The long drive - Winterlude 2020 - CycleBlaze

November 15, 2020 to November 16, 2020

The long drive

For us, 500 miles counts as a long drive.  I really don’t know how long-haul truckers do it.  For us, it’s more than we want to take on in one day, so we broke it in half with a overnight in Ashland.  And even then, the two halves are also too long for one sitting.  Sunday we broke the ride in half with a stopover in Eugene to visit our friend Lynn.  It was great to get caught up on each other’s lives (especially for us, since she follows the blog and already knows what we’ve been up to since we met last).  Our conversation was sporadically interrupted though to look out on her deck  to check  up on the tiny bird that had stunned itself flying against her window just before we arrived.  It hardly moved for about a half hour; then began stirring and looking more alert; and then, while we weren’t looking, disappeared.  We choose to believe the little guy had a full recovery.

The golden crowned kinglet is one of our tiniest birds, with a length of 3-4 inches and a weight of only 0.1-0.3 ounces (less when emptied like this one is, I imagine). I was afraid he might die of hypothermia from sitting inertly for so long. I’ve never gotten such a good look at one before, because they spend most of their lives high up in the conifers.
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We were lucky and enjoyed a dry drive most of the way to Ashland, until about the last half hour.  By the time we arrived though it was almost sundown and raining hard, and we were happy to be off the road.

Today though is glorious.  The sun is out, it’s warmer, and visibility is excellent as we leave Ashland and drive south toward Siskiyou Summit.  I’ve been worried about this climb, which tops out over 4,000’.  Yesterday there was rain mixed with snow at the summit at the edges of the day, and I hoped we wouldn’t have traction issues.  Today though that’s not a concern, although there is a mile or two on the ascent where there’s still a trace of what looks like frozen fog blanketing one lane.

Over the top, the views are amazing.  Some of the higher ridges have traces of snow still, and the hillsides are a glowing ochre from the turning oak forests.  

Stateline, just south of Siskiyou Summit.
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California!
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Mount Shasta, from the freeway rest area north of Weed.
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Bill ShaneyfeltI remember the advertising slogan... "It hasta be Shasta"
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltYes, and I’m sure this is what that was for. To help in volcano identification.
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1 week ago
Bill ShaneyfeltThat was quick! Many years since I heard the slogan.

https://www.thrillist.com/drink/san-francisco/things-you-didn-t-know-about-shasta-soda
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1 week ago
Victa CalvoWe lived directly 180 degrees on the other side of Mt. Shasta. We named our first daughter after that mountain and my mum was born in Weed. That farm directly behind where you took the photo from belonged to old family friends.

That ground is literally etched into my DNA.

I'm really enjoying this ride of yours...
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1 day ago
Scott AndersonTo Victa CalvoLucky man, you. This looks like it must have been a wonderful place to grow up. I’ve been watching for the right excuse to take a tour here for several years. It was on our list for earlier it his past fall if Croatia had fallen through, but it seemed to cold for right now.
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1 day ago

We break today’s ride in half also, stopping near the town of Mount Shasta for a hike along the shore of artificial Siskiyou Lake, high up on the Sacramento River.  It’s a perfect respite from the road - a flat eight mile hike along the lake with stunning views of Mount Shasta towering just to the east. 

Beginning our hike along Lake Siskiyou.
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The picturesque Wagon Creek Pedestrian Bridge at the eastern end of Lake Siskiyou.
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Looking northwest across the lake. We’re fairly high elevation here - the lake is at 3,200’.
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It’s an easy, generally flat hike around the lake. The trail encircles the lake, but today we’re just waking out and back along the south shore because at its western end the seasonal bridge across the Sacramento River is closed for the winter.
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Parts of the hike are a tunnel of gold today.
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Most of the color comes from the oaks, but the bracken and other dying plants are nearly the same hue.
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Bruce LellmanSo, what kind of oak is this?
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanQuercus kellogii (California black oak), I think.
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1 week ago
I think we were lucky to find clear conditions at the lake, because we passed through several belts of dense fog not far north of here. From the dew on many of the plants here it looks like the fog receded not long ago.
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The trails are a bit confusing at the west end of the lake, so Rachael and I were communicating by phone so we didn’t miss each other. I saw her before she saw me.
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We enjoyed our lunch of Subway sandwiches sitting at a picnic bench by the lakeside and admiring the view.
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Impressive! Presumably from a sugar pine, which has the longest cones of any pine species.
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Mount Shasta and Lake Siskiyou.
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We’re back in the car by about 2, with still 120 miles to go.  The first hour is beautiful but challenging, as the highway twists it’s way down the canyon of the upper Sacramento River.  I’ve been thinking back trying to remember if I’ve ever ridden this road, which seems completely new to me.  I can think of only one time for certain, back in the late 70’s when I rode down to San Francisco with a friend to participate in a Sufi dance, of all things.  I think we drove down nonstop one day, stayed over two nights somewhere, and drove back nonstop the next.  No wonder I don’t remember anything about this highway.

