As part of our trip to Reno, Nevada, for the Worldcon (called Renovation, and covered in a separate report), we toured around several National Parks in the area more or less between Reno and San Francisco.
I went through my usual pre-trip jitters: Would the limo show up? (Before our Vietnam trip, it did not, resulting it our having to drive to the airport and pay for three weeks of parking.) Were we taking too much luggage? (Only carry-on, but the suitcases were full.) Add to these the fact that our freezer was acting up, and the car had problems just a few days before the trip, and I end up very jittery indeed.
August 1, 2011: The limo did show up, at 5AM for our 7:10AM flight. Security was not a problem for me, but Mark got a full scan (I think), a pat-down, and the usual testing of his CPAP. Even with all this security, my pocket knife (which I forgot to take off my keychain) managed to get through. Since its blades are less than three inches, and they allow scissors with blades up to three inches, maybe this is also allowed.
This was our first time flying Delta. Indeed, for the past fifteen years or more, we have not flown any airline but Continental if we had a choice. But with the merger with United, Continental has gone downhill, and in this case we would have had to change planes in O'Hare. Delta had us changing in Salt Lake City, a much more appealing prospect.
Delta offered Wifi on the flight, but at $12.95 it is not worth it for us. I can look up all the things I think of when we get to a hotel room or home. The Delta gate area in Newark did have (free) charging outlets available. I suspect that since if they did not, people would just line up along the walls where the cleaning crew plugs things in, they decided to appear generous.
When we flew over the Missouri River, we could see all the flooded areas very clearly.
After arriving, we ate lunch at Albita's (chile verde burrito with green sauce and a soft al pastor taco)--very good.
The Reno Walmart has a DVD section labeled "LDS Movies", which includes such films as The Errand Angels, Sacred Walls, and Baptists at Our Barbecue. There was also a section labeled "Español", which was mostly United States movies dubbed into Spanish.
We then went to visit bookstores, but of all the used book stores in my list last month, only three seemed still to be in business. The first one we went to was locked and had no hours posted, though it still seemed to have books in it. The second seems to have just started closing on Mondays since I checked their web site. The third (Zephyr), however, was a very nice store advertising "100,000 books!" and having a decent selection, albeit with prices a little above average. Since it appears to be the only game in town for used hardback books, this is unlikely to change.
Dinner was at Asian Noodles, which turned out to be a reference to their pho. Since we had pho the day before for lunch, we opted for a couple of tofu dishes instead.
August 2, 2011: We drove from Reno to Susanville (CA), where our motel was, but since we got there about 11:30AM we continued on to Lassen Volcanic National Park. (Lassen Peak is known to the Indians as Kohm Yah-man-nee, and I am a bit surprised that it and a lot of other landmarks have not been renamed.)
The temperature today varied all over the place: around 90F in Susanville down to 70F at the Visitors Center and into the 60s at the higher passes along the road through the Park. In fact, the road did not open this year until July 17 because it was covered with snow, and even now you can see many sections where the snow on the side of the road is several feet deep. I guess at some point they decide to plow what is left on the road just to get it open. [Actually, we heard more about this at Crater Lake National Park; see that section.]
We watched the film that told about the four different kinds of volcanoes: cinder cones, shield volcanoes, plug dome volcanoes, and composite volcanoes. Lassen is the only place in the contiguous United States that has all four. The first filmed volcanic eruption was Lassen Peak in 1914. Another, much bigger one there in 1915 was the last one on the United States mainland until Mount St. Helens.
After that we tried to see some of the Park, but kept having problems. We could not find the trail at Sulphur Works to the hydrothermal areas. (It turns out that they are right along the road; you park at the lot labeled "Sulphur Works" and then walk a bit further along the road. This is not, however, signposted in any way.) Then we drove to the Bumpass Hell trailhead, thinking we might hike the mile or so out to the hydrothermal areas there. We could not figure out where the trail was, but eventually realized that was because it was under about six feet of snow, and was sign-posted "Travel Not Advised". There were quite a few people hiking it anyway, in parkas and boots, and with ski poles, but we decided not to join them. We did, however, get a lot of nice views of the scenery, and we walked the trail through the "Devastated Area"--the area that was completely destroyed by the flows and debris from the 1915 eruption of Lassen Peak. That being almost a hundred years ago, the area has recovered a lot, and its name no longer really fits. The forest is not as dense there as other places, but there is a lot of growth and some fairly tall trees.
We exited from the north end of the Park and returned to Susanville, where we checked into the High Country Inn and had a mediocre meal at Hart's Cafe. We had hoped to eat at the Black Bear Diner, which had gotten good reviews, but it was being remodeled. According to the motel clerk, this was necessary after the fire.
August 3, 2011: After breakfast (which included waffles), we drove back to Lassen. In Chester, we passed Books & Beyond, a bookstore and dry cleaners. Someone once compiled a list of strange bookstore sidelines--for example, there was one in Toronto that was a bookstore and florist--but this was the strangest I had seen. We also passed a sign outside Westwood, claiming it was "The Home of Paul [Bunyan] and Babe [his blue ox]." I know that both Maine and Minnesota claimed Bunyan as a favorite son, but I had not realized that California was trying to get into the act as well.
