Once more the skies were brilliantly blue when we woke in Eureka. The winds were calm and there wasn’t a bit of fog, but the 32 degree temperatures were still a bit daunting. We read the forecasts and knew that it wasn’t a lot warmer in the Sacramento valley to the east, and that we had snow and rain to look forward to once back in Rocky Point. Our decision was to drive the winding 142 miles of Highway 36 across the mountains, to stop for the night in a forest service campground along the way if it was accessible. If not, we would continue on toward Red Bluff and possibly go park at the Rolling Hills Casino about 20 minutes south.
Timing our travels sometimes gets a bit confusing. My ex mom-in-law lives in Red Bluff, and wasn’t going to be home until afternoon on Saturday, so we needed to plan accordingly since I wanted to stop for a visit while passing by. We wanted to spend the night in Redding on Saturday night before we spent Sunday morning getting the MoHo ready for her last month in storage. Even though we had a bit of a schedule to figure out, it was nice to just take off on the highway with the options open.
Highway 36 is 142 miles of wild road indeed. While it doesn’t have quite the grades that our Lost Coast roads had, and didn’t have quite as many hairpin curves, the big difference was that this time we were in the MoHo towing the baby car. If it had been hot, we would have unhooked the car and both driven the steepest grades, but the cool temperatures were in our favor and the MoHo did just fine. Jeremy once again settled into his dash position and it only took us 4 hours to go less than 100 miles to a small forest service side road leading down to the Basin Gulch forest service campground.
We were smart enough to unhook and take the baby car to check out the campground before driving the MoHo down that side road, and once we looked around we thought, ‘Sure, no big deal”. With our Golden Age Pass, camping was a hefty 5 bucks for a lovely little campground, completely alone in the middle of nowhere without another car or camper anywhere in sight. A mile or so before the campground, there were a few summer cabins, but we didn’t see any cars or people at all. It was only about 2:30 in the afternoon, so we had plenty of time to settle in, go for a nice walk along the stream and relax a bit before supper. I slept better and longer that night than any in very a long time, with the absolute darkness and silence of the forest around us.
The next morning we continued the last 50 miles or so to Red Bluff, and thought we might go park at the Red Bluff Lake Recreation Area to wait for Gen to get home. To my surprise, there was an RV park at the lake. The campground however, was federal, and our Golden Age Pass got us a site with water and electric for $12.50. By the time we settled in again, it was time to go visiting. Gen is 87 years old now, and spiffy and lovely as always. We enjoyed our visit before driving the mile or so back to our waiting home. The warm sun felt fabulous.
Sunday morning we took our own sweet time packing up, cleaning up the MoHo, and driving north on I-5 to Redding to our favorite credit card operated self car wash. This time we got the entire rig washed for a mere $6.50. Love it when we don’t have to keep messing with the quarters to keep the spray going. For the last time this year we slid the rig into the big shed, piled everything into the car, and headed north to Klamath Falls. It happens to us every single time. As we drop down from Mt Shasta into the Klamath Basin, in the midst of quiet contemplation, one or the other of us says out loud, “I love this place”. It certainly isn’t perfect. Winter time can be brutal and spring can be long in coming. It’s the interface between desert and mountains, and can be brown and barren at times. But the vistas are wide, and now, even in February, the Pacific Flyway birds are returning. The fields and marshes along Highway 97 are already filling with thousands of swans and ducks, and the snow geese are back.
We were home by 5, and the car was unloaded and unpacked before 6. We are getting good at this back and forth thing. It’s so good to go, and it’s so good to come home. So far, I love not having to choose between one or the other.