The idea of exploring Oregon in the summer has been hanging in the air for a while now. So far we’ve gone up North only once, in the wintertime. This year the summer here in California is exceptionally hot and dry, so having gotten tired of yellowish-brown grass on the surrounding hills, we decided to go and see something fresh and green.
Southeastern Oregon seemed just right with its chain of Cascade lakes perfect for kayaking, green forest for hiking, postcard-ready waterfalls, mineral hot springs and plenty of camping spots.
Day 1: Hit the road!
In the morning, mere couple of hours later than we’d planned (big achievement!), we started loading our car with everything essential for a week-long camping trip. When we put all our things in a big pile in front of the trunk, the first thought that came to my mind was a quote from my favorite book "Three men in a Boat" describing the moment when main characters were leaving for their boat trip:
In another moment, the grocer’s boy passed on the opposite side of the street. Biggs’s boy hailed him:
“Hi! ground floor o’ 42’s a-moving.
No one could have described it better than Jerome K. Jerome!
To be fair, all the stuff was essential indeed: an inflatable kayak, two oars, two tents, a sun canopy, sleeping bags, a camp stove, food, and so on; but oh my, what a pile it was! Surprisingly, it all fit into the trunk (we have a big car and my husband is the master of packing and tucking). There is a "packing mystery" that I notice every time: no matter how many people are going for a trip, no matter how long the trip is planned for, everything fits, but the trunk ends up completely full. By the way, the same rule applies to suitcases and backpacks!
Finally, we were on our way. After a couple of blocks I asked: "Did we pack life jackets?" No one saw them, so back we went. After unpacking half the trunk, we decided to check the storage where we keep our kayak. Of course, our life jackets were there!
Off we went again, not turning back for other small forgotten stuff.
The first six hours of driving from the San Francisco Bay Area to the northern border of California were not very exciting. Central Valley is pretty flat and very hot (up to 43°C or 110°F) in the summer. If you are, like us, a coffee lover, do not forget to stop by for an espresso in Davis or Sacramento. We drove past Sacramento without stopping and ended up regretting it. The next decent coffee house would be in Oregon. And there aren't many inhabited places along the Interstate I-5 at all.
We stopped to stretch our legs and switch drivers in a rest area somewhere between Sacramento and Redding, and stepping out of the car felt like climbing into an oven. Half-hopping, half-sprinting those twenty steps from the car to a picnic table in the shade of a big tree, I felt like a huge pancake sizzling and jumping on a red-hot pan.
Closer to Shasta Lake, the landscape becomes more interesting with beautiful mountains ahead. As the road climbs up, the air cools down a bit, views of the lake leave us heaving sighs of wonder, and cellular signal disappears.
Remember my TRAVEL TIPS? Do not forget to download an offline map for all your trips, wherever you go!
Soon after Black Butte we left I-5 and headed on road 97 toward Klamath Falls. This road is undivided, and parking on the shoulder is allowed. It was just about sunset time, so we pulled off the road and spent another half-hour watching the feast of amazing colors in the sky.
An hour later we settled in for the first night of our trip in the hotel in Klamath Falls, Oregon.