More PRC Fun Stuff© and Transit to OR

Or maybe I should call it the DPRC for Democratic People’s Republic of California…the socialist government here in the state is only outdone by the even more socialist city governments in Berkeley CA…and possibly Seattle and Portland as well.

Saturday the temperature got up to 106F and it’s going up to 114-116 Tuesday and Wednesday…way too hot for us. Fortunately once we move to Canyonville OR on Thursday it will *only* be in the mid 90s. Neil was out grilling some chicken for dinner this afternoon…it’s hot but better than warming up the house as both of our A/C units can barely keep us below 90F inside in the late afternoon…anyways he aimed his infrared meat thermometer at the side of the rig in the sun and it measured 152F on the side…no wonder the A/C units are having a hard time keeping up. 

Neil and Connie’s human kid told us he was proud of Neil for accepting transgender people…and that all qualified citizens should be able to serve in the military…that’s not quite what he thinks so let me reiterate his position a little more clearly. This isn’t a political rant…my last post was characterized as such…just a clear statement of what he perceives the realities are. I’ll keep it brief…if you want a more detailed explanation let me know in the comments and I’ll have him write a guest post.

There is no such thing as transgender…you’re either male or female from birth and that can’t be changed…ever. However…you’re free to have sex with whoever you want to…male, female, he don’t care as long as you don’t try to do him unless you’re a female and Connie has passed on or something…he’s off the market.

Women in the military…he’s perfectly fine with that…all citizens should have the equal opportunity. But let’s not forget that men are men and women are women…and despite the fondest wishes of progressives…they’ll never be the same. Men are generally stronger and have more endurance…and a lot of job codes in the military require significant amounts of both. Women in combat units…that’s another story…it’s a terrible idea and will just get more soldiers (men and women) killed. The vast majority of women do not and cannot meet the physical standards required for combat…an infantryman carries 60 pounds of equipment and is expected to be able to walk 20 miles a day with it and pick up a 200 pound wounded comrade if necessary.. The physical standards for women have been reduced to the point that they can’t meet necessary requirements…it’s not their fault but physiology.

The military exists to kill people and break things in the execution of national leadership’s policy…not as an institution for social change…it should have been left that way.

Ok…explanation over…let’s get on with Fun Stuff©.

Our original plan for Friday was to drive up to Lava Beds National Monument but on the way back home after going to the falls the other day we got to talking about it…and frankly wondered whether the Fun/Effort ratio was high enough (i.e., more than 1.0) to make the trip worthwhile. It’s like 150 miles from here and with the curvy roads figured to be a 3.5 hour drive each way…say 7 hours on the road and about $90 in diesel. Both the time and fuel are worth it if the payoff is good…but then we looked at what there was to do. There’s a lot of volcanic lava landscape…but then we’ll see that at Lassen Volcanic National Park…and there’s a bunch of what they call lava tubes but what most people would call caves. We’re not really that into caves…and then there was the possibility that we might have to violate the law to go into them. There are bats in the caves…and bats are subject to this disease known as White-nose Fungus…it’s transmitted by spores that get carried into caves on your boots. The national monument web page says that if you’ve got boots or climbing gear that “have been in other caves in the past 10 years” you can’t wear them legally into the tubes/caves in the national monument. We were in Mammoth Cave in Kentucky a couple years back…and back then we went through a cleaning process both into and out of the cave to kill any fungus spores that were on our boots…and according to the guidelines at Mammoth Cave that made our boots decontaminated as we left.

We don’t know whether the guidance/rules/regulations have changed…or whether Lava Beds just has different ones…or whether it’s a matter of interpretation. However…given the relative lack of Fun Stuff© once we got there and the time and fuel cost to go there…not to mention the 105+ degree predicted temperatures…we gave up and scratched Lava Beds of the list.

So we decided to head down to Lassen Volcanic National Park instead…turns out that the road through the park that was closed last week is now open…so our plan was to head south and stop by the visitor center at the SW entrance of the park, drive up the road to the NW entrance and then come home…about 120 miles total. Accordingly…we hit the road right about 0700 in order to beat the heat and the crowds.

Connie took at look at the GPS directions…and says to him…”Hey, I got a great idea. Instead of going down I-5 another 15 miles let’s take this other route cross country. It’s only 1 minute longer than the I-5 route…and it’s 15 miles shorter so we’ll save fuel.”

