June 13, 2007
Ukiah, CA to Klamath Falls, OR
This was a transitional day, mostly driving and collecting counties.
Incredibly, we didn't see anywhere to eat breakfast in Ukiah, though we did see the Redwood Tree Service Station. There was a time when I would have turned around and gone back for a bunch of photos, but my interests have changed over the years. We kept driving, and it was a long way to the first appealing roadside café. It was a restaurant in a strip mall -- I think it was in Clearlake Oaks. My breakfast (pancakes, bacon, eggs, etc.) was mediocre, but my wife ordered an outstanding monte cristo. Most monte cristos have ham and turkey, but this one added that magic ingredient -- bacon! I realized too late that she had been pining for my breakfast as much as I had been drooling over her monte cristo. We should have traded. As it was, I got to eat a good portion of her sandwich after I finished my meal.
I selected a handful of CDs by California artists to serve as our soundtrack. Although we had already played Tom Russell and Dave Alvin, we still had Tom Waits, Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Beat Farmers, and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (although they are from Florida, Petty says they are a Los Angeles band because they have lived there for 30 years). We had a tense moment when my wife awoke from a nap and ejected Tom Waits' Rain Dogs several songs before it was finished. I yelled at her -- you simply cannot truncate a classic like that. For Petty, we had She's The One, one of the best soundtrack albums I've ever heard. Petty shores up a bunch of strong original tunes with covers of Lucinda Williams' "Changed The Locks" and Beck's "Asshole." The Red Hot Chili Peppers Greatest Hits CD is always excellent road music, although my fondest memory remains the time I listened to it while driving through the Imperial Desert in southern California. This time my wife was driving so I fell asleep during a couple of songs and dreamed of "Californication." From the Beat Farmers I had the Loud and Plowed CD, a great live disc featuring Country Dick Montana's cover of "Lucille" ("You picked a fine time to leave me Lucille/Four ugly children and a crotch that won't heal"). My wife said she could listen to it again, but we just don't do that on road trips. I still had plenty of unplayed CDs in my backpack, and I intended to get through as many as I could before we returned to Illinois. Sometimes my wife gets tired of listening to music in the car, but I never do.
The next few hours were devoted to some serious county collecting. I added six to my collection by the time we reached Chico. This was a much-awaited meal, a chance to revisit one of my favorite pizzas from my 2002 cross-country bike trip. Before we departed Illinois, I printed out a list of Mountain Mike's locations, and one way or another, we had to eat there! We arrived at one of the two Chico Mountain Mike's locations at the tail end of the lunchtime rush. The pineapple chicken luau pizza with pineapple, chicken, bacon, and KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce was still on the menu, so I ordered a large. It was as good as I remembered, but I wasn't as hungry as I had been after biking 76 miles five years ago so we didn't finish it. Needless to say, it was much better than Abby's hula-chick pizza. We took the leftovers with us, hoping that our motel that evening would have a microwave.
We headed up I-5 toward Redding, and then we drove west to collect Trinity County. My wife got a little carsick from the twisting mountain roads so I had to stop a couple of times. At least she managed to hold down her pineapple chicken luau. We returned to Redding, a city notable for how many bad things we've heard about it, and then we continued north on I-5. Mount Shasta became increasingly prominent as we approached Dunsmuir. We didn't get to see Mount Rainier or Mount Hood due to cloud cover the previous week, but we saw plenty of Mount Shasta.
We left I-5 in Weed to get gas and head toward Klamath Falls on U.S. 97.
I took one last photo of Mount Shasta on the outskirts of Weed.
At the state line, we headed east on CA 161 to CA 139 to collect Modoc County in the northeast corner of California. I noticed that Tulelake had a surprising number of lodging choices for its size. I suppose we would have visited Lava Beds National Monument if it hadn't been almost dark. Along the road, we saw a large, handmade sign about the Klamath River being the biggest water theft of all time. It was dark by the time we entered Oregon.
I had a coupon for the Econo Lodge in Klamath Falls, but the clerk said he had no more rooms available at that rate. He quoted us $15 more for another room. I never would have acquiesced had I been traveling alone, but my wife pushed me into accepting the ridiculous rate. I mean, it was still just an Econo Lodge. At least the room had a microwave so we could eat the rest of the pineapple chicken luau pizza for dinner. I crossed my fingers that seven hours in the backseat hadn't spawned a micro-zoo of bacteria on it. It was a good thing that we had our own food because everything in town was closed. In frustration, I vowed, "When I get back to Chicago, I'm going to order a pizza at 3 AM... Just because I can!" We really are spoiled by the conveniences of 24-hour city life.
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