We asked about the trail at Sulphur Works and discovered where it was. Sure enough, there were fumaroles (steam vents) as well as a couple of bubbling pools. One was not quite a mud pot, but did had a grayish substance that was coating everything around it. An evergreen cone that had fallen next to it had been covered by this mineral residue and looked as though it had been preserved, sort of like Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back.
The Loomis Museum at the north end of the road had a display about Ishi, "the last Stone Age man." Ishi was apparently the last person to be discovered in the early twentieth century in Lassen living a Stone Age existence, and was studied by Alfred and Thoedora Kroeber (the parents of science fiction author Ursula K. LeGuin). Since then, however, other groups of people in other parts of the world have been found who would seem to be living at the same level.
We had a picnic lunch in the car. We had bought a sub at Safeway and had some soda and rice cakes as well. We had hoped to eat at a picnic table, but could not find the picnic area. (It was as well signposted as the Sulphur Works. :-( ) After lunch we walked the Lily Pond Trail, an easy walk through forest and along a lake and a lily pond. This trail had no snow and did not require special gear.
After driving back down to the south exit (so as to see everything from both directions), we drove back to Susanville, where we stopped in Margie's Book Nook. Mark wanted to buy a book that seemed to be $2 (all used paperbacks were $2 unless marked), but the clerk said she thought it might be new. We pointed out it had someone's name written on the top of the first page. She said because that last name was the same as one of the authors it might be an autograph (even though the first name was different), but would not commit to a definite price. She just kept saying she really did not know what to charge. She seemed to hope we would volunteer to pay full price. We didn't.
Dinner was at R-House, which was very difficult to find. All the directions said to drive about three miles down Johnstonville Road and it was on the right, and the address was on Johnstonville Road. Well, we drove more like ten miles and there was nothing like a restaurant on the right. So we went back to the motel and asked. You drive about three miles down Johnstonville Road and then turn right on Center Road and go a little ways down that. Why isn't the address on Center Road? Who knows? On top of that, the street sign for Center Road was askew and not readable from Johnstonville Road. But we did eventually find it, and split a rack of ribs with broasted potatoes in a room decorated with barbed wire and birds' nests. Barbed wire I can understand, but isn't decorating with birds' nests a bit unsanitary?
August 4, 2011: Most of today was driving to For Klamath and Crater Lake National Park, which means driving through a lot of nothing but open scenery. Towns are fifty or more miles apart, and even then are only about a thousand people and a couple of blocks of buildings along the highway. We did pass through Klamath Falls (OR), where we ate lunch at the Black Bear Diner (no relation to the one in Susanville). Mark got a chicken pot pie, because they put an actual crust on top. (Too many places serve chicken a la king with a biscuit thrown on top and call it chicken pot pie.) I got something called an open-face tri-tip beef sandwich. The waitress said that tri-tip beef was a cut of beef and that they marinated it before cooking. It was tender, but otherwise undistinguished.
We also went into the Basin Book Trader. where I bought F. Scott Fitzgerald's Pat Hobby Stories. This fairly large used bookstore had its sections well-labeled, with signs hanging from the ceiling so they were visible from all over the store. The mystery section was also marked off with crime scene tape. The pricing was complicated though. Unmarked books were half cover plus 25 cents, marked books were the marked price plus 25 cents, and non-tradable books were the half-price or the marked price with no surcharge.
There is no sales tax in Oregon.
We got to Crater Lake National Park about 3PM, which gave us time to see the film at the Visitors Center, pick up informational material, and get our first views of the lake from the Sinnott Memorial Overlook. The lake was formed when Mount Mazama erupted 7700 years ago. The large magma chamber under it emptied, and the whole mountain collapsed, leaving a crater six miles in diameter and 4000 feet deep, with no inputs or outputs. Gradually rain and snow filled it up to a depth about 2000 feet (the deepest lake in the United States). The lake is in balance, with the annual precipitation equal to the seepage and evaporation. (It could fill up, because the seepage is at a fairly high level, like the emergency drainage in a bathtub.)
They get 500 inches of snow in an average year, and it takes them from April until July to clear it from the Rim Road. There is a copper cable laid under the road so they can locate it under the snow, and if they clear a quarter of a mile a day, that is considered good. I guess this means if they did not spend four months clearing the road, it might never be clear. Obviously, if melting alone would clear it by July, there would be no point in plowing for four months. The question is how early they feel it "must" be cleared, because the longer they wait, the less work they must do. If it would melt by September, and assuming an even melt, then waiting until June might mean only two months of plowing. Of course, the melting is probably not even, because the temperature is warming up.
We returned to Fort Klamath about 5:30PM and Jo's Motel, Campground, and Organic Grocery & Deli. It has to be all these things, because there is not much else in Fort Klamath. There is not even a gas station; the closest ones are either fifteen miles north, in the Park, or 15 miles south. There is a general store, which seems to have an even smaller selection of food, but has more other stuff, especially alcohol.
The room (actually a two-room suite with kitchenette) has no telephone, no TV, and no Internet. My cell phone gets no signal either here or in the Park. The room also has no air conditioning per se, just a couple of fans, one of which has evaporative cooling. The smaller bedroom was cool, but the large one was fairly warm until the sun went down. Then it cooled off; by morning both were about 60F. (Apparently, one is supposed to remove the fans from the windows at night, and shut them.
