A few more days to get home

Thursday (Sep 22)

Quiet morning in my little corner of the campground.

As always, I left around noon-ish so I could make it to my breakfast cafe before it’s too-early closing time.

I’ve come to quite like the I-5 Diner. Coming here in the morning has become a standard part of my Buckhorn Campground overnight package. To wit: I stayed at Buckhorn a week ago, and I dined here a week ago also! There was a cute waitress last week – middle aged, very pleasant, nice to watch walking away :), and she was there again today, which was a bonus. She caught me staring, and gave me a nice smile instead of a “you creeper” glare. Win for me!

I ate my tasty breakfast, drank my acceptable coffee, collected tabs of news and sports on the ole laptop to read tonight and was off to Chico.

Last time I was here I did a drive-by on a few houses in the Avenues. This time I did a drive-by on a house in the Streets, which turned out to be small and kind of shabby. Confirming again that the Avenues are better. It was again pretty tiring, headed straight for my little shady spot along the pool in Bidwell Park and shut my eyes for a while.

Then drove like three blocks to get on CA 32 east and headed up the hill to check out a campground I’ve driven past many times without ever staying.

  Potato Patch Campground

WHUFU page for: Potato Patch Campground

Passed by this many times on the Chester to Chico run on Route 32.

Really pleasant campground about 30' above Deer Creek, a picture perfect trout stream.

40 miles from Chico, 30 miles from Chester.


CA 32 is quite close, so if a big ole logging truck comes by, you know it.

My neighbor just came home, turned on his generator and walked across the way to his friends campsite, so he doesn't have to hear the noise, I do. A-hole.

Along with the trucks, there is quite a lot of air traffic! Dunno what that's about.

The creek is full and quite lively for this time of year!

Great place! It was a delightful spot in the pines with CA 32 zooming past a hundred yards away. I took a lovely little walk along the creek. When I got back the spell was broken by my stupid neighbor coming back and immediately cranking up his stupid generator. It was carefully placed to be a little shielded from his area, but a direct line of sight and thus noise to my area.

Boy I sure do hate generators and the dickheads that run them in a quiet campground. Here I’ve enjoyed three hours of semi-peace and quiet, except for the logging trucks on 32 and the procession of noisy prop planes flying towards the Chester air base for some reason. Then a truck parks at my neighbor’s site. First thing he does is flip on his fucking generator. Second thing he does is waddle his fat ass across the road to hang out with his buddies at their campsite, so he doesn’t get the generator noise, I do. Not a fan of this person.


So when I got up the dude had set up a full party pad. Canopy, propane grill, even patio heater! He was sitting in his chair staring at my door. Awesome (NOT!).

Around 10:30, another big-ole truck pulling another big ole trailer came around the corner. It was his buddy of course, who backed into the site next to him. At least he’s gonna have somebody to party with. Looking back, it is a little weird though, they were both single dudes, both hauling around mid-sized RVs that could comfortably sleep a family of 5. Maybe they were recently single and having a little dude time?

Anyway, they seemed sort of sad to me so I was starting to feel charitable towards them when dude #1 flipped on his fucking generator again. He even moved it out into the open to be closer to the party pad so it was even louder. That was it for me. I left about an hour before I planned to. No point in hanging around to enjoy nature when nature isn’t enjoyable. Eff those guys.

So I drove up and out of the campground and took a right on 32, and quickly found myself in an interesting situation. I was in the middle of a one-way traffic, road repair area!

First clue was there was absolutely no one on the road, which is weird. Then I came over a hill and went from nobody to everybody! Huge gravel trucks were parked end to end on the left side of the road for the next 300 yards. People were gesticulating in a “wtf what are you doing here?” kind of way. I figured out the best way to work this was to pull over on the shoulder and wait for the parade going my direction to come by.

My timing wasn’t the best, the first parade was going the wrong direction … 34 vehicles, which meant it was going to be a while before my parade came. I walked back in the van, got my book and settled in. Eventually the pilot car came back leading the parade my direction. After 12 or so cars there was a heavily loaded semi lagging a bit so I zipped in front of him, which was smart, because that dude was slow and out of sight in the rear view in no time and I was happy to be in front of him rather than behind.

