Memorial Day #3

WHUFU Trip: May 2014 - 395 and Eureka | 0

Thursday (May 29) 

I leave 9:30-ish, which is early for me. I couldn’t really relax because if some ranger drove up and hassled be about not registering at this point I would be annoyed for not having left, so … I left!

I used the time to explore the other big campground here at the north end of the lake, Kyen. I dunno what’s up with these odd names. It is much more accessible, no long access road with a big ugly speed bump every 200 yards. The boat launch is here, and there were people and signs of semi-permanent habitation. The campground had the same stupid “credit card” sign posted though…  I think I like where I stayed better, but now I know what the other choice is like.

On to breakfast in Willets. I stop at sorry looking place whose big sign simply says “Dinner”. It wasn’t Grimaldi’s. but something close – Grimbaldi’s? Yelp said it was OK, and it was. It had two very cute waitresses. It’s across the parking lot from a muscle-boy workout gym, so maybe there’s something going on there.

Onward again. The nice lady at Richardson Grove State Park gives me a one hour pass so I can grab a little nap in the redwoods. aahhh, that was just the ticket! Then I chill out by driving a stretch of the Avenue of the Giants.

Eureka and family by 5-ish. Just in time to go to Tyler’s baseball practice, where I froze my butt off in the fog and wind. We ended up eating Mexican at Esmeralda’s.  On top of the chorizo omelette for breakfast in Willets it turned out to be a little too much Mexican flavoring for one day.  I’m tasted it all night :(

Friday – Sunday 

me and swaddled Rylan
Friday – looked at houses, went to Tyler’s game. This was the end of the season throwaway game, his team has already clinched for the playoffs, so they let all the not-so-good players get their chance to pitch and catch. It was pretty sad. One kid threw about 20 straight balls. The game was called after two hours and it was only the 4th inning!

Martha and Rylan
Saturday – looked another house. I stayed home for today’s game, which was exactly opposite of what I should’ve done. I missed Tyler pitching.  Cook it yourself pizza, then Chad and me go out for a beer at the Speakeasy.

Sunday – Martha and the boys and I have an adventure in Ferndale and hike a teeny little bit of the top of the Lost Coast.


It’s always hard to say goodbye.  I manage, then hit Old Town Coffee, Humboldt Smokehouse, and Safeway on the way out of town, for my caffeine, dinner, general grocery needs respectively.

Route 299 east to Redding is always exhausting. By the time I get to Willow Creek I am ready to eat and rest a while. I go to the mexican place this time, and I’m glad I did. Nothing fancy, but competent Mexican food. Everybody else in there seemed pretty clearly to be pot growers.

Back on the road for another 45 minutes to Pigeon Point. I got there pretty early – 4:30 – and was able to snag the prime, perfect spot looking out over the river. I spent my 3-4 hours of daylight reading, writing, and eating. I even got in the river!  it was pretty cold, so I just waded in and sat on a rock in the water for  a while! There was only the tiniest sliver of a moon setting in the west tonight (waxing crescent :), and I created a little excitement for myself by computing till after dark, then looking around and realizing it was pitch black and I was 30 yards from the van.  I stumbled and crawled for 20 minutes or so to get back – duh.

Pigeon Point Campground:  

On a bend in the Trinity River, next to a boat ramp ==> lots of partying rafters, but a couple of great sites!

Busy Route 299 is only 40' up and 90' over, so when a truck passes you hear it. Fortunately, the road is not busy after dark.

Not quite as torrid as Redding, but still pretty darned hot until the sun goes down.


Arrived early in the day on the first Monday in June and got perfect campsite #6 again! This little jewel of a campground is set up for river rafters, so my site and another have 2-3 picnic tables, and are made to handle big groups of partying river people. But they ain't here tonight, so I get the sweet spot!

The temperature was perfect, and the bugs weren’t bad – some big floppy droners, but no mosquitoes or other biting-itching kinds of critters – so I slept with the van door open, dozed off looking and  hearing the happy Trinity River in the waning moonlight. That’s pretty awesome.  


looking down Salmon Creek canyon towards Sierra City

Around sunrise I woke up enough to notice I was cold and shut the door till I got myself going 9:30-ish. Last night’s parking angle, which gave me the best river panorama, turns out to be the worst parking angle for sunrise – DUH.  So it got pretty hot in the van.  But it was very nice outside in the shade, so I hung out, ate and wrote this blog for a while.

I am getting better at preventing blood-sugar panic. I processed a big, hearty bowl of cereal, which got me past the forgettable food options of Weaverville, to Brew, the almost hipster-ish coffee place in Redding.

Then, despite my best efforts at detailed planning with the wifi at Brew, came a series of minor but annoying FAILs – there was the u-turn to go back a diesel station FAIL, then diesel SUCCESS, but spending that time led to a (five-star) deli FAIL (closed at 3PM :< ), then a successful Camping World interlude(*), then Apple maps FAIL on the less-good deli, but that put me in the neighborhood for Safeway SUCCESS.

So three hours later I am on the road with all my objectives accomplished – full tank, dinner in the fridge, shiny new levelling chocks for the van plus a cute little level – and it’s not much later than I would have wanted it to be!

(*) Camping World brought up a lot of negative feelings I should think about. The fact that the big ladies and the old dudes in the panama hats are now “my people” in the world of RV nomadism was depressing. I do not have a giant rig that lumbers from the Sam’s Club to the KOA, but just being amongst them made me feel old and over the hill.

Nice easy drive up,  up, up to Lassen National Park, and just inside the park, Manzanita Lake Campground. It’s pleasantly chilly here at 5900′. Funny to think that sultry, sweltering Redding is only 50 miles away (and 5500′ lower!).

Manzanita Lake Campground:  

My campsite karma failed tonight, and I am 40 feet away from overweight theater troupe, who act as if they've never been out of the city before and are being very, very loud very late into the evening.

Elevation 5900', so it's pleasantly cool here, even while Redding, 50 miles west and 5500' lower is hitting 101.


My campsite karma failed tonight, and I am 40 feet away from overweight theater troupe, who act as if they've never been out of the city before and are being very, very loud very late into the evening.

Elevation 5900', so it's pleasantly cool here, even while Redding, 50 miles west and 5500' lower is hitting 101.

The only campers within shouting distance unfortunately use shouting as their natural form of communication. I am not digging them. They keep the party going till after 11, 10pm Quiet Time notwithstanding.


Manzanita Lake

Wow, I am a little surprised at what a hearty and sincere dislike I developed for those campers across the way. Probably nice, warm-hearted, kind people, but a complete disregard for the fact that if they shut their fucking mouths you could hear birds and the wind in the trees and whatever sounds nature put out there. So they’re nice to each other, but they don’t give a s–t about the rest of us.  Well, whatever … it was only one night, I had a great time on my hike and didn’t suffer too much at the campsite, so let’s move on.

I enjoy expensive camp store coffee and the rest of yesterday’s brownie by the lake, then I’m off for a tourist-y day in the National Park. The road goes up to 8,800′. There is still a LOT of snow up there. The two lakes you drive past are still choked with slushy ice which makes them even prettier.

Lake Helen
My favorite stop is always the Sulphur Works. I stand there and let myself get hypnotized by the burbling mud pit.

Visit the Visitors Center on the south side of the park, then it’s time to get into driving mode and motor back to Reno.  All those marshy valleys between here and Susanville are very pretty this time of year.  And in fact, even the sort of bleak drive down 395 from Susanville to Reno was green and pretty and scenic also.