Well…he sort of thought that maybe they shoulda considered that since it was 15 miles shorter and a minute longer…that maybe it was because you couldn’t go as fast on the roads…but since she’s the DLETC…and he didn’t have a really good reason to overrule her…that he would just follow her directions.

Let me refer you at this point to the 1989 Indiana Jones movie…The Last Crusade. If you’ll recall…they were looking for the Holy Grail (the chalice with the wine in it from The Last Supper) and the Nazis got there first. The head Nazi met the Knight in the gray chain mail with the red on white cross on his chest…obviously a reference to the Knights Templar…who invited him to choose a cup from the hundreds of varied ones displayed. The Nazi looked around and grabbed the ornate golden one…drank the water from the font which would supposedly make him immortal…and well, he aged into a 200 year old man then a skeleton then dust in about 10 seconds. The knight stood there…looked at the pile of dust…looked at Indy and his party and said “He chose…poorly.” You can click on that link to see it for yourself.

Perfect quote for Neil’s decision on going her way. Sure…it was 15 miles shorter but very quickly turned into almost a goat track through cow and rock land…and while the road was paved…it wasn’t well paved and was…well, let’s say quite bumpy. They bounced the phone running the GPS app off of the holder a half dozen times before she gave up and held it. Finally…30 or so miles later…we got back onto the road we woulda been on if we had just went another 15 miles down I-5.

We got to the park, showed our pass, picked up a map and headed to the visitor center…got there 15 minutes before it opened. Watched the movie…which was according to the web site only available at the museum at the NW entrance and our original plan was to get it on the way out…and it was pretty crappy as National Park movies go…usually they’re a lot better.

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We then headed off on our drive through the park…about 30 road miles in total up to 8,500 feet and back down to the NW entrance.

Lassen Peak…Maidu Indian name Kohm Yah-ah-nee or Snow Mountain…is a cinder cone volcano…don’t worry, I’ll ‘splain this in a minute, ya know it’s comin’…and is 10,457 feet high. Lassen Volcanic National Park actually contains all 4 kinds of volcanoes. It actually sits on top of the original volcano in these parts…which was about 10 or 15 times as big around as Lassen Peak is. That ancient volcano collapsed and has 4 remnants left in the park…the original Brokeoff Volcano was the park’s only composite volcano…or strato-volcano.

Composite or strato-volcanoes…as I discussed in my last post about Mount Shasta…are built up in layers from a vent. They’re typically composed of buildups from multiple vents as Shasta…and Ranier to the north…are so that they eventually look like a single mountain even though they were built up from multiple vents.

Plug dome volcanoes like Lassen Peak…are built up from a single vent but one that has lava that is too thick to flow great distances…so they just build themselves up over time.

Shield volcanoes like Mount Harkeness in the park are broad rounded volcanoes built up by repeated flows of very fluid lava that can spread out over large distances. Essentially they’re like a plug dome except they’re generally lower and more rounded as the thinner lava can’t pile up as high.

Finally…there’s the cinder cone volcano…which doesn’t have any lava flows at all…lava being molten rock that flows out of the vent and then hardens. Instead…cinder cones are formed from ejected rock, cinders, and ash rather than ejected lava.

I’m not sure why only composite ones have strato in the name as all of them are pretty much built up in layers…but then I’m a bear and not a volcanologist and wikipedia didn’t have any better explanation.

The age of the volcanoes in the park range from Mount Harkness which started forming about 600,000 years ago…to Brokeoff Mountain which is the remnant of the Brokeoff volcano and is 250,000 to 300,000 years old…to the relatively recent Cinder Cone volcano which formed around 1650.

There’s a trail to the top of Lassen Peak…it’s only about 2.5 miles each way but it’s also about 2,000 feet up and then back down…we skipped it. Our first stop was Sulphur Works which is the only easily accessible thermal area in the park…Bumpass Hell is supposedly better but it’s a bit of a hike and starts at 7,000 feet or so…and it was closed anyway. Sulphur was mined here before the park was formed. It was hot and stinky…hydrogen sulfide which is rotten egg smell gas.

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Next up was the overlook for Brokeoff Mountain and Conard Mountain which are 2 of the 4 remaining pieces of the originally much larger Brokeoff Volcano. The other two remnants are supposedly visible behind the overlook…but we couldn’t pick ‘em out of all the other mountains.