Dinner was just snacking, since lunch was fairly substantial.
August 5, 2011: Breakfast was instant ramen (kimchi flavor). Mark also had some roasted peppers.
We returned to the Park for the Rim Drive, a thirty-three-mile drive around the lake. We took the ranger's advice and drove clockwise; this put us on the inside when there was a sheer drop at the edge of the road.
Our first couple of stops showed us a beautiful still sapphire lake that reflected the shore, the islands, and the sky perfectly. However, as time passed, two things happened. A breeze started to blow, and tour boats started to ply the waters. The result was that within an hour, the perfect reflection was gone.
We saw deer yesterday, but today the wildlife was limited to birds (Clark's Nutcracker, a hummingbird, and a bird with a gray body, black head, and yellow beak), and the Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel. The ranger at one of the stops said that there were a lot of reasons not to feed the birds, but one was that many of them are "food-caching" birds, and they will taken human food and cache it for the winter. However, it rots (which the bird's natural foods do not), and at some point the bird will have no edible food cached, and will starve.
The road to Cloudcap was closed, being still half-covered with snow. This road apparently needs to melt out, being just a spur to a single lookout point.
There are two islands in the lake, Wizard Island and Phantom Ship. Phantom Ship is much smaller and is composed of lava that is 400,000 years old, while Wizard Island dates from after the big eruption.
We walked Pinnacles Trail, a one-mile level trail which overlooks pinnacles (ancient fumeroles) These were at one time steam vents, and were harder rock than the surrounding material. Over the millennia, the rest has eroded, leaving these towers that look like termite mounds, or like turrets in a city from "The Lord of the Rings". They also look like the formations one sees in Bryce Canyon National Park, but as if seen on a black-and-white television.
Lodgepole pines here seem to show the beginnings of a pine beetle infestation.
After lunch (peanut butter and crackers, raisins, and root beer), we also walked the newest trail, to Plaikniki Falls. This trail is not even completely finished. Though it is mostly level and easy to walk, the last section is the steepest, accounting for most of the hundred-foot elevation change, and it is also curved "Disneyland-style". That is, it curves in such a way that you think you are almost at the end, and then you round a corner and see that there is a lot more to go. On this walk, we saw more wildlife: mosquitoes, dragonflies, and butterflies. I would have preferred it without the mosquitoes.
We finished the drive about 3PM. Leaving the Park, we again saw what I have named "Paul Bunyan's Toothpicks": straight poles from sapling trunks, about twenty feet high, along the sides of the road to mark it during snow storms.
Then back to the room to rest and catch up in our logs. (Also to shake the dust off of our pants and shoes--these trails are very dusty.)
Dinner was more light stuff, but with ice cream bars for dessert, and we watched a couple of DVDs on the portable player we brought. August 6, 2011: Today was a lot of driving, from Fort Klamath (OR) to San Jose (CA). This probably requires some explanation.
When we decided to go to Reno, we looked at what was nearby and said we wanted to see the northern California and southern Oregon National Parks. A friend in Seattle wanted us to visit him, so we added that, even though it was actually a full day's drive from the closest point. Then after we had made most of our motel reservations, it turned out he would be unavailable for the days we had scheduled. By then, it was too late to reschedule all the motels--for example, Jo's Motel fills up quickly in-season and then are no real alternatives near Crater Lake. Since the San Francisco Bay area was no further than Seattle had been, we just shifted to that, although had we been planning on including it from the beginning we might have done things in a different order.
Or perhaps not. One advantage of doing it this way is that we break up the rusticity of the trip with some urbanity. In other words, we have four days of National Parks and motels near them, then three nights in San Jose, then another four days of National Parks.
We ate lunch at Los Mariachis in Red Bluff, and arrived in San Jose by late afternoon.
August 7, 2011: Our grand plan for the Bay Area ran into a hitch. We had planned on doing the Legion of Honor art museum on Sunday (free as part of a Bank of America promotion) and the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum on Monday, because according to its website the latter was open on Monday even though its bookstore was closed. Well, that turned out to have changed, and they are closed on Monday. (Actually, it apparently changed a while ago, but the website was updated only recently.)
This would not have been so much of a problem, except that all the museums were closed on Monday--the only exceptions seemed to be the Intel Museum and the San Francisco Zoo. So we decided to see the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum on Sunday and the Zoo on Monday.
The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum was built and is maintained by the Rosicrucian Society, which has a philosophical agenda. But unlike a lot of museums whose parent organizations have an agenda, the Rosicrucian Museum does not push it in the exhibits. And they provide a free downloadable audio tour, complete with pictures of the items, which adds a lot to the visit.
Mark and I had a discussion of whether one could say that the Egyptian empire lasted from around 3000 B.C.E. to 30 B.C.E., or whether it was really several different empires that we just see as one from a distance. For example, the First Intermediate Period: (c. 2150 B.C.E. to 2040 B.C.E.) is defined by the collapse of the central government, with the country divided among local rulers. The Second Intermediate Period: (c. 1640 B.C.E. to 1550 B.C.E.) had the country divided with the (Asian) Hyksos ruling in the Delta. The Third Intermediate Period (c. 1070 B.C.E. to 712 B.C.E.) again had Egypt fragmented and politically divided among local rulers. Around 712 B.C.E., Egypt was annexed into the Persian Empire, and the last native rulers of Egypt. The Macedonians took over in 332 B.C.E. and the Romans in 30 B.C.E. For some reason that last conquest seems to count even though none of the early ones do.
