans for the day other than another potluck and campfire that evening. By ten o’clock the temperature was already becoming uncomfortably hot and when someone came over to our site at eleven and asked if we wanted to go in on renting a pontoon boat to cruise the lake for four hours starting at two o’clock, we declined. An hour in this heat? We could probably handle that. Two hours? That would be a stretch. Four hours? You guys have a good time!

Rick Corby arrived at the dock in his kayak.

By one o’clock the temperature was well into the nineties and headed for triple digits, already too uncomfortable to sit out under the awning. Pat and I hunkered down inside the Bounder, windows shut and air conditioning on, prisoners of the oppressive heat. Someone stopped by to let us know there would be a bon voyage party down at the dock at two o’clock. Wanting to get out of our self-imposed prison, if only for a little while, and also wanting to photograph that great view of Mount Shasta beyond the lake, we hiked down to the dock to see our friends off on their rented party boat. It was then we found out they had cut their four-hour tour down to two hours, but as I wiped my brow with the kitchen towel tucked under my belt it still seemed a bit much in this heat. And getting drunk at this time of day was the last thing either one of us wanted to do. Instead, I took photos of the group boarding and pushing off from the dock with the admonition, “Smile! These will be the photos we show at your memorial service.”

Pat and I hiked through the trees along the lakeshore from the dock over to the beach, about half a mile away. Swarms of parents, young children, and teenagers covered the white sand while hundreds more played out in the water. By the time I got the photos of the lake, the mountain, and the water rats, the heat had drained the last ounces of energy out of both of us and we plodded our way back to the Bounder’s air conditioning. Exhausted from what seemed a three or four-hour hike, the clock on the microwave indicated we’d been gone barely more than an hour. I promptly headed off to the bedroom for a two-hour nap.

The potluck and campfire that evening were punctuated by a foraging deer that wondered into the area and accepted the chunks of leftover french bread I tossed her way. This was a goodbye evening as the majority of the group were leaving in the morning for Rogue River, Oregon and a few others were returning home. By ten the next morning only two motorhomes were left at the campground: ours and Mark Littlewood’s.

The three of us climbed into Mark’s Geo Tracker and headed over to McCloud, an old lumber town 15 miles southeast of Mount Shasta and grabbed some lunch at the Floyd’s Frosty where they served up some rather respectable hamburgers and fries. After some confusion we finally located Main Street where we wondered through an antique store, then found our way into the trip down memory lane in the Sugar Pine Candy Company. They had just about every brand of candy we could remember from childhood that simply isn’t available any more, or at least very hard to find: Good & Plenty, the long paper strips of button candy, ZagNut bars, Necco wafers, Abba-Zabbas, Look bars, candy cigarettes, Bazooka Bubblegum, and on infinitum. Sadly, they didn’t have my favorite: Zero bars.

Shopping in beautiful downtown McCloud.

Upper left: building serves as town's shopping center. Upper center: Mark peers into a shop window. Upper right: McCloud Hotel in foreground, Stoney Brook Inn Bed & Breakfast at end of street.

Left: counter sign reads "I smile because… I have no idea what's going on."Right: Pat tries on a hat.

Inside the Sugar Pine Candy Company shop.

Back outside in the sun, the still air and oppressive heat sent us down the road in the Tracker in search of McCloud River Falls which is actually three different falls along the McCloud River. We arrived at the Lower Falls, a shady forested area where flat basalt boulders along the side of the river provided a beach of sorts for sunbathers. Upstream college-age kids frolicked in the river while a fisherman cast his line just below the falls. The entertainment came when a couple of the college guys started diving off a cliff at the falls into the river pool fifteen feet below.

Above: Pat perches on basalt "diving board" at McCloud River Lower Falls.
Below: Braver souls than us take turns diving off the falls. Note fisherman's line in lower left corner of picture on right. To restart animation hit your browser's Refresh Page button.

Middle Falls of the McCloud River

Middle Falls, a fifty-foot plunge was far more spectacular and much too dangerous to attract any divers. However from our overlook perched 200 feet above the river, we spotted a group of folks swimming in the pool of water at the base. The Upper Falls, a thirty-foot drop, is really more of a narrow gorge with water rushing through it, typical of high Sierra streams.

Back in Mount Shasta, after a grocery stop for Mark and making dinner reservations in town for the three of us, we returned to the Lake Siskiyou Campground where Pat and I hunkered down in the air-conditioned relief of the Bounder and I grabbed a short nap. Mark headed back to his Air Stream to walk his dog, Rocky.

We arrived at Lily’s Restaurant in town a few minutes past seven and were seated at our reserved table on their outdoor patio deck. Apparently the staff was shorthanded and service proceeded at a snail’s pace: twenty minutes for drinks to arrive, forty minutes for the appetizers, over an hour for our entrees and the ever popular waiting forever to get someone’s attention for refilling water glasses or bringing another round of drinks. We were on vacation, had nowhere else to go, were enjoying the cooler evening air moving into the valley, and the food was wonderful. Only the poor service put a damper on an otherwise idyllic setting.

Upper Falls rushes through a chute…

before taking it's final plunge into a pool.

The next morning, Mark pulled out of the campground early to make an 8:00 a.m. appointment at the Les Schwab Tire & Automotive Center in Mount Shasta to have the emergency brake on his Air Stream repaired. After breaking camp ourselves a little later on, we met him there on the north side of town at nine o’clock. Valley temperatures were already in the eighties. At ten, the three of us headed south into town where Mark needed gas and we needed a replacement awning strap for the one I had inadvertently destroyed at the campground. With the temperature already past 90, the Bounder and the Air Stream left the town of Mount Shasta behind at 11:30 and started the caravan southbound on Highway 89. For Pat and me, leg two of our vacation was beginning as we headed for the Mount Lassen KOA in Shingletown.