Sunday May 31 – 5:59 PM – Yreka, CA
Dinner was a shredded beef enchilada with a unique savory spice from the Puerto Vallarta restaurant in Yreka, California. There are two Mexican restaurants within a block of the Super 8 Motel, and the Vallarta was the recommended choice according to the gal at the front desk when I checked in. When I asked if there were any good restaurants for breakfast within walking distance, she shrugged and with a resigned look on her face, said, “Dennys.” I decided to purchase my breakfast in advance from the Ray’s grocery store across the street and pick from the motel’s continental breakfast selection.
7:04 am, Klamath Falls, Oregon
I did’t sleep very well last night. There was a prom going on in the hall across the street and the air conditioner in my room was effective but noisy. Wearing ear plugs to bed is not uncommon on my trips and I’ve grown accustomed to the necessity. Sleep came to me at 4 am and departed at 7 am. I got up, dressed, and walked down to the lobby of the Maverick Motel to see what their continental breakfast had to offer. Very little. Packaged pastries organized in clear plastic drawers akin to what you’d find in a scrapbooker’s craft room, a large stainless pot of coffee illegitimately labeled ‘regular’, and packets of instant oatmeal.
After a waking shower, I packed my hard cases and mounted them on my bike. The forecast said it was supposed to be in the low 50’s but the actual temperature had me forming a sweat. I stripped off my biking pants and took out the cold-weather liner from my jacket. The Chevron station from the day before wasn’t busy anymore but it still took the attendant several minutes to come out and hand the pump nozzle to me — a lame legal requirement in Oregon. Once my tank was full I headed southeast toward West Klamath.
It took some driving around but I finally found my way to the Klamath Memorial cemetary. My goal was to visit my Mom’s cremains. Unfortunately they are interned in the chapel which is only open on weekends by appointment only, and appointments can only be made during regular business hours Monday through Friday. I’ll have to visit her some other time, I guess.
Highway 66 connecting Klamath Falls in the east with Ashland to the west is known as the Green Springs Highway. It runs through a mixture of pine and oak and finishes with a dramatic and nauseatingly steep and twisty descent down to Ashland. I felt no ill from the delicious turns, feeling like a slalom skiier instead, and was surprised to see several bicyclists climbing the step and winding grade. Once in Ashland I pulled into the Wild Goose Cafe for some biscuits and gravy, two eggs, and sausage with the requisite cup of coffee. The waitress was intrigued by my chosen route for the day, twisty and circuitous, and warned me about forecasted thunderstorms. I thanked her for the warning, and although I never saw any raindrops on my ride I did see the effects from previous deluges — gravel washed into the roadway from over-run ditches.
My GPS put me on I-5 northbound but my butt only gets sore when I ride in a straight line so I pulled off and took a two-lane route westward instead. I passed through historic Jacksonville and remarked to myself just how quaint and ‘historic’ the town felt. Subsequent towns were Ruch, Applegate, and Murphy. I was thankful I had chosen that route. The road was in great shape, the turns were pleasant, and the scenery bucolic.
Once I reached Cave Junction I pulled int the Chevron and told the gap-toothed but pleasant attendant, “Fill, regular.” He smiled and pointed at the pump, “Go for it. I’ll hang out in case you need help.” We chatted a bit as I filled my gas tank, and when I asked if he knew how to get to Happy Camp, he said, “Oh, yeah! Go down this road about a half-mile, turn left, take the first right, then just ‘head into the hills.'” He leaned back and gave my bike a good up and down glance, then followed it with, “You’ll do fine.” I wonder what he would have said if I was riding a Harley.
His directions proved true and I relied on my GPS for the remaining route. As the road got narrower and steeper, I noticed a distinct lack of clear cuts. Living near the Mt. Hood National Forest I have begun to take them for granted. I stopped at a wide spot on the side of the road and took some pictures of the bike, the view, and the road. Before long I was at the summit and crossed from Oregon into California, marked only by white letters spray-painted onto the pavement. It was a quick descent down the 9% grade and before long I found myself in Happy Camp, California.
I didn’t find it to be that, exactly. I pulled into the small market and drank a pop from the vending machine under the front awning’s shade.
As I watched local residents come and go I kept expecting to hear banjo music in the background. I noticed a large grasshopper across the road and took its picture, doing my part to help that poor starving giant insect get rich and famous.
My GPS said to head east on Highway 96, and I’m very thankful I took its advice. 96 isn’t quite as diverse or challenging as 36, its parallel cousin to the south — and tomorrow’s ride — but it’s faster and has its own flavor equally worthy of remark. Law enforcement seems to be completely absent and the cagers are slow but polite — several pulled over to let me pass, something I’ve only experienced in northern California. The road follows the Klamath River, scenic and very popular with anglers and rafters. The temperature had risen quite noticeably and I was thankful to ride at 65 mph through all but the tightest turns. The bike performed wonderfully and I really felt like I was in the zone.
I got to Yreka at 2:30, almost the exact same as my previous day’s arrival in Klamath Falls. 8:30 departures and 2:30 arrivals seem to be consistent for me on my trips. My room at the Super 8 is twice as large as my lodging at the Maverick last night, I have free wi-fi in my room, and it only cost $56. The town itself is definitely not much worth looking at, however.