In their tombs, the deceased had placed food model offerings--they reminded me of plastic sushi.
One label said, "In Egypt, mummification gradually disappeared after the introduction of Christianity, which placed little emphasis on preserving the physical body." So why is embalming so popular now?
Another label said, "Ancient Egypt did not disappear; it merely evolved." This is similar to the transformational theory of the decline of the Roman Empire--that (Western) Rome did not really fall in 476 but merely transformed into something slightly different, just as the Republic earlier transformed into the Empire.
In the section on the afterlife, they gave examples of the questions a dead soul would be asked to determine its fate, such as, "Did you ever steal milk from babies?" and "Did you ever divert water from your neighbor's fields?"
Since most Egyptians were illiterate, the shape of the various jars indicated their contents. I would think that pictures would be more versatile, as we saw in the film The Handmaid's Tale, but I guess not.
Harry Turtledove thought he invented the labor strike in one of the stories in his collection Agent of Byzantium, but there was one under Rameses III when rations were repeatedly delayed. There was also an explanation of the forests of Lebanon and how they were depleted, causing climate change and desertification. This was the first known example of human-caused climate change.
The model of the Tower of Babel in its case was lit in such a way that it was reflected upside down on the glass top of the case, reminding me of the Ted Chiang story "The Tower of Babel".
The images that the Egyptians drew were not descriptive, but prescriptive (what philosophers call "word-to-world direction, or performative). Drawing bountiful harvests did not report them so much as attempt to evoke them.
One of the displays was a fake baboon mummy, Apparently there was such a demand for mummified animals as offerings that the embalmers began putting just a single animal bone in each mummy, and after that no animal parts whatsoever, all the while retaining the animal's shape in the final product. This eventually led to a religious protest around 600 B.C.E., when a priest named Hori came up with the slogan "One god in one vessel".
An Apis bull has specific markings (a white triangle in center of its forehead); there have been only three known examples found. The one in the Rosicrucian Museum was found by Howard Carter. (The special markings remind me of the "red heifer".) On of the displays talked about mirrors as symbols of fertility (because of some pun in ancient Egyptian). Jorge Luis Borges gives a different reason; in "Hakim, the Masked Dyer of Merv" he writes, "One of the heresiarchs of Uqbar had stated that mirrors and copulation are abominable, since they both multiply the numbers of man."
There was a comparison between the Hymn to the Aten and Psalm 104, showing the similarities. This is as close as they got to an agenda.
The store had a CD for sale called "Vowel Sounds in the Great Pyramid". They also had Senet and the African Stone Game. (This is odd, as the displays in the Museum claimed no one knew the rules to Senet. Apparently each company makes up its own rules.)
After we finished we went to Gojo, an Ethiopian restaurant, and had beef in berbere sauce, gomer wot, and lamb tibbs, all with the great Ethiopian bread.
After lunch, we decided to do a little reminiscing. We started with Recycle Books, no longer in it original location in downtown San Jose, but still in business, and still a very large used book store. Then we drove to where Mark's parents had lived in Mountain View. They moved to Phoenix only about six or seven years ago, so it had not really changed very much since we had last seen it in 2002.
After that we drove to Palo Alto, where Mark had gone to Stanford from 1972 to 1974. Driving up University Avenue, we were surprised at how different it looked from 1973, with bigger trees and a complete change of businesses (including a Borders going out of business), and all very upscale with fancy store fronts. Businesses like Chimera Books, an old used book store in two-story house, were long gone. But the biggest surprise was yet to come.
We used to live in an apartment building at University Avenue and Woodland Avenue. The neighborhood had been pretty much a slum then, and definitely a high-crime area. We were curious if it had changed at all. Over the years, we have visited all the places where we used to live. Some had bigger trees, some had different shrubs, some had been re-painted or had siding put on, and some had not changed at all. (The house in which I had lived in Maine in the late 1950s looked as though it had been in a stasis chamber until we visited it in 2001.) What would this look like?
Well, as we rounded the last curve, the first thing we saw was an Ikea a little further up the road, across US-101. That was different--the only businesses there before were liquor stores, laundromats, and that sort of thing. But the biggest shock was when we came all the way around the curve. The apartment building (and everything else for a couple of blocks in each direction) had been replaced by a Four Seasons Hotel and several fancy high-rise buildings occupied by legal and financial companies! Flabbergasted and gob-smacked barely cover it. It is as if someone had torn down a block of pawn shops, bail bondsmen, and tattoo parlors in the South Bronx and put in a mall with Tiffany, Godiva, and Sephora (or whatever that fancy perfume store is).
Then we went to Know Knew Books on California Street. This had been my one "must-see" stop whenever we visited Mark's parents--a used book store with an enormous collection of science fiction (even more than Recycle). We drove down California Street and I did not see it. So we turned around and drove back, checking the street numbers. There it was--with the name awning removed and a sign announcing that they were going out of business after 22 years!