Brokeoff Mountain

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One of the leftover rocks from Brokeoff Volcano…this one is semi truck sized.

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And Conard Mountain…about 3.5 miles SE of Brokeoff mountain…the original volcano was a bout 9 miles in diameter from looking at the map locations of the 4 remnants.

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Our first real view of Lassen Peak itself…the trail to the top starts just beyond those trees on the right side…although it’s still 4 or 5 miles to the parking area by road at this point. 

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As you can see…you probably had a clue already as the road has only been open since yesterday…we ran into a bit of snow. The roads were mostly dry. First photo is the snowbank next to the road…probably 8 or 9 feet high. Second is Lake Helen just across the road from the snowbank…it’s mostly still frozen and snow covered. This is the latest opening of this road in park records…they’ve been clearing snow for 4 months. Article on the opening.

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Looking out towards King’s Creek…it’s just out of sight below the snowbank. Connie took these while Neil hiked the couple of hundred yards to see the creek itself. We passed on the falls…it was only a 2.5 mile round trip hike…but again it was 900 feet down and then back up and we were over 7,500 feet.

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Another shot of Lassen Peak…taken from the Devastated Area parking lot. The Devastated area was essentially denuded by a lahar which is a landslide of mud, melted snow, and volcanic ejecta back about 100 years ago. There was a small steam explosion on May 19, 1917 and a much larger one 3 days later on May 22…the second one sent mud downhill into what is now known as the Devastated Area then back up and over a 1,000 foot higher pass behind it.

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Next stop was the Chaos Jumbles and Crags…this is another extinct volcano that about 300 years ago had a cold rock slide of unknown origin…it resulted in a huge pile of rocks. Part of the effect was damming the Manzanita Creek and resulting creation of Manzanita Lake.

Looking towards the remnants of Chaos Crags…about 1.5 miles away.

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And the other direction towards Manzanita Lake…again about 1.25 miles away. The 100 mile an hour rock slide buried this portion of the park with up to 150 feet of these rocks.

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Our final stop was at Manzanita Lake…looking for reflections in the water of Lassen. We thought it would only be a couple hundred yards walk so didn’t change into hiking boots or take the water…another instance of “He chose…poorly.” I guess. Ended up hiking most of a mile around the lake and got a couple nice shots. Neil left Connie at the end of the lake and walked back to the car then picked her up…the end of the lake was right next to the entrance station which was also our exit point from the park.

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And from a little farther around the lake.

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With that our trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park was done. We exited the park onto CA-44…the same road we came in from Reno on…and 45 minutes or so later were back in Redding. Stopped by the Home Depot for a couple of water parts and the Walmart to get tortillas for dinner…we had leftover grilled flank steak with lime in tortillas and leftover black beans and rice from the night before.

The weekend arrives…and we’re resting after a busy 3 days of Fun Stuff©. Mass and that was about it…it was really hot so we stayed home.

Monday we set off for a trip over to Shasta Dam…it is on the Sacramento River and creates Shasta Lake which is the largest lake in California. The dam itself claims to be the “second largest dam by mass in the United States…I never heard of classifying a dam by mass but I guess they wanted to get into the record books somehow. It’s 602 feet high so it’s only the eighth tallest in the US, contains 6.5 million yards of concrete, and is 3,460 feet long. It’s an arch-gravity dam primarily intended for flood control and provision of irrigation water to California’s Central Valley…with hydroelectric power generation as a secondary consideration. It was constructed in the between 1937 and 1945.

It was built in a much different manner than most dams. Typically a diversion channel is dug and a cofferdam used to reroute the river around the dam site and the entire dam is constructed…then the cofferdam is remove and the diversion channel filled in so the lake fills. Shasta was instead built in 2 parts…first the end thirds were constructed almost entirely on the existing banks of the river. While they were being constructed the original railroad line along the river was rerouted up onto the ridge. A tower was constructed on the west side of the river in what would eventually become the lake with cables running from it to various points on the eastern ridge…concrete loads were mixed on the eastern ridge and pulled over to where they were needed. When both of those were complete…an existing railway tunnel around the site of the dam was deepened to 75 feet deep and used as the diversion tunnel while the center spillway portion of the dam was built…when it was done the tunnel was filled back to it’s original floor and plugged with 400 feet of concrete and the lake filled. Kind of an interesting way to go about the construction.

This osprey was perched on her nest right outside the dam visitor center.

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Looking out from the visitor center…the center spillway section was the last constructed piece and is roughly where the original river course was…the left and right sides were built on the banks of the existing river.

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Looking downstream from about the center of the right half of the dam as you look at it…Neil went on the dam tour which started as a walk from the visitor center about 2/3 of a mile over to the right hand of the dam and then out to the elevator tower which is on the left side of the spillway. 

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Looking down from the center of the spillway…the pipes on the rig lead to the power house from the base of the dam…they’re about 18 feet inside diameter and the intake end is under about 500 feet of lake water…it enters at a pressure of about 200 psi and flows into the water turbines at the bottom of the vertical generator shafts.

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Looking up from the bottom of the spillway after our 483 feet down elevator ride…the dam (like all dams) leaks continuously and the concrete in it isn’t expected to be fully cured until 2045.

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The tops of the generators in the power building…the shiny shafts in the middle of them are about 30 inches in diameter and turn at 120 rpm so they’re pretty slow as generators go…AC power flows from here to the transformer building next door and then to the transmission station you can see on the left side of the looking downriver photo above.

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Monday evening into Tuesday we had some issues. First was the temperature…112F which resulted in the circuit breaker for our living room A/C unit tripping on over current. We weren’t actually pulling too much…but the heat in the basement where our electrical panel is lowered the set point and the unit itself was working at maximum capacity. Add in a lower than normal voltage situation in the park which increased the unit current draw a bit and we kept resetting the breaker to keep it running. It tripped a couple times Monday but it was late enough in the day that we didn’t get too hot inside. Tuesday was worse though…it was even hotter and after tripping the breaker 4 times in an hour in the early afternoon hours Neil swapped it out for a spare he had on hand and we got the A/C running again. Thought we were home free after that…until the campground lost power 15 minutes later about 1500.

With not much information coming from the campground…we headed off to have a beer at the local tavern and came back to the rig about 1830…only to find that a transformer had blown and it would be 6-10 hours for replacement. It was 103 inside the rig by then so off we went to a local hotel for the evening.

Got back early Wednesday morning…the transformer had finally been replaced by about 0530 or so and we got our A/C units back on and managed to hold the temperature down through the day.

Thursday we transited the 211 miles to our next stop…Seven Feathers RV Resort in Canyonville OR. A mile to the freeway from Mountain Gate, 209 miles straight up I-5, and another mile to the campground. We arrived about 1300, got checked in and then parked and got the A/C on immediately…luckily it was only 106 or so in Canyonville and will be down into the 90s most of the week we’re due to be here. Once we cooled down and had a shower we took the free shuttle over to the casino…we needed beer and dinner which we got…and also to register for our free Player’s Card for the casino. Neil has no interest in gambling…but the card gets us another 10% off our camping bill…and they include $5 in free play money for the slot machines which will keep Connie amused for hours.

Friday we headed over to the Elk Creek Falls about 90 miles from here…40 as the crow flies but the road is one of those really twisty/curvy mountain roads with no railings and steep drop-offs. We got to the falls about 1130 and hiked the quarter of a mile over to the viewpoint where we got some excellent photos of what turned out to be a pretty nice waterfall.

Elk Creek Falls is a 4 cascade waterfall dropping about 190 feet overall with the lowest one being the tallest single cascade at about 80 feet. You can only see the bottom 3 of the cascades from the viewpoint.

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We stopped by the small town of Powers OR for lunch at the Powers Tavern and Cafe…had a couple of cheeseburgers, fries, and a beer…at least the beer was good. Lunch was definitely not one of the better things they do there…the fries were simultaneously over-browned, all stuck together into a gluey mass, and as limp as cooked spaghetti. The burger wasn’t much better…it tasted like it was boiled instead of grilled. Afterwards we headed home.

Bad Ass of the week…you might be a bad ass but few can match this guy.


Interesting stuff found on the net.

Eh, maybe not.


Maybe she’s got something there.


Gotta love those small town police logs.


The hottest things in the universe…yeah I know the font on the last one is different but I had to make it family friendly.


Again with the small town police logs…oh dear me.




And finally…you can always trust Old Abe.



About Gunther

The full time RV travels and experiences of Gunther the Bear and Kara the Dog…along with their human staff neil and Connie.
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