At Red Bluff we leave I-5 for two lane Highway 99 for the last 40 miles to Chico.  I’m certain I’ve never been on this road, and I don’t think Rachael has either.  I’m astonished as we drive past one nut orchard after another for what seems like 20 miles or more.  It feels like we’ve been riding through walnut and almond groves forever when we finally approach Chico, right at sundown.

We celebrate our arrival with a fine dinner at Crush, a place I have no doubt we’d be coming back to again if it weren’t closing after tonight.  Today Governor Newsom announced what he described as putting an emergency brake on California’s reopening.  After today, 94% of the state’s population is now in the purple tier, the strictest  level of Covid restrictions.  It will be a long time until we dine in again, I imagine.  Which is fine - we came down in hopes of better bike riding conditions, which still looks in the cards.  We went through a few months of take-out  back in the spring, and we’re confident the options will be significantly more appealing here than in John Day.

We discuss the restaurant closure and Covid situation with our server, a young man we both immediately like.  He’s philosophical about the closure - he agrees of the necessity, and has his backup plan in place - he’s going back to the farm, to work the almond orchards.  And, he tactfully educates us on the correct local pronunciation - ammons (like the great jazz tenor sax artist), not all-monds.  

We celebrated our arrival by risking it all for a isolated dine-in meal at Crush. The date, macadamia nut and goat cheese salad was especially memorable. Enjoy this food photo, since it may be the last for quite a while. Indoor dining in most of the state is now banned again, beginning tomorrow.
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Mike AylingAlmonds - here in OZ, and in Sarf Efrica, (both former Brit Colonies) we say
armonds.
What do the Canucks and Kiwis say?
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1 week ago
Bruce LellmanI wonder what almonds ever did to people to make them pronounce the word differently from the way it's spelled.
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanI don’t know, but I like this explanation: “Farmers will often tell you, you call it an almond on the tree and an am-end on the ground because you shake the l out of it.”
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1 week ago
John PescatoreWe call them "tiny little water bottles" - to grow one pound of nuts takes almost 1,900 gallons of water, which I think works out to something like 1 gallon per almond and close to 3 gallons per walnut.

For 12 gallons you can have 12 almonds, 4 walnuts or 1 orange!
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1 week ago
Suzanne GibsonGlad I'm not alone on not tolerating long drives. Nothing worse than sitting in the car for hours. Looks like you did a good job breaking up the long drive into manageable chunks with rewards in between.
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1 week ago
Jen GrumbyI want to know more about your participation in a Sufi dance in San Francisco.
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo John PescatoreThat’s really interesting. I’d never heard this about nut crops before. One estimate puts the almond industry as responsible for 10% of California’s total water usage.
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1 week ago
Bruce LellmanTo Scott AndersonOh, that's great. I like this explanation.
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1 week ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Mike AylingThis Canuck says ah-mond. The "l" probably got shaken out during transportation from wherever it was harvested.
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1 week ago
Mike AylingTo Jacquie GaudetThanks Jacquie

Ah works better than Ar when trying to explain the pronunciation.
So we have Canada, South Africa and Australia basically going the same way.
Now let's hear from Tricia Graham or someone in NZ.

Mike
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyAn interesting time in my life. We’ll save this for an IRL meetup.
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1 week ago
Jen GrumbyLook forward to it! Hopefully when y'all come through in January.
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1 week ago
Robyn RichardsTo Mike AylingDefinitely ah-monds down this part of the world.
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1 week ago
James FitchWhen I was driving tour buses, we were taught that they're called all-monds when they're on the tree, and am-monds after they're off the tree. You see, to get them off the tree, you have to beat the "L" out of them.
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1 week ago