But they were still open for a while, so we went in, and I talked to the owner for a while. He said the problems were not ebooks or falling literacy, but the economy. He immediately saw a big drop in sale the week after the downturn in 2008, and it has never come back. He said that one weekend he had $100 gross on Saturday and $75 on Sunday. The next weekend he tried a 50% off sale and had $1000 and $1400, but then that tapered off quickly, even before ending the sale.
So Palo Alto, home of Stanford University, now has just two book stores: Books, Inc. (new books) and Bell's (used, primarily antiquarian). (Bell's owns their store property, so they have not been hit by any rent increases.) It is true there are others nearby, but not many--Kepler's in Menlo Park, Book Buyers in Mountain View, and Recycle in San Jose come to mind.
(They also cut down all the oak trees that had lined California Street, supposedly to replace them with healthier maples, but apparently there is much argument over whether it was necessary and how the way they did it means years with no shade before the new trees grow up.)
August 8, 2011: Today we drove up to the San Francisco Zoo. It was bright and sunny when we started, but when we reached Skyline Boulevard, it turned foggy and cold. Even when we left the fog, the cold and overcast remained, until 4PM when it finally decided to clear up.
We did not have to wait in any line for tickets, but we just beat the rush, because when I went back to the car a half-hour after we arrived to get our jackets, there was a long line for tickets.
It is a myth that ostriches stick their heads in the sand in an attempt to hide.
Lemurs are very noisy. (Or as the Zoo's sign says, "Lemurs are vocal.")
I asked one of the staff whether it wasn't too cold for a lot of these animals, but she said at night in winter it does get pretty cold in their habitats. Still, most of the lemurs were sitting under the heat lamps provided for them.
The San Francisco Zoo has no elephants, though there is a 1930s building labeled "Pachyderms". I guess they eventually realized that this zoo did not have enough room for elephants. The bear enclosure is also old, built by the WPA in 1940. And the zoo has few "big cats"; they have four lions and two tigers. Zoos are gradually changing, and all this makes me think of the zoo of the future (probably from some science fiction story) with rare animals like squirrels, deer, cows, etc.
We watched one of the staff (are they still called keepers?) feed and wash the hippo. Washing it was a sort of combination Waterpik and Jacuzzi, with the hippo opening its mouth to get the inside hosed down as part of the process. There was also an Asian one-horned rhinoceros (this is the kind that looks armor-plated), and an African black rhinoceros.
By the time we had seen everything, it was almost 5PM, so this pretty much filled the day. On the way home we stopped at Book Buyers in Mountain View. It, at least, seems to be staying in business, with a science fiction section to rival the one Know Knew Books had, and a DVD section that included used Teaching Company courses! (The prices on the courses were nothing special though--probably comparable to on-line--which is a lucky thing, though I suppose we could have shipped them back.)
Dinner was at Taqueria Tlaquepaque, where I had Steak Tlaquepaque. This was basically carne asada, but very good. The one sour note was that we had chosen our items (while we waited for a table) from the menu pasted to the wall, and that turned out to have old prices ($9.98 vs. $11.23, $2.50 vs. $2.75, and so on). Not a major difference, but annoying. August 9, 2011: Today was our longest driving day, made longer by deciding to choose scenic routes.
I notice that motorcycles tend to weave between lanes of traffic when there is a traffic jam. Are these the same motorcyclists who are always complaining that cars don't give them equal space on the roads?
California has an inconsistent definition of "carpool" (for its carpool lanes)--sometimes it is two or more people, but sometimes it is three or more. This makes driving more confusing, particularly for people not familiar with the area. I suppose commuters who drive the same roads every day know what the rules on those roads are.
At Cloverdale we decided to cut over to the Pacific Coast Highway (Route 1) as being more scenic. This may have added an hour altogether, with the additional length and slightly slower speeds, but it was more beautiful.
We stopped for lunch at a place called just "Fish & Chips". We settled on this one after trying three different restaurants from our GPS--two seemed to be closed and one was completely impossible to find. The fish were battered rather than breaded, as they should be, and the fries still had the skin on.
The next detour we took was the "Avenue of the Giants", a scenic road parallel to Route 101, which wound through groves of coastal redwoods and past "The One-Log House", "The Drive-Through Tree", and a variety of other scenic wonders.
We finally got to Crescent City (CA) and the Curly Redwood Motel by 8PM. This motel is known for being built from a single redwood. This does not mean it was carved from a tree like the "One-Log House", but that a single redwood, cut and planked, provided all the lumber needed to build the motel, including all the doors and other trim. All this, and all the redwood carvings for sale along the roads, make me wonder whether it is all sustainable.
We were still full from lunch, so we went to Jack in the Box for a small hamburger and a chocolate ice cream milkshake.
August 10, 2011: Breakfast was not provided as the motel, so we ate at Denny's. Then we picked up some groceries at Safeway. I decided to sign up for a Safeway card even thought it is useless back east, because what we bought cost $31 without the card and $16 with!
What we were visiting today was Redwoods National and State Parks. Originally these were several separate parks, but a while ago the National Park Service and the California government decided that it made more sense to administer and manage them as a single entity, at least on a biological level. (For example, it would hardly make sense to have one management service decide to do controlled burns while the other had a policy of putting out all fires.) Since there are no admission fees for these--partly because so many public roads run through them--the question of who gets the money from them is moot.
