(C)  2002-2014 J. Watson       All rights reserved  
Travel Letters
         RV Travel notes from
         the traveling gran'ma and gran'pa
Vol 17  No 5                                                                                                                                      Late July/August, 2007          

Seals sunning on floats at Crescent City

Dear Gals …   Your guys …
Our grandchildren…     and sisters

BUELLTON,, CA;  9/1/07

After ten days at Crescent City we started to
Southern California via the out-of-the-way Lava Beds
National Monument and Lassen Volcanic National
Park in northeast California.  For years we’d put off
visiting these parks in California’s interior because of
intense summer heat.  At long last we took the
chance – it was hot but the views were

Crescent City hadn’t changed since we were there in
May.  (This is unlike our home town, which tends to
sprout at least one new subdivision or shopping
plaza every time we’re gone.)  There were more clear
days and it was a bit warmer than in the spring –
almost 70°F some days.  The California coastline is
quite cool in the summer and has a mild winter, far
more comfortable than just a few miles inland.  

From Crescent City the route zigzagged back to
Oregon through the redwoods and almost equally
impressive Douglas Firs.  Taking the road south of
Crater Lake there is a series of lakes, many in sight
of volcanic cones.  It is arid but in spite of that there
are many trees and varied scrub brush.  Further on
there are various evergreen and deciduous trees in
fields of parched grass.  The area is like “Westerns”,
with many tall ponderosa pines.  The southeast
corner of Oregon is very cold in the winter with the
snowmelt often not until late spring.

The first target, Lava Beds National Monument, is
one of a series of volcanoes stretching from
Washington State down into northern California.   
These lava beds were the result of a different type of
volcano so there is not the pronounced cone that
you typically expect.  It features lava tubes.  These
are essentially tunnels that remain after lava has
flowed in an area and the outer crusts have
hardened and the remaining hot lava has flowed out
leaving tubes.  The result is there are over four
hundred caves in the park.  We went in four, climbed
over piles of rocks and ducked under overhangs.  

A wall of petroglyphs, at least 100 yards in length
was a highlight, below.   Just what it meant is

Then on to Lassen Volcanic National Park.  This
volcano erupted back around 1920 and at that time it
was the only active U.S. volcano in recorded history.  
It has pretty well healed itself.  Trees now cover
much of the devastated area.

Northeast California is forested and most of the land
is in national forests with scattered small villages.  
We met one mama who recently moved from the city
of Sacramento.   How thrilled she was to be raising
her children in this rural area.  The village she lives
in has about a dozen homes and is three miles off
the main road.  On the downside, the area is
sometimes snowbound in winter.  

Heading south through central California the highway
passes arid land with some farming – dry farming
(cattle ranches) and irrigated areas that are rich
green, and just north of Sacramento there are rice
paddies.  Some areas are filled with fruit or nut trees,
others are vineyards.  Now ‘n then the road crosses
aqueducts that supply the parched southwest.  
We arrived in HB a few days ago to visit family.  The
RV park is across the highway from the marvelous
beach.  The shorefront is great for walks as it
extends about ten miles with uninterrupted sand –
nothing is between the highway and ocean except
the bike/foot path and wide beach.  
Home; 9/29/07

The motorhome headed east for about two weeks.  
Just before leaving Huntington Beach, we attended a
reception to formally honor our grandson for earning
the Boy Scout Eagle rank.  Friends rallied to help
with a tight schedule and, as expected, it came off
without a glitch.  (He's a third generation eagle.)

Coming east was somewhat frustrating as we passed
numerous sites that we would have liked to revisit;
instead it was pretty much non-stop driving as I have  
appointments at home.  It’s a beautiful country.  

We left Sunday morning to avoid California’s city
traffic.  In a couple of hours the scenery changed to
desert with signs pointing the way to reservoirs used
for recreation.  The route was just south of Death
Valley and looked very much like it – barren and
HOT.  “Historic Route 66” crisscrosses I-40 from
California to Oklahoma.  We drove on some of the
remaining fragments of old Route 66.

Gals:  Route 66 was called the first cross-country
road and went from Chicago to Los Angeles.  It
opened in 1927 and eleven more years to be fully
paved.  You may recall that “Sally G” talked of her
1947 drive cross-country with three other teachers –
what an adventure they had.   Clusters of
abandoned homes now line parts of the old roadway.

Crossing the Columbia River at the California-
Arizona border there is a bit of sparse growth, then
trees and giant boulders.  Some mountains are
formed by these piles of boulders.  Certainly
geologists have had a field day trying to conjecture
the origin of this diverse landscape.  Then when
entering New Mexico there are miles of red cliffs with
nearby mountains of various colors,  On some cliffs
the strata are pronounced; some as extreme as a ten
foot bold white stripe against the dark red stone.  
Then the view turned to prairie.  Occasional volcano
cones can be seen with lava beds.  Lava becomes
fertile after it breaks down; so much of it has plants in
the niches where it has crumbled.  


Several pueblos dot the area.  Some can be
identified with casinos but back from the road the
adobe homes and trailers can be seen.  There are
grazing cattle and this, of course, continues into
Texas and Oklahoma.

                                  PUEBLO OF LAGUNA, NM

Large ranches predominate in the Texas panhandle
and Oklahoma with cattle and hay, as well as grain,
sorghum and cotton.  Of course, cotton fields are
seen from this point to home.  The landscape has a
scattering of grain elevators plus some oil wells.  
Some areas are so flat that you can see for miles,
giving the illusion of “top of the world”.

The Oklahoma landscape has gentle rolling hills with
trees.  The Indian presence is evident as there are a
series of Indian nations in the area.  Then, crossing
the Mississippi River from Arkansas to Mississippi a
bit south of Memphis, there are more gentle rolling
hills.  The area is heavy farming with cotton fields
that are ready to be picked.  This route avoids the
rugged Appalachians in Tennessee and North

It’s nice to be home.  We arrived
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