Portland, OR – morning
Well, it’s now pretty clear that I write updates as a substitute for human interaction. One tiny update in the last week, but Suzy gets on the plane for home last night and here I am at breakfast, writing away. This, coupled with the fact I’ve already mentioned in an update that I tend to write songs only after I’ve broken up with someone (I’ve written a few on this trip, but again, far away from people) make me wonder if I’ll only be able to pursue a creative career by cloistering myself far from human contact. I’ll have to work on that issue.
Back to a couple things you all missed while I wasn’t writing. After the extra day in Reno waiting for RV repair, Suzy and I hit the road for Crater Lake. It was the most spectacular thing I’ve seen so far. Painted Desert was awesome, but it was kinda one of those things you have to have a predilection for to really appreciate. I can’t imagine anyone not having their breath taken away by Crater Lake. Particularly the way you approach it from the south. As the name implies, it’s a lake in a big crater that used to be the top of a volcano (actually, “crater” is not the correct geological term, but at this point, who cares?). So you spend quite a bit of time serpentining up the mountain through some beautiful scenery, but with no indication of what’s ahead. All of a sudden, you crest the rim, and there it is, blam, all at once. The bluest thing you’ve ever seen. I really hope my pictures came out (I shot more than three rolls of film), I had to learn something new about my camera to take many of them (the autofocus couldn’t “see” the water at all, and refused to open the shutter if the lake itself was in the center of the picture. So in my brilliance I figured out how to focus all by my manual self).
The only thing left to say is that you really should go see it yourself.
After Crater Lake we went to Newport, where I wrote the brief Rogue Brewery update. We came in on SR 20, because the map showed that it was about the most direct route west from where we were (if you’re playing our home game, we went north from Klamath Falls to Crater Lake, continued north to Bend, then all the way to the coast on 20). Unfortunately, maps have this nasty two-dimensional limitation. If I’d seen how much up-and-down ground we had to cover on 20, I would have gone any other way.
In any RV, hills are a bitch, both up and down. Going up, you slow way, way down. And with Roberta Verona, there comes a point in the day (after about two hours of driving) where “slow” becomes “stop” on hills. We spent about an hour and a half in an alledged Oregon State Park that looked suspiciously like a Rest Area waiting for Roberta to decide that “up” was a legitimate directional choice again. And down, you’re simply completely out of control. One of the things that got fixed in Reno was the brakes, and if you’ve ever gotten new brakes, you know they can smell and squeal, just because they’re new. Well, when you’re rocketing down the side of a mountain in an RV and you overuse the brakes, they’ll start to squeal and smell. I am not nearly educated enough to detect the differences between these sets of squeals and smells.
The RV repair shop guy in Reno had talked about brakes and the importance of using lower gears when going down hills (I did this. It seemed to have the same approximate slowing effect as does holding your hands out the side windows) in order to keeps your brakes from actually bursting into flames. Which surprised me, because he also said tht brakes are made of asbestos, which is not a material that I thought was supposed to be particularly combustible, although I am aware of it’s carcinogenic effects.
So you can imagine my stress-free level of driving as I plummet down mountain roads in second gear, fairly standing on the brakes, the stench of asbestos cutting neatly through the piney forest air in its quest to give me cancer, as I wait for the flames to begin erupting out of every wheel well
But, hey, at least the engine was running cool.
So, we’re about fifteen miles from Newport, and I’m wondering which of the next couple turns is going to pull us free of all these mountains. See, Newport is a coastal town, and coastal towns, in my experience, are different from mountain towns.
Well, how about that, more education.
It seems Oregon (and who knows what evil example they’re setting for Washington and Northern California) rudely stacks its mountains right up to the edge of the ocean. I was nervous enough about stopping on some of these downhills without the threat of being pitched off into the Pacific, should I not quite make a stop sign.
Now, every stop I’ve made on the trip so far, I’ve called ahead to reserve a spot. Sometimes only a couple hours ahead, but still. Even so, I don’t think I’ve ever been in a campground that was full. And this includes more than a week in San Diego, during Comic-Con and some of the nicest summer weather you’re ever likely to come across. For some reason (I suspect I had flaming cancerous death brakes on my mind, but I can’t be sure) I failed to call ahead to Newport.
Newport was freezing. Well, okay, not freezing, but late afternoon when we got there it was high fifties or low sixties, and with a vicious wind. Even the crabs and seals were like “Screw this weather,” and stayed in drinking. The “beach” was the small area at the base of a cliff where the ocean was currently dashing boulders into their component atoms.
This was the vacation environment in which I arrived to be, literally, laughed at when I asked if there was someplace to park me RV. The one time I didn’t call ahead.
Now, I thought this type of weather was fantastic, but I slept with the window open during the winter at Syracuse, which I have been told is not quite normal, so I was kinda surprised that everyone wanted to be here now.
Anyway, we did finally find a place, and we went out to the ocean and then got dressed (long pants! I haven’t worn long pants since June 3rd…) and went to the Rogue Brewery, which I’ve already mentioned. I drank enough to where I shot my immune system and ended up getting kinda sick. I’m only now getting rid of my stuffed up nose and sore throat.
Well, I’ve long since finished breakfast, and I’ve worked on this off and on all day between napping. I don’t feel like it’s particularly finished, but I’m done working on it, so that’ll have to do.