Most of our travel today was in two state parks: Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. There are a lot of roads and trails, but there are two major scenic drives: Howland Hills Road (through the first) and the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway (through the second). We figured we would do those, walking some trails along them, and then see if we had more time.
Along Howland Hills Road we stopped a few times to photograph (and measure) trees. The photography may be a bit of a waste, though, because the scale is not something that can be captured in a photograph. The forest itself looks like something out of the original King Kong: moss hanging from trees, light filtering through the treetops, and so on.
We walked the trail through Stout Grove and talked to a ranger there about a variety of subjects. One was the changing policies about fires. For a long time the Park Services had a policy of putting out all fires. But this meant that there were no small fires that would clear the dead underbrush. Eventually a fire would start that could not be extinguished, and it would feed on all the dead material and turn into a roaring fire that would burn the full-grown trees as well. Now small fires are allowed to burn, and the Park Services even start controlled fires in areas with too much dead material.
We also talked about tourism. The ranger said that his relatives go to Gatlinberg (TN). This used to be popular because it was right outside Smokey Mountain National Park. But it became so overgrown with touristic business that now people go to Gatlinberg and never even go into the Park.
As we walked we saw a lot besides the trees. The trees, by the way, are coastal redwoods, not sequoias (which are a different sub-species and grow only on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada). We saw ferns, a lot of clover, and many different fungi. We also saw a few birds (we heard more, but saw few), a mouse, and a banana slug.
Coming back along Route 199 to Crescent City, we stopped to walk the Simpson-Reed trail.
We ate lunch at Perlita's, recommended on the Internet as the best Mexican restaurant in town, and it was pretty good. We shared a mole burrito and a gordita.
Driving down to the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, we stopped at the Klamath River bridge, where a gray whale ("Mama") had taken up residence, Apparently she came with her calf in June. The calf had returned to the sea, but Mama refused to. Crowds of people gathered on the bridge to watch, which created a bit of a traffic problem, as there was not a lot of pedestrian space.
[We got there just in time--six days later Mama died. This was not unexpected--when whales go upstream and refuse to leave, they usually die shortly thereafter.]
After this we drove along the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway for more scenery and even a few Roosevelt elk. We walked along the trail at the Big Tree Wayside. (The tree there is big, but I'm not sure it is that much bigger than some of the trees we saw earlier.)
We were not hungry for dinner, so just snacked, and then went to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes. This was the perfect day and place for it, since a couple of major scenes in it takes place among the redwoods. Admittedly, in the film it is Muir Woods, and in reality it was filmed in British Columbia, but in fact the forests depicted looked exactly like what we had been seeing all day!
August 11, 2011: We drove to Klamath Falls (OR) today. On the way we stopped at Central Point (OR) to see the Lilli Belle Farms Chocolate Factory and the Rogue Creamery Cheese Factory. (I don't know why it is called Central Point; it is certainly not the center of Oregon.)
LilliBelle specializes in chocolates the size of what one finds in samplers and boxes of chocolates--very fancy, very artistic, and in interesting flavored, for about $2 for each piece. They also have a few flavors in two-ounce bars, for $8 each.
Rogue Creamery is apparently known for its blue cheeses, but they also had curds. We really liked the curds we got in Madison (WI) in 2009, so we got some for lunch here, but although they were squeaky, they were relatively tasteless.
In Klamath Falls, we stopped in the bookstore again, but the book Mark had decided he was interested in had already sold.
We continued to the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges, where we picnicked near the Visitors Center, and then decided to drive along one of the auto viewing routes to see the wildlife. This was a mistake. One, we were getting low on fuel, and the route was much longer than it looked on the map (and not something you could exit early). And two, for most of its length it was not really a road, but a washboard gravel and dust dike between two artificial lakes. We did see some wildlife: a ring-necked something, a few pelicans, quite a few ducks and geese, a few other birds, and a lot of midges and dragonflies. I do not recall any mammals.
When we finally got back to Tulalake, we still had fifteen miles to go to the nearest gas station, where our Kia took 10.7 gallons of gas and cost $41 to fill up. (According to the dashboard, we still had a range of about 50 miles, but since it had said 80 miles when we started the route, and the route was not thirty miles long, I did not want to trust that!)
We checked into the Maverick Motel, across the street from what I call the "Egyptian Ford Dealership". The building was erected in 1930 or so, right after Howard CArter discovered King Tut's Tomb, and decorated in Egyptian fashion, with carved papyrus plants, bas-reliefs of Egyptian women, and so on.
Dinner was at Pho Hoa & Hong, claimed by many to be the best restaurant in Klamath Falls. The owner seems really eager to cook dishes to order rather than just stick to the menu. It was very good.
Afterwards we drove fair distance down the road to get to a Bank of America ATM for money. After that, rather than drive back the way we had come (probably about seven or eight miles), we asked the GPS for the fastest route. It turned we were only about ten blocks away!
August 12, 2011: We started with a plan to go to Lava Beds National Monument Visitors Center about 9AM, get information on the Monument, then go immediately to Camp Tulelake, part of the "Tule Lake Unit of the National Park Service", which is part of the "WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument". This was supposed to have a ranger-led tour (which are held only on Fridays and Saturdays). Along the way to Lava Beds, we stopped at Captain Jack's Stronghold Trail and thought we might walk a ways on that. This took a little longer than we expected, going through a jumble of lava, and the Visitors Center was also further than we expected, being another fifteen miles or so from the trail, which was already ten miles off the main road.
