Memorial day weekend is a time to respect the Freedom that was given to us by so many of our fellow American people who have sacrificed the ultimate price to be able to live in this amazing country. With that being said I tend to always want to hit the road to celebrate those Freedom’s and explore this land we have had to earn through these hardships.
This year was no different as not only were my wife and I celebrating for them, but also for my Kristin and another semester in the books of her very demanding graduate school program. Through her I get to celebrate summer break again which really leaves me to appreciate it that much more. So to welcome in the sunshine (or Fog in San Francisco) we headed north to Bend Oregon. The destination was known, but the path or where we would be laying our heads at night was part of the questionable journey that I love so much.
As we headed North to parts unknown we decided to stick to I5 and shoot up the Highway to get up as far as we could in the first day. The initial departure took some shaking of my cob webs as I was really going through a tough couple weeks with work. After getting beyond the Napa area a weight slowly started to lift off my shoulders as I really started to relax into the trip. As we started to ease into the mountains I could only grow more and more excited to get my first experience of the cascade Mountain Range that I had heard so much about. It didn’t disappoint as we rolled by mountain after mountain and time ceased to exist as lack of destination for the first day really let’s the worries roll with the hills.
After passing Redding we were climbing into the heart of the Cascades. Shasta Lake was our first real spot of expectancy as I had heard so much about it before. Such crystal clear water and size made it hard to believe it was a man-made lake. As we climbed even further I was surprised by how dry the mountainside actually was and wondered if the rain had been low like it had been in San Francisco all spring. Next came Mt. Shasta which words can really not describe what I felt upon first viewing. It seemed so epic besides the much less altitude of the surrounding mountains. Unfortunately Mt. Shasta wouldn’t fully reveal itself for our long trip around it. The clouds and snow were blocking the peak, but as we rolled by I found myself not being able to take my eye off it in hopes that she would show a glimpse of this peak I have dreamed about so much. I don’t know if I have ever seen something so grand before given the fact that we were at 2000 feet and it reaches all the way up to 14,179 feet.
After a long journey around the majestic Mt. Shasta we got off the main Interstate and started north on Highway 97. The small town of Weed (Named after Abner Weed…not what I thought) was 1 of many small Oregon/Cali towns we would come to really appreciate as we rubbered North. Highway 97 was a lot less traveled as it felt like I went miles without seeing another car once we crossed into Oregon. It was a much-needed relief as I love driving down a highway through rolling hills and valleys. We saw small cities pop up here and there and you really notice as you go through dryer land like this how important lakes or bodies of water actually are because that is the only time you see civilization. One of the highlights for me was Juniper valley. A really beautiful valley that you could tell would be filled with people if it was closer to a big city. It seemed like such a peaceful place to just sit and watch the days roll by. Unfortunately we did need to get up to Bend by Sunday so we cruised on and it became another one of those places or people who you travel past or communicate with that sticks in your mind for the rest of your life. It only is for a glimpse of time saw it, but there was an unmistakable energy and connection to it that is hard to explain in words.
Next top was Klamath Lake we decided to venture for a campsite. The campsite we found was too much in the city so I asked any recommendation of other areas nearby that would take dogs. He immediately thought of Collier State Park. I will take a recommendation from a local always over any website so we headed North again and was treated to a lake side road that winded north during sunset. It reminded me of the Lakes of Michigan as it was almost hard to believe it wasn’t a bay or something grander based on the size and our relative height to it. It glimmered the whole drive through it as it lead us to land untraveled by us in this life.
Upon finding the spot of which we were to rest for the night we got a fire going and setup the hammock to relax the rest of daylight and night away. Lots of driving on the first day, but it truly seemed like we had already been traveling for a week based on how time can just stop when you hit the road and are exploring new places you had never seen before with the people and animals you love.