There was more excitement after I merged onto CA 36. As the road rolls downhill to Chester, it widens into a pretty broad valley. The valley was utterly devastated by last year’s Dixie Fire, and it was BUSY with a massive log recovery operation, a huge effort to reclaim the timber that wasn’t destroyed.  Many flatbed trucks. Many big pincer things to grab logs and put them on the trucks. It was pretty cool! The same fire went well up into Lassen National Park. When I was there later today I asked a ranger if they were going to do that, he said no. The National Park charter is to preserve nature, so they will leave the burned area as is. The National Forest charter is to use nature, so they allow managed logging. I thought it was really cool that they were making the best of the big fire. Among other visually interesting things was that the lake was really visible where before it was hidden by trees.

In Chester I drove straight to Koninkrijk Koffie, a Dutch-style bakery that is my go-to coffee and wifi spot. I had a coupla cups o’ coffee and a fancy pastry and a savory pastry – a sort of sausage and cheese cannoli that was awesome, and got another fancy pastry for tomorrow. Really enjoyed my food and soaked up that internet.

Since tonight’s plan is to spend the night in Lassen I doubled back through Chester. Got food at the market and diesel at the market gas station. I stopped by Jeff’s market. He was there. I was kinda hoping he’s invite me to camp there, but he didn’t, so onward back to Lassen.

I love the drive up Mt Lassen so much! The mud Pots most of all, but the two little jewel-like glacial lakes also.

North Summit Campground is the better of the two campgrounds, but it was closed for the season, so I had to settle for South Summit, which is shabbier. But it’s still pretty cool.

  Summit Lake South Campground

WHUFU page for: Summit Lake South Campground

Lovely spot at 7,000'-ish on the south side of a little alpine lake. On the north side is Summit Lake North Campground which costs $2/night more. It has flush toilets and sinks with running water.

It has the shambling, kinda charming disorganization I associate with National Park campgrounds.

Sites are not very level, but there's a lake to swim in and you're in an awesome place!


If there is a level parking pad in this campground I have not found it.

Some are just LOL, but most look level-ish, but in fact you get in there and ... not level.

Still a cool place though.

Off season, which means no water and price reduction.

North Summit is already closed, so South Summit is unusually crowded.

South Summit is pretty crowded since the North is closed. I cruised around for a while to decide the handful of open sites is the best place to spend the next 20 hours. I was tired, so I did not do any exploring to speak of. The walk to the payment kiosk was enough excitement for me.

There some excitement when a park ranger stopped at the next campsite, searched the tents and posted some kind of ticket on the truck that was there. There were no people.

They came back later and were not pleased, but that was the end of the excitement.


It fucking cold. Got down to 38º outside. I didn’t turn on the heat, so at sunrise it was 46º inside. Brrr!

As one does here, I continued on CA 89 north down the north face of Mt Lassen to Manzanita. There’sa general store at the large campground there, and I went straight to the store to get coffee and eat the ecellent pastry I got yesterday in Chester for this very purpose!

Exit the park and join CA 44 heading east. Twenty-five minutes after my coffee and pastry I find myself at JJ’s Diner. It’s 1:30, and JJ’s closes at 2, and it’s one of my favorite breakfast places anywhere, so the decision was pretty easy. I tucked in and had excellent breakfast and yet more coffee.

That was the end of the good news for the day.

Bridge Campground was closed, as it has been for the last couple of years, so back to Cave Campground. It was VERY busy and crowded. There were a few open sites but they weren’t nice sites. If this were the middle of a trip I woulda just taken one, but this is the last night of the trip, so my other option is a 2.5 hour drive to the amenities of home.

Home sounds better. That said, I am really tired. I didn’t sleep well in the frigid cold last night I guess. So I turned into the dispersed area camping and took a hard nap in the semi-shade. The nap was very refreshing and a good decision, but it went a little long so that I ended coming home in the dark. 

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