So we went directly to Camp Tulelake, where a sign informed us that there was no tour today, but tours would resume tomorrow. We figured that we would at least go to the Visitors Center for this site, and arrived to discover that five minutes can make all the difference.
The ranger there (Sara Patton) asked if there was anything she could do for us. I said we had really hoped to take the tour. It turned out that there were no public tours today because the ranger was taking a Ph.D. student on a private tour, and she asked the woman if she would mind if we joined them. She did not, so we got an even more complete tour than usual! But had we arrived five minutes later, they would already have left.
The woman was doing her Ph.D. thesis on education about Japanese internment camps in the United States and Canada, and was primarily visiting schools and museums, but felt she should visit at least one camp, both to see the camp, and to see how the National Park Service presents the information about it. Tulelake is probably the most accessible of the camps (and it is not exactly in the middle of everything).
We started back at Camp Tulelake. This was actually really a small addendum to the internment story. The Camp had been built in 1935 and used by the CCC until 1942. Unemployment in this area was 16% versus 25% nationwide. The CCC gave skills, rather than handouts, and paid $1/day, of which $25/month had to be sent home. In addition, locals were hired to train the enrollees, and all the food to feed the people at the Camp was purchased locally. Men enlisted for six months, renewable for up to three times. There were 4500 camps across the country.
By mid-1942, most of the able-bodied men who had been in the CCC had enlisted in the military, so the CCC shut down. "Reuse, recycle" was the motto during the war, and the Camp was converted into an adjunct of the Tule Lake Relocation Center. In 1943, 100 men at the Tule Lake Relocation Center refused to answer a loyalty questionnaire. They were sent to jails, but there was no space and no law to charge them under, so the sheriffs released them. They were moved to the Camp for 30 days, then back to what had become Tule Lake Segregation Center.
In October 1943, there was a farm strike in the area, and strike breakers brought in were housed at Camp Tulelake. In 1944 it became a POW camp, first for Italians, and then for Germans. (Someone asked why the Italians were brought first. I suspect because by that point, Italy had fallen to the Allies, Rome being taken on June 4, 1944.) The POWs were used for farm work, because there was a real labor shortage throughout the country, and migrant workers not making it this far north. The farmers got very friendly with the POWs, as contrasted with their attitudes towards the Japanese-Americans in the Relocation/Segregation Center, which seems to be almost entirely attributable to racism.
(Regarding farming, almost all the mint for toothpaste and the potatoes for Lays chips and In-n-Out fries are grown here.)
After the war, the Camp emptied out and in the 1950s became the Fish & Wildlife Department's sign shop for the entire Pacific coast (until 1970). Again it was abandoned, and in 2008 became part of the National Park Service.
All that is left at this point are a few empty buildings that had been used for barracks, mess hall, etc. Only one of the barracks has been restored enough to allow people in, and there is not much to see.
After this, we drove to the Tule Lake Segregation Center. At its height, this housed over 18,000 people, and was the largest town in northern California.
The Japanese-Americans' problems started in 1913 with laws prohibiting them from becoming citizens. But their children born here were citizens (by virtue of the 14th Amendment). The 1924 Asian Exclusion Act prohibited all further immigration from Asia, but also meant that any non-citizens who wanted to visit their homeland could never return to the United States.
After Pearl Harbor, Japanese-Americans (citizens or not) were prohibited from owning flashlights, cameras, radios, or firearms. Executive Order 9066 (February 19, 1942) was the evacuation order. Japanese-Americans were given only a few days to sell everything they had and take only what they could carry to assembly centers (racetracks, etc.). The conditions at these might be compared to those at the Superdome during Hurricane Katrina.
From the assembly centers, they were tagged (as was their luggage) and sent to Relocation Centers such as the one in Tule Lake (which opened May 25, 1942). There each family lived in a 20'x20' tar paper shack with one light, a pot-bellied stove for heat, and cots. Latrines were built army-style, with no dividers, and women would carry cardboard boxes with them for latrine privacy.
Because all meals were communally taken in a mess hall, the family structure tended to break down. The food was mostly lamb stew, and very monotonous (one person talks about a meal of rice, bread, and pasta!). Someone said that at Manzanar they were served hot rice topped with cold lime jello.
In 1943, loyalty questionnaires were given to all Japanese-Americans in the relocation centers. There were really only two important questions. One was #27, asking if the person was "willing to serve in armed forces of the United States on combat duty wherever ordered." This was controversial for several reasons. First, many had already served, during World War I. Second, many were concerned that they would be sent to the Pacific where they might end up fighting their own families, and also might end up shot (either accidentally or on purpose) by American troops. And thirdly, women and the elderly wondered about what it meant for them to be willing to serve in combat duty.
The other was #28, asking them to swear unqualified allegiance to the United States and to renounce all other allegiances and citizenships. For those who were not American citizens, and could not become American citizens, this meant becoming a stateless person. Others thought that this was a trick to show they had been loyal to Japan.
