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Archive for the ‘Points of Interest’ Category

East of Portland, along the original Lewis & Clark Highway, is Vista House, a way station for early 20th Century travelers. Claudia is a wonderful guide to the history and locations for the greater Portland area. Vista House lives up to its name, and the day was perfect for viewing the horizon. Bonneville Dam is barely visible in the distance.

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When I was a kid, our family camped at Prairie Creek. Two stand-out memories: a monster trout in the creek, and the elk grazing nearby. I think I found the general area of our campsite, and the elk were out by Fern Canyon.  It was a beautiful day, cool with bright sunshine, so I made a couple of sandwichs in a redwood grove, and ate one right then and there. I cruised the campground, then reacquainted myself with the narrow, rutted access road to the canyon, about four miles of 15 mph road. Judy and I found an elk antler on the beach road section, laying right there in the middle of track. No such luck this time, but the males were accommodating down by the canyon.

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I traveled out of “the Valley” (San Joaquin: breadbasket to the world) going north up Highway 99, the old one that parallels I-5. At Red Bluff I turned west on Highway 36 going west, going towards the coast, going to coolness. In Red bluff the temperature was 102F, and I was toasty enough. Highway 36 was a real E-ticket ride, twisting and turning, “Slow to 15 mph” kind of road. I got a Dr Pepper at Wildwoods Cafe & Store, then reached a summit at around 4,000 feet elevation. From there, I could look north and see the Trinity Alps. Getting cooler by the mile now. Ever vigilant for bicyclists, huffing and puffing alongside the road. don’t they know this is a petroleum based world? Geesh. Then I came to Swains Flat, expecting to see one person behind the counter of the store, selling some canned goods to a local. Much to my surprise, there was a party going on! Turns out, Sky Blue’s home was damaged in a fire, and the community was having a fundraiser to help her out. Count me in. Music, BBQ chicken and cole slaw, beer and sodas, and a couple of vendors selling crystals. I had a dinner plate and went back for more – napkins. The closest I got to finding out about Eric Johnson, my former boss, was a neighbor of his, who had moved into her house a year after I left. Oh well. Eric died in 1981 anyway, and so it goes. I was tired after the heat, the miles, and I needed to reset my eyeballs from all the focusing I did on 36. So I moteled up in Fortuna at a bare bones motel. A great Mexican restaurant on the other side of the road met my needs. From there I visited Arcata the next day, dropping by US Servas and Humboldt State University. (See yesterday’s entry.) Here’s some Highway 36 scenes.

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I spent several days in Fortuna, Eureka and Arcata. I attended a Center for Spiritual Living service Sunday, where I met a lot of friendly energetic folks. My hotel was definitely bare bones, so they dropped the price for me. I went to Humboldt State University, and asked around for my friend, Aman Mellow Blume to no avail. I did drive on the walkways though, following (or so I thought) the map Admissions Office provided me. Luckily, it was summer session, so just a few people had to get out of my way…joke. Later I visited with the good people at US Servas headquarters in Arcata. Amy, Shelly, and Laura were pleased to see a traveler drop by. Of course. I’m feeling a bit road weary, for lack of a better term. No melt down, but something to keep in mind. Then I stopped at a rest stop on my way to Crescent City, and it all cleared up. What has Nature wrought?

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As I’ve alluded to before, I went in search of George Duke’s burial in Shingle Springs, 1867. I had nice chats with Diane in the Depot Diner, and George Turnboo in El Dorado. Goose eggs all around. I’ll need to get the specifics from my cousin when he can find them again. It was a nice drive down Highway 49, through Auburn, across the American River, twisting and turning all the way. The cherries I got from a roadside vendor in El Dorado were quite sweet and delicious. I did get a goodly dose of local history on this day trip. For one thing, most of the cemeteries are abandoned, even built over, or in general disuse. The Shingle Springs Cemetery is not one of those. The Boy Scouts do maintenance work, and the State of California has jurisdiction for internment issues.

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Fred and I visited Empire Mine (closed 1955) where he was a tour guide once. With his narrative and my camera, we donned big hats (it was in the 90’s) and found out a bit about what it was like “back in the day.” The shafts and transverses went down 11,000 feet, and measured over 300 miles in length. When they closed the mine and removed the machinery (like the water pumps), the entire mine flooded up to the aquifer of 150 feet below grund level. I sense a reaity show in the making: Mine Diving for Fun & Profit.

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I spent almost a week with Fred & Judy in their Penn Valley home. What a place and space! What wonderful friends. Kayo and Mira, two huge German shepards shared the grounds with Horace and Bing, the cats. Wildlife abounded, with special note of the African guineas that traipsed by the front deck daily. Wide, open decks surrounded the home, affording both sunshine and shade throughout the day. We ate well. The dogs provided a daily wake-up call, usually around 5:00 a.m., but that’s par for the countryfied course. Judy had to work (she’s a midwife) some days, and Fred continues to write in his office. We had wide ranging talks, took trips into town, and visited the Empire Mine State Park. This is, after all, gold country. I took a solo day trip to Shingle Springs in El Dorado County, wondering if I could find any clues about George Duke, my great, great grandfather. I expect to fill in more details about this week as time allows, but for now, pictures need to be uploaded.

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