Road Trip Blog Bytes

Posting from the Potlatch hotel and the world’s crankiest wireless connection.

mtshasta-ss850870Mt. Shasta deserves a better picture than this.*

Rain and mist settled on a bank beside the highway and the sun came out just enough to create a rainbow that flowed down the slope onto the road and followed us for a hundred yards.

We stayed in Redding at the Best Western Hilltop Inn which was extremely pleasant. Whoever wrote their Appetite Stimulus Menu had a good time writing it and a great sense of humor. Sample:

Gas Price Fries 4.99 4.09 3.99 3.09 2.99
Who knows what the price will be today… take a chance!

Obligatory statement of non-conflict of interest: No commercial fees were paid for this review.

sundialbridge-ss850876The desk clerk at the Hilltop Inn was the fount of all knowledge; she told us how to get to the Sundial Bridge by a route that avoided a heap of construction, which I thoroughly appreciated. The bridge is definitely worth a visit. A pedestrian bridge with a pathway of translucent glass, it crosses the Sacramento River and its riffles, ducks, and egrets. The gnomen soars up into the sky and the supporting cables slice down to the bridge surface.

Noon on Summer SolsticeOn the far bank, bollards with brass plaques mark the time where the shadow of the gnomen will fall. (You have to make adjustments for the time of hear.) We were there pretty early (early for me; I don’t do mornings generally speaking) and I was a tiny bit disappointed that the time plaques didn’t reach back early enough to see the shadow on the time. Still, it’s a lovely piece of architecture.

We drove on south, getting deeper and deeper into spring, passing olive groves and almond orchards, including a row of successively younger almond orchard patches, from full-grown trees just beginning to bud out, to saplings, to little pencil-sized sticks in the ground, and finally to a field where if I’d had my field glasses surely I would have been able to see the tiny little almonds sticking out of the ground getting ready to sprout.

Intrepid TravellersAs we headed for the Blood Alley cutoff (the first time I ever drove 505 it was a two-lane road with everybody driving 80 mph, one of the most terrifying drives I ever made), we passed the groves of eucalyptus trees planted in the late 19th/early 20th centuries to sustain the famous N. California koala herds, raised in the Sacramento Valley and driven to the famous zoo auction by hardy koalapunchers.

I-80: I sure hope some of the stimulus package goes to infrastructure (Rachel Maddow isn’t the only person in the country who thinks it’s important — go Rachel!), because I felt actively sorry for this road. It looked like a patchwork quilt. Driving it was like driving on a cheese grater.



*But it isn’t gonna happen this trip, because on the way back we travelled 400 miles through a monsoon and 50 miles through fog. (When we hit the Oregon border, the sun came out.) At least I got us through it alive, which is something.

You can find The Moon and the Sun at Book View Cafe, where Chapter 15 was featured on Sunday. A Basement Full of Books Blog Special offers a free Star Trek paperback by Vonda N. McIntyre with each hardback book purchase, for a limited time.



Road Trip Blog Bytes — 6 Comments

  1. Speaking as a person who lives in the country: we do not want the infrastructure fixed. We like the potholes and washed out roads. It adds to the atmosphere.

  2. Speaking as someone who grew up in the country, I have to disagree with Sue about the potholes. Even when you know the road and the potholes, there’s always a new one that you hit a few miles per hour too fast. Of course, where I grew up, we only got our potholes filled at election time, when the county commissioner figured he’d better do something nice before the voters decided to replace him.

  3. I didn’t know you were going to Shasta! I love it there – love the gas price fries, too. Have a fantastic trip, Vonda.

    Meredith and I were once caught in a whiteout on Mt. Shasta. She was suitably scared. So was I.

  4. There are potholes on the road that leads to my baby forest on the Olympic Peninsula, and the folks who know the road know how to avoid them, while the folks who drive very fast up and down it for kicks don’t. (I just drive real slow.)

    When I was in Yellowstone, the naturalists were heartbroken over the way the place was being neglected. It was as if the previous administration thought, We have these amazing crown jewels… if we let them get all dented and tarnished, we’ll be able to sell them off for parts.

    It sounds like the current admin has better ideas than throwing away our national heritage.

    Amy, I tried to drive to Hurricane Ridge in fog once and can only imagine that a whiteout on Shasta would be 100x scarier.


    (on the road home)

  5. Let me get this straight. You guys are going to let me get away with the tiny little almonds?

    Never even mind the eucalyptus pastures and the koalapunchers?

    Yeesh. This is like the time when a site cribbed heavily from my website, including the part about my feeding chocolate chip cookies to wild trout (who took the crumbs from my fingers with little chirps of pleasure) and interpreted the joke about a mole name Philby (who was a cat name Philby because he was mole-colored) as evidence that I kept a zoo of exotic animals in my back yard. Since the intro to the essay (by the amazing and wonderful Eileen Gunn) describes it as “few facts but much truth,” you gotta wonder what they were thinking.

    I wonder what I can get away with next Sunday?

    (back home and a little punchy her own self)