These problems had been noted and alternate forms of the questions provided, but the person running Tule Lake was a bigot and a martinet and refused to use them. The result was that this camp had the highest percentage of "no/no" answers (42%, compared to 3%-10% at other camps). So this camp became a Segregation Center, rather than a Relocation Center. The people who answered "no/no" at other camps were sent here, and many of the "privileges" were revoked. For example, those at other camps often could leave if they found jobs in the Midwest or eastern United States; this was no longer true here. And in 1943, there was a farm strike for safer working conditions for those who were performing farm labor in the area. This led to a declaration of martial law from November 1943 until January 1944.
The two most famous internees at Tule Lake are probably Pat Morita and George Takei. Takei ended up at Tule Lake because of the answers his mother gave to the questionnaire at Rohwer War Relocation Center.
We got to see the inside of one of the few remaining buildings, the jail. Most of the land had been sold by the government and the buildings torn down. (Local residents bought a lot of the tar-paper shacks for use as temporary homes, out-buildings, and so on, and many still exist throughout the basin.)
In terms of how the National Park Service presents this information, there was one point at which the ranger said that because she was a uniformed government employee, she had to be careful how she answered some question or explained something. But the presentation seemed to emphasize the illegality/unconstitutionality of what was done, and how we needed to be vigilant to avoid repeating these mistakes.
After this, which was about a two-hour tour, or twice the usual, we went back to Klamath Falls for lunch at Pho Hoa & Hong. This time we got pho, followed by a bit of shopping and then log writing.
August 13, 2011: Today we returned to Reno, and started off with the Washoe County Friends of the Library, held not in the library, but in a room in a warehouse. I found an Agatha Christie collection I did not have, and we got the complete series of "Earth 2", among other things. (Though not too many, since we have luggage limitations. If we get too much we either have to ship it back, or buy another piece of luggage and pay $25 to check it!)
Then we had lunch at Albita's again, and checked in to the Atlantis Hotel and Casino (the main convention hotel, or at any rate, the convention hotel attached to the Convention Center). We went over to the Borders that was going out of business a couple of blocks away, but found nothing of interest, then went to Walmart and Michaels to pick up some odds and ends.
August 14, 2011: We had breakfast at Peg's Glorified Ham and Eggs, rated the best breakfast in Reno--and pretty good it was too. It used to be that one could get good cheap breakfasts at the casinos, but this is no longer true, and nothing in our hotel is reasonably priced.
There was not much left to do in the area, so we went to Animal Ark, a shelter for rescued animals. This was quite a ways out of Reno, presumably for space reasons. The animals here were of several types, ranging from those native to the area who were injured to exotic animals such as tigers who were bred for the entertainment industry but had outlived their usefulness. (For some animals, this means when they are only a year or so old.)
Trixie the badger seemed to be tracing as many paths as possible through the items in her cage. (The keeper said that this was due to brain damage.) Many animals were asleep, as it was somewhat warm, and also very windy. The Ark itself is completely off the grid, running entirely on solar power. Birds are a big problem, according to one person there, since they fly in and steal the food intended for the animals there. While the Ark is an animal shelter, it seems very similar to a zoo in many ways--the animals are basically on display.
We returned to Reno, and scouted what was on Virginia Street near the Atlantis in terms of restaurants (very little), etc. There was a McDonalds, a 24-hour Mexican restaurant, and a few other places. For dinner, we tried to eat at Famous Dave's, but the wait was enormous, so we ended up at Red Robin.
August 15, 2011: Today we went to Virginia City, an old silver mining town that has had its booms and busts and seems currently to be going through a bit of a bust. There are still a lot of shops and saloons full of slot machines), but there are also a lot of closed businesses with "For Sale" or "For Lease" signs in the windows.
Virginia City is known for its International Camel Races, which started as a hoax news story. The silver came from the Comstock Lode, and made the town so rich that for a while it had the only elevator between Chicago and San Francisco.
Virginia City shops sell a combination of Western wear, antiques, and tourist tat. The Union Brewery has a sign forbidding photographs inside, which has bras hanging from a chandelier, dollar bills nailed to the ceiling, etc. Needless to say, they do sell photos and postcards. There is also the Red Dog Saloon, which is apparently important in popular music for some event in 1963.
Several shops are selling an "Alien Skull Found Near Roswell New Mexico" for between $20 and $30. It is a skull shaped like those famous alien heads. Needless to say, it is fake.
We spent some time in a rock and fossil shop, just looking at all the interesting specimens.
A monument in the center of town said, "AL 5958, AD 1958". I was trying to figure out if "AL" meant some odd Hebrew-like date, but it turns out that is the altitude.
After we finished here, we drove to Carson City. We had lunch at El Aguila Real, a family-run Mexican restaurant which was very good, then took a "Walking" Tour (which we drove), playing the segments from the "Talking Houses" podcasts that went with the various buildings. One was the home used in John Wayne's last movie, and the voice on the podcast was an imitation of his.
Tonight we did eat at Famous Dave's. It turns out that every August 14, Famous Dave's has a deal where anyone named Dave can eat for free, hence the mob last night!
August 16, 2011: There is not much to report here today. We had breakfast at Peg's again, then went to the ATM and made a quick stop to get new earphones for Mark's iPod. I returned the car to the airport and took the free hotel shuttle back to the hotel.
Here endeth the tourism part of the trip.
For information on the convention itself, see my convention report.