Bugs, triple trailers, and odd place names
I made it to Portland! 648.6 beautiful miles (well, *mostly* beautiful – more on that later) in about 12 hours. I left Fallon, NV, about 7:30 this morning, after cleaning the bugs off my windshield. You may remember from my trip in July that I wrote once about “bug storms,” where a swarm of them hits the windshield all at once. Well, it turns out that there are “thunder-bugstorms”:
and “shower-bugstorms”, like the one that coated the front of the truck last night. I couldn’t see well out of the windshield for the last half hour of my drive yesterday, even after using the wipers and the washer fluid. This is what the mirror, windshield, and grille looked like this morning:
So after cleaning the windshield, I headed west on US 50 to where it met up with I-80. After about a half hour, I left the Interstate somewhere around Reno and headed north on US 395. That route took me up to Susanville, where I caught a series of California state routes through the Lasson and Shasta-Trinity National Forests. TREES! BIG TREES! LOTS OF BIG TREES! 😉
And at one point I came around a curve in the road, and BAM! Mt. Shasta pops right in front of me!
The road ultimately curved around to the south (left) of the mountain, but to have it appear out of nowhere like this was almost magical.
I found a couple of interesting towns along I-5, too: Weed, CA (wonder what their principal crop is), and Drain, OR (now I know why Oregon is dry – all the water goes down the Drain). I also saw a billboard advertising the potential (?) State of Jefferson [a possible name for one of the six states CA might split into – someday], and a super-lifesize cow and calf sculpture set in a field. Both the billboard and the sculptures were a little south of Yreka, CA.
A couple of oddities in Oregon: It is one of the two states (the other being New Jersey) where you aren’t allowed to pump your own gas. In Oregon, they’re more than happy to let you clean your own windshield, but you can’t pump your own gas. The other is that apparently hitchhikers aren’t frowned upon too strongly; I saw at least 5 on I-5 – and not on the access ramps, either. They were right on the main freeway itself. Oh yes, one more thing – I actually saw my first triple-trailer rigs today. One was on I-80 in Nevada, but most of them were on I-5 in Oregon. Interestingly, they have to have a sign on the back saying “Long Load” to let people behind them know, I guess, that it’ll take longer than usual to get past one (especially if you happen to be trying to pass it on a two-lane road!).
And about those “mostly beautiful” miles? Well, Nevada was greener up by Reno than down by Vegas, but not by much. All the miles on US 395 were dry and brownish. Once I got into the National Forests, though, the driving was gorgeous. Getting on I-5 put me back into drier vistas until I got to Oregon and some of the narrower valleys the road passed through. The highest point on I-5 is at Siskiyou Summit, 4,310 feet high (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siskiyou_Summit). *That* was beautiful! I was beginning to worry about our bicycle ride, because the route takes us close to I-5 in a few places, and I wasn’t seeing a lot of flat – it was ALL up and down. But the road finally leveled out, and so I think we’ll be okay.
So there you have it – some random (or not-so-random?) observations and thoughts from the road between Nevada and Oregon. Enjoy.