US Highway 395 Does not let us down
11.05.2014 - 11.05.2014 12 °C
Sunday 11th May, 2014: Room 129, Best Western Skyline Motel, Lakeview, Oregon
In answer to your question, Dennis, Lake Tahoe is 6,225ft above sea level. Higher than we thought and that explains why it was so danged cold.
I'm going to start with some news which shows how far the US has come since 1981 when we first came here. Whilst it made the news, it was all positive news, with the possible exception of Murdoch's Fox News, which we refuse to put on. Anyway, the NFL player, Michael Sams, who recently came out, was adopted by St Louis Rams during the NFL Draft. National TV news showed the guy's joy when he got the news. What a role model for young Americans today! Hooray for him, and his partner.
Well, we really are back on the road now. In a motel in a small town truly in the middle of nowhere. John has had his first swim of the trip, hooray, and Bob has the laundry well and truly underway. First to check in here so we more or less had the place to ourselves. Except John watched with horror as an old Chevvy pulled up and grandma, grandson and granddaughter went into the pool. He went and staked his claim and they kindly left one half of the pool to himself.
This followed by a soak in the hot tub plus salad last night and a sort-of healthy breakfast made us feel fit and healthy again. It doesn't take much!
Who realised California was this big? It's taken us the day to drive this little bit. Have to admit this trip has made us realise...
The snow was on the ground when we checked out of Harrahs, Lake Tahoe at around 8.30. But the roads were dry and clear. It was bitterly cold. We had our fleeces and sweaters so that was OK. We drove down to try and get a picture of the lake, now its normal deep blue colour and, within a few feet, we were back in California! We were right on the Stateline, the casinos being built just a few paces from California.
A quick picture then back into Nevada to retrace our steps over the snowy pass to Carson to rejoin Highway 395, here combined with US50 and an Interstate! This took us round busy Reno where we once stayed in lieu of Las Vegas but we quickly realised then that there is nothing like the real thing.
John thought he was being clever when we filled up in Nevada where taxes are much lower, but then we find the prices in the California towns were the same or lower.
Off the Interstate after Reno it became first, a four-lane highway and then a 2-lane road. And this is how we expected 395 to be. Far from dramatic but still interesting, through semi-arid range where there were a few cattle and a few scattered farms struggling to make a living.
Not much else to report, except, with the presence of artesian water, which we saw being pumped into ditches, the farmland became richer with more cattle and the occasional sheep and even one field of goats as well as deer helping themselves to the alfalfa grass being grown for the cattle.
Right into North-Eastern California, this really is remote. Scattered farms, many of them derelict, the others often with tons of junk round them. And few towns. We passed through one sizeable town, Susanville, where we had a noon breakfast (along with loads of others, mainly Mothers on this over-hyped Mothers' Day, having their special lunch).
This town prospers on the nearby federal and state prisons (aka Correctional Facilities) . We drove past two of them. Acres of concrete blocks surrounded by razor wire and guard towers. We speculated on young gang members from Los Angeles being shipped hundres of miles out here, and their families never being able to get out to visit them. It's a pretty brutal regime. But, hey, Susanville doesn't care about that. It means many jobs for a town like this.
By now US395 is pretty empty, and straight. It's a long way before the next town, 100 miles to be exact. People out in the sticks here have to drive a long way for a pint of milk! No gas stations either. No nothin'! The next town, without the prisons, was far from prosperous with most businesses closed and in a state of dereliction.
We finally crossed into just-as-remote South Eastern Oregon. Here the farms seem to be a tad tidier and slightly more prosperous. The lake referred to in the town's title of Lakeview is actually a vast dried up lake, the colour of sandy salt, as far as the eye can see. Not quite the picture we had.
It's a one-cafe town so we'd better go and get a salad, or some'at, before they close. We think Americans are getting even earlier with their eating. In one place, we were having breakfast at about 10.15am and a woman demanded her baked chicken and fries for her lunch and most people are thinking about having dinner by 4.30. They would die of starvation in Spain!
Some general observations: we have spotted at least 3 Basque restaurants, quite scruffy ones too. A bit odd out here in the wilds. Though, of course, Mexican restaurants are almost the norm. And we forgot we have to eat with our fork and leave our knife on the plate. What a palaver.
What we learned as we drove up this route was how savage the wars were with the local Indian tribes (1870s). The Modocs were the most troublesome and they were eventually all but wiped out by the US Cavalry, not without much bloodshed on both sides. The remnants of the tribe were shipped off to Kansas. Other tribes, like the Pit River Indians and the Shoshone had actually started the problems by attacking settlers. This was the bloodiest of all the Indian wars.
Also, there had been a battle between Californian troops and local settlers who wanted to become part of Nevada, not California. This was eventually settled peacefully, however. The county was named Modoc, after the tribe that had been obliterated......
Finally, when we were preparing to stop for gas, John thought he would test the new TomTom's voive recognition capabilities by telling it to "drive to the nearest gas station"...please..., it was a few minutes before we realised that it was indeed taking us to the nearest gas station but that it was going to take 9 hours. It was only going to take us to Lakeview Oregon, and back. Stupid woman.....