Day Three: Leaving the Desert

Odometer Reading: 367

As soon as the sunshine slipped through the trees, I got up, rolling my sleeping bag and getting the kids to walk up and do the same. I had hoped that the chill of the morning would keep the mosquitoes at bay for a while, but, again, as soon as I opened the trunk with all our bags of clothes, they were all over me. So, while the kids did their things, I got the food back into the car, then their sleeping bags as they ran for the safety of the car. Stuart and I broke down the tents, not bothering to clean them off or even get them into their cases. We just shoved them into the trunk; I’d take care of them when we hit Sacramento.

Lily at the roadside breakfast; Scoop Away=portable kitchen

Still dressed in their pajamas, we left Crater Lake National Park and drove south toward Klamath Falls. Along the way we passed long and shallow Klamath Lake. According to our Only in Oregon book, it’s more than 20 miles long and 8 miles wide. Somewhere past the lake and past the city proper, we pulled off onto a side road for breakfast. There, in the gravel, we pulled out our kitchen box and the ice chest. The kids ate cereal and I prepared another round of hot cocoa on the propane burner. It was all fine, despite Audrey’s worrying that we’d get in trouble. In fact, the electric company guys waved as they drove by. As we ate, falcons flew above us to their nest.

Remembered by the kids as Butt Valley

The drive was long with stops to see the Butte Valley sagebrush and rest Audrey’s tailbone (the result of a coccyx break several years ago). We drove over the California-Oregon border and claimed no fresh produce. I still driving to California with my parents as a teen and having the border patrol ask us about fruit. My mother chirped up about the apples we had and the fellow said we could either throw them away or eat them now. We ate them as fast as possible and I had the burps for miles. I learned my lesson all those years ago and brought only dried apples this time.

Lilyana, a bit teary-eyed after hitting her eyebrow on the car door

For miles though northern California, we watch Mt. Shasta approach, then stopped at the viewpoint for better pictures. There were dozens of wildflowers and enormous dandelions that I picked for the girls. One of them appreciated it. The other was mad for some reason or another.

We stopped for gas and silly paraphernalia in Weed, then the kids napped and I drove and drove, heading down I-5 into the heat of the Sacramento Valley. We’d had the lovely temps of mid 80s and low 90s over the past few days, but as we came into Sacramento the thermometer just keep creeping up until it stopped at 108°F. Somewhere along the way, we’d stopped, when the kids had all awakened, to dump water over their heads. Worked better than the A/C.

the glory of Mt. Shasta

I lived in Sacramento as a young child and made the return trip to visit my grandma, aunts, uncles and cousins every year for the next dozen years, so driving down I-5, then onto Hwy 99, I was flooded with memories of that drive. I remember being a child and being so excited to see the walled highways of the city. I knew we were close. And once we pulled off onto Mack Road, I knew exactly where we were…just blocks from Grandma’s house. Or as the kiddos kept reminding me, Aunt Diana’s house.

gotcha Audrey!

We pulled into her driveway at 4pm and there we stayed, playing in the sprinklers before heading to Costco for more pizza and car snacks. It was a slow night and for that I was grateful. Tomorrow’s gonna be a big day.

More pics…

roadside hot cocoa
California's boring welcome mat
Lilyana tossing water at Stuart in the car
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