Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

And We're Home

It's rarely a good idea to schedule the final leg of a long road trip to be the longest one, but thanks to us shortening yesterday's trip, that's exactly what happened to us today. We had 450 miles to go to get home. Now I know people for whom that is nothing, but we don't travel that well, and we don't drive above the speed limit that much.

We slept in a little bit because we were out so late last night, and some Day Jobbe and Fandom things needed answering this morning before we could leave the Holiday Inn Express about 10 AM. In an attempt to be efficient, we went to the Bi-Mart in Bend for the latest stage in the Tax Free Tour of Oregon; however, one of the things I wanted, that being a bunch of Breathe-Right strips, they didn't have in my large size.

We went south as fast as we could legally go, but that included slowdowns for road construction, of which there were several. We made a diversion at Sunriver to get me some coffee (because I forgot to get it in Bend), which cost us a little bit of time, but then we got moving along as well as we could. We stopped in Chemult to refuel the minivan for the last time in Oregon. We really don't like having our gas pumped for us (self-serve is mostly prohibited in Oregon) because we've had people spill too much fuel around us, but the attendant at the Pilot in Chemult did a good job.

Between the Mountain and the Lake

Not too much longer later, we were along the stretch of US-97 that runs between the mountains to the east...

Klamath Lake

And Klamath Lake to the west. Some of the wires you see in this photo (the ones that aren't connected to electrical poles) are a slide-detector fence that runs between the highway and the railroad below. Should a rock-slide come down and break these wires, it sets the railroad signals to red and sounds an alarm to the dispatcher.

Lisa, who had been driving all day, ran out of juice north of Klamath Falls and we changed drivers there.

At Klamath Falls, we made the last stop of the Tax Free Tour of Oregon, buying all of the boxes of Breathe-Right strips they had at the Bi-Mart there. We considered stopping for lunch at the Sizzler across the parking lot from the Holiday Inn Express where we often stay, but Lisa was rightly concerned about how late we were running, so we instead grabbed some stuff from the nearby Fred Meyer grocery, and then pressed on.

Lisa made herself a sandwich, and after eating her lunch felt much better. She took the wheel again at Merill, Oregon, where I got myself a 1 liter Diet Coke and several bottles of Mexican Coca-Cola for Lisa, then made my lunch and ate it as we continue onward. A few minutes later, we crossed into California, where the road changed from OR-39 to CA-139.

Hills Near Tulelake

The geology here is always interesting to us. I took this photo of an escarpment near Tulelake. In the foreground runs the remnant of the former Southern Pacific "Modoc Route" that once ran between Fernley and Klamath Falls but today goes only as far as Alturas. (The Lake Railway, which I discussed on our trip north, operates the Alturas-Lakeview and apparently the Alturas-Perez sections, interchanging with Union Pacific, who inherited the line from SP and tore up the remaining section south of Alturas down to Flannigan (Flannigan-Fernley has been gone for decades) at Perez siding.)

Rail Served Industry

Most of the lineside industries appear to be closed or relying exclusively on trucks, but we were pleased to see these hopper cars being loaded at a grain elevator. These large bulk cargoes should be transported by rail so the trucks don't tear up the roads.

Speaking of torn-up roads, a significant portion of CA-139 is under construction, leading to long stretches of 45 MPH driving on loose-gravel-covered pavement and one stretch of one-way controlled traffic behind a pilot car. That probably cost us close to an hour right there.

I considered trying to take another day off from work tomorrow and bailing at Alturas; however, I'm committed to covering for a co-worker who is himself taking Thursday off, so I couldn't do it. We even considered spending two nights at Alturas so I could work all day Thursday and part of Friday before going home, but that didn't seem like a great idea. Another plan was to stop at Alturas and fall into bed as early as we could (perhaps 6 PM), then get up again at 2 AM, leave the hotel, and hopefully get home in time for me to be at work for 6 AM Thursday. Fortunately, Lisa felt well enough to do most of the driving aside from a short spell I did from Canby to Alturas.

Honey Lake

After coming down from the plateau visible in the distance across dry Honey Lake from the US-395 rest area, we turned southwest toward Reno.

Honey Lake

US-395 swings around this arm of the Sierra Nevada before heading into Reno. As I've written in the past, I lived in those mountains for six months in the late 1970s, when my father was stationed at the (now defunct) Laufman Ranger Station of the Plumas National Forest at Milford, California.

At Hallelujah Junction, we made our final stop in California, that being the last chance to buy Mega Millions lottery tickets for the half-billion-dollar draw coming up. (The big multi-state lotteries are one of the few forms of gambling not available in Nevada.) A few minutes later, we were in Reno.

An earlier version of our travel plans had us stopping in Reno to pick up groceries before heading home; however, that was when we planned to start in K-Falls rather than Bend. Also, we'd bought so much along the way on top of all of our tech gear and personal luggage that there really wasn't much room for groceries, so we simply pressed home, stopping at the Pilot Travel Center for a container of milk before arriving home just before 10 PM. That's 450 miles in twelve hours, which isn't a very good average speed, but is not too bad when you consider the obstacles in our way. Our Westercon Road Trip is now over.

We can go this far in a day. We just do not want to do so.
Tags: california, cascades, lisa, oregon, travel, westercon

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