Week Five: we left Redwoods and the coast, and headed inland to Redding in far-northern California. Redding is nothing to get excited about in and of itself, but the nearby Shasta-Trinity National Forest and Whiskeytown National Recreation Area make this location the perfect base for things that interest us: great biking trails, cool breezes, and the opportunity to get out on the water!
Lake Shasta is HUGE and beautiful, but the water level was so low that it honestly seemed like somebody pulled the plug on the bathtub. Everybody in the area blames everybody else in all the OTHER parts of California for “stealing their water” and “being greedy bastards,” but I am not getting involved in those politics. You can see how far down the water line is in the photo below … it should be all the way up to the trees!
One fun activity was visiting Lake Shasta Caverns, amazing caves which were formed millions of years ago. The little symbol on the sign had me worried … would we really have to crawl on our knees? Wear headlamps on our heads? Would dangerous icicles hanging from the ceiling mess up my hairdo? Should I have brought kneepads and flare guns?
But alas, it was a civilized walking tour, though rather than “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” it was “Boats, Busses, and Stairs” to get there … a ½ mile walk down to the shrunken water line, then a boat ride across the lake, followed by a bus ride up a very steep 1.5 mile road to the cave entrance, and then a guided tour which included 609 stairs throughout! It was very cool!
Having the doggies along on this trip has made us very attuned to finding activities they can do with us. Certainly, they could stay in the RV by themselves (and have, for up to 7 hours at a time) but Philip tires of me asking, “Do you think the doggies are OK?” every 10 minutes. So, we try to do things they can experience along with us. In nearby Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, we were able to rent a pontoon boat that Bella and Sprinkles could also enjoy!
Back on land, the ghost town Old Shasta has remnants of the times in the mid-1800’s when this area was important to the gold rush era. The remaining brick walls along Main Street are all that are left of retailers, clotheries, banks, assessors, groceries and more that were here back-in-the-day.
Excellent historical placards and signs made the buildings come to life, but I just felt like crying … knowing that these walls used to be somebody’s dream come true, THAT very building and THAT business idea and THAT passion, now reduced to just plain rubble! Sob! (Time to get my hormone levels checked again.)
This handsome building is the oldest Masonic Lodge in California and the fraternal order of Masons have had continuous meetings here since 1854, which continue to this day in this same building! That’s 160 years of combative old men meeting in secret within these very walls! (Or, is that just in Dan Brown novels?)
In downtown Redding, we visited the world-famous Sundial Bridge, which was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the world’s premier bridge designer. We were told the glass floor (see it below?) is illuminated at night, when it is at its most stunning. However, since it doesn’t get dark until after 9:30 here, that would cut into our movie-and-ice-cream-in-bed time, so we had to be satisfied with seeing it in the daytime.
It is actually a working sundial; HOWEVER, it is exactly accurate only one day a year on the summer solstice of June 21 or 22, which seems pretty lame. Shouldn’t it be accurate always? Like a Timex? Anyway, the tip of the shadow moves at approximately one foot per minute so that the Earth’s rotation about its axis can be seen with the naked eye, so Christopher Columbus would definitely approve.
The Sundial Bridge also forms the gateway to the Sacramento River Trail, a 35-mile-long trail completed in 2010 that extends along both sides of the river and connects the bridge to the Shasta Dam. After fighting hills, narrow shoulders, windy roads, hostile/aggressive drivers, and road debris while riding along the coast of Oregon last week, Philip was thrilled for a safe and relaxing way to “get his bike on” on this gorgeous, designated bike trail.
You may be wondering, how in the world can you have taken six weeks off from work for this trip? The truth is: we can’t, and we haven’t. Philip is involved in the land development of 16 different projects right now, including a huge 2,600-acre project in North Las Vegas. But thanks to the wonders of modern technology, our RV is retrofitted with everything we need for it to be a rolling branch office … cell service, a signal booster, printer/scanner/fax machine, and the ability to get and answer emails from virtually anywhere. And I do mean ANYWHERE!
We have one final major destination before pointing the Lucky Charm’s nose back to the barn. Heading to Yosemite National Park, we are excited to experience the beauty that photographer Ansel Adams made famous. We are also excited to soak up as much cool weather as possible before heading back to Phoenix, which was 116 degrees yesterday! Come along for the ride in our next, and final, installment of the 2014 Great Western Adventure!