Leaving Bend behind we ventured further South into Oregon. The miles between Bend and Klamath Falls are pretty spectacular – it’s just the towns themselves that are dire.
After an extremely mediocre breakfast we made our way to the only listed ‘sight’ near Bend of any interest to us – the Lava Butt. Now this was not yet another metaphor for Kim Kardashian’s rear end, but a mound of (fairly) recently erupted lava and the resulting expanse of lava rocks strewn across the landscape. Recent means the last 7,000 years but ‘still there was little sign of vegetation getting hold in this alien looking place’ (quote from tourist sign).
We walked one of the trails examining the ash-pan environment and marvelling at our ability to make the best of what is basically a really terrible tourist attraction. OK so there’s a few signs to help build the story and it IS genuinely interesting to see where a volcano spat out a bit of molten rock, but surely there is more to Bend than that.
Well not much.
There is the Lava Cave – which really is quite fascinating. This is a mile long cave created by lava which apparently makes its own ‘pipe’ by solidifying on the outside and then emptying at the end of the eruption. We travelled to this cave outside Bend and parked outside the entrance. The great thing about this cave is that it is free!
Well except that you have to pay $5 for parking in the National Parks.
Other than that it’s free.
Except you may not have brought a torch with you in which case it’s $5 each.
Other than that it’s free.
No really it IS free..
So you set off into a hole in the ground. There is a good set of stairs for the first hundred metres. Other than that it’s you, your rented re-chargeable torch and one mile of unlit cave.
Well there’s the others in your party of course.
And some teenagers pretending to be interested and ‘whooping’ at every opportunity.
Because we were there so early we actually had a really good visit and there were very few others in the cave. The silence, apart from your own feet crunching in the sandy cave floor, and the total blackness really give you the explorer experience. You almost expect to meet Indiana Jones down there. Or better…
You walk to the end and then walk back – an hour for your imagination to do whatever you want it to. Mine did Photoshop ideas.
Having very little idea of what to expect on this section of the route we chose next to stick with the volcano theme and visit Crater Lake which looked like it might be a decent enough place to enjoy some of the improving temperatures.
Well this place is just wonderful!
Every time we took a photo and looked at it we thought, ‘no-one will believe that wasn’t filtered to make it look better. The colours are just so perfect. There’s an almost cartoon-like quality to it.
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the park surrounding this Lake, climbed another mountain to get a view and emptied our camera batteries. We got so engrossed we forgot to eat and just stopped at a gas station for an ice cream on the way in to Klamath Falls.
No what to say about Klamath Falls ….
What indeed …
On arrival at the Shiloh Inn, Klamath Falls we contemplated the meaning of the word ‘Shiloh’. Google says is a Hebrew name for the Messiah. But in American History it is either an important Civil War battle near a small log church called Shiloh in Tennessee or the name of one of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s adopted children (oh dear!).
We approached the desk and met the eye of the receptionist who instantly gestured to the space in front of her and said ‘there is someone here!’
Now it eventually transpired that she mean’t she was already engaged in serving a guest and he had momentarily left to do something, but her lack of explanation suggested something more sinister in our minds. Was she mad? Did she really think there was someone there? Should we go along with her and smile politely at the invisible person ahead of us in the queue? Should we call an ambulance for her or alert the other hotel staff that a hospital patient obsessed with the idea that she is a hotel receptionist has escaped again?
No – it turns out she was just a rude bitch.
And so unusual for this country! We have never encountered anyone of this nature so it was quite natural for us to assume something along the mental health lines. And the Shiloh Inn didn’t just have one member of staff with absolutely no idea how to treat guests. We decided to have dinner there and were seated by fag-ash Lil (working in between smoke-breaks). Sadly we were left to our own devices as she presumably went off duty without mentioning we were there to fag-ash Liz when she came in from her smoke break. After half an hour we got up and walked out to find somewhere to eat where the waiting staff speak to you. I don’t think they noticed yet.
We headed into Klamath Falls and discovered that it was closed.
Well there was one place open – Roosters Steak and Chop House. It wasn’t exactly the best service we have ever had but at least they fed us – and well too!
This morning’s breakfast was not too bad and fag-ash Lola was on hand this time to tell us ‘that’s coffee, that’s decaff, that’s hot water and that’s scrambled egg’. Thank goodness because otherwise I could have ended up with very wet toast. She also cleared the plates.
We got the hell out of Klamath Falls and headed directly to Redding. The temperature hit 101 degrees and we had the top down for parts of our journey. Thank ‘Shiloh’ for Alamo in Seattle (and I don’t mean Angelina Jolie’s child).
Redding is one of those places that built a bridge (the Sun-Dial Bridge) so that tourists had a place to go sight seeing. In the pamphlet collected at the hotel it declared it unique as not only being a working sun-dial but ALSO having a quite unique glass panelled bottom. Now I don’t get excited by too many things, but glass bottomed bridges are one of the few things in the world I thought were just not possible. Imagine seeing the river flowing right beneath your feet!
I also imagine the designer visualised this when he drew his sketches. I would imagine the civic leaders who funded the bridge also had an idea that this would be a major draw of the bridge.
When you see the glass panels (which are ‘semi-translucent green’) – you can only assume that the builders did not share the vision – or they forgot to peel off the protective green film from the panels as they laid them. You can even see ripples at the edges where they have become dog-eared. Why do they need to be green?
However, it is a beautiful bridge otherwise.
We then went to Shasta Dam a few miles out of town and took the tour.
Dinner tonight was another mammoth serving of steak at the Cattlemen. The portions were diabolically large. Our starter of filled potato skins would have been a main course in the UK. In fact the salad and bread handed out to everyone in the restaurant would have been a chargeable starter in the UK.
We were damaged by it.
We know we